My parents have landed and have made it to Oz! I will see them tomorrow when they make they make their way down from Sydney to Bairnsdale. I’m sure they are exhausted and are getting a good night’s sleep at their hotel.
Today was the final day of formal classes at school for me for the first term of the school year. I had “Animal Inside” first thing and then spent the rest of the day finishing up grading and marking assignments.
The students in “Animal Inside” were asked to develop a procedure for the dissection of a frog. I really wanted the students to use what they learned about dissections and safety needed to complete one, from the previous class when they dissected a mouse, to design a safe and appropriate dissection of their own. I had them use the netbooks as a resource to help them gather their information. They wrote their procedures including all relevant safety information on poster paper and used diagrams and pictures to help them organize their steps. I was extremely impressed with their work ethic in class to complete the assignment! The final results were fantastic!
The rest of the day was spent marking papers and preparing for the parent-teacher conferences later in the day. The parent-teacher conferences were held in the gym, where tables were set up for each teacher with a couple chairs for parents as well as students to sit and talk to the teacher. I wasn’t used to this considering students are not invited to come speak with the teacher at these conferences in the US. I think it is fantastic that students are invited to this event, especially considering the conferences are about them. In fact it wouldn’t really make much sense I the students weren’t there to discuss their progress.
I really enjoyed meeting the parents of a few of my students but was somewhat surprised that more parents didn’t show up. I am at school for a few hours tomorrow to finish up the conferences, but I was told not to expect too many more. I am somewhat surprised that more parents don’t come to join in a dialogue regarding their children and their progress in school.
I will write more at some point this weekend to elaborate on the conferences. I’m exhausted and relaxing, watching Carlton and Richmond play in the second AFL match of the season. No surprise that Carlton is winning in the fourth with only a few minutes to play!
It has been a few days since my last post but I have been really busy with school, finishing out the end of the term! My parents are currently on the flight to Sydney and will be traveling for the next few hours! I'm extremely excited to see them on Friday when they arrive in Bairnsdale.
Yesterday was a busy day with two dissections in the last two classes of the day. They year-7s were busy during their class dissecting squid and the "Animal Inside" group were dissecting mice! I would much have preferred the mice the entire day; they didn't smell as bad as the squid and they certainly weren't as messy. I had ink all over myself at the end of the lesson with the youngins. Calamari certainly didn't sound great for dinner; good thing we had steak instead!
The "Animal Inside" crew really enjoyed the mice, well, at least most of them did. A few of the students had to leave the room because they couldn't handle the dissection. They spend the lesson on the computers doing some research on a task I gave them as an alternative to the dissection. The rest of the students, working on the mice, did a fantastic job! I was really impressed with their keenness to preform the task. I dissected a rat, along with the students, to help them with the procedure. Before making any cuts in the mice, I gave the students a demo of how to preform each of the necessary cuts. I probably should have worn gloves looking back; my hands still smell of feral animal.
Today, the students in "Bones" finished up their projects on the computer. Unfortunately, a few of them were having computer issues and weren't able to finish on time. At least they have the next two weeks until they see me next in class, so they have plenty of time to complete the assignment. Students were told that they could make any additions to their site over break if they wanted to make them look better. If you would like to see some of their progress, you can go to www.bscbones.weebly.com
One of the students put together the home page today after he finished his project. He put together all of the hyperlinks to the rest of the students' sites; I was quite impressed!
I arrived home today and started the laundry so I have fresh clothes when I leave for Melbourne on Sunday with my parents. I also submitted my project to Miami; I'm so relieved that it's done!
Tomorrow I only have one class and then will be swamped with grading and then parent-teacher conferences after school until 8 or so. I'm excited to meet students' parents but am a little nervous since they are my first ones. I'm sure they'll go well and there will be a lot to take from the experience!
It’s the final week of the term! It really is so hard to believe that my parents will be here at the end of the week to travel around with me for a couple weeks! I only have 3 weeks of teaching left until I come home to graduate!
This weekend went by extremely fast! The highlight of the weekend was certainly the trip with Ernie to Buchan to explore the caves of the karst topography. We took a tour with a few people through the Royal Cave, one of two that is open to the public to take tours through.
