What can I say..

So today I had the pleasure of taking the younger grades in HPE, now this was definitely an interesting experience. These students are full on at the best of times, but now add the fact that they are now dressed up as super heros (which is not conducive to running) makes for a rather interesting lesson. Saying that I did rather enjoy seeing their young faces when they were learning a new skill or were able to master a previously learnt skill. I am finding more and more that I enjoy teaching the younger ages, I am thinking that when I finish even if I don’t get a position in HPE it would be great to get one with the younger students.

Teaching younger students

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Let’s talk about prac…

So it is day three of prac and I am enjoying my time here at the school. Getting back into the swing of things is always difficult, trying to juggle assignments, work, planning for prac and actually involving myself in the prac experience takes its toll quickly. I love being in front class, and being able to teach the students new things. What I find difficult is coping with everything else. How do I make sure that my life doesn’t fall apart because I am trying to do a good job on prac. I don’t know if anyone else is feeling quite as overwhelmed by the whole experience, but I do enjoy hearing about other people’s time on prac such as Jodi’s.

This is a link to a site that assists teachers cope with limited resources. 

Integrating Cross Curriculum Priorities

In my subject EDH1150 it has been beneficial to understand what it means to include cross-curriculum priorities. Below is an extract from an assignment that I recently completed.

Educators based in Australia are now expected to utilise a national curriculum which is taught across all states and territories. This curriculum is based around the recommendations made within the Melbourne Declaration (2008), this document identified three key areas that need to be addressed for the benefit of individuals and Australia as a whole. One of these areas (cross curriculum priorities) is the delivery and engagement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures (ACARA, 2016). In the Health and Physical Education sector of the curriculum students are engaged with activities that allow them to appreciate and celebrate the beauty of the world’s oldest continuous living cultures. In this subject the teacher has the capacity to make strong connections between cultures and identities and to engage with and appreciate the lived experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. Sport and recreation are integral in understanding ‘culture’ within Indigenous communities, as well as highlighting the culture within which sport and recreation operate (AECG, 1995) a way to teach future generations about the importance of acceptance and respect of different cultures.

Engaging in activities and learning experiences that incorporate aspects of Indigenous Australian culture is not only embedded in the Australian Curriculum but is also connected to the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL). The national standards created by the AITSL were a crucial milestone in the national education reforms of Australia (AISTL, 2011). With Standard 1 requiring teachers to demonstrate a board knowledge and understanding of the impact of culture, cultural identity and linguistic backgrounds on the education of students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds (AISTL, 2011).  As an educator, the work conducted in the classroom, on the sporting fields and in the playground provides a way to examine and transform personal understanding of other cultures and histories. Allowing time for reflection and the opportunity not only to change perceptions, but also change lives (Price, 2012).  As a nation Australia values the central role of education in building a democratic, equitable and just society- a society that is prosperous, cohesive and culturally diverse, and that values Australia’s Indigenous cultures as a key part of the nation’s history, present and future (MCEECDYA, 2008, p. 4).

Visit the Australian curriculum for further information and Maggie’s blog for more interesting reading.

Creating authentic learning experiences…

Teachers are challenged to adopt practices that facilitate the development of “necessary” skills and strategies for learners. For many, however, what is required in policy and curricula is increasingly obscured and even confusing as teachers are bombarded with jargon prescribing seemingly similar (yet apparently different) approaches such as “rich tasks”, “big questions” and “fertile questions” that are to be “relevant”, “authentic” and “engaging” for the learner. Barton and Hamilton (2000) argue that literacy learning should take the learner beyond the transmission of technical skills in the classroom to an understanding of its role within a community’s cultural practices. These literacy practices (Street, 1995) are mediated by literacy events (Heath, 1983) and it is engagement with these events and their diverse demands that allows learners to make strong connections to their own literacy practices.

Herrington and Oliver (2000) define authentic learning experiences as those that incorporate a number of principles in their design. Learning experiences that incorporate these principles can be described as authentic in that they aim to demonstrate the knowledge and skill within a real setting and allow the learner to make connections between the school setting and the demands of their broader communities. Authentic learning experiences: – Provide authentic contexts that reflect the way the knowledge will be used in real life – Provide opportunities for exploration; they will be complex and ill defined, as they occur in real life – Provide access to expert performances and the modelling of processes – Provide multiple roles and perspectives – Support collaborative construction of knowledge – Promote reflection to enable abstractions to be formed – Promote articulation to enable tacit knowledge to be made explicit – Provide coaching by the teacher at critical times, and scaffolding and fading of teacher support – Provide for authentic, integrated assessment of learning within the tasks (Herrington & Oliver, 2000, p. 26). The principles of authentic learning emerged from reviews of literature and research conducted with participants engaging with technology based learning environments (Herrington & Herrington, 2006). The focus in these previous inquiries of authentic learning was primarily on the role of technology in creating the learning environment. However, we argue they have much to offer primary teachers in understanding what “authentic” means in planning for literacy learning in the primary classroom. As such, the principles of authentic learning experiences are further focused in this inquiry through the theories of literacy practices and literacy events.

What is good feedback?

Feedback is any response made in relation to students’ work or performance. It can be given by a teacher, an external assessor or a student peer. It is usually spoken or written.

Feedback is … most effective when it is timely, perceived as relevant, meaningful and encouraging, and offers suggestions for improvement that are within a student’s grasp (Brown, Bull, & Pendlebury, 1997).

Feedback is intended to acknowledge the progress students have made towards achieving the learning outcomes of a unit. Good feedback is also constructive, and identifies ways in which students can improve their learning and achievement. Providing a mark or a grade only, even with a brief comment like “good work” or “you need to improve” is rarely helpful.

