Friday, 20 April 2018

Hypothesise - My Idea for a New Junior Curriculum!


So far I have:

  • Collected junior student voice - year 9's from 2017 reported being 6.2 out of 10 "good at science," and unsure (aka - open to convincing about) whether or not they would take a science during their senior years.
  • Collected the perspectives of young people - year 9 students rated science 7.5 out of 10 "fun" and being 7.1 out of 10 "engaged in class." Students reported that science is "important" - 8.9 out of 10. 
  • Shared anecdotes and student achievement data from senior biology in 2016, which highlighted room for improvement in student preparedness for senior science.
  • Gathered staff voice to find out if this was only the case in biology - teachers thought students were roughly half as prepared as they need to be (5 out of 10), and the junior curriculum was not doing as well as it could. Teachers also mentioned specific areas that could be improved.
  • Looked at student achievement data in senior science back as far as 2015 if it was available, and failed to find a clear trend of improving achievement over time; some years were just randomly better than others.
  • A similar trend was found in Maori student achievement data in senior science; it changed every year and the sample size was small. 
  • This was a key takeaway from my data analysis - not many Maori students have been selecting to take a science in their senior years.
  • I also had a look at the junior e-asTTle reading and writing data (using my class as a random sample) to see what level of abilities our juniors have arrived with this year; only 2 of my class are writing at the national norm and all the rest are reading and writing below national norms.
  • Established that I will focus on Achievement Challenge 1, which is about raising Maori student engagement and achievement by increasing cultural visibility. I will also incorporate the cluster-wide focus on literacy.

My hypothesis is that the junior science curriculum could do with a bit of a shake-up. It currently is only "half" preparing students for senior science (according to teachers) and specific areas of improvement have been mentioned (graphing skills, writing scientific reports, researching, making notes, atomic structure, acids and bases, genetics and cells). Students are reporting they are only 7.1 out of 10 "engaged" during science class, though they know science is "important." Maori students are not often selecting to take senior science for whatever reason (a side-study could be done on this; do they see it as less valuable in their lives, are they less engaged and interested in science, are they less confident?) Another side note is that Tamaki likes to try new things each year and our current sites and resources need to be remade each year, which is tiresome and time-consuming.

There must be a way to develop the junior curriculum so that it can be flexible enough to move with new themes and topics, to integrate with other subjects, and maybe even eventually let students move through it at their own pace and in a form they select. The NZC dictates some of the content we must teach - but we can try to squish it into around into interesting contexts for our students.

I would like to try and design an online curriculum for Tamaki College that is flexible, involves choice, has lots of links between science and culture, or science and our student's everyday lives; includes reading and writing, investigating, and has students learning and then creating as they move through the SOLO taxonomy levels. As I do this I will increase the cultural visibility of science, and have opportunities for improving literacy, and any changes I make will have a broader reach than just changes I make inside my classroom...

Watch this space!

Friday, 13 April 2018

Identify Trends - Common Learning Challenges in the WORLD!

In February I went along to listen to Roger Dennis talk at Pat Sneddon's house. He was absolutely fascinating. Roger Dennis has a job that allows him to look for trends and patterns at a global level, and think about possible futures and how governments and large businesses should prepare for this.

He said that there are four certainties (and challenges) facing us in the future:

1. Higher densities of people in certain areas of the planet - and the resulting resource shortages, which will require forward-thinking and large-scale urban planning and scientific advancements. For example Cape Town in South Africa has basically run out of water. He also mentioned another city where the water supply outside of town is controlled by the local mafia!

2. The decline of America and the rise of China - and the resulting Eastern influence in pop culture, markets and languages. I can see this already with the love of k-pop and anime in my juniors!

3. Technology will continue to improve and develop - and everything that CAN go online, will go online.

4. Climate change - despite what the orange buffoon claims, its real and its happening right now, and it will bring with it more extreme weather events and massive stress on existing infrastructure.

Click here to explore the Climate Change infographic on Climate Change Impact on People.

What can help us!!? BRAINE.

Biology - gene sequencing, gene editing and the costs associated with that rapidly decreasing.
Robotics
AI - interesting developments in this area; jobs that rely on patterns and rules (e.g. accountants, lawyers, traditional "good" jobs may be able to be performed by AI in the future. What does this leave for humans?
Nanotechnology
Energy - becoming more efficient, powerful and SMALLER; use of solar and renewable energy.

The new face of AI - meet Atlas!

When these BRAINE strands combine, amazing things can be created and change life as we know it; nanosurgery and drones being a few of these.

Best ever drone footage (from 2016)...

How can we prepare our students for these vastly different future from the one we (and their parents) grew up in, and how can we prepare them to contribute to these? Well... being able to read, write and do basic maths will still remain relevant and necessary for the transmission of information and the development and collaboration on ideas across time and space.

