Sunday, March 29, 2009

Literacy for all

I was lucky enough to go to a workshop on "Comprehension for All" yesterday led by Diane Snowball and Faye Bolton put on by Australian Literacy Educators' Association (Victoria). The strategies that Diane and Faye showed us and that they recommend teachers to teach to the students are:

1. Predicting/prior knowledge use

2. Answering and forming questions

3. Thinking aloud about reading

4. Using text structures and features

5. Visualizing and creating visual representations

6. Summarising

We went through the methods of teaching these strategies and heard about the importance of using the language with students. I thought it was a worthwhile workshop to attend and allowed me the time to stop and reflect on what I am doing in the classroom when students plaintively say, "But I don't GET it, Miss."

There is a set of CDs available with film clips of classrooms where the teaching is being done in this way and I thought it would be helpful to view these so I ordered a copy of the Years 6 to 9 CD.

I would like to finish with a quote from Diane: "Research has shown that comprehension instruction can improve the reading comprehension of all readers, even beginning readers and struggling older readers. It will help your students to understand, remember and communicate with others about what they read. Most importantly, it will help your students want to read more!" And that's what I would like for my students.

Image attribution: 'CompCommDay2'

Monday, March 09, 2009

Amazing Siftables

I found this Ted Talks video via the Edtech Crew and Mr Robbo who was interviewed in the last podcast. (Mr Robbo is a 2nd year teacher who uses blogging in his teaching of PE). I was blown away and will be showing it to my students this week. Hope you like it.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Getting started in ICT: a presentation by Rachel Boyd

Love this slideshare by Rachel Boyd. The abstract for this session said: "Are you overwhelmed by the spectrum of choice in Web2 and ICT? This "taster" session will examine how to pick the cream from the crop of the field of Web2 and choose what will best support learning for your students. Great for beginners, we will also look at practical ideas for the management and implementation of ICT in your classroom." Thanks to Amanda Marrinan for the heads up.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Keen student bloggers

I have just started the year 8s blogging and they are in the very early stages, still making mistakes, giving away too much personal information, using copyright images without permission and writing their posts without making sure their potentially global audience will understand their idiosyncratic spelling and slang references. Soon this will improve and then I will link to the blog and hopefully facilitate some global connections. But one student has really got it. I got a comment today on the class blog:
"To Mrs Mcleay,
Did you hear about the 2009 Student Blogging Challenge on this website. It looked interesting and I was wondering what it was? It looked like we could maybe try and look into it for a challenge."

I was so happy that one of my students had found this site and made a comment encouraging our class to get involved. It is a great idea and I am looking forward to getting us started. This is some information about the challenge: "The challenge begins in March 2009 and continues to May 2009. Weekly challenges are posted here on this class blog. Students can complete as many as they wish to try. Please fill in the google form below if you wish to register either your own class blog or if students wish to register their own individual blog."

Monday, March 02, 2009

What has the first month been like?

In this post I am going to do what I often ask my students to do - step back and reflect on some amount of learning they have been involved in. As you may remember (have to review - it was a while ago) I started a new school after having a term of Long Service Leave (I guess it might be called a sabbatical in some places). It turned out to be a lot easier than I supposed getting back into teaching after such a long break. Only once did I feel a sense of relentlessness at the pace of life at school. But that was soon over. I am remembering peoples names better than I expected as well. Coming from a school where we had four periods a day of 75 minutes each, I found the new school's seven periods of 43 minutes each to be strange. But it has a certain rhythm to it, and of course, you see the students more frequently. Maybe that's why remembering names is easier. I am teaching Geography now, which I haven't taught for over ten years and I am enjoying the discipline. I love this video which I found through Jess McCulloch on the same topic that we are exploring in Year 8 Geography the diversity of Asia and the challenging of stereotypes. I am loving the energy and life of the Year 8 Homegroup I have (who I teach for English and Religious Education as well). We are getting into blogging and literature circles, and I am sure I will be reflecting on those activities when we are a bit more into them.

Some of you may know that I have been challenged with my family life with the serious accident of my 17 year old son Kieran. He was just about to start Year 12, and was newly appointed vice captain of the Under 18s Victorian state gridiron team. These things have had to be put on hold while he has recovered from a subdural haematoma and three broken vertebrae. Luckily, it looks like there is no permanent damage, but he will be doing his year 12 over two years as he can only go to school part time starting from tomorrow. He fully realises how lucky he is, but there are some things that he will not be able to resumes for several months (such as driving - he was an exemplary learner driver, and contact sports).

Another thing that I have enjoyed more than I ever thought I would has been the twitter 365 photo challenge and the 2009 365 flickr photo project. Here are some tips if you are participating as well. I am blogging about these here. It is such a great record of the daily ups and down of life, and a challenge to look deeper at my life and see a story in it. After the somewhat rocky beginning to my 2009, I am looking forward to the rest of it, and starting to fee more confident in my new role at my new school. One of the best things was that I was called up by the Head of school and given the additional title of coordinator of ICT pedagogy. It was a great boost indeed to my feeling of belonging at the school.

Land use on the way to work