Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tuesday 21/10/08 – Prac Block Day Eleven

I’m ready to go for the grade nines in about fifteen minutes. I can do this. I’m a teacher.

The professional development day yesterday was really helpful for my grade 8 music tech class. In fact, it seems like there is a lot of really useful and well thought out music technology out there, it’s just fiddly to set up and is still fairly expensive. I did learn though, that to get the grove music encyclopaedia for the school, it’s only 500$ for the year, which is good.

Japanese was good. The kids were a bit drained by the writing, but after hearing the “what is kanji?” and “what is hiragana” comments, I’m glad I made them do it. The Asian kids tend to speed through a bit, but on the whole, they all need to practice their writing of kanji and hiragana.

The lesson dragged a bit in the middle, I think sometimes I’m a bit too efficient for the kids. They liked the using clocks that they had made to practice turning the hands to find the times. They understood mae a lot better than I think Tara anticipated. It was a bit strange, because Tara spent quite a bit of time stressing to me that it would take them ages to understand how to say “ten to balh” and then on Friday she says “some of them wont’ get it, and we will just have to move on.” And then today, it didn’t take them too long at all. Bit strange really.

I think they kids are really wanting to get on with things and use all this time stuff in a real life situation. I think had I been taking the class, I would have moved on long ago. Strange.

Thursday 23/10/08 – Practicum Block Day 13 (and apparently mole day for the chemists?)

Tara thinks I worked the kids a bit too hard on Tuesday and said that they needed a break. I’m a bit like, meh they can take it. ☺ They did get a break, we revised mae on Wednesday and then they did a cultural activity, investigating the lives of these school kids in Japan. The resource for it is really good, but because it wasn’t my activity, I did a bad job of introducing it. Could have done a lot better.

In any case, the kids were happy to be doing something in groups where they got to find out stuff so that was good.

Tuesday’s music lesson – last period, went really well. The students bought in a huge range of stuff, Sara Bellis, John Farnham and Bullet for My Valentine. It was interesting to see the different reactions to the music. The boys thought that the Sara B chick was boring and the girls commented that screaming is not a talent after listening to Bullet for my Valentine.

Good times.

On Wednesday, I taught the grade 8 kids how to melody write and they took it quite well. They skimmed through the stuff thtey knew, were quiet when writing down the rules of melody writing and only one kid didn’t actually do the group task at the end. Yay! Also, we practiced our Platitude rhythms which was good. They really like to make music.

For a music tech class, I think half of them are more into the making than the tech part and half of them are wondering when the tech stuff gets to happen again. Also, some of them also do music foundation or music extension (lucky ducks!) so some of what we are doing is revision. Oh well!

In Wednesdays grade 11 music class, I went through the filing cabinet for a song. I’ve decided that if they want to learn to conduct, they might as well learn something to conduct. ☺ Yay! We are going to sing “My Guy” from Sister Act. Hooray! I really like that class, even if it is because they are enthusiastic about learning.

Today, I’ve planned lessons for most of next week, and got the internet working on my computer (yay!) I’ve got my music tech class in 20 mins and then I’m off to ice skating with Tara and the students. I like having things planned. It’s a good feeling.

Friday 24/10/08 Prac Block Day 14

Music Technology yesterday went pretty well. The students actually get the melody writing process, but they forget bits of it. Oh well. I also actually went ice skating this week. The kids that go are pretty good, and also pretty decent. There was a whole heap of boys who decided I was American or Canadian and subsequently followed me around wanting to know the maple syrup content of Canada. Grade 8’s probably.

Today, I took the music lesson this morning – students were just doing performance practice. Nothing too stressful. I got to hear some of them and they sound really good. There are a few boys who just want to bludge, one of them is talented enough to, but it didn’t take much to shake them out of it and get them practising.

Then I have two break lessons to plan stuff. I typed up a criteria sheet for the grade 8 music tech kids and then organised activity sheets for Japanese. I’ll probably work on another one for Tuesday soon, but I’m actually teaching after lunch, so maybe not. We will see.

I can’t believe I’m half way through already. It’s the end of week three and only 3 weeks (and one day) to go. Wow.

