Teacher Inquiry 2017

Nic mason

Achievement Target: What outcomes am I aiming to achieve?  What outcomes do I want my focus students to achieve?

(SMART = Specific; Measurable; Attainable/Achievable; Relevant/Realistic;, Time-bound.)

To develop an understanding of Mathematics Inquiry Communities. To use ‘Bobbie Maths’ to accelerate the learning for my target group of children.











Potential – what might be?

Prioritise outcomes.

Baseline: Find out what students can already do and what more they need to learn.  

Refer to National

Curriculum and other resources

Initial plan. Who is my focus group?  Why are they my priority group? What do I know about them?  What can they already do?  What do they need to learn next? (Outline achievement data; specific skills, knowledge they already have; attitude to writing; and any other information)

School Context –


The goal for my target group (who were identified as below standard in 2016) to make accelerated progress so that they are meeting or exceeding the relevant standard by the end of 2017.

Target Group

*Issraa, *Cohen, *Alex W, *Libby Sloan, *Hannah

I have chosen these learners because as I said above, I identified my focus group because they are fringe kids.  In other words, they are on the cusp between below and at.  At the end of term one I conducted a maths survey with my focus group.

Survey Questions: 6/4/2017 (1 = Poor, 4 = Excellent)

  1. How much do you like maths at school?

I = 2, C = 2, Alex = 2, Libby Sl = 2, Hannah = 3.

  1. How good are you at maths?

I = 2, C = 1, Alex = 2, Libby Sl = 2, Hannah = 3.

  1. How good does your teacher think you are at maths?

I = 2, C = 2, Alex = 2, Libby Sl = 2, Hannah = 2.

  1. How do you feel about doing things in maths that you haven't tried before?

I = 3, C = 1, Alex = 2, Libby Sl = 2, Hannah = 2.

  1. How much do you like maths in your own time ­not at school?

I = 2, C = 1, Alex = 2, Libby Sl = 2, Hannah = 2.

  1. Do you want to keep learning about maths when you grow up?

I = 3, C = 2, Alex = 3, Libby Sl = 2, Hannah = 3.

  1. How would you feel if we did a little bit more maths each day? (Maybe another ten minutes)

I = 2, C = 2, Alex = 2, Libby Sl = 2, Hannah = 3.

  1. When it's maths time I feel....

I = 2, C = 1, Alex = 2, Libby Sl = 2, Hannah = 2.

  1. I know what my next learning steps are in maths.

I = 3, C = 2, Alex = 2, Libby Sl = 2, Hannah = 2.

One thing that I will do differently this year is spread my focus children into 4 separate groups. In the past I have put my focus group altogether and have spent extra time explicitly teaching them.  However after reading “The Hidden Lives of Learners” by Graham Nuttall, I decided to  spread my focus group out because as Nuthall discovered, “Spontaneous talk” plays a crucial role student learning.


Another area I have been exploring is Bobby Maths or “Mathematics Inquiry Communities”. I am blend this idea with P4C (an approach to learning where children are doing more talking to each other than to the teacher or adult).

Talk Moves:

1. Revoicing

  • “You’re saying that it’s an odd number?”
  • “Are you noticing something about the zeros over here?”

2. Repeating

  • “Can you repeat what he just said in your own words?”

3. Reasoning

  • “Do you agree or disagree, and why?”

4. Adding on

  • “Would someone like to add something more to this?”
  • “Karen, I see your hand is up. Do you have something to add?”

5. Waiting

  • “Take your time… we’ll wait…”
  • Total silence. Slowly count to 10 in your head.










What craft knowledge do I already have?

Search your own and colleagues' past practice for strategies that may be more effective.

Research to see what has worked for other teachers and contexts.

Formulate a plan.

Initially, what am I going to do? Develop? Strengthen?  What is my explicit plan for doing this? What strateg(y/ies) will I try? What evidence is there for doing this? How will I know whether the actions have had impact? (How will I measure achievement and/or progress of this group?)


See above for my “espoused theory in action”.


Now that we have all had a term to get to know the learners in our spaces, we have all been able to identify a focus for this years' teacher inquiry.  I know that a lot of you have already been making changes to your programmes to impact the learners in your care.

Over the break, the Leadership Team met to plan our PD for the coming term.  The most important aspect of this is our Jugyou Kenkyuu sessions that we will be carrying out in Weeks 3, 4 & 5 of this term.  When we examined the topics of inquiry, what stood out as a common theme was 'acceleration' - so this will be our major theme for JK in 2017.  We have 4 groups this year as the number of our staff continues to grow.  We have placed you in a group that we feel best fits your needs and the needs of the learners in your class.  The names of each group are our rough interpretation of your groups' inquiries as a whole - but the focus of your sessions will be determined by you and your group. 

