Tag Archives: Engaging Students

Project Based Learning

We have all heard about project based learning, but what exactly is it? Take a look at the following useful videos that provide great explanations about project based learning.

As teachers, we always need to be looking for new and exciting ways to teach our 21st century students to the best of our ability. Project based learning is one way we can do exactly that.

Project based learning allows students to:

  • come up with a solution to a real world problem
  • be inspired and engaged
  • research their topic
  • work collaboratively
  • develop confidence
  • work independently
  • use the knowledge they gain
  • use technology in the classroom
  • solve problems and think critically
  • present their findings and solutions in a variety of ways

Teachers need to:

  • develop a clear purpose for the project
  • carefully design the project
  • pose challenging questions
  • support collaboration
  • measure the intended learning outcomes in an effective ways
  • model problem solving strategies
  • use real life problems

Click here for more information about PBL and click here, here and here for amazing PBL ideas and resources!

Have you used PBL in your classroom? Are you interested in using it? Let me know what your thoughts are about PBL!

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Filed under ICT & Technology, Teaching, Teaching Strategies

The Benefits of a Class Blog

I have admired a number of class blogs over the last couple of years (see the links on the side of my blog for some great class blogs) and they have inspired me to start my own class blog when I have a class of my own. Click here for a previous post about class blogs.

Take a look at the following inspiring YouTube video.

There are many benefits of a class blog, including:

  • they are easy to set up and they are user friendly
  • students are motivated
  • students are encouraged to read and write
  • they encourage discussion and collaboration
  • a community of learners is fostered
  • there is an instant audience
  • interesting websites can be provided to your students via links
  • images can be included to appeal to visual learners
  • they may be accessed anytime and anywhere
  • students gain an increased feeling of ownership
  • authentic learning takes place
  • they allow students to connect with other classrooms all over the world
  • it is relevant
  • a strong connection between home and school is encouraged

Kathleen Morris has written some great posts about blogging that are definitely worth checking out. See here, here and here for some of her useful blog posts and resources.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Are you thinking about starting a class blog?

Can you think of any more benefits?

Do you have a class blog? Share your link below!

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Filed under ICT & Technology, Teaching, Web 2.0 Applications

WebQuests

The idea of a WebQuest has become increasingly popular over the years and it is no wonder why! A WebQuest encourages inquiry based learning which allows students to research a chosen topic while effectively using the internet and create a final product. WebQuests not only engage students in meaningful learning tasks and allow students to collaborate effectively, they make learning fun and students love them!

Why not give them a go and see for yourself?

Before you create a WebQuest, treat it like any other lesson and include an explicit learning goal. Think about what you want your students to know by the end of the WebQuest and what they need to do in order to achieve that goal. Make the activities funinteresting and challenging. A WebQuest has a purpose, a problem that reading can help to solve.

A WebQuest usually has seven parts:

  1. Introduction
  2. Task
  3. Process
  4. Resources
  5. Evaluation
  6. Conclusion
  7. Final Project

Take a look at the following fantastic YouTube video which explains everything you need to know about WebQuests! Then take a look at the links below to view examples of WebQuests and create one of your own.

Examples of WebQuests

WebQuest Creators

Will you get creative and create a WebQuest?

Have you already created a WebQuest?

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Filed under ICT & Technology, Teaching

Moving Forward

I attended the inaugural Primary Teachers Network (PTN)  professional learning event, “M.E.S.H. Mapping:  Your GPS to the new curriculum” which focussed on an integrated approach to teaching and learning Maths, English, Science and History in the primary classroom.

The opening speeches by Christine Taylor, Consul General of India Sydney, Amit Dasgupta and Jane Caro were very inspiring as they challenged us to think about teaching in a new light.

Claude Bernard’s quote “it is what we think we know already that often prevents us from learning”, along with remembering that once flying was thought to be impossible, arsenic was good for us and the world was flat, were used to reflect on the beliefs in the past.

As teachers we need to be challenging what has been done in the past and embrace the ‘what if?’ If we have a new idea, we need to try it and give it a go.

We should be asking ourselves “what do we need to be giving our students to strive in their future?”

We need to be teaching our students how to think rather than what to think. We need to challenge their learning and help them to discover who they are. We need to let students discover that there may be an alternate path that may not have been discovered yet.

Christine Taylor outlined that we need to be helping our students to;

  • be literate
  • be numerate
  • critically question
  • use imagination in all KLAs
  • be life long learners
  • think
  • be open to possibilities
  • problem solve
  • play and have fun
  • be resilient and stand up for what they believe in

Amit Dasgupta used the analogy of a 1500 piece puzzle box containing 2000 puzzle pieces. The 500 extra pieces will fit, but will not help you to solve the puzzle. Therefore you need to discard the extra 500 pieces. What pieces are you holding onto that you need to discard?