Wednesday 29-10-08 Prac Block Day 17… no wait… make that 18. :D

That’s right – I just called the prac office and they said that the day that I did professional development counts as a day that I was on prac. Hooray! No extra make up day for me. :D unbelievably happy. Only 2 weeks and 2 days to go. :D

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Friday 17/10/08 – Prac Block Day Ten

Spares again, and nothing much to prepare. Annoying. Yesterday was a long day of planning and orginising, but I think I did so much that I now have nothing to do. The morning started with Clan – a long and extended clan. Tara ended up taking the kids to the library and using the internet to find out things like how often they need a break at work and what not. Apparently the year ten clans all have things like this to work though, because the students should be developing their SET Plans and thinking about jobs and what not, but it also apparently takes a lot less time than they allocate for it.

After this, I had breaks until 1:00 when I had the grade 8 music tech class for 35 mins. I taught the kids to sing in Japanese, which went down seriously well, but then doing scales – which I knew they could breeze through, they decided they didn’t want to work. They were chatty and distracted. It was terrible. So hard to get them focused. I was racking my brains on how to get them through it, but nothing worked. *sigh * One of my serious weaknesses is this lack of understanding the class, and how to pull them in… but not in a behaviour sense.

Anyway, then I rushed for the bus to get to ice skating, which I made. Hooray! Tara and I had a chat about homework on the bus and how to give it. I think it’s really hard for me to understand needing to baby kids through things, because I never needed it. (ok, so I probably did, but not to this extent). If someone told me “this is your homework” I would have done it. I wouldn’t have needed it to be written down and explained out to me. But these kids do → all of them. It’s hard to try to pull back for these things when they seem so simple.

Ice skating was fun, we had 33 kids, all having a skate – they were pretty good. I just watched, the ice was so slippery we had heaps of kids fall down and I didn’t want to add myself to that tally. They have a good go at it, and then we all pile back on the bus and were back at school by 2:45. Easy, if somewhat boring afternoon.

This morning I had the grade 11’s for music, they were doing practice. I cleaned up all of the keyboards and pluged some in and what not. Out of the 38 keyboards, 13 are not working due to some fault. I didn’t have time to do headphones as well, but honestly, it was good to be doing such things, rather than just sitting around. I hate sitting around.

Which is what I’m doing now. Time to go through the lesson plans for next week and see what I can do.


Humm… spent a lot of today not doing a lot. Thought about my teaching though, while driving home. I feel like being at Macgregor, I’ve somehow lost it. Like, I knew how to teach, but all of a sudden, I’m not teaching. I feel like I’ve lost the plot for some reason.

I was reflecting (again) on Thursdays music lesson with the grade 8’s, and I think I would have done it completely differently, but I’m so out of my zone at the moment that nothing is connecting. Including my teaching. I think maybe I’ve been trying to do things “the Macgregor way” I’ve forgotten what “the Paula way” is. And that’s bad.

The thing is now, if I walk into the classroom and try to relive the Paula way, the teachers are going to freak out, not to mention the kids. So I’ve pretty much got to struggle on the Macgreor way and try my hardest to do it so well that I pass this prac with flying colours, make it out alive and with job prospects to go to.

Back in the real world, my Jap lesson last went well, though the kids were jumpy and not in the mood to work. Tara doesn’t’ think that I predict the kids well enough for the lesson to flow. Also, my lesson on Tuesday, she’s not giving me feed back on the plan. She just wants me to teach and then decided weather or not I’ve planned it well enough.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

It's been up for a while and it's gotten me a pass for that 50% assignment, but if only it were getting me jobs as well. :P
Tuesday 14/10/08 Prac Block day Seven.

Today was the first day that I left a class thinking, I could have done that better. *sigh *

The morning began with doing a few lesson plans and running to the library to ensure that the power point would work and things were going smoothly. Then, I had Japanese. My supervising teacher was under the impression that the grade 9’s had a SOSE event on this day, and that I’d lose 12 of the students. With this in mind, we had arranged for a cultural day for the other students, so as not to let anyone miss out on “important” work. The grade 8’s also joined us, as their teachers had been away and what not.

Then it turns out that the grade 9 SOSE thing is in fact tomorrow. So I all of a sudden have 60 grade 8 and 9 students to talk to about Japanese culture. Right.

