Time to reflect …..

So, I’m very close to completing Assignment 3 for this subject and I can almost taste the end of this very busy semester!
We have been asked to deeply reflect on our prac experiences and evaluate how we were able to incorporate ICTs in our teaching.  I have found this to be quite a difficult process (I think I’m very overtired with little left to give this semester) but have tried to take the recommended time to reflect on how I went and work out what actions I need to take to improve for next time.
A common catchcry in education revolves around being a reflective practitioner so I tried to think about what this might mean to me.  I think it requires more than just thinking about what went well or not, but more about actually taking the action next time – what changes do I have to make in my practice to be even better for my students next time?
Something to think about a little more with a chilly wine and a tasty cheese on our well-deserved uni break!
All the best everyone.
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Teaching the Concept of Sharing

Sharing Flavored, Colored Ice by clappstar, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License   by  clappstar 
So while on my recent placement at a special school, my mentor asked me to prepare a sequence of lessons to be given individually to s student who has big difficulties with sharing.  I was really pleased to be able to do this as I have a little repertoire of social skills lessons “up my sleeve” and was quickly able to plan these lessons.
I searched for some appropriate songs and videos (to incorporate the use of ICTs) and downloaded these on to my iPad.  For the first lesson, although the student didn’t know me very well, she was very willing to participate due to having 1:1 adult attention and the irresistible lure of my iPad!  Together with a variety of resources I had prepared and a conversation script to invite another friend to play, my mentor was very excited with the progress the student had made over the course of three weeks.  A little success, for me.

It’s a bit of a mindshift

As this is a return placement for me, I was definitely under no illusion that this was going to be an easy prac!  I am thoroughly enjoying working with these little ones (four to seven year olds) much more than I ever thought I would but I’m actually struggling with the planning required for these beautiful children.  As they all have an intellectual impairment I have struggled a little finding just the right approach and activities to best suit their needs and meeting the requirements of Early Childhood practices.
Using their individual goals, I have been able to develop engaging activities (not really with much ICT included) but always with deep consideration of how having an intellectual disability affects learning.  I’m really learning so much on this prac about the impact of intellectual disability and it has really broadened my personal knowledge.  Although I work with children who have an autism spectrum disorder on a daily basis, few of the children I usually work with have an intellectual impairment as well so I am really valuing this opportunity.
As the days of prac go on and I am feeling a bit more tired, I think I will start dreaming of lying about on a couch like Sandra watching silly rubbish on TV and probably not even taking any of it in!!

The early prac experience

So I’ve been on prac just over a week now and had a variety of highs and lows.  For some reason, I seemed more anxious going on this prac than any other so far and fought the butterflies for the entire first week.  There is always some sense of relief after giving the first few lessons and getting that initial feedback.

Amongst the lessons I have been asked to design have been a sequence of lessons on sharing, numeracy focus lessons based on Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed with associated activities and Goldilocks and the Three Bears with associated activities.  In addition to this, I am also running morning sessions using IWB activities and afternoon sessions using Priory Woods IWB activities.

I am new to the Early Childhood experience so it has been a great learning experience for me.  Looking forward to some more new adventures …..

My bag is packed!

going to school by mollybob, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  mollybob 
In think I’m pretty well sorted now and quite looking forward to starting prac tomorrow.  Although I feel like I have done as much as I can to be fully prepared, I always feel anxious that I have forgotten something.  I have definitely organised the big things – lesson plan templates, forms and reports to be signed, looked at curriculum content, met my mentor and children and even had a flu shot!
Like Beata, there are always going to be a few nerves and in reality, it may take a couple of days to overcome these feelings.  My mentor is allowing me the first couple of days to observe and spend time getting to know the children before I take my first lesson on Wednesday.  Lucas has been preparing some resources ahead of time too, so I hope his laminator makes the grade!
I wish everyone all the best for the pracs! 🙂

My poor laminator! It just has to make it through with me!

