Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Twitter - from Daily 5 to 'Self Directed Learners'

Twitter - from Daily 5 to 'Self Directed Learners'

How much has your classroom changed in the last two years?
If it is not obvious to you, your learners and your colleagues that things are changing then you need to get out there and grab yourself some PD. To be specific, some Self-Directed Professional Development.

Get going with Twitter:
Three years ago I found Twitter and a whole new world of PD opened up. This was not what 'Management' decided I needed to learn but was driven by my interests and the needs of our classroom.
I noticed that educators globally kept talking about the same things and one of them was Daily 5 and Reader's Cafe.

Investigating Daily 5:
Always nosy and keen to improve my teaching, I began the investigation.  The books arrived and I was raring to go but ….. two student teachers and 12 weeks later… I began in Term 4 of 2012. We started the process of developing reading muscles, stamina and independence within our own learning.  The class loved it.

All those 'Internet Based' tools come into play when beginning something like this. Pinterest has already gathered up all the resources you would ever need and tweeting or catching up at F2F meetings likeeducamps and coffee is the way to see things in action.  Make those connections and visit other  classes.

In the first year it all began to click into place and I could see the connections we could make with the work of The Book Whisperer @donalynbooks.  We unpacked genre, tracked our reading with 'Piggy Pyramids', wrote shopping lists of books we wanted to share and did 'Book Speed-Dating'.  Most importantly we have heaps of books around our class and I activelly helped kids find 'Good-fit books' because I knew what they like to read and have read most of the books in our class library!  Daily 5 was our favourite time of the day but that was not the end.  It was only the beginning.

Growing Daily 5 into independence:
To start 2014, my neighbouring teacher, @KeelingAlice, and I were questioning how we could grow the independence of Daily 5 to help develop Independent Learners with aspects of a student led timetable.  We had already successfully applied the approach to our maths programme and the language of independence was being used confidently… start straight away, move away from distractions and know my target.

Independent Learners:
Our class identified the success criteria for an Independent Learner, designed a licence and decided what choices the licence would give them. We started at the beginning of Term 3 with 13 Independent Learners and now at the end of Term 3, the whole class of 27 have their licence.

Does it make a difference?
I am in the process of getting the class to complete a Google Survey to establish their views on the difference 'Choice' makes but a couple of anecdotal observations really showed me how powerful giving students agency and autonomy really is.

I have two boys in my class who in their own way have been a huge challenge.  They were defiant and angry, unco-operative and not willing to be part of our class.  I took the risk of allowing them a Learner Licence earlier than I would have liked.  Their success criteria were much more limited than what was expected of the class.  I didn't make the connection but after a couple of amazing weeks with these boys, I asked what had changed to make learning with them so much more positive and self managing.  They both said it was getting their Learner Licence and having control over their day.

It was Daily 5 that began this journey and allowed us to get to this point where the students know their targets, select the most appropriate learning activity and suggest even more appropriate ones to meet their interests and needs.

Positive Mindset:
My final challenge for this last term was to help improve the attitude of the class. This links closely to the work of Carol Dwek, as sourced via Twitter, and is linked to my focus on Te Reo.

We begin every day with this as a karakia then move into a loud chant.

Hard work brings success.
Success makes me feel good.
I can get better.
I will be adventurous.
I can solve it!

This is a great vocal way to claim the day and has made the class aware of the importance of having a positive mindset.  They identify it as a personal need, include it in their daily targets and then we celebrate evidence of a positive mindset throughout the day. My most negaitve student at the beginning of Term 3 is now constantly referring to and exhibiting a positive mindset, as well as idenifying it in others.

Where to now?
The journey never ends if you are making use of the available contacts and links via Twitter. There is always a next step as the teacher and these are mine:

Begin to use gaming elements to reinforce the success criteria of independence.  Gaming 4 Community

Collaborativelly build a Google Site 'HUB' for our two classes, in which we can embed our 'Flipped' resources, learning links, weekly programme and follow-up tasks for student access from anywhere and anytime.  Google Sites - Amy McCauley

Join Twitter and get some PD:
My best ideas as a teacher over the past three years have all come from amazing teachers on Twitter. I can't imagine what my class might look like if I hadn't had all this brilliant and free PD.

Sign up and start following some of these great teachers. Christchurch Teachers
Don't forget to check in with groups from your local area like Christchurch Connected Educators because that's your own personal resource and support team!


  1. Great post, Allana with lots of practical tips. I am a huge Donalyn Miller fan- reading The Book Whisperer has without a doubt transformed my reading practice. Have you ever joined #titletalk twitter chat. It is such an inspiring chat but at an awkward time for us kiwis.
    Thanks for sharing this beautiful karakia. I also look forward to following your progress with gaming.
    Bridget CM

  2. Love your post Allana, particularly the way you and Alice have worked together to create your Independent Learner's Licence. The link to Carol Dweck's work links well with this. So much in this post for others to learn from. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing Allana - such a great post! Love the 'Independent Learner's Licence' idea. Really great to hear that it had such a positive impact on your students. Lots of fab takeaways here!:-)

  4. Thanks Allana. A great read.....totally agree with Aimie, so many fab takeaways. Very inspiring. Meg

  5. Thank you - I particularly like the idea of the Independent Learner's Licence. Great ideas.

  6. Cheers for this post, Allana. I found myself reading and scribbling notes ... bring on summer holidays so I can follow up on the inspiration you offer here!