Explore. Discover. Surpass.
An e-portfolio by Cornelia Olivier
Table of contents 1. Meet me 2. My take on teaching 4. My take on 21st century teaching 5. My inspirations 6. My publications 6.1 Shaping tech for the classroom â€“ a review 6.2 Meeting individual student needs using constructivist approaches 6.3 Social factors
7. Youtubing can be good for you 8. Having fun with the Year 5â€™s 9. Reflection
Meet me 3|Page
I was born and raised in South Africa. After a short stint as a staff reporter for the countryâ€™s biggest daily newspaper, I fell in love with adventure and more particularly scuba diving. I eventually found my way to the Cayman Islands via Sodwana Bay, Mozambique and Sao Tome and Principe all the while teaching scuba diving. I spent two years on Cayman Brac and a year on Little Cayman before settling in Grand Cayman to raise a family with husband TJ. We have two boisterous boys and life for them is good. There are only two basic requirements: Learn hard and have fun. Their insatiable interest in the world around them inspired me to take on my Post-Graduate Diploma in Education so that I can forever be part of the excitement of being a child - of exploring, discovering and achieving. 4|Page
Curriculum Vitae “For a teacher, the foundation must be the imparting of skills and knowledge – the reading, writing, counting and content subjects – but it should also be more. Teaching should include a relationship with students so that we can also instruct them on how to become part of the global community. Learning is therefore not only found in books, but out in the real world. A teacher’s purpose then is to connect the two for their students.” (Excerpt from my personal philosophy on teaching.)
Skills I have highly developed communication skills – spoken, written and presentational. I am dedicated and self-motivated, and am persistent in finding solutions to challenges. My formal education combined with my range of work experience enables me to be adaptable, innovative and creative in any given situation.
Qualifications I am currently doing my Postgraduate Diploma in Education at the University College of the Cayman Islands, to be completed in June this year. I have a bachelor’s degree in Business Communications cum laude: • Three years study in communications, including writing and typing skills, desk top publishing, public relations, marketing, political and intercultural communication • One year of study with a major in journalism. This included an internship in publishing the university yearbook with specific responsibility for researching articles, writing, editing, page layout and final production. I also: • Hold a professional certificate in strategic communication management from the USbased ITHACA College in partnership with the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). • Completed a Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) course in stress management in disasters as well as risk communication for disasters and disease outbreak. • Am certified as a trainer/facilitator for continuing education in the workplace. • Am a certified PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor.
Other achievements A 2008 recipient of the Governor’s Five Star Award for Customer Service Excellence (FACE).
Teaching Experience January – March 2011: St. Ignatius Catholic School. • •
Supervising teacher: Ms. Maria Kennedy Class: St. Bernadette Year 5
Other Work Experience 2004 - Present: Communication consultant for Cayman Islands Government Information Services Responsibilities: • Developing communication strategies for government agencies, ministries and departments; • Arranging press conferences, presentations, exhibitions and other events; • Ensuring cost-effective and timely delivery of communication strategies; • Developing and executing public information, education and awareness campaigns for government agencies; • Advising government officials on press relations and sensitive public information issues; • Facilitating smooth and productive media relations; • Writing press releases, speeches, text for brochures and other publications to enhance communication strategies; • Information gathering; • Photography; • Assisting in the development of graphic, web, audio and video material; and • Developing and executing crisis communication plans with particular focus on airport emergencies and hurricane crisis communication. • Some of my major clients included the Constitutional Review Secretariat, the Cayman Islands’ Freedom of Information Unit and the National Hurricane Committee/Hazard Management Cayman Islands. 2003 - 2004: Administrative director for Little Cayman Beach Resort, Cayman Islands Responsibilities: • Media relations • Human resource management • Basic accounting on a daily basis 2000-2002: Dive instructor for Reef Divers II, Cayman Islands 1999-2003: Freelance writer for Beeld, South African daily newspaper, specializing in adventure sports and travel. 1996-1998: Staff reporter for Beeld, South African daily newspaper. Responsibilities: • Sourcing and researching articles to give an objective view of the issue at hand; 6|Page
Responding to daily news events, including attending press conferences or going to the scene of a story; • Liaising with and build rapport with news sources; and • Producing accurate news articles within a given deadline. 1994-1995: News editor for student newspaper, Die Wapad, at the University of Potchefstroom, South Africa. Responsibilities: • Leading news team in sourcing and researching articles; • Editing contributions; and • Assisting with page layout.
Personal details Contact details: 20# Palm Spring, South Church Street Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands Tel: (345) 244-2766; Cell: (345) 925-8272; Email: email@example.com Date of birth: 1973-10-08 Nationality: South African
References TEACHING: Ms. Maria Kennedy, St. Ignatius Catholic School; Maria.firstname.lastname@example.org; 949-9250 Dr. Louise Malcolm, UCCI, email@example.com; 623-8221 Dr. Mark Minott, UCCI, firstname.lastname@example.org 623-8221 St. Bernadette, Year 5 class, St. Ignatius Catholic School OTHER: GIS Graphic Unit Manager: Charles Gilman, Charles.email@example.com; 244-1753
My take on teaching 8|Page
Teaching is a profession packed with more variables than any other of which I can think. Teaching is like a complicated math equation that requires focusing on many elements in order to reach the sum total. Here I think of the students, their backgrounds, their parents, social and cultural norms, learning abilities and capabilities. There is also the curriculum, the school system and the wider community to which a teacher must answer.
Raised by two teachers, I took all this for granted for they made it seem so easy. However, as I prepare to embark on the journey of teaching myself, I realize that I must stop and reflect on what it is I am going to put into – and hope to get out of – my own teaching.
