Friday, 16 June 2017

Whanau engagement a big part of solution

Whanau engagement is a fundamental part of student achievement and well being at school.   Our efforts to understand one another is significant in not only engaging students but maintaining the levels of motivation and interest from the students AND their whanau over years of schooling.

Families@PES is what we now call our 'Home school partnership' meetings.  In this post I will refer to the Families@PES night June 14th 2017.  The special focus of this meeting was achievement in maths for all our students.

Toni Nua one of our assistant principals led this evening.  Starting with the good news - any support we can offer as whanau around maths matters!  This was great as there have been some miscommunications over the years of the 'old way' not being good for our students.   Instead - it's another strategy to offer our children.   Greater to this was the fact that we all - teachers, parents and whanau need to 'talk' a lot more!  For example - when we're doing chores around home, travelling to and from shopping trips - there's so much maths talk we could be having.

I had the chance to work with parents of year 7 & 8 parents who attended this night.  I shared my findings after having completed a set of gloss tests with students.   Language is greatly lacking.  Gloss is a test that uses 'Word problems' for students to show their ability in the three following areas:
Addition and Subtraction
Multiplication and Division
Proportions and Ratios

I showed parents an example of a gloss question.  They were very interested and were keen to learn what their children face in an assessment.   I was able to explain with the test in hand the challenge our children have with interpreting word problems.
'Andrea can fit 5 basketballs into one sports bag.  How many bags will Andrea need to store 40 basketballs?'
Some students will become stuck - yet when showing them the number sentence 40÷5= they could say the answer immediately.  So how can we all help?   Heaps and heaps more 'talk'.  Gifting of language to our children is needed.  Research relating to the time some of children enter school show very low word knowledge compared to children the same age in other parts of NZ.  Let's get talking - explaining with our children!

This will be an aspect of the maths I will address with my maths class in the new term.

The evening closed with parents feeling more empowered to support their children and helpful reminders that in the busyness of home life we can plant many more words/phrases and conversations that will better support their children towards achievement in maths.   All parents left with a maths activity pack that was explained and used prior to leaving this evening.

We've since received feedback that it was a useful evening and the packs are a great help!   Another great resource in our whanau to support achievement for our tamariki.

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