Glue’s party by Miss Vio, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  Miss Vio 
With our professional experience creeping up and having a little advance notice of where I was going to be placed, I have been madly making visuals to help support some of my lessons.  My husband is going nuts about how much ink I am going through in the printer and my laminator seems to have gone into overdrive!  It actually overheated last night and devoured a couple of my pages which I still need to reprint – probably when hubby goes to work!
Many of the visuals I am making will be used as parts of visual schedules and for communication but I have also made a number of resources for lessons I will be giving.  Most of the children are working on counting to five (one student to ten and another to three – so there’s some differentiation) so in the first week I plan to focus numeracy around “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” and have found a number of lovely YouTube and interactive activities to use on the IWB.  Amanda has been searching for IWB resources too and mentioned Topmarks as one of the sites she discovered.  I like this site too and had noted it down as it has a Gingerbread Man game I plan to use when I take some Literacy lessons and introduce the book with a story reading on YouTube.  Starfall and Wartgames also have some interesting activities I’ll take another look at too.
I just hope my laminator and I have the stamina to make it through the next few weeks!!

The word is out!

So the cat’s finally out of the bag!  The word is out!  The much anticipated notifications have been received (apparently a few of my peers are still waiting and I just feel so sad for you).  Today, many of us found out where we are going to be teaching for our next professional experience, less than one week away!  Luckily for me, I had a return placement and the school notified me of my mentor and class a little while ago.

Last week I had a meeting with my mentor and spent a couple of hours in the class getting to know the students.  I must admit, I feel quite anxious as the year level is way out of my comfort zone but my mentor seems very supportive.  I expressed my concerns to her about how I could incorporate ICTs into this diverse group of six students with multiple impairments as she reassured me that anything I could do would be useful.  An article on Edutopia, 3 Tips for Integrating Tools at the Start of School offers some sound advice for incorporating technology.  This is particularly useful for this context – to realise that “not all tools are going to end up as big winners”.  That made perfect sense to me and I felt it take away some of the pressure I had placed on myself.  The article supports what we have been told all along and that is, that we should be constantly evaluating all the technologies we use in the classroom – to make sure we are using them to their best advantage – to create a better learning environment for our students.

P.S. Connect.ed

It seems that I misunderstood the requirements of this week i.e. to post a copy of the certification which verifies completion of the four on-line training modules discussed in my previous post.  So now I will provide a link to substantiate my claim of completion and enable you to view a copy of the Connect.ed Cybersmart Certificate.  Whilst I haven’t actually started working on my ePortfolio that I will hopefully use to gain employment when I graduate, this certificate will assist in providing evidence towards Professional Standards 4.5 – use ICT safely, responsibly and ethically.  This topic is, of course, paramount in my mind as I begin thinking about my upcoming prac as a return placement in a special school.

Connect.ed branches

Tree by mjm.photos, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  mjm.photos 
Another branch on my ICT learning journey has grown tonight as I completed the Connect.ed series of four on-line training modules.  These have been designed for teachers to help students stay safe online.
These professional development modules are intended to provide teachers with the knowledge, confidence and resources to educate students about a range of cyber safety topics.  A range of resources are freely available from Cyber[smart] and include a variety of virtual classroom experiences  and lesson plans specifically developed for different age groups across primary and secondary years.
I was quite interested in one of the aspects covered in Module 3 where it was discussed that although there hasn’t been a test case yet in Australia, as teachers, our duty of care can extend to outside of school hours.  Sandy also picked up on this theme in her blog as well.  I don’t know about you, but this SCARES me!!  In the school context, I can educate and prepare my students for safety on-line, but am I to be held accountable for their on-line behaviours outside of school?  Hopefully, they too, will transfer their knowledge of digital citizenship and safety on-line wherever they go.

How do I feel about Prac?

Good question!

Luckily, I have barely had time to give it the consideration it deserves, but like liv1609 I admit to feeling some apprehension too.  This apprehension stems from a couple of sources – from within me (my ability to integrate ICT for young students with multiple impairments) as well as external to me.  This is a return placement (I’m doing Special Education) and I organised it with the school before I finished up with them last time.  I sent all of the required paperwork in to the Professional Experience Office in February (even before this semester had started) comforted by the knowledge it was a return placement and I had it completely sorted.  The school have already allocated me a class.  I’ve met the students.  I’ve been in email contact with my Mentor ……..  Now, today even, while checking InPlace, I still don’t have a placement – not even “coming up”!  I am completely devastated by this and it only adds to the stress levels that I can’t even talk to someone in the Professional Experience Office until Monday.  I have a meeting with my Mentor on Monday afternoon to work out the finer details.

I feel confident that I have done everything physically possible to establish a successful prac, but I just feel so let down and pretty insignificant.