TLP Enquiry – First Draft

I was recently asked to speak to current Aberdeen City probationers about my experience of practitioner enquiry. I spoke about my PGDE enquiry and my own probationer PEAR project, as well as telling them about my initial plans for this enquiry. I was very nervous before presenting but received positive feedback and I’m proud I did something outside my comfort zone.

Charlaine Simpson, from the GTCS, was also speaking at that event and her presentation was really interesting for me as I reflected on my TLP enquiry plans. She shared this process wheel which has helped me to think about the steps involved in practitioner enquiry:

GTCS PL Wheel

At the SCEL TLP recall event next week, we will have time to discuss our enquiry questions and plans but we’ve been asked to post a first draft prior to the event. I have shared my plan below, using Canva.

FOCUS: Cooperative Learning and Coding

QUESTION: To what extent does the use of cooperative learning groups for a coding project impact social skills in a P6 class?

Adapted from a blog post, first published: 3rd January 2020. Available at: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/mrsclarepirie/2020/01/03/myenquiryplanfirstdraft/

What is already known?

I’ve decided to introduce cooperative learning groups to my P6 class as the focus for my practitioner enquiry. Many of the other areas I discussed in my previous post are things I wanted to make changes to this term, rather than waiting until January after the recall date.

Having attended cooperative learning training during my probationer year, last year, I used some of the strategies with my P2 class, but didn’t set up formal groups or fully embed its use properly. I feel this would benefit my current P6 class but haven’t yet set up groups. As I’m also passionate about the use of digital technology in the classroom, I was excited to learn that the Aberdeenshire Council GamesCon festival had been extended to all Northern Alliance P6 and P7s. This requires children to work in groups to design a game using Scratch. I intend to introduce cooperative learning groups which the children will eventually work in to enter the Games Con competition.

My hope is that the formal groups and structured sessions will allow some of the more academically able children to develop their social emotional skills, particularly in mixed ability groups. One of the five basic elements of cooperative learning is positive interdependence. Johnson and Johnson (2017) defines this as students believing “that they are linked with others in a way that one cannot succeed unless the other members of the group succeed (and vice versa), that is, they “sink or swim together.” I’d like to focus on this particular area to see if this helps in other areas of the curriculum (and the general health and wellbeing of the class!).

There is a lot of research into cooperative learning, this is just two pieces that I have read recently:

JOHNSON, D. W., and JOHNSON,  R. T., (2017) ‘Cooperative Learning’  Innovacion Educacion, Available at: https://2017.congresoinnovacion.educa.aragon.es/documents/48/David_Johnson.pdf (Accessed: 8 December 2019).

Johnson and Johnson have done a lot of research into cooperative learning and, in this 2017 piece, they summarise their own research and developments from others in the field of education. This is a helpful summary and reminder of what I learned on the training course, last year. I found the part where they state that “student-student interaction may be structured in school classes: competitively, individualistically, and cooperatively” struck a chord with me in my current class. Some of the children can be unkind (perhaps without meaning to be) in how they talk about their achievements in front of others. A recent pair work task showed that some of the children were proud that they’d managed to complete the task (building a gingerbread house!) on their own, missing the point a bit! Perhaps the mix of competitve, individual, and cooperative tasks needs to be more explicitly explained so the children better understand what is being asked of them in each lesson.

POPA, C. and POP, M. (2019) ‘Cooperative Learning – Applications for Children from Primary School’, Journal Plus Education / Educatia Plus, 22(1), pp. 78–87. Available at: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eue&AN=137392983&site=ehost-live&scope=site (Accessed: 8 December 2019).

This journal article details research in Romania which found that teaching 4th grade children using cooperative learning strategies reduced their dependence on teachers, developing their own independence and ability to work together in groups to find solutions rather than seeking out help from their teacher. We often speak in P6 about developing the children’s independence as we prepare for moving to secondary school. As a result, this could also benefit my class.

There are two P6 classes at my school and I work closely with my stage partner. I will be introducing Games Con to the other P6 class as well. It may be an interesting comparison for me to use cooperative learning strategies with my own class, but not structure it in the same way with the other class and see if that has any effect, how to measure that is a different blog post entirely!

First published: 8th December 2019. Available at: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/mrsclarepirie/2019/12/08/what-is-already-known/

Possible Enquiry Areas

Still early in my teaching career, I haven’t yet narrowed down to particular areas of interest but seem to be enthusiastic about too many things! I struggled to decide on a focus area for my probationer practitioner enquiry and seem to be repeating myself with the TLP. Something I find difficult is honing in on who the enquiry should be for. Is it for me to develop as a professional? Is it for the specific learners in my class? Or is it something that could potentially have a whole school application? I often get carried away trying to achieve the latter.

