Element Four: Teachers Communicate Effectively with their Students.
During lessons I utilise 'Bloom's Revised Taxonomy' to ensure a range of questions and to avoid using questioning as a behaviour management strategy. Thus, during lessons I encourage high order thinking by promoting the skills of analysis, evaluation and creativity, as evidenced in 'It's Time to Change,'. During my 2008 practicum with stage three students I encouraged 'Green Hat Thinking' (DeBono, 1999) by introducing a weekly class question. Students would have adequate time to consider the most creative response and post their answer anonymously. Students felt comfortable to risk full participation (which is optional) knowing their answers would be accepted without judgement. According to feedback from my teacher at Wahrronga Preparatory school I demonstrated; "Good questioning skills-required greater depth of thinking for students." (Apostolatus, 2007).
The lesson titled, 'It's Time to Change,' illustrates my ability to listen to students an engage them in classroom discussion. Promoting student input and discussion is best achieved by enabling students to clarify their ideas and thoughts in small groups, before bringing them with confidence to the class. During this lesson I wandered between groups, scaffolding discussion, providing ideas, raising questions and extending student thinking.
The majority of my lessons are guided by the belief that cooperative learning allows for engaging and motivating learning (Slavin, 1980). During a stage three HSIE lesson I utilised a range of grouping strategies to facilitate effective task discussion, spark new ideas and support a variety of abilities. By utilising a variety of grouping strategies; pairs, jigsaw, individual, whole class, ESL and mixed ability, I was able to increase student autonomy and self regulation.
In the same lesson I demonstrated my ability to utilise a range of teaching strategies and resources to foster interest and support in learning. At the beginning of the lesson students were engaged and prepared via an appropriate short video, this stimulus prompted effective task discussion. During the lesson students read a number of stories and appropriate texts and responded via a “Questioning Tower.” From the tower students had to choose and discuss set numbers of knowledge comprehension and middle to higher order questions. This also enabled differentiation for gifted and ESL students who focused on different types of questions. During my 2007 and 2008 school experiences I was fortunate enough to utilise Smart Board technology on a daily basis, thus I made use of online learning objects and appropraite websites to achieve learning goals.
During the next practicum experience I will further develop my ability to clearly communicate instructions and learning goals. While I have been able to do this on many occassions, my instructions often require further clarity.
Prior to each lesson I will record student/class learning goals in language which is clearly understood by students. I will then reiterate this to students at the beginning of each lesson. By the end of the practicum this skill should come naturally.
I believe that through effective use of questioning, grouping and resources teachers can create classroom environments where all learners are supported, engaged and motivated. Engaging students in the questioning process enables clarification of key concepts and ideas, the enhancement of problem solving skills and the emergence of new ideas (Caram & Davis, 2005). Questions which promote high order thinking form the crux of an authentic lesson and assessment tasks.
Cooperative learning is associated with gains in achievement, whilst also resulting in social and affective benefits (Slavin, 1980). Educators must utilise a range of grouping strategies, for instance heterogenous, homogenous, interest, pairs, and rotational. According to Tomlinson (1995) flexible grouping is the key to creating a differentiated classroom where all abilities are supported and extended.
According to Wishart & Blease (1999), "An environment where technology is used in innovative ways leads to improved learning and teaching." (p. 2) This is achieved through using a range of resources which act as sensory stimuli for students; promoting students' abilities to process and organise information, while also encouraging cognitive skills (McKendrick & Bowden, 1999; Smith & Blankinship, 2000). Furthermore, by providing students with different types of interactive learning experiences we are honouring the fact that individual students all learn in their own ways.
Jessica Coughlan, 2009.