We can only hope that governments listen to Roger Dennis and upgrade our education system beyond the teach-to-assessment model and allow space for more critical thinking and creativity with our content.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Identify Trends - Identify Common Learning Goals

Manaiakalani Goals
  • To raise Maori student achievement through the development of cultural visibility and responsive practices across the pathway as measured against National Standards and agreed targets for reading Years 1-10 and NCEA Years 11-13. 
  • Lift the achievement for boys writing in Years 1-10.
School Goals
  • To raise Maori student achievement and cultural visibility.
  • That 85% of Maori students will achieve NCEA Level 2.
Science Department Goals
  • That 85% of Maori students doing Level 1 NCEA get 16 science credits.
  • That 85% of Maori students doing NCEA Levels 2 or 3 get 14 science credits.
  • That 80% of Year 9 and 10 students are reading at or above expected Curriculum Levels. 
My Inquiry
  • Can changes to cultural visibility and responsiveness in the Junior Science program improve Maori student a) reading achievement and b) enjoyment, confidence and achievement in science? 
TLDR summary: There is a common theme running through the Manaiakalani cluster, Tamaki College, the science department and also my own inquiry, and that is an eye to improving Maori student achievement, cultural visibility in the curriculum, and reading and writing.

Friday, 30 March 2018

Identify Trends - Common Learning Challenges

In my last post I shared our current Y9 reading data. 

Reading and writing are a massive focus for the Manaiakalani cluster this year, have been identified as a cluster-wide challenge, and have therefore been included in half of the cluster's Achievement Challenges: 

2. Lift the achievement of boys writing in years 1-10.
3. Lift the achievement in reading for all students, with a particular focus on boys and Maori students (both genders) years 1-13.
4. Increase the achievement of years 7-10 in reading, writing and maths.

A lot of inquiries by staff this year will focus on the acquisition of language, subject-specific language, and aim to make student environments in class be "dripping with language." 


The graph above shows years the writing test scores for years 2-10 in 2016-2017, and each of the year groups have three data points; the start of the year, the end of the year, and after the holidays.

We accelerate children in our classes! We do! We have a lot of catching up and when we have children in front of us in our classrooms, we accelerate them BUT they remain below the norm; and this graph may show one contributing factor why - holiday drop-off. 

Within the 2016 learning year, each year group individually made accelerated gains in writing. The grey line is the national norm. Two groups (the girls in year 5 and almost all of year 8) improved so much throughout the year they moved above the national norm with their end-of-2016-writing scores. Then their scores plummeted over the holidays, and then the effort to push students back up towards national norm began again at the start of 2017... here's the data for 2017.

Below is the graph of two data points for each individual year level during 2017; in Feb and in Nov 2017. This time the holiday drop-off wasn't included. 


Once again across the cluster all of our students start well below the national mean in writing ability; in 2017 only females in Y8 had crossed the national norm line by November. 

Side note: the year 9's who arrived in 2017 must have been a vastly different cohort from the year 8's tested inside the cluster at the end of 2016, who reached very very close to national norm as a cohort. This year 9 cohort in 2017 started WELL below norm and also made the least progress; year 10 2017 started below the norm but made above-average gains. To me, this means there is room for improvement in the junior curriculum and it should be focussed on improving literacy.

TLDR summary: reading and writing are both incredibly important skills, and all of our students (not just the ones we focus on in our inquiries) can and should improve in these areas, to give themselves the best chance at success in any area of their life in the future. I think it is vital and completely relevant that our inquiries (and any changes I make/inquire into) should have a focus on literacy and be "dripping with language." 

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Identify Trends - Student Data - Reading and Writing

Here are the reading and writing results for 9TGn:




Red students are the students that identify as Maori in the class. 


How to interpret results: 

B stands for basic.
P stands for proficient.
A stands for advanced.

Students are expected to arrive at secondary school in Year 9 ready to learn at level 5, as a high 4. 
Students at level 2 have given very little evidence of reading or writing ability.


Interesting 9TGn results: 

Only 3 students are where they should be (4A, 5B and 5A) and only in writing.

The class average in reading is 3P.
The class average in writing is slightly higher at 3A.
This is more than a full year level below where they should be in Year 9.

Student 1 is level 4P in reading but drops to 2B in writing (a big, unexpected drop - perhaps this student was mucking around during the writing test and this result is not reliable).
Student 12 is level 3B at reading but increases a whole level in writing.
Student 3 has a whole level difference between reading and writing.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Identify Trends - Maori Student Achievement Data

In my last post I learned that overall performance in the senior sciences are mostly on par with Decile 1 and at times closer to National norms. This data included internals AND externals, and students of all ethnicities. 

Today I'm going to delve deeper and look at Maori student achievement data in science, as my inquiry title is: 

Can changes to cultural visibility and responsiveness in the junior science program improve Maori student a) reading achievement and b) enjoyment, confidence and achievement in science?

Before we jump in, I think it's really quite important to note that the number of Maori students who take senior science is not high. It's difficult to talk about trends in data when there are only one or two students involved, as their individual differences may be massive!  

For example there were 2 Maori students in Biology in 2015, 1 in 2016 and 1 in 2017. There was only 1 Maori student enrolled in Y12 Chemistry in 2017 and no Maori students enrolled in Y13 Chemistry. 

The fact that not many Maori students choose senior science is an area that I hope to improve by inquiring into the cultural visibility and responsiveness of the junior curriculum to the lives and cultures of our Maori akonga.