Of course, I don’t expect this personal statement to remain fixed; far from it. As I gain experience, I hope to add to it, to take out that which proves to be unrealistic and to shift my focus as needed to continually improve on the act of teaching. To start with however, I am drawing on many of the great philosophies of life, as well as others’ experience as I attempt to fashion a sort of starting block for myself. I hope that start will allow me to hit the ground running when I enter the classroom for the first time. I purposely choose this eclectic approach as I believe it matches the multi-faceted nature of the activity it is meant to direct.
Defining teaching and learning
“Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.” Malcolm Forbes 9|Page
The definition of teaching as imparting knowledge and learning as gaining knowledge, suggests the need for a strong partnership between student and teacher. Of course the fundamentals of learning are literacy and numeracy, but if we further explore the definitions of both teaching and learning, we find that they also have to do with acquiring experience, becoming more informed, sensitive and cultured. Thus, as a teacher, the foundation must be the imparting of skills and knowledge – the reading, writing, counting and content subjects – but, as the reconstructionists hold, it should also be more. Teaching should include a relationship with students so that we can also instruct them on how to become part of the global community. Learning is therefore not only found in books, but out in the real world. A teacher’s purpose then is to connect the two for their students.
"The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery."
Mark van Doren
I once heard that we spend the first few years of a child’s life encouraging them to walk and talk. Yet once they enter school, we tell them to sit still and be quiet. We do not have to reflect long on this piece of wisdom to realize its fundamental truth. It is probably for this reason that I instantly felt drawn to the constructivist teaching methods of discovery learning, cooperative learning, active learning, problem solving and the development of critical thinking skills. These child-centered teaching strategies allow students to express their individuality – so often lost in the strictly traditional classroom setting. This does not mean that I advocate an unstructured 10 | P a g e
classroom as I do find value in the pragmatist view that children need structure in education. They should be exposed to the more formal processes of learning, since they do need to acquire certain essential concepts and skills. This also ties in with the realists’ view that students need to understand the world around them in order to find answers to challenges (Ozmon & Carver, 2008). For me, the answer lies in striking a balance between the mastering of knowledge and the nurturing of children’s natural creativity and abilities.
The role of the teacher "One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child." Carl Jung
While teachers primarily serve to impart the basic skills of reading and writing, as well as specific knowledge such as history, geography, science and more, I reiterate that limiting ourselves to these duties would be remiss. Since students bring with them to class all of their fears, problems and hardships, teaching is not so much a profession as it is a calling wherein the teaching of literacy and numeracy are often the ‘easier’ tasks. As Rothstein (2008, p. 11) so succinctly puts it: “Educators have a special and unique insight into the damage that deprivation does to children’s learning potential. If educators who face this unfortunate state of affairs daily don’t speak up about it, who will?”
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While I am not promoting a political role for teachers, I do however find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with Rothstein, thereby also throwing my weight with the constructivist philosophers who believe that the teacher should also work for social change (Ozmon & Craver, 2008). As a teacher I will have a role to play in continually campaigning for better social and parenting programmes and social and emotional support for students so that they can first and foremost focus on the task of studying. As someone recently told me: “No matter how good the teaching, if a child comes to school hungry or scared, that child will not learn.” Moreover, by caring for students outside of their academic life, a teacher sends a powerful and positive message. In caring for them, we lead by example so that they one day can also care for others. Finally, by focusing on and caring for the whole student, we can empower them to find their niche in society so they can realize their full potential.
Another point I feel impelled to make regarding the role of teachers comes from a website I found while researching an assignment on rational choice theory. The site belongs to the Seattle-based nonprofit organization CHOICES which began because of the horrendous dropout rate in US high schools. According to them, one of the most persistent problems faced by teachers today is how to motivate under-achieving students to learn. Their question: “How do you get teens ‘into’ school the same way they are ‘into’ sports or music?” (Keeping Teens in School, n.d.) Reading the philosophy behind the CHOICES’ solutions made me re-examine the precepts of rational choice theory and I came to the conclusion that as we teach spelling and good grammar, we should also teach good decision making. And so apart from being educators, teachers must also strive to be motivators, mentors and role models. Not an easy task, but certainly one that is both exciting and challenging.
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The role of the student
"Good teaching is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right answers." Josef Albers
If children could charge grown-ups with something, it would probably be the accusation that we constantly underestimate them. It is not they who restrict the definition of teaching and learning to the classroom. They know that they learn from everything they do. They are naturally curious; they want to explore and discover. Students should therefore be allowed to engage in the learning process. It can be as simple as giving up formal instructional time to allow an impromptu discussion – and Plato will have your back on this: Idealists have always charged that schools neglect “the important consideration of mind” (Ozmon & Carver, 2008, p.28).
In a world of growing crises and turmoil on the one hand and the capacity for innovation and adaptation on the other, I particularly subscribe to the idealistic view that students should be allowed to discuss issues, should learn how to draw on current research and be encouraged to explore both sides of an issue to arrive at the ‘truth’ together (Ozmon & Carver, 2008). Teaching children to think, rather than just process facts, will empower them to make choices 13 | P a g e
and will allow them to use the knowledge they gain in the classroom and apply it to and in the real world. I firmly believe that Plato’s dialectical approach and Bronson Alcott’s conversational method of teaching can both help to achieve this goal. Our children grow up in a world of collaboration, constant innovation and fluid job markets, not to mention opportunities.
Although the reconstructionists will support idealists in raising thinkers, they actually go one step further with Ivan Illich coining the term ‘deschooling’(Ozmon & Carver, 2008). It might seem risky, but students can learn a vast amount outside the classroom. Moreover, they need to take charge of their learning as well as their lives as they will increasingly need to become self-motivated, life-long learners if they are to succeed. Indeed, I cannot fault Woods (1993) for noting: “We should spend more time listening to children than talking to and at them, and should seek to elevate their creative skills to more of a central place.” As a teacher I will therefore strive to find ways of introducing these concepts into my lesson plans in support of the prescribed curriculum.
