Thursday, 29 August 2013

Long Time Coming.

This is another one of those posts where I am going to begin by apologising for being a bit lax in my posting of late. Life just seems to get really busy sometimes and the first thing to go, it seems, is my written reflections here. A lot has happened in the last couple of weeks so this is probably going to be a bit of everything kind of post and probably reasonably long.

I will start with the freshest in my mind, relational thinking with my year 8s. I just finished another 90 minutes with the students in Minecraft trying to visualise a thinking process to solve a problem, despite my concerns that other week regarding their inability on a Friday afternoon. Upon reflection on that lesson and those that have occurred since, and also after talking to students about it and getting their feedback as to why they thought it did not go well, I have concluded that perhaps I left the exploration phase too long for those who couldn't do it so they disengaged.

So what have I done since then to improve the situation? Well I have had both paper/pen classes and Minecraft classes. In both we discuss possible strategies for solving problems, try to visualise them and share our ideas. Also I think that perhaps the multiplication relational thinking is a bit harder to visualise in Minecraft than the other operations, I am not sure why I feel this way yet, I just do. More reflection required.

Also I moved away from the restrictive format I had the students in, where they were working in a group, in a closed space and then had to share. I ran a open world where students could put their own 'decorations' around their calculation, so if the problem and thinking got too much, they could distract themselves by building rather than turning off completely. I also gave students a range of problems to choose from, rather than forcing them to do a particular one.

On top of those alterations I also kept a closer eye on how students were progressing, to the point today where I had 5 or 6 'experts' roving around the room helping students who were stuck. I think giving those students the responsibility of teaching others not only reinforces their own knowledge, but also gives them a sense of pride. Even better, the students who didn't get it were not upset to be taught by other students, in fact many students were extremely happy to see how simple it could be to solve the problem.

Now onto the Pre-CAL Numeracy world. Things are progressing nicely, more students are doing more homework and worksheets than I initially envisioned, which is awesome. It also means that a lot of the students are 'cashed up' with thousands of dollars to spend. So we are really starting to focus on getting loan applications and business proposals in. Students seem to have the percentage work well under control, so it is time to move onto the next topic, which I think will be costing things, be it their house, business or whatever, but also doing it effectively in a spreadsheet. I wanted to be so much farther along with this project than we are, however I think that the inconsistency of many students attendance is what is slowing us down and unfortunately there is not a lot I can do about that.

The last topic to cover today, and thanks if you have gotten this far, is the Braille Periodic Table. It has been a great success in helping the student see it the Periodic Table the way it is designed to be seen. We sent off an explanation and pictures to our local supplier of vision impaired materials and they sent the info out to the south Pacific region. I am offering these for sale, so if you happen to know someone or a school/library/provider/foundation that would benefit from this please get them to email me at eduelfie @ gmail . com (without the spaces) and we will sort something out. I can ship worldwide, so as long as they use Unified English Braille this will be suitable.

As always thanks for reading, feel free to leave a comment below and please if you know anyone who is vision impaired and would like to see the Periodic Table as it is designed to be seen let me know.

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