Professional Knowledge

Professional Knowledge

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.pk1Figure 1 Work sample of a student in the lower literacy groups.

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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).

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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.

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Professional Practice

Standard 3 – Plan for an implement effective teaching and learning

Focus area 3.2 Plan, structure and sequence learning programs

Graduate: Plan lesson sequences using knowledge of student learning, content and effective teaching strategies.

 

Planning is fundamental in the structuring of an effective learning program. Planning is the process of careful, thought-out preparation, including attention to detail and the use of appropriate beneficial resources. This should be the backbone of every lesson which fits within the scheme of a unit of work with set goals and outcomes for students learning.

Throughout my university studies I have developed the ability to effectively plan, structure and sequence lesson plans in which I outline the content being taught, an understanding of the way the group of students best learn and specific teaching strategies used throughout. I have considered prior knowledge on specific topics and ensured that I plan learning sequences to build on this (Artefact – section from a mathematics prior knowledge lesson plan and assessment plan).

I have put my knowledge into practice throughout my professional placement by writing sequences of lesson plans which follow on from one another. My mentor provided me with sufficient feedback on my planning which allowed me to better prepare for challenges I may face in the classroom such as time management or the awareness that technology should not always be relied upon as it can be unreliable.

Lesson outline:

Prior Knowledge/Engagement Learning Experiences (s):

In this prior knowledge experience students will engage with using a variety of concrete materials to manipulate different patterns (Reys et al, 2012, p. 199). Students will sit facing the interactive whiteboard. They will view the Sesame Street video of Bert and Ernie playing a game called ‘Guess what’s next’. In this video the two characters explore patterns. Bert begins by creating a pattern and Ernie has to guess how to complete it. The well-known children’s show is sure to evoke interest and engagement in the students. The sing-along element of the video is also likely to resonate well with the young children. The video gives two examples of different types of patterns.

 

In the body of the lesson the students will also play the ‘Guess what’s next’ game in pairs although they will be using different types of maths manipulative instead. The teacher will create her own example of how to do this. The teacher will model two examples and choose a student to guess what’s next. The materials used include cotton pom poms, seashells, coloured tiles, pattern blocks, Unifix cubes or coloured counters. The first pattern the teacher creates will be a repeating alternating pattern with only two attributes, the second example will have more changing attributes. Before the student completes the pattern the teacher will play the song and encourage all the students to sing along.

 

The students will then be told to return to their tables where they will work with the person seated next to them. The manipulative objects will be located in boxes on the mat and students will take what they wish to use to complete their patterns. One student will create the pattern and the other students will have to guess what comes next. They will then switch and do the same. Student’s will be asked to describe the patterns to their partner once they think they have figured it out. If they cannot figure it out then the person creating it shall explain it. An observation checklist found in Appendix 1 will be used to assess student’s prior knowledge. The teacher will circulate around the room until each students has been checked off against the checklist.

Video Source:

Playrific 2015, Sesame Street – Guess what’s next, video, Playrific, viewed 11 April 2017 <http://www.playrific.com/m/1636/sesame-street-guess-whats-next>

Assessment:

What will you assess? How will you assess? When will you assess? & Who leads the assessment? How will you record your assessments? What forms of feedback will you provide?
Concepts:

Children create and extend patterns using various objects, drawings, sounds and movements.

 

Children show abstract thinking through problem solving and making predictions

 

Children classify objects into specific order and provide explanations for them

 

Thinking and Working Mathematically:

Problem solving

 

Reasoning and communicating mathematical ideas

Formative assessment:

Assessing student’s prior knowledge using an observation checklist (Appendix 1). This is deemed assessment for learning as it is ongoing and developmental (Groundwater-Smith et al. 2015, p. 295). The number of attributes and which of these have been used, as well as students ability to recognise, extend and describe the elements of a pattern will be assessed.

 

 

 

 

 

This assessment will be done during the learning experience. The observation checklist is a fast and easy way of finding out what students already know about the topic. The assessment will be recorded on the checklist where notes on specific students can also be recorded.  The key on the checklist in Appendix 1 indicates how marks will be recorded. This assessment will provide feedback to the educator about student’s prior knowledge. This will enable them to alter planning for the unit if it does not align with student’s current understanding of the concepts. Checklists are a useful tool when making comparisons between students on a particular subject area (Brady & Kennedy 2012 p. 61)

 

Focus area 3.5 Use effective classroom communication

Graduate: Demonstrate a range of verbal and non-verbal communication strategies to support student engagement.

 

Verbal communication refers to the words being spoken, whereas non-verbal considers body language and tone of voice. These factors both underpin the importance of student engagement which is fostered by effective listening skills.