The role of the parent
Your children need your presence more than your presents. Jesse Jackson
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A veteran teacher once told me that successful teaching is triangular, with one corner each going to the teacher, the student and the parent. If this triangle is broken or weakened in one corner, it can make academic success that much harder to achieve. Many researchers have established the link between parental involvement and a child’s academic success. The 2005 Metropolitan Life/Louis Harris Survey of the American Teacher found that 20 percent of new teachers and one-fourth of principals in the US identify their relationship – or lack thereof – with parents as a cause of significant job-related stress (Pryor, 1995). But parents can demonstrate involvement at home by reading with their children, helping with homework and participating in and supporting school events.
This kind of involvement is important because when parents show their children that academics are sufficiently important to merit time, they promote a healthy and consistent learning environment by establishing mutual goals between parents and educators and by developing activities that bridge home and school. However, teachers should never take such involvement for granted; always keep in mind that parents do have their own challenges. I will therefore attempt to support the parents of my students in their journey with their children and I will endeavour to establish a strong rapport with them through diligent, sincere and positive communication.
“Every ceiling, when reached, becomes a floor, upon which one walks as a matter of course and prescriptive right.” Aldous Huxley 15 | P a g e
In researching an essay on student motivation, I came across an article by Kim Tracy, a fifth grade teacher from North Carolina. What she said resonated and stayed with me: “Celebrations of learning are needed in our schools and in our classrooms…Even our end of grade testing that is mandated by the state is a Celebration of Learning. Students and teachers have worked for 180 days and it is time to celebrate their accomplishments. The celebration is the test.” (Tracy, 2000). Apparently, her students get ‘pumped’ about assessment, because it gives them a chance to show the world what they have learned. And so in the end, it comes down to the eye of the beholder, the attitude, the approach. And while as a teacher, I will not necessarily have a say in the type of grading or assessment system I use, I will have control over how I make my students feel about it.
It is far too early for me to have an opinion on which kinds of assessment work best – formal or informal, formative or summative – but I do believe that evaluations should be differentiated and varied and I do believe that students deserve to show off their knowledge in some way. Even those students who struggle, for if they too can see some forward movement, it might just be the inspiration that makes them want to put in more effort.
When planning evaluations, it is thus wise to heed the existentialists who believe that teachers should go beyond normal restrictions of time and circumstance to allow students to “merge their own perceived possibilities with those of the organized curriculum” (Ozmon & Carver, 2008, p.243). On their part, the reconstructionists gave us the concept of multiple intelligences, further supporting the idea that evaluation should be structured to ensure that all students feel like achievers. As is underscored by more than one contemporary philosophy of education, the art of building student persistence lies in offering a task that is sufficiently challenging but not overwhelming, and creatively giving credit for accomplishing it.
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Goals and expectations
“The task of the excellent teacher is to stimulate "apparently ordinary" people to unusual effort. The tough problem is not in identifying winners: it is in making winners out of ordinary people.” Patricia Cross Some might view the following goals as pretentious and overly romantic. To such critics, my comeback is equally clichéd – reach for the moon, because if you miss, you will still land among the stars. As such, in all I do, I will keep the following five goals in mind: •
I want to teach my students to be thinkers.
I want to teach my students to be kind, to respect each other and the world around them and to take care of people.
I want my students to feel at home in my classroom, because I believe happy students will translate into learning students.
I want to teach my students to love learning.
I want to show my students the relevance of the knowledge they acquire, so they can use it long after they leave my classroom.
These goals apart, I will set high expectations for my students. As Raffini (1993) points out: “The beliefs teachers themselves have about teaching and learning and the nature of the expectations they hold for 17 | P a g e
students exerts a powerful influence.” However, at the same time I want to give them freedom, space, latitude and flexibility so that I am not only teaching, but also learning from them. In Woods’ words: The teacher is a facilitator, catalytic agent, midwife, novice as well as guru, for the teacher also is always learning. Teaching should therefore be relevant to pupils' concerns, anchored in their personal experiences, cognisant of the knowledge they already have, and responsive to the unique vision that characterizes childhood. It should capitalize on children's natural curiosity and ineffectiveness, not seek to shut them down. (p.447) It is not only Woods who believes learning should be enjoyed as it is a fundamental part of any child’s development. Realists such as John Locke put a premium on learning through play (Ozmon & Carver, 2008). Why then limit this positive action to the pre-school years? Humans never tire of games and one way of activating the innate energy, curiosity, creativity and competitiveness of students is to incorporate play into lessons. I want to put the enjoyment back into learning so students will want to unlock the world around them through thought and wisdom. Finally, I believe it is important to expect confidence in all students. Each should have a chance to be better at something than the next. So always strive for interesting, differentiated lessons that will inspire the struggling student while also challenging those who excel.
