Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Giving valuable feedback to students

Feedback to students can come from different sources: peers, teachers and the student's own reflection. In this post, I will concentrate on feedback given by teachers and how it can contribute to student learning. Having written a minor thesis on formative assessment, I have found the literature on feedback quite prolific. I submit the following practical thoughts for your consideration:
Give feedback often: It is important that the students not be left wondering about their level of understanding or performance until an assessment is administered. Feedback needs to be timely. Good questioning practices, about which I hope to write soon, can be a great source of information about "gaps" we would like the students to fill.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Teaching as story telling (updated post)

This is a reworked post:

Three years ago, we held a function at the school for retiring teachers. One of them, a fan of the classics, said: "teaching is about story telling. I believe even Maths teachers should be story tellers."

That day was also the last day of school for our students. My year 7s started quoting back to me stories and jokes I had told them about Mathematics.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Why -Not- Teach Programming at School

Those of us who believe in teaching programming at school level are often asked to give a rationale for it. This is especially the case in Girls' schools where elective courses in programming have a hard time getting the necessary numbers. The following is not a list of reasons to teach programming. Rather, it is an argument for starting the discussion with the question: "why not teach programming?"

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Teaching patient problem-solving

If you're a Mathematics teacher, please watch this. I am fascinated in reading your reactions to this:

Friday, September 17, 2010

What to make of the NAPLAN results?

This week, The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) results have come out and will soon be in the hands of parents' with a child in grades 3, 5, 7 or 9. I have blogged before about the political nature of national testing in a broad post. Here, I would like to offer some thoughts on the good and bad of this testing regime:

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Myth of the "Digital Native"

We often hear that our students are "digital natives". The usual connotation is that they know how to use the technology and we simply need to provide the context for them to apply this knowledge. Of course, this assumption is true for many students.

In my experience, there are just as many students whose ICT skills are not up to scratch. Here are a few general skills I wish students had picked up in their primary education (grades prep to 6 in Victoria):

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tips for mentoring preservice teachers

Having posted 7 tips for preservice teachers, I thought I would turn my attention to the supervising teacher.  Most of what I will say here comes from the great work that four teachers did with me when I was a preservice teacher. Other things I will say come from my own, limited, experience as a supervisor.
 
My four supervisors, to whom I am very grateful, gave me two things: freedom and support. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

7 Tips from a Preservice Teacher to Others

Following my post 7 Tips for Preservice Teachers, I am pleased to present the following tips from the same preservice teacher who inspired my post:
  1. Think of your teaching round as a once in a lifetime opportunity for on-the-job training. There is no industry out there that offers this opportunity to learn the ropes and be mentored by an experienced professional. Take this opportunity to learn as much as you can.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

7 Tips for preservice teachers (aka student teachers)



I am currently supervising a very competent student-teacher. I decided to reflect on what it is that Josie is doing well. To those who are about to go out to schools, here are some tips:

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Tired but grateful

Feeling tired
Of late, I have been feeling very tired. The demands of the job and the few other things I try to do in life seem unrelenting. I catch myself thinking of alternative careers, ones where one can leave work at work. I am probably averaging 11 hours a day with a few hours extra on the weekends. The holidays will arrive soon, but there is a lot of work awaiting me.



On the other hand!
On the other hand, I am so fortunate to have the students that I do. Of the five different groups that I teach, I have 3 or 4 students whom I would classify as "somewhat difficult". They're all in the one class, which is a blessing. It is one class that I brace myself before entering. The others are bliss. A student teacher who has observed some of my classes of late has remarked on the good rapport I have with my classes. The kids I teach are really really remarkable. For them, I am grateful.

If you are grateful for the students you teach, let me know in the comments. It is good for us teachers to look past the difficult students and remember the ones who are good to deal with.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

What in the Amazon? Your Kindle highlights monitored


One of my RSS feeds, GTD Times, had a post telling us that Getting Things Done was the 5th most highlighted book on the Kindle. I took a look at the list of the 25 most highlighted books and asked myself, is Amazon cataloguing Kindle highlights?

The answer is: Yes, Amazon knows what you're highlighting and what notes you're writing!

According to the Amazon website:
If you have a Kindle device, you can turn off having your highlights in popular highlights by turning off Annotations Backup in Settings on your device. If you have a Kindle App, we will be adding this capability soon. Annotations BackUp backs up your annotations and last page read and syncs them across devices. 
So, here's the deal:
  • Those of us who have a Kindle device can avoid our reading habits being tracked, only if we have no way of synchronising our reads or recovering them in case our reader crashes.
  • Those of us reading Kindle books on our iPad or smartphone have no choice but to "share". 
Who was it that coined the term "lose, lose"?