Professional reflection…

Miss Sarah Meehan KM

My children have been able to flourish through GTK because of their growing intrinsic motivation to learn as a result of differentiated learning, strength based and hands on activities and demonstrations and a supportive environment with peers. My students have been able to grow in confidence as they show me multiple skills at one time making my assessment of them authentic and holistic. After beginning GTK in KM I feel I know my students better and some children have shown me talent I would not have otherwise seen by focussing on the “must know” skills of literacy and numeracy.  I found the project extremely useful in connecting to and understanding the new Australian Curriculum focussing more on what students need now in the 21st Century such as teamwork, creative and critical thinking, expressing yourself and decision-making. I constantly ask myself and here as the teacher talk for others “Am I giving students what they need for their future?” with GTK I can confidently answer “Yes”.

 

Miss Brianna Galinski (3J)

How has the GTK project supported the new English Syllabus?

The GTK project has been a wonderful springboard leading into the introduction of the new English syllabus at Eleebana Public School. The new English Syllabus requires students to be actively involved in: expressing themselves, reflecting on their learning and thinking imaginatively and creatively. The children have had opportunities to be a part of a design process in creating a ‘Bee-bot’ house. This task required students to express their ideas through the creation of an initial prototype design. As students began to build and construct their ‘Bee-Bot’ homes with their Kindergarten group members, students soon realised that the design process required them to reflect and make changes to their original plans. In order for students to successfully complete this task, the children also had to think creatively and imaginatively as they were designing a house for a ‘Bee-Bot’ and not a person. This required them to imagine what a Bee would require in its house.

The final step in the design process, which addressed the reflective element of the new English syllabus, was a whole group presentation of their ‘Bee-Bot’ house. We recorded each group on camera making a presentation of their house and reflecting on the whole design process including: initial ideas, changes that were made along the way, what worked well and what didn’t and how they worked as a team etc.

The GTK project has been a wonderful experience for both myself as a teacher and also for the students.

 

Mrs. Jody Birleson KB

What do you do when your new supervisor says, “let’s do a collaborative project with Bee-Bots?” First of all you google what Bee-Bots actually are and how they work! Then you try to wrap your brain around how it will all work. What could Stage 2 learn from Early Stage 1? Wouldn’t Stage 2 be too advanced for Early Stage 1? How would we find the time and how would the outcomes align? What would the students gain from this?

To some, who know little about the project, it may look as though all we are doing is playing with desk top computers and small robot bees. If you take a step closer, even for just one lesson, your eyes will be opened wide just like mine were. Students from ages 4-6 and 8-10 learning from one another. Collectively driving their own learning through problem based curriculum. Of course us teachers have set the background up for these experiences to occur but what students have gained has been beyond my greatest expectations.

The elements of each lesson covered many, if not all, Key Learning Areas. We cover writing, reading, problem solving, working mathematically, position, map making, talking and listening, movement, music, drama, visual art, design, construction and of course various sources of technology. Due to the large scope and sequence of activities (and use of a Blooms rubric) it was easy to continue to use the activities undertaken in the collaborative project throughout the rest of the week’s lessons. For example, lessons such as; interactive writing, independent writing, spelling, maths and creative arts.

Of course covering learning across stages and working with another teacher takes time and an open mind. My room, for an entire term, was full of recyclable materials, student made homes (that of course weren’t small) and then theres the paint, masking tape and decorative materials everywhere! Uploading video of ongoing assessment takes time as well.

To be serious though, I would take all of that and the extra work any day. I remember someone explaining the the difference between ordinary and extraordinary…it’s the “extra” you put in. To put the “extra” in is to see your students thrive and become extraordinary. They learn through inquiry and problem solving whilst working collaboratively with others. They acknowledge differing opinions of their peers, assist and scaffold peer learning and most importantly drive their own learning. In some special cases it also provides a spotlight for talent and giftedness to shine bright and in a way that may never have been noticed before.

Cooperative collaboration has been an exceptional, eye opening experience to myself as a teacher and to my students in their most vital first years of schooling life.

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GTK goes viral!

This term, all Kindergarten classes and Year 3 & 4 classes will be participating in the Eleebana PS Gifted & Talented Kindergarten project. It won’t be long before you will see an invasion of Bee-bots in each of these classrooms.

Last week, the teachers participated in professional learning and, already this week, students from Kindergarten and Stage