Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sorry I didn't think about this earlier, but if anyone is interested here is how prac is going :D

Prac Journal

Tuesday 29-04-08
Lead-in Day One

Today was my first day at prac! A bit scary, but a lot of fun. I was at Kimberly College. It is about a half hour drive from where I live, makes me sad to be a commuter ☹ I wish there were someone I could car pool with, but alas, none have been found so far.

My teacher is Mrs Cheryl Johnson. She’s the Japanese, Maths and Multi-Strand Science teacher. She has three children who attend the school. I’m with her for Japanese, but sadly, there are only four classes a week! I’m a bit bummed about that, but it does mean I get to sit in on a load of other classes and see them, so that’s good.

Things I noticed on my first day: the 3, 2, 1, rule.

This rule consists of the teacher raising their hand and saying “Three”. Students know from this that they need to start being quiet. If there is still noise the count down continues. The aim is that students would know it is time to be quiet and the count down would not be nesscary, but more often than not, it is. Still, by the time one is reached, students are ready to be attentive to the teachers. It’s a fairly effective rule.

At Kimberly College, the students aren’t tested at all until grade 11, and classes are multi level. This means that quiet often group and individual work is stressed. In the maths class that I attended today, grades 8, 9 and 10 were in the room. Students had booklets of maths problems (based around a central theme (eg business) and at their level of ability) to complete. At the end of completing their booklet, they are rewarded with a “final task” fun activity. All of this is tracked by a “Money Trail” sheet, which is all stapled together (along with the booklet and final task) at the end of the period (three weeks in this case) to be handed in for checking and then students can move on to the next lot of work.

Because of this, students can work individually or in small groups and the teacher is free to move around the room. In this room, there was an English teacher, helping to assist in monitoring, as well as Cheryal and myself. Students are not sat in rows, but in clusters of desks around the room. There is very little teacher focus, but rather the teacher is a facilitator of the room and is free to give the students the attention they need.

I also noticed that the whole school works on a theme for each semester. This semester is money. Cheryl says this works perfectly for maths, because they can do all the business maths and finance that they wish. ☺ the other teaching areas (such as English) approach the theme from different angles. English, for example is doing a unit on advertising. It’s very interesting to see how everything is tied together, and the subjects are not separate.

I would have to say though, that Music and Japanese do appear to be separate to an extent. In the middle Japanese class, they are studying family. The class consists of about eighteen students from the grades eight and nine. Most of the students have studied Japanese before. There are about three students who are confidante with their hiragana, but the rest of the students seem to struggle with it.

At the end of the day, I did bus duty with Cheryl. She is respected by the students and able to converse with them easily. She also knows many of their names, despite not teaching them any more. She has been at the school since it opened in 2000.

Tuesday 06/05/06
Lead-in Day Two

Today I arrived at 8:15 to start another day of observation. I spent the morning helping Cheryl set up the classroom for the lesson and the school day started before I realised. Today, for the first time, I saw the 3, 2, 1 rule used in the Japanese classroom. The class is generally fairly quiet, but they did a lot of group and pair activities today which let some students get carried away with talking.

During the Japanese lesson, Cheryl split up the two sets of tables and had me lead one side while she worked with the other side. I had to take the students though the questions on the “who am I” card, and then monitor them as they played the game in pairs – ensuring that they were using Japanese. It was fairly easy and fun. The first time that I went through the card, and then listened to the students, I realised that they had some problems saying one of the phrases. When the students swapped activities, I spent more time concentrating on that phrase than I had with the last group. I noticed as I walked around that they had more confidence with speaking than the previous group had.

Other things that I noticed today: the Cancer Room.

This is the room that the students who don’t have hats to wear go during lunch times. I think it’s fairly self explanatory.

Everyone at Kimberly College participates in sport on a Tuesday afternoon. I went to watch the dance groups. They have tap and hip hop. Daniella, the music teacher, is very well liked by the students.

The Year 12 students have started their QCS practice already, and the grade 10’s were away on camp.

When students are disrupting the class, they are “put out” – which means they are sent to the office. There they sit outside at a desk and do their work with out their classmates. The vice Principle – Pauline Mundie – monitors this.

