I can’t wait for the weekend

I would imagine that David, the course examiner would be reading alot of blog posts involving students desires for University to be over.  My previous post was a little reflection on the workload during the semester.  This is more a reflection on how it has affected my life.

My kids and husband have been amazing this semester.  The kids who are 7 and 10 are quite independent and will make their own breakfast, lunch and even dinner if required.  They will clean the loungeroom, take the rubbish out, feed the dogs and clean their own rooms.  Quite often this can be without asking but a huge motivator is so they can play electronics.  During the final weeks of any University semester, electronics come in handy.  Generally, the kids can play one hour on and one off when I have assignments to do all day on a Saturday.  The kids will go outside in the break and play and I will take breaks during this time too to either play cricket with them or have a coffee and watch what they are up to.  They are fantastic, funny, independent amazing young men.

My husband works away often but is so supportive of my University goals and the desire to change careers.  He is so helpful with advice and is my human Google.  He knows when I am stressed and will bring my a coffee to give me a break.  He will pick up the slack when I am busy and for all of that I think he is amazing.

These are the reasons why I can’t wait for this weekend.  My husband is home and we are all having a board game Saturday.  I can finally hang out with them again.

I hope you all have a chance to spend some time with your family after such a hectic semester.

Before I go, I noticed a colleague has been checking out meditation sites to relax during her stressful semester.  Check it out.




This has been the hardest semester so far.

I am not sure whether it’s the fact that I took on four subjects this semester again, the fact that I work full time alongside of that, the fact that I have two children and a husband that works away all the time or the sheer fact that previous students have provided feedback to provide more assignments but this semester has been a killer.

The workload was incredible.  Upon reflection, I feel that the workload was far too much should you be doing four subjects in a semester.  I would imagine the aim is to get students to complete their degree full time but have the option and flexibility with part time.  Each of my four subjects seem to raise the bar this very semester on their expectations of students.  Three assignments per subject plus Professional Experience nearly tipped me over the edge.

In saying that, the semester has been a steep learning curve.  Some things will stick forever but alot will not stay in my mind for long.  There is just too much in there all at once and something has to give.  I still have one assignment to complete tonight for EDP4140 but I am afraid that will be unrealistic.  I am almost there but I will have to cop the late penalty fee on the chin as submitting at 11:59 would mean submitting a poor quality, tired driven assignment.  I will finalise everything tomorrow with fresh eyes and perhaps pick up some marks through a simple edit.

I have completed two course reviews so far and have been quite happy with the subjects.  It has just been my inability to cope with the excessive workload that is the problem.  For EDC3100, my feedback was that the workload was too much for one semester.  The content was so good that I needed more time to take it all in.  My assignments suffered as a result and it was the subject that I have been the most engaged in.  Perhaps I am a little like the EAL/D student that I am writing about in my EDP4140 assignment who requires more time to be able to answer as the time is used to comprehend the questions????  I don’t know.

Anyway, I gave it my best shot.



I wish I concentrated more at school

If only I had paid more attention at school!!!  I cannot remember liking school at all so to find myself completing a degree to become a Primary School teacher is surreal.

It is even more surreal that I have enjoyed Mathematics the most out of all the University subjects that I have completed so far.  I found that I had many ‘aha’ moments and was very engaged in the whole unit.

Now to find myself preparing Maths lessons for a Year 5/6 class is quite challenging.

Deep down inside we all love math T-shir by _Untitled-1, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  _Untitled-1 
Last week I planned and taught the students Angles.  I think the most challenging part was not knowing what their prior learning was.  Each time I came across something to add to the lesson, I felt that I had to go off in a tangent and teach them that part as well to be able to understand what I was teaching.  I guess in the end I just had to have faith that the students already had a solid knowledge of their shapes etc.
This week I have symmetry so I have made the beginnings of a flip chart for them to label with the different types.  I have a feeling that I tend to teach to suit the way that I learn.  I need to see something in action (visual) and to feel it with my hands (kinesthetic) so the rotation section of the flip chart where I have cut out a shape and have added a split pin to be able to spin the shape around.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with this as it will assist the student’s who fit this criteria however I have to be mindful to cover all the various styles of learning to ensure each and every student gains the concepts prior to moving on to the next topic.
This article outlines that various learning styles should you require more information.
It looks like my University colleague, James has been researching sites that will assist him during this final week as well.

Week 2 Reflection…continued…

During this week of Professional Experience I had an experience of altering the timetable to suit external visits to the school.  I had a planned comic strip writing/art lesson that had to be pushed back one day.  The school visitor was a Paralympic athlete that received a spinal injury on his 18th Birthday and had been in a wheelchair ever since.

