I set a challenge to myself to ensure every point of the NSW IT teachers elements were adhered to in at least one lesson throughout my internship. Up until this week, I had not fully met that goal. I have tested the waters in many classroom activities of peer tutoring and collaborative learning with many students discussing questions and solutions with person they sit adjacent to, but have not established a full group work activity with little to no input from me. Hence, I was as yet unable to tick off element 4.1.4 (Uses student group structures as appropriate to address teaching and learning goals) and 4.1.2 (design and facilitate a variety of purposeful group structures that facilitate student engagement to make content meaningful). I corrected that this week.
In year eight, I started a new topic in maths – coordinate geometry. This has a very strong correlation to map reading skills, so the introductory lesson was largely based on maps. I created my own resources with letter and number coordinates for Sydney, London, Disneyland, Hogwarts Castle, Sydney Entertainment Centre and the Sydney Football Stadium (examples are below). Each map had its own set of scaffolded questions (starting from identifying the feature at reference E5, up to determining bearings, most viable roads to take and varying perspectives in a seating plan). I separated the students into teams of four and assigned one map (Sydney) to three teams and one (London) to three other teams. The ninjas had to correctly answer every question and race their solutions to the front – the winning team for each set of maps scored three points, with the runner up receiving 1 point. I repeated this three times – three teams working on Hogwarts, three teams on Disneyland. Eventually we had declared a winner on the scoreboard.
The ninjas loved this activity – many came up at the end of to specifically tell me how much they enjoyed it, and every student seemed actively engaged in the activity. This helped me greatly in developing a strong rapport with the students, which McBurney-Fry outlines as a vital component in obtaining and keeping the attention of students (2002, p. 104). While walking around the room observing the teams working on their maps, I was pleased to see plenty of debate, peer tutoring and “tremendous energy towards mathematics” (Narayan, 2010). I was quite proud of myself (and of my students), and hopefully it opens the door to keep them keen and interested in the new topic until the end of term. A key dependant variable of an effective group project is member satisfaction and these girls were very satisfied with their efforts (Krech, Crutchfield, & Ballachy, 1962, p. 457). Aside from adhering to the teaching elements concerning group work, I am confident I have also met standard 5.1.4 that requires me to provide clear directions for classroom activities and engage students in purposeful learning activities.
Here is an example of the Disneyland Map:
Krech, D., Crutchfield, R., & Ballachy, E. L. (1962). Individual In Soceity. Berkeley: McGraw-Hill.
McBurney-Fry, G. (2002). Improving Your Practicum. Sydney: Thomson.
Narayan, D. (2010, January 24). Motivating Student Learning through Real World Applications of Higher Mathematics. Retrieved September 1, 2010, from Mathematical Association of America:http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p206824_index.html
NSW Institute of Teachers. (2010). Professional Teaching Standards. Sydney. NSW Institute of Teachers.
A Computing teacher with a passion for collaboration and open source teaching.