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Digital Age


Image taken from: http://systemickids.blogspot.com/2011/05/digital-natives.html

The NSW Institute of Teachers Professional Standards recognises the need for teachers to be able to effectively communicate with their students (Element 4). I would like to draw up one particular Aspect, 4.1.5. Use a range of teaching strategies and resources including ICT and other technologies to foster interest and support learning. This demonstrates the growing importance that we as teachers need to be up to date with the technologies, in order to be able to communicate/teach our students effectively. Our students are digital natives, meaning they are bought up surrounded by technology, they do not know life without it. It is our job to embrace the technology and use it in an engaging and meaningful way in the classroom. We need to be providing our students with adequate infrastructure and technical support in order to make ICT learning experiences meaningful. (Finger,. Russell., Jamieson-Proctor & Russel. 2007). It was shown in the 2008 National Australian ICT Literacy Levels that although our students have access to technology, their ability to use it effectively(in terms of education) is low. See below

Click here: 2008 National Australian ICT Literacy Levels

At my placement school, I was overwhelmed with the different ICT resources and other technologies present in the classroom and that the students knew more about it than I did!  My colleague teacher is walking the students through many ICT resources and different technologies available to them and teaching them effective ways in which to use them. For Example; Interactive Whiteboards, Mac Books, Cameras,  podcasts, iPads, along with exposing them to different media’s on the internet such as Wikispaces and Blogs. My colleague teacher is also providing her students with the skills and knowledge they need in order to stay safe on the internet.

One of my lessons at my placement school was getting students to create their own podcast recounting holiday. Before the end of last term, I asked students take photos of their holiday and bring them in on a USB.
Students were shown how to create their podcast using garageband (mac program). Students were instructed to upload their photos onto garage band and narrate the pictures on the film strip.

Once the students had completed their podcast they were required to loop it into iTunes. This allows students to be able to save a copy to their own iPods, as well as a medium for the broadcasting of the podcast.

Once all the podcasts were in iTunes, they were then set up in notebook as file links. The students were then to present their podcast to the class, as a way of sharing what they did during the school holidays. Students were also encourage to bring in an item from home to support their podcast. For example: movie tickets, soccer ball etc.

The Students really enjoyed creating and presenting their podcasts. It made a more interesting and engaging way to present news!

References:

Finger, G., Russel, G., Jamieson-Proctor, R & Russell, N. (2007). Transforming learning with ICT: Making IT happen. Frenchs Forest: Pearson Education Australia.

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Prevention is better than a cure!

Psychologist Fredric Jones found that in a typical classroom, teachers spend approximately 50% of their instructional time managing students who are off task and disturbing other. (Konza.,Grainger, & Bradshaw. 2004. pp.81). So what can we do about this?

Image taken from: http://www.clipartoday.com/clipart/cartoons/cartoon/cartoon_264057.html

I am a great believer that prevention is better than a cure, especially in terms of behaviour management. We need to be looking at ways in which we can promote and encourage positive behaviour in our classrooms, to prevent us from desperately searching for that cure.

During my weekly visits I have been closely watching how my teacher manages her class; in particular the children who tend to challenge her authority and disrupt their peers. The first thing I took note of was her class rules; they were clearly displayed at the front of the classroom. At the beginning of the year, my colleague teacher established these rules with her class. The rules act as an agreement between her and the students, and reinforce her expectations. They outline to the students exactly what they need to be doing, rather than what they are not to do.  By enabling the students to take part in the creation of the class rulesgives them a sense of responsibility for both their behaviour and learning.
‘Assertive teachers will not tolerate pupils stopping them from teaching or stopping others learning. Most importantly an assertive teacher will recognise and reinforce appropriate behaviour when it is displayed.’ (Konza, D., Grainger, J & Bradshaw, K. 2004.pp81)

In a recent lecture, Peter Hobbs from the DET behaviour management team spoke to us about how to create a positive learning environment in difficult situations. He reiterated the importance of establishing classroom rules and gave us some examples of what these might look like:

 Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Images taken from: Hobbs. (2011)

The visual images are important as they support the text for students, especially visual learners.
He also demonstrated to us the C.A.L.M approach to behaviour management:

Click here C.A.L.M

Whilst is important to establish these classroom rules, it is also essential that we as teachers get to know our students! Too often or not, students misbehave as a means of communicating a problem. For example, something is happening at home, the physical environment (lighting, temperature) may be having an effect on them or they simply do not understand the work. We need to look at why our students might be behaving the way they are.