In order to try and narrow things down, I’ve tried to summarise my thinking below:

Social Emotional Learning / Health and Wellbeing

I’d like to do some sort of enquiry based in Health and Wellbeing or Social Emotional Learning, but I’m not sure what yet. Here are some thoughts:

  • Cooperative learning groups – Having attended the Cooperative Learning training last year, I implemented some of the whole-class strategies with my P2s. I’d like to take this on fully by embedding these strategies, as well as specific groups, in P6. I’m interested to see the impact this has on the children’s social skills, ability to work with those outwith their friendship groups, and their resilience in every day lessons.
  • Morning Greetings – I’ve already implemented this but could do more qualitative research on the children’s perspectives, etc.
  • Impact of Emotional Check Ins – I experienced this on placement where the class teacher followed the Jenny Mosley Circle Time approach, also utilising Bubble Time as a way of developing relationships with the children and ensuring they feel safe. This is something I plan on introducing anyway so my question is really whether to focus my enquiry on it.
  • “Feeling diaries” – this was something I heard about at the Portobello Learning Festival where a teacher shared some of the strategies she had used to build kindness in her classroom. The children spent a few minutes each morning writing how they were feeling and why. I introduced it with my P2s last year and noticed a huge difference in my understanding of how the children were feeling, their behaviours and the impact this had on their learning – I wonder whether it will be beneficial in P6.

Digital Technology / Leadership of Learning / Pupil Voice

During my probation year, I was involved in a number of activities to boost the digital teaching and learning in the school, which I would like to continue this year. Some ideas for enquiry related to digital technologies:

  • Pupil Voice – I have regularly utilised digital technology to collect the children’s views on learning and classroom culture. I’d like to look into different ways of doing this and seeing what impact it has on the children’s attainment and ownership over their learning. Could be linked to learning journeys??
  • Student Blogging (linked to Learning Journeys?) – since reading The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros, I’ve really wanted to try out student blogging. My class previously haven’t had a lot of technology time so I’d like to tap into their enthusiasm for it, possibly to develop their writing. I could start them off blogging with different prompts – there are some great ideas on this blog post. 
  • TextHelp Read&Write – I have introduced this for the children who struggle with spelling as well as the children who struggle to focus – could look into the impact of this.
  • Coding / Computing Science – this is something that I am championing in school, but if I could show a cross-curricular benefit to other teachers it might help with the case for fitting it into an already packed week – I could use weekly lessons to develop computational thinking skills and see if there is any impact in “core” lessons??
  • Parental Engagement – this could be very broad, looking at how digital tools improve whole school parental engagement, which I’ve had a few interesting conversations with my HT about, or could be more specific to EAL parents.
  • This year, I am running the Digital Leaders with a colleague, and am starting a junior STEM club. It’d be interesting to look into the impact on these children of being in these groups.

Assessment

Both my enquiry during the PGDE and the practitioner enquiry completed during my probation year were focused on assessment strategies within writing, both within Early (into First) Level.

Since starting this year in P6, there are so many things that are different from my last year in P2, but the amount of marking came as a shock. I’d like to build on what I learned in my previous two enquiries by looking into assessment of writing within Second Level. I have seen a lot on Twitter about the benefits of Whole Class Feedback and would like to try this out in my own class. This term, weekly writing lessons were self assessed, peer assessed, and teacher assessed using a Success Criteria grid which was traffic-lighted. Each piece then had 2 stars and a wish written by me. This is in line with my stage partner’s approach. If this was chosen as an enquiry, I could look to rotate groups each week and introduce one-to-one conferencing (like I did in P2), gradually moving to Whole Class Feedback. I’d need to read more about this, but I’d like to look into the benefits to the children’s learning compared with teacher time spent writing in jotters.

Adapted from a blog post, first published: 21st October 2019. Available at: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/mrsclarepirie/2019/10/21/exploring-my-itch/

What does Teacher Leadership mean to me?

Teacher leadership, for me, is about taking responsibility for my own professional learning  and reflecting on how I can improve my practice. It involves researching and implementing ideas, and evaluating their impact. It will help me to develop the confidence, early in my teaching career, to make changes in my classroom to impact on my learners. I hope to be able to share what I learn through the TLP with my colleagues in working groups and other informal discussions with colleagues. I hope to explore areas of my practice that I could potentially take to Masters level study.

(Reflections and photo from the SCEL TLP Launch Event at the University of Aberdeen, August 2019).

First published: 26th August 2019. Available at: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/mrsclarepirie/2019/08/26/what-teacher-leadership-means-to-me/

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started