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Element 2

ELEMENT 2 TEACHERS KNOW THEIR STUDENTS AND HOW THEY LEARN

Element 2 Aspects- Graduate Teacher

2.1.1 Demonstrate knowledge, respect and understanding of the social, ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds of students and how these factors may affect learning.
2.1.2 Demonstrate knowledge of the typical stages of students’ physical, social and intellectual development as well as an awareness of exceptions to general patterns.
2.1.3 Demonstrate knowledge of students’ different approaches to learning.
2.1.4 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of students’ skills, interests and prior achievements and their impact on learning.
2.1.5 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of specific strategies for teaching:
• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students
• Students with Special Education Needs
• Non-English Speaking Background students
• Students with Challenging Behaviours.
 2.1.6 Demonstrate knowledge of a range of literacy strategies to the meet the needs of all students including:
• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students
• Students with Special Education Needs
• Non-English Speaking Background students
• Students with Challenging Behaviours.

Milestones- I have...  

I have collected information about the context of the teaching environment on each of my professional experiences. This has included examining the class in terms of grade, size, gender ratio and cultural background. By considering the environment in which my lessons are delivered I have been better able to adapt to the needs of the students in each class (Aspect 2.1.1).

Teaching Context 


The practicum class was a Year 1 class with 23 students, 15 of which were girls and 8 of which were boys. This gender imbalance did not appear to sufficiently affect the dynamics of the class however it did make it difficult to appear gender neutral by selecting equal numbers of boys and girls for various tasks. Although the students represented a different cultural backgrounds, none of the students had been identified as needing ESL support. Three of the students in the class received pull-out reading recovery and explicit phonics instruction at least twice a week. Due to this it was important to scaffold task explanations so that students with reading difficulties were able to comprehend written worksheet instructions. Within the class, a large range of abilities was apparent. Students’ experience of group work primarily consisted of working independently on individual tasks, or with the teacher, in streamed (ability) literacy groups.

 
 
I have continued to develop further understandings about the way that students approach learning throughout each of my professional experiences (Aspect 2.1.2).  In recognising the stage of physical and intellectual development in my Year 1 class, I was able to design a lesson on losing and growing teeth as part of the students ‘How Living Things Change and Grow’ unit. This lesson linked a stage appropriate text with the changes that students in the class were experiencing. The scope of the lesson allowed students to explore how everyone develops at different rates.

Excerpt  from Lesson Plan
 Learning Experience
Modelled reading of Franklin and the Tooth Fairy. Oral comprehension questions throughout. After reading text, brief discussion about:-          Some people believe in the tooth fairy. Other people have different ways of celebrating growing up.-          Some animals don’t have teeth-          Some animals have more teeth than humans

Discussion about why we have teeth and the names of the two types of teeth.Explain that a survey is going to be conducted of the class to find out how many people have lost teeth, and how many teeth they have lost.
-          Use pictures of a tooth to show each person
Have student volunteers count the number of students for each point on the x axis (No. of Teeth Lost). Use blu-tac to stick the corresponding number of teeth in that column. Discussion and interpretation of graph results.

To view full lesson plan, click here.

I have increasingly become aware of the different learning styles that students prefer (Aspect 2.1.3). In recognising this I have endeavoured to allow students to choose their preferred style where appropriate, for example, allowing students to draw a labelled diagram or write a description. Similarly, when students were studying the lifecycle of the caterpillar/butterfly I developed a series of lessons that explored this concept in different ways; through the narrative of ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’, through a dramatic exploration to the changes that occur between each stage in the lifecycle, and finally by having students name and order the stages of the lifecycle in a diagrammatic form.

Excerpt from Lesson Plan for Dramatic Exploration

 Learning Experience
Teacher reads The Very Hungry Caterpillar to the students to refresh their memories about the story.Establish class agreement for behaviour during drama including safe movement and signals for moving in and out of role.
Warm Up: Moving around the room, imagining different types of movement, including:- walking along a street- trudging through mud, then crawling- floating like a leaf in the wind- carrying something really heavy.