The NSW Institute of TEachers Professional Standards:
Element 5: Aspect: 5.1.6. Demonstrate knowledge of principles and practices for managing classroom discipline.

Here are some video clips from television show Summer Heights High:

Jonah is a year 8 students at the school who presents with learning difficulties.  Jonah appears easily distracted in the first classroom (Yr 8 English), this could be due to work being set is too hard. The second  is a specialist classroom named Gumnut Cottage. Watch how his behaviour differs in the two classrooms.

Warning: Coarse language.

Please leave your thoughts and comments.

References:

Hobbs, P., (2011) Lecture 10: The Positive Classroom[Slides] Retrieved from:
http://blackboard.acu.edu.au/webct/cobaltMainFrame.dowebct

Konza, D., Grainger, J & Bradshaw, K. (2004). Existing Models of Behaviour Management. In Classroom Management: A Survival Guide, (pp79-100). Social Science Press.

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Questions, Questions, Questions!

‘Research tell us that teachers are asking up to several hundred questions a day’ (Barry, K. & King, L. 1998, p.144). So what are these questions, what do they look like, sound like and most importantly what are our students benefiting from them?.

The NSW Institute of Teachers’ Professional Teaching Standards, ensures teachers are communicating effectively with their students through:
Element 4; Aspect 4.1.2 Demonstrate a range of questioning techniques designed to support student learning.

Blooms Taxonomy looks at questioning as categories in relation level of thinking that is required to answer, ranging from low order to high order.  During the 1990’s Lorin Anderson, revised Bloom’s original Taxonomy and relisted the categories as follows:

Category: The student will:
Remember Recall information.
Understand Explain concepts or ideas
Apply Use the new knowledge in another situation
Analyse Differentiate between items that form a whole
Evaluate Justify a decision or a course of action
Design Create new products, ideas or ways of seeing things.

(Alford, G., Herbert, P. & Frangenheim, E. 2006. pp176-224)

Click to enlarge

Image taken from: http://blog.learningtoday.com/blog/bid/23376/Blooming-Orange-Bloom-s-Taxonomy-Helpful-Verbs-Poster

Too often or not teachers are keeping the level of questions they are asking their students toward the lower level order. We as teachers need to be aiming toward progressing and challenging our students through their learning. The use of higher order questions will enable us to achieve this. It can be quiet difficult to think of these higher order questions on demand or on the spot, so to ensure we do ask these question to our students, it is essential we plan for them.

On my recent visit to my placement school, I have noticed my colleague teacher implementing the different categories of Blooms Taxonomy. She generally starts with the lower order questions and moves toward the higher order questions. An example of this is through the student’s recent research assignment on explorers. There were a range of questions throughout the assignment; some involved simply identifying different facts, explaining concepts etc. One question in the assignment asked the students to discuss the habits of mind their explorer adopted during their expedition. The teacher explained to me, this question would test the students; some would really excel in this section and some would leave it blank. My colleague teacher continued by saying some of the students within the class would struggle with answering this question as you cannot necessarily type the question into Google to obtain the answer; they have to think of it themselves. This is agreed by Barry, K. & King, L. (1998) when stated ‘A higher cognitive level question involves some independent thinking by students’. (p.145)


Image taken from: http://www.dare2xl.com.au/personal-development/discovering-what-motivates-you/

 
 
 
“Good teaching is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right answers.”–Josef Albers
 
 

References:

Alford, G., Herbert, P. & Frangenheim, E. (2006). Bloom’s Taxonomy Overview. In Innovative Teachers’ Companion, (pp 176 – 224). ITC Publications.

Barry, K. & King, L. (1998) Developing instructional skills. In Beginning Teaching and Beyond, (3rd Ed), (pp.144-167). Social Science Press.