The caves were absolutely stunning! We traveled in and out of open rooms full of calcite crystal stalactites, stalagmites, and columns. The tour took us through about 500 meters of the cave, in and out of cave sections lit up by artificial light. At one point, the guide turned off all of the lights so we could experience “complete darkness.” The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I had never experienced that kind of darkness in my entire life. After 10 minutes in the complete dark, I still couldn’t even see my hand in front of me at only 5 centimeters away. The guide claimed that even after a whole day in the dark of the cave, your eyes, adjusted to the dark, would still not be able to see a single thing. I’m glad the caves didn’t experience a power outage!
The rest of the weekend was devoted to finishing up my project for Miami and some bike riding. I’m really focused on finishing up this project by Wednesday to allow myself the rest of the week to make any needed corrections before it is due of Friday.
Tomorrow, I have two classes devoted to dissection. Unfortunately, the year 7s weren’t able to do the squid dissection of Friday, as the squid never arrived at school. The students used the time to finish up some work that was outstanding. The “Animal Inside” students will be dissecting a mouse tomorrow. I’m very excited for this since the students have been really keen on a dissection all term. It is only fitting that the dissection is occurring at the end of the term! Can’t wait!
A beautiful day in Oz! After predictions that a storm would pass through today, I was please to have made it through the day without even a single cloud in the sky; there still isn’t one to be seen!
I arrived at school this morning to put together a worksheet for the “Animal Inside” group when I was approached by a couple teachers asking me if I wanted to play in a volleyball game this evening. I gladly accepted! I haven’t played in a long time and I’m no volleyball star, but it’ll be nice to compete with a few colleagues! I’m hoping to bring my A game tonight!
Linda also invited me, to join Ernie and her, to explore the caves in Buchan on Saturday. She asked me how I felt about caves, and I said, “as long as I can stand up, I’ll be fine!” She couldn’t assure me that this would be the case but told me I would be fine. I hope I don’t get stuck! It should be another great weekend! Well, except for the fact that I have a project to work on and finish up…
It’s hard to believe that next week is the last week in the first term of school. I’m really looking forward to seeing my parents next Friday and traveling around with them for two weeks! I’m especially excited to take them to Raymond Island to see the koalas! We will be staying in Melbourne for a few nights, and along the Great Ocean Road for a few nights before heading up to Sydney for the last half of their stay in Australia!
After their trip down under, I’ll only have around two weeks left until my placement is up and it’ll be time to get home to graduate…hard to believe!
One observation down, one to go!
Another day of beautiful weather and sun in East Gippsland! Well, at least until it started raining for an hour or so in the late afternoon, but who’s keeping track? I have almost come to expect rain when the mornings are like the one that I had today – sunny and warm.
Today was the big day! Rod came to BSC to observe my lesson today for my period two “Bones” class. During the observation, the students were working on their final project. I introduced the final project earlier this week, and the students seem to really enjoy working on it so far! I’m glad their optimism carried over into today’s day of work.
Basically, the students in “Bones” are to build a website using weebly.com to show their understanding of a particular bone that was assigned to them. On Monday, I went around the room with 25 bone names in my hat and asked each student to pick a name. I thought it was the fairest thing to do! The students were given a tutorial on Monday on how to use the Weebly editor to build their website. Since I am very familiar with Weebly (I use it just about everyday to write in my blogs), I was able to help the students with some of the basics.
Today, I really wanted the students to work on their projects, using all the time to their advantage to complete as much as they could. I also wanted to go over paraphrasing with them and how to put someone else’s information into their own words. The students did really well with the small activity that I had planned to gauge their understanding of how to turn research into their own work. The students were really engaged on the netbooks and were extremely eager to find out more, not only about their bones, but also how to use Weebly technology to create the best site possibly; I need to come up with more projects like this one! The sites are starting to come together and are really turning out well!
Eventually, when students start finishing up their sites, I will have them working together to build the main site that will link all of the sites together so there is a main interface that allows the students to see everyone else’s work. I am also looking into having the students use links in their own web pages to other students’ sites, especially if there is a connection between the bones or another student’s bone is mentioned. I am pumped to see the final products!
After period two, I met with Rod, Linda, and Pam to go over a few things, and then made my way to year 11 biology class. Unfortunately, the students had an assembly today and were not going to be in class for too long. I have such a great time teaching that group of students! The assembly, in the main gym, was devoted to giving awards to the many leaders in the school who have showed leadership not only in the school, but also in the community. The East Gippland representative in the Victorian Parliament, Tim Bull, was even there to give awards to students; I was very impressed with the whole assemblage!
