Sunday, January 27, 2013

Thoughts from a graduate teacher

Many wonderful things have happened since my last update, firstly I graduated from University with a Master of Teaching and secondly landed my dream job in an amazing school. Tomorrow I will officially become a teacher, and even though I am feeling rather nervous and anxious due to the unknown, I am also feeling extremely excited and proud of myself for all that I have achieved.

It is a long journey from being a pre-service teacher to becoming a graduate. Despite all of the benefits of having a mentor, you do find that you restrict yourself and become a mould of the classroom teacher.  At my new school, I will be working with two other teachers in a team-teaching environment and everyone keeps asking me if I prefer this. My response to this is that I would prefer to be working with my colleagues than isolated in my own classroom, as you always have someone to ask questions, someone to gain inspiration from and someone who also becomes a great friend. The prep team at my school are a great bunch who have made be feel included and very comfortable and I am extremely excited to be working with them this year and hopefully beyond. 

This first term will be a busy one, with many adjustments (especially with having to get up at 6 am every day, these holiday sleep-in's will be missed), however I will attempt to blog and share ideas/experiences that I have had. 

I am sure it will be an exciting and memorable year.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fantastic Fathers Day Activity

For my literacy intervention in grade one, we are focusing on the students written vocabulary, specifically working on descriptive words. Fathers Day (on 2nd of September for all those who may have forgotten) provided a perfect opportunity to practice using some of the new words we have learnt. I purchased an activity from, which is called "donut you know I love you" by A Cupcake for the Teacher and it involves getting the students to first construct their donuts (using 'yummy' colours to decorate) and then adding the sprinkles a.k.a the descriptive words to their icing. Some of the words were "supportive" "handsome" funny" and the students were given blank sprinkles to make up their own descriptive words "cuddly" "strong". The students assisted each other with new words, and also their definitions. There were some great conversations going on while they were making these. We added some glitter at the end, and then they were all ready to give to their dads for Fathers Day.

This activity is very fun, but most importantly provided students with an opportunity to learn and use new descriptive words.  

Here are some wonderful examples made by the grade ones:

Hopefully you find this activity as useful and entertaining as I did. Also, for those students who no longer have their dad's in their lives, the activity includes 'uncle' and 'grandpa' labels as well. 


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Teach Meet Melbourne August 2012

Yesterday I attended my first Teacher Meet at the Immigration Museum and I must say that it was wonderful. Around 60 teachers gave up their Saturday afternoon to join together to share their knowledge and inspire others. 

So many fantastic things were discussed, and I have pages of notes. The highlights for me were firstly Mic Lowne's presentation about KODU which is a visual programming game that teaches creativity, problem solving, and storytelling. It has a 'low entry point', so students in grade 2 and above can start using this program. The only disappointing thing is that its only available on PC, however perhaps in the future this will change.

Another highlight was Edna Sackson who discussed 'concept driven learning' i.e. the big idea. This is something that we have learnt at uni, so it was great to hear about it in practice, here are some images that I took from her presentation that some may find useful

The 'avocado' model - Worth knowing, important to know, enduring understanding

    The big idea - connection, responsibility, reflection, perspective, change, causation, function, form

Bernadette from Xavier College discussed Teachers Across Borders which sounds like a wonderful experience. Teachers travel to countries such as Cambodia and conduct short term workshops for teachers in developing countries. This will be something that I will consider doing in the future. 

One other presentation which really stood out was llja's presentation about Google docs forms, which I have never heard of, even though I am usually pretty up to date with new google features. It sounds wonderful, but is dependent on students have a laptop each in class to utilise it as llja does. Despite this, it is something that I will be using in the future if the resources are available. 

Other presentations worth noting were:
Rebecca Van Den Hoek - Danny deck chair: engaging science/maths lessons
Mark O'Meara - Characters on trial 

I will stop there, even thought there were more presentations that were very informative. So as you can probably tell, I really enjoyed it, so I will hopefully be able to attend the next TeachersMeet in September at Wooranna Park P.S. I highly recommend it, hopefully I will be able to see you there.


Friday, August 10, 2012

My final semester

It has been a few weeks (or so) since I last posted, and since then I have started back at uni for my FINAL semester (yes, I am excited) which so far has been lots of fun. This semester is shaped some what differently, with most of our assignments centring around interventions that are undertaken in our placement classrooms. I am especially excited about my maths intervention which involves working with four grade one students who need extension in maths. At the moment, the classes topic is money, so over the last couple of days I have been assessing the students to see what they can and cannot do, thus identifying where they are conceptually. They are such a lovely group to work with, and they always try to challenge themselves and are not fearful of making mistakes which is refreshing.

When looking for specific activities to engage them, I came across this fantastic kit on teachers pay teachers. It includes some really fun and challenging games which the students have loved. Below is a photo of one of the resources. This cube (which has a different coin on each side) came with no instructions, however I decided that I would make one for each student (I highly recommend laminating them as the students can be a little rough with them). The only instructions that I gave the students was that they needed to roll the dice and record the coins that appeared and then calculate the total. Once they were comfortable, they were encouraged to add extra coins, and this challenge motivated them and pushed them to see what they could achieve. It was intriguing to watch, as they would keep adding more and more coins, continuously push themselves to see how far they could go. Two students even decided to use different operations to see what would happen to the total.