Conclusion No personal teaching philosophy will ever be final. All philosophies evolve, even the great ones and as I pen my own, I commit to continue exploring both old and new ideas. REFERENCES Keeping Teens in School. Choices Education Group. www.choices.org Ozmon, H.A. & Craver, S.M. (2008). Philosophical Foundations of Education. Eight Edition. Merril Prentice Hall. Upper Saddle River. New Jersey. Pryor, C. (1995). Youth, parent and teacher views of parent involvement in schools. Education, 115(2), p. 410-419. Raffini, J. (1993). Winners without losers: Structures and strategies for increasing student motivation to learn. Allyn and Bacon. Boston. Rothstein, R. (2008). Whose problem is poverty? Educational Leadership. April 2008. Vol. 65, No. 7, p. 8 – 13. Tracy, K. (2000). Intrinsic motivation. Teachers.Net Gazette. August 2000. Vol. 1, No. 6. Retrieved from www.teachers.net/gazette/AUG00/tracy.html Woods, Peter. (1993). Managing marginality: Teacher development through grounded life history. British Educational Research Journal; Oct93, Vol. 19 Issue 5. p.447-465. Quotes downloaded http://www.teacher-appreciation.info/Quotations_on_teaching/
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My take on st
21 century teaching 19 | P a g e
What to teach and how to teach it are two subjects that have filled – and continue to fill - volumes of research journals and books while also spurring passionate conversations. And rightfully so for content and instructional strategies are what teaching and learning are essentially made of. Included in these ever-present and continuing debates are of course the use and teaching of technology in the classroom. Gauging from what has been written on the subject as well as personal conversations, new and experienced teachers alike find themselves wrestling with a full scope of questions: How much is technology is enough? What about the challenge of providing all students with equal access? Should handwriting and visits to the library take a seat in favour of raising tech-savvy children? These are not new concerns. Judging from the chapters written by Smith & Broom (2003) and also Chipman (2003) for almost three decades now, none of these questions have been answered definitively. On the contrary, educators, administrators and even parents continue to grapple with the same challenges in an effort to capitalize on the full range of opportunities posed by technology use in the classroom. What is a teacher then to do? While researching a paper on social reconstructionism, I came upon an eye-opening documentary from the Pearson Foundation (yes, on YouTube!) Learning to change, changing to learn. In interviewing the who’s who of information technology in the classroom, the producers of this short documentary makes the
I think it's fair to say that personal computers have become the most empowering tool we've ever created. They're tools of communication; they're tools of creativity,
following points: Technology is not a choice anymore;
and they can be shaped by their
Children are living in a different space where Twitter,
Facebook and texting rule; The careers they are preparing for do not call for the traditional “right
Bill Gates (Philanthropist, Microsoft chairman)
answer vending machine approach”, and students need a new 21st century skill set which includes the ability to synthesise, collaborate and problem-solve. As Steve Heppell (who Microsoft named in 2006 as Europe's leading online education expert) says in Pearson piece: It is a brave new world where the only solution is embracing all the new possibilities offered by technology. In a similar documentary Greg Whitby (also on YouTube!), Executive Director of Schools of the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta in New South Wales, Australia, even calls for a new 20 | P a g e
pedagogical DNA. It is not just a matter of educational philosophy either. That technology can and should work in the classroom apparently also have physiological backing: “Modern technologies are very powerful because they rely on one of the most powerful genetic biases we do have — the preference for visually presented information. The human brain has a tremendous bias for visually presented information. Television, movies, videos, and most computer programs are very visually oriented and therefore attract and maintain the attention of young children.” Kneas & Perry (2011, p.1). I cannot fault these views. On the contrary, they inspire me to find ways of allowing my students to tap into this wonderful world that allows them to reflect, research and connect with amazing resources such as The British Museum or playing educational games such as National Geographic’s Great Migrations or Build it Green! Back to the Beach. There are without a doubt enough benefits associated with technology use in the classroom that every teacher (who has access that is) should at least try it. These include increased motivation and self-esteem, peer collaboration, development of higher-order thinking and improved technical skills. (Effects of technology on classrooms and students, n.d.) However, my enthusiastic thumbs-up for technology in the classroom come with a few caveats: First, it should never replace what I like to call our manual skills. Texting and email is not a substitute for conversations. Online research should not rob our students from experiencing the wonderful, quiet spaces offered by libraries. No matter how good, engaging or cuttingedge technology can be, neither teachers nor students should ever come to rely on it to make their day. Second, when teaching technology, it should be about far more than only acquiring a range of technical skills and futuristic literacies. Instead we need to teach our children how and when to make the best of technology.
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So, even as experts such as Heppel and Whitby push for less brick-and-mortar classrooms, I am of the view that teachers will do well to follow a more balanced view of technology in the classroom. As Kneas & Perry (2011) cautions: Modern technologies are very passive and do not provide children with the quality and quantity of crucial emotional, social, cognitive, or physical experiences they require when they are young. And if you really think about it, teachers should be able to motivate, elevate and develop their students even if there is a power cut or the Internet is down. Moreover, your next assignment might very well involve a classroom void of tech support. Therefore, as with anything else, the answer lies in striking a balance, in flexibility and in having a manual back-up plan - always. If the end goal of teaching and learning is to prepare our students for the brave new world, it should include as much old-fashioned handwriting (for that romantic scribbled note on a napkin) and reading from real books (for when the Kindleâ€™s batteries die at around midnight just before the last two pages). Of course it is impressive to see first graders type letters to the tooth fairy or watch fifth graders develop eye-popping power point presentations. However, I am willing to bet that they will pick up those technical skills anyway. The true question is: Do we want to live in a world where primary school children can type 30 words per minute, but cannot name their favourite writer?
The most exciting breakthroughs of the 21st
Let me reiterate, I am in no way vilifying tech-savvy teenagers or toddlers for that matter. In fact, I encourage every teacher to embrace technology. Apart from it being a wonderful time-saving and efficiency device to teachers (online class schedules, lesson plans and much more), I do also support the Heppels and the Whitbys in their quest to
century will not occur because of technology but because of an expanding concept of what it means to be human. John Naisbitt (Author of Megatrends & Megatrends 2000 22 | P a g e
prepare our students for their future. (Where will I be without Google?!) However, I am also a great fan of Shakespeare and Thoreau, of conversation and community. So yes, our children need technology, but they also need more. They need to become sensitive, caring individuals who know when to switch off the computer and step outside to engage with neighbours and to serve in community groups. We need to teach them technology, but moreover, we need to teach them technology’s place in their lives. Therefore it is not about answering the questions about instructional methods and content – for these will forever evolve. In the end, the only thing that matters when you walk through that classroom door is having the singular goal of instilling in your students a love of learning, so that they will want to soak in as much as they can, whenever they can – computer or not.
