Today like any other Monday at Prac I helped the classroom teacher with administrative elements of the morning. She said to me, she wouldn’t know what she’d do without my help with roll call, sick/away notes, special homework and spelling because having the extra pair of hands speeds up the work and allows her lesson to plan to go on schedule. Being a part of community engagement has made a big impact on me because I’m starting to understand over the past few weeks how truly draining and how much hard work goes into just one day of teaching.
In today’s lesson the year one student’s were introduced to a new ‘strategy’ called sequencing. As someone who hasn’t gone through elements as basic as this, it was refreshing to once again remember what it was like to be a child and learning the fundamentals in which are so commonly forgotten in my time.
When looking back at a theory i learnt a few weeks back on humanist approaches to learning it corealted with a sitation which occured today. Although these students are still young and unable to fully be applicable to the theory, there was a thought on Abrahan Maslow’s Hierachy of needs.
In his conclusion, he believes that in order to fulfil goodness and wholeness one must reach self actualisation, sequencally. When looking at sequencing in class I thought it would be a great link toa situation that occured today. There are a minor cluster of students who have immigrated here from Lebanon. One student in particular continues to struggle in grasping the language and therefore acts out because of it. By going through Maslows hiearchy anyone can see that there are many limitations to young people, such as what they would be going through at the time. The order of the needs are not catering for his situation. If I was able to swap needs I would say “Safety” and “Self-Esteem” should be combined. In the young boys case, it may with the help of motivational strategies such as positive reinforcement, to allow him to believe in his abilities and be able learn from his mistakes in the future.
This week’s prac experience was very eventful, as I not only aided inside the classroom but outside the classroom as I was allocated recess duty on the grass area. By having this responsibility to watch over the students carefully gave me a true sense of what it would be like in any teacher’s shoes. The key factors that I needed to watch for were contact of any kind, e.g. touching, pushing, kicking etc. To make sure that each student who arrived at the grass area was wearing a hat, which is a firm rule made by the school. As well as the teacher on duty asked me to watch out for any verbal or physical fights which might occur, to settle them by simply talking it out or if I became too difficult to call on her. A situation did occur were a few boys who funnily enough were in the class I was assisting in were playing tips. A young boy went to tip and instead of tipping the other students shoulder he hit him firmly in the chest. Not knowing that what he did was wrong as this particular boy has bad asthma and has been away for a couple of days I had to assess to see if this was a situation I could handle or not. Firstly, I asked for them both to describe what had happened then I got the young boy who tipped the other to apologise. Knowing that this was a physical incident, which could then in future affect the boy, I told the teacher on duty so then she could direct what would happen next. I’m glad I got to experience such an incident because it has allowed me to be involved and understand what the correct steps are to take for situations such as these.
In last week’s lecture, we spoke about managing learning in the classroom. When I first engaged in the information I immediately related it to my time at prac this semester. Firstly, the physical and social learning aspect was something I remembered very heavily. Physical learning, I associated as the way my teacher in charge positions her students on the floor. She places her obedient learning in the middle, her distracters closer to her and her shy ones in front of the obedient children. I questioned the methods to her madness but she believes in order to have a cohesive classroom the whereabouts of the students play a major role in how they learn. The social learning aspect would be the ability to have students work in groups. In order for this to work smoothly, for example, in reading groups, groups are formed due to the level one is up to. Although you might not necessarily be in the same friendship group as the people who are made up of these groups, students can indeed learn off one another. An alternative factor would be the methods in which is taught. The teacher I’ve been paired up with uses an equal balance of physical writing activities and technological task. She completes this by engaging students in activities that are attractive to them This could be when learning about phonics she’d ask the students to sound out any words they couldn’t spell and use the phonics card sounds to help them out. As well, using technological devices such as Ipad’s, computers and the Smart-board to refine their motor and coordination. An item which a constant in classroom management would be administrative roles. In the year one classroom, to mark the role there is a lily pad set up and 28 frogs with the student’s names on them. The teacher asks the students to find their name and drag it to the pad in order to see who is here and who isn’t. In this time she also collects sick notes, charity money and special homework for the students who have done extra advanced work or who struggle with certain areas.
