Thoughts on practical experience (Wk 3)

Practical experience was great. I felt supported by the school and the staff within it. I faced fire alarms, lock-down alarms, full-day professional development sessions, netball interschool sport drama, staffroom politics, excursions, assessment marking, and rushed/condensed units. I taught health, media, mathematics, and science. I witnessed a good teacher partnership, with a teacher in the adjacent classroom, and I learnt a lot about my own pedagogy. Also, I learnt about the interview process, via a meeting on the last day, and it was so useful! I am so thankful to be placed where I was.

I relate to Stephanie’s post on interactive whiteboard integration. My context was Year 6/7, rather than high school, but the IWB was rejected in favour of an overhead projector and a laptop. Yr. 7 teachers saw the IWB as a hindrance or a novelty and this made me wonder on how useful it really is.

Reflections. I need to step up my game with content knowledge and investigate online terminology that is currently being used, as it changes. My mentor teacher suggested www.primaryresources.co.uk for amazing resources. Coke zero and processed foods is not a sustainable diet; I almost lost my voice due to dehydration. It’s good idea to surround yourself with motivational teachers, rather than demotivational ones. Take risks for greatness and do not be lost in the stagnant pattern that is, the everyday monotony and predictability of a teacher schedule. Always self-improve and look out for external professional development opportunities.

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Sensitivity

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“There are certain children who are told they are too sensitive, and there are certain adults who believe sensitivity is a problem that can be fixed in the way that crooked teeth can be fixed and made straight. And when these two come together you get a fairytale, a kind of story with hopelessness in it.

I believe there is something in these old stories that does what singing does to words. They have transformational capabilities, in the way melody can transform mood.

They can’t transform your actual situation, but they can transform your experience of it. We don’t create a fantasy world to escape reality, we create it to be able to stay. I believe we have always done this, used images to stand and understand what otherwise would be intolerable.” – Lynda Barry, What It Is

I love the above quote because it inspires a reflection of several different things, depending on the reader. What you ‘make’ of this quote is up to you but I relate it to school, positive behaviour support theory, neuroscience, and the responsibility of teachers in regard to sensitive students.

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QR Codes, Type-right, Laser pointer

1. Quick Response (QR) Codes are interesting tools for educators. I do not think I will use them for a while yet, in the classroom, but they are definitely useful to know about. I expect QR codes will be used more often, as the years progress. It will be interesting to see in what ways these codes can be used.

2. Type-right is a pre-computer typing tutor. Photos and examples of use can be found on Maggie’s great blog post.

3. Laser pointer. I got to use the laser pointer for the first time, today. During a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, I used the ICT device to point-out key words and images. The pointer is useful because teachers can stand at the back of the classroom, watching for students who may misbehave, while changing slides and pointing at different things.

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Risk assessment

During a staffroom meeting, I was informed that my prac school had side-stepped a 2 million dollar lawsuit due to a few sheets of A4 paper. Risk assessment matters!

“Health and safety risk management is a process where we do what we can to minimise the risks associated with health and safety hazards at our workplace. The aim is to ensure that no one is injured or hurt by a hazard at work.

Risk management is a systematic process that involves the following four steps:

  • identify the hazards
  • assess the risk
  • control the risks
  • monitor and review the safety measures” (x)

Principals and teachers are legislatively responsible for the safety and well-being of all persons under their direction in accordance with the Work Health and Safety legislation. DETE provides a range of procedures and guidelines to assist its schools to meet health and safety obligations. Risk assessment sheets and information can be found here: http://education.qld.gov.au/curriculum/carmg. Before you find yourself in a web of legalities, it is important know where you stand and to create risk assessment plans whenever feasible.

“Assessing and managing the risks associated with curriculum activities is part of routine planning and classroom practice.”

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WALT/WILF/TIB

New educational buzz sentences and jargon are being introduced all the time. The following phrases are commonly used in classrooms around Queensland, Australia.

W.A.L.T. = We Are we Learning Today… [Sometimes called "WALA"]
Explicitly outlines what students are learning in class. WALT is useful for covering a broader topic or concept, without getting in to the specifics. Research shows that students are more motivated if they understand the learning intention of the task.

W.I.L.F. = What I am Looking For…
Explicit behaviours and skills teachers need to see to know students have learnt and succeeded with the task. Sometimes called Success Criteria, a WILF makes clear to students, what they are expected to demonstrate or produce.

T.I.B. = This Is Because…
Answers: Why are we learning this? To explicitly link the relevancy of learning to students, teachers use TIB. The TIB and might clearly make connections to other skills or understandings or articulate the application of the concept.

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A WALT/WILF poster, such as the image above, may be a good concrete tool to put in the classroom (retrieved from Emily’s post). Additional WALT/WILF/TIB posters are available here (requires sign-up but it’s free to retrieve them).

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Introducing Mathletics

Mathletics is used by over 3 million students right around the world. In 2011, the program was awarded the prestigious BETT Award – its second in three years. Mathletics, with its recognised focus on student engagement and personalised learning resources, has been proven in increase results in the classroom by at least 30%.

During practical experience, I discovered my class really liked this e-learning platform for mathematics learning. When given free time, students kept asking to get on the computers to play this game. I think the low confidence students liked it more than the formal teaching of maths in lessons.

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Thoughts on practical experience (Wk 1)

Really enjoying practical experience! I have an efficient teacher and an environmentally focused school. The Year 7 class is well-behaved although a little rowdy at times. I am currently teaching two condensed units: Media & Technology + Healthy & Physical Education.

  • Media & Technology: Students will be using PhotoStory to construct a short presentation which promotes the role of “Environmental Advocate”. In their presentation students need photos, text, and music. I am teaching digital photography to students who will then apply their learning during an up-coming excursion to Karawatha Forest (See picture below). Additionally, students are being marked on a personal evaluation of: 1) What they enjoyed and B) What they could improve on.
  • Healthy & Physical Education: In this unit, students take on the role of lifestyle coach to an adolescent character in a case study and recommend healthy choices that could be made based on their knowledge and understanding of diet and nutrition, exercise, relaxation, sleep, and environmental health. Assessment comes in the form of a written response.

I have autonomy over how and what I choose to teach. My mentor has given me a few resources as inspiration and I am glad she is so organised. :) The primary goal is to make sure each student can complete the assessment to the best of his/her capability, within the strict time-limit provided. Looking forward to next week.

A photo of Karawatha forest by Andrew Gills

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