I’m not discounting general praise statements, for some students it is exactly what they need. I could have however been providing my students much more specific feedback/praise to reinforce the cues I had asked students to focus on when they were catching, throwing and dribbling. For example – watch the ball (don’t look away), when you catch the ball have your arms outstretched not by your side, have soft fingers and big hands, use the tips of your fingers to bounce the ball not your palm and so on. By saying well done I am not acknowledging the specific learning the student has applied, for example, that was a great catch because you held your arms out in front of you. The child is much more likely to hold their arms out in front next time because I have positively reinforced that specific behaviour.
It is not new to me that specific/targeted feedback is more effective than general praise but that has not stopped me from defaulting to a natural response when a child does something well. During a fast paced and busy PE lesson it is easier to revert back to a natural response than it is to identify clearly to the student what they are doing well. It took a video of my teaching to remind me of that.
Have you ever seen or heard yourself teach?
What do you think you would discover if you did?
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.
It is important to watch and learn from what others are doing. The Victorian Government have a VicStem page which provides some great resources including:
A digital curriculum resources page for teachers. The main part of this page has icons linking to topics which include “Why digital technologies?”, “Where to start”, “Designing the learning”, “Teaching and learning resources”, “Assessment” and “Find out more”. The right hand side of the page has all the links found within these larger icons. The teaching and learning resources provide content descriptors, lesson ideas, online resources, videos, ideasto try and units of work. Covers Foundation to Year 10.
3. Victoria has six Science and maths specialist centres. This page provides information about each of the six centres – Bio Lab (sport and human performance), Earth Ed (earth sciences), Ecolinc (environmental teaching and learning), GTAC (Gene Technology Access Centre – life sciences), Quantum Victoria (physical sciences and maths) and VSSEC (space science engineering centre). Making connections outside of our school environment is an important part of the STEM approach. What industries and organisations do we have in South Australia that can support the teaching of STEM?
While we understand that digital technologies play an important part in many aspects of our lives we may be surprised by the diversity of industries coding or computer programming reaches.
If you are looking to deepen your own understanding of how digital technologies are linked to career paths or trying to help students connect technology and careers then this post may help.
Careers with Code is a magazine that discusses how computer programming is used in a variety of industries. There is also a Careers with Code website and Twitter account.
All of the information in this post(apart from the links) have been taken from the Careers with Code magazine, Issue 3 October 2016. Where possible I have provided links to products, people or companies mentioned in the magazine.
Industries and Links to Computer Programming
The Open Food Network creates open source software to simplify the process of finding, buying and selling local sustainable food.
The Yume app provides a platform that allows excess food to be distributed rather than go to waste.
Dr Cheryl McCarthy designs automated weed control systems that use machine-based image recognition to identify weeds from crops.
Sundrop farms in South Australia use highly engineered sensor controlled hydroponic systems. Potentially a place to visit if your students were looking at sustainable agriculture.
Music, Movies and Art
New Zealand company Serato designed an Apple music player called Serato Pyro that mixes and transitions your songs like a DJ would.
Computer generated animation and green screen affects are now common place in the movies we watch. Green screen technology is also easy to set up in a school environment (see PBAS STEM Post 3).
Melbourne based company Explanovision uses animation to explore our world. Founder James Huston used his computer science skills and interest in art to develop the company.
Wearable tech is a growth market making everyday wearable items ‘smart’. Connecting clothing, glasses etc to the Internet. Google glass pioneered the smart glasses, while they have opted out for the moment many others have opted in.
John Hattie’s Jack Keating Memorial lecture at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education is worth listening to. John Hattie is the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL).
John Hattie’s theme throughout his speech is around ‘rebooting’ the Australian education system. The speech is fifty one minutes long and covers a range of Hattie’s views about how schools and Governments can change in order to improve student performance.
Some of Hattie’s ideas presented in the lecture include the following.
To shift the parent and Government focus of debating and pushing ideas that have minimal impact in education to a focus on what does have an impact.
To focus on the kids and not appeasing parents.
To stop blaming post codes and/or SES ratings for why schools struggle to get students to learn.
To focus on expertise and to value expertise.
To increase the number of Highly Accomplished and Lead teachers.
To have a common understanding of what ‘growth’ in relation to a child’s learning means. What does a years growth look like?
To change the narrative from schools believing excellence at the top end is the measure of success to seeing the growth of all students as the measure of a school success.
To develop collaboration and open classrooms – including student voice.
To focus on getting students into maths and science pathways who thrive on the struggle not just the ‘best’ students.
To abolish the exam system.
I think Hattie’s speech challenges us to think about what we do in schools and its impact on students. If you have an opinion about Hattie’s lecture I encourage you to share your thoughts in the comments section.