TEACHERS KNOW THEIR SUBJECT CONTENT AND HOW TO TEACH THAT CONTENT TO THEIR STUDENTS
I HAVE…a solid understanding of the subject content across the K-6 Syllabus and how to teach that content to meet Syllabus outcomes. My Education degree at Sydney University has provided specialized focus on the Key Learning Areas of English, Maths, Science and Technology, Creative Arts, PDHPE, and HSIE, as well as other subjects. As such, I have a solid understanding of the content expected to be taught in the K-6 years based on relevant Syllabus documents. As evidence of my knowledge of subject content, as well as effective pedagogy to teach the content, I have included an excerpt of a Science Unit of Work. This demonstrates that I have considered in depth the content of the Science strand Living Things, identifying what students need to know in Stage One and planning a sequence of meaningful and engaging lessons around this knowledge to meet Syllabus outcomes. Throughout my degree and practicums, I have written numerous lesson plans and Units of Work which reflect an understanding of Syllabus outcomes, appropriate pedagogies and an understanding and incorporation of ICT.
I WILL…seek to improve my understanding and practice of the inclusion and use of ICT in the classroom, especially in regards to evaluating software. I would like more experience during the next practicum in integrating ICT in interesting and content-based way in the classroom. If the opportunity arises I would like to work with Smart Boards to enhance my teaching. Further, I will document my use of ICT in the classroom to demonstrate I have met this aspect of Element 1 during my next practicum.
GOAL FOR PRACTICUM: Incorporate ICT meaningfully to enhance student learning.
I NEED…. to consider ways in which to integrate ICT in classroom situations to enhance learning. By exploring new ideas about teaching through the use of ICT, teachers are rising to the challenge of being appropriate for the times, and this promotes learning experiences which are relevant, engaging and more collaborative in nature (Latham, Blaise, Dole, Faulkner, Lang, Malone, 2006, p. 258). Professional Development in regards to ICT is an “important educational imperative” (Phelps & Graham, 2007, p. 15).
With this in mind, I can take the following steps towards my goals for practicum:
1. Talking to teachers I know about how they use ICT in their classrooms. Visiting their classrooms and witnessing use of SmartBoard technology will enhance my understanding of how to integrate ICT into the classroom.
2. I need to document the ways in which ICT’s can be integrated in learning. For this to occur, I need to make clear observations on practicum, as well as do some reading about strategies about ICT in the classroom.
3. I need to plan my own lessons during practicum with a range of ICT experiences, with the aim of extending myself beyond my comfort zone. Gaining feedback on these will be important for future reference.
4. Professional Development courses would be helpful to attend if they come up before or during practicum. I need to search for these opportunities.I BELIEVE… I believe knowing what you are teaching and how to best teach it to students is central to teacher’s work, and determines the quality of the classroom learning environment. As a teacher, an integral part of planning for learning experiences is to firstly grasp the main ideas which students are required to know in order to meet learning outcomes. Doing background research, investigating the topic yourself and considering what the big ideas of the content are contributes to content-rich and meaningful lessons for students. Paul Dufficy (2005, p. 124) suggests the first questions teachers need to answer when planning learning experiences are “What do the children need to think about?” and “How can I assist them to do so?” Teachers should be able to articulate the learning outcomes they want their students to learn and achieve, and subsequently be able to sequence learning in a way which supports students to do this. Pedagogical content knowledge should come first in planning learning experiences, followed by the use of technology to enhance learning (Latham et., al, 2006, p. 251). I believe teachers should use their understanding of the Quality Teaching model to plan learning experiences which students both enjoy and meet Syllabus outcomes. For instance, teachers should ensure lessons are focused on Deep Knowledge and Deep Understanding to promote Intellectual Quality (NSW Department of Education and Training, 2003) by referring explicitly to subject content.
Element 1 Evidence
Annotations for the evidence
I have included as evidence of my achievement of Element 1:
An excerpt from a Unit of Work “Living Things”, from the Science and Technology strand (Stage 1). This demonstrates that as a teacher I recognise the need to KNOW MY SUBJECT CONTENT in-depth, as well as identify what students at a particular stage need to know. I have used this knowledge to design a lesson sequence aimed to TEACH CONTENT TO STUDENTS in a meaningful and engaging way, based on constructivist pedagogy, which I have also included as evidence.
