Be still my beating heart…

Some days you feel completely and utterly inspired, enthusiastic, empowered and excited.  Today is one of those days.  I’m well aware that not all days are like this, and it would be exhausting if they were but I’m going to revel in this for a moment.  While I do, I’ll fill you in on the events that have left me feeling so positive.

Firstly, today I recommenced teacher aide work, at a new school in a position as a literacy coach.  Doing guided reading with students from prep through to year 6.  Literacy is a passion of me.  The written word, in any form just makes my heart sing.  So, when I get an opportunity to be paid to hopefully give other children this passion, I couldn’t say no.  It actually interferes with my prac this term, but I’m determined to work it all out.  (Oh and I have 2 children too – one 9 months and one 5; did I mention I’m a little busy?!).  As I went to each classroom I was immensely delighted with the level of student enthusiasm.  You see it’s not the ability of students that particularly interests me – skills can develop and grow over time.  The desire to keep trying-  that has to be protected.  So, as I sit with each group reading, I think about how much I correct, how much I encourage, and how much fun we have when reviewing/retelling the text.  It changes with each group, each year level and each reading level.  But the need to protect that persistence doesn’t change.  Then my second last group just blew me away.  Year 5: I walk in (never having met any staff or students before today) and the teacher says to me “so, we’re doing some reciprocal work here (smile beams across my face) and the kids should pretty much know what they’re doing”.

“Oh wow, that’s fantastic – they’ll be able to give me the run down on what they’re upto then?!” I ask, and after being given a nod and smile I proceed to see what they’re upto.  They’re reading a National Geographic text – it’s a magazine of sorts, and each child has a laminated card with a role written on it.  They are literally running the show.  In the most fantastic collaborative learning I have witnessed, these kids discussed, predicted, summarised and questioned the text they were reading.  I have since come home and searched for the cards, only to find them published by another teacher on her blog.  Oh the joys of blogging!! The teacher is “Leanne Gwilliam” and her post here has the cards with the explanation.  Printable version of job cards here. It brings me to the realisation that technology such as the internet allows the sharing of work in such a seamless and immediate fashion, that educators can always present their students with the very best in resources.  There’s no reason for the students to misunderstand their role in the collaborative group – they had these presented in the most exciting cards that almost looked like “character cards”.

The internet is full of resources that make the learning experience more exciting and engaging.  Pintrest has fantastic examples of things other teachers have tried- this is key.  Nothing is just “theory” – they’re genuine ideas, with the product available to view.  Check out my Pintrest page on teaching resources that I’m collecting already – it’s a bit of a creative “diigo” with resources and photos.  http://www.pinterest.com/lisarose1984/teaching-resources/

I’m so impressed and inspired with what I witnessed I can’t wait to see what I get to be a part of tomorrow!!

What Students Really Need to Hear

As an early childhood educator, I see my role as a scaffolder for the main events talked about in this blog. I see it as my job to give students the language and encouragement in early schooling that will help them cope with the challenges that lie ahead. Language and attitudes used with students are a big part of this: using words like strategy, try again, great effort, work it out, talk it out. I need to teach students the basics of perseverance and give them the voice inside their head that says “don’t give up”. That voice should be in their heads from birth, but I guarantee any student I teach won’t leave my classroom without getting that voice from me.

AFFECTIVE LIVING

It’s 4 a.m.  I’ve struggled for the last hour to go to sleep.  But, I can’t.  Yet again, I am tossing and turning, unable to shut down my brain.  Why?  Because I am stressed about my students.  Really stressed.  I’m so stressed that I can only think to write down what I really want to say — the real truth I’ve been needing to say — and vow to myself that I will let my students hear what I really think tomorrow.

This is what students really need to hear:

First, you need to know right now that I care about you. In fact, I care about you more than you may care about yourself.  And I care not just about your grades or your test scores, but about you as a person. And, because I care, I need to be honest with you. Do I have permission to be…

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Pedagogy… I could think of other words to use right now!

Pedagogy is one of those education words that really refers to the “how” of teaching.  It’s something that every teacher has, and they don’t refer to it as their pedagogy unless they’re studying.  That’s what gets to me about the amount the word is used in study.  It hasn’t got a lot of real relevance in teaching practices – we use it, it evolves and develops, but it isn’t really used very often.

Personal pedagogy is what I have most interest in developing, as it forms the basis of how effective my teaching will be.  In week 8 learning path, David (my lecturer) refers to pedagogical knowledge and the importance of experience.

“For many teachers, PCK is something that comes from experience.”

David Jones, http://usqstudydesk.usq.edu.au/m2/mod/book/view.php?id=176354&chapterid=7776

The thing for me is that it absolutely has to evolve through experience.  I’ve said many times before that education from theory to practice is very different, and pedagogy is part of the evolution from theory to practice.  We have theorists that inform our pedagogical knowledge now – ideas; ideals; examples and so much information, but many don’t have the experience to see that while some pedagogies work well in theory, for various reasons, their classroom implementation may not be so.  The various reasons I am talking about include: teaching partners (different styles, different educational backgrounds, different experiences); curriculum coordinators (these people often dictate the resources available for use in the classroom); principals’ or deans’ (they make ultimate decisions about what/when/who is available to you in your classroom); parents; students; experience; environment.

