A Teacher’s Point of View<br />Teaching in 2010<br />
Interview with Mrs Chris Clarke, Assistant Principal at Vardys Road Public School<br />Mrs Clarke has been teaching since 1973.<br />She trained at Westmead Teachers College for 2years.<br />Mrs Clarke has over 30 years on class experience teaching within the NSW public school system. <br />Mrs Clarke was recognised with a Department of Education ‘Outstanding Leadership’ award in 2009.<br /> Interviewed, June 12th, 2010<br />
When you began teaching what was a typical classroom like?<br />Students usually sat in rows, 2 students at a desk, facing the blackboard. The teacher’s desk was at the front of the room but was not the main feature, the blackboard would have been the main teaching aid. Resources for classroom activities were exercise books, spirit duplicated stencils and teacher made teaching aids.<br />Photo: Microsoft Clipart<br />
At the beginning of my career....<br />At the beginning of my teaching career I still saw the importance of need based learning but with resources and class sizes limited the teachers’ ability to address all needs was also limited. The average class size was 35 students. Lessons were teacher centred and developed from explicit syllabus guidelines. The students relied on teachers for their knowledge and were assessed on their knowledge of content rather than their ability to use content to think critically. Bookwork and presentation of work were considered important, this was also a way of assessing the teacher. Uniformity and conformity rather than individuality were considered important.<br />Photo: Microsoft Clipart<br />
Students consider what thinking is needed to understand or move forward.</li></ul>De Bono, E. 1992, Hawker Brownlow Education.<br />Teaching Thinking Skills in the Primary Years.<br />
An example of what I would say is 21st century teaching<br />A unit of work that I have recently completed with my year 6 class was “Murder under the Microscope” http://www.microscope.edu.au/Public/Default.aspx.<br />This program presents a challenge to both students and teacher, as the teacher has no prior knowledge of the final scenario. The teacher is working through the problems with the students, therefore placing the teacher in the role of “facilitator”.<br />
Understanding the Basics<br />The topics for investigation all relate to water and the environment.<br />Find out what knowledge students already have about science.<br />Students should have and understanding of the water cycle before attempting more complex research.<br />Students also need to understand what a catchment is. They could build a catchment model (using such things as modelling clay and water to simulate rain) to show how water travels in the environment.<br />Extract from :Teachers’ area: Prepare. www.microscope.edu.au.<br />
Murder under the Microscope lesson<br />Building background knowledge:<br />Students in mixed ability groups research, <br /> via the web, environmental terms necessary as background knowledge e.g. nutrients in soil, salinity, agricultural run off.<br />Each group was given a specific topic and became experts to report to the rest of the class. Written reports displayed for class to revisit as necessary.<br />Photo: Microsoft Clipart<br />
Using a laptop, a data projector and a large screen all students had access to daily updates from the interactive program, Murder under the Microscope. These updates took the form of quizzes, videos presentations, email messages, video web streaming. All updates presented students with information to further their investigations. <br />Each day students did further research in an effort to identify the crime site, the victim and the villain. Clues were cumulative with students research confirming their ideas. <br />Research was done in groups and individually, making use of 2 classroom computers and school computer lab. Many students continued their investigations at home, using resources such as “You Tube” or simply searching “Google” for answers. <br />Google logo from Google website<br />
As information was collected it was culled and useful information was displayed on a matrix, on the classroom wall. <br />To identify the crime site students researched the given localities and identified the site using rainfall statistics clues and cross referencing a clue with the Bureau of Meteorology. <br />The victim was identified using locality information and researching obscure clues as to the animals features.<br />To find the villain students had to recognise the principle of cause and effect, as a second animal was thrown into the equation.<br />Through much research, discussion and trial and error student and teacher identified all 3. <br />This program has now become an international annual competition. When students have solved the crime they can then go on to create an environmental plan to improve the given situation.<br />Bureau of Meteorology logo from Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology website<br />
Reflections<br />The program further developed students reasoning, research, questioning, discussion and observation skills. <br />The students were motivated and engaged in meaningful learning and constantly looking for deeper understanding of each aspect of their research. <br />Other teachers involved in the program in the school met informally to reflect on the progress of the program and students engagement in the program.<br />
Reflections from a 2010 Bachelor of Education uni student<br />Mrs Clarkes’ Murder under the Microscope seems to be the beginnings of 21st century teaching. Perhaps with the introduction of more technology, with each student having constant access to a computer and internet, Mrs Clarke would have been able to discard the “matrix on the wall” and “displays for the whole class to see”. All these tools will be available to the students whenever they access a file on their computers.<br />Mrs Clarkes’ role in this lesson was that of “facilitator” reflecting that she was not the hub of all knowledge, she simply guided her students in the direction which seemed the best. Her students were also the teachers in this lesson as they may have discovered clues that perhaps Mrs Clarke did not and shared that knowledge with the rest of the class.<br />“Teachers are primarily learners. They are problem-posers and problem-solvers; they are researchers; and they are intellectuals engaged in unravelling the learning process both for themselves and for the young people in their charge” (“Quality Teacher Program” 2001.pg. 4)<br />
References<br />Bureau of Meteorology: logo retrieved from: http://www.bom.gov.au/index.shtml<br />Clarke. C. Assistant Principal, Vardys Road Public School. Interviewed June 12th, 2010.<br />Department of Education NSW, Quality Teacher Program, Pedagogy for the Future,<br /> Discussion Paper, (Feb 2001).<br />Google: Logo retrieved from: http://www.google.com/<br />Microsoft Office clipart: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/default.aspx??Origin=EC790014051033&CTT=6&ver=12&app=powerpnt.exe<br />Murder under the Microscope website: http://www.microscope.edu.au/Public/Default.aspx <br />Six thinking Hats:<br />De Bono, E., Hawker Brownlow Education. 1992; Teaching Thinking Skills in the Primary Years.<br /> Retrieved from: http://debonoforschools.com/asp/six_hats.asp<br />
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