Until now, I have always conducted interventions with students who are falling behind, and I am finding it so different to work with students who are working far beyond the expected level for their age. Instead of trying to 'fix' something, my role is to help the students to challenge themselves, and provide new learning opportunities and this is such an exciting process.

I could write forever about this so I'll stop, but soon I will write about my literacy intervention (focusing on written vocabulary) and also my designing personalised learning project (which is centered around leadership and dance).

Tomorrow I am also going to the TeachMeet in Melbourne at the Immigration Museum, so I will be sure to write a post about that as well.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Being your own 'brand'

Last week I attended the VIEU conference 'Best Foot Forward' - which focused on assisting student teachers with constructing their CV and cover letters in preparation to apply for graduate positions in the next few months. Even though I have written a CV before, this conference demonstrated just how challenging it can be to create one that is specific to teaching and one which also reflects your teaching philosophy.

One of the presenters Steve Whittington from SchoolJobs and Oxford Education discussed the importance of creating your own 'brand'. Even though this initially sounded quite odd to me, I now understand that it is important to articulate what you can bring to the job. It is essential to effectively communicate what makes you right for that position and more specifically that school. He used the analogy that the school is a puzzle, with individual pieces, and you must demonstrate how you fit into that puzzle.

To be honest, all of this is very daunting. The university has not given us any support (as yet) and I feel as if I am searching through the dark. The most challenging part is writing my teaching statement or philosophy. There does not seem to be much support online, so I am trying to focus on these three question -  What does my ideal classroom "Look like, feel like, sound like?"

These are some of the statements that I have come up with so far - 

As a teacher, I will endeavour to: 

- Create a classroom which is warm and welcoming, by maintaining a positive and honest environment where all students learn with and from each other, feeling safe and comfortable when sharing their thoughts and ideas with their peers. 
- Develop positive and supportive relationships with all students through having a genuine interest in their learning and lives, thus ensuring that mutual respect is maintained in the classroom at all times
- Ensure that all students learning needs are the primary focus, with knowledge being transformed into effective student understanding. This will be supported through ensuring that students are actively engaged with learning experiences which incorporate issues that are relevant to their own lives.

However, it is hard to know how much to write and the detail required.

For all those who have gone through this process - any advice would be much appreciated.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Skype & Education

During the opening speech at the 2012 ICTEV conference, the speaker Alan November briefly discussed the benefits of using Skype in classrooms. This made me realise that during my placements, I am yet to see teachers or students utilising this tool and it made me wonder why? Thus, I decided to find out how other educators use this tool in their classroom, with the aim of understanding how I could use Skype with my future students. 

After doing a little research, the benefits of using such a tool were obvious. Skype allows for students to be connected to others while still being in their own classrooms. Students can meet meet other students, introduce overseas relatives to their peers, share their work with others, thus creating a global community. It is also an fantastic resource for teachers, as it allows you to interact with fellow educators, talk to experts, share ideas and create amazing learning experiences with others from around the world. The most important feature (I believe) is linking classes together, allowing for students to discover new cultures and undertake their learning together. 

Skype also allows for students who study online to connect to their teachers or gain access to resources which would otherwise be unavailable to them. An example of this is Teach The World Online (TWOL) who are currently establishing English language programs and curriculum to teach students in HaitiNepalCambodia,Colombia, Russia, Turkey, Tunisia, Pakistan & Brazil through using Skype. TWOL brings students around the world who want to learn English face-to-face with American university students who want teaching experience. Click here to read more. 

Also, Karl Prunell has written a very interesting blog about visual learning and skype, which I highly recommend. 

I could go on forever about this, and will write more about this topic in the future. 

For more information, you can:

Follow Skype in the classroom on twitter
Visit this website to connect to fellow educators and students 
Get updates on facebook, through 'liking' their page here 

Also, you can click here to view Alan Novembers Skype instructions for the classroom.

I would love to hear about others experiences with Skype in the classroom, please leave a comment :)


Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - Hands-on Downloads for Primary Educators

Twinkl is your one stop shop for fantastic free primary resources, across all curriculum areas. All of the resources are downloadable, colourful and engaging, with the focus being on hands-on learning for students. It is also fantastic for visual learners and students with autism.

Click here to view a YouTube video, made by the website creators explaining its features.

This is an example of a kit I downloaded from this website to use for my phonological awareness intervention mentioned below. I printed these using a colour printer and laminated them, and lastly separated into two piles. When playing with the students, spread the smaller cards over the table, then students need to find two words that make a compound word. When they are able to explain the components of their word to you, then they can be given the large card (the compound word). The aim is for students to collect as many words as possible, and then share them with their peers. When doing this, encourage the students to explain the components of their words (showing the two cards) and then put it into a sentence. This game is also fantastic for vocabulary development.

Here is a picture of the cards:

You can download them here or you can order them through the website and they will print/deliver them for you! :)

You can also suggest resources, upgrade to premium to download restricted resources and multiple files.

They also have a facebook and a twitter account to keep you up to date with the latest downloads.

Also, they have uploaded a bunch of Olympic Resources, which will be very useful in the upcoming months. For example, Olympic symbols and display posters and themed numeracy activities

Click here to view other olympic downloads.