I’m Ceanlia Vermeulen [Ms. V for short].
Please to meet you.
A little bit of background about why I am truly innovative:
I am a facilitator that is learner centric, holistic, I teach about
how to learn as much as teaching about the subject area. I’m
also a learner, studying through UNISA – Gifted Education.
First some background information regarding the class I
We have a remedial unit at our school from grade 1-6. In
grade 7 these learners have to join the mainstream again. My class consist of these
learners that have been in the remedial unit for the last six years and now have to be
‘mainstreamed’! I also have a learner with a language barrier [English not her first
language] and I have Gifted learners with learning disabilities! Our school is starting a
Gifted Unit in 2009.
All the learners in my class of 14 have difficulties with reading, handwriting, spelling,
mathematics or organisation. The learning problems are usually physical, cognitive or
behavioural in nature, and can cause learners to become frustrated as teachers try to
remediate the weaknesses, allowing few opportunities for their talents to surface.
Up to now my learners have felt confused, isolated and sometimes at risk. My learners are
paradox in terms, because of the discrepancies between their strengths and weaknesses.
An astute teacher will often accurately identify the discrepancy between one area and
another, but not know what to do about it. Being in this situation for the first time I had to
be very innovative.
My educational success is the sum of four factors. Motivation, communication,
collaboration and curriculum.
I see it is my job as a facilitator to motivate and engage my learners. How did I motivate
my learners? I broke away form the medium they use the most pen and paper and used
multimedia. I know that preferred learning styles changes from subject to subject and
teacher to teacher. I provide enough variety in my approaches to engage my learners
varied learning styles.
I started with teaching twenty years ago, when classroom communication was limited to
‘Chalk and Talk’. However now we are in a world where communication is paramount and
incredibly diverse in its variety.
Ask my class of mixed ability [from remedial – gifted] learners who has a cell phone. Many
have optimised their cellular usage by having several phones attached to different plans
and providers to take advantage of free txt or sms. I use these pervasive technologies in
my classrooms. I’m even on mixt!
Twelve of my 14 learners own one personal media device, such as a cell phone, desktop,
laptop, or handheld computer, and eleven one handheld
What of IM or chat? I use instant messaging in my professional communications to other
staff and professional colleagues. It allows quick access with a level of flexibility not
available in an email. It allows multiple participants and is cost efficient compared to the
difficulty and cost of making a conference call via a traditional phone line. I use this in the
classroom and it is not a distraction.
Tools like Skype rely on a fast internet connection and sympathetic network administrators
but it is an easy and low cost tool to teleconference and video conference.
I have used these communication tools in my classroom
Pin & notice discussion, speech &
whiteboard & chalkboard flipchart
poster email SMS, mixt or text
cell phone video audio conference chat
Skype audio conference video conference msn
Discussion boards and
wikis presentations OLE's
My learners prefer to interact/network simultaneously with many others
learners moving between real and virtual spaces instantaneously. They love to meet using
networked digital devices chat rooms, blogs, wikis, podcasts, email and just love mixt. My
learners don’t like to work independently they prefer to network and interact.
An interesting adage
I HEAR and I FORGET
I SEE and I REMEMBER
I DO and I UNDERSTAND
I collaborate with my learners. I encourage my learners to share and network, and
encourage peer mentoring. I encourage my learners to text a peer or me to ask a question
or seek assistance with a concept. I encourage them to use instant messaging to
The curriculum is regularly reviewed and updated.
With this project, Science expo I asked the question of “Why are we doing this?”… and
there was no clear answer. It was my first time teaching science and to expect my learners
to do a science expo on their own at home was just too much for them and me… so I was
innovative to suggest to ‘make a plan’. We worked during brakes, after school and
weekends. We had two long weekends to complete this activity…! The best and easiest
way was to encompass modern technologies.
The Science expo is based on a researched topic, and the learners are required to provide
a journal when they submit their work for assessment. However, the Journal must be text
based. It must be printable. But what of the vast mass of valid video and audio based
news that must be ignored and overlooked because it is not easy to capture. Given the
choice would our learners read and article or listen/watch one. So I exposed them to both.
They did their ‘written’ journal and we video taped each presentation for playback
feedback. This was so much fun and rewarding!
Educational success is a factor of four elements the motivational state of the learners, the
modes of communication and collaboration used in the learning space; and the relevance
of the curriculum. The compelled learner will not learn as well as one who is engaged. The
learner who is the recipient of knowledge in a uni directional flow will not progress as one
who learns in a constructivist classroom, where the tools they use are the same ones they
use in their leisure. The learner who can see the relevance in the curriculum and has had
input in shaping the direction of the learning will be more engaged and interested.
When I am asked today about the key factor that makes learners like school, study hard,
and stay in school, the answer is a quot;Cquot; word, but it's not quot;curriculum.quot; The word I choose is
The problem today is not that our children don't learn to read. Education research has
indicated that most children do learn the basics of reading and math in the early grades.
Many, however, do not continue these efforts in later grades. One explanation for this,
perhaps truer today than ever before, is that to reach people enough to school them, we
must meet their deep human need to feel cared about.
The days of you-do-it-or-else are over. Children, as well as adults, need to be persuaded.
There is a personal search for caring and for recognition. There is a sense of higher
expectations about how we will be treated, even by institutions, and especially by the
“Up to now in my life every teacher in the school knew what I couldn’t do, you’re the first
teacher that knows what I can do! Thank you Ms.V!”
(A young man in my class)
I was successful in my approach by being holistic and learner-centred, accentuating
strengths and valuing interests. My learners were actively engaged in the learning process
and given a choice of content, methods of recording and assessment procedures. Success
in the real world does not solely depend on reading and writing only but many, many areas
of skills and knowledge and expertise.
Learners kept individual digital diaries, recorded their presentation on video and have
presented their work publicly.
For me and my learners this was a successful Science Fair project that involved the
learners in a journey of discovery, driven by curiosity. It typically started with the learners
proposing a question or hypothesis, and doing some background research. The learners
then develops an experimental apparatus or procedure that produced data, from which the
learners drew conclusions to prove (or disprove) the hypothesis, or answer the question.
My Learners were advised that getting the right answer was NOT the purpose of the
Science Fair project. It was my intent that the Science Expo project that they went through
asked questions and performed experiments in an attempt to find answers. I felt that my
learners were familiar enough with their projects to discuss it comfortably and answer
questions about it.
I encouraged my learners to develop a genuine interest in their projects. The best work
was done by learners who were motivated and inspired by their curiosity about what they
I therefore truly believe that I am truly innovative!