In the classroom my mentor has worked to ensure students are using their active and assertive listening skills. The concept of verbal and non-verbal communication in the context of my professional placement surrounds the morning routine, which consists of students ‘sharing time’. This is a time provided every day for students to share something about the given topic for that week. Students are encouraged to wait for 5 L’s before beginning to share (Artefact – image of 5 L’s approach encouraged and displayed in the classroom). Listening is a skill that often underpins the development of positive relationships and respect amongst class members.

I attempted to undertake the 5 L’s approach when I noticed lapses in students attention, although also attempted to use non-verbal cues such as silence until all students show that they are prepared to listen and learn, or simply by using a hushed tone of voice so that they all had to tune into hearing me, distracting them from becoming disengaged.

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Standard 4 – Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments.

Focus area 4.2 Manage classroom activities

Graduate: Demonstrate the capacity to organise classroom activities and provide clear directions.

 

Setting clear and elicit expectations to students prior to the beginning of an activity is fundamental in the organisation process. This allows students to gain an understanding of the aims of the lesson and is also likely to decrease the likelihood of behaviour management issues arising. This also ensures that students are taking their learning into their own hands, and that they are responsible for how this will play out.

 

I choose to begin all lessons with an introduction and explanation of what will occur throughout the lesson and what students expected learning outcomes will be. I also try to outline the behavioural expectations I expect, especially as it gets later in the day when students are becoming more restless and inattentive.  During specific lessons, such as Physical Education which is done in an extremely acoustic gymnasium, I prepare myself with either a bell, whistle or planned command so that students provide me with attention as soon as I ask for it (artefact – Physical education basketball bouncing lesson). This has proven to work effectively in all my professional placements and is a teaching strategy I intend on carrying through to my career.

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Focus Area 4.3 Managing challenging behaviour

Graduate: Demonstrate knowledge of practical approaches to manage challenging behaviour.

Challenging behaviour is an inevitable aspect of every classroom, regardless of the socio-economic status of the school. These can cause educators unnecessary anxieties and impede the learning of the rest of the students.

 

Where possible my approach to managing behaviour is one of pretension, rather than intervention after an incident has occurred. In order to do this I attempt to set clear expectations for behaviour from the beginning of a school day and repeat these when necessary. I attempt to establish myself confidently so that students are aware that I am the leader of the classroom community. Within the classroom setting of my most recent professional placement we engaged in using a 3 step warning system. After these have been exceeded then students must enter ‘think time’, a space where they are required to think about their inappropriate actions. If they have continued with the inappropriate behaviour teachers refer to leadership for further assistance. One student in the class has an individualised behaviour plan, though the concept (red choices being bad and green choices being good) is used amongst the whole class (artefact – scanned copy of the challenging students behaviour plan reminder sheet).

 

Despite this I prefer to concentrate on the positive aspects of students behaviour. When a challenging student is engaging in the task and behaving appropriately I attempt to positively affirm their actions with encouragement to maintain it.

 

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Standard 5 – Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning.

Focus Area 5.1 Assess Student learning

Graduate: Demonstrate understanding of assessment strategies, including informal and formal, diagnostic, formative and summative approaches to assess student learning.

 

Providing and implementing appropriate assessment strategies is crucial to the planning of future learning experiences which will guide students learning. I understand that assessment is the complex process of sorting children’s understanding of a particular learning area in order to assist and improve their knowledge and skills.

 

I have engaged in multiple strategies for assessment throughout my professional placement.

Formative and summative assessment examples from a mathematics unit are displayed below (Artefact – scanned written assessment notes on formative assessment and summative assessment rubric created to understands students abilities at the end of the science unit). Informal assessment opportunities also arose throughout everyday activities engaged in throughout the lessons. Throughout the lessons I monitored students ability to create patterns and referred back to the formative assessment I did earlier in the unit.

 

I don’t believe assessment should be considered a tool for making judgements about students learning capacities but as an opportunity to adapt and adjust planning to cater for different capabilities. From the results of the formative assessment and the informal assessments occurring regularly I altered the planned unit work to provide more opportunities for the students to practice creative and identifying patterns. This allowed them to become more competent learners of the topic, which resulted in an all round successful learning experience.

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Focus Area 5.3 Make consistent and comparable judgements

Graduate: Demonstrate understanding of assessment moderation and its application to support consistent and comparable judgements of student learning.

Moderation improves the consistency of teachers decisions about student achievement and ensures that assessment processes are conducted fairly amongst a wide group of learners.