Something else I noticed is that there appears to be no set homework for maths, but if the booklet is not completed by the end of the three week period, it has to be either finished before the final day, or it will be done at lunch time until it is finished. I suppose the students are expected to understand if they will not be able to complete their booklets in class time and take the initiave to do it at home.

Prac Block Day One

At last – the block is here! Hooray! I’m excited that I’m finally getting into it. Today I arrived at school at a quarter past eight and set up the classroom for my supervising teacher.

We had Japanese first up. This was the first time I had met the “Advanced” class. They consisted of year 9’s and 10’s. The class is split and the year levels do different work. My teacher revised numbers with the year 10’s first while the year 9’s worked on a diagram of their neighbourhoods.

The year nines took a long time to do their work. Even with consistent prompting and supervision, the boys continually talked and made an effort to think up obscure stores and places to add to their maps. The girls were able to complete their work with some prompting in time.

After this, I supervised the year 10’s as they began their first lesson in the kankyou (solar system) unit. The unit is based on a matrix of activities founded on the “six hats” theory by Edward De Bono and the Multiple Intelligences theory by Howard Gardner. The students were excited about being able to choose their activities and the chance to work in pairs. Of the eight students, six opted to work in pairs while two students decided to work individually.

I was in charge of running this section of the unit, but it is fairly easy. A lot of this unit will be facilitating as the students do their activities and giving them the help they need. I think there is going to be a hard line to draw in giving the information and encouraging the students to find it on their own. The students seem to rely on charts and notes for a lot of basic knowledge like hiragana.

After this class, I supervised a group of maths students as they played money games. It was fairly standard supervising, although it was hard to encourage the students to actually fill out their sheets as they played the game.

After morning tea, I did the same again, with a different boat. This boat, even though they paid better attention in class, were distracted easier than the last boat. My supervising teacher approached both of these classes with a ten min introduction to currency exchange. This was the first time I had seen her do direct teaching. She has quite a few ways to explain the same thing, which was good for the students. After she had explained and had them do a few examples together and by themselves she went around and checked on those needing extra help while everyone else started their group/individual work.

In the afternoon I sat in on the music class. There are only seven students in this class – from grades 11 and 12. Today only four of the students were present. It was a small class!! The student teacher took the lesson on Australian rock music. She was very enthusiastic and passionate which engaged the students.

All in all I feel like it was a very standard teaching day. I’m ready for another five weeks and four days of it.

Thursday 15/05/08
Prac Block Day Four

Woah. The week is almost over! Exciting!

Tuesday felt like normality after Monday’s new experiences. We had the level one Japanese class in the morning followed by maths with D one and D two. In the afternoon I watched the dance groups – both the tap and hip hop are preparing for an eisteddfod next Wednesday.

At the beginning of the maths lesson, my supervising teacher started with collecting the section one booklets. Each section is for three and a bit weeks, and section one (on spending money) is now over, so everyone has to finish their booklets and final tasks to be handed in to be marked.

Most people started section two on Tuesday too. My supervising teacher spent the next ten minuets of the lesson introducing how to sell and buy foreign currency. She gave formulas and examples and then had the students do their own. After everyone knew what they were doing, the students were able to either finish off their section one work or start the section two.

The same format followed for the D two class maths lesson.

Section two for maths is buying with money. There are 5 different areas of study; Money games, Trade and Foreign Currency, Create your Own Business, Stock Exchange and… something else. Each area has different levels. For the students who are at level one or two, Money Games or Stock Exchange are the most popular choices. My supervising teacher has put me in charge of running the Money Games.

I think at first she only intended for me to supervise, but after seeing that I was competent with the first group, she has left me in charge of money games for all of the classes.

Money games involves the students playing games that involve money. There are four games; Monopoly, Who’s the Richest?, Billionaire and Pay Day. Of all the games, Billionaire is the hardest to explain so I generally work with that group the most. Each of the students has to play only one game per lesson and then swap for the next lesson. They have three lessons of playing games and three lessons of designing their own games. As they play the games they have to fill out a transaction sheet of what happens. For example in Monopoly they start with $200 and then if they buy a property they can take away money. All of this is recorded on their sheets.

