Setting up a class blog

With prac around the corner, 3 weeks actually, I have really thought about what I can do in the class with the Year 4/5 class I will be calling ‘home’ for three weeks.  I have looked into setting up a class blog, but it to me is still a bit daunting.  I know I ‘could’ do it, and that it is extremely beneficial for the students, however I feel as though 3 weeks in the class is not enough time to really get enough out of it.  With fitting everything else into their already hectic schedule in the weeks that I’m there (including Naplan) I’m going to be flat out establishing my lessons embedding ICTs into them, without the extra of setting up a class blog.  I’m not lazy, no.  But I am a person who has come to identify my strengths and weaknesses and I can’t see how I will have enough time to do this properly.  And properly is what I ‘do’.  So below I have quickly noted the 8 reason identified in this blog about why you should have a class blog…

1.  Social skills: it uses them, creates them and enhances them!

2. Internet Safety: students learn when they do!

3. Literacy: blogging allows opportunity to continually develop these…writing, editing, discussing…

4. Home-School connection: blogging allows the parents to engage in their child’s learning – fantastic!!

5. ICT skills – yep, definitely building on those.

6. Classroom community: what a great medium to connect your students and encourage student collaboration?!

7. Authentic Audience: students want to blog well, they want to please their audience, which in turn encourages them to present their best work.

8. Global Connection: blogging opens up the walls of the classroom to a whole new world…how great is that?!!

 

Need more evidence?  Then, have a look here on the perspectives of a year 2/3 class on class blogging.  This is sure to put a smile on your face and convince you, that yes Blogging is fantastic and when I have my own class I will be blogging away…

Bye for now,

Katie

 

 

Super Teaching Tools

Just going to once again share a site that I have come across thanks to a fellow student Mel…check out her blog here.

Super teaching tools is a handy site that has different activities and games, as well as practical solutions to solving how to group students, who sits where and a random name generator.  A handy little site that I have now bookmarked onto my Diigo site so I can refer to it again down the track.  Diigo is super, super handy for this type of thing (I’ve mentioned that before) but it’s great!

Who knows…I might even use it on my upcoming Prac – which is JUST around the corner!!

Cheers,

Katie

 

 

 

Say Goodbye to long URL’s.

Whilst I was cruising about looking at my fellow students’ blogs the past week I stumbled across Corinne Owen’s blog on shortening URL’s.  What a great little find!

Basically as the title suggests – say goodbye to long URL’s as you can utilise a shortening device, this one is done by Google – but there are more out there, where you enter the URL and it shortens it for you.  Your link still works, it’s free, easy and as Corinne says, it looks a lot better.  In our humble opinion anyway 😉

Needless to say this would have come in handy about 137 assignments ago, when I’ve had links to things that appeared to take up half a page of much needed space within an assignment template.  Okay, maybe not that much room – but you get my point.  Now I have discovered this little gem, I shall be using it again and again.

Once again the power of a PLN is doing wonders, because without it I wouldn’t have discovered this ICT device.

Bye for now,

Katie

Developing Rubrics for Assessment

Part of the latest assignment for this course is to develop a rubric.  Now, I have done this before and I remember spending hours developing it – unfortunately it was the same with this rubric.  I was hoping that I would be able to transfer this knowledge and experience across and ‘whip it up’…no such luck.  I think it was because this time, I developed a Unit from start to finish, aligned it with the Australian Curriculum (Science in my case), it had a heavy focus of embedding ICT capability, not to mention taking into consideration the other General capabilities used in the curriculum  – this so far is not too bad, pretty run of the mill unit planning.

But, there was one difference for this assignment which I haven’t had to actively use before and these were the QSA Standard Elaborations -I have no idea why I haven’t had to refer to these yet?  Or have I overlooked it somehow??!!  Things like this worry me.  Anyway, we had to produce our rubric with these elaborations as the ‘A-E’ standards and implement elements of our unit in keeping with them.  When I write it – it doesn’t seem that hard, but the clicking between the documents, getting the wording right and most importantly making sure the assessment was authentic was key to completing my unit.

I’m glad it’s done now – the rubric that is.  It isn’t one of my most favourite things to do, but necessary all the same.   I have come across this resource before, put onto it by a fellow student a few semesters ago, RubiStar – an interactive Rubric creator.  Great, yes – but unhelpful in the case of my previous assignment!

Bye for now,

Katie

Key Characteristics of good quality teaching & learning with ICT

We were tuned in this week to looking actively at what makes great teaching.  Yes, there was a heavy focus on ICT but there was also a focus on teaching in general.  However one of the readings that really resonated with me, particularly with my own growth of knowledge surrounding ICTs was the article Key characteristics of good quality teaching and learning with ICT where the discussion paper acknowledges “Five Features of Effective Practice.

In a very brief summary these are:

1. Autonomy – allowing the students to take control of their learning

2. Capability – enabling students with the skills and knowledge to use new and ever evolving ICTs

3. Creativity – students being inspired to create and use ICTs in a creative way

4. Quality – using ICTs to improve the quality of work produced by students

5. Scope – students experience learning that wouldn’t be possible without ICTs

 

For each area the authors have given characteristics and given fantastic examples across a range of year levels.  It just makes sense.  That simple.  Really.  A fellow student has also blogged about this article check out Mrs Frintzilas’ blog here.

