Monday 15 July 2024

The ABCDE of Learner Needs framework

The ABCDE of Learner Needs framework, created by the Center for Inspired Teaching and influenced by William Glasser's work, focuses on five core student needs:

  1. Autonomy: Students need to feel a sense of control over their learning and have opportunities to make choices.
  2. Belonging: It's essential for students to feel connected to their peers and teachers, fostering a supportive community.
  3. Competence: Students should feel capable and successful in their learning tasks, which builds confidence.
  4. Doing: Active, hands-on learning experiences are crucial for engaging students and making learning meaningful.
  5. Engagement: Lessons should be interesting and relevant to maintain students' attention and motivation.

This framework helps teachers create environments that meet these needs, promoting academic and social success for students​.

Here are some strategies I want to try in my classroom. It also links in with my school teachers inquiry - authentic learning.

  1. Autonomy:

    • Choice: Provide children with choices in their activities. For example, offer different stations they can choose from, such as a reading corner, art station, or building blocks area.
    • Independence: Encourage self-directed learning by allowing students to select materials and start tasks on their own. This fosters a sense of control over their learning environment.
  2. Belonging:

    • Community Building: Create a warm and inclusive classroom atmosphere. Use morning circles or group activities where each child can share something about themselves. Our MITEY program fits in well.
    • Positive Relationships: Foster strong relationships between students and between students and the teacher.
  3. Competence:

    • Skill Development: Design activities that are age-appropriate and match the developmental stages of your students. Celebrate small achievements to build their confidence.
    • Feedback: Provide positive and constructive feedback that helps students understand their progress and areas for improvement.
  4. Doing:

    • Hands-On Activities: Incorporate plenty of hands-on learning experiences. Activities like counting objects, sorting shapes, or engaging in simple science experiments can be very effective.
    • Active Participation: Ensure that children are actively involved in their learning by using interactive teaching methods such as storytelling, singing, and playing educational games.
  5. Engagement:

    • Interactive Lessons: Keep lessons engaging by incorporating multimedia, storytelling, and interactive activities that capture their interest.
    • Relevance: Connect learning materials to the children's own lives and experiences. For example, if learning about animals, discuss pets they might have at home.

Practical Tips:

  • Routine and Structure: Maintain a consistent daily routine to provide a sense of security, but include flexible periods for free play and exploration.
  • Visual Aids: Use visual aids like charts, pictures, and videos to make learning more accessible and engaging for young learners.
  • Play-Based Learning: Integrate play into the learning process. Play is a powerful tool for developing social skills, problem-solving abilities, and creativity.

Example Activities:

  • Autonomy
    • Create a "Choice Board" with different activity options for children to pick from during free time. 
    • Personal Projects: Allow children to work on small projects of their choice, such as creating a mini-book about their favourite animal. 
    • Class Jobs: Assign classroom responsibilities (line leader, snack helper, etc.) to give students a sense of ownership and responsibility.
    • Learning Stations: Set up various learning stations (reading, art, science) and let children choose where they want to spend their time.
    • Self-Portrait Art: Provide materials for children to create self-portraits, allowing them to choose how they represent themselves.
  • Belonging
    • Start the day with a "Morning Greeting" where each child can share something about their day or their feelings.
    • Buddy System: Pair students up with a buddy for certain activities to promote friendship and cooperation.
    • Classroom Quilt: Each student decorates a fabric square that is then sewn together to create a classroom quilt, symbolising unity.
    • Group Games: Play cooperative games like “Parachute Play” where everyone works together to keep a ball bouncing on the parachute.
  • Competence
    • Set up a "Success Wall" where children's achievements, like artwork or completed tasks, are displayed.
    • Skill Practice Centers: Set up different stations focused on specific skills (counting beads for math, sorting objects for classification, etc.).
    • Achievement Certificates: Give out certificates or stickers for milestones reached, such as learning all the letters of the alphabet or tying their shoes.
    • Math Manipulatives: Use objects like counting bears or linking cubes for hands-on math activities.
    • Reading Buddies: Pair older students with younger ones for reading sessions to build confidence in both groups.
  • Doing
    • Organise a weekly "Science Exploration" where children can engage in simple experiments or nature walks.
    • Gardening: Start a small garden where children can plant seeds, water plants, and watch them grow.
    • Cooking: Simple cooking activities like making fruit salads or baking cookies. This can teach measurements and following instructions.
    • Building Projects: Provide building materials like blocks or recycled materials for children to create structures.
  • Engagement
    • Use themed weeks (e.g., space, dinosaurs, seasons) to create excitement and context around learning activities.
    • Storytelling with Props: Use puppets, costumes, or props to make storytelling more interactive and engaging.
    • Themed Days: Organise themed days (like “Space Day” or “Pirate Day”) with related activities, crafts, and stories.
    • Music and Movement: Incorporate songs and dance into daily routines to make learning more dynamic and fun.
Most of these are already included in my daily routine and lesson plans. 

