Skype goes cultural

I was reading through the learning path this week with interest as David mentioned Skype in the classroom. This is about the third time I’ve read or heard about the app/service in a couple of weeks. Skype in the classroom allows you to invite a guest speaker into your classroom, or alternatively speak to another class from around the globe, in an attempt to guess their location by asking a series of yes no questions. I think this is a wonderful way to foster a cultural understanding in a society that is becoming more and more intercultural. This is something I’ve added to my bookmark list of ICT to try in practice.

Been placed. Weight lifted.

So I was just reading Elizabeth’s blog post regarding prac and it inspired me to make a nice polite phone call to prac office to follow up on things. I’m generally quite passive and assume that prac office will get things done and a phone call from me would probably annoy them but I’m tired of wondering. Actually, being placed is about the only thing that I dwell on quite a bit. I am going to a year 2 class which would mean my pracs to date will have been;

Prep/Yr 1 composite, Year 2, Year 3/Year 4 composite, Year 5/Year 6 composite. Look at that for a pattern, I will have been placed with every year level. I think that should have me placed to make an informed decision on what Year level I would like to do my intern with :). If I can’t decide then, I could always try the ‘Which Year level should you be teaching‘ app ;).

FWIW, Prac office said that they were onto our unit now, I she had just update another ten students, excluding mine, before I called.

 

Maths Games, Where art thou?

As prac slowly approaches, I’ve taken stock to assess where I sit in the scheme of getting my uni assignments done. I’m pretty confident to have put away my EDP4140 and EDC3100 assignments before the weekend, and EDX2170 is assignment free for a little while yet, so that leaves me ready to tackle the notorious Maths 3280 eportfolio bad boy BUT, …. where oh where are all the great Maths interactive games?

For the eportfolio assignment, I have a solid plan on measurement but I have found interactive online games, activities and resources hard to come by. IXL looks to be one site that I am looking at but struggling a little bit beyond that. Does anyone have any recommendations of sites you’ve used in the past, or present for Maths interactive resources.

 

My assignment secret

I read with interest Emily’s blog on study tips that can help you go to that next level. When I was High School I’m the first to admit, in the words of Mr Strickland …. I was a slacker.

I’ve since picked up my game. I find I’m able to stay on top of my game with a clear setting of expectations and adhering to them. In practice, that means I set what I need to be done, and by when. An practical example is when working on assignments, once I have a plan in sight, I aim for 300 words a day over a five day period. I know good and well that I can pound out a lot more than that but exceeding 300 always leaves me feeling warm and fuzzy.

Hardly groundbreaking, but what’s your secret? How do you get that 15oo word assignment done when the motivation factor isn’t there.

FWIW, here’s a generic list outlined by Adelaide Uni for a few more pointers.

 

 

A role for rote

The greatest take away from my experiences in Taiwan was ESL students’ capacity to retain sight words. I seriously spent a good 11 years teaching sight words in the Sesame Street Language School system and children as young as Year 1 had nailed sight words and reading at a Year 4 standard in Australia, and that’s English in a second language. I guess being taught phonics in a model and drill environment has enabled to strong capacity to retain information. In contrast, in Australia, where a rote learning style is uncommon, children really do struggle with retaining sight words. Gabrielle  posted an interesting sight word page, webtothecore that help students retain important words for reading.

Placed for prac yet?

I just read with interest Dayna’s post regarding professional experience. Like her, I find it easier to pick 9 AFL winners a weekend, mow the neighbour’s lawns, then whip up a roast dinner for 25 than to be placed in sufficient time for prac, although Dayna did find hers :). Last year I was off to Dayboro State School and it was the most wonderful teaching experience since my previous year’s prac at St Flannan’s. My hope if I get to a Catholic school before doing my first 4th year prac at a Ed Qld school again. Anyway, the countdown begins and it’s almost a daily visit to inplace to check placement status. I’m curious to find who has been placed yet and who is still waiting.

Brain boogies

I’ll start off by saying that I am extremely challenged when it comes to dancing. I can only navigate the chicken dance if my partner in crime is alcohol. Wait, let me start again …. “I’m not that great at dancing, yet”. Ahhhh I feel better. That’s that growth mindset that we so importantly want to instil into our learners.