The lesson turned out well, the students listened fantastically → so much so that I went over time in the presentation and they didn't have enough time to finish the activity at the end. But on the whole – a great lesson – HOORAY! I felt really good.

Music this afternoon however.

I took Sam to the music department for a visit at lunch time; the staff were in crisis mode getting the extension music kids stuff in for panel and verification and also trying to decided how to pull of the Macgregor music concert in 6 weeks time. But of a rushed lunch, but still good. I went to K3 (music block is called K block) to check my dvd worked – success it appeared fine!

After lunch, I went into music and set up. Half the class was late, but I started the dvd of the performance anyway. The kids were ratty and chatty and not really wanting to work. They were distracted at every little thing, including the words farce and clowns, and not wanting to participate fully. *sigh * again.

My lesson was 5 mins short, but I fleshed it out with more discussion questions (again like pulling teeth), but I couldn’t help feeling that there was something I could have done better.

The last lesson of the day was Grade 8 Music Tech. They were distracted to begin with, and I didn’t recognise that they just wanted to do their sibelius stuff, and tried to get some involvement in rhythmic dictations which was honestly not even worth going into. I just didn’t recognise the kids in their “last lesson of the day” mood.

So I pushed on with rhythmic dictations, and it did work, but it was gruelling. I could have done things better. I know that, the supervising teacher (Sharon) knows that, heck, even the kids probably know it. :P

Something to learn I guess → I’m not going to be doing hard core stuff on a Tuesday afternoon with grade 8’s again. Tara thinks that grade 8’s tend to reflect the weather more than any other grade, so that’s something to watch out for.

After school the deputy gave the preservice teachers a talk about getting jobs with Education Queensland (EQ) (even mentioned Clermont (there’s one for you mum)) in his country service list. I’ve got to have an interview with him and 2 other HODS (Head of Departments) from the school (who have never met me) which will only be 30 mins long. That’s good news. ☺ All I need to bring, is my previous prac report, my 2 referee’s reports and my 500 words about why I want to be a teacher.

Yeah I can do that.

Wednesday 15/10/08 – Prac Block Day 8

When I get to Wednesday I know I’m nearly there for the week. After having to teach 9 classes in 3 days, it is a relief to know that I’m only going to have to teach 3 classes in 2 days now. Does that make sense?

In any case today was busy. I began music by getting the students straight on task and letting them go. 80% of the class is finished doing their seblius work (GREAT!) and the other 20% is about… 2/3rds done. Makes me glad.

After doing Morning Tea duty with Tara (in the same place that Sandy has lunch duty on the same day (what are the odds?)) in which she went around and took photos of grade 12s. Apparently they aren’t allowed to make hand signs (peace, west side, whatever) because of the gangs and some of them might be gang signs. Talk about crazy school.

After this, I watched through the grade 11 Japanese class, and then took the grade nines. Apparently they were going to be too tired to be able to handle new work, so I had to change my lesson plans at the last minute, and just do revision. The students took a while, but we got it done. I am continually surprised at how much my supervising teacher babys them. It’s one extreme to another with this class, either it’s too easy for them, or too much for them to handle. Time they sucked it up and got on with it I reckon, but they aren’t my class, so whatever.

I will say though, that since yesterday, when I took the class on living in Japan, and turning up today in yukata, the kids are realising that I’m more of a real person now, and that I do have something of value to teach them.

After lunch duty with Sandy (where we had to stop a group of 5 boys just walking out the gate), who gave me great feed back on my class, I had about 10 mins free and then took the grade 11’s. They had performance practice, but I walked around and got the song choices and what instruments they were performing on for their assessment. 85% of students have chosen a song, and all of them know their instrument :D YAY!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Prac Block – Day 6 - Monday 13/10/08

You feel really satisfied at the end of a day when your lessons which you worked so hard to plan went really well. On Friday, I had music in the morning, Grade 11’s practicing for their performances. Then I had breaks all day until last lesson when I took the Japanese class. Half of the students were missing because of dance oddessy (performance Saturday some how meaning they didn’t have to go to school on Friday (go figure)) but we introduced how to tell the time in minutes anyway. We got through quite a lot of stuff for a 35 min lesson last class on a Friday.

I got home on Friday to find that some quality uni/student life friends had pulled together and gotten me some flowers. It was awesome to know I wasn’t being forgotten while I was on prac, and they were all still praying for me  thanks guys you are legends!