For great further reading: The death of handwriting and Penmanship: A dying art? References: Chipman, S.F. (2003). Gazing yet again into the silicon chip: The future of computers in education. Technology applications in education: A learning view. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Chapter 2, p. 31 – 53. Effects of technology on classrooms and students. (N.d.) http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/EdReformStudies/EdTech/effectsstudents.html Kneas, K.M. & Perry, B.D. (2011). Using technology in the early childhood classroom. http://teacher.scholastic.com/professional/bruceperry/using_technology.htm Smith, M.S. & Broom, M. (2003). The landscape and future of the use of technology in K-12 classroom. Technology applications in education: A learning view. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Chapter 1, p. 3 – 30. Online video sources: Learning to change, changing to learn: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tahTKdEUAPk&feature=related 21st Century Pedagogy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l72UFXqa8ZU&feature=related
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My inspirations 24 | P a g e
Personal inspiration: Esquith, R. 2007. Teach like your hair is on fire: The method and madness inside Room 56. Penguin Books. London, England. Mr. Esquith sets the bar high - maybe unattainable high for most of us mere mortals. Even so, this book remains on my bedside table, because no matter what as long as you always teach like your hairâ€™s on fire. Rafe Esquith is an innovative, multipleaward-winning American teacher at Hobart Boulevard Elementary School, in Los Angeles, California, where he has taught since 1984. Many of his students, who are all from a community of poor and immigrant families, start class very early, leave late, and typically achieve high scores in standardized tests. Esquith has authored books about teaching, and a documentary film has been made about his annual class Shakespeare productions.
Tomlinson, C.A. 1999. The differentiated classroom: Responding to the needs of all learners. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Alexandria, Vermont, USA. This book delineates and illustrates the principles that guide a differentiated classroom. It focuses on application of instructional strategies that make it much easier to provide multiple learning paths for students. Vivid classroom examples help educators see differentiation in action and include steps to help teachers get started with differentiation or to take it to a higher level. Ms. Tomlinson is an English educator, author and speaker and is thought to be a one of the foremost experts on differentiated instruction. She also shares her knowledge through her website www.caroltomlinson.com Greatschools.com was developed for parents, but it is a immense resource for teachers as well. Signing up is free and you get grade-by-grade advice on what your child should know and master. Based in San Francisco, GreatSchools is a national nonprofit whose mission is to inspire and guide parents to become effective champions of their children's education at home and in their communities.
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BBC.co.uk/skillswise. Curriculum-based factsheets, worksheets and online quizzes for math and language arts.
BBC.co.uk/bitesize. Curriculum-based factsheets, worksheets and online quizzes for everything else.
Britishmuseum.org . Spend hours on virtual field trips here.
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Lessonplanet.com. This will be the best $20 you will ever spend. This website pulls together ideas, lesson plans, worksheets and online resources from teachers around the world. Find new ideas or measure yours against your peers.
Topmarks.co.uk Find great curriculum-base interactive whiteboard resources.
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My publications 28 | P a g e
Shaping Tech for the Classroom – A Review While researching the use of technology in the classroom, something written by Marc Prensky (or actually an article by Jason Utecht referring to work done by Marc Prensky article, which thanks to hyperlinks I was able to access within minutes) caught my attention. Prensky (2005) breaks down the process of technology adoption into four steps: Dabbling, doing old things in old ways, doing old things in new ways and doing new things in new ways.
Until recently, dabbling was the most prevalent, according to the author. As he puts it: “A few Apples here. A PC there…A few edutainment disks.” However, teachers weren’t by any measure doing anything strategic, comprehensive or coordinated with new technology. Fortunately, most people have passed this step and presently we find ourselves in the ‘doing old things in old ways’ stage. Instead of snail mail, we use email. Instead of lugging around heavy folders filled with lesson plans, we know have it on a jump drive, and schools are increasingly looking towards keeping records and assessments online. Local examples include St. Ignatius’ Anywhere Anytime Learning as well as UCCI’s Angel. We might even ask kids to type assignments instead of writing them, but that is about it. We are not yet grasping the full potential of technology and are still two steps away from truly internalizing it.
The next step in our tech evolution is doing old things in new ways. Teachers are starting to bring the world to their students with digital demonstrations and simulations. Students get to learn by doing as they build (and destroy?!) cities or they can become part of truly unique, content rich and empathy-building ‘real world, real life’ simulation that challenges their life skills as they make difficult, high-stakes choices that lead to your success, or failure.
However, the pinnacle of technology integration in the classroom is doing new things in new ways. For this, Prensky (2005) notes we need “new curricula, new organization, new architecture, new teaching, new student assessments, new parental connections, new 29 | P a g e
administration procedures” and we are simply not there yet. For the author there are two stumbling blocks: One is social and the other is simply a lack of hardware schools. The social barrier has largely to do with the fact that digital natives are being taught by digital immigrants. The Boomers and X’ers simply does not get the Y’ers addiction to online everything. The other obstacle is more real, but also easier to remedy. Technology in the classroom cannot become second nature until there is true one-to-one computing. This means each student literally has to have his or her own computer as is the case at Nanyang Girls High School in Singapore.