This week in lectures we discussed learner differences through their intelligence and gender. When looking at the classroom I’ve been placed in all 28 children have many different strengths and weaknesses which allow them to succeed and or fail in what they are conducting. Robert Sternberg’s Theory of Successful Intelligence includes three categories, “ANALYTIC, CREATIVE, PRACTICAL”. Some people find it unreliable and unconventional. That these three categories can’t possibly be the only things that measure one’s intelligence. The two polar opposite areas are Intellectual disabilities and the gifted and talented.
Intellectual Disabilities? Students who have impairments for general mental abilities. In some senses, these students often are behind or struggle to keep up with the mode/majority of the class. In these cases, extensive aid needs to be given to ensure the student can reach their optimal potential. For example; in my prac this week a student who is switched on in terms of the content has a hard time reproducing it through writing. To deal with this the classroom teacher advises that after he learns something new he writes it down straight away. By doing so he alerts his mind on the things he has learned.
Gifted and Talented? These are the students who excel beyond their age medium, who grasp things extensively faster than their peers. In some schools, students who possess the status of being ‘gifted and talented’ are placed in programs where they can continue to excel with people of their own kind, people who possess the same or other gifted and talented skills. For example, when it comes time for reading groups which highlights, reading, writing, listening, grammar and punctuation. Students who obtain the title gifted and talented move to the class which is allocated for these students which create a safe environment for them to continue learning, without feeling out of place and or embarrassed.
When looking at the way boys and girls learn back in the 1970s & 1980s, social inequality arose and the addition policy for gender equality directed at females. Since then a lot has changed. Schools are now more concerned with the way boys absorb and learn then the way girls do. Girls have now been placed in the firing line in the sense of increased policies which cover things such as verbal bullying outside and within the classroom.
For example; When I was in school boys and girls, both in primary and high school both were reprimanded for being distracting, talking or even not completing the right set of tasks. And this was between the years of 2003-2015. From just being in the community engagement program for only 2 months I have observed that this is not the case. There is no balance anymore. In this particularly year 1 classroom many boys are distracted, talking or not conducted the correct task. Whether this can be an attention seeking ploy or not can’t be seen but it’s highly prevalent in society today. Although the girls do muck up every so often, the female stereotype of sitting up straight, raising their hands when spoken to and even obeying when told a command is prevelant in todays day and age.
After a 4 week hiatus, my practicum starting back up again yesterday. I wanted to relate it back to last week’s lecture. During the lecture, we spoke about motivation, having goals, and why they improve individuals performance.
In my prac this week the teacher explained knowing the difference between what is deemed as fact and what is deemed as opinion. Although this is part of their school’s curriculum I believe, is a very important lesson that they can use in their schooling it also is something that they can use in their personal experiences. Students, of course, at first glance confused fact and opinion but in time started to understand the process.
One of the students became so furious with themselves because they couldn’t grasp the content. So with the ‘all clear’ from the classroom teacher, I sat down with them and worked with them to find an easy solution in remembering the difference between the two. Fact, is something that has concrete evidence, and opinion is your own thoughts on what you think. The way I set it out for him is to write 2 facts and 2 opinions about his time at school and then he’d be able to use the portable whiteboard to complete the rest of his work. As he is one of the ESL students (arriving here from Lebanon 2 months ago) in my class being rewarded with something as simple as using the whiteboard can be a motivational booster to continue to work on the task at hand. As well, the whiteboard is something that is seen as enjoyable and fun so it takes the strain off the student when they are learning and having fun simultaneously.
In like manner, another ESL student who I took two weeks ago has now excelled with her individual performance. By identifying words and colours and how they correlate. Although I am assisting in a year one class, the pleasure of seeing students overcome these barriers and improve still makes me proud to know that I’m implementing the ideas and strategies that I learn about in lectures and tutorials.
This week at my practicum I saw many instances where constructivism was of use. One form of Constructivism can be seen through Individual Constructivism by Piaget. Another form of Constructivism is Social Constructivism by Vygotsky.
Individual constructivism includes learning individual but can also receive external input from the outside world to process and interpret internal thoughts, their own needs. I saw this when one of the students that were in the prac class, who was a special learning in the sense where she was constantly ahead of the class used an example from another one of her classmates to then make an assumption and an idea and formulated it for herself. This can be seen through “Schema, Assimilation, Accommodation, Equilibrium and Disequilibrium.” (Hoy, & Margetts, 2016, p.322), which has been thought out by Piaget.
