Monthly Archives: December 2009

How the internet can save time and money for parents…

Two reasons why the internet is GREAT for parents…

1. My recently turned 16-year-old son has shown me yet again why the internet is a great resource. His friends from school live in many different suburbs as most travel to school. He also has friends who are overseas visiting relatives for the holidays. I asked him recently why he was becoming nocturnal and his reply was that his friend from school was in England and he and group of mates have been meeting in an internet game to catch up. They regularly do this and chat while playing. Their game playing is very social. All have microphones / headphones and apart from the cost of the internet, their talking is free, no matter where their friends are in the world. No need for texting!

2. This christmas my son wanted two particular items for his computer. He had researched the parts, found the cheapest place to buy them and told me where I needed to go. Much to my surprise he also said that he had ordered the parts and they were being held. Well, address in hand  I headed off to a computer shop in a very industrial area of Clayton. I found the shop among the factories and walked in to find a very well-appointed office. After a short wait I sat down and said my son had ordered some items. Yes, I was a little skeptical! I said my son’s name, it was typed into the computer and then the salesperson went out the back and returned with the items packaged and the invoice ready.

Amazing! And ‘yes’ there needs to be balance, so as long as the internet is in balance with other life areas, as a parent I’m happy.

Cheers Nina

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The PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing Approach developed by Nina Davis

I’ve had an email from a group of teachers wanting to know more about Interactive Writing. They’ve read about the strategy and have read my posts. Apparently, they have noted through extensive reading that my approach is unique. Yes, I have developed Interactive Writing into a Student Led Collaborative Approach that I use weekly as part of my Language Experience / Play Experience Approach to teaching literacy and numeracy.

Through ‘morphing’ this strategy, developing and embedding it into my classroom practice during the past two years, I have changed what is an excellent teacher led strategy, not used enough, into a powerful teaching strategy that I believe is the best strategy for teaching writing.

What makes my way powerful?

The key is that students are working collaboratively, sharing their learning, prompting each other and using skills and language generally used solely by teachers. Each student is engaged in the activity with each student committed to contributing with the support of their peers if needed. Groups can be structured to support children or to extend groups of children. The teacher can run a teacher led group at the same time, which I do regularly.

Each child is identified by a color and all are given the opportunity to lead a group. Teaching leadership skills concurrently is essential. The children are given poster sized sheets to write on and textas. I use Student Led Interactive Writing to assess and plan my weekly writing foci. It’s interesting to note that my student’s independent writing improves rapidly. I’m looking for the transfer of my teaching into my student’s Independent and Interactive Writing.  Modelled Writing and Shared Writing are also planned into a weekly program from week one.

By the middle of the year my students are able to identify their learning needs and will suggest the foci for writing sessions. That is powerful! Some children, and they are 5 or 6 years old, will teach the writing focus or make suggestions for me to use. Groups share their writing with the class, with little books made using their Interactive Writing texts used for reading. This strategy extends highly able students, develops students working at the standard expected and supports less able students. I believe it accelerates the writing ability of all students.

One teacher I work with had a child who refused to write for many weeks. Even though this is uncommon it is seen from time to time. The introduction of this strategy gave the child the support needed and confidence to start writing.

Please read my previous posts in this blog. I have written about this strategy many times and have provided numerous pictures and descriptions of my student’s writing development. I’d also recommend reading my posts on general Independent Writing development as I have provided many examples of student writing in these posts as well. I think once you’ve seen the development of my student’s writing you’ll be as excited as I am about this approach and keen to develop this approach in your own classroom.  I’m calling it the PD Student Led Interactive Writing Approach to recognise my student’s committment and success. They have a passion for writing and have taken exercise books home for the holidays to keep a journal. Many of my parents tell me that their children write at home because they love it. Now that is special! I can only hope that their enthusiasm continues as they grow.

Please let me know how you’re using this approach in your classroom.

