The day started off at school with a cup of coffee and the typical Wednesday morning briefing. Just a few comments here and there but nothing out of the ordinary, at least from what I could tell. The event on Friday was brought up to make sure that everyone was going to meet for dinner and drinks at 7 to welcome the new faculty, myself included!
I spent the first period working on a PowerPoint for my year 11 biology class. I was happy with the final product and was confident that the lesson would work. I also worked on building the schedule for "Bones" so I knew what I would be doing next week when I take over the class.
It was off to the science center for the 2nd period class, "Bones." The students were given a task to investigate various parts of a bone in the textbook and on the Internet. The students constructed a table to organize the information that they found. I sat in the back and took notes and was concentrating on memorizing each student's name. I think I am 75% proficient so far with names of students in all of my classes, which I reckon isn't too bad (I've already started to use this informal expression of opinion in my speech, I'm starting to turn Australian). The class finished and I used the recess time to finalize my lesson for the year 11s.
After recess and everyone one was settled in their seats, I started the lesson with attendance. I was happy to find that I knew just about everyone of their names from my notes and observations in prior classes. I'll bet they were surprised a bit that I knew who they were! It's definitely a great way to build influence with students.
After attendance I got straight into the lesson. A student in class earlier in the week asked about dichotomous keys and whether they all looked the same. I was happy to address the question by showing the class a variety of different keys and formats. They were receptive and I think they now have a better understanding of how scientists use the tool to help them identify organisms.
My cooperating teacher was kind enough to bring in a couple of different wattle specimens from her garden. I gave the class the common and scientific names of each and some basic information that they may have found interesting. As the different plants made their way around the room for the students to have a closer look, I transitioned into homework correction. I had tables set up on the PowerPoint to help organize the answers. I invited students to come up to the Smart Board to write in their answers. I was happy to find that the students agreed with many of the answers provided by the volunteers. We did have to have a discussion regarding on of the questions but the students managed to talk through it to get to the appropriate answer.
It was then time for the practical. The students were given diagrams of 6 different Acacia species and were asked to use the provided key to identify each of them. Prior to getting started, I had to give a little bit of a botany lesson to differentiate simple and compound leaves. I also provided them with a vocabulary of key terms if they needed to look any of them up. I asked the class to work in pairs and to raise their hands if any questions arose.
One of the students in the class needed some help getting started so I helped him get the idea of the task at hand, and after some direction he became extremely receptive. A few of the students were having trouble with the difference of bipinnate versus pinnate leaves. I went to the board to help describe the difference. After having a diagram to see the difference, students succeeded with the task.
Overall, the practical was challenging for the students but I’m looking forward to the next lesson to see how they really did and what they thought of the activity. I hope it was rewarding and they were able to understand the importance of using keys to identify different organisms.
After class, my coordinating teacher and I had a conversation about the lesson and her impressions of it. I received a lot of great insight and was happy that she provided me with some tips for future lessons, such as using a different color when writing on certain Smart Board backgrounds to help any student who may be color blind, since that information is not provided to teachers at the beginning of the year.
For lunch, I enjoyed a grilled chicken and avocado sandwich. The lunch has been great at school so far. How lunch at school works: as soon as I get to school in the morning, I go into the kitchen building and meet with Rhonda, the very friendly lunch chef (she’s that good). She tells me what she’s making and I tell her what I want for lunch. At lunchtime, I bypass the line by sneaking in the back door to the kitchen to claim my meal, which is always placed on the counter with my name on it. Quite a nice system!
After school today, I came home and got on the bike to go for my daily bike ride around the neighborhood and town. Thankfully the weather has been beautiful and somewhat atypical of this area for this time of the year. I’ve been told that it is usually really hot during February, but so far the month has been in the mid-20s. Perfect! And it certainly beats the weather back home!
Tonight we had steak for dinner with potatoes cooked with thyme, rosemary, and oregano (which are all grown in the back yard with many other herbs). I also had carrots and broccoli on the side! Not bad for a Wednesday night! I’m very thankful to have had so many home-cooked meals!