Once these are overcome, doing new things in new ways will mean we expose students to more future-orientated content such as nanotechnology, bioethics and neuroscience while we teach them skills to match such as knowledge filtering, using connectivity productively and becoming good virtual citizens.
Prensky (2005) makes several good points in his article. Foremost is the fact that schools won’t really be able to move to the final step of technology integration without every child having access to a computer, all of the time. As Clarke (2007, p.13) points out “For most education systems in the Caribbean, the big question is: Where can we get the financial support for these resources?” Prensky (2005) unapologetically tells teachers to get with the tech programme which in many ways we should. But until we cross the bridge of insufficient hardware, it is counter-productive to tell teachers to do more. Instead, teachers should be empowered to use limited resources to the maximum benefit of their students.
I definitely agree that it is imperative that we teach students how to use online libraries, how sift through the World Wide Web safely with reputation and privacy intact and how to become good virtual citizens. However, is it really necessary to pass on all that is old and only do new things in new ways? Should we really just give over and let children learn what they want, how they want as Prensky argues in another article 21st-Century Digital Learner? For one, applying this principal to their nutrition will surely not end up with good results.
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So, teachers are rightfully treading with caution. No-one can blame teachers for worrying that we are moving towards a time when students will only be dabbling in hand writing. Technology is great, but the tail should never wag the dog. It should remain a great way of doing old things in new ways and even doing some new things in new ways. Furthermore as pointed out by Kneas & Perry (2011): Modern technologies are very passive and do not provide children with the quality and quantity of crucial emotional, social, cognitive, or physical experiences they require when they are young. LeClaire (2006) also cautions that while technology access has been linked to such benefits as improved reading skills, too much technology can impose dangers on today's youth - including vision impairment and technology addiction.
The jury is definitely still out on how much technology is too much. In addition, each region and culture might have a different tolerance or need for 21st Century education –as Prensky (2008) defines it. Teachers will have to be sensitive to local and regional computer ownership, connectivity and online activity as a guide a teacher to making better decisions on how and when to use technology.
Prensky is an internationally acclaimed speaker, writer, consultant and designer of online education and all in all I enjoy his positive can-do insights. He also wrote the books Teaching Digital Natives, Don’t Bother Me Mom – I’m Learning and Digital Game-Based Learning. I would love to read these, but unfortunately none of these are available for my Kindle. Seems like schools are not the only places where people are still doing old things in old ways. Maybe Mr. Prensky can take it up with the publishing fraternity. REFERENCES: Clarke, P.J. 2007. Exploring the use of computer technology in a Caribbean context: Views of pre-service teachers. International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology. 2007, Vol. 3, Issue 1, pp. 23-38. Kneas, K.M. & Perry, B.D. (2011). Using technology in the early childhood classroom. http://teacher.scholastic.com/professional/bruceperry/using_technology.htm LeClaire, J. 2006. Kids and tech: How much is too much? http://www.technewsworld.com/story/52677.html Retrieved 30 March 2011. Prensky, M. 2005. Shaping tech for the classroom. http://www.edutopia.org/adopt-and-adapt Retrieved 30 March 2011. st Prensky, M. 2008. The 21 – Century Digital Learner http://www.edutopia.org/ikid-digitlearner-technology-2008 Retrieved 30 March 2011. Utecht, J. 2008. Evaluating technology in the classroom. http://www.thethinkingstick.com/evaluating-technology-use-in-the-classroom Retrieved 30 March 2011.
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Youtubing 34 | P a g e
YouTube started as a place where anyone could upload and share video clips with the world and became somewhat infamous for gossip and a whole lot of silliness. However, it also evolved to become a great classroom ally when it comes to teaching a generation that so easily switches off if you donâ€™t switch it on.
For example, for a science lesson about the digestive system I first played a YouTube clip on recycling. I then ask the class to explore what recycling possibly has in common with our digestive system? I then played another fantastic YouTube clip about the digestive system to my rapt audience.
Here is my own YouTube teaching aid for a social studies lesson on living in the Cayman Islands. The topic is current and allows students to apply their reasoning and critical thinking skills to real-world issues. The clip is designed to introduce the topic for a classroom discussion as well as an essay assignment.
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Having fun with the Year 5â€™s 36 | P a g e
Power Point Presentations & Interactive games Power Point Presentations are easy to make and the students seem to love it. It is a great way of bringing artifacts into the classroom and it is completely free. You can also incorporate music and other sounds. Apart from ppt, the web is awash with great interactive games which you can play with the class as part of any lesson. We got quite attached to Mr. Jack (Measures).
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Other Tools of the Trade After I battled through a particularly painful math lesson, my supervising teacher gave one simple, but powerful piece of advice:
Make it relevant for the students. And so,
from then on, I always look for opportunities to bring the outside world into the classroom. For our unit on measurement (weight, length and capacity) we had loads of fun*:
We measured books, tables and arms and legs.
We weighed ourselves – and the teacher!
We explored the different units found on groceries – pounds, ounces, litres, grams – they are all there.
*See lesson plans over the next few pages for more information. The first lesson plans are for math – the unit on measurement. The second set are sample lesson plans for language arts. 38 | P a g e
Week 1 Mon LS 1 (28th)
Mental/Oral (rehearse, recall, refine, reason, revisit, read)
UNIT: Measurement Main Activity
Objectives Key vocabulary
Students should: Understand the general concepts of measurement and capacity and where they are used. Know that there are metric and imperial units. Read, choose, use and record standard metric units to estimate and measure length to a suitable degree of accuracy. Convert larger to smaller units using decimals to one place (e.g. change 2.6 km to 2600 m)
Introduction: Class discussion on measurement, weight & capacity to establish learning objectives for students.
measure, measurement, metre stick, tape measure, ruler, measuring, metric unit,
Group: Use Skillswise sheet 1, 7, 10, 11. Set students to measure list of objects.
