Over my time at university as a student teacher I have gained an appreciation of Gardner’s work on Multiple Intelligences.

*Picture made using spiderscribe.net

It has helped me understand that the students I teach although come together as a class, are individuals with individual learning styles. In understanding this, I use Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences to help differentiate my teaching.
When planning activities my aim is to accommodate for the varying learning styles present in a classroom. It’s difficult to account for everyone in a single lesson but I think it’s important to reach out and cater to the different learning styles when and where possible.
It can be easy to fall into the trap of planning for one style because it’s most comfortable and easy to teach. Singing, dancing and illustrating may not be my strengths, but they may be the students’ strengths.
I use Gardner’s theory and the picture I created to remind me that not all students are the same and to ‘mix it up’.
The students will appreciate it.

How has Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences influenced your teaching?

It’s no coincidence that the best lessons I’ve taught are the ones I’m most enthusiastic and passionate about.

I believe that kids sense when you’re truly passionate about something and from what I’ve seen, this triggers their curiosity. It’s like they are getting a chance to know you better. Once they know you’re passionate about something, they seem to take it more seriously and want to impress, or find out why you are so interested in it.

One of my favourite stories of all time is Romeo & Juliet. After looking through some tubs at school, I stumbled across some reader’s theatre sets. Luckily enough, one of the sets was Romeo & Juliet. My eyes lit up, this was perfect for my reading group!
Almost immediately I was thinking of things I could do with it, different ways to present the story, questions to ask, information to give – it was all coming very easily to me.
I couldn’t wait to get to the next class to show them what I had found and take them through the story.

I presented it to them exactly as I felt about it:

“one of the greatest story’s ever told”

“a story over 400 years old and still as popular as ever”

“a story known throughout the world”

“a story written in 1595 made into a modern movie 400 years later”

“a story that has made countless people angry, happy, sad, smile, frown, laugh and cry”

“a story with lines so famous that people quote them without thought”

“a story that helps continue to make the author a house hold name”.

I had their attention after that introduction.
I didn’t need to think or plan how to introduce it, I just sat down with the students and told them what it was and what I thought of it, it was easy!

From that point on, it has been an absolute joy to teach and has been something I look forward to every week.
The students knew little to nothing about the story but I believe my enthusiasm played a key part in engaging them.

I do find some topics harder to teach than others.
These are topics that I have struggled to be creative and engaging with and I have  paid the price, having to deal with behavioural, engagement and focus issues.
I think it’s important to at least try and generate some enthusiasm about what is being learnt, to try and find a way to create some excitement or at least take the chore out of the topic.
What I now try and do when teaching a tough topic is to try and remember what it’s like to teach a topic I’m passionate about. Try and remember the attitude I had to the enjoyable topic and replicate it as best I can.

If you’re passionate about something use it! Meld and integrate it into your teaching. Not only will it make it easier and more enjoyable for you to teach but that enthusiasm will rub off and hopefully provided a more engaged class.


*As I write this I have been thinking…
I love the Tour De France and think it would be a good way to teach time, distance, geography, maths….and have a little bit of fun with.


Have you used a personal passion to aid teaching?

What was it? How did it go?

Reform Symposium 2011

Times: From 00:01am Saturday 30th of July, through too 09:30am Monday the 1st of August (Melbourne time, UTC+10)

I am very excited for this ‘event’. For a student teacher that doesn’t get a lot of chances for affordable, quality PD, you can understand my excitement when I open the google doc of the schedule for the Reform Symposium.

With more than 70 presentations and 12 keynote presentations the information, experience and knowledge will be coming thick and fast, a student teachers dream!

Some of the presentations I’m looking forward to:

  • Title: Teaching with video games in mind

Presenter: Mary Beth Hertz

  • Flipped Classroom

Joe Bower

  • What the heck is a PLN

Michael Graffin

  • Connecting with global Blogging Buddies

Kathleen Morris

  • Online Games and Problem Solving

Neil Butler

  • Educating with Edmodo

Paula Naugle

  • Literacy in the digital age

Kimberley Rivett

  • Critical thinking 2.0: Thinking, Doing, Changing 

Chuck Sandy

  • Maximizing student interaction in reading and writing focused classes 

Tyson Seburn

These are just a few of the presentations I’m looking forward to. It promises to be a big weekend with some late nights/early mornings! I think it will all be worth it.

I encourage you to:

What presentation are you looking forward to?

I loved both my primary and secondary schools and remember my time at both so fondly, so much so that if I had it my way I would never have left!

I also remember some of the amazing people that taught me and inspired me. It’s my hope that with a lot of hard work and effort I can be the same to today’s primary students as they were for me.

I went to a small primary school in Cranbourne, Melbourne. There I met some lifelong friends that I still see weekly. I also had some incredible teachers. One in particular I have used as an example time and time again as a teacher I remember fondly, Mr Cerdor.

He taught me in grade 4 and again in grade 6. He had a reputation as being quite strict and the kind of teacher if you didn’t know him, as a student made you a little anxious after finding out you were to be in his class the following year.

He turned out to be at times as scary as I thought he would be as a 9 year old but he also turned out to be probably the most important person in my nearly 20 years of formal education.

It was Mr Cerdor who:

  • Picked up I was having a difficult time with spelling.
  • Spent his lunch times helping me with my spelling.
  • Spoke to my parents and helped them help me.
  • Provided an element of competition that I thrived on. When he started playing times table and geography competitions in the classroom, I found myself looking through atlases  & reciting times tables for hours outside of school, all to try and get my name on the board as current champion in one of the competitions for a few days.
  • Took an interest in what I was interested in outside of school
  • I didn’t want to disappoint
  • I respected

I remember him and his classes so clearly. Even though he was strict, he was fair and I enjoyed being in his class.

