04 January 2016

Did you read the instructions?

I'm sure any of my teacher friends will be able to relate to this post. I've been teaching for 9 years now, and I'm sure this would have to be the question I ask most frequently. Why am I writing about it? Just reflecting.

Today we were learning about time-lines in mathematics, and students had to create a time-line of a day in another class, using information provided in their book. I started the lesson with a demonstration, using our own timetable, of the various skills required. The biggest one was how do I make all that space show the correct amounts of time. After I'd demonstrated a couple, I had students continue the process on the whiteboard. Frustration abounded when the computer went into sleep mode (I've frozen the display) and I couldn't get it to come back again in exactly the same place. We worked around that, and it seemed like students were getting it, so I moved to the next step which was having students work independently in their maths journal.

Check for Comprehension Cards FREEBIE
Here's the link to where I got these
Before we got started I introduced our new Check for Comprehension Cards, and showed the student page using the projector. We talked about some of the more tricky parts, and then I sent to off to get started. Unfortunately, I forget to actually read the instructions at the top of the page with the students. Ooops!

As I wandered around the room, most students had either green or yellow cards displayed, which was a good start. After giving them time to get started, I took another walk around the room, and discovered that none of them had actually read the instructions, or if they did they weren't following them. I called the whole class back to the mat, and asked who had read the instructions. About 3 hands went up. I asked one of those students why they hadn't used any coloured pencils, which is what the instruction indicated. Her reply shouldn't really have surprised me, given the cultural context. She said, "No-one else was using colour so I didn't either."

We then reviewed the two sentence instruction at the top of the page together, highlighting the one word some might not have known, and then I sent them back to work. Alas, I still had students using a single colour for the whole time-line, and others who didn't put anything on it at all. Looks like I'll need to review the activity tomorrow. I'll see how many actually get it right, and I might have to get some new copies of that page and do a full demo on the board!

Ah, the joys of teaching! My favourite question: "Did you read the instructions?" Thankfully this was a learning activity and not formal assessment!

03 January 2016

Happy New Year

Another year has come and gone. I can distinctly remember all the work that went in to computer programs to ensure that Y2K (Year 2000) didn't create massive disruptions in the health system (and more particularly the BreastScreening program that I worked in at the time. At that time I had no idea what God had in store for me. In fact that was the year I embarked on a Graduate Certificate in Management (Queensland Health). I wasn't really sure where I was heading, but I guarantee that I wouldn't have even dreamed of being an elementary classroom teacher in an International School in Phnom Penh, let alone having been doing it for 9 years! Yes, I'm about to start my tenth year of teaching! Doing what I always wanted to do, back as far as primary school, and certainly for most of my high school year. God took me on a journey, eventually leading me to East-West International School, Phnom Penh. It's my sixth year at EWIS, and I still love it.

Tomorrow is the start of second semester for me. I've enjoyed the two week break from teaching (not completely from the classroom). Now I'm looking forward to seeing the children again tomorrow and getting them back into learning mode. Some of them have been busy over the break using RAZ-Kids and Xtra Math, which is good. Others have hopefully read the books they borrowed from the classroom library and school library. Some will have done both. My lessons for this week are planned and most of the preparation is complete.

Tomorrow we start work on daily number fact practice for multiplication. After we finish 40 days of multiplication we'll move on to division. Some of the students know their facts quite well so will be working on speed, others know them or can work them out very slowly, and they'll be working on speed as well, while others will be working on both speed and accuracy.

I'm not completely caught up on my marking, but there's not a huge amount to do. I'm hoping I can be completely up-to-date by the end of the week. I've still got after school program on Mondays for 3 more weeks, and then I'll do a term on Tuesdays, since uni has scheduled Collaborate lecture sessions on Monday afternoons.

My non-school goal for January is to read and take notes on my text book for the coming semester. The unit I'm about to embark on is called Inclusive Education: Theory, Policy and Practice. While the primary focus of the textbook is on the Australian and New Zealand context, I'm looking forward to exploring it in relation to the context of International Schools, especially in Asia, and particularly in Cambodia. Semester doesn't officially start until 22nd February, and actually teaching dates are 29th February to 3rd June, with a break from 26th March to 3rd April (I've got no doubt I'll be busy working on assignments during that break!). There will be plenty of extra reading to be done once the semester starts as well as lectures to listen to and assignments to write!

After a very early start this morning (4.30am wake-up to catch the flight back to Phnom Penh), I'm planning an early night tonight. I hope that plan works and I'm bright-eyed and well rested by 6am tomorrow for the coming school week. I hope that your 2016 has begun well, and is a good year. Soursedey Chnam Thmei. Happy New Year.