Class: Use Skillswise sheet 8. Play Skillwise game together on smartboard. Revision: TxtB1, page 42 â€“ 45. Choose few sums to do on whiteboards.
Direct teaching Key questions How many metres in a kilometre. How many centimetres in a metre. How many millimetres in a centimetre. How many millimetres in a metre.
standard unit, length, distance,
How do we use a measuring tape?
How do we convert? Work with the decimal/multiply or divide by 10, 100 or 1000.
Activities - (considering lower, middle and higher achievers) Indicate organisation and support. Complete Complete Complete measurements. measurements. measurements. Skillswise WS7
Measuring WS 1, 2 & 3
Measuring WS 1&2
Measuring WS 1
Note: For group activities, class will divide in groups of two with each group having a strong student to help & guide partner.
Individual: Do assigned worksheets
Assessment and future action
Resources (incl ICT)
Review, reflect. Key questions Can you choose and use a suitable metric unit to estimate and measure length? Can you use a measure stick (ruler) and/or a measuring tape? Do you know how many millimetres in a metre? Do you know how many metres in a kilometre? Can you make sensible estimates of length in everyday contexts? Can interpret a reading between two unnumbered divisions on a ruler, tape measure or metre stick
A bag of groceries, including dry goods, liquids. Maps. Rulers Metre stick Measure tapes www.bbc.com/ skillswise
Week Mental/Oral (rehearse, recall, 1 refine, reason, revisit, read) Objectives Activity
Thurs LS 2 (3rd )
At the end of the lesson students should: Read, choose, use and record standard metric units to estimate and measure weight to a suitable degree of accuracy. Show how to use a scale. Convert larger to smaller units using decimals (e. 1 kg = 1000 milligrams)
Introduction: Trick questions. Instruction: Skillswise sheet 2 & 10. Play interactive weighing game Group: Students must weigh list of objects & complete accompanying assignment. Skillswise sheet 8. Revision: TxtB1, p46-49 on whiteboard. Individual: Worksheets.
Assessment and future action
UNIT: Measurement LESSON: Weight Main Activity Objectives Direct teaching Activities - (considering lower, middle and Key vocabulary Key questions higher achievers) Indicate organisation and support. Complete Complete Complete measuring scale, How many milligrams in a gram. weighing & weighing & weighing & scales, balance, assignment. How many grams in assignment. assignment mass, weight, a kilogram. units of How many kilograms measurement in a tonne. and their Weight WS Weight WS Weight WS 1, 2 & 3 1&2 1 abbreviations How do we use a kitchen & bathroom Note: For scale? group activities, class will divide in How do we convert? groups of Work with the two with decimal/multiply or each group divide by 1000 having a strong student to help & guide partner.
Resources (incl ICT)
Review, reflect. Key questions Can you choose and use a suitable metric unit to estimate and measure weight I can use benchmarks to help me to estimate weight I know how many grams there are in a kilogram I can work out the reading between two unnumbered divisions on kitchen and bathroom scales
Kitchen scales. Bag of dry goods & various objects. Pictures of varying objects (whale, TV, feather) www.bbc.c om/skillswi se http://www .bgfl.org/bg fl/custom/r esources_ft p/client_ftp /ks2/maths/ measures/i ndex.htm
Week Mental/Oral (rehearse, recall, refine, 2 reason, revisit, read) Objectives Activity
Mon, 7th LS 3
At the end of the lesson students should: Read, choose, use and record standard metric units to estimate and measure capacity to a suitable degree of accuracy. Show how to use measuring cups. Convert larger to smaller unites using decimals (e. 1,6l = 1600 milliliters)
Introduction: Trick questions. Instruction: Skillswise fact sheet 5 http://www.bbc.co.uk/skills wise/numbers/measuring/lw c/factsheet.shtml Play game: http://www.bgfl.org/bgfl/cu stom/resources_ftp/client_ft p/ks2/maths/measures/inde x.htm Group work: Complete capacity assignment. Do: Skillswise WS5 &6 Instruction: Conversion. Exercise on whiteboards. http://www.bukisa.com/arti cles/378006_convertingbetween-metric-units-ofvolume-worksheet-grade-5year-6-math-work Individual: Worksheets
Assessment and future action
UNIT: Measurement LESSON: Capacity Main Activity Objectives Direct teaching Activities - (considering lower, middle Key Key questions and higher achievers) Indicate vocabular organisation and support. y capacity, How many Complete Complete Complete litres, millilitres in a weighing & weighing weighing & millilitres, litre. assignment. & assignment. assignment measuring How many litres cup in a kiloliter? How do we use measuring cups?
How do we convert? Work with the decimal/multiply or divide by 1000
Capacity WS 1, 2 & 3 Note: For group activities, class will divide in groups of two with each group having a strong student to help & guide partner.
Capacity WS 1&2
Homework: Crossword puzzle.
Capacity WS 1
Resources (incl ICT)
Review, reflect. Key questions
I can choose and use the correct metric unit to estimate and measure capacity. I can use benchmark objects to help me to estimate capacity. I know how many millilitres there are in a litre. I can interpret a reading between two unnumbered divisions on measuring jug. I can read accurately the number of millilitres in a litre jug
Bottles, containers of varying size. Measuring cups. www.bbc.c om/skillswi se http://www .bgfl.org/bg fl/custom/r esources_ft p/client_ftp /ks2/maths/ measures/i ndex.htm
English Weekly Planning
LI: Children will learn to
Whole Class Work Word/Sentence
Differentiate between different forms of corresponden ce: email, postcards, letters. Understand that there are style and language differences.