This morning, Sam (who I’m car pooling with) and I were a bit late, but it was alright none the less. I took the grade 8 music tech class and it went surprisingly well! YAY! I had 3 or 4 students almost finish their work, and the rest are generally on task – except for maybe one or two. I’m now going to have to think of more things to plan for next lesson, but it’s awesome to think that they can work well! Yay!

After that, I took the grade 11’s for music  we studied Mack the Knife (after starting the class by singing in Japanese). A few surprises though, they were happy enough to listen to the song, but they got fairly bored with it after a while. Also, (after listening to Louie Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald sing the song) when I put on the Robbie Williams version  there was almost a riot! No one was impressed with Robbie Williams at all. Bit of a shock. We got through the stuff though, and they did do all the work, so that was good.

Sandy gave me really good feedback from the lesson  most major point is that I need to work on my questioning technique and make sure I’m asking specific people, after I’ve asked the question (otherwise the kids will turn off). So that’s pretty good; something to work on for tomorrow.

After watching the grade 11’s do Japanese, I then taught the grade 9s. First lesson I’ve begun with actually writing things down and doing sentence patterns and even though it was quite a lot of material to get through, and it was hard to bring all the students up to date with what we had covered (students who missed out on Friday needed to know minutes information etc), the students worked really well for the lesson. I was impressed. I’m glad I’m giving them a break tomorrow, because there is some strange thing on and so we are doing a culture lesson.

I planned the last two lessons of the day – feeling a lot more on top of what I have to do this week. Glory to God for giving me the peace and focus to do what I need to do! I’ve also taken my flowers to school to put on my desk, because that’s where I currently spend the most time in a day.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Thursday 09/10/08 – Prac Block Day Four

I feel like I’m still falling down a rabbit hole and there is no hope of a light at all. Welcome to Prac. Macgregor State High School is a large school, consisting of over 1000 students, grades eight to twelve. Located right next to Garden City, many of the students use public transport as their means of commuting to school and as a result, many of the students are also late to school.

I am with the Japanese teacher, Tara Jenkins, for grade nine Japanese, the Music Head of Department (HOD), Sandy Armstrong, for grade 11 Music and another music teacher, Sharron Collis, for grade eight Music Technology. My staff room is with the other LOTE teachers (about three times the size of the music staffroom (for the same number of teachers). Languages offered here are Chinese, German and Japanese.

My lead in days were hectic and rushed, most of the students were doing exams and revision. The Japanese teacher wasn't sure what to do next, so even though I planned a unit in the holidays, I don’t really know the students very well and we’ve had to completely re-do everything. One of the craziest things is that she doesn’t seem to be very organised at all. I’d like to have a plan for the next eight weeks done out and on my desk – ready for small modifications as they occur (learning difficulties, unexpected deaths, the school burning down), but there is nothing like that here and my attempts to create one have been foiled at every possible moment.

The music department is significantly better, although still experiencing the same types of upheaval that the LOTE department is. The original music HOD left suddenly sometime during the year (middle of last term perhaps?) and as a result the music department went through a serious rework of their staff, what classes each teacher has, where the curriculum is etc. The new Music HOD (Sandy) is organised and only has two classes now that she is a HOD but she also has to rework all of the task sheets at every year level because someone in some office somewhere has decided the CCE (Common Curriculum Elements) need to be listed on the Task Sheets (because that just might be the first thing that students look for).

Sharron, during the reorginisation of the music department found her contact work doubled and all of a sudden teaching grade eight music technology. To give you some idea of Sharron’s reaction to this, I asked her yesterday if she had an email that I could contact her on and she laughed. She is a very lovely woman and quite a good teacher, but music technology is not her strong suit.

This week, I watched, supervised, team-taught and took a number of different classes. Monday started with the grade eight music technology. These guys were practicing for their performance (on keyboard (that’s where the technology comes in)) of the Man From Snowy River theme. They spent seventy minutes practicing/making sounds on the keyboard. I really liked the way that Sharron opened the lesson by telling the students what was going to happen, and then ending the lesson with a focus of what they will be doing next lesson.

