I was listening to a PE Geek Podcast the other day and came across a great resource for junior primary teachers that gets kids moving using stories as a basis for those movements. The stories are produced by BBC School Radio and posted to their website. The idea is that students listen and as part of the story the narrator instructs students on different movements that connect with the narrative for example, stomping through a forest, sneaking into a dragons cave or clanking around in a knights suit of armour. I tried one with my R/1 PE class today and they absolutely loved it! The story we listened to was called Knights, Castles and Dragons.
Knights, Castles and Dragons – the students loved it!
Click here to view all the available BBC Let’s Move podcasts. Each podcast can be downloaded to your computer so internet access is not required when you play the file.
Keep in mind that these are just audio files. The next time I use one of these with a class I am planning to make up a slide show of images that relates to the story so the students also have something to look at while they are moving and listening to the story.
“After a high profile career as CEO, Pierre Pirard decided to redirect his focus and became a teacher. Working in Brussels’ most disadvantaged neighbourhoods, he discovered that these children — usually portrayed as troublemakers — are able to rise above this negative image. He believes that these kids are the future of our society and that we should care for their education, no matter what their socio-cultural and economical background is.”
Being open to improvement and accepting feedback is an important part of being a teacher. There are a number of ways we can do this:
Peer observation: Meet prior to discuss a focus and meet after to discuss what was observed and how it can be used to develop practice.
Video observation: Video a lesson to watch and reflect on practice. You could also sit with a peer and discuss your reflections and ask for their input.
Observe a peer: Sit in on the class of a peer you respect, has the same subject area or a similar year level to you. Have a focus for your observation and spend time discussing what you observed with the teacher.
Student feedback: Ask your students what they think of your teaching. Have a focus and be specific with your questions.
All feedback can be valuable but student feedback provides a type of feedback that the others cannot. What your students think is important, it will impact directly on their attitude towards you as a teacher and how much they are willing to listen and therefore learn when they are in your classroom.
Be open with your students about what you would like to improve. For example let them know that previous feedback has identified that you talk too much during lessons and you would like help to reduce teacher talk and increase student engagement.
Give students time to develop their ability to provide feedback. Clearly explain the purpose of the feedback understanding that it may take some practice on their part and continued explanation on yours to ensure the feedback is useful. Provide students with clear and specific questions. This will support them in providing you with quality feedback. For example:
What’s one thing I should keep doing [during instruction, when giving directions, etc.]?
What’s one thing I should stop doing [. . .]?
What’s one thing I should do differently [. . .]?
What’s the most annoying thing I do [when lecturing, when assigning homework, etc.]?
What’s the best thing I do to help you learn [. . .]?
What could I do to give you better feedback [on your writing, on your quizzes, etc.]?
What did you like about the assignment I gave last night?
What did you dislike about the assignment I gave last night?
“When you ________________________, I usually stop paying attention.”
Use the feedback provided by students. Ultimately this is why you asked for the feedback in the first place. Try to look at what students say without justifying or explaining away the feedback. Try to find patterns in student feedback to match your own reflections or feedback from peers. Future feedback will be taken more seriously if students see you have used previous feedback.
The Grattan Institute acknowledge student engagement is a problem in Australian schools and while the causes of that disengagement are varied and debatable they identify that an immediate solution is to build the capacity of teachers to create classrooms that improve learning. By asking for and using student feedback we are utilising a powerful resource to make this happen.
This video is taken from the Splash ABC website. Listen to Zeina Chalich answer teacher questions about STEM.
“Zeina has teaching experience in primary schools and university. In her role as Leader of Learning & Innovation, Zeina leads ‘disruptive’ change in digital pedagogy and personalised learning. In 2015, Zeina was awarded the CEC Br John Taylor Fellowship research prize for her research exploring design thinking in a makerspace through a STEAM curriculum. Zeina writes for the Website Education Technology Solutions.“
This video is taken from the Splash ABC website. Listen to Kelly Tagalan answer teacher questions about STEM.
“Kelly is a California native who came to Australia as a tourist, then decided to make it her new home. A year later, she helped a plucky do-gooder Annie Parker of Telstra, start Code Club Australia.
Kelly worked in non-profit education for ten years before coming to Australia. Through Code Club, Kelly hopes to build a vibrant and buzzing enthusiasm for ICT education among educators and children alike.
This video is taken from the Splash ABC website. Listen to Simon Crook answer teacher questions about STEM.
“Simon Crook was a physics teacher for 15 years, in 5 different schools in England and Australia. Subsequently, for over 6 years Simon worked as Senior eLearning Adviser for the Catholic Education Office Sydney having direct responsibility for the integration of technology in the teaching and learning of 17 secondary schools plus an overarching responsibility to 151 schools K-12 across Sydney, Australia. He was also seconded to help design 21st Century Science laboratories. Simon also runs an award winning website Crooked Science.
This video is taken from the Splash ABC website. Listen to Chris Betcher answer teacher questions about STEM.
“Chris is an Australian K-12 educator with over 25 years experience in helping students and teachers make the most of digital technologies for learning. Chris has been nominated for the edublog awards on several occasions for his educational blog betchablog“
A lot of money is being spent to develop STEM in South Australian schools. But after all is said and done these resources (considering their cost) will not fully support student learning if teacher practice does not also develop.
Improved student learning opportunities in STEM will come from teachers feeling confident about their knowledge and understanding of STEM and their understanding and use of pedagogical practices that are effective in the teaching of STEM.
Teaching practice associated with quality STEM learning includes:
Allowing some control to be given to students, increasing student input and responsibility. Read this article for ideas about how to do this.
Promoting collaboration with peers, community and industry. To find out more about collaboration in the classroom read this article.
Promoting risk taking, experimentation and learning from failure. This is not just for students, teachers should model these qualities for their students. To find out more about failure in the STEM classroom read this article.
Teachers need to be flexible. STEM may not always address the Curriculum in the way a text book or traditionally planned program might. You may need to change direction mid program depending on where student investigations lead them (it may not be where you thought it might go).
Guided inquiry. Teachers develop the skills of facilitating rather than dictating. Students need to be able to independently think and act like engineers through research, trial and error. For a more detailed look at inquiry based learning read this article.
Teachers need to embrace digital tools and technology in the classroom. Find ways to make technology work for you and your students. Learn about the SAMR model of technology use by watching this two minute video.
Another important consideration for schools is to think about how STEM programs are structured in classrooms. What are the potential models that a school or teacher might consider?
Teach all four but more emphasis on one or two: A teacher integrates mathematics and science through a challenge based unit of work where students design a vehicle. Source
Integrate one into the other 3 being taught separately: The engineering processes of team work, identify and investigate a problem, design a solution, and testing and evaluation is added into some science and mathematics units, but there are limited links across the science and mathematics subjects.Source
Total integration of all by a teacher: Science teacher integrating, T, E and M into science. A school introduces a new STEM elective focusing on designing digital solutions to real world problems. Source
Divide a STEM curriculum into the separate subjects: Technology, science and maths teachers design a combined unit and each teacher teaches different components of the unit in their separate subject, and with clear contributions from science, maths and technology subjects in solving a common problem. Source
Leaders and teachers have a joint responsibility to ensure that appropriate pedagogy is used in all areas of teaching. If we do not develop our teaching strategies and develop a strong knowledge and understanding of STEM then we risk spending a lot of money for little reward.