Some of the students had trouble with the sheet initially, but after some explaining (and I think also the fact that by the time I got to the fourth class I had practiced explaining it four times so I had found a way that was understandable by most students) they got the hang of it.

I have about 15 students playing Money Games for each class in D one and D two. D one is better at playing the games and writing down their transactions than D two. I don’t know why.

On Wednesday I attended the music class again. This time I met an additional student, although there are still two members of the music class I am yet to meet. The lesson started outside, because there was no keys to let us into the building. Again the student teacher took the class and she did a good job. She ran through the homework outside until we were able to go inside.

Once inside she took the students through chords and building them. After this, she had them analyse the chordal structure of a piece of music. She had the students work in groups for this and paired the stronger students with the weaker ones which maximised understanding.

After this, I had 2 lessons of Maths with my supervising teacher in Boat D one and then in Boat E after morning tea. Again I ran the Money games. It ran well as both of the groups had already played the games before and were onto their second set of games. A group of boys in Boat D were of the attitude that they didn’t want to play the game properly or fill out their transaction sheet.

It started off when I sent them outside onto the deck to play Billionaire but they went around the corner where I couldn’t see them from inside. I went outside and asked them to move to where I could see them but then they complained about moving and being in the sun. I said if they listened to the instructions of the game then I would check the front area of the class room and see if there was room for them to play there. They didn't listen to the instructions at all and played the game badly.

After playing without writing down their transactions for twenty minuets they were called up to the office for some reason. Two of the boys were left. They had played well. Of the four boys that were called up to the office only one had written down their transactions.

When my supervising teacher asked me how things had gone I explained that the boys hadn’t participated well and she called them up at the end of class. They protested at the treatment and what not, but she was firm and simply said; “I want your attitude to change. If you are going to play these games you play them well or don't play them at all.”

In the end they were satisfied with that. It was a simple but effective warning. I really like my supervising teacher.

The last class on Wednesday afternoon was Japanese Beginners. The class is fairly big, but it has a few students dropping out because it is on at the same time as their Rich Task – which is a shame. The class is generally louder and more bubbly than the two other classes, but the students honestly want to learn.

My supervising teacher is currently taking them through the hiragana alphabet. It is interesting to see the characters being taught without any pictures, but most of the students have done this in primary school, so she doesn’t feel the need to revise them. It took longer than anticipated to get through the lesson content.

After this lesson, I attended the staff meeting, which was held in the science room (so crowded). The principle ran the meeting which was only about an hour long. Everything that was covered was related to the curriculum, at the end someone made a point about supervision and there was general comments about how staff meetings are for curriculum only.

The principle had some group activities for us to do, but as time ran short we didn't have the chance to do them. Most of the staff were able to make contributions to the meeting with no hesitancies.

On Thursday the day started with an assembly. The principle ran this, and often referenced students by name. My supervising teacher was away so I was put into Boat C2 with the two teachers there. Today they had Maths first up and for the first time I saw the same Maths curriculum taught by another teacher. This teacher took a half hour to do a quiz of ten questions. Then he told everyone they needed to do a final task (and handed them out). There wasn't enough resources so I ended up running off a few more sheets.

After this, the grade eights went out to a forensic science seminar that was set up on the tennis courts. The year nines left for their testing and the grade tens were able to do catch up work on their assignment tasks.

After lunch the class did science experiments. The class on the whole appeared to be in a fairly lazy/non-working mood. It was hard to keep all the students on their tasks and doing productive work.

Things I noticed over the last few days. I really do feel like a teacher, walking around the classroom and asking students questions. I do know that I have a lot to learn. I’m so thankful that my supervising teacher is really good about giving me feedback, and challenging me with supervision and teaching.

Also, I have noticed that the principle of the school is quite liberal with is opinions, weather they are accepted by the government or school bodies or not. I have also come to the conclusion that I would find it so hard to work underneath someone who’s ideals were very different to my own and voiced theirs as if they should be the only ideals a teacher should have.

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