By no means did this impede on my lesson but enhanced the life awareness for the students.  The speaker discussed wearing seat belts, testing the water before you get in to determine if there are any rocks or sticks in the way and told the kids how he goes about life everyday.  Every single student had their eyes glued to the special guest speaker and the hour that they spent in that hall could potentially save a lifetime of dealing with a spinal injury.

I did get to complete my lesson the next day in the library.  I was fortunate enough to have the library teacher sit in to observe and provide feedback.  This was arranged by my mentor which is another thing that makes him such a good mentor to University Prac students.  The library teacher provided instant verbal feedback and emailed me that very afternoon with the feedback written for my records and later reflection.  The advice was very explicit and I have asked if she could sit in again during week 3 to be able to gauge any improvements.  She also gave me some excellent strategies for keeping the students on task so I have attempted to use some of them over this last week.

All up the week was a good week.  I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Sport.  My mentor is currently doing Basketball and we are almost at the stage where the students have enough skill to be able to play a full game.  I spent some of the time playing, “Try and get the ball off me” with one of the students.  I think she was grateful that she had someone to play with.  I love that my mentor is modelling these lessons as at this stage I would have to spend ages going over in my head what would be required for a lesson plan with Basketball.  Looks like this site will help me out in the future for teaching sporting rules to Primary kids.

So, one more week to go and I am sure we are all in for a big week.  It is the time where we should all be teaching at least 2/3 of the day.  By the looks of it Danielle is being challenged by her mentor with a lot of lessons planned for the week.

Week 2 Reflection: History

We Swear by the Southern Cross by Bairdzpics, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  Bairdzpics 

Week Two was quite a difficult week as the students were over their fascination with a new teacher and several set about challenging my behaviour management techniques.  It felt like the end of the 3 weeks was a long way away however my mentor reminded me that before I knew it, it would be the weekend and I would only have one week to go.  Ta daaaaa…..this is where I am right now.  I was pretty happy with the way I handled it and my mentor gave me plenty of advice along the way.  I think it will be easier when you get a handle on their backgrounds and continuing personality.

On Monday, I had the opportunity to plan and teach History.  This is not a subject that I have taken at University and I will get through the whole degree without taking one History unit.  I loved it though.  I found it was so easy to be creative with what they were doing.  The students were studying the Eureka Stockade and Peter Lalor.  I created a task sheet for the students to complete the front page of a newspaper from the day after the Eureka Stockade occurred.  I gave groups either the miners or the Government and they had to write articles with a bias towards their group.

The front page of the newspaper had to contain two articles, a timeline and photographs.  Students had to delegate tasks and learn to become productive members of a group.

Throughout the lesson, the students were on task and appeared very engaged.  Only one group struggled with the delegation of duties but they seem to have come good.  I have the continuation of that lesson tomorrow.  This will be my most exciting lesson as I have arranged for the Education Manager from the National Film and Sound Archive to speak with the students in a Skype interview.  The student have prepared 10 questions about the significance of Peter Lalor to ask Mr Kennedy of the Film and Sound Archive.  After the session, they will be able to complete their required article on Peter Lalor.  This would be transforming the students learning through the use of ICT and therefore fulfilling my University subjects ICT requirement, engaging the students and fulfilling their History curriculum requirements.

As a part of my reflection process, I have been reading other experiences in the classroom.  I enjoyed reading Sandra’s blog regarding the opportunity she had visiting a different teacher’s classroom during her Professional Experience.  Sandra states that she observed the male teacher bring the class back on track by playing the game, “Do what I say, not what I do”.  This sounds like a good idea for me to incorporate into Maths at some stage during week 3.  Thanks Sandra.

Along with Sandra, I too have been researching websites to gain ideas that will assist me during my experience.  I really want to focus on lightening up during the final week and to try and make it fun.  I came across some advice in the article, “Comedy in the Classroom”.

Reflection Week One: Professional Experience

I was very thankful that I came into my Professional Experience confident and looking forward to the challenge.  I think I can thank my previous mentor for this outlook as she was a fantastic coach and provided appropriate constructive feedback and positive feedback when it was deserved.  She also told me that it felt like she was team teaching so to have that in the back of my mind leading into these 3 weeks was a great help.

The students responded very well to a new teacher in the class and the first week did not present many behaviour management issues.  What I did find hard was teaching a class in an environment different to the students normal classroom.  The kids were usually a little more chatty and the acoustics were also a little different.

I took a Friday Science lesson in the computer room and I felt like the whole lesson was a behaviour management lesson.  I felt like I was talking way too much so afterwards I sat with my mentor who was able to provide me with a variety of strategies to keep the noise down in the classroom.  I feel that my mentor is very good at that.  Once again I am lucky to have a mentor that is confident in his own teaching ability and very good at providing explicit feedback.  This is exactly what I am after.