Guide students through the story, asking students to use their bodies and faces only to show each change
Start as an egg on the leaf.
Slowly release different body parts to begin moving around the room as a caterpillar.
Bask in the warm sun.
Feeling really hungry, eat some food.
Still hungry taste a bit more.
Eat lots of food and you feel sick.
Eat a nice fresh green leaf.
You feel better but your feeling full so you start to slow down, and gradually curl into a cocoon.

To view full lesson plan, click here.

I have, where possible, tried to gain an understanding of students’ prior knowledge and skills in order to tailor lessons that are responsive to the needs of the students in the class (Aspect 2.1.4). One such example of doing this occurred when I conducted a series of lessons on reading the time. The first lesson was designed on the basis of information that the coordinating teacher was able to provide about students’ prior knowledge. Furthermore, during and after each lesson I assessed the skills that students were able to demonstrate and adjusted subsequent lessons to suit the levels of achievement demonstrated by each student.

Excerpt from Critical Reflection on Lesson Series


When planning this unit, I considered the research of Van de Walle (2001) which advocates an alternative approach to the teaching of time. Reflecting this approach, my first lesson involved exposing students to the hour hand of a clock, in isolation, as a means of estimating time in approximate terms, for example, just after one o’clock. Supplementary to this, students were asked to interpret approximate
descriptions to represent a suitable positioning of the hour hand.
 
The lesson was structured to commence with a whole class discussion of prior knowledge about analogue time, specifically student knowledge of what time is represented when the hour hand points to a given point on the clock face. A model clock was used as stimulus for this discussion. Shared terminology was introduced for describing time, in terms of the hour hand position, in approximate terms. As an additional extra, brief discussion occurred about predicting the position of the minute hand, given the hour hand position.  

To view the full critical reflection, click here.

I have developed some understanding of strategies to meet the needs of students (Aspect 2.1.5). In particular, my observation of a student with cerebral palsy who studied in a mainstream classroom allowed me to reflect upon strategies that can be used to adapt the learning environment to suit the needs of the student. Additionally, I have observed some strategies used to address students with challenging behaviours.

Excerpt from Reflection on Strategies to Assist a Student with Special Needs

Sam’s physical disability, although relatively mild, causes him some difficulties with completing tasks. For example, his fine motor skills are quite well developed and he shows great skill in sketching, however his handwriting is slow and laborious. For this reason, adjustments have been put in place for activities that require extended periods of writing, including allowing Sam to type and edit his narrative on the computer, and providing a photocopy of a text that other students copied and edited off an overhead transparency. In these examples, Sam is addressing the same curriculum concepts as his peers, simply through a different medium of written communication.

To view the full reflection, click here.


I have developed and demonstrated knowledge of some key literacy strategies that can be used to support the learning of students from non-English speaking backgrounds. These can be seen in a series of activities designed for a unit on simple machines that were specifically adjusted to be supportive to students with lower levels of literacy.

To view a "Read-Around Cloze" developed in this series of activities, click here.

 Milestones- I will and I need

I will

I need
Develop strategies for recognising and celebrating the diverse background of students- To plan activities in which students feel comfortable to share and discuss their backgrounds.

Expand my knowledge of strategies to support the needs of students with Autism-spectrum disorders.

* Three students in my next Professional Experience class are identified as having Autism-spectrum disorders*

- To review my notes and readings relating to Autism-spectrum disorders, including information contained in Inclusion in Action, and specific KLA support documents on the Board of Studies website.
- To discuss strategies to be implemented on my next Professional Experience with my cooperating teacher.
Expand my working knowledge of strategies to support the needs of students with non-English speaking backgrounds- To review  my notes and readings related to strategies to support the literacy development of students from non-English speaking backgrounds, especially Designing Learning for Diverse Classrooms (Dufficy, 2005).
- Read resources I have gathered from my membership in E-Lit, to extract information related to the latest research in support students’ literacy development, including Strategies for Reading Success (Halliday, 2008).
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