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I Am Truly Innovative


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Lesson Plan for Science Expo 2008 by Ceanlia Vermeulen

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I Am Truly Innovative

  1. 1. Good Day! 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 facilitate: 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. Motivation. 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. Communication 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. Cell phones 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 gaming device.
  2. 2. Instant messaging 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 board lecture cell phone poster email SMS, mixt or text audio instant cell phone video audio conference chat message Skype audio conference video conference msn Discussion boards and wikis presentations OLE's forums Collaboration. 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 converse. Curriculum 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!
  3. 3. Educational success 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 quot;caring.quot; 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 school. “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 investigated. I therefore truly believe that I am truly innovative!
  4. 4. Thank you! Ceanlia Vermeulen 082 905 9339