Sunday 14 July 2024

Embracing Neurodiversity: Supporting Students Before They Begin School

How can early identification and tailored intervention strategies enhance the learning experiences and outcomes for neurodiverse students before they begin school, and what role does collaboration among educators, parents, and support professionals play in this process?

When supporting neurodiverse students before they start school, asking the right questions can help you gather essential information and insights. Here are some categories of questions to consider.

Questions for Parents

  • Developmental History:
    • Can you describe any significant milestones or delays in your child's development?
    • Have you noticed any particular strengths or challenges your child has?
  • Behaviour and Social Interaction:
    • How does your child interact with peers and adults?
    • Are there any specific behaviours or routines your child prefers?
  • Sensory Preferences:
    • Does your child have any sensitivities to noise, light, textures, or other sensory inputs?
    • Are there any activities or environments that seem to calm or stimulate your child?
  • Previous Support:
    • Has your child received any early intervention services, such as speech therapy or occupational therapy?
    • What strategies or supports have been effective for your child in the past?
Questions for Educators and Support Professionals
  • Training and Awareness:
    • What training have you received regarding neurodiversity and supporting neurodiverse students?
    • What additional resources or training do you think would be beneficial?
  • Classroom Environment:
    • How do you adapt the classroom environment to accommodate sensory needs
    • What strategies do you use to support diverse learning styles?
  • Collaboration and Communication:
    • How do you collaborate with parents and other professionals to support neurodiverse students?
    • What methods do you use to monitor and communicate student progress?
Questions for the Multi-Disciplinary Team
  • Assessment and Identification:
    • What assessment tools do you use to identify neurodiverse traits in young children?
    • How do you ensure assessments are culturally and linguistically appropriate?
  • Intervention Strategies:
    • What early intervention strategies do you recommend for specific challenges (e.g., communication, social skills, sensory processing)?
    • How do you tailor interventions to meet individual needs?
  • Goal Setting and Progress Monitoring:
    • How do you set realistic and achievable goals for neurodiverse students?
    • What methods do you use to track and evaluate progress?
Questions for the School Administration
  • Policy and Support:
    • What policies are in place to support neurodiverse students before they start school?
    • How do you allocate resources for early intervention and support services?
  • Creating an Inclusive Culture:
    • What initiatives are in place to promote understanding and acceptance of neurodiversity within the school community?
    • How do you engage parents and the wider community in supporting neurodiverse students?
Questions for the Students
  • Interests and Preferences:
    • What activities do you enjoy the most?
    • Are there any activities or situations that make you feel uncomfortable or upset?
  • Learning Style:
    • How do you like to learn new things? (e.g., through pictures, stories, hands-on activities)
    • What helps you concentrate and stay focused?
Neurodiversity is a term that recognises and celebrates the unique strengths and perspectives of individuals with diverse neurological differences. It is crucial to capture and support neurodiverse students before they even start school to ensure they have the best possible foundation for success. 

One of the key benefits of identifying and embracing neurodiversity early on is the opportunity to provide tailored support and accommodations that meet the specific needs of each student. 