Look at different forms of correspondence. Look at letter format. Email format. Post card format. Discuss difference between these.
Wk 2 beg:7/03/11 Learning Intention: Children
Phase : 1
Genres: Myths and Legends Lesson: Dear...
Text: King Midas’ Touch Independent
will learn to:
Write a letter of encouragement, congratulations or sympathy.
Read King Midas’ Touch together. Write a letter as a class to King Midas.
Write an email.
Write him a post card to invite him to the Cayman Islands.
Write a postcard.
Write an email with some advice to him.
Students will choose to write a letter of encouragement/congratulati ons or sympathy to one of the characters in their story.
Will assist where necessary.
I know the difference in style between a letter and an email. I can write a letter in the correct format.
Students will write a post card.
HOMEWORK: Students must write an email to their hero/heroine telling them about the Cayman Islands. ICT & other resources: Cards to write postcards on. Lined paper. Internet access.
Speaking and Listening Participation in discussion and report back provide opportunity for students to practice the listening and speaking skills:
Assessment: • Letters, emails & postcards will be judged on language, style, format and originality.
Cross Curricular: History/Social studies.
English Weekly Planning
LI: Children will learn to
Whole Class Work Word/Sentence
Explore terms from Greek mythology and the Greek language.
Explore Greek terms found in today’s language.
Use terms from Greek mythology and the Greek language in sentences.
Wk 3 beg:21/03/11 Learning Intention: Children
Phase : 1
Genres: Myths and Legends Lesson: It is all Greek to me
Text: The Orchard Book of Greek Myths Echo and Narcissus
Read Echo and Narcissus.
Work independently or in groups of two to find words, describe it and use it in a sentence.
Will assist where necessary. May team up weaker students with more capable ones so they can help them achieve the task.
will learn to:
Students will each receive a word on an index card. They will look up the word in a dictionary and write the definition and use it appropriately in a sentence. Differentiation: Students can draw a definition, act it out or just read their sentences to the class. This activity and the homework will also strengthen their independent research skills.
ICT & other resources: Index (cue) cards. Power point presentation on Greek influences. Websites: http://www.groseducationalmedia.ca/greekm/ mythconn.html http://library.oakland.edu/information/people /personal/kraemer/edcm/a.html www.mythweb.com The Orchard Book of Greek Myths (school library)
Recognise and discuss Greek influences.
Cite examples of contemporary use of terms from Greek mythology.
Let students explore how the story and the characters gave rise to the modern words of echo and narcissism.
Each student will report back findings to the class. I explored ‘modern’ words that we got from Greek. I was able to use it in a sentence. Let’s vote: Significant influence; Some; not that much. HOMEWORK: Find one more Greek word and send me an email using it in a sentence. Remember: Check email format and grammar!
Speaking and Listening
Group discussion: Participating civilly and productively in class discussions. Demonstrate an ability to pronounce words and use correct tone and projection when reading or giving feedback.
Assessment: • Finding the assigned word in the dictionary. • Using it appropriately in a sentence. • Students’ homework will be marked for originality, grammar and timeliness.
Cross Curricular: History/Social Studies
English Weekly Planning
LI: Children will learn to
Whole Class Work Word/Sentence
Introduce similes with power point presentation.
Use similes in descriptions. Think of new similes.
Wk 3 beg:21/03/11 Learning Intention: Children
Phase : 1
Genres: Myths and Legends Lesson: Comparing
Text: Golden Tales – How the Rainbow Was Born Independent
More able and able students should be able to complete the in class assignment on their own. More able students are expected to use more than one simile in their description as well as show originality.
Assist students to completed the in class assignment.
will learn to:
Play interactive game: http://www.ngflcymru.org.uk/vtc/us ing_similes/eng/Int roduction/MainSess ionPart1.htm
Recognise similarities between myths across cultures.
Read: How the rainbow was born The explore corresponding Greek myth: http://www.theoi.com/Pontios/Iris.html Let students identify similes in the text. Discuss similarities between the two myths.
Students must use similes to describe their chosen god or goddess.
Speaking and Listening
Group discussion: Participating civilly and productively in class discussions. Demonstrate an ability to pronounce words and use correct tone and projection when reading or giving feedback.
• Using at least one simile appropriately. • Make the connection between myths across cultures.
I know what a simile is. I can use similes to describe objects or people. I know that different cultures have different myths to describe events
Group work: Simile match-up. In groups of two students match up similes.
Reflection 39 | P a g e
What is reflection? According to the Oxford English Dictionary it is ‘serious thought or consideration’. In terms of teaching, what is it that we have to consider? What are the aspects of our profession that we should pay serious – and continued- thought to? Reflecting on this, and this portfolio, the answer to me is… everything. How we write our lesson plans, what ‘props’ we use, how we talk to our students, how they respond and why. Even what we think about teaching. Yes, the list is indeed endless. However, reflection is not worrying your head off that you won’t ever get it right. Upon leaving the school where I did my teaching practice, my cooperating teacher gave me a figurative pat on the back for enduring and succeeding. My answer to this was: “Yes, I am indeed glad I made it, but I still don’t know if I am going to be a great teacher? What if my kids never learn anything?” As a twenty-year veteran, she gave me a very patient look, smiled and said: “Ah, see, we call that reflecting, And if you do that, then you will be a good teacher. Your success lies in the trying.” And so I reached the conclusion that reflection is like watching play back with your notepad next to you. Never stop questioning, never stop honing those skills and keep making those notes! I really enjoyed putting together everything I have worked on over the past year and I hope you enjoy this window on my journey too. But come back next year, because I might have changed it all!
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