Cheers,

Katie

Prac is approaching and it’s ‘all up the air’….(this will make sense when you read the blog!) ;-)

Last week I visited my mentor teacher and class I will doing my upcoming Prac with.  They are a year 4/5 class, but as I have found out work mostly from the Year 5 curriculum and the teacher differentiates from there.  I’m relieved to hear this as I really wasn’t sure how I was going to manage in a composite class, but it appears that it will be ‘mostly’ a similar experience to what I have already done.

I found out that I may be concentrating my teaching time in the areas of History and Science – yay! I love History…and although Science has the potential to be quite frightening to me – chemical equations are not my ‘thing’, it looks as though I will be delving into, or rather upward towards as it seems, to Space!!  One of the first things that came to mind was a quick memory of ‘Hello Kitty in Space’ youtube clip we watched in the first week of our ICT course.  My gosh, that seems a long time ago!!  So I’m excited now to start delving into the curriculum and having a look at where I can take my student’s learning with ICTs.

It’s time to put to work what I have learned thus far in this course (and my previous studies of course!).

In the mean time – Fancy a bit of Space Exploration, then check out the link for some fun facts.  Great little intro activity for the students (and those like myself brushing up on my space knowledge!)

Bye for now,

Katie.

Bugscope…Students will love it!

Tonight I was having a scroll on the internet looking for different ideas for my upcoming prac and I came across Bugscope.  What a great program!

Bugscope provides opportunities for students to have a look at the microscopic properties of insects.  Essentially the students/teachers send off the bugs and then through an interactive process these bugs are analysed and the students become the scientists exploring the ins and outs of their creepy crawlies!  I can just imagine now in the gardens and trees during recess trying to locate some new, exciting insects to explore. What a wonderful learning experience that all students can be involved in.

There is further learning supported in this program with students have access to online microscope training, so students know what they’re looking at.  Yes, they become the professionals!

Another great thing about Bugscope is that the students not only have access to their insects, but also get opportunity to explore other finds from other classrooms and contexts around the world!  You can also check out what another educator has said about Bugscope here.

Oh…and did I mention it’s free?  Even better!  Check it out today.

Cheers,

Katie

Filter out what isn’t necessary!

I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I was not aware of the ‘search’ or ‘filter’ part that is available on our Uni emails until this semester.  Surely those options haven’t always been there?!!  My fix to receiving 3642 emails a day?  I just ‘unsubscribed’ from the Forum.  Problem solved.  Right?  Well, yes and no.

Sometimes I would have to go searching for information that I wanted/needed to progress and this could take some time.  However, on the positive side I feel that not getting these constant questions from other students minimizes the amount of haze I feel surrounding my own learning.  I feel that when others start asking questions, even though I think I know the answer, that pang of self doubt creeps in and I begin to panic!

I’ve digressed…nothing unusual there.  My point is, that we are all so busy and answering to many elements of our life on a daily business adds to our continual busyness!  So, to make your life a little easier I’ve provided a really easy guide on how to filter our your emails so that your 3642 emails, may drop significantly and you can get back to enjoying the really important things in your life.  For me, that is my husband, my two children and my wonderful friends with whom I couldn’t live without.

My wonderful fellow students Corinne and Mrs Jones have also blogged about their experiences of feeling overwhelmed with the pinging (okay it’s actually silent apart from my phone) of constant emails and reminders going off!  See Corinne’s take on things here and Mrs Jones’ here.  

I’m back!…

Well I’ve never actually been gone, just haven’t put my blogs out into the cyber world for some time.  I think I need to ‘let go’ and just blog what I feel, when I feel instead of trying to be academically correct all the time.  I have almost finished my assignment number two (just finishing touches tomorrow should do the trick).  So this blog below isn’t exactly new to me, but it is to you – I’ve been keeping it, along with others I will share over the coming days on my computer.  Like I said, I need to let go!

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Unit planning can be tiring business.  I have on several occasions thought that I’d had such wonderful concepts for students to delve into, only to discover that the learning activities I thought would work in their learning journey just did not add up – sure they were fun, but the students couldn’t transfer their learning in meaningful ways into assessment tasks.  I have to say one the most useful planning resources I have found since beginning my degree is the “Backward Design model” put together by Wiggins & McTighe.  See here for more information on this planning resource.

 

I have used this model even when the subject or unit plan hasn’t called upon me to use it.  I find by digging out my saved template on my computer and entering the information piece by piece seems to make the ideas mesh together a lot better.

How does it work? It aligns the three components required for effective learning; the curriculum, pedagogy and assessment

  1. Firstly, you start with the Standard or the desired results – What are your student’s learning outcomes?
  2. Secondly, you work out how you will know student’s have reached these Standards? What will be acceptable evidence of learning?
  3. Lastly, you plan the learning experiences and instruction which best fits these needs.  The fun stuff is here!!

It has helped me avoid the moments when I get to the end of the unit and think ‘oh my….I have not even taught the students how to do that or access that type of information!’

So with planning commencing for my second assessment piece, it seems that I’ll be digging out this old friend again.

Cheers,

Katie