Monthly Archives: April 2015

Collaborative learning.

Thinking about teaching strategies, it is of interest to me how collaborative learning is so valued and how often it is mentioned in my courses as an important learning tool for learning.

For the most part of my career, and subsequently many of my prior understandings of Early Childhood has been impacted by my former work place – a Montessori based long day care centre.   I loved the way the children were, they were happy, busy, calm and quiet learners (most days).  Though we did as most other centres did, a big difference was the emphasis on the individual work cycle.  Children chose what was of interest to them and worked independently and at their own rate, which I think is the basis of interest based learning.

Now, though I do believe in the benefits of this method, I also think that by doing this all of the time there are many missed opportunities for peer learning and collaboration.

This video (which for some reason won’t embed) touches on the idea of think time before collaborative learning, which I see as a perfect “meet in the middle” strategy.

Questionable planning.

Planning.  Not exactly my strong point…

Sprint006 plan by J
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  J’Roo 

On one hand, I tend to think of myself as a “take it as it comes” kind of girl, however when it comes down to it perhaps I am a planner, I’m just not a very organised one.  I think different circumstances show different facets of my personality. For example travelling – I’ve done a variety of trips: backpacking around Europe with very little direction, a U.S/Canada/Mexico trip with a rough plan, with some scheduled stops and a definite idea of places to visit, to a pre-booked and fully organised trip to Japan with an exact itinerary… {Ughhh cue the “take me back, I hate uni” thoughts}  Now I had an absolute blast on all of these trips but I cannot say I enjoyed one over the other due to my planning or lack thereof. Some would argue that without a plan you can discover hidden gems and places you wouldn’t usually venture to, others would say that you will could miss out on opportunities because you weren’t organised – and in my experiences both are true.

When it comes to curriculum planning I think of my days working with the pre-kindy kids and the plans I would create to scaffold their learning.  I read Liz’s blog and I wonder if I will scrap as many plans at school as I did at day care, when I soon learnt that I could create the most wonderful plans, but they rarely would be executed as wonderfully. Here is EdQld’s planning page for further reading.

Allow room to move would be my key to any plans.  Everything needs a little wiggle room.

Thank goodness for blogs

Searching long into the night for ideas for learning activities on the internet because with such little experience in the classroom I have very few memories to call on for this task. Thank goodness for blogs shedding some light.

I found this great blog by Jacqui Sharp, an e-learning consultant from Auckland has a huge variety of resources and ideas for incorporating ICT into the classroom.

I have used interactive worksheets in my Unit of Work, as I thought it was a great Replacement (according to the RAT framework) for ordinary, boring old worksheets.  The options are endless using Google docs to add picture or video prompts, and the students could add drawings or photographs, extending their own learning.  Anything to keep them engaged in their learning!

Sketchup, 8 year old style by Eric Rice, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  Eric Rice 

Sharing is caring.

The double edged sword is responsible for this little info-graphic I stumbled across while searching for Assignment 2.  Now I know it’s all American stats, but for interests sake it gets the point across.  Though it may be time efficient and it may be easier – sometimes it’s just not as effective as it could be.

Digital Research Infographic

For us mere online students, the university does provide library assistance, but I am sure I can speak for the majority of my peers when I throw it in the too hard basket.  I can’t physically go to the Uni library and ask the questions I need answers to so they do provide many services including printing and a help-line of sorts.

The double edged sword (as they call it) for me being an online student is that even though there is help available, you need to have the motivation to ask.

Mentor morning tea

Over the holidays I enjoyed a catch up with an old work colleague.  It started with a picture of Sarah in the local newspaper welcoming her and four other first year teachers to the local primary school at the start of the term.  Due my hectic Uni schedule it’s taken me the whole term to organise a catch up.

Sarah and I haven’t worked together for a few years now, but unsurprisingly what I had thought or planned to be a quick catch up/Q&A about her new life as a teacher turned into a three and a half hour D&M.

Brunch at Pastis by Kaptah, on Flickr I was a little mesmerized…
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  Kaptah 
While studying my degree and into the future I think networking and talking with other teachers is an important tool in learning about teaching itself but also all those extra bits and pieces that Uni won’t. Sarah was a wealth of information on how to go about getting a job (so simple but I had no clue how it all worked), tips for interviewing in front of a three-principle panel (Eeek), how the whole point system works with rural and remote job placements and what to expect from my first year.
This article discusses two types of PLN: social networking and information aggregation. It made me wonder where does networking with people in the real world fit in? Is it an actual thing?

I’m pretty (kinaesthetically and visually) intelligent

I’m glad that I am not the only one, Natasha is also enjoying (perhaps with some guilt) her holidays.  Today I decided to use some of my (not so spare) time to help out my partner and spool his new fishing rod and attach a lure.  Now I have done my fair share of fishing, but I’ve never actually performed either task before, usually I just leave all the fiddly stuff to my all knowing father.

So I thought to myself how will I do this? Usually I tend to dive into tasks with little thought, but because I didn’t want to ruin anything I read a little book, but it didn’t quite work out, then I watched this YouTube video (which may not at all appeal to you)

After watching this through I was able to spool the reel but it didn’t work as it should have. So then I thought I’ll just give it a go on my own, and on my second attempt it was complete.  Then for the lure I used my prior knowledge that though I’m quite a visual learner, I am also kinaesthetic. So I watched another YouTube video then figured it out myself, and cut it off and did it again to make sure I would remember for next time.

Moral of the story, knowing yourself (or your learners) and how you (or they) learn makes difficult tasks just that little bit easier!

Time poor or Poor time management?

I know when it comes to my Uni work I have terrible time management skills. Motivation levels however do not help, but I read on Uni Facebook pages and on blogs all these good people, my peers, who have just about finished an assignment that I am yet to begin.  I have the best of intentions I swear but it just never comes off as i’d like or as I plan.

As I was procrastinating this morning I had a page suggested to me on Facebook for a resource to help teachers save time in the classroom – oh the irony.  Skwirk is a media rich, cross-curricula program providing educational resources for teachers including marking and lesson planning as well as aiding differentiated learning.  This post from Skwirk explains in more detail how they can help time poor teachers in their classrooms.

Lets hope I am better with time management in my own classroom than in my uni work, with 25 little ones counting on me as motivation, I am sure ICT will help lead the way!

Anyone would love a 12 week holiday!

It is amazing to me that people still see teaching as a 9-3 job. “Oh, you’re going to be a teacher, that will be amazing having 12 weeks holiday every year” some people say.

disbelief by brianna.lehman, on FlickrExcuse me? Really?
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  brianna.lehman 

I will enter the profession knowing full well that I will spend many of my nights planning and marking.  I know many Sundays will be spent preparing for the week ahead, as will many days of my 12 week holiday time.

Liz wrote a little blog on teachers leaving the profession after finding this teachers blog.  It was an interesting read and backed up many of the points made in this article that I found quite insightful.  “Close to 50% of Australians who graduate as teachers leave the profession within the first five years, many citing overwhelming workloads and unsupportive staffrooms as their main reason for leaving the job, according to new research” states this The Guardian news article backed by research from Monash University.  Maybe it’s not just a common societal misconception of teaching being a 9-3 job, but it’s pre-service teachers’ misconceptions too? Or maybe I am again reiterating the fact, as I did in this blog, that we are not being adequately prepared for life as a teacher. Perhaps these ex-teachers believe in a divine purpose and find education just isn’t it?  I think it’s got a lot less to do with that however and much more to do with pressure, policy and government.

If you can’t handle the pressure, get out of the kitchen they say – and it seems that many teachers are doing just that!