London’s still

…a blog about an ordinary Australian living in London

The calm before the storm April 23, 2006

Filed under: Education — Annaleis @ 7:37 pm

Well venerable reader, it seems that you and I will soon be parting ways. For a time anyway.

Yes, perhaps we may still meet on the occasional weekend, when I post some flippant comment about some remarkable event that has occured during our sorrowful parting.

Right now my sights are set on tomorrow, when I take up my first day of contractual employment at my school. There is no teaching involved for me however, as it is a student free day and the teachers undertake Professional Development – uni on valium. It means that we all sit around a meeting hall, working in small groups and drinking bottled water. I don't even know what this PD is about, but I'll soon be in the know.

I'm slowly building up things to do with my grade 1 class. I've been asked to continue the 'number' operations they have already been working on, as well as extend to another maths area, such as chance and data, or measurement. I'm leaning towards measurement, because I've had more experience teaching that area of maths, although chance and data has its good points too.
I'm also wishing that the grade 1's had a maths program such as "Count Me in Too" to support and extend their learning. As it is, the grade one teachers just seem to be doing their own thing.

I also want to explore a unit with them which they can apply to their everyday lives, and inspires their curiosity, and has some definite scientific roots. Through the Essential Learnings I can build a unit that gives the class opportunities to explore how specific parts of their natural world work. This way I can include such activities as cooking, art, movement, measurement, classification into the running of the classroom.

In addition to the Essential Learnings guidelines I've decided to use Kath Murdoch's Integrated Inquiry Model. It is a structured unit planning strategy which allows the educator to plan an inquiry based unit.

Gone are the days where children sit in seats and are fed information. This is the age of getting children up and about and experiencing for themselves. Kath Murdoch's guidelines encourage educators to help students explore their world.

Murdoch makes unit planning easier for teachers by helping them focus on what is important for the children to know, and what processes they need to undergo in order to make the unit worthwhile.

It starts by choosing a 'generative topic' and then asking a key question which further sharpens and refines the usually broad topic into one of a managable size.

For example, a generative topic might be "The rainforest", which is incredibly broad for a grade 1 class to cover in a few short weeks, but the key question I might choose could be "how can I help protect the environment?". This question hones in on a topic that is both easy to explore in the classroom setting and relates to a child's everyday life. Topics like these often have the added effect of inspiring a child to be more environmentally aware; something that often gets carried back to their own home and integrated into their homelives.

After choosing the generative topic and key question, the teacher needs to put together activities that help the student reach the conclusion of the unit, and take away as much information and develop as many skills as possible along the way, with which they used to explore the topic, and draw conclusions relating to the key question.

Murdoch suggests this approach:

In this model, teachers are encouraged to group activities and learning experiences under the following broad headings:

  • Tuning in
  • Finding out
  • Sorting out
  • Going further
  • Making conclusions
  • Taking action

So, creating a new unit for my class should be easy and fun.  One would think. Right.

Well, I hope it's fun anyway. 

Wish me luck 😉

I'll be back soon. 

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