Ok, continue, I was reading Mitchell’s post this morning about a how simple tasks like dancing with GoNoodle can get the students back into a variety of modes, settling them down, preparing them for an activity, or getting them focused. Gonoodle advertises that it enables 10 millions kids to move to be their strongest, silliest, smartest and best selves, and practically every piece of feedback on the site is from teachers.

I can see great potential in this site and movement activity for the aforementioned purposes (settling, preparing and focusing), but also as a reward for children, offering a gonoodle ticket allowing a student to choose the daily after break song. A prep teacher I worked with last year was very big on gonoodle, and would often speak about the benefits of using both sides of the brain to help the brain and coordination amongst the littlest.

While this one could be a challenge for me to implement, especially if the students want to see my moves, I think it is definitely a trick I might store for future practice.

Teacher Aide? DO IT!

I am taking on four units for the first time ever, while working six days a week (five days a week as a TA, and every Sunday in retail), but despite this I have never felt on top of my uni work like this semester. EDC3100 is a tough gig, but I love it. I really enjoy the blogging component of the course. I haven’t missed a Maths EDX3280 tutorial and despite the horror stories, I’m ready for the ePortfolio bad boy. I have had a solid plan ready for action for a couple of weeks now. The EDX2170 multimodal presentation looks like one of the best assignments in the education degree. I brought home four picture books from school today and the plan is to put this one to bed very early. Finally, EDP4140 Second Language learning and pedagogy. This is possibly my favourite as it relates to my Taiwan teaching. I was asked why I feel this one by a friend this week and it got me thinking, I just feel that the four units I am undertaking are four of the best supported units I’ve taken throughout my degree, but probably equally important is working in a school setting. If I have any advice for an aspiring teacher, it’s become a TA. The network you build, and the resources that become available to you cannot be understated. In a ideal world, every year working as TA should knock a fourth year unit off your degree!

No significant learning occurs without it!

Inspired by the words of James Comar “No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship”, Rita Pierson in her Ted talk called mindshift reminds us why every student needs a teacher champion. It’s hard not to see a lot of Nel Noddings in her teaching philosophy, something I genuinely try to borrow and inject into my own. Rita speaks about how relationships between teacher and student, adult and child, are fundamental to getting the best from students. This talk led me onto a bit of a google frenzy to find out more about learning and relationships, and while my end result was to find the insightful 9 Powerful Practices that speak about how to raise achievement for students living in poverty, nonetheless, its practices I believe are pertinent in any socioeconomic climate.

One a side note, I was fortunate enough to have this Ted sent to me by a friend, who is my cousin’s wife, a teacher. I love that a great deal of my educational resources, and in turn inspiration comes from teachers and pre service teachers. I am not sure if there is another field of employment that gathers together as one to share in the greater need of better the lives of others, as educators do to each other.

If you have any other Rita Pierson-like gems, please comment and share.

 

Visual, Auditory, Kinaesthetic – rubbish.

Nothing like a controversial title to draw in the reader. I used to do a paper round as a child and amongst my 35 ‘Herald Suns’, there was the ‘Truth’ newspaper which came out once a week. I remember the ‘Truth’ was notorious for two things, one the beautiful semi clad women gracing page three, and the second were the headlines; “Boony smashes 52 cans” was a vivid one. Pretty sure the ‘Truth’ was also known somewhat for being ‘not’ an overly reliable paper in terms of accurate information either …. good for the gags, though. FWIW, the dude waiting out by the mailbox for me each Wednesday wasn’t waiting to read back page sport news.

Anyway, so visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learners, it it a fallacy? I just watched a great TED talk, geeee they’re great listening. Head to ted.com for a catalogue of educational gold. It’s like listening to Al Pacino is Scent of a Woman, or Any Given Sunday, or Mel in Braveheart. They really do inspire. The one I just listened to debunks the VAK theory. This backs up what our coordinator/lecturer, David Jones brought up in a lecture at the Way Station the other week. It’s not that we, or students are V or A or K learners, it’s that we have better visual, or auditory or kinaesthetic memories. That makes a lot of sense to me. To get a better appreciation of what I am on about, take a look below. It’s highly thought provoking. Grab a coffee and sit back and enjoy.