My point is that we need to remain very flexible in the way we use our pedagogical knowledge.  Experience is so valuable, and shouldn’t be taken for granted.  When we enter a classroom as graduates, we need to remember that the students will teach us just as much as we will teach them.  They will teach us patience, kindness, fun, excitement and all the wonderful things that come from learning.  We need to absorb it all, keep learning and keep evolving.  I never want to be a teacher that is “set in my ways”.  That’s part of my personal pedagogy.

Check out some of my peers and their views on pedagogy:

http://kyb01.wordpress.com/2014/04/25/pimp-my-pedagogy/ (Kylie’s Blog)

Assignment 2: Curriculum and Assessment

Unfortunately my posts have been few and far between lately – having some health problems has set me back and I’m genuinely disappointed as I feel the participation in blogging is advantageous in my uni course!

So, although it’s a little late, here’s my thoughts on the second assignment for ICT (Edc3100).  I’m trying to use my efforts for another subject (Mathematics) to help this subject.  The assignment for my Mathematics subject is a webquest, and considering this is rich in ICTs I felt it was appropriate to base a Unit of Work (UoW) around.  I am doing a webquest for year 2 students based on Using units of measurement  and Data representation and interpretation.

Students will know… (Constructing Knowledge objectives/content descriptors from the syllabus)

  • The correct names and order of seasons (ACMMG040)

Students will be able to… (Transforming objectives / content descriptors from the syllabus)

Therefore, my UoW will focus on the lead up to the webquest and then the final assessment from the webquest.

These are very much a work in progress, so any comments on the learning outcomes above would be welcome and appreciated!!

The assessment for this unit will be upon the completion of a Webquest, where students are required to research information to solve a problem.  The webquest begins with researching the seasons and their corresponding months for different countries (Australia and America).  Students will be taken on a journey where they see the similarities and differences in the seasons of each country.  The final assessment is to create a graph with the average temperatures for each season and the month the seasons fall on.  They will then write a short essay suggesting the best climate to live in for a particular purpose.

Assessment Criteria:

Summative assessment will be conducted through observations, anecdotal records and informal discussions to ascertain the following developing skills:

Students engage in group activities with enthusiasm to achieve collective goals

Students follow necessary steps to achieve collective goals

Students analyze data to make sense of relevant information

Formative Assessment:

“Students collect data from relevant questions to create lists, tables and picture graphs” (from http://www.acara.edu.au/curriculum/worksamples/Year_2_Mathematics_Portfolio_Satisfactory.pdf)

Students can name and order seasons

Students can interpret collected data with prior knowledge to make appropriate selections.

 

Any assistance is appreciated!!

 

 

 

Successful Teaching Graduate or Successful Teacher?

It constantly amazes me how students studying education seem to sit on one of two sides – they are either brilliant students, with great ideas on how to work in a classroom, but have little “real” experience (I’m not belittling, I mean the experience that leaves you questioning the role of a teacher, the success, the difference you can make); or they’ve worked in the education industry for a long time, know the stresses and strains, disappointments that come with it, and are left disillusioned with study and it’s relevance.

308-guide-to-being-a-successful-teacherI’m probably offending many readers here, and I genuinely don’t mean to – I have worked with people on both sides of the fence, and I actually think I’ve been on both sides at different times. When completing assignments I struggle with that line- I am someone who has worked in early childhood for 10 years, under many curriculum’s and have experience with converting theory to practice, the stresses and strains of teaching, but also the disappointments. Setting out to make a real difference, change the lives of children, only to discover that we can’t “win” them all. I feel often assignments at uni require us to have a great handle on theory, being able to write assignments well, quote theorists and reference these using APA correctly. However, when you go into a classroom, theory will serve little purpose if you cannot find a way for your theory to connect with the students. Often they don’t. Over my 10 years, I have rarely seen 2 children with similar behaviours. They have some similar characteristics that help me identify ways to assist the child, but differentiation for students has never been identical for 2 children. NEVER. What that means, is that the theories, strategies and understandings I have developed won’t suit EVERY child. In fact, I will find over the coming years that my experience will combine with the theoretical knowledge to produce what I hope to be as “superb teaching”.

Yep, I genuinely want to be an amazing teacher – not an “award winning academic” or a “principal’s dream” but an amazing teacher. When working on these assignments for uni, that’s what I think about. How can I use this to help me become an amazing teacher. I don’t think about “how can I get a perfect grade?” – that’s not my style. I want to pass. Every single time I want to pass. But what is more important to me than a perfect grade is seeing the knowledge and understanding that I develop and express in my assignment production to be converted to teaching that is above and beyond what is expected of me. I have a dream…

Here’s an interesting post on 25 things successful teachers do differently.  This list consists of things that are instantaneous (such as knowing when to ignore students) but also things that form part of our personal pedagogy.  Here’s my top 10 from the list:

6. Successful educators expect their students to succeed

7. Successful educators have a sense of humor

11. Successful educators are reflective

13. Successful educators communicate with parents

15. Successful educators adapt to student needs

17. Successful educators take time to explore new tools

18. Successful educators give their students emotional support

19. Successful educators are comfortable with the unknown

21. Successful educators bring fun into the classroom

24. Successful educators break out of the box

Cited From: http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/25-things-successful-educators-do-differently/#ixzz2zCnxySZX

It’s interesting to look at the list and see what fits for you – the one’s I’ve listed above are just the ones I feel most strongly about.  What is it for you?