So, during the first week I worked on a variety of strategies to control the noise levels during independent activities.  I used a tap on the board, 54321, holding up my hand and waiting etc.  There was never a stage that I thought the noise was unacceptable so I found it hard to have to keep the kids quiet when the noise wasn’t too bad anyway.  I guess once you get your own classroom you will have more confidence in knowing the most appropriate noise levels to work at.  As long as the students are on task then perhaps it is ok to let them go and talk quietly to their friend beside them.  I might work on these strategies over the next week.

The other main goal that I had for the week was to work on timing of lessons.  I found that planning for Maths was difficult as I had no real idea on the kids abilities and how quickly or slowly they are able to progress.  My mentor advised to just plan the lesson and always have activities or challenges up your sleeve so the fast finishers are covered with work to go on with.  My mentor can think off the top of his head however at this stage I still need to plan for the unexpected.  I was pretty happy with my timings by the end of the week so I was looking forward to the challenges that the second week would bring.

Take a look at Courtney’s blog.  Courtney was also working on the timing of her lessons.

No….not this kind of Dojo

Like many of you I have now met my mentor who seems amazing.  He has fantastic experience under his belt and a simple tap on the board with his pen is enough to keep the class quiet and pay attention.  During our first meeting we discussed both health and behavior issues in the class which are very minimal.  We also went over a few lessons that I may be planning and it looks like I will get some experience in planning a few Space lessons for Science, Eureka Stockade lessons for History and will take a few Maths lessons.

What I found interesting about the school is that there is only 240 children there with quite a few spare classrooms.  Every morning, the school also splits into level appropriate groups for learning.  Some students could be in Grade 4 but work with the Grade 6 students.

I have an idea to use Class Dojo with the class to trial Behavior Management.  I have not had any problems with it in the past 3 prac’s however I would love the opportunity to see it’s effectiveness prior to starting officially next year.  I have the class list and will enter it into the program and will then speak with my mentor on Monday to see if he is ok if I trial it for the 3 weeks.  I was thinking of explaining it to the students on Monday and set a target of 5 points to get to to be able to create their own Avatar.  My mentor has already told me that quite a few of the students are gamers so it will be right up their alley.  After that I will have another target to get to to win a prize.  I have two old school game sets as prizes.  I think I bought them from typo and they have a yo-yo, pick up sticks, dice and a deck of cards all contained in a wooden box.  Perhaps I could say that the first to 20 points gets the mystery prize???  I have to research the point system a little better but on a forum post I read recently, one teacher explained how with the sound up on your Ipad, students love to hear when someone is getting a point and immediately correct their behavior to try and get one as well.  Other advice I have received from my University colleague, Maree, is to turn the sound down as the kids love to see at the end of the day who got the points.

I think Class Dojo will work well with this class as my mentor loves focusing on the positive behavior.

Good Luck with your weekend preparation.


Questions to ask your mentor before Professional Experience.

School by Robb North, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  Robb North 

The University of Southern Queensland students have specific subject Facebook groups to join and use as support during their degree.  My current subject EDC3100 Information, Communication, Technology and Pedagogy have a fantastic support network amongst the students.

As we have all received our Professional Experience placements the following is the advice that my fellow students have provided in terms of questions to ask of your mentor:

Is there a specific dress code?  Any special events, pd or staff meetings during the three weeks?  What time do you require me to start and finish?  Do you have a timetable and term plan available?  Does the school use C2C?  What ICTs are there?  Is there a printing allowance?  Does the school follow C2C and will I be able to get access to it? Does the mentor use ICT in the classroom?  Is there a support department?  What are the student levels for ICT?  What is the policy for BYOD?  Are you allowed to park in the staff car park?  What units are you doing for …?  Do I need to prepare lessons for day 1?  Are you happy for me to use the USQ lesson plans? Is there a school orientation session with other prac students?  Do you have a copy of the seating plan?

You should also consider getting on to the school website and looking for their School Behaviour Management Plan.  

The following is the email that I wrote to my mentor prior to our meeting on Friday.  Hopefully this assists others with their pre-assignment and prac preparations.

Thanks for your quick reply.  I would love to make the 10:55am appointment and will get to the front office to sign in with plenty of time to find your classroom.

Prior to meeting with you I have attached the following documentation that is required for our professional experience.  I will bring hard copies but thought you may appreciate electronic copies as well.

1) ICT Statement-required by USQ.

2) Interim Report-reflection/feedback to be completed days 5 and day 10.

