Beginning to flip learning

I am SO lucky! I’m at a Distance Education school where, flipped learning is pretty much the norm. However, until recently students have been asked to read long amounts of text in science.

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This is no more as far as I’m concerned.

Yesterday, the day that changed my educational future, I discovered an invaluable web tool called Video Scribe. And began making awesome looking videos instantly.

MY FIRST VIDEOSCRIBE VIDEO on SIMPLE MACHINES:

Taking advice from the greats of video lessons I made sure that it was:

  • less than 5 minutes long
  • catchy and relevant to my students
  • animated!
  • focused on lower order thinking skills (knowledge and understanding).

Enjoy the first video I produced and I will be making all my video lessons available on my website under “For Teachers“.

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Year 9 – Redesigned

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OR: I’ve just scrapped everything I’m doing this year for something WAY MORE AWESOME

There is nothing worse than attending an incredible professional development as a teacher and then carrying on with your routine as though nothing has changed.

I have decided – NOT THIS TIME!

I was absolutely determined to make use of the incredible week I had at STEMX in Canberra as soon as possible.

 

Have a look at my year plan: mushing PBL and STEM together to make one beautifully awesome educational baby.

Rough Driving Questions in the order which students will be asked to do them:

 

1) Devise a Rube Goldberg machine that takes at least 1 minute to run that, when videoed will deliver the message of “welcome to Year 9 Science”. (Audience: each other, and current Year 8s) (Approx 2 weeks)

2) How could you use what you learned at the Observatory to create a device that improves your mobile phone reception for under $20? (Audience: Observatory staff) (Approx 8 weeks)

3) Using a programming software of your choice, model aspects of ecosystem interactions in the form of a game that will be presented to primary school students in years 5 and 6. (Audience: Local primary school) (Approx 5 weeks)

4) Prototype methods of mitigating tsunamis that are triggered by the warning signs of tsunamis and design a scientific experiment to test their effectiveness. (Audience: Geoscience Australia) (Approx 5 weeks)

5) Measure the happiness and wellbeing of your local community and create a plan to improve this by 2020. (Headspace) (Approx 5 weeks)

6) Create and refine a unique recipe that utilises at least two chemical reactions with evidence of experimenting with different ingredients, proportions and cooking methodologies to produce the desired product. (Audience: local TAFE Cookery students) (Approx 7 weeks)

7) Create a piece of artwork that is based on a scientific concept that you have studied this year which incorporates the use of electrical circuits. The design must allow you to give a three minute presentation explaining how you made it and the scientific concept you are illustrating. (Audience, parents and community members) (Approx 8 weeks)

What do you think?

Stuck what to say about the Draft Earth and Environmental Science Syllabus for NSW? – here are my views

If you care about the future of English, science, mathematics or history education in NSW, you’ll make your views heard. Here is where you can do that before August 31. http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/syllabuses/curriculum-development/senior-years.html

Read more for selected comments I made on the Draft HSC Earth Syllabus for NSW. *Caution, emotive language used.

Continue reading

Prac Take 2. And what I’ll focus on.

So it’s time for my second teaching rounds and I got to meet my first class. Let’s make a list, I love lists. These are the things I will be focusing on this time around.

  • having a structure in my lessons. A CLEAR start, middle and end. This was a HUGE problem last time around and honestly I really regret it. There is nothing worse than a teacher that is running around fumbling trying to finish off the lesson. Aside from seeming unprofessional, it also suggests that your content isn’t so important cause you can quickly rush through it.
  • Developing my students reflective learning practices. I’m going to focus on plenary – 1 thing you learnt this lesson, 1 thing you’re thinking about (link to other subject, found something interesting…)
  • Differentiating my instruction. I will have a lot of group work and I’m going to try to organise groups based on learning styles and ability. This is because many of my classes have a huge varying range of abilities and it’s clear that some students need extra support, for example they are just transitioning to this school from an intensive English school. While on the other hand, in the same class, I have students who are so obviously beyond this content and really require more nurturing. My supervising teacher already does this in the form of different tasks but I feel like I could be more useful if I did it during class time.
  • making science fun! I want to have such a positive environment that (a) students are talking about their learning (b) they are actually happy in class
  • focusing on OPEN ENDED questioning! And allowing students response time. This is going to be my strategy: (1) ask an open ended question (2) allow students to respond in their books (so I must pick these questions carefully, because they are going to form the basis of their notes for that lesson). (3) pick a students’ name randomly to share (I’m going to do this with double sided paddle pop sticks that I stole from here).
  • focus on literacy and numeracy, not so much ICT this time around
  • being consistent when enforcing school policies
  • guided note taking using my pretty awesome, if I do say so myself template that you can totally use and abuse
  • exit cards – with a question on it about the lesson. You need to teach the students how to be reflective though. For example (1) I didn’t understand…. (2) I wonder if…. (3) Is this why…. (4) Can we use this to….. (5) How can we use this information? etc…
  • Greet students outside the classroom where possible and try to enforce good learning practices including having a diary out etc

