Term 3 Has Begun!

At the end of last term, I was required to reapply for my job, and when doing so I underwent the same sort of interview process (with many less people!) as I will do for the QCT Certificate interview. Once I was given my job (as an aide specialising in guided reading groups), I thought seriously about what I wanted to do with this opportunity and how I would maintain the standard I have set. One of the important tools I have used in support of my role is an iPad. I’ve used it to enhance student learning through research, watching short clips to introduce the topic of their book, and summarising their learning through the use of concept maps. The students have enjoyed the additional element that the iPad brings, and its’ use has been a positive influence on student learning when it is used.  I must stress that for each 40min lesson I conduct, I do not use the iPad for all, every or even every second lesson.  Here’s some examples to put into context for you.

1. Year 1 class, their goal is to begin finding facts within non-fiction books and retell these facts in their own words (summarising!).  The book today: “Big Cities in the World”.  Ipad use: there were four cities explored in the book.  We began with New York city – I used the National Geographic World Atlas app to show the students Australia, over to New York, and even identifying the “Hudson River” which is spoken about in the book.  I then showed them a short clip from the New York City Vacation Guide of the highlights of New York.  The student understandings from the book were enhanced with the audio visual material I gave them.

2. Year 4: Non-Fiction book on “trees”.  We used a concept map to highlight the new understandings, and even create a “lifecycle” chart using kidspiration app.

3. Year 5: “Forensic Science” book (again, non-fiction).  Once the students had read a few pages of this heavy book, I used the iPad to play a video of “forensic science for kids“.  It showed the many uses for forensic science and was very age appropriate.

As you can see, while I didn’t use the iPad for every class, when it was used, it provided an enhancement to the lesson.  I’m learning more and more about the value of this device in my small group sessions, and I’m enjoying exploring the opportunities while I don’t have teaching/planning pressures!

 

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Digital citizenship take 2

The latest learning path talks about the notion of digital citizenship. It encourages me greatly to talk about digital citizenship in the same way we talk about citizenship. It’s important for educators to develop students desire to contribute to society in a positive way- that’s what citizenship means to me. Digital citizenship therefore, means contributing to the digital society in a positive way. When we consider it this way it’s not a complex issue is it? It’s kind of a no brainer- it encompasses the way we behave, react and enact in the digital world, the truths we tell, the stories we believe and how we interact with others.
Rather than thinking of digital citizenship as purely cyber safety, we need to embrace the idea of a holistic approach to digital citizenship where students are empowered to be positive forces in an increasingly digital society.

Sports day… A vital part of school communities.

Sports day yesterday at my prac school. I’m completely exhausted from the experience but since I’ve been working at schools for 3 years now I knew it would be like that. I’m not complaining- I genuinely LOVE these days at schools and I actually think they are incredibly important for many reasons.

Firstly, they promote the community feeling that makes a school the place it is. When students feel like they are a part of something bigger, they realise how special that is. Sports carnivals and the likes display that community so obviously that children are forced to recognise their part in the world around them. It’s undeniable that they have something to be responsible for and something to take pride in. Students cheer for their friends, siblings, their team and begin to develop connections to a larger community that will be the foundations for active citizens of the future.

Secondly, and this is perhaps what hits home for me the most, is that it’s a chance for students to step out of their comfort zone, try something that they may or may not be good at, but regardless, after putting in effort and persistence they will feel a sense of achievement. That’s really important. I was never good at sports and so I wouldn’t naturally seek out sport in my own time, but doing it on sports day allowed me to see that giving it a go and celebrating the successes of others was fun and important. Even though my parents knew it wasn’t my forte, (I’m a music / drama kind of kid!) they never gave me permission to sit out one single school sporting event. I spent my day yesterday cheering on every single child on every single jump they did at my high jump and long jump spot. One of the teachers said “you’re very encouraging and enthusiastic!” It’s because I saw the hesitation in these young children and their fear of failure. I wanted them to see the fun, the joy of the experience and the feeling that comes from persisting at something instead of giving up. Every kid got so much better at their jumps by the end, and again I celebrated and pointed out their progress.

I cannot tell you how strongly I feel about the importance of these events, developing the confidence and persistence in our kids, and teaching them to celebrate the successes of others. These are such vital characteristics of healthy, strong and independent adults!

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I’m going to be a teacher… But I already am.

Professional experience has been nothing but positive for me. Last week my mentor teacher asked if we could “team teach”. I was so humbled by that statement. I haven’t yet graduated and this incredible teacher is asking me to be a “team” with her. Wow.
It made me realise that to these children, my graduation certificate means very little. In that classroom, to those people I am a teacher. My words, my attitude and my lessons are all for real. They’re not “practice” for these students. I take that responsibility seriously. These children need to know that when it comes to their learning, I am doing my utmost to create an environment, opportunities and evaluating myself to ensure that their learning is maximised. I love teaching- I love the opportunity I have to give children a positive experience of learning new things, furthering their existing knowledge and most of all creating a love of learning in these little people. My hope is that these students remember the wonder of learning new things, and never stop seeking out opportunities to learn.