So this year is the first time that Russell Street have explored differentiating learning for teachers in terms of their professional development. It is a space where this it is what we expect teachers to do for their students but often leaders are not providing this same opportunity for teachers! However, the leadership have decided that there will be a common thread of “acceleration”.  

Within our JK group we investigated using acceleration.  See here for the lesson investigation. 

Our reflections:

We could clearly see a major difference between learners who had been accelerated and those who weren’t.

They were more confident and made connections at the same rate as their peers.

Also with this confidence, this meant that they were more tuned in to the activity: they knew what to expect and we could almost see the neural pathways being made. We would definitely recommend using acceleration in our classrooms.

We noticed that students who usually didn’t speak up in class were more outspoken. (Is this an offset of confidence we wondered?).

With the flexibility of our Professional Development, Suzanne, a teacher employed by the school to work with our GATE students needed students for her Philosophy for Children Inquiry. I was happy to oblige as the parallels with using “Talk Moves”, discussing concepts and ideas were very compelling.












Monitor students' progress towards identified outcomes and reflect on what this tells you.

Use this new information to decide what to do next to ensure continued improvement in student achievement and in your own practice.

Put my plan into action. Monitor; collect evidence; write regular reflections; interpret data.  Plan next steps.

Reflection June:

I am seeing a clear attitude change in the likes of Issraa, Hannah, Libby and Alex.  And as a result, they appear to be much happier with maths and are making progress.  I have noticed that that Libby and Hannah are developing more of a voice within the group.  They are using the “talk moves” and questioning strategies to question and challenge the ideas from others in the group.

Cohen has been really hard to engage because he has developed a really negative self-image. He believes he is dumb and he isn’t applying himself as much as.  I feel for him because he is going out for Maths with Mel (MST), he is also doing Toe by toe with TA’s. He is going to Number Works and outside of school tutoring... He has a lot of pressure. His default strategy is to give up and not try. I have met with him one on one over the last few weeks and he asks excellent questions during these sessions. We have been working on asking these types of questions during workshops. He is beginning to do this, reluctantly.

Reflection August:

I am loving maths at the moment!  Every maths time, I am getting enthusiastic kids coming down to the mat all chorusing “YUSSSS!”

I went back to using acceleration with Cohen. Using reading times to read the rich task question a day before. Using “cheat sheets”. I am finding these strategies work so well with other learners (priority learners such as Joseph and Troy). Cohen is having a lot of difficulties outside of school and these are having an impact with his learning.

In a team meeting were introduced to some concepts from James to help guide and focus our Teacher Inquiry and align it to our school vision:

How does this activity/strategy empower your students as learners?  

How does this fit with the school’s vision or belief about pedagogy?

What’s going to be the best way to do that/move forward, what would work for you?

What’s going to be the best way to do that/move forward – what would work for you?

How does this learning/teaching activity reflect your beliefs about what constitutes effective teaching and learning?












Reflect on progress, observations: current versus initial data.

How did it go?

What strategies have made a difference to my students' learning?  

How do I know?

Analyse data and observations and draw conclusions.  Prepare and present findings to colleagues.

Survey Questions: 13/11/2017 (1 = Poor, 4 = Excellent)

No change, Increase change, decrease change

  • How much do you like maths at school?

I = 3, C = 3, Alex = 1, Libby Sl = 3, Hannah = 3.

  • How good are you at maths?

I = 2, C = 2, Alex = 4, Libby Sl =3, Hannah = 3.

  • How good does your teacher think you are at maths?

I = 2, C = 3, Alex = 3, Libby Sl =3, Hannah = 2.

  • How do you feel about doing things in maths that you haven't tried before?

I = 3, C = 2, Alex = 1, Libby Sl = 3, Hannah = 3.

  • How much do you like maths in your own time ­not at school?

I = 2, C = 2, Alex = 1, Libby Sl =3, Hannah = 2.

  • Do you want to keep learning about maths when you grow up?

I = 3, C = 4, Alex = 4, Libby Sl = 3, Hannah = 3.

  • How would you feel if we did a little bit more maths each day? (Maybe another ten minutes)

I = 2, C = 2, Alex = 1, Libby Sl = 4, Hannah = 3.

  • When it's maths time I feel....

I = 3, C =2, Alex = 2, Libby Sl = 3, Hannah = 3.

  • I know what my next learning steps are in maths.

I = 3, C =3, Alex = 3, Libby Sl = 3, Hannah = 3.