By understanding and addressing these needs from the beginning, educators can create an inclusive learning environment where all students can thrive. Supporting neurodiverse students from the start also helps in fostering a sense of belonging and acceptance. When students feel understood and supported, they are more likely to engage actively in their learning and build confidence in their abilities. This, in turn, can lead to improved academic performance and overall well-being. 

There are several ways to help neurodiverse students before they start school. 
First and foremost, it is essential to create awareness and promote understanding of neurodiversity among educators, parents, and peers. Encouraging empathy and acceptance can help create a more inclusive school community where all students feel valued. 

Additionally, providing early intervention and access to support services such as occupational therapy, speech therapy, or behavioural interventions can address specific challenges that neurodiverse students may face. Individualised education plans (IEPs) can also be developed to outline personalised goals and accommodations to support their learning and development. Creating a supportive and inclusive school environment for neurodiverse students requires collaboration and partnership among educators, parents, and support professionals. By working together to recognise and embrace neurodiversity, we can ensure that all students have the opportunity to learn, grow, and succeed to their fullest potential. 

Early Identification and Assessment
  • Screening and Assessments: Conduct early screenings to identify neurodiverse traits. This can involve working with paediatricians, psychologists, and other specialists.
  • Parental Input: Encourage parents to share observations and concerns about their child's development. Parents often notice differences early on and can provide valuable insights.

Educator Training and Awareness

  • Professional Development: Provide training for educators on neurodiversity, its various manifestations, and effective teaching strategies.
  • Awareness Campaigns: Implement school-wide initiatives to promote understanding and acceptance of neurodiversity among all staff and students.

Tailored Early Intervention Programs

  • Therapeutic Services: Offer access to occupational therapy, speech therapy, and behavioural therapy. Early intervention can address developmental delays and improve skills.
  • Individualised Support Plans: Develop individualised plans(IEP) that outline specific goals, strategies, and accommodations for each child.

Family Support and Engagement

  • Parent Workshops: Organise workshops to educate parents about neurodiversity, early signs, and available support services.
  • Support Groups: Create support groups for parents to share experiences, resources, and strategies.

Collaborative Approach

  • Multi-Disciplinary Teams: Form teams of educators, therapists, and specialists to work together in creating comprehensive support plans.
  • Regular Communication: Maintain open lines of communication between parents, teachers, and support professionals to ensure consistency and collaboration.

Building a Culture of Inclusion

  • Empathy Education: Teach empathy and social skills to all students to foster a culture of acceptance and inclusion.
  • Celebrating Differences: Celebrate neurodiversity through events, stories, and activities that highlight the strengths and contributions of neurodiverse individuals.