 

In my professional placement the educators at the school and I engaged in a professional development session with an educational consultant named Gail Holland from SLLIP (Senior Leader: Learning Improvement Program for the greater Gawler partnership) (Artefact – certificate of professional learning course). This session made particular focus on preparing assessment guidelines for problem solving in mathematics. The main focus of the session was for teachers to think about assessments they could create at different level standards (e.g. students who are consistently successful at C standard should attempt to complete B standard).

Subsequently all teachers at the school engaged in a half day release to work more closely with the consultant. This session provided a opportunity for my mentor and the other reception teacher in the school to prepare assessment tasks across the whole foundation mathematics curriculum. I engaged in this process and participated in implementing one of the assessments derived (Artefact- notes on D level assessment).

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Professional Engagement

Standard 6 – Engage in professional learning

Focus Area 6.2 Engage in professional learning and improve practice

Graduate: Understand the relevant and appropriate sources of professional learning for teachers.

 

Professional learning is a process every educator must engage in throughout the year. It helps them to improve their professional knowledge, highlights the characteristics of high quality teaching and helps improve on students and school outcomes. It is important that teachers are provided with opportunities to learn form each other as here they can share new curriculum resources, remain up to date with innovating technology and with new research regarding how students best learn.

I engaged in a mathematics related professional development session about ‘Big ideas in number’ run by a Senior Leader in mathematics named Jenni Hewett (Artefact – hand written notes taken throughout part of the session). This session provided myself and the other educators with numerous ideas for teaching number sense particularly in numeration, the operations and mental strategies for working out number facts. What I found most beneficial from this session was the resources explored, the games taught to us with several modifications for different abilities and the way we were encouraged to participate in multiple hands-on activities ourselves. This professional learning experience has allowed me to improve my practice in teaching mathematics in a number of areas.

 

 

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Focus area 6.3 Engage with colleagues and improve practice

Graduate: Seek and apply constructive feedback from supervisors and teachers to improve teaching practices.

Professional feedback is an essential aspect of the lifelong learning process every educator goes through. Throughout my professional placement I sought after professional feedback so that I could make improvements on my teaching strategies throughout my time in this classroom and gain as much as possible through this experience. My mentor was extremely helpful in providing me with this and was keen to give me constructive ideas where necessary and praise when she thought I did something well.

The artefact is a scanned copy of written feedback provided to me on one of my days teaching. She made notes on different activities done throughout the day and provided me with questions to think about how I could adapt some strategies to improve them. This feedback was always timely, relevant to the group for students, ongoing and consistent which allowed me to make immediate improvements on methods of managing the class and planning learning experiences.

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Standard 7

Focus Area 7.3 Engage with the parents/carers

Graduate: Understand strategies for working effectively, sensitively and confidentially with parents/carers.

 

It is important that parents are encouraged and have the opportunity to be involved in their child’s education in a variety of ways. It is important that schools and parents work as a partnership where parents can be involved in decision making processes regarding their children’s education. It is fundamental that parents remain informed about their child’s progress although in order to do this pathways for communication must be established.

Multiple systems for this have been enacted into the classroom of my professional placement. Communication folders are folders prepared where my mentor places any relevant school policy notes and writes personalised notes to parents regarding matters concerning individual students when necessary. Students also receive weekly classroom newsletters, which I assisted in writing for the majority of my placement (Artefact – Newsletter from my final week at my placement school). Parent involvement is strongly encouraged within this classroom setting. Students are only at reception level and therefore need to be escorted to the classroom where parents are asked to stay during the morning activity. The newsletter often entails detailed referring to specific events parents are invited to participate in such as meetings or specific learning experiences requiring extra adult supervision.

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Focus area 7.4 Engage with professional teaching networks and broader communities

Graduate: Understand the role of external professionals and community representatives in broadening teachers’ professional knowledge and practice.

 

Engaging with professional networks provides educators with an opportunity to take responsibility of their own learning. By working with other educators they can

The Greater Gawler Partnership is a professional association which supports the knowledge and practice of educators and schools surrounding the Gawler District. It is comprised of 15 different sites and supports joint solutions between them. The partnership has specific focus area they target to make improvements on such as curriculum implementation, positive education and now moderation.

A Senior Leader named Gail Holland is working towards a Learning Improvement Program focusing on moderation in mathematics. In one of these sessions we compared portfolios of student work ranging from above average, at level and bellow average performing students in mathematics. Our job was to assess the usefulness of these tasks against the achievement standards and decide whether the students grading was fair (Artefact – images of work samples completed at the moderation and calibration development session). I found this session beneficial in working with a wider community of educators, including those outside of the context of my placement school.

