Gems from first CoL Meeting

COL Inquiry - Mia Szymanik, Year 6 Teacher,  PES School 2018
Gems from first CoL Meeting

What’s the Big Idea for 2018 ?
“Language in Abundance”, Language Acquisition, development, Transfer and sustaining across school
levels and curriculum domains.

Language in abundance environments ‘drip’ with language availability
and attention, where noticing and relevant use of words allow for
deeper, wider, more specific and precise, context appropriate
language expression…leading to knowing at deeper and broader
levels. Dr. Jannie Van Hees

What is MY responsibility as a COL teacher:

Conduct a mean as inquiry at your level/s in your subject/s
Language in Abundance is the lens
Share it really well
Help each other
Visit online/offline, debate, discuss, challenge, suggest

Russell spoke about how some year 2s didn’t know the concept of a rectangle, and he spoke to a teacher
whos high school students didn’t understand the word texture. This lack of vocab and understanding of
words and concepts is really holding our tamariki back.

Knowing at a deeper and broader level is how you get merit in NCEA. In other words, children need have
be able to not only use a broad range of language but understand the concepts and meaning behind these. 

Language in abundance is your LENS for your inquiry for 2018. 

Rebecca Jesson - Meta Analysis of Inquiries

Teacher practice knowledge is the most powerful knowledge these is, however not everybody gets to
access what is in your head’s easily. How can we use the power of inquiries to feed into what we know
in terms of the research?
 We could use meta-analysis techniques to bring all your studies together, so for we for example,
found that the ways that you worked on NOTICING words, then interrogate this data to see the effect
it has on the students. 

All Inquiry Cycles are intended to:
Address persistent learning challenges
Develop teacher knowledge
Transfer researched approaches into practice in classrooms - researchers can be rubbish at this …
researchers don’t always have an idea of the day-to-day concepts that work in a ‘real-life’ classroom.
You can contribute to what researchers understand - you are trying to get out the applied understanding
about what works in your practice. ULTIMATELY it’s about improving instruction for the tamariki
Improve instruction
Tailor approaches to need
Evaluate the effect of changes - what madeit work, how well did it work, where did it work best?


It uses all your inquiries, as individual studies, and combines them, a STUDY of studies. 

Do something that you think is going to make a difference. 
Collect evidence about what we did
Gather effects about what happened for the kids
We need to have something qualitative about how learners engage.. All built into the inquiry framework. 

Language Acquisition & Development as the Inquiry Lens into your subject/level
Dr Jannie van Hees

What LANGUAGE offers a person’s Learning

How much does it matter that language is available? This isn’t a programme, language in abundance
is exactly what it means. ‘Drippingly’ available language. There are conditions that have to be in place.
It isn’t a matter of JUST surrounding children in language. 
I have taken the context of making a simple kite. There are 4 different clips - with MORE or LESS
spoken or written language available.

 KNOWLEDGE MAKES A DIFFERENCE - we gain knowledge through WORDS - both written and
Word grow our cognition and knowledge base. Words matter hugely. 

SCENARIO ONE: making a kite - condition: no spoken or written language available.

Basically this was a video with no written words or spoken language of a kite being made. For many of
our children they would struggle with this as they may not know the words for the materials used, they
may not necessarily be able to tell others how to make the kite. There is no context or explanation around
what a kite is. There are no words, nothing to tease out or expand on. 

SCENARIO TWO: making a kite - condition: Written and spoken language 

This video showed a lady giving us instructions on how to make a kite. There were spoken words and
written words, we could slow this video down or pause it to hear the words again or re-read words. There
was some technical language (inches/cm) children need to understand and ‘see’ these concepts in their
head to understand what they mean and to be able to, in the end, correctly make the kite. 


We often use YouTube language, that has academic and technical language, however we don’t slow
down to look at the words, these are what carry the meaning behind the video. We don’t always slow
down enough to really dig into the meaning of these words. 

HOW MIGHT THIS ‘language in abundance’ work…
We absolutely know this is the rich pickings for them. 

Responding to the message and meaning of what children are saying .. Getting away from all the
‘put your hand up’ .. setting up safe environments to set up the ‘abundance of language, everyone's
contribution is a valuable contribution’

Jannie - always astounded by thinking in children’s brains ig you an get it out. Honour the thinking
and EFFORTS of everyone.
No one should have an inkling that what they have said isn’t as good as someone else's .. everyone 
Vocab will not carry if we aren’t in the dialogue of MEANING MAKING.
We don’t have enough voices in the classroom. Seniors should listen to National Radio, BBC, this is
Jannie was saying how, since listening to National Radio at the age of 14, she KNOWS that this has
allowed her language to FLOURISH.
Are we reading aloud to kids enough? How are you encouraging the love of reading?

I sure have a lot of think about. Jannie is a genius. As a good reader,
and someone who grew up as a complete chatter box of a child, I
sometimes forget that not everyone has has the privilege of the
abundance of language I have been exposed to. As a teacher it is my
job to fill this ‘vocab gap’ for my children. I will be looking at lifting
achievement in maths for my Inquiry this year. I really believe that
the lack of understanding around many concepts in mathematics
comes from  a lack of knowledge of mathematical vocabulary,
hopefully  doing this will ultimately help me on my journey to
lifting achievement for my tamariki.
I am excited to take all these amazing ideas Jannie has shared today
and use them in my classroom this year.


  1. What a comprehensive summary of two packed hours Mia. I am delighted that it has supported you to make connections with your Maths inquiry. I look forward to following your journey. How do you propose to discover 1. IF your children do have a lack of knowledge of mathematical vocabulary and 2. if so how big the gap is?


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