3) Professional Experience report-to be completed day 15.  This form is not for USQ but can be used in portfolio’s.
4) Referee Statement- if student is suitable.

5) Lesson Plan template- Are you happy for me to use this template?

The following is also the minimum expectations for the teaching load if this can be accommodated. 

Teaching and planning: Lesson sequences and small units of work where ICT is integral to the learning and teaching process
Hours of teaching: teach for a third of each day
Other classroom duties: for the balance of time in the classroom, assist mark, observe, and work with students.

Teaching and planning: Lesson sequences and small units of work where ICT is integral to the learning and teaching process
Hours of teaching: teach for half of each day
Other classroom duties: for the balance of time in the classroom, assist, mark, observe, and work with individual students.

Teaching and planning: Lesson sequences and small units of work where ICT is integral to the learning and teaching process
Hours of teaching: teach two thirds of each day with one full day
Other classroom duties: for the balance of time in the classroom, assist, mark, observe, and work with individual students.

On top of this, I also have an Assignment for this prac that requires me to:

1. Develop a plan for how you are going to plan the ICT-based lessons you have to teach on Professional Experience (this is to be completed in draft form prior to the commencement of prac- I will show you my draft on Friday).
2. Submit five of the ICT-based lessons you taught on Professional Experience, including feedback from your mentor and your own reflections.
3. Reflect back on your use of ICT to amplify and transform student learning on Professional Experience, identify what worked, what didn’t, why, and draw some insights that will inform your future teaching.

My apologies for the long email.  Really looking forward to getting back into a classroom again.

If possible, are you able to advise the ICT available in your classroom.  That way I will be able to complete my plan (part A of the assignment).

Appreciate your time.

See you on Friday.

If you are looking for more support there are a group of fellow ICTers that have created a Diigo group for those who have been allocated a Prep class.  Maree explains the group on her blog and it’s also nice to read how excited she is about her placement.

Good Luck everyone.


Geebung State School

Our Professional Experience schools were finally released today for a majority of students.  I feel for the students who have not yet found out or who may not even start Monday.

I received Geebung State School with a male mentor in a grade 5/6 class.  The good thing is my son is currently in a grade 5/6 class so I am privy to their current likes and dislikes.  I contacted the school and left a message and received an email from my mentor and something makes me think he has no idea he is about to get a prac student for 3 weeks.  He wrote me a quick email asking, ‘How can I help you?’  Hopefully he is happy to accept a USQ student.

I almost ordered my mentor present the other day so I am lucky I held off.  I think I will wait to meet him to determine what type of thank you gift to get him.

I believe that the 300 plus students that are enrolled in this course would not have been very productive in their work places today as they continually refreshed their browser to see where their placement would be.  I think we will all be busy tonight not only trying to get assignments completed before Monday but also going through the week 10 material again now we have the context of our Assignment.

Kate’s post placement blog tells how she needs to transform from being a friend and youth leader to being their teacher.  Kate currently lives in a small town and will know all of the students.  The great thing is that Kate already has the respect of the children and that is half the battle.  If it was me I would bring that word up alot.

Time to refocus now on completing my EDX3280 Maths assignment.  I have found some fantastic resources along my journey in completing this Webquest.  The best thing is I did the Webquest targeting Year 5 which is the Grade I am getting for my Professional Experience.

Although this isn’t a Maths resource, it may help you during your prac.

Dogo News, ‘exposes kids to the world around them and helps develop vocabulary and reading skills’.  The news event are by year level, can be linked to maps and lesson plans and have all key words highlighted with their definitions’.  Something for you to explore.



I am so glad I am sick

‘I am so glad I am sick’.  A strange thing to write but I really am glad.  In the past I have been run down and sick whilst ON Professional Experience.  This can interfere greatly with how you communicate, function and interact which could ultimately affect the result of the post-prac feedback provided by your mentor.

Knowing that I am ‘currently’ sick BEFORE I start my 3 weeks is great news for me.  I have had all but one day off work this week and although I have been vomiting, aching and exhausted, I have had the time to rest and sleep and slowly recover.  I am at the stage now where I can take my children to and from school, watch Television and complete a little of my University work.  This recovery period will mean that I can enter my 3 weeks refreshed and recharged and ready to go.  I will not have to stress about having make-up days for being sick.

The only thing that needs to happen now is to actually find out where I will be going for my prac.  I am very envious of Kelli who has already met her mentor and writes about her experience on her blog.

Kelli mentions that her mentor is the ICT coordinator at the school.  There is no doubt that Kelli will not have any issues surrounding accessibility to ICT resources.  So lucky!!!

Anyway, time to go to bed and recover some more.

Before I go, here are 50 Riddles that you can challenge your students with whilst on Prac. Enjoy!