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Educational Philosophy

I believe that every child has the right to receive a quality education. I want to be that educator who encourages children to meet their fullest potential. I will work to construct an environment which is safe and secure and promotes intellectual, emotional, social and physical growth for my students. The children of today encompass the society of tomorrow. I want to do what I can to ensure that our future holds hope by introducing students to new ways of thinking and encouraging them to share different ideas within a respectful environment. In my classroom I hope to create a community where children feel safe and supported where they are responsible for their own actions and take learning into their own hands. I will create a positive, nurturing environment where motivation and encouragement is fostered in each learning process. I will not overlook specific students needs. I will work to create learning opportunities to differentiate in everything I do as I know that students will always be at a different academic, cognitive and emotional level.

 

I am aware that teaching is a lifelong learning process and that I will constantly be reflecting upon the teaching methods and strategies I use so that I can improve them. I acknowledge that assessment and reporting processes will vary with different educational institutions and with policy changes. I will do my best to fairly assess students on a regular basis and report relevant information regarding their learning.

 

The social construct of schools support Vygotsky’s claim that learning is done in a collaborative way amongst peers. I agree with this claim and am a supporter of students learning within groups. Rote learning is an old-fashioned teaching strategy which does not allow students to grow the synapses they can through social education and constructivism. Children do not come to school as blank canvases waiting for to paint them, nor sponges expected to soak up all the information we regurgitate. Learning is done in a constructive way. Students are constantly building on their prior experiences which vary from individual to individual. It is the job of the educator to cater to the specific learning needs of the students in ways that will develop learning from their earlier experiences. I will do everything in my power to guide my students on their journey to success.

Placement Experience

My third professional placement was at a school on the boundary of the Barossa Valley region and metropolis Adelaide named Gawler East Primary. The reception to year 7 school had a population of approximately 430 students and was part of the Greater Gawler Partnership, a partnership consisting of 15 schools within the Gawler District. The partnership works together to support finding joint solutions to shared problems and to improve on students learning needs across the region. The region of Gawler is considered to be Socio-economically disadvantaged although the school lies within one of the most advantaged areas within the district. On my final day at placement we engaged in a professional develop session run by the Greater Gawler Partnership. We were grouped with 5 buddy schools within the region which allowed us to have an opportunity to make connections with educators from other schools.

 

My placement classroom consisted of 24 reception students. Of these 10 were girls and 14 were boys. By the time I had entered the classroom on my first lead in day each student had already turned 5 and some were turning 6. The majority of the students attended the Gawler East Pre-school kindergarten across the street form the school so they already knew one another. This made the transition to school quite easy for most of them. One student in the classroom is of Indigenous Australian heritage and is supported by an Aboriginal community education officer who has sessions with him twice a week. This students also receives extra literacy and numeracy support by the ATSI curriculum leader at the school. Of the 24 students only one student stands out as having particular behavioural difficulties and has had a behaviour plan implemented by the leadership of the school. In the second week of my placement block a new student was welcomed into the class. This was a difficult transition for the student as it occurred in the two days that my mentor was away. This was a challenge for me as the class was more restless than usual. This student also suffered from a traumatic passed and needed extra support in easing into a new classroom. By the end of my placement he was settled in and comfortable with the students.

 

Throughout this placement I have been able to develop in multiple areas. An issue for me in my earlier placements was my confidence amongst both the students and other staff in schools. I think that this is an issue I have overcome throughout this placement. In the classroom I was able to be kind although assertive when necessary. My mentor mentioned that my confidence was visible when students stopped asking her questions during my teaching time and went straight to me.

Another area I feel as though I have significantly developed in is planning and modifying those plans where necessary. Working with receptions taught me that young children have short attention spans and can become disengaged extremely quickly. In my planning I ensured that I prepared numerous activities for each day and that most of these were hands-on. Creating numerous diagnostic, formative and summative assessments helped me in doing this. I was able to assess students on their prior knowledge and adjust my planning to fit within what they already know and extend on this.

 

I worked hard to develop a professional conduct to the leadership of the school and was willing to network with several educators. I engaged in conversation with my site mentor and principle of the school on multiple occasions and assured him that I had an incredible experience at the school and hope I will have more opportunity to work with him in the future.

 

I believe that I have grown professionally by engaging in the professional development within the school. On multiple occasions we worked with Senior Leaders who worked to create learning improvement plans for the schools within the partnerships. These sessions were particularly beneficial in teaching me about assessment strategies and how to moderate them. This was very relevant to the focus area of this years Professional Experience.

 

This placement experience has been priceless in allowing me to develop my ability to build connections with students, parents and other educators. I have been able to plan thoroughly and assess students prior to and post teaching. I have developed skills to teach in literacy, numeracy, physical education, the technologies, HASS and the Arts. As well as this I have been able to engage in professional development which will benefit me in my future career.