Good feedback is focused and students have an opportunity to act on it (Hillocks, 1986). It is well developed and text specific, for example, “What’s your main point here? If it’s that you disagree, put that idea up front and explain” (Lunsford, 1997). It also provides clear direction to the student, for example, “Consider integrating these ideas” and “Be more specific. Say where and when” (Chamberlain, Dison & Button, 1998).

Feedback needs to be timely: given early in a unit or promptly after assessment tasks, so that students have sufficient opportunity to use the feedback for improving subsequent performance.

When approaching the point of feedback, (mentally) ask three things of the student and use these to frame your feedback:

  • What were you trying to do?
  • How did you do it?
  • Why did you do it that way?

 

For thoughts on reflection visit Anna’s blog. 

Bloom’s Taxonomy and Questioning

The goal of classroom questioning is not to determine whether students have learned something (as would be the case in tests, quizzes, and exams), but rather to guide students to help them learn necessary information and material. Questions should be used to teach students rather than to just test students!

Although questions are widely used and serve many functions, teachers tend to overuse factual questions such as “What is the capital of California?” Not surprising, many teachers ask upward of 400 questions each and every school day. And approximately 80 percent of all the questions teachers ask tend to be factual, literal, or knowledge-based questions. The result is a classroom in which there is little creative thinking taking place.

Many years ago, an educator named Benjamin Bloom developed a classification system we now refer to as Bloom’s Taxonomy to assist teachers in recognizing their various levels of question-asking (among other things). The system contains six levels, which are arranged in hierarchical form, moving from the lowest level of cognition (thinking) to the highest level of cognition (or from the least complex to the most complex):

  • Knowledge
  • Comprehension
  • Application
  • Analysis
  • Synthesis
  • Evaluation

Lower Order

Knowledge (Remembering)
These types of questions test the students’ ability to memorize and to recall terms, facts and details without necessarily understanding the concept.
Key Words: Memorize, Define, Identify, Repeat, Recall, State, Write, List & Name
Examples of questions:

  • “What is…?”
  • “How would you describe…?”
  • “Why did…?
  • “How would your show…?”

Comprehension (Understanding)
These questions test the students’ ability to summarize and describe in their own words without necessarily relating it to anything.
Key Words: Describe, Distinguish, Explain, Interpret, Predict, Recognize & Summarize
Examples of questions:

  • “What facts or ideas show…?”
  • “How would you compare…?”
  • “How would your classify…?
  • “Can you explain what is happening…?”

Higher Order

Application (Transferring)
Application questions encourage students to apply or transfer learning to their own life or to a context different than one in which it was learned.
Key Words: Apply, Compare, Contrast, Demonstrate, Examine, Relate, Solve & Use
Examples of questions:

  • “What would result if…?”
  • “What facts would you select to show…?”
  • “What approach would you use to…?”
  • “How would you use…?”

 

Analysis (Relating)
These questions encourage students to break material into parts, describe patterns and relationships among parts, to subdivide information and to show how it is put together.
Key Words: Analyze, Differentiate, Distinguish, Explain, Infer, Relate, Research & Separate
Examples of questions:

  • “What inference can you make…?”
  • “What is the relationship between…?”
  • “What evidence can you find…?”
  • “What things justify…?”

Synthesis (Creating)
These questions encourage students create something new by using a combination of ideas from different sources to form a new whole.
Key Words: Arrange, Combine, Create, Design, Develop Formulate, Integrate & Organize
Examples of questions:

  • “What could be changed to improve…?”
  • “How would you test…?”
  • “What way would you design…?”
  • “What outcome would you predict for…?”

 

Evaluation (Judging)
Evaluation questions encourage students to develop opinions and make value decisions about issues based on specific criteria.
Key Words: Assess, Critique, Determine, Evaluate, Judge, Justify, Measure & Recommend
Examples of questions:

  • “How could you select…?”
  • “How could you prove…?”
  • “How would you prioritize…?”
  • “What information would you use to support…?”

Creating authentic assessment

Authentic assessments require the transfer of knowledge and skills into real-world situations to both measure and motivate student learning. When students are bored with the work they are asked to do, they superficially read texts, casually execute procedures, and cursorily explain their thinking. This detachment makes it increasingly difficult for students to retain learning after the lesson, unit, or year is over and harder for teachers to improve student performance.

There are 4 steps that I think about when creating an authentic assessment task:

STEP 1 – Standards

An assignment should always be formed with standards and objectives in mind (backwards design). In order to create a task for students to complete, you must first ask yourself, “what should my students know following this lesson and assignment“. This will give an educator a starting point for creating varoius ideas for assessment. The teacher must first start by having the end result of the assignment in mind. Once you have decided what you want your students to get out of their task, you can move on to step 2.

STEP 2 – Authentic Tasks

In this step, a teacher will decide how they want students to portray their knowledge of the subject matter using a real-world activity or scenario. A task should be chosen for students to complete that meets the authentic assessment criteria. It should be a meaningful task that students feel they can relate to and can apply in their lives.

STEP 3 – Criteria/Measures

In step 3, a teacher will decide what the student performing the assignment or task or will look like. What would you like the end product to be? Having already chosen how they want the student to portray their knowledge through an authentic task, and the teacher must now determine what that will look like and what criteria will prove student understanding. In other words, how will you know that the student has performed well or not? Knowing what criteria you are looking for in an authentic assignment will assist the teacher in the next step – creating a rubric.

STEP 4 – Rubric

After the teacher has decided on what task they would like students to complete, and what criteria they will use to decide whether or not they have met the standards, they will create a rubric for evaluation of students. A rubric is a way for you to evaluate what level of performance the students are currently performing at. Rubrics will be discussed further in this unit.