Monitoring and Evaluation

  • Ongoing Assessment: Continuously monitor the progress of neurodiverse students and adjust support plans as needed.
  • Feedback Mechanisms: Implement feedback systems to gather input from parents, students, and educators on the effectiveness of support strategies.
What can I do?
Professional Development and Awareness
Educate Yourself and Colleagues:
  • Attend workshops, webinars, and training sessions on neurodiversity and inclusive education.
  • Share your knowledge with colleagues through professional learning communities or staff meetings.
Stay Updated:
  • Keep abreast of the latest research, strategies, and best practices in supporting neurodiverse students.
Early Identification and Intervention
Observe and Assess:
  • Conduct regular observations and assessments to identify early signs of neurodiverse traits.
  • Use developmentally appropriate assessment tools to gather information about each child’s strengths and challenges.
Collaborate with Specialists:
  • Work with psychologists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, and other specialists to develop comprehensive support plans.
  • Refer students for further evaluation and services when necessary.
Creating an Inclusive Environment
Adapt the Learning Environment:
  • Design classrooms that accommodate various sensory needs, such as quiet spaces, sensory tools, and flexible seating arrangements.
  • Use visual aids, schedules, and routines to provide structure and predictability.
Differentiated Instruction:
  • Tailor your teaching methods to accommodate different learning styles and needs.
  • Provide multiple means of engagement, representation, and expression to ensure all students can access and participate in learning activities.
Building Relationships
Foster Positive Relationships:
  • Build trusting relationships with students and their families by showing empathy, understanding, and respect.
  • Create a welcoming and inclusive classroom culture where all students feel valued and supported.
Parent Engagement:
  • Maintain open communication with parents to understand their child’s needs and share progress.
  • Encourage parents to participate in school activities and decision-making processes.
Early Support Services
Early Intervention Programs:
  • Advocate for and implement early intervention programs within the school setting.
  • Ensure that students have access to necessary support services, such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, and behavioural interventions.
Individualised Support Plans:
  • Develop and implement individualised education plans (IEPs) or individualised family service plans (IFSPs) that outline personalised goals and accommodations.
  • Monitor and adjust these plans regularly based on the child’s progress and changing needs.
Promoting Social-Emotional Learning
Social Skills Training:
  • Provide opportunities for social skills training and peer interaction.
  • Use role-playing, social stories, and cooperative learning activities to teach and reinforce positive social behaviours.
Emotional Support:
  • Teach and model self-regulation and coping strategies.
  • Create a safe space for students to express their feelings and seek help when needed.
Advocacy and Policy
Advocate for Resources:
  • Advocate for the allocation of resources and funding to support neurodiverse students.
  • Work with school leadership to ensure that policies and practices are inclusive and supportive of neurodiversity.
Promote a Culture of Inclusion:
  • Lead by example in promoting empathy, acceptance, and understanding of neurodiversity within the school community.
  • Organise events, workshops, and activities that celebrate neurodiversity and educate the school community.

Resources and links:
Online Resources
  1. The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD)

    • The NCLD offers a wealth of resources, including articles, webinars, and toolkits, to help educators and parents support neurodiverse students. NCLD Website
  2. The Child Mind Institute

    • The Child Mind Institute provides resources and research-based strategies for supporting children with various neurodevelopmental differences. Child Mind Institute
  3. The Autism Society

    • The Autism Society offers comprehensive resources on early identification, intervention, and support for children with autism. Autism Society

Wednesday 24 April 2024

How to make reading instruction much much more efficient

How to make reading instruction much much more efficient

Edweek - By Mike Schmoker — November 19, 2019


Data shows that our students are still not performing according to their year level. Many factors are recognised to have an impact on this, including lack of foundational skills, attendance, and minimal or no input from home. This is an ongoing battle but I want to change my practice to ensure the gap does get smaller.

According to literacy researcher Richard Allington, studies show that “virtually every student could be reading on grade level by the end of 1st grade.” Although this is based on American data I strongly feel that I have similar issues.Learning to read and speak well requires focused phonics lessons and plenty of practice in reading, talking, and writing across different subjects. The typical way we teach reading, including many commercial programs, often falls short. This is because they rely too much on small groups based on kids' abilities.

The real problem lies in how we structure reading time and the exaggerated promises of commercial reading programs. Teachers often feel disappointed because they use these ability-based groups too often. Instead, they should focus more on teaching the whole class together using methods that have been proven to work. These methods ensure that all students are paying attention, continuously assess the class's progress, and adjust teaching as needed.

According to an article in Education Week, teaching the whole class together is usually more effective than using small ability-based groups.


With more whole class well executed instruction with approximately 20min, literacy time will be doubled. This would allow for huge infusions of instructional time into the essential components of literacy. I could use this additional time to incorporate more:

  • "Intensive, sustained, systematic phonics. We could substantially accelerate students’ mastery of the phonetic code and still have time for kids to read and listen to far more fiction and nonfiction texts.
  • Reading/general knowledge. If most students have mastered decoding, they could spend more amounts of time in higher years reading literature, history, and science texts to build their knowledge base and vocabulary, which are critical to effective comprehension.
  • Vocabulary instruction. Most of a rich vocabulary is acquired through abundant reading. But research also shows that we can reliably supplement this with targeted, embedded vocabulary instruction.
  • Discussion. To become confident, articulate speakers, students must engage in frequent, purposeful discussions about what they read. We could multiply the length and frequency of such discussions, which animate an appreciation of reading and are excellent preparation for writing.
  • Writing and writing instruction. Writing has an unsurpassed capacity to help us think logically, express ourselves clearly, and understand, analyse, and retain content. It often promotes dramatic, measurable improvements across the curriculum and is crucial to success in innumerable careers."

