MILESTONES – ELEMENT #04
ELEMENT 4- TEACHERS COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY WITH THEIR STUDENTS
I believe that having effective communication with my students is vital for meaningful teaching and learning to take place in my classroom. When students have a goal to work towards, they find relevance in their learning and will have this as an incentive to strive hard in their work. Questions are a vital aspect of classroom communication between teacher and students. They reveal what students know and what they don’t know, which provides teachers with an indication to guide students in activities that show their knowledge, shape further understanding, and also encourage reflection (Morgan & Saxton, 1991, p. 41). Teachers’ understanding of which types of questions to use in order to enhance their students’ cognitive development is crucial. In class discussion, teachers should use divergent questions, as this allows students to elaborate on their answers, and engages students in higher orders of thinking, and allows them to move beyond superficial thinking (Zevenbergen, Sullivan, & Mousley, 2001). Divergent questions enable students to provide answers that are suitable at their level of understanding, therefore teachers are able to receive answers from gifted students, and also answers from students with more learning difficulties. There are, however, situations where convergent questions are more beneficial. An example is dates and time periods when learning about history. A benefit of using convergent questions is that the questioner is the one in control, which is a method that can be used to guide classroom discourse (Mercer, 1995, p. 28). I believe that grouping strategies are also effective because it allows for extensive communication between the students. Cooperative group work involves students working together to explore their ideas with others, and listen to others’ ideas. High levels of interactions occur within cooperative group work, and students are often working towards a shared goal (Murdoch & Wilson, 2004). There are many benefits of cooperative group work, and these include: boosting students’ self-esteem; students taking responsibility for their learning; students developing their confidence in their zone of learning; students improving their social interactions; promoting positive relationships between students; and students developing life-long skills that they can use in the workplace and within their families (Mitchell, 2006, p. 12). Valuable learning occurs when students are interacting with others as a tool to learn from others.
I believe that a teacher’s body language and vocal tone are important in encouraging students’ participation in answering questions. It is crucial for teachers to show understanding and support towards their students and encourage their students to participate in classroom discussions, regardless whether their answers may be correct or incorrect. Teachers need to regard every answer as important and valid. I believe that using a range of teaching strategies will make learning more enjoyable for the students. Children love trying new things, and by exposing them to different teaching strategies, this will enhance learning.
I have used significant and a range of questioning techniques throughout my lessons- including convergent and divergent questions. I have also incorporated grouping strategies in relevant lessons which encourage interactions between students and students, and teacher and students. I have used a range of teaching strategies to engage my students within my lessons.
I will ensure that effective communication and classroom discussions will occur by planning my explanations and demonstrations thoroughly and carefully so that they are explicit. I will facilitate my students’ learning by putting my explanations into simple terms so that my students are able to understand what I want them to know and learn. I will also set clear goals and expectations for my students, so that they can see that there is purpose in their learning. I will also use motivational strategies to encourage critical thinking from my students. I will communicate to my students an enthusiastic approach to learning, so that this will be instilled in them through my voice and body language.
I need to investigate about the great range of ICT and other types of technology which is available for teachers to access. I need to access a range of great and useful teacher’s websites which have been recommended to me by current teachers. I need to use a range of teaching resources to support my verbal explanations to my students. In my future lessons, I also need to allow for my students to express their own ideas and values through using more teaching strategies such as think-pair share, mind maps, brain storms etc. I need to show my students that I value the importance of the skills of communication, because these are the skills which they will carry throughout their whole life. I need to not only concentrate on the communication between my students and myself, but to also allow them to engage in effective communication amongst themselves and with other people within the school community.
EVIDENCE #1 FOR ELEMENT 4PRAC LESSONS 2008 – RINGROSE PRIMARY
Stage- 2 Years 3/4 R
Aim: The aim of this lesson is to introduce the students to the new text type called “discussions”. Students will learn how to construct and present evidence for arguments, they will learn how to justify their arguments, and critically evaluate others’ positions of arguments. Students will learn the different types of strategies used to engage or persuade an audience of their points of view.
Outcomes and Indicators:TS2.1 Communicates in informal and formal classroom activities in school and social situations for an increasing range of purposes on a variety of topics across the curriculum. TS2.3 Identifies the effect of purpose and audience on spoken texts and distinguishes between different varieties of English.WS2.9 Drafts, revises, proofreads and publishes well-structured texts that are more demanding in terms of topic, audience and written language features. WS2.10 Produces texts clearly, effectively and accurately using the sentence structure, grammatical features and punctuation, conventions of the text type.
- Discuss with students what they think the text type “discussions” is. Ask them where they think a discussion may take place in society- debating in schools, talk-back radio shows.
- Go through the main parts of a discussion with students. Inform students that discussions have a title, and then the next step is to have an introduction to let the audience know what the topic at hand is. Write the introduction as a whole class so students know the direction of the lesson.
- Tell students that they will be divided into groups of 4, and that they will be writing a discussion on “Should school canteens sell junk food?” When dividing students into groups, designate each child (4 per group) a specific role- time manager, group organiser, resource person, and the reporter. Divide the students by giving each a number, and then each number will have a specific role. The reporter will be the person who presents the group’s arguments for and against to the class. The reporter will also explain to the class how they worked together (what went wrong/right), and the methods they used to work together eg. Listening to each other’s opinions, not degrading anyone’s suggestions, everyone adhering to their own role and responsibility and not letting the group down
- Tell students to come up with arguments for the topic- so “canteens should sell junk food because ..” -write in dot points. Ask students to come up with arguments against the topic, and write in dot points on butchers paper.
- Inform students that they need to come up with their own conclusion, and that they need to make it clear what their position is in the argument.
- Give students their own topic to write about- “Should Australia have a prime minister?”
PURPLE- 4.1.1 Communicate clear directions to students about learning goals. Clear instructions were given to students throughout this lesson. The students knew what they had to do at every stage of the lesson. All these are explicit instructions given to the students, and the goals were well set out so that the students perceive their learning as goal directed.
BLUE – 4.1.4 Use student group structures as appropriate to address teaching and learning goals. Giving each student a designated role in each group is very effective. It gives each student a responsibility to take on, and makes the students feel important and part of a team. Dividing students into groups also develop their communication skills, as they are sharing ideas and building on each others’ ideas.
REFER TO EVIDENCE #1 FOR ELEMENT 3RED – 4.1.2 Demonstrates a range of questioning techniques designed to support student learning. The use of significant questions was also used. Most of the questions were divergent questions, which allowed for higher order thinking and allowed students to use more metacognitive strategies such as reflecting.