Know your Students’ Strengths – Understand how they learn!

I was able to witness cooperative learning, which was a topic that we learnt in previous lectures in EDFD589, in the classroom at my practicum school. It was a Year 12 Community and Family Studies (CAFS) class in period 5, most of the students were tired and as it was the last period of the day, they couldn’t wait to get home. As a pre-service teacher, one thing that always floats around in my head when thinking about teaching is, “how can I motivate students when they’re tired and what can I do to ensure that they’ll be engaged when working and still produce high-quality work?” In this class, I was able to witness a strategy that can achieve this.

Cooperative learning is an instructional approach in which students work together in groups towards learning goals (Cengage Learning, 2015). The teacher knows that her students work better when they are in groups having discussions. This is an example of the BOSTES Standard 1.1.2 – Understand how students learn. The students had to work in groups and discuss and list as many job professions there were, now this task seemed easy and one person can probably name 50 jobs. But one group of students were able to list down 203 jobs in a span of 10-15 minutes. I was shocked when I found out that they did that and it showed a positive aspect of cooperative learning.

cooperative-learning-1-638Cooperative learning is established within the social interdependence theory. This theory is of social interdependence exists when the outcomes of individuals are affected by their own and others’ actions (Johnson, 2009). What this means is that when students share the same learning goals for an activity, and put into a group, it will enhance interaction and engagement and will lead to results. As shown in the group activity mentioned earlier. Cooperative learning also allows students to encourage and help each other, allows for feedback, challenging questions and opinions, and are able to see different points of views rather than their own (Herrmann, 2013). Cooperative learning can be very successful in the classroom as it can engage students who are unmotivated, as it can be a fun, different, interactive way of learning. Slattery (2010) states that as students gain greater small group skills; they take greater responsibility for their own learning.youthleadcouncil

As they moved on into another topic, the teacher loaded a website on the projector for all students to see. To prepare for their HSC, the students had to answer multiple-choice questions that were from a website. The students worked together to answer these questions and with difficult questions, teacher asked them to justify their answers, this to me relates to Standard 3.3.3 – Use teaching strategies, as she wanted to develop higher order thinking with her students by them providing a reason to their answer. By using the projector, laptop and website she integrated ICT (Standard 2.6.1). Not only did she implement this standard, she demonstrated Standard 1.1.2 again by allowing her students to answer and discuss these questions as a group, this again showed cooperative learning.

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Knowing how your students learn is an essential aspect for effective teaching, as you are able to provide strategies to engage your students and produce results. This teacher was able to use her knowledge on how her class learns best to effectively use cooperative learning in the classroom to be able to engage them when the day was at near end. We as teachers, must be able to teach accordingly to our students strengths to be able for them to produce high-quality work.

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Reference

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.nswteachers.nsw.edu.au/publications-policies-resources/publications/australian-professional-standards-for-teachers/

Cengage Learning (2015). Cooperative Learning. Retrieved from http://college.cengage.com/education/resources/res_topics/students/coop/index.html

Herrmann, K. (2013). The impact of cooperative learning on student engagement: Results from an intervention. Active Learning in Higher Education 14(3), 175-187. Doi: 10.1177/1469787413498035

Johnson, D., & Johnson, R. (2009). An educational psychology success story: Social interdependence theory and cooperative learning. Educational Researcher 38, 365. Doi: 10.3102/0013189X09339057

Slattery, B. (2010). The Effects of cooperative Learning on a Second Year Junior Certificate Science Class. Retrieved from http://www.teachingcouncil.ie/_fileupload/Research/Bursary%20Summaries/Barry%20Slattery%20summary%20WEB.pdf

Students – Be Independent

After three weeks of observations at my practicum school, I am settled and comfortable in the school community. I have learnt a great deal so far in terms of teaching and handling a classroom, and I believe that when it becomes my time to teach, the things I have picked up from these other teachers will benefit me greatly.

I believe classroom/lesson structure is very important in managing a classroom. It allows for a routine to occur and students what they need to do when they walk in. So far at my practicum school, each lesson I have observed has shown a steady lesson structure; introduction, revision, lesson topic and activity, conclusion and debrief. From what I have seen, this has been a very effective way for students to learn and this is an example of Standard 1.1.2 – Understand how students learn from the BOSTES standards.

Standard 1.1.2 was also shown through the revision section of the lesson, by the use of open questions and the teacher acting as if he did not know the answer to draw out and allow the students to think on their own. This standard was also svisual-supports-see-and-understandhown through the use of watching YouTube clips in the activities, the students learn best through visual learning and the teacher knows that using YouTube videos benefits the students most. This also demonstrates Standard 2.6.1 – Implement teaching strategies for using ICT to expand curriculum learning opportunities for students. From what I have observed, these students are visual learners, and visual learners learn best by watching (Fliess, 2009). The video below briefly explains what visual learning is.

As well as visual learning, the teacher also encouraged independent learning. Field (2014) states that independent learning can also mean self-directed learning and is understood in a way that this style of learning is where students are able to understand their own learning and the best way to approach that learning. It is also seen as students are motivated to take responsibility of their own learning. The teacher in my practicum school encouraged this style of learning by letting the students to do the work on their own. He assigned them what page in the book to work on and he sat down and watched them work. I was surprised to see that these students were all engaged and motivated to work. The teacher walked over the students a couple times to help them if they needed it, but overall the students were independent in their learning.