After arriving home today on the bike, I hopped on the computer and skyped with Mary Kate, who was diligently studying for an exam that she has tomorrow; I wasn’t too surprised that she was up late making sure she had covered every last detail. Best of luck to her!
I’m really hoping tomorrow brings good weather and no rain! I was pretty sad that I wasn’t able to ride the bike today after coming home due to the rain, so I’ll just have to make up for it in the coming days!
Jim Stynes, a name that doesn’t frequent dinner table conversations in America very often, will be remembered forever as one of the most extraordinary figures in Australia. I had never heard of Jim Stynes until I had arrived home from school today and turned on the local news. After watching the news of his death, I was deeply curious to find out more about this astonishing person.
A little after eight o’clock this morning, Jim Stynes (45), a former Australian Rules Football Hall of Famer, philanthropist, father of two young children, and legend, died after a long battle with cancer. In 2009, Stynes announced that he had developed cancer after tests indicated that a growth in his back was cancerous and had spread to other parts of his body, including his brain. In 2010 his condition had worsened and he had to have surgery to remove tumors from his brain. Throughout his tough battle, he had to have several surgeries to fight the menacing cancer.
Stynes, a native Irishman, moved to Australia when he was 18, never having played Aussie rules, and managed to land a spot on a Victorian Football Association team. A few years later, he made his debut for Melbourne. At the age of 25, he won the most coveted AFL award, the Brownlow Medal, and became the first and only non-Australian to win. Throughout his career, Stynes won various awards and eventually made it into the AFL Hall of Fame in 2003.
He, like Cal Ripken Jr. (a name that might frequent the dinner table conversations; at least a few years ago), epitomizes endurance and perseverance. Each, having accomplished the most consecutive game starts without an absence in their respective sports, persevered to accomplish their goals as a player and a teammate. Stynes still holds this record with 244 consecutive games played in the AFL (Cal Ripken Jr. played in 2632 consecutive MLB games). Quite a feat considering there are around 22 games in an AFL season each year, not including post season. It would have been a miracle to see this man play without injury for 11 years in one of the most intense sports in the world!
His perseverance was not easy, that’s for sure! In 1993, his streak almost ended when he was rushed to the hospital for a compound rib fracture. Convincing his coach at the time, he managed to pass the club fitness test to play the following Friday night. In 1994, he suffered a ligament tear but proving his resolve, he pushed on to play through it. His streak finally ended in 1998 when he broke his hand early in the season. He finished his career with 264 games played with Melbourne, placing him second all-time for most games played in a Melbourne Demon sweater.
Stynes, like the “Iron Man”, was devoted to helping the youth through sport and motivational endeavors, such as writing books and speaking. Stynes founded The Reach Foundation, with whom he became very devoted to after finishing his AFL career. The Reach Foundation, according to their website, “believes that every young person should have the support and self-belief they need to fulfill their potential and dare to dream.” Stynes, along with Paul Currie, founded Reach in recognition that “greatness in young people [is often] hidden behind fear, anger or hurt.” What an inspiration!
Teachers and those who have any influence on the youth have a lot to learn from Stynes, also a qualified teacher. If I learned anything today from reading about him and his life it is this – teaching should incorporate the desire and will to inspire every young person to believe in him or herself and to get the most out of life.
It is one thing to have positive influence on students, jump-starting them into a life full of honesty and desire to do well, but it is another thing to inspire young people to believe that they can get the absolute most out of their lives. In my opinion, the best place to start to accomplish this student-mentality is in school. I frequently wonder why some students constantly question the point of school. My answer usually is simple – they don’t value their education and don’t understand the implications it has on their community or even the world.
I have truly become inspired to help my students understand the ramifications of not trying hard in school. There will always be students who are not interested in any type of social reform, and have openly accepted the status quo, but today I learned that I need to influence students to get the most out of their lives, and accepting the status quo cannot be acceptable. It just isn’t the mentality of a global citizen.
I have found a new role model and hero today, and it is sad that it was on the day of his death. Jim Stynes, a two-time Victorian of the Year (2001, 2003) and 2010 Melbournian of the Year (not surprisingly), has a legacy that will live on forever, especially if people learn from his life as an influence on the youth. A true Australian legend!