ICT Tools I love

Organisation:

1. Blendspace: Allows you to curate resources and then share it as a package with your students. Allows collaboration amongst your students and allows you to ask questions of your students. Basically my favourite way to organise lessons to share with my students. 
2. Pinterest: One of the best ways to find new content on the internet. I see it as a curated Google because it’s what other people find interesting so basically it sifts through all the low quality material and gives you the creme of the crop. 
3. Evernote: 

Collaboration: 
1. Google Drive: THE best way to collaborate online. Allows you and your students to share work and be constantly up to date. Allows you to upload from within the site and share with people you want to collaborate with either as a View Only option or an Edit option. 
2. Brainscape: Creating flash cards in an easy to use platform. Also has a neat feature to “remember” which you got correct and which you got incorrect and retest you on those you aren’t sure of. 
3. Curriculet: A way to annotate passages of text. This would be fantastic in class when we are reading a new bit of information and it’s got a lot of new terms in it. Students can comment and ask questions on the text. 

Creativity:
1. Spicy Nodes: Absolutely stunning way to create mind maps. Students can collaborate on them and add images and websites. 
2. Venngage: Creating infographics! So gorgeous. So easy. The only downside to this site is you can’t export it to a PDF unless you upgrade your account but you can still view them online. 
3. Podomatic: Creating audio podcasts online. Students will love using this platform as a different method of submitting assignments. Students need to create the audio file on their devices and share them using this site. 
4. Make beliefs comix: Creating comic strips using templates has never been easier. The graphics are great and students can add speech. I can’t wait to use these. 
5. Label59: Allows you to add labels to diagrams. 
6. Edpuzzle: Allows you to edit, crop, add audio, add quizzes and totally transform videos either found online or that you’ve uploaded to the site. Totally flipped classroom worthy. 

Getting To Know My Students

 

00This is my own multiple intelligences chart.


We’ve been told numerous times (and I’m sure that you will agree from your own personal experience) that rapport with your students is one of the most important things to build in a classroom. So many issues that arise in class that relate to classroom management stem directly from a poor teacher-student relationship. We have to know them! We have to know what they like or don’t like. How they learn. What their learning background is. So how the heck can we learn all of that while on Practicum? We have basically less than a week get to know our students.

I used this get to know you template. But I’ve tweaked it to suit my needs. Some of my students were quite offended about the Mothers occupation and Fathers occupation section so I’ve removed that and some other generic questions and tried to target questions that really tell me how my students are as learners.

To make the task less daunting I volunteered information on myself. In the updated version I’ve also added the Gardners Multiple Intelligence quiz and fill-in-the blank scaffold. It is my intention to use this template in my upcoming Practicum in order to facilitate group work. Students will be assigned particular roles in groups that align with their preferred intelligences. In a survey I had my Practicum 1 students complete 78% of them said they understood the purpose of the activity and most said that it was a positive way to get to know them. One student commented that she would have liked to get to know her usual classroom teacher in this way also! This task allowed me to build a rapport with students who were then more comfortable with me as they knew I was trying my best to treat them as individuals (Buskist & Saville, 2001).

You can download a PDF version here. or if you’d like to tweak it yourself: Here’s a Word Document.

Buskist, W., & Saville, B. K. (2001) Creating Positive Emotional Contexts for Enhancing Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from http://www.socialpsychology.org/rapport.htm

What my students say about me.