These %'s represent the total % of grades across the year in both internal and externals. For example in the Year 12 2015 Chem Maori results there were 5 standards sat by the lone Maori student, and they received NA for 1, A for 1 and E for 3 of them. 

So let's jump in!

Year 12 Chem Maori Results
2015 Maori results - 20% NA, 20% A, 0 M, 60% E.
2016 Maori results - 57% NA, 0 A, 0 M and 43% E.
2017 Maori results - 100% NA.
National Statistics Decile 1 - 37% NA, 37% A, 13% M, 13% E.

Year 13 Chemistry Maori Results
2015 Maori results - 46% NA, 18% A, 9% M, 27% E.
2016 Maori results - 75% NA, 25% A, 0 M, 0 E.
2017 Maori results - no Maori students enrolled.
National Statistics Decile 1 - 31% NA, 40% A, 11% M, 12% E.

Year 12 Physics Maori Results
2016 Maori - 67% NA, 0 A, 33% M, 0 E.
2017 Maori - 64% NA, 21% A, 14% M, 0 E.
National Statistics Decile 1 - 32% NA, 45% A, 21% M, 3% E.

Year 13 Physics Maori Results
2016 Maori results - 0 NA, 0 A, 100% M, 0 E.
2017 Maori results - 0 NA, 75% A, 0 M, 25% E.
National Statistics Decile 1 - 43% NA, 33% A, 12% M, 12% E

Year 12 Biology Maori Results
2015 Maori results - 0 NA, 43% A, 57% M, 0 E.
2016 Maori results - 46% NA, 46% A, 7% M, 0 E.
2017 Maori results - 33% NA, 50% A, 17% M, 0 E.
National Statistics Decile 1 - 39% NA, 42% A, 11% M, 9% E.

Year 13 Biology Maori Results
2015 Maori results - 80% NA, 20% A, 0 M, 0 E.
2016 Maori results - 0 NA, 0 A, 100% M, 0 E.
2017 Maori results - 75% NA, 0 A, 25% M, 0 E.
National Statistics Decile 1 - 42% NA, 35% A, 15% M, 8% E.

Some things that have just jumped out at me is that in three Years no Maori student has gained an E in senior Biology, (Y12 or 13), although the rest of the Y12 grade distributions are similar to that of other Decile 1 schools.  

Maori students seem to perform better in senior Chemistry compared to Physics and Biology. 

Again, it is difficult to say this data is conclusive when the stats are based on 1, 2 or occasionally 3 students per year.

Interestingly, this article was posted over the weekend and shows that Nationally, 80% of students pass 'Science' (across all 3 levels, I guess?) and that about 19% will pass with Excellence.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Identify Trends - Student Achievement Data

What is achievement like across all senior sciences - we have staff reporting that students are not as prepared as they could be when they arrive, but what is the data telling us? I compared all Achievement Standard data from 2015, 2016 and 2017 with the 2016 National results (across all decile schools) and also with the 2016 National Decile 1 results. 

Results seem to indicate that while teachers feel some of our students are less prepared than they could be and that we need to "catch them up" on previous years' learning sometimes, their performances are by-and-large on par with the rest of the country.

These overall results could hide standards that students are find much harder and perform worse in, by mixing the data with standards they found easier and performed better in. This data also reports on internal and exam performance together.

Year 12 Biology Results
Year 12 results across 2015, 2016 and 2017 follow a similar proportion of grades to both 2016
National Statistics and Decile 1 Statistics too, although slightly less Excellences and more of
other grades.

Year 13 Biology Results
2015 results are similar to the National Statistics in Decile 1.
2016 results are similar to the 2016 National Statistics across all deciles.
2017 results shows a large increase in Excellence (almost 50% of all grades).

Year 12 Chemistry Results
Results in 2015 and 2017 are very similar.
2016 saw a small increase in NA and E and a decrease in A and M.
All three years have a higher proportion of NA than 2016 National Statistics and Decile 1 Statistics.

Year 13 Chemistry Results
2015 and 2016 show similar proportions of NA and A grades, with a few more E’s in 2015 than
in 2016.
2017 results show a lot less NA compared to 2016 National Statistics and also Decile 1 schools. There was also a
decrease in E and therefore a large increase in Achieved and Merit grades.

Year 12 Physics Results
2016 has a similar pattern of results to other Decile 1 National Statistics.
2016 and 2017 results both have more NA and less E than the overall 2016 National Statistics.
Compared to 2016, 2017 saw a slight increase in NA and a small decrease in A, while the M
and E remained fairly similar.

Year 13 Physics Results
2016 and 2017 Not Achieved results sit squarely between Decile 1 National Statistics and the
overall National Statistics.
2016 had a greater proportion of M and E than the 2016 National Statistics, and much less
Achieved.
2017 had a very similar proportion of M and E to the 2016 National Statistics.


TLDR: There doesn't seem to be a clear trend across time or the three subjects. Most results are on par with 2016 Decile 1 results, and some appear more like 2016 average nationwide results from all deciles. Results vary by year.