Standard 1 – Know students and how they learn
Focus area 1.2 Understand how students learn
Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of research into how students learn and the implications for teaching.
Each individual student is unique and will learn in different ways. One thing that they have in common is that all students come to school with a body of knowledge from their prior experiences. I am a firm believer in the concept of constructivism (Artefact – excerpt from university essay in Science Education [EDUC 2030]). One way that I have attempted to incorporate this into my professional placement is by assessing student’s prior knowledge within a specific topic and then altering planning to provide students with adequate opportunity to develop their skills and understanding on the topic.
I also believe that students learn collaboratively and within social settings. I regularly planned group exercises and rotations, which allowed students to observe others as well as learn from more knowledgeable peers. The concept of multiple activities also fostered engagement, which reduced the need for behavioural intervention which can sometimes hinder learning for the rest of the class.
How do students best learn science?
Students best learn science constructively. The concept of constructivism is broadly described as emphasising a learners contribution to learning and meaning. Individuals all construct their own unique cognitive structures based on how they have interpreted experiences in particular contexts (Woolfolk & Margetts 2013, p. 322). Though the theory of constructivism has been specifically interpreted in relation to teaching science (Skamp & Preston 2015, p.1). This is when they construct ideas based on their own experiences and overtime develop competencies within them. In the primary years it is important that they do this in an investigative and student centred way (Skamp & Preston 2015, p.1).
The constructivist view of science acknowledges how units of knowledge can be accumulated, refined over time and combined to create richer cognitive structures (Skamp & Preston 2015, p. 13). The 5 E’s learning cycle is an effective way of implementing inquiry-based lessons through the constructivist approach. This gives students the ability to build on prior knowledge and construct meaning (Sweeney Lederman 2010). This can also be done throughout the Faire and Cosgrove Interactive teaching model which emphasises the importance of everyday contexts (Faire and Cosgrove 1993, p. 5). In this approach students are encouraged to interact and communicate amongst themselves, work with concrete materials, think of topics to investigate and derive questions from these. Students create explanations and share their ideas in student-centred contexts (Faire and Cosgrove 1993, p. 7).
Students can generate understanding from ideas based on existing experiences, though each individual has to alter their ideas as meaning changes from new understandings (Skamp & Preston 2015, p.14). Interactions with both peers and teachers are also both integral to the development of understanding. There is research that suggest that students ability to make meaning depends on the setting in which science learning takes place and the community of leaners with which they do so (Skamp & preston 2015, p.15).
Extract from Professional Experience 3: Assessment and Reporting (EDUC 3061)
Focus area 1.5 Differentiate teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities
Graduate: Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of strategies for differentiating teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities.
The classroom context of my professional placement entailed students who were prepared to add and subtract with ease, as well as students who were still developing the ability to count up to the number 5. This is just an example of the range of abilities present within the same group of students. In attempt to cater for student diversity and differences in students academic abilities I attempted to create tasks relevant for all students.
The daily jolly phonics routine consisted of the use of the program on the interactive whiteboard, followed by students completing a related activity in their workbooks. The class had already learnt the sounds previously, so now the focus was on letter formation. The student’s literacy grouping governed which activities they would complete. The whole class was provided with the classic jolly-phonics backline master for the letter, although also another sheet to ensure that they were given ample opportunities to practice writing the specific letter sounds. Students who performed better in phonemic awareness were given a sheet consisting with traceable letters and the lower performing group did a task, which helped them identify the letter sounds within different words (Artefact – students work samples from the two different groups). The activity for this group was changed daily.Figure 1 Work sample of a student in the lower literacy groups.
Figure 1 Work sample of a students work in the higher literacy groups.
Standard 2 – Know the content and how to teach it
Focus Area 2.4 Understand and respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to promote reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians
Graduate: Demonstrate broad knowledge of, understanding of and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and languages.
The culture of Indigenous Australians is one that should be valued and respected within schools today. Reconciliation week celebrates the ‘coming together’ of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with all Australians. This marks an opportunity to learn about and embrace the history and culture of the indigenous Australians.
This year the theme for national reconciliation week was ‘Lets take the next steps’. In order to apply the theme to the weeks learning we decorated footprints and painted rocks in the theme of Aboriginal artwork which will be displayed in a natural playground being built in the school. The Aboriginal community education officer Lisa also came and visited our class to tell us about her heritage. This provided students with an opportunity to get to know more about the different Indigenous people around Australia and how they have many different cultures within themselves.
Not only that but we also watched a video which taught us about the origins of the original flag, after which each student made one with coloured paper. Both the feet and flags were displayed in the classroom in celebration of reconciliation week (artefact – image of the reconciliation week display).
Figure 3 Reconciliation week display in classroom.
Focus area 2.5 Literacy and numeracy strategies
Graduate: Know and understand literacy and numeracy teaching strategies and their application in teaching areas.
Supporting student’s literacy and numeracy achievements involves the incorporation of several different strategies for learning. One way of doing this is by catering to the diversity of students by grouping them by ability and then accommodating their different needs.
My mentor’s feedback indicated that she valued working closely with students with students. In my placement my teacher and I unitised the opportunity to work in group rotations so that students time with an adult was maximised. We did this in phonics, literacy and mathematics (artefact – mathematics lesson plan featuring rotational tasks).
The units of work I planned for my professional placement feature a range of different teaching strategies throughout. Some of these include setting achievable goals for the intended learning, use questioning techniques to check for understanding and provide students with constructive feedback throughout the course of a lesson.