I then had year 11 music with Sandy. She look the class, while I memorized the twenty-two students names, giving them back their composition results, making sure that they understood their next unit and also writing out goals for their performance unit. This music class is really talented and quite good and respectful.

I then observed grade 11 Japanese, which I pretty much don't remember any of now and the grade nine Japanese class → These guys had a revision lesson on their hiragana and combined sounds (having done quite badly on both on their recent test). They are a bit of a strange class – apparently some of the students had only done Japanese for six months in grade eight and some of them have only taken it up this year while others have come from primary schools where they did it from grade six. It’s really hard to cater to all the different levels of ability.

After that, I had two spares (WOAH! Spares!) in which I planned lessons for Japanese the next day.

Tuesday started with a spare, where I revised everything that I had planned for Japanese. Then I taught the grade nine Japanese class. I did a lesson on numbers and kanji. The students got through everything maybe only 10 mins faster than I expected, so I just played a game at the end. The lesson on the whole went well, some times I need to remember to slow down and write stuff on the board – even though I don’t like to be slow, it’s a good thing for the students → something that I’ll learn as I practice I guess. My other problems came from not really knowing the class. I still didn’t really know which students would respond in which ways.

My supervising teacher (for Japanese, Tara) gave me a run down of the lesson → pretty much telling me what I already knew. Her suggestions were things that were related to knowing the class better, which I can’t do until I’ve taught/observed them more. Bit of catch 22 really.

The year 11 class are very chatty and some of the students tend to use Japanese as a bludge. They are all able to do the work, but I think Tara’s disorganisation lets her down and while she fusses around trying to pull out sheets and find the work, they chat and then continue chatting. Also, most of Tara’s instructions are given while fussing around, so they don't seem directed at the students at all, and this just tells the students that they can keep on chatting.

I then had music, grade 11’s. Sandy ran a discussion on good rehearsal techniques and collated all of the student responses → easy way to do a lesson on rehearsal techniques without actually having anything planned. I’m looking forward to doing an actual listening lesson with the students next lesson! Exciting! (I’ll get on typing up that lesson plan as soon as I’ve reflected and evaluated and what not here and then looked at my overviews and resources and what ever else I’ve got to do :P)

The final class of Tuesday was Music Technology. The students kept practicing and although Sharron wanted to start doing their performance grading, most of them didn’t do it. It did keep the practice fairly focused though, the students knowing that eventually they’d have to go play for their teacher – which was good considering it was the last class of the day.

The staff meeting after school (every first Tuesday of the month) only went until about 4:00. There was year level meetings first (3:10 to 3:30) and then the actual staff meeting. Quite different to my last school, but a fairly boring and completely irrelevant staff meeting none the less. ☺

Wednesday the Music Tech kids did their performances – everyone except one girl went I think (yay!). I then watched another lesson of grade 11 Japanese where the kids talked (and slept) and Tara revised their verbs with them.

The grade nine Japanese class, I had actually planned for, but I didn't end up teaching. I wanted to see how Tara would give the students new content and also get to know the students a bit better. I think I finally did that – which was good! They began to learn how to say the time and ask each other what the time is. We also made clocks which we can use again for different activities.

My final class for the day was year 11 music and Sandy was away. Sharron was the sub teacher, so she just let me have the floor. They were only practicing for their performances, but it was good to be able to roam around and get to know them and their instruments more.

Thursday started with assembly, students got prizes and were roused on for coming to school late. I now have spares until my grade eight music tech class in 30 mins! Hooray!

I missed the bus for ice skating and so now I have all afternoon free to plan more lessons! Bit of shame that I missed the bus, I was looking forward to being some where the is not Macgregor and also talking to Tara about Japanese plans for next week, but oh well! Such things can not be changed.

My music lesson went well, although the students were a bit distracted at the beginning. Also, quite a few of them found Sibelius too hard to comprehend, and as such, we did not get much done. Some of the students had computer problems which I couldn’t fix (log in/password changes) and others just didn't really want to work. It dosent’ help that the lesson is the last one of the day before sport – which a lot of the students are looking forward to.

In reflection, I need to have a small activity at the start to get them focused and then clear instructions ready to go for the next part. Otherwise they get a bit lost and distracted. After the lesson, I chatted with Sharron who also suggested to do a group activity at the start to get them focused but otherwise said the lesson was really well done. (yay!)