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!).


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:

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?

Copyright Licencing, and all things “ownership”

The latest hurdle I’ve had to overcome in my studies is understanding the implications of copyright on the use and distribution of what is found on the wwww.  Yep that was 4 w’s- it’s a Wonderful world wide web.  It’s wonderful because the web is so rich and full of so much stuff.  Stuff.  There’s no other simple way to put the enormity of everything imaginable and even things you can’t imagine that can be found in the unfound pages of the web.  I love that no matter what I come across in my studies, or in life, I can open up my browser and search for hidden treasure.  Just today I started thinking about my 4 year olds birthday in a few months, and off to pinterest I went.  Invitation ideas, themes, inspiration was all coming at me.  It’s so effortless that it’s become thoughtless.  I don’t think about where the picture I’m viewing has come from, whether that’s someone’s art, whether I owe someone thanks for what they’ve presented me in my treasure hunt.

I have thoroughly enjoyed doing my latest ICT assignment, so when it came to addressing the copyright issue I desperately wanted to put my fingers in my ears and sing “lalalalala” while going to my happy place.  It is mind boggling.  But it’s important.  I think the lesson for me is that part of my teaching has to be to remind my students that despite the wonders of the web, we are viewing someones’ something.  Someone’s pictures, thoughts, work, ideas.

We are already understanding the importance of being mindful of what is put on the web- it is there to stay and we are making a footprint of sorts with what we post on social media.  However, what about the stuff we “re-post” or “copy”? We need to get more savvy with what we use, how, when and why.  Who owns what you are “right-click, save” ing? I’ve had a big wake up call this week, and I’m certainly on a road to recovery of less right click save-ing.

Check out more info here on Creative Commons licensing.

The start of a new semester

I’ve just commenced another semester of Uni, and as I tackle 2 children, 4 subjects and working, I find it important to be organised.  In order to be organised for Semester 1, 2014, I’ve started working through subject introductory material.  Interestingly, this blog will form part of my assessment for an ICT subject.  Blogs fascinate me, as we use the platform to write anything from personal to professional, thoughts and musings to theories and research.  The audience is so varied, and almost intangible.  Who actually reads this? Who really finds what I have to say interesting?  Am I writing this for the benefit of an audience, or for selfish reasons – finding something cathartic in writing what’s on my mind.  I guess through the course of this semester I will explore this more, but for now, I’m going to enjoy the cathartic effects of blogging.

After viewing and reading all of the introductory material, I was interested in the information on the theory of connectivism (see the video link below).  While I haven’t read any further material on this subject, the video on connectivism was inspiring and engaging.  An observation I would make is that engaging in a connectivism style of learning is something that occurs in many ways, in many environments.

For example, I am a mother of a prep student, and spend time discussing some topics from my study with teachers at her school, other parents and staff.  These discussions provide a really authentic, meaningful insight into the various learning experiences of children, their families and educators.  I have also worked at a school where I regularly engaged in meaningful discussion with educators, parents and staff.  These discussions unfortunately aren’t on an rss feed.  I’m looking forward to the use of blogs in this course to hopefully document these discussions and experiences in a way that will enable others to engage in them and benefit from these authentic processes.

I was also struck by the statement in the introductory material that ICT is to be used to ENHANCE learning.  Interestingly, I have seen many examples where ICT is used in a “token” manner-  using youtube to play a video clip every morning to ensure ICT is incorporated in the students day.  Using ICT to enhance learning, and integrate it in such a way that students are more engaged, and involved in the process not simply viewers of the results is something I’m very interested and passionate about.  When integrated correctly, used to enhance learning, ICT will make the difference between 21st century learners ready to participate and lead in a technologically advanced society, or learner requiring additional training in the workforce in order to operate in society.