*I have made explicit reference to the main concepts of the Unit, and identified the learning process as a Scientific Investigation. 1.1.1
*I have planned the 5 lessons around the 5E’s model of pedagogy for teaching Science Investigations, including hands-on activities which reflect a constructivist approach to teaching and learning. 1.1.2
*I have made links to the NSW Curriculum documents, both in the overall planning of the Unit as well as in the lesson plans. 1.1.3
*I have included use of ICT in order to promote student engagement and allow students to meet syllabus outcomes. 1.1.4
Investigating in Science and Technology: Developing a Sequence of Lessons
STAGE 1 SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY UNIT OVERVIEW/CONTEXT
Unit Title: Plants as living things
|Stage: 1||Lessons: 5 lessons, 45 minutes each|
|Unit Aim: This Unit is designed to engage students with the concept of plants as living things, building on concepts introduced in the ES1 Living Things strand. It provides opportunities for students to explore features of living things (with a focus on plants) such as lifecycles, requirements and structures to support survival. This unit is aimed at equipping students with, and refining skills of, the process of Investigating Scientifically, with a number of planned investigations throughout.|
|Content Strand: Living ThingsMajor Science Concepts: - Living things grow and change over time and have lifecycles- Plants grow from seeds and need food for growth- Plants make their own food- Plants need various requirements for growth (eg water, light).Identified in Big Ideas (Department of Education, 2003).Focus of learning process: Investigation||Other KLA links:English- Scientific literacy. RS1.5 Reads a wider range of texts on less familiar topics with increasing independence and understanding, making connections between own knowledge and experience and information in texts.PDHPE- Growth and development. GDES1.9 Identifies how people grow and change.Maths- Recording measurement. MS1.1 Estimates, measures, compares and records lengths and distances using informal units, meters and centimeters.|
|Outcomes:||Indicators:||Main Activities in lessons:||Assessment Strategies:|
|Content: LTS1.3- Identifies and describes ways in which living things grow and change.||- Measures and records, over a period of 4 weeks, the length of bean plants using informal units.- observes, ask questions and predicts how a plant obtains water and nutrients||- Observe and record a bean plant’s lifecycle over a 3-4 week period.- Watch a demonstration of how celery leaves obtain water which has been coloured.||Students assessed by their investigation sheets which show their observations and recorded measurement of their bean plant. Students are to be observed in class in regards to their questions and responsiveness to the topic.|
|Investigating Scientifically:INVS1.7 Conducts guided investigations by observing, questioning, predicting, collecting and recording data and suggesting possible explanations.||- observes, ask questions and predicts how a plant obtains water and nutrients- observes, asks questions and records what happens to plants when they are deprived of a requirement- observes and records stages in the growth of beans and predicts how different conditions might affect growth.||- Investigate what happens to plants when deprived of a requirement, making predictions and observing and recording results.- Predicts and observes how a plant obtains water.||Students assessed on their skills of investigation with a combination of teacher observation, work samples from the investigation, and student’s ability to present explanations to the class.|
|Values:VA2 Exhibits curiosity and responsiveness to scientific and technological ideas and evidence.VA3 Initiates scientific and technological tasks and challenges and perseveres with them to their completion||-||-||-|
|Lesson Sequence: |
Overview of Unit lesson sequence
|Lesson||Outcomes-Students should be able to:||Lesson Summary|
|ENGAGE||Introduction to plants as living things||- identify plants as living things- make sketches of plants that are more scientific and record observations||Students are given opportunities to discuss whether plants are living things and how to tell if they are alive or not. A plant hunt within the school grounds allows students to make observations and sketches of plants, considering where plants like to grow. Students then label a picture of a plant, building a scientific vocabulary for the unit.|
|EXPLORE||Living things grow in lifecycles, don’t they?||- recognise living things change and grow in lifecycles- ask questions and make predictions about an investigation into growing beans/seeds.- record observations and use informal measurements to track growth of plants.||Students consider that living things grow in lifecycles, including plants. Students begin a scientific investigation into the lifecycle of plants starting from beans/seeds.|
|EXPLAIN||What do plants need to grow?||- identify needs of plants- predict and observe how plants obtain water- identify that plants make their own food using water, carbon dioxide and sunlight.||This lesson allows the teacher to explain the needs of plants to students with a view to developing a deep understanding of the science concepts and addressing any student misconceptions. The main focus is on how plants obtain water and nutrients to support their growth.|
|ELABORATE||What happens if a plant doesn’t get what it needs?||- Conduct guided investigations- Predict what will happen when a plant is deprived of a requirement- Make and record observations using digital photography.||In small groups students conduct an investigation into plant requirements with teacher guidance, developing their skills of Investigating Scientifically.|
|EVALUATE||What did we find out from our investigation?||- Present their findings to the class, suggesting possible explanations.- Identify plants grow in lifecycles, starting from seeds- Identify characteristics of plants which suggest they are alive.- Describe needs of plants||Students are assessed on their understanding of the science concept of plants as living things. Firstly, they make presentations of their findings from the investigations, and then complete worksheets as part of assessment.|
Lesson Aim/Purpose: This lesson seeks to further develop students’ understanding of plants in regards to their requirements for growth, with a focus on explaining that plants have a structure to support their growth. This lesson provides an opportunity to present the current scientific explanation of plant growth and needs, and if necessary, to address student’s alternative conceptions surrounding this unit so far.
