A showcase of undergraduate assessment items, or, the wild ramblings of a lunatic.....either one works.
EDC4000 Preparing for the Profession - ePortfolio
Domain 2 – Professional Practice
As teachers, our main job is to pass on knowledge to our students, however this is not our only role. Teaching is a multi-faceted profession, that is far more than just education strategies and rich resources. It is also a holistic approach to guiding students, preparing them for life as valued members of society. Students need more than just isolated facts, they also need assistance to build self-confidence and self-belief, to grow and develop within a safe and supportive environment that enhances learning (Ashman, 2015). My pedagogy involves taking my professional knowledge, of both students and curriculum, and transforming it into positive and effective action through my daily teaching practice. My skills and knowledge come from evidence-based practice, from trust-worthy and effective methods. My pedagogy follows a constructivist approach, helping students to build understanding and meaning from their own relevant context (Churchill et al., 2013). It is not enough to just pass on knowledge, without understanding where the student is on their own learning journey. My teaching is ineffectual unless I can prove to myself and my students, that learning has actually occurred as well. There are just as many possible ways to assess students, as there are ways to teach (Rosebrough & Leverett, 2010), therefore everything that I do and say contributes to their learning.
Standard 3 – Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning
3.2 – Plan, structure and sequence learning programs 3.4 – Select and use resources 3.7 – Engage parents/carers in the educative process
On a recent three-week practicum, I was placed in a Prep/Year 1 composite class, within a small rural school. I was required to teach Design & Technologies lessons, teaching new knowledge to students from non-farming backgrounds. The unit covered farms & food production, exploring how people’s needs are met through farming. While the lessons were guided by the C2C curriculum plan, I could flexibly adapt the lesson in my own way.
Time constraints required me to focus on either plant or fibre technology, but not both. The unit’s timing coincided with similar content in science, health and other literacy, therefore I chose plant technology to link in with the other subjects, providing a more engaging experience by catering to the students’ diverse learning styles (Howell, 2014).
I planned activities and lessons with my teachers’ approval, across several key learning areas, to support the student’s learning in as many ways as possible (Standard 3.2). In health, we explored the concept of healthy eating. In science, we investigated living things, watched time-lapse videos of sprouting seeds, and brainstormed plant survival needs (Artefact 3A). We also used these needs as scientific controls, to give students exposure to scientific methods and thinking, and also for our ‘farm’ planning and design. New vocabulary was reinforced through literacy activities, picture-books, and handwriting exercises.
The main hands-on lesson in Design and Technology was the planting. First, they planted seeds into foam cups, one ‘farm’ per student, plus several controls based on survival needs (Artefact 3B); second, they completed a worksheet (Artefact 3A) predicting how their plant would look if they catered to all of the plant’s needs, compared to an experimental control plant.
By using a range of teaching strategies, learning modes and resources (Standard 3.4), including kinaesthetic, audio-visual, verbal, and written formats, I was able to create effective and engaging learning opportunities for all students. The broad scope of the lessons embedded skills and understanding, sustainability, literacy, personal and social capability, and critical and creative thinking (ACARA, 2018d). Creativity & critical thinking was included through hands-on participation, analysis and prediction (MCEETYA, 2008).
Parents joined in too (Standard 3.7), through demonstrations by their children in the classroom, and discussions about where they’d plant it at home and how they’d eat the food they grew. Another parent brought in other seedlings & established plants for their child’s show-and-tell, encouraged by their child’s interest. The open-ended experience continued over several weeks, with monitoring and maintenance of our plants to see how they were growing, and a roster of enthusiastic class-helpers to water them daily.
Standard 4 – Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments
I had a recent practicum experience in a Prep/Year 1 composite class, within a small, mainstream, rural school with no SEU. One student in particular, named P, has low-functioning ASD, limited vocabulary, and occasionally severe behavioural issues which can get physically aggressive.