How will it help me?

With our new plan to incorporate more explicit explore play learning time with provocations, it is the teacher's responsibility to ensure that learning continues to happen and is not solely characterised by free roaming and unstructured choice activities. Specifically in mathematics and literacy, essential activities must be carefully planned and effectively executed within this environment, while other teachers lead smaller groups. By teaching mathematics, reading, and writing with well-planned provocations and direct instruction, students will experience significantly more instructional learning time. We already included more Reading to opportunities, Shared Big Book reading and Poems. We are exposing our learners to a variety of literature.

So What?

With this new approach, our team wants to ensure that all students will have the opportunity to meet their needs through a variety of learning activities.

Friday 19 April 2024

Spiral of Inquiry - Scanning

My investigation : Teacher inquiry 

'How can I modify my teaching practices to ensure that 5-year-olds begin school equipped with the foundational skills they require, while also providing opportunities to address any gaps in their learning needs?'

Let's look at my Spiral of Inquiry:


Wednesday 27 March 2024

Reading for enjoyment - Learning with Jill Eggleton and Heather Haylock

Reading for enjoyment - Learning with Jill Eggleton and Heather Haylock

Attending professional development with Jill Eggleton and Heather Haylock,  renowned experts in literacy education, can indeed be transformative for educators, especially in New Zealand. Here are some reasons why you might feel inspired to teach literacy after such an experience:

Deepened Understanding of Literacy Development: 
  • provide insights into the stages of literacy development, including phonemic awareness, vocabulary acquisition, comprehension strategies, and fluency development.
Effective Instructional Strategies: 
  • introduce innovative and research-based instructional strategies that engage students and foster a love for reading and writing. These strategies can range from interactive read-aloud techniques to guided reading practices tailored to individual student needs.
Emphasis on Cultural Relevance: 
  • In a diverse educational landscape like New Zealand, understanding the importance of culturally responsive literacy instruction is crucial. Professional development with Jill Eggleton may highlight the significance of selecting texts that reflect the cultural backgrounds and experiences of students, thus promoting inclusivity and equity in the classroom.
Regarding the impact of incorporating poetry into your practice can lead to several changes:
  • Language Enrichment: Teaching poetry allows students to explore the richness of language through rhythm, rhyme, imagery, and figurative language.
  • Critical Thinking and Analysis: Studying poetry encourages students to think critically and analytically.
  • Expressive Writing: Writing poetry offers students an outlet for self-expression and reflection. Through composing poems, students can articulate their thoughts, emotions, and experiences in creative and meaningful ways, promoting both literacy development and emotional intelligence.
  • Integration of Arts and Literacy: Poetry often integrates with other art forms such as music, visual arts, and drama. Teaching poetry provides opportunities for students to explore connections between language and other forms of expression.

 JillE Literacy | JillE Literacy

Here are some of my big take aways from the professional Development.

Discussion Points & Learning

“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” - Malala Yousafzai

How Heather Haylock's writing process is done:

  • Don't shy away from using big words
  • If they can say tyrannosaurus rex they can say anything, words like, curlicued, militant, billowing
  • Always within context and with illustrations to support understanding, helps to extend vocabulary, talking to kids, not rocket science, hypothesis, learning by osmosis
  • Sharing stories with children develop a sense of a story - beginning, middle and end
  • Hard to get through some children because they are just focussed on survival
  • Characters need to be interesting
  • Finding books that are good to read aloud
  • Sense of a story - a lot of kids come to school not having been exposed to books(CAP), where others arrive with well developed sense of story
  • Those without much exposure have hardly any soil to plant imagination
  • We need to develop the love of language and stories
  • One way to do it is read aloud
  • Characters with problems to solve
  • Characters kids can relate to, e.g. animals, nana
  • Relate to school ,family, sports or feelings

Developmental Priorities

Tips and tricks

  • Establish a routine read aloud time
  • Finding ‘reading snack’ slots in the school day
  • Reluctant readers - when they are read aloud to they become more involved and engaged
  • Read aloud in small groups

Jill Eggleton

Teaching matters and it matters everyday - teachers make more minute by minute decisions than brain surgeons. What could be more important than moulding children?