Syllabus Outcomes: LTS1.3- Identifies and describes ways in which living things grow and change.INVS1.7 Conducts guided investigations by observing, questioning, predicting, collecting and recording data and suggesting possible explanations. Lesson Outcomes:Students should be able to:
- identify the needs of plants for growth- predict and observe how plants obtain water
- identify that plants make their own food using water, carbon dioxide and sunlight.
|Introduction (whole class)Brainstorm as a class: What does a plant need to stay alive? Put pictures up or draw them on the board as students say them, prompting their responses eg. sunlight, water, nutrients, soil. Discussion question: Do plants eat like humans do? How do they get their food and drink their water? Exploring (table groups)Students return to desks, where the teacher has placed celery sticks in coloured water (Note: this demonstration needs to be set up a few days in advance). Students then observe, ask questions and predict in groups how a plant obtains water, reporting back to the class. Teacher explains how they get their water, and tells students water is actually used to help plants make their own food. Developing (whole class)Teacher explains briefly how plants make their own food using water, carbon dioxide and sunlight. Read out and show pictures on pages 10-11 in the book “Earth’s Cycles- The Food Cycle” about photosynthesis. Teacher doesn’t need to go into detail, as the content will be covered in later stages. The important thing is that students understand plants make their own food. Concluding (whole class)Using an interactive Smart Board, the teacher and class explore the following two websites, which relate directly to the content taught in the lesson (requirements for plant growth, how plants make their own food). BBC K-2 Bite Size http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/ks2bitesize/science/tests/plants_grow.shtmlThis website has a quiz about plant growth. The content is aimed at young children; however, the teacher will need to read out the questions as the language might be difficult. What do plants need?http://webinstituteforteachers.org/~agrosenheider/whatdoineed.htmThis website has pictures of what plants need.||Pictures of plant requirements (or markers to draw them). Clear plastic cups (one or two for each table) Celery sticks for each cup Food colouring “Earth’s Cycles: The Food Cycle” by Cheryl Jakab (2007). Smart Board||This introduction is a simple way to get students thinking about plant requirements and should build on their existing knowledge. As such, it establishes the lesson as a joint construction of knowledge, with an aim to make links between current and new ideas. The teacher’s role is to introduce new ideas and explain these to students to help them work in their Zone of Proximal Development, based on the work of Vygotsky. Students are encouraged to make predictions about how plants obtain food and water, providing the context of learning for the lesson. The exploration activity has been included in the lesson to show visually how plants use their structure to obtain water, which is helpful in developing student recognition that plants require water for growth. It has been sequenced after lessons which have already built up a vocabulary for students to use (eg. stem and roots), and gives students an opportunity to use these scientific words in the classroom. However, the teacher needs to be aware of the common misconception students have that plants get their food from the soil up through their roots (Tytler et al, 2008), which is addressed in the following activity. One of the key ideas identified for Stage 1 science learners by the Department of Education (2003) is that plants have requirements for growth, including food, which they make themselves. This is a difficult concept for young students to grasp, which is why a book with visuals is used to briefly explain how a plant makes its own food. This activity is designed to inform students and explain current scientific knowledge students may not have encountered before, developing their understanding of the concept of plants as living things. An engaging and useful method of consolidating knowledge from the lesson is to take an online quiz designed for young science learners. Using technology in the classroom will appeal to visual learners, and provide opportunities for student involvement in developing the science concepts taught.|