One of the most useful things I did on my first practicum is invite my students to complete a Survey Monkey about my teaching methods. I used the AITSL standards as a basis for my questions and tried to keep it nice and sweet. For each question it was a Yes or No with an option to leave a comment. The questions I asked my students were:

1) Did you feel like you knew the purpose of the Facebook get to know you activity?

2) Do you feel like I challenge you enough in class?

3) Do you feel like you can ask me questions in class?

4) Do you feel like I explain things well?

5) Do you feel like you learn in my classes?

6) Do you feel like the class environment is well managed?

7) Do you feel like I give you enough feedback on whether you are achieving the learning outcomes of my lessons?

8) What do I do in class that you like? Or what would you like to see What do I do in class that you don’t like?more of?

9) What do I do in class that you don’t like?

Obviously I kept it anonymous. However, I wanted to bribe my students to do it with candy so I added a second page that they could screen shot to show me that they did the survey. Side note – I would never give out candy as reward for doing class work. That should be a reward in itself. *off my soap box now*

You can view the results of the survey.

There are some things that arise from this survey

  • students felt that they knew the purpose of the get to know you activity however some questions were irrelevant
  • I don’t challenge my students enough. They feel like I’m just cruising them through on the bare minimum that they need to know. This has a lot to do with my inexperience at differentiating lessons. I don’t go into enough depth with the content sometimes.
  • I encourage students to ask questions in my class and I’m approachable
  • I explain concepts well but sometimes I go too fast. Using different methods to get my point across e.g. videos helps my students to understand better. The use of analogies was very helpful in explaining difficult concepts.
  • I try to explain things a number of times to ensure that my students understand.
  • Students need more guidance as to what to write down.
  • I don’t give my students nearly enough feedback on whether they are achieving learning outcomes.
  • Students overall liked: animated descriptions, humour in class, mini-whiteboards, videos, class discussions, guided note taking, practicals, fun facts, the questioning methods I use.
  • Students didn’t like: comprehension worksheets, that I didn’t challenge them enough, when I explained things too quickly, too much information, not revising previous lesson or outlining learning goals.

What makes a good teacher?

  1. Patience: teachers need to give each student a fresh chance every single day. Teachers also have to be patient when explaining concepts to their students and try to explain it in different ways.
  2. Organisation: There is nothing worse than a teacher who is unorganised, because it gets transferred to your students. Similarly,
  3. Passionate: Teachers who are passionate transfer this passion to their students. They want to know why you think your subject is so amazing.
  4. Are firm but fair: They are compassionate and try to understand their students but lay down the law when needed.
  5. Have high expectations of their students: They will meet whatever expectations you set them.
  6. Model a love of learning: They seek new ideas and ways of doing things and don’t do the same thing year in year out.
  7.  Good communicators: They build networks with other teachers, they ask and seek advice.
  8. Ask the good questions: They help their students become critical, self sufficient thinkers.
  9. Plan activities that meet students needs with FUN at the core of them.
  10. Reflective: On their own teaching practices.
  11. Engage their students: by making it relevant to them.
  12. Have routines for what goes on in the classroom
  13. Timing of lesson is well thought out.
  14. Assess their students constantly and use this to inform (a) future teaching of this class (b) teaching the same topic to future classes. It’s not good enough to just teach the content. You need to know that your students know the content.
  15. Fantastic pitcher: So that the questions or activities that you ask of your students are just beyond what they are capable of doing comfortably now. You want them just outside their comfort zone.
  16. Approachable: You want your students to feel like they can ask you questions and not be ridiculed.
  17. Clearly outlines the aims of the lesson: The worst question your student can have at the end of the lesson is “So…what were we supposed to learn then?”. Make it super clear.

 

Teaching Philosophy

Extremely passionate about education, my main drive is ensuring the spark of natural curiosity that we all have as children isn’t lost throughout schooling but encouraged and ignited. I want to foster a lifelong love of learning in my students and show them how enchanting science truly is. I intend to instill a sense of pride in students’ learning to constantly push them towards their personal best. With my support and guidance they will become critical thinkers, who engage with their learning and one another. We will achieve this through problem solving, meaningful assessments and collaborative small group work. As a great deal of effective student learning comes from organisation and routine, my ideal school will allow me to have my own classroom and focus on engaging students through the curriculum.