I =

C =

A =

L =

H =

PAT in Mathematics Results:



Interestingly, the person who made the most progress on their PAT results in mathematics, made the least progress in the maths attitude survey, Furthermore, this individual (from the teacher’s perspective, including mine and MST) appeared to had significantly improved their attitude during class and group activities.

The person who made the least progress in their PAT results in mathematics, made the most progress in the maths attitude survey.

Almost all students considered their group or their friends as being the most useful in their learning, proving in this case Nuthall’s suggestion about the teacher influencing the peer group contributes to learning in The Hidden Lives of Learners. 

The fact that one learner considered themselves good at maths and scored high on the “wanted to learn more maths when I’m older” section but did not want to do more school maths suggests that for this student maths is not something that is connected to their world and they perceive that there is school maths and real world maths.


Describe how you evaluated your inquiry and what it tells you about the success of your teaching..   What strategies have made a difference to your focus group? How has your practice changed?

In my endeavor to learn how to use mixed-ability groups as a vehicle to orchestrate rich tasks, my pendulum has swung very towards that direction. However, in a sense I have fixed in the fact that we “fixed mixed groups”.  And this is not the goal.  However, in terms of my learning I feel much more confident in leading this type of learning.

In the future, I look forward to letting the pendulum swing back and to apply all of Dinah’s work/PD in terms of knowledge, maintenance, strategy groupings, and rich-task/mixed ability groupings.

What has contributed most to my learning as a teacher?

Time: Giving time to make real change. Developing concepts and test them over the past 3 years.

My blog reflection:

The reflective questions for you to prepare your thoughts and evidence for, based on the new Code of Professional Responsibility & Standards for the Teaching Profession.

  • Standard 2: Use inquiry, collaborative problem-solving and professional learning to improve professional capability to impact on the learning and achievement of all leaners.
  • Reflective question: What professional learning have I engaged in and adaptively applied to my practice?

Accelerated learning: After our first round of JK this year, we decided on a theme of acceleration. During this time, I dabbled with some key learners and had really good results. I loved how engaged the targeted students were when we did the workshop among other students. They had an experience to hang the conversation - they were seeing it for the second time and it worked.  This will need to be something that I follow up with in the future as something I can apply to my practice. Not with all areas though.

What might be some blockers? Being responsive, just in time learning does not always lend itself to this type of learning. With the acceleration of learning assumes that the teacher has done the thinking about the direction in which the learner is heading. As this conflicts with my vision for learners at the centre and learner agency development.

Also time. Where do I schedule in an extra one on one time pre-lesson? How might this look like?

Some drivers could include increased engagement, acceleration. Great reasons really.

Influencing peer groups (The Hidden Lives of Learners): As I have stated above in my Teacher inquiry, how a teacher can influence a peer culture can determine how much more a learner can learn. I have been focusing on how this might look and some things I have tried are developing "Learning Pods" a group of people responsible for each others learning. Also within this, I invited Suzanne to trial P4C with my students. I wanted to influence the way that the students spoke to each other using the P4C language which also connected to the maths argumentative (?) language.

My class as a community really thrived with this innovation. They are able to have discourse about an idea without making it personal. Well, most of the time. I really noticed how this supported the development of listening  "thinking" and responding in my class. An excellent initiative that I will continue in the future.

The text "Disobedient Teaching" re-introduced me to how important it is to develop giving and receiving effective feedback and feedforward.

The Empower book.

  • Standard 3: Establish and maintain professional relationships and behaviours focused on the learning and wellbeing of each learner.
  • Reflective question: How have I communicated clear and accurate assessment for learning and achievement information with my learners and whānau?

Seesaw. Just that - Seesaw!  This is revolutionising the just in time learning portal into the community. There are some wonderings I have about using this tool in the future from a leadership perspective. How might we increase the posts from "what are we doing" to "what are we learning?" Is there still room for a Learning Conference in the same way as we have done traditionally? What other ways can we personalise this process for the learner / family?

James: Thanks for sharing your inquiry and the journey you have been on with your students.

Thanks for sharing your inquiry the other day. I was most intrigued by the way children who were seen as the bottom of each mixed ability group all saw themselves as unsuccessful in math. This is a risk we all must be aware of and allow children to move between groups and allow children of less knowledge to work together at times to see they are not alone or feel isolated. Mix n match sounds like a plan. You have certainly engaged in some significant reading this year and this has influenced your practice and thoughts. I have really enjoyed your discussions and contributions at our Carol sessions. What an insight you have into our learners and what matters most when engaging our learners. Thanks for all you have done and the wonderful work you have done with a tough class.

The skills you have and empathy for the children are not always understood by all but I certainly appreciate all you do and have learnt so much.

Kāore te kumara e kōrero mō tōna ake reka

The kumara (sweet potato) does not say how sweet he is