December 08, 2011

Making my intentions clear!

Finally I have settled down into this blog, first key point, I found differentiation hard today! I attempted a task where students were to evaluate the usefulness of various indicators. Some didn’t know how to begin, some were not here the previous lesson and so were not sure about what the indicators did. When I did the beetroot indicator experiment with them, some got a lot better results than others leading to different levels of understanding. Some were completely sure about the task and just did it quickly, however, I thought it was the kind of task that could be differentiated by outcome but these higher ability students still needed more prompting as to how they could move up blooms taxonomy even though the part they were doing at the moment was easy for them. One girl just doodled! Also it was clear that some children did not get the point of the poster experiment: to display evaluative skills in an interesting way. Basically students needed more scaffolding. Yet it was always so tempting, when I tried to get pupils to think for themselves to just tell them the answer! How can I scaffold them to think for themselves in such an evaluative task.. Maybe I needed to give a worksheet out explain what each indicator did to lower ability students or for children who were not there last time.

Period three today I taught a lesson on gravity. I attempted to explain it using the board and quite frankly was having a hard time. Then, however, my mentor modelled the effect using a string and a bung.. it was suddenly very clear to all! Something happened here that helped the penny to drop so much better in this lesson. Throughout the different tasks, it appeared they got on very well with distinguishing between ass and weight, yet I did not do very much AFL. My department does not have much any mini whiteboards and so it was very difficult to gage understanding. In a lesson such as this it seems self evident to me how mini whiteboards could be used: “Draw what you think is going on…” and after an explanation I say: “Draw what you think is going on now..” and it would have been clearer t me who had understood my explanation.

I also saw my mentor get very angry with some students. Which was fun! It was interesting to see, and to be quite honest, these lads benefit from things like this occasionally I think.. my mentor was very controlled throughout and I believe that he might be able to teach them more afterwards as a result.

Key points then to work on: explore better ways of explaining things and find out more about a class early on so that it is clear which students need differentiated work. My lessons could do with more involvement from more students too. Basically I need to reach the attentions of more of the students more of the time, AFL techniques could help me of course. But mainly I think at this stage, better explanations of what I am doing would help far more! I need to express my intentions far clearer, perhaps using far more visual cues, making sure more students know exactly what I am talking about. This means that, when I a lesson planning, I don’t only decide what my intentions are (I am getting ok with this) but that I think of as clearer way as possible of expressing these intentions.

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