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Meyer (2008) identifies the benefits of independent learning, which include:

  • Improved academic performance
  • Increased motivation and confidence
  • Greater student awareness of their limitation and their ability to manage them
  • Enabling teachers to provide differentiated tasks for students
  • Fostering social inclusion by countering alienation

052d73dd4cbc9858f46b1e52ae0d5604With these foreseen benefits, teachers in schools should start encouraging this style of learning; it can lead to greater success and allows students to motivate themselves to work. I believe that when I start teaching, I will try to encourage this style more often as it can be a good way for students find their own way of learning. It can allow students to be independent and push them to critically think and not rely on their teachers to help them.

My time at my practicum school has provided me with a lot of valuable knowledge and insights into teaching. I am looking forward to what the upcoming visits will bring.

Reference

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.nswteachers.nsw.edu.au/publications-policies-resources/publications/australian-professional-standards-for-teachers/

Field, R., Duffy, J, & Huggins, A. (2014). Independent learning skills, self-determination theory and psychological well-being: strategies for supporting the first year university experience. Retrieved from http://fyhe.com.au/past_papers/papers14/02B.pdf

Fliess, S. (2009). What it means to be a visual learner. UNSW Global. Retrieved from http://www.education.com/magazine/article/Ed_Could_You_Write_Down/

Meyers, B., Haywood, N., Sachdev, D. & Faraday, S. (2008). What is independent learning and what are the benefits for students? Retrieved from http://www.curee.co.uk/files/publication/%5Bsite-timestamp%5D/Whatisindependentlearningandwhatarethebenefits.pdf

An Eye-Opening First Day of Prac!

I was nervous and wasn’t sure what to expect when I entered my first practicum school. My nerves eventually faded as I felt a warm welcome by the school principal, staff and students. The purpose of my visit was mainly to observe and analyse how the PDHPE teachers at this school operate, manage and most importantly, TEACH!!

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One class in particular that really engaged me, was a Year 11 PDHPE class. The topic area was Social Justice, this brought back my high school memories in PDHPE, so I was eager to watch the teacher educate these students, as well as educate me at the time.

The teacher demonstrated the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES) National Professional Standards for Teachers including Standard 3.3.2 – Select and use relevant teaching strategies to develop knowledge, skills, problem-solving, and critical and creative thinking. He did this by beginning with a revision of the previous lesson, which is always important as it tests to see if your students have learnt anything from previous classes. He went through their homework and discussed the answers by asking the students “why they thought that”, to allow them to think  critically of their answers.

The teacher also demonstrated Standard 3.3.2 by asking a lot of open questions. Sethi (2010) states that it is desirable to use more open questions, which would lead to deeper, multifaceted ideas, and concept development. By doing so, he students to think creatively and think critically about the questions, he would also question the students’ questions with “why?” or “how?” this would allow the students to think critically about their own answers.

The video above from Stenhouse Publishers (2006) states that open questions are important as it challenges students and allows for students to develop higher order thinking. This is important as a teacher as it allows teachers to see the knowledge their students have.

A YouTube clip was played within the lesson so students can understand the concept of Social Justice, more so in the areas of equity and equality. This demonstrated the Standard 2.6.1 – Implement teaching strategies for using ICT to expand curriculum learning opportunities for students. After the video, they would discuss key information that was taken from the video. Instead of the teacher giving them the information, he asked the students to answer, which they did. So the use of this video achieved its purpose as the students gained an understanding of the topic,

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Image used by teacher to define Equity vs Equality

The teacher also demonstrated Standard 2.1.2 – Apply knowledge of the content and teaching strategies of the teaching area to develop engaging teaching activities together with Standard 3.3.2. He did this by using beanbags and a crate. At first I didn’t know what the point of this was but after seeing what he did, it opened my eyes to think creatively when teaching. He used these to teach equity and equality. Each student was given one beanbag asked everyone to shoot the bag into the crate from where they were seated. He then let the students to think about how this demonstrated equality, he then asked the students how to make this equitable. Students then suggested giving the people closest to the crate one beanbag and everyone else 3 bags, which in turn showed equity. The teacher was very creative with this activity as it allowed students to learn the concept of equity and equality in a practical way.

Nwlink (2009) states learning is not a spectator sport. Students do not learn much just sitting in classes listening to teachers and spitting out answers. They must talk about what they are learning, write reflectively about it, relate it to past experiences, and apply it to their daily lives. The teacher used a variety of ways to teach his lesson by getting students involved in discussion and activities to allow for deeper learning.

It was a great experience entering the school as a pre-service teacher for the first time; I gained a lot of knowledge and really opened my eyes into how I see myself teaching.

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Reference

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.nswteachers.nsw.edu.au/publications-policies-resources/publications/australian-professional-standards-for-teachers/

Nwlink. (2009). Active Learning Defined. Retrieved August 24, 2011, from Performance Juxtaposition: http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/learning/active.html

Sethi, G. (2010). Asking right questions; Whether to use open or closed category of questioning depends upon intended outomce!. Skills Ahead. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy1.acu.edu.au/ps/i.do?&id=GALE%7CA244536563&v=2.1&u=acuni&it=r&p=ITOF&sw=w

Stenhouse Publishers. (2006). Assessment for leaning: Strategic questioning [Video file]. Retrieved from http://acu.kanopystreaming.com.ezproxy2.acu.edu.au/node/92124

Hello world!

This is my first blog!!!

This is my first time using WordPress as well as my first time blogging as well. I am very excited to blog on this website as well reflect on my experiences in the classroom.