What arrogance! What an insult to the rich and chaotic variety of the human experience

This blog resonates with me- why?
I have worked as a teacher aide in a private school in Qld for the last 2 years. We did not have C2C, and many UoW were being created while I worked there. I was fortunate to experience the work involved in any planning to do with UoW. These need to change according to the students you teach. Are you teaching information to students or teaching students to understand information and develop skills? If it is the latter, you will need to vary your teaching, the lessons, the units according to the students individuality (differentiating accordingly) but ALSO according to the world they are living in. Our world changes regularly and teaching needs to change with it. Get with the program!

The Weblog of (a) David Jones

I’m currently engaging in a bit of light reading as an escape from the constraints of regular teaching. The title of this post comes from Terry Pratchet and Feet of Clay (p 206)

What arrogance! What an insult to the rich and chaotic variety of the human experience.

The quote arises from the Sir Samuel Vimes character considering the type of detective who can say

in a lordly voice to his companion, “Ah, my dear sir, I can tell you nothing except that he is a left-handed stonemason who has spent some years in the merchant navy and has recently fallen on hard times”

The point being that the same small collection of observations could be used to justify something completely different. Pratchet’s example is

to a man who was wearing his old clothes because he’d been doing a spot of home bricklaying for a new barbecue pit, and had…

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Learning how to search.

So, recently I found out a friend had received a medical diagnosis.  While I had heard about the diagnosis before, much of the facts regarding the disease were a mystery to me.  Like any child of the 21st century, I consulted Dr Google.  Yep, many times over I’ve entered symptoms into google, read the relevant posts and either been terrified or laughed at the ridiculousness (pretty much any symptom could be cancer!).  After spending some time trying to get to the facts from authoritative sources, it got me thinking about the importance of learning to use search engines effectively.  I’m going to use an example to illustrate my “top tips for using search engines”.  The example is my daughter asking me “What is fog?”.  I want her to find the information for herself, so here’s what I would do.

  1. Go to your search engine and type in the question you want answered.  In this case, I’ve used google, and searched the words “what is fog?”.  The top result is a google document with the definition/s for fog.  (see below)Image

While this is an interesting and concise result, I’m wanting to help my daughter find out a bit more about what causes fog, and probably in a more child friendly language.

So, I scrolled down a little further to find the results from other websites:

Image

Wikipedia (the first result) is a great way to help direct searches, and I’ll talk about that later, but for the purposes of this search, I really want something with child language.  So, I’ve noticed there’s a site called “discovery kids” and that looks interesting and potentially the way to go for my search.  This brings me to my second tip:

2.  Look for key words that will answer your question the way you want it answered.  These keywords can be found in the bold blue font (this is the Web page TITLE), or the green font (the web address) or in the black text underneath (this is the notes that the web site author wants to appear in search engines).  With he “discovery kids” page, I found my key word in the blue font (the title of the page).  But the text in the green font brings me to my next point.

3.  Look for site addresses with authority- what I mean is that often a page published by a government branch or large company will provide the most up to date and valid information.  This isn’t always the case, but often.  The site “discovery kids” makes me think it’s probably written by the producers of the discovery channel – a well known pay TV channel which produces documentaries.  They’re pretty factual, so again, I’m thinking this site is the way to go.  So, once I’ve decided to go with the site, it’s time to click through and check it out.  Let’s see what the site looks like:

Image

I was a little disappointed, so I went back to my google search and when I scrolled down further, found another site by National Geographic Education (this title was in the blue bold font).  Image

Image

Their resource was much more effective, and here’s why: it had links throughout the text – these brought up the definitions of words when clicked on; it had videos and pictures to see what fog looks like; it also had links to further information (fog catchers? etc).  These are valuable additions to a research site for children, so the National Geographic site gets my tick!  I’ll be adding it to my Diigo links list for future reference now!!

Finally, I want to make a few last suggestions for searches.  Once you’ve typed something in the search engine and your results have appeared, what you find may not be what you’re looking for, but it may help inform your further searches.  For example, if I scrolled down the page further, Google brought up a page by “ask.com” that shows the question “what is fog and how is it formed?”.  It made me realise that this may be a more effective search to type in.  Think about altering your searches and don’t be afraid to scroll down, go to pages 2,3 and dare I say 4 of your search results.  You may be surprised.  Validity may come in various shapes and sizes: medical issues are a tough one because it’s hard to get a balanced view (if you’re searching for information on a diagnosis as I was), however I found the charity sites were helpful in helping me refine my google search a little better.

I hope you can find ways to teach children effective ways to search, but also to evaluate the validity and authority of any site they visit.  This is an important skill!

 

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