I hope to emulate some of the wonderful things I remember about his teaching and try and do them half as well as he did and still does.

He is one of a hand full of teachers that inspire me to this day to teach and for that I am thankful.


I’m sure others have had a teacher similar to Mr Cerdor, please feel free to share what you remember of them and what made them so great!

Following up from my post on Edmodo and the thought of using it for writing.

I’ve been thinking about the pros and cons of introducing word processing in the stages of writing as early as the drafting or editing stage.

My thought is that if students are required to use a word processor in the publishing stage why not get the students using it as early in the process as possible.


The way I imagine it working:

1. Note taking, information gathering, investigation.

2. Planning: Visual planner.

3. Drafting: Students onto the computers and writing their draft.

  • Once draft is done, digitally submit it through something like an Edmodo group.
  • Teacher reviews the piece, making notes and conferencing with student.

4. Editing: Students go back to their draft and make the changes suggested by teacher and changes they come up with themselves.

  • Again once they feel they have completed the editing phase they digitally submit it in exactly the same way.
  • Teacher reviews in the same way as the drafting phase.

5. Publishing: Students move to polish their piece of writing to produce as high a quality piece of writing as possible.

  • Students digitally submit again in the same way as previous.

*At every stage the teacher saves a copy of the writing to document the development.


I can see some negatives and obstacles:

Access to computers

If computers are limited, it may be possible to arrange timetable to have it so different classes are doing writing at different times so more computers are freed up. This is may be the hardest thing to overcome, either you have enough computers or you don’t.

Loss of handwriting practise

Beyond primary school students are going to be required to be proficient in word processing. I think it comes down to what is more valuable to the student, practise on a program like ‘Word’ & ‘Google docs’ or practise handwriting?

Use of spellchecker

I can understand the criticisms of spellchecker taking the thought out of spelling, but I feel if it is used properly there is merit in using it. Having students see the words spelt correctly and having to select the correct word when the options appear. May also instruct the students not to use the spellchecker in the draft & editing stages.

Students proficiency with the computers & at what level can something like this be implement?

Only use and practise will improve their skills. High school and beyond will require students to have these skills. If necessary or desirable you could give students the option of using the computers or handwriting. I’m also wondering at what age or level can student start to really get their teeth stuck into using tech?

I see it as being pretty hassle free. It would eliminate a lot of loose pieces of paper, no more different colour pieces of paper for different stages, no more stapling, no more filing, no more students losing their work, everything can be stored and kept on a hard drive.

EDIT 30/7/2011: I see the most benefit for the lower ability group for writing. For example the students that don’t like writing find it hard to write or struggle to spell and form cohesive sentences and paragraphs.

If the students can see the ‘red’ error line underneath the misspelt words and the ‘green’ line underneath the words or sentences that don’t make sense, hopefully they will be more likely to pick up what they are doing wrong.

With the spell checker, hopefully they will be able to identify what the correct spelt word looks like and can select the right option from the spell checker options.

How do apply the stages of writing?

When do you or think you should introduce word processing into the process?

I would love to hear any thoughts.

Cheers

Mick

At the beginning of the term I had been given 7 grade 5 students that struggle with their reading, to work with.

At the same time as this happened I had been delving deeper into twitter and various web tools for education which lead me to come across ‘Edmodo‘.

Edmodo can be described as a sort of educators ‘Facebook’.

I began by mucking around with it for a few days, logged in both as a teacher and a student to see how some of the features work and to better understand it. I then set up a group for my students to join.

I anticipated the students joining to be quite difficult to start with as I was dealing with students that had some learning difficulties and hadn’t had a great deal of exposure or experience with the internet and the computers.

It went better than I had hoped and all joined the group fairly quickly without much fuss. Which in hindsight has a lot to do with how easy the site makes it to join.

The Lesson

I had prior to the lesson posted a ‘poll’, a ‘comment’, some instructions and 2 videos for the students to explore and repsond too.

The lesson progressed and by the time the hour was up I had all 7 students in the Edmodo group, each had voted on the poll  (‘Who is your favourite character in Romeo & Juliet’) & left a reason why, each student had also watched the videos and responded to at least 1 of the 2 questions I had posted on them.

I was very pleased with the reactions I got from the students and even more pleased when two of the home group teachers told me that some of the students had be talking about the edmodo group for the rest of the morning!

I have since made a list of guidelines for the students to follow when using Edmodo.

I have also been thinking of other more effective ways I could use Edmodo in the classroom:

  • I would like to use it with writing. I imagine having the students on the laptops using ‘Word’ in the editing or even as early as the draft phase of writing, getting them to digitally submit their piece of writing through an Edmodo group.
  • I also had an example given to me from Josh whom I follow on twitter (@JPAghion).  Josh told me he uses Edmodo to support his student’s blogging. He set up the group for his students to :
    • Discuss various topics they might like to blog about
    • Draft questions
    •  Promote their new posts for comments.

Overall I love Edmodo! The fact that it has similarities to Facebook which makes it feel familiar and easy to use. The students also pick up on this point quickly and are more enthusiastic to use it.

Some of the main features are:

–          Polls

–          Ability to embed videos, pictures and sound

–          Hyperlink

–          An assignment section

–          Ability to create multiple groups

–          Security is good

–          Teacher is able to see and edit everything

These I’m sure are just a few of the more obvious features and there are many more things I will discover I can do with it e.g. Connecting with other edmodo groups and exploring the ‘Parent’ function.

I recommend you give it a go!

Have you used Edmodo before or currently use it?

I would love to hear what you use it for & how you use it!

 

 

Cheers

Mick 🙂