For more information about Jim Stynes and The Reach Foundation, use the links below.
How is it that time is passing so quickly? It seems like just a few hours ago that I was leaving school on Friday to start the weekend...where in the world did it go? I had a great weekend in town catching up on some sleep and some relaxing, it was nice for a change!
On Friday night, after a long day at school, I stuck around the house working on a bit of my project and catching up on the news on the Internet. I was exhausted and didn't feel like doing much so I went to bed to catch up on some sleep.
On Saturday, Domenic and Sheryl took me to Stratford, around 45 minutes west of Bairnsdale, on the river...you guessed it...Avon, of course. I was really keen to go to the Turkish store in town along the main road. Having lived in Turkey for a few years of my adolescence, I was really interested to see what they had. I was only disappointed with the prices, which seemed to be marked up around 200%. They had everything that you would expect to find in a store in the Grande Bazaar in downtown Istanbul. Rather than being rolled up like they normally are, the carpets were hanging from carpet racks that moved like pages in a book. The lady was surprised when I greeted her with "Merhaba" and "Teșekkürler" when I left. She probably doesn’t get that a lot!
After coming home from Stratford, I helped out with some yard work and decided to mow the lawn. After a couple weeks of sun and rain, the lawn really needed it. I'm sure at the end of the week, it will seem like weeks since cutting it; it really grows fast here! After finishing, Domenic took me to the supermarket to pick up a few things for that night.
The plan was to go to Pam's house, in Nicholson, with a few other teachers for some drinks and games. I was invited to stay the night. She just got a new kelpie puppy a few months ago; she looked just like Red Dog from the movie Red Dog. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it! The evening went well and I ended up on the winning Pictionary team. It’s a good thing I’m not an art teacher though!
I was really excited for a bike ride on Sunday so as soon as I got home from Pam’s, I hopped on the bike and headed back to Nicholson. I got about 75% of the way and headed home. I passed the Wy Yung oval and saw that there was a cricket match going on, so I stopped to watch the end of it. I had absolutely no idea who was winning and how far into the match it was until a few wickets later when the ball was tossed up in the air and the team on the field started celebrating. I turned around to get back on the bike and there was the scoreboard…definitely a “duh” moment, especially since I was looking for it the whole time!
I was back to school today, and had only one class to teach. I spent the morning planning for the coming lessons. When fourth bell came around, I headed over to the science center. The student in “Bones” class started working on their final project. I came up with a project that I could take back home with me to show future employers, except, I didn’t want to carry it back. So, the students are working with weebly.com to construct a website. Their website will focus on a specific bone that they chose today. After a quick tutorial, the students went on their way to start the construction. I am really excited to see the final products! Whilst the students are working on their sites, I will be working on a site that will provide links to each of the students’ sites.
It has been a while since I last wrote and this post is quite short, compared to the post I made after last weekend, but things are starting to get really busy as the term is coming to a close. I will make an effort to keep up to date this week and have something every day.
What a day! The temperature was up again today and it was a scorcher…not really but it was a little warm for my liking! How can I complain, really? I have to admit that I feel very fortunate to have skipped the North American winter. I only saw snow a few times before I left and haven’t seen it since; make you jealous? From what I heard from my parents and Mary Kate, winter hasn’t been too bad and spring seems to be right around the corner!
I’m sitting here at the kitchen table working on my project for Miami and am really wondering why I am doing this. I understand that I have to show the University that I am a competent teacher and I know how to build a lesson, and reflect on it but isn’t that what I’ve been doing the past few years? At the same time, this is my chance to put all of what I’ve learned into action. But, that’s what I’ve been doing for the past two months…
My project asks me to build a lesson based on the expectations of Victorian standards and outcomes. I am also asked to give pre-assessments to my students followed by the lesson and then two post assessments to gauge the learning of the students based on the lesson. I have been building lessons this whole time, so why does just one matter? I would rather hand in the 100 or so files and lessons that I’ve constructed so far since I’ve been here instead of making one special lesson for them to evaluate me. Why just take the one lesson to evaluate my lesson planning skills when you can have the whole thing? You might be asking, “Isn’t that the easy way out?”
