Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Best Laid Plans

I had organised my third prac to start today but it was not to be.  The supervising teacher took a leave of absence and I could not be placed at that school otherwise.

Never mind.

My husband had a work trip away, my car has a flat battery and uni scheduled an exam within the first week of my supposed prac so maybe these things happen for a reason...

I have a backup plan in motion and I am looking on the bright side.  At least I will have time to study for that exam now!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Trimester 3, 2013

I am half way through what will be the last summer of study for my current degree.  To say I am excited would be a slight understatement; the end is in sight and I am happy about that.  I am doing three units over the Christmas period and in between the end of school year rush, my finishing work, holidays, family and practicums three units is enough!

The units I am currently doing are:
EDAE224 Creative Arts Curriculum 2
EDSE213 Science and Technology
EDPE346 PDHPE - Health

After I finish this trimester I only have 6 units to go for my education degree and 3 units to go for the post graduate Theology certificate.  To borrow a phrase from Santa, I have made a list and checked it twice and all is looking well for 2014.  Merry Christmas indeed!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


There is something lovely about having a small child come up to you with a small package wrapped that they picked themselves just for you.  Having to wear new bracelets together for the last few days of school because every time they see you they look at your wrist to check if it is there and give you a shy smile of happiness when it is.  Of cards written and decorated with candy canes; boxes of chocolates and sweet treats too.  No teacher expects gifts, but when they are thoughtfully given as a way of saying thank you for doing a great job it is a special thing.

Also sweet is the unexpected gift that is given at the school presentation night to thank you for all your efforts throughout the year.  I was not expecting that any more than I was expecting my daughter to win the consistent achievement award for Kindergarten; what a great night all round!  I have been blessed this year to have worked with some wonderful teachers and students and to work at the school my daughter started at in the same year.

Today was my last day and at first I felt sad but then I decided to be happy and excited.   Teachers said they would see me in the new year and wished me well on my final pracs and my boss said to hurry up and qualify and make sure she was the first person I saw when I did; as I walked out I know I am no longer employed but I am still a part of the school family.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

End of Year at School

The season of silly is upon us!  I had no idea that the last week and a half of school was all about Christmas craft, cleaning, presentation night and community Christmas Carol based events.  Everyone at school is exhausted, myself included!!

I finished prac and got back to work just in time to SENA test year 3 and year 4.  A lot of these children have been coming to me for intensive maths classes for the past 6 months so it was with great excitement that I plotted growth in nearly all areas for nearly all students.  Even more exciting was seeing students use different strategies;  I loved seeing the different ways the students' approached problems in different ways. 

I was sad to tell school that I would not be taking any more hours in the short term next year.  I have practicums organised for term 1 and from there I will be applying for my teaching number.  I am very grateful to this wonderful small school for giving me so many opportunities and look forward to being 'just' a parent next year before hopefully returning as a casual teacher on class.

Saturday, November 30, 2013


I have just finished my second practicum placement, or PREX902, and it was a wonderful experience for me.  The school I went to had 30 students and two teachers.  My supervisor was the Principal and my class was 17 students in years 3 to 6 so was a multi-stage class.

I loved this small regional public school as it was VERY similar to the primary school I attended as a child.  It was very interesting for me to experience a school like this from the inside and compare the experience to the memories I had as a student some years ago.

Technology did not feature in the class room at all.  I was prepared for this as when I visited initially to have my paperwork signed I saw the layout of the classroom and made the decision to practice my handwriting before I started!  The layout of the tables suggested to me that the students did not do much work in pairs or groups and this was the case.  I tried to implement as much small group work as I could for the collaborative learning opportunities and as you can imagine this was pure chaos at first! 

I did learn a lot in this class.  My handwriting is much improved and I discovered that mulit-stage classrooms are not that different to any other class in terms of having to teach to differing levels of ability and it was not as bigger issue as I feared it may be.  I was also worried that there would be less teaching time due to the end of year rush but this was not the case.  Assessments were largely done before I started and I was given free reign with science (electricity) and HSIE (gold) and sport (tennis) and team taught maths.  I also took on some grammar first aid which was needed for some students.

My final report was wonderful and I am almost embarrassed by how well it reads but I have worked hard both on prac and with my studies so I am proud of myself for my efforts too.

edit: I have since received a letter from the UNE prac office to congratulate me on my prac report which was a nice surprise in the mail. 

The school has asked me back to do my next prac in the adjoining K-2 (Early Stage 1 and Stage 1) class next year which will be nice as I will be familiar with most of the students and the school routine so I will be able to jump right in with enthusiasm.  

The Mathematical Association of NSW {MANSW}

Back in September I was lucky enough to be able to go to the MANSW 2013 conference with 3 of the teachers from the school I work at.  I am not traditionally what would be called a 'maths' person so I was in part worried that a lot of it would be over my head and also excited to be learning new things that would help me teach maths.

The conference was at Terrigal and the above photo was the view from our shared apartment.  As a regional Australian it was nice to wake up and see the water each morning.

We went for a walk and saw some wonderful views of the surrounding headlands too.

There was so many good sessions over 2.5 days that it would be hard to mention them all.  I had fun folding paper and investigating shapes although I did have trouble assembling my cube shown above so I am not sure many of my primary school children would be giving that a go under my watch!

I loved the idea of using bendy straws fitted together to investigate angles and 2D shapes.  This will get used for my upper primary children but I think lower primary would lack the gross motor skills to assemble them and would be easily distracted and wanting to play (and blow) in the straws.

I enjoyed snipping strips of paper into different trapeziums and then sorting them in relation to size and angles.  This would be a great way to demonstrate that shapes can come in all shapes and sizes but still share common properties.

The food was great too.

I am lucky that I was given the chance to go to this conference even though I am not yet a qualified teacher.  I know when I enter my own classroom for the first time with a full class of students that I am responsible for teaching that I will be a better teacher because of the opportunities I have been granted so far as I finish my degree and move closer to my teaching number. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Manipulating Maths

For my lower Stage 2 children I try to keep maths as hands-on as I can.  Concrete materials help them 'see' the concepts in action and they always engage well with tasks such as these. 

A deck of cards and bingo to test multiplication facts.

Jigsaw puzzles based on a hundreds chart.  This is great for working out the decimals as they can use their knowledge of whole numbers on the hundreds chart to help work out the problem.

Using base ten to introduce the addition of decimals before a formal algorithm is applied.

Function machines for fun and as an introduction to algebra (not that they know that).

Fractions.  Different orientations and options explored through cutting up paper.  Some of the children did not think they were still quarters if some of the pieces were cut out differently as seen in the orange example so this proved to be very valuable (and still fun).

Fraction games...

...more fraction games...

...and more hands-on fun.

Some of these children have gone from actively disliking maths to asking if I would come in on my days off to make up missed lessons.  It is a good feeling to see them starting to enjoy mathematics.