In order to move forward, we need to do some unpacking. It is a time of rapid unlearning. How much do you have in your mind that you can throw out? Jane Caro affirmed that we do not know what is going to happen tomorrow and we can only anticipate the future from the past, however when you see the evidence showing that something new is working – what do you do?

Do you change your mind or remain stuck in the past?

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A Positive Classroom

Teachers have a very long list of responsibilities, including helping their students to feel positive about themselves. There are simple things a teacher can do to affirm the students in their class which can make a huge impact on each student.

  • When speaking to your students, use their name.
  • Always greet your students and show that you are happy to see them.
  • Make your students feel important.
  • Admit that you make mistakes, accept their mistakes and allow for an unlimited amount of fresh starts.
  • Avoid labelling your students.
  • Praise, praise praise! Both verbal and written, students love praise and it encourages them to complete work to the best of their ability. From K to year 6, praise makes a world of difference. Focus your praise particiularly when students have had a go and when they have produced their best work.
    • Brilliant work!
    • Excellent work!
    • Clever answer!
    • You should be proud of yourself!
    • I enjoyed reading that!
    • Your work is always a pleasure to read.
    • Fantastic improvement!
    • I can see the effort you put into this!
    • That’s a great effort!
  • Praise equally – try not to leave any student out. Find something each student does well and let them know!
  • At the end of each day, praise the class as a whole.
  • Always speak optimistically to the students.
    • ‘Don’t use such long sentences’ vs. ‘Good try. Try to add more full stops and new sentences next time’.
    • ‘No’ vs. ‘try again’/’good try’.
  • Always speak politely.
  • Avoid favouritism and avoid discrimination.
    • This may be unintentional and overlooked.
    • Give students a small piece of paper each and ask them to write their name on it and tally each time you ask them for an answer to a question and/or compliment them. At the end of the week you can see if your attention was divided equally among the class and if any students were left out. This allows you to self-reflect.
  • Never give up on a student.
  • Smile at the students.
  • Accept every contribution and answer.
    • Acknowledge that the student had a go by saying ‘good try’, ‘try again’ or ‘close”. After all, it’s tough putting yourself out there and sharing an answer!

How do you keep your classroom positive?

Image: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Filed under Teaching Strategies

Teaching Strategies & Resources

The NSW Institute of Teachers’ Professional Teaching Standards includes:

Element 4; Aspect 4.1.5 – Use a range of teaching strategies and resources including ICT and other technologies to foster interest and support learning.

In order to be the best teachers we can be we need to reconsider our methodology. As educators in the 21st century, we need to learn to communicate in the language and style of our students.

This DOES NOT mean changing what is important or redefining good thinking skills.

It means that teachers today need to be adapting materials to students of the 21st century. This way of thinking can be applied to all subjects. It is no longer a question of whether to use ICT and other technologies, but how to incorporate them in order to benefit our students.

There is no reason that a generation can memorise over 100 Pokemon cards and yet cannot learn their multiplication tables or fractions in maths and how power stations work in science.

It simply depends on how it is presented.

If we want to reach every single one of our students, we need to change. It is easy to shrug a shoulder and stick to the usual routines, but is that the kind of teacher you want to be?

ICT and other technologies can BRING CONCEPTS TO LIFE and ENGAGE STUDENTS, which leads to GREATER UNDERSTANDING.

It’s all about being the best teachers we can be for our students and helping them reach their full potential.

I have created the following ICT resources about perimeter and area, with the help of my sisters. It is resources like these that can foster interest and support learning. It doesn’t need to be time consuming, the following are easy to create and can be kept for future use.

IWB RESOURCE – PERIMETER (click on the images to enlarge)

PHOTOPEACH – PERIMETER AND AREA (click on the image)

 

Click here to start using PhotoPeach.

VIDEO – AREA

GO ANIMATE – PERIMETER AND AREA  (click on the image)

Click here to learn about GoAnimate for schools and educators.

These resources can be placed on a class blog where students can freely access them to reinforce their learning independently and in a fun way. Homework activities can also be designed to incorporate revision using these resources on the blog.

Get creative and share your ideas, you just might be surprised with what you can come up with!

References

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon. 9 (5).

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Filed under Graduate Professional Experience 1, ICT & Technology, NSW Institute of Teachers’ Professional Teaching Standards, Resources, Teaching Strategies