My answer to you is, no! I would be happy to do the rest of the requirements of the project including some research and data collection based on student assessments, but not the single lesson plan. I don’t think it is fair to ask me for one lesson as a means to evaluate me, especially when the person evaluating my lesson isn’t even in the same hemisphere. I don’t know my evaluator back home and I’m not too concerned, but I would rather give them everything that I’ve done so far! Unfortunately, I know the University doesn’t have time or resources to evaluate all the student teachers’ half-year lesson plans, but in educational terms, it doesn’t seem valid to be assessed on just one lesson!
I don’t mean this blog to be a rant on Miami University or the process of evaluating their student teachers (I’ve had great experiences and a great education, especially from my advisor, Dr. Ann), but maybe the standards should be higher for student teachers and teachers. I see time in and time out teachers who are “experienced” who shouldn’t even be teaching (for the teachers who are reading this- you know who they are and who I am talking about). I guess a profession that is undervalued and underappreciated in much of society and especially the government, teachers will never be held to the standards that they need to be! I don’t mean to provoke more rant or thoughts on this, I feel like I could go on and on about this, but I’ll spare you the reading.
Tomorrow, I will be implementing my project’s lesson with the year 7s. I decided to change it from the year 11s because I’ve found it more challenging building lessons with the year 7s, so I decided to challenge myself to build a lesson that is suited for the youngins. I will reflect on the lesson at some point this weekend and will give more insight as to what I am doing and how well it went.
If you want a good read before you start your day, enjoy:
It finally felt like summer today! Reaching the mid 30s, the weather today was somewhat abnormal; at least compared to what its been like since I’ve been here. I was told today was a typical summer day in East Gippsland. This is the weather that I expected when I crossed the equator.
After school today, I decided to make the most of the good weather, although a little warm, and went for an extended bike ride. I took the Rail Trail half way to Nicholson and then turned back and took the trail up the Mitchell River passing biker after biker. I’m sure they all had the same idea as I.
I’ve been thinking about next week all day today. I will be implementing a lesson that I need in order to complete Miami University’s student teaching program. I have been building a lesson for my year 11s around their next chapter of study. I will need to have two pre-assessments and two post-assessments. I will have to use the data that I gain from these assessments to show student understanding of concepts prior to my lesson and after my lesson. I am still working on the lesson, so I will have to post about it at a later date.
Also, next week, Rod, my student teaching supervisor, will be coming to observe my teaching next Wednesday. I’m really excited for him to come so I can get more feedback from another observer. I’ve been getting great feedback from Pam and Linda, but it will be nice to have feedback from someone who isn’t in my class on a daily basis. I’m always open to criticism; it certainly helps when I am reflecting on my lessons.
I woke this morning, later than usual since I didn't have any last minute planning for my classes, to find that my clothes on the line were soaking wet; the dew got to them! So...I wasn't able to wear shorts to school, like I've make a habit of doing the past few weeks! Jeans were in order for the day at school. I wasn't too fond of this idea since it was supposed to get into the 30s today. It did and it was warm!
Today, while the rest of the teachers were in their deliberations, I spent my time planning for the weeks ahead at my desk. I was able to get a lot done and am anxious to put my plans to the test with the students.
I learned today that many of the students hadn't completed their zoo assignments while at the zoo. I am not upset that they didn't get it complete, but I am frustrated that a few of them didn't even attempt to put anything on paper. We will spend the next couple lessons completing them as well as their long term projects that were started a few weeks ago.
I arrived home from school a little early and took my clothes down from the line. After putting everything away, I decided to get on the bike for the first time in a while. I really needed to get back into the routine of riding the bike, especially after a long weekend. I took the trail along the Mitchell up the river into town and then back on the other side. All in all, it equated to a 10 kilometer trip, not bad for the first one in a few days!
I was invited to dinner tonight with a group of teachers to see Yuki, a Japanese student teacher, off for good since he will be leaving the school in a few days. The send-off was at the Wy-Yung pub just up the road. I had a gnocchi dish with olives. They were the biggest gnocchi I had ever seen! I thought they had served me golf balls with sauce when I first received the dish! It was amazing, and the pint of Carlton Draught afterwards washed everything down quite well!
Tomorrow is a big day, and hopefully the students haven't forgotten how to learn after their long absence from classes!