A showcase of undergraduate assessment items, or, the wild ramblings of a lunatic.....either one works.
EDC4000 Preparing for the Profession - ePortfolio
Domain 1 – Professional Knowledge
Students are unique individuals who bring a wealth of diversity to their school and surroundings, and I believe that a student-centred approach to teaching both respects and encourages that individuality. Understanding each students’ needs, for learning and social-emotional wellbeing, are at the forefront of this approach, making students the central focus of our work (Tangney, 2014). Valued frameworks such as Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, have assisted me greatly in knowing and understanding our students (Churchill et al., 2013). By also welcoming laws that advocate equality, I see teachers as the active frontline troops who ensure that students’ learning needs are met. We live in a rapidly changing world, with increasingly advanced technology and an overload of new information. Students rely on teachers to provide them with the skills and knowledge they will need to survive and thrive in this world (MCEETYA, 2008). Rules and research change constantly too, and we as teachers have a duty of care to keep up with these changes so we can keep our students safe and supported in their learning. By learning and relaying new information, we ensure our students have the best possible chance of succeeding, both now and later through lifelong learning.
Standard 1 – Know the students and how they learn
1.1 – Physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students
1.2 – Understand how students learn
1.6 – Strategies to support full participation of students with disability
I was once on Professional Experience at large rural school, placed within the Special Education Unit [SEU]. The SEU provided small classes in literacy and numeracy for ten students with a range of special needs, mostly Autism Spectrum Disorder and Intellectual Impairment. The SEU also provided individualised support for four of those students, who were verified with severe disabilities – one student with Emotional and Behavioural Disability [EMB], two with physical impairments (both in wheelchairs), and one student with Downs Syndrome, Intellectual Impairment and Hearing Impairment (requiring translation for the Deaf). While all ten students were of varying ages, most were accessing the curriculum at Prep level, while the remainder required the emotional support of a small classroom. Six teacher aides were available, four of those working one-on-one with students with severe disabilities.
The class had been learning about 2D-shapes in Mathematics, and I was required to teach a revision class on this topic before they moved onto new content covering 3D-shapes. The students would also be tired as they had just returned from swimming lessons at the nearby pool. Students were not to be formally tested on this content, rather they were observed across the whole term, with work samples collected at intervals (Artefact 1A).
I created a Mathematics lesson (Artefact 1B) with four sets of rotations to reinforce their learning of 2D-shapes, utilising simple differentiation and multiple modes such as visual, written, fine-motor and gross-motor kinaesthetic, and ICT, to enable all students to access the lesson (Standard 1.6). This follows the specifications in the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Disability Standards for Education 2005 (ACARA, 2018c).
When planning the lesson, I attempted to use a Universal Design for Learning approach (Westling, Fox & Carter, 2014) that acknowledged various learning styles, to encourage all students to participate according to their ability. This was done through simple kinaesthetic tasks, worksheets available in both large and normal-print, reorganisation of desks to allow ease of access, and the interactive whiteboard which all students could reach and use. Visual modes were used throughout the lesson, as well as easy-to-manipulate materials. (Standard 1.2).
Pedagogically, I also used clear communication during the whole lesson to avoid frustration, with simple explanations and modelling of tasks and behaviour (McLesky, Rosenberg & Westling, 2013). Curriculum plans for most students in the SEU focus mainly on the General Capabilities, including Personal and Social Capability. To maintain the safe and supportive environment within the classroom, rotational tasks were designed to be fun and non-taxing, accommodating the students’ diverse needs, with enough flexibility to allow students to succeed while still accomplishing learning goals (Standard 1.1).
Despite being tired from a busy morning, all the students enjoyed a fun and engaging lesson that strengthened their knowledge and recognition of 2D-shapes. My mentor also provided good feedback on the lesson content, and I feel that I successfully showed a solid understanding and support of their learning needs and social-emotional wellbeing.
Standard 2 – Know the content and how to teach it 2.1 – Content and teaching strategies of the teaching area 2.2 – Content selection and organisation 2.6 – Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
As a university student and pre-service teacher, I have had many learning opportunities in which to consider the practical pedagogical applications within my future teaching career for the appropriate curriculum content. One such opportunity arose within the EDX2280 Teaching Science Understanding course, with an assessment task that looked closely at overall content knowledge of the science curriculum, and how to effectively teach it.
The assessment task worked within the hypothetical notion of being already employed by a primary school. I was to create a presentation (Artefact 2A, open speaker notes on task bar below slides) for my principal and fellow teaching colleagues that reignited interest in the science curriculum, promoting science education through engaging content and rich, hands-on learning experiences.
One of the challenges of teaching any content area, is for the teacher to believe that the content matters, and then support that belief through their practice (Fitzgerald & Smith, 2016). I found that by broadly investigating the content area, in this case Australian Curriculum: Physical Sciences (ACARA, 2018), I was able to find many interesting and relevant aspects within the topic that connected across other learning areas to build a rich and meaningful learning experience that would engage my audience (Standard 2.2).
The presentation followed the Pecha Kucha format for PowerPoint slideshows (Ringby, 2015). This format provides a slideshow of 20 slides only, each presented for 20 seconds. Accompanying speech by the presenter is limited to only add extra information, and cannot repeat the obvious slide content. The result is a concise presentation that concentrates on the most pertinent information, gains the audience’s attention with attractive visual content, and the brief time needed suits both staff meetings and classroom lessons. It was a challenging artefact to create, but as an ICT teaching tool (Standard 2.6), it offers great potential for engagement.
The pedagogy promoted within the science presentation follows the 5E’s instructional model (Froschauer, 2017). This approach to teaching encourages scaffolded instruction, moving the student from lower-order thinking to higher-order thinking, through five simple steps: engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate. It is a constructivist approach to teaching and learning, building understanding through authentic hands-on activities and stimulating minds-on content. I found this method was very useful to integrate the suggested content, as well as the three science strands: science knowledge, science skills and human endeavours (ACARA, 2018b). (Standard 2.1).
The assessment task helped to improve my confidence in teaching the science content, by finding effective ways to link a variety of engaging content and authentic tasks to support student learning. Comments from the university marker affirmed my successful combination of pedagogical approach and content knowledge (Artefact 2B). I enjoyed the concise format, feeling it would improve audience engagement, and I hope to use this format again in the future.