What is your BELIEF - Sound research and something felt deep in the soul, mostly coming from a heartfelt response.

Shared reading Large Poetry cards benefits:

  • Improves literacy skills
  • Enrich vocabulary - crucial
  • Familarised words
  • A child's vocabulary tells us how they will be at 11
  • Encourages thinking
  • Replicate the way we learn and think
  • Short pieces
  • Exposes to images
  • Boost fluency
  • Rhyming, musical and rhythm
  • Phonemic awareness
  • Builds listening skills
  • Helps train the memory
  • Memorising poems give your brain the power to enhance the power to retain

Next Steps & Commitments

Shared big books and Poetry - every week I will introduce a new shared poem(review the previous learned ones) and a shared big book. Students will be able to access the previous books and poems during morning exploration learning as well as during writing time.

Finding a good book

  • Picture books
  • Sophisticated picture books
  • Chapter books
  • Short stories
  • Biography collections
  • Seasonal books(ANZAC, Matariki,Easter)
  • Wordless picture books - if kids don’t know how to read - barrier, they can make up their own story
  • Fun ones
  • Rhyming ones - repeated refrains

Monday 18 March 2024

Challenge board for Year 1

I've introduced a challenge board for my class during Maths and Literacy sessions. The goal is to empower my little learners to take charge of their own learning and develop independence. This approach should reduce the need for constant guidance, allowing them to progress at their own pace. The activities will change weekly. Take a look at the digital version and let me know what you think! Open to hear any feedback!!

Implementing a challenge board during Maths and Literacy sessions can offer numerous advantages:
  • Fostering Independence: Encourages students to take initiative and responsibility for their learning, promoting independence and self-reliance.
  • Empowering Students: Gives students a sense of control over their learning journey, enhancing their confidence and motivation to tackle tasks.
  • Minimising Teacher Interruptions: Reduces the need for constant teacher direction, allowing educators to focus on facilitating deeper learning experiences and providing targeted support where needed.
  • Customised Learning: Enables students to select challenges that align with their interests, abilities, and learning preferences, supporting personalised learning experiences.
  • Developing Problem-Solving Skills: Challenges students to think critically and creatively as they work through tasks independently, fostering the development of essential problem-solving skills.
  • Building Resilience: Encourages students to persist in the face of challenges and setbacks, promoting resilience and a growth mindset.
  • Encouraging Collaboration: Provides opportunities for peer collaboration and cooperation as students work together to solve challenges, fostering a sense of community and teamwork.
A challenge board can create a dynamic and engaging learning environment that promotes student agency, skill development, and academic success.

Sunday 17 March 2024

Meet Room 7's Reading buddies

During our Literacy time we met our new reading buddies for 2024.

We all sat together and discussed how their different personalities might be and each got a special name.

The students were so excited to build a relationship with their reading buddies. 

Let's meet them:

Frankie - the pepper frankenstein: he loves to listen to stories and can be a bit playful sometimes.

Love Heart - the pink elephant: she has a heart full of love and think her reading buddy is the best reader and writer in the world.

Sparkles is our kind-hearted dog: he will make sure nobody disturbs you when you are reading.

Simba - strong willed lion: he will read along with you to make sure you are on the right track.

Isabella - our trying turtle: she will motivate and encourage you until you are confident.

Last but definitely not the least - Mr Crabs, the lobster: he can see everything anywhere in the class, he will make sure you show integrity.

                                                           Sparkles is reading with Susana.

Avee and Simba has a strong connection.

                                             Love Heart is teaching Carter, Mr Crabs and Isabella the digraph /sh/.

Can't wait how our buddies will assist our learners in their learning.