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Cooperative learning

To achieve cooperative learning, often referred to as group work, within the classroom there are few strategies that need to be put into place. It is quite common that when primary students are sent off to do group work, there is a dominating leader within the group. This therefore makes it difficult and intimidating for other students to participate and contribute to the group. It is essential that we as teachers provide students with experiences and structure that clearly layout the different roles to be adopted within the group. Arthur, M., Gordon, C. & Butterfield, N. (2003) agrees with this idea by saying there should be an emphasis placed on the social skills students learn through participating in group work and it provides an opportunity for students to ‘increase understanding of the roles people fulfil when they work cooperatively to achieve a common end‘.(p.43)

Image taken from: http://www.istockphoto.com/stock-photo-11728987-team-working-toward-common-goal.php

At my placement school, before students are sent off to do group work, my colleague teacher goes through the different roles within the group (usually placed a on visual board). For example, reporter, reader, as well as social roles: time keeper etc.  My colleague teacher allows students to choose which role they would like to take on and encourages them to try a new role. My colleague teacher also reminds all students to write down the information in their respective books, so that all have the information to refer back to later.  While I was watching the groups working, it was evident to see that all students were given a chance to contribute to the group and were respecting each other through the process of working to achieve a common goal. It allowed those students who may feel intimidated or embarrassed to contribute to the group, to do so.  After the designated time for group work was finished, each group reported their findings to the class. This was a great opportunity for students to learn from each other and further their previous knowledge.  Arthur, M., Gordon, C. & Butterfield, N. (2003) agrees with this idea by saying ‘peer explanations are often at level of elaboration that students can relate to’ (p.43)

When this strategy is implemented well, students will be able to better their effective communication skills, be able to contribute to the groups work in a non-intimidating manner as well as building social skills such as, trust, management of conflict, leadership and taking responsibility for their own learning.

Here are some youtube clips that support and extend on the benefits of cooperative learning within a primary classroom:

Video taken from:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBl0PdJ33GM&feature=fvwrel

Video taken from:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBl0PdJ33GM&feature=fvwrel

The NSW Institute of Teachers’ Professional Teaching Standards, recognises the need for teachers to create and maintain safe and challenging learning environment in:
Element 5; Aspect 5.1.2Establish supportive learning environments where students feel safe to risk full participation.

Reference:

Arthur, M., Gordon, C. & Butterfield,N. (2003). The impact of curriculum and instruction. In Classroom Management: Creating Positive Learning Environments, (pp.43-52). Thomson: Southbank, Victoria.

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Key aspects of effective teaching

As teachers, we need to ensure that our teaching is effective and considers the needs of all our students. According to Killen (2007) are 5 keys aspects of effective teaching; teacher clarity, instructional variety, teacher task orientation, engagement in learning, learner success. (p.106). During my first visit at my placement school, I noticed my colleague teacher adapting and integrating these key aspects throughout her teaching day.

Wordle: Untitled

The first one being teacher clarity. Quite often students can present with challenging and off task behaviours, this is usually due to being unsure of what exactly they are expected to do. This can be avoided if the instructions are clearly explained and structured by the teacher.  Teachers need to break down the instructions into clear logical steps; this is referred to as cognitive clarity. Killen (2007) states ‘to give students a clear explanation of something you need to use language and speech patterns that will not confuse them’ (p.107).
My colleague teacher successfully adapted this strategy when giving direct instruction to the class; she explained the required task when the students were sitting on the floor. Once the students had been sent back to their desks, the teacher used a method of questioning for clarity, meaning she was asking the students procedural questions of what they were doing, what comes next. This allowed her to examine if the students had a clear understanding of the task and in return, the task requirements were being explained again. The teacher then placed a visual prompt on the interactive board detailing the task.
Once the students had been working, the teacher reconfirmed the task requirements by asking if there were any students unsure of what they were to do next.

This strategy was also adopting the aspect of instructional variety. Whilst there was only one task being implemented, the teacher explained it a multiple forms. For example, verbal direct instruction, questioning for clarity and visual prompts. This method also takes into consideration that not all students learn in the same way or in this case take in instruction the same way. As Killen (2007) says ‘students perceive and gain knowledge differently, form ideas and think differently, and have different background knowledge, skills and dispositions, a ‘’one size fits’’ all approach to teaching is unlikely to be successful’. (p.109). It is important we as teachers remember this idea and are conscious of it during our teaching.

By adopting these strategies, we as teachers are working smarter not harder. I found this image and that it was well suited to this idea.


Image taken from: http://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/e/effective_teaching.asp

This idea of recognising that students learn differently, so therefore we need to vary our approach to meet their needs has been highlight in the The NSW Institute of Teachers’ Professional Teaching Standards.
Element 2; Aspect 2.1.3 Demonstrate knowledge of students’different approaches to learning.

Reference:

Killen, R. (2007) Using direct instruction as a teaching strategy. In Effective Teaching Strategies: Lessons from Research and Practice, (4th Ed.) (pp 101-124). Thomson Social Science Press.

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