For unknown reasons, P reacts quite violently to the Soundwaves phonics chants, which are performed by the whole class every morning (Artefact 4A). There is a valid risk of endangering other students and staff, as described within Student Protection guidelines (DET, 2018b). Therefore, he is usually taken for a separate, quiet morning transition by the teacher aide, before returning to join the class.
This one morning, the teacher aide was absent without a replacement. I was asked by the teacher to take this morning transition instead, as she was busy with the rest of the class. However, no-one could advise what the normal transition activities were, so without this guidance I had to make it up on the spot. P was also starting to show distress and refusing to let his mother leave, due to the obvious change in his normal routine.
As an early intervention step to minimise the risk to students’ safety (Standard 4.4), I used physical avoidance to avoid the triggering video, by taking him for a short walk (via the office) to an empty classroom next door, under the guise of letting him help with errands. Next, we sat and discussed the day’s activities, both whole class ones and individual or differentiated tasks for P. I also tried to engage P by asking him what tasks or games he would like to choose that day, to positively focus his attention on the fun day ahead. Together we created a visual timetable, or graphic organiser, of the day’s activities that P could expect, utilising hand-drawn pictures of tasks and also his personal interest of clocks. This resulted in an item which was personally relevant and co-created by him. These behaviour management strategies redirected P’s focus onto productive behaviours (Standard 4.3), serving to keep him engaged and positively motivated (Conway, 2015).
As a result, P became happily engaged in creating an item for his own use. When he returned to the classroom, he proudly showed his timetable to the teacher, and then joined the rest of the class in other whole-class literacy activities, a major goal of inclusion (Ashman, 2015). By keeping his timetable on his desk, P was positively focused on the rest of his day, and motivated to learn with the other students (Standard 4.1). The teacher was happy that P was now settled through this individual support, and satisfied that he posed no apparent risk to his or other students’ safety (Artefact 4B).
Standard 5 – Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning
5.1 – Assess student learning 5.4 – Interpret student data
I recently volunteered with the Teacher Education Centre of Excellence [TECE] program, at a large rural school in a low socioeconomic area. There are 2 composite Year 5/6 mixed gender classes here, with approximately 28 students each, grouped according to academic ability – one class with higher ability and some extension students; the other with low-moderate academic ability, students at Year 5 level or lower, some with learning difficulties.
I taught a Year 5 Mathematics lesson to this lower-ability class, in Measurement and Geometry – Time. The lesson reviewed the reading and writing of 12-hour time, in both analog and digital formats, before introducing the new concept of 24-hour time and converting between both formats.
In this revision lesson, there was a worksheet available to quiz students on their prior knowledge of time. My mentor teacher let me choose whether or not to use the worksheet, due to limited time that week with extra school events occurring. Despite the time required, I decided to utilise the worksheet, having observed recurring misconceptions before in this topic. As a volunteer pre-service student, and only in the class on a part-time basis, I did not have the experience to know where students were in their learning of this topic. This worksheet was an ideal formative assessment, to check students’ knowledge and respond appropriately to their learning needs (Doubet, 2012). By checking their prior knowledge (Standard 5.1), I could adjust my subsequent lessons where necessary to accommodate any new concepts they were yet to learn (Standard 5.4).
All students attempted the activity, and completed it quite quickly with apparent confidence, as it was mostly old content that they had already covered. Most did extremely well on the various tasks, which situated them at a Year 5 level. However, ten students showed the same error (some examples shown in Artefact 5), getting confused between the hour and minute hands, which was taught in Years 3 and 4 (ACARA, 2018a). Successful understanding of this concept is needed for later learning, when converting between 12-hour analog times and 24-hour digital times, and therefore cannot be skipped or ignored.
I am returning to this class again this term for internship and will be incorporating this understanding into my future lessons. Without this assessment data, I would most likely have wasted time in teaching new concepts unsuccessfully and would then have had to either return to reteach these older concepts or find out way too late after summative assessment, denying these students the opportunity to succeed (Bakula, 2010). This tangible evidence helps illustrate the areas that students struggle with, so I can differentiate where possible to effectively teach these concepts, reassess informally along the way, and scaffold this knowledge alongside the newer content.