Cheers Nina

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Prep 2010! 2009 Australian School Year – done & dusted… Language Experience – Play Based Experience & the Victorian Early Years Program…

What a year! I’m hoping that visitors to my blog have enjoyed following my teaching and learning development for 2009. I see myself as a learner along with my students and as I’m going to be a Prep teacher again, I’m looking forward to doing things differently in 2010. My Language Experience Approach combined with Play Based Experience will become more ‘purest’, if that makes sense.

In 2008 I crawled, in 2009 I walked and in 2010 I’ll be running. I’ve discovered what I feel is important and what is ‘F.U.T’ – ‘Fill Up Time’ and… WHAT is powerful teaching and learning practice. I’m pleased I have the opportunity to have a 3rd year teaching Prep because I believe consolidation is important for teachers. That’s something I haven’t had the opportunity to do in some years.

Prep is an undervalued year. A recent comment heard by a colleague in my own school was that ‘Prep was the easiest year she’d taught’. Well, it was an inexperienced teacher talking and if I’d heard it I would have questioned this statement. Having now over 25 years experience teaching (not including training) in different settings and across every primary school year level, I can say that this teacher’s statement is ‘crap’. I have found teaching Prep (first formal year of education in Australia) challenging and see it as a crucial year in education. It is a foundation year! We know that buildings with poor foundations fall down, well; it’s no different for learners.

Like all years (Prep – Year 6), the actual year level shouldn’t define learning limits. The range of my student’s abilities is huge. Teaching to student learning needs and styles is where I draw upon my experience and knowledge of teaching and learning. I have an understanding of the learning journey (Prep-Year 6) and have found that the only limits children have, are the limits teachers set.

During the holiday break I’ll keep posting as I’ve developed a passion for writing. I’ll be writing about the e5 Instructional Model and how I intend to use this model to develop my teaching and learning. I’ll also be developing my understanding of this model and reporting what I’ve discovered via my inquiry. In January I’ll be attending the PYP – International Baccalaureate conference in Adelaide for three days and working out how the e5 Instructional Model will sit within its framework.

I’d like to wish everyone who visits my blog a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Cheers Nina

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From 5 to 6 Years old – Dear Santa… A child’s last piece of writing for the 2009 school year.

I have many children producing this standard of writing. This student has not checked this draft and will be using our class checklist to make changes over the next few days. The child wrote this in 40 minutes and I was impressed by the content… just so much to say. Oral language development within a Language Experience classroom is the key, combined with the Early Year’s teaching strategies. For international readers, this student will finish their first year of formal schooling this Friday and is 6 years old. I haven’t posted for a while due to reports etc…  Hope you enjoy this letter to Santa!

Cheers Nina

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PrepD Interactive Writing – A great strategy when teacher led but a POWERFUL strategy when student led! My Adaptation…

Anyone who reads my blog, by now has realised that this is one of my favourite teaching strategies. I’ve ‘morphed’ this strategy from teacher led to student led. This allows me to rove, listen to student conversations and watch for the transfer of explicitly taught concepts of print. I am able to assess each writer’s phonemic understanding, knowledge of punctuation and known vocabulary. I can also take a teacher led group according to the learning needs of my students. Groups are randomly formed some weeks or tailored for various other teaching needs. This strategy allows me to cater for the learning needs of all. It allows for extension for some writers and scaffolds needy students.

Initially children brainstorm a class sentence to be written by each group about a shared experience. As the children’s written English knowledge develops groups begin to write longer texts, brainstormed by themselves and of increasing length. The photo’s below display the development through the year. Unfortunately, my early samples were deleted by mistake. Early interactive writing samples displayed initial sounds, some final sounds and some known sight words. I start with teacher led Interactive Writing and introduce student led once children have been at school for about 4 weeks. It’s amazing how quickly they learn once they know what a sentence is, what a word is and how words are made.

You will not find student led Interactive Writing in books because it is an adaptation to the initial strategy. I must also note that Interactive Writing is a teaching and learning strategy. My student’s journal writing is where they practice and show case their skills  as young writers. For anyone reading this post from outside Australia we have only 2 weeks left of our school year. My children will start Year 1 in late January, 2010.

Cheers Nina

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