She heard her friend say that “Koalas are marsupials.”. In a year one classroom it might be something that they have never heard before but for this particular girl, it wasn’t. She then went back to her desk and a few minutes later handed me back her book which read, ” The koala who has grey skin, lives in trees, eat eucalyptus leaves is a marsupial”. By using her friend’s knowledge she was able to build on her own. In this sense, the young girl used a sense of “Assimilation”, in the way she added to her existing knowledge as well as “Accommodation” which would relate to the knowledge she had now gained.
Another form is Social constructivism, this is told through the workings of Vygotsky. Social constructivism is a form of understanding ways in which students learn and the interactions they have with each other. My prac teacher separates the students into 4 groups. she puts the highest scoring students in the highest group and correlates it with the colour red, which allows them to bounce off each other and make assumptions about their thoughts and beliefs when it comes to the basics. The way they learn is through having the freedom to go on their own to do the work set out for them. On the other hand, she collates the lowest scoring, she correlates this group with the colour yellow. The yellow group get intensive help from the teacher herself or any teaching aids to then enhance their focus. In this case, the students would have strict barriers in what they do and how much they take on. These restrictions allow them to engage without being sidetracked.
This past Monday, I resumed my Prac for EDFX173 with a little more confidence than I did in the last week. My practicum teacher embraced me with open arms and made sure I was comfortable in the environment provided to me. I observed and added when needed in class spelling, reading groups and in marking the year one’s homework from the weekend.
As the 3 and a half hours went by I observed certain routines that my prac teacher did through the principles of the social learning theory as outlines by Albert Bandura in the experiment of the Bobo Doll : OBSERVATION.
Attention: The year one students are very quick in losing their focus as mentioned by my mentor, she believes that by changing the tone in her voice or by separating children in the room it isn’t enough. Her counter attack to battle this is instead of letting the year one students learn the content solely in an oral fashion, she gives visual demonstrations to alert both sense and to acquire to the rest of them.
Retention: Her main asset is her use of repetition; she uses things such as sound cards each morning to mould her student’s oral practice. With the ESL children, (children who have difficulties learning) they gave them the same work at the standard were the child feels comfortable in completing it. But then let them work through it at their own pace.
Reproduction: Something that really resided with me is seeing a struggling student being aided in a way in which they were happy such as using vivid examples to allow the students to connect with the content “ when writing the letter Z, dot the corners like marshmallows”. Following this, she allowed students to use the computer board known as the “Promethan”, to retrace and spell the words by themselves.
Motivational Reinforcement : This age group reflects well with instant reward. Individual rewards are the online class dojo= if they get 25+ they get to choose a prize from the prizebox if they get 50+ points or more they receive a major prize. Group rewards = are received by the highest point receiving table on Fridays. The reward system = in this school students need instant gratification; if they’re not rewarded straight away they lose interest.
Upon arrival to my practicum, there were a lot of unanswered questions which stirred up my nerves. I kept thinking to myself is this really what I want to do with my life?, will I be any good? Will I stuff up! Fortunately, as soon as I entered Year 1 Silver everything was placed into perspective. As I entered a corner classroom with a great view, I saw thirty-odd eyes beam up at me, now making me a figure of importance. I sat as my assigned Prac teacher said “Goodmorning Miss Ferraro and may God bless you”. All of a sudden she had given me a place of responsibility in the classroom. I was amazed to see how technologically advanced schools have become with not only having a smart board but an extra computer board in the room.
My assigned teacher took the method idealised by behaviourist B.F Skinner on Operant Conditioning by using positive and negative reinforcement. He professed that there are two different ways of treating a student. For example, when asking a difficult question in the year 1 class the teacher then asked the student to answer it on the smart board, if the question was correct and the student accomplished it by themselves they earn a point on the online classroom dojo URL. My Prac teacher also used negative reinforcement, when distracted students weren’t paying attention or began talking to their friends, she had them relocated from their carpet to sit with her. Therefore making the students aware of their actions and enduring the consequences.