Reading eggs…cellent!

I planned a lesson today based on a big book from Reading Eggs that my mentor recommended.  Under the “teacher” section of Reading Eggs, once logged in, a teacher has access to fantastic engaging and interactive “big books” (amongst other things!).  Some of these books even have worksheets to go with them.

These sorts of things showcase what’s great about technology. There was no photocopying required, no library trip, no book stand, students were all able to view the book clearly and with beautiful colour on the interactive whiteboard screen.  Image

The worksheets gave me ideas from which I created my own activities, and the lesson was so successful that my mentor asked me to do two follow up lessons tomorrow! I’m doing another follow up English lesson, and a math follow up in the afternoon.  My mentor was so encouraging and her feedback is very specific.  That’s something I’m learning a lot about- giving feedback that encourages improvement.  Even when giving feedback to children, instead of saying simply “good job”, we can be more specific in what we appreciate about their work.  For example: “I really like the way you have tried with every activity – that makes me really happy, and we’re going to work a little more on these rhyming words tomorrow.  Good work!”.  Even though this feedback takes more time, it actually saves time later because your feedback was so specific that the students know what to work on for next time, and what to do to get some positive attention!!

Loving it (today!).

Reality Bites

I thoroughly enjoy blogging – writing is such a passion of mine that having the opportunity to write with my genuine perspective and no “boundaries” as such is very liberating.

So why haven’t I blogged for a week?

Oh you funny thing! That’s where I’ve realised reality bites! I have been so busy “doing” that I haven’t had a chance to “write about doing”.  I read other teacher blogs and find it fascinating and valuable, but the time is just not there! I’m spending my nights making resources, scouring the internet for additional resources, making meals for my family, studying for my other subjects and generally chasing my tail.  So I’ve spent considerable time (while I’m in the car!) thinking about how I would integrate blogging into the classroom as I see the value in it.

My answer isn’t simple, but I have some ideas.

  1. Habit.  It must be habit to use the blog, write things and reflect.   As a teacher this would have to become part of your day- what happened today, what is happening tomorrow/next week/next month.
  2. Integrate.  Integrate the blog into the day’s plan – perhaps some days it’s a student job to write on the blog, or perhaps you plan it into the day – the first 10 mins of lunch break is devoted to blogging.  Planning for it will enable it to become habit.  Using the blog to integrate things like homework, newsletters, notes home and projects will make it’s use essential for everyone – parents, teachers and students.  The integration would encourage clear communication which is vital to high quality education.

What other ideas do you have for the integration of blogs? I have genuinely wanted to use the blog with my students on prac, and while I’m not, I have set up a “mock” class blog that I have used for some assignments to test out the integration of a class blog. You can view it here, by using the class code: afhktu.

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Prac – Week 3

I’m in the fortunate position of working as a literacy coach 3 days per week, and therefore my practical experience is actually only 2 days a week but it’s spread over 7 weeks.  Life is exhausting for me at the moment but I love every second. The students at both my workplace and my professional experience placement are just lovely and I’m learning so much.  The thing about working as a teacher that the first few days of professional experience has taught me is how exhausting it is.  My mentor is absolutely full of energy and positivity.  It’s amazing, and the students respond with such delight at being in school.  Keeping up with her energy is exhausting but it’s so important – it really makes such a difference to how the students respond to her.  Image

The first week gave me an insight into how ICTs are being embedded into the year 2 classroom, as one parent (who is also a distance education teacher) arranged an author visit from someone she knew that had written a book called “Monster Primary School“.  How was this embedding ICTs? Well, the author (Michael Paulsen) didn’t actually come into the classroom! The parent had prearranged a blackboard collaborate session with Mick, and he read the book, displaying the pages in a presentation on the virtual “blackboard”.  Students were able to see him, hear him read the book, and then using a headpiece and webcam, he was also able to hear questions from the students and respond to these.

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What I loved about this experience was the flexibility of the teacher to just give it a go.  The experience was completely new to her, and as I use blackboard for university, I was actually more experienced than her.  However, she enthusiastically responded to this offer from the parent and made her class and time available to provide this enriching experience.  The key to it’s success: she wasn’t afraid.  What if it hadn’t worked so well? what if the Education Queensland blocking on the internet had prevented the blackboard use? these things can happen, but trying it out doesn’t do any harm, and the result this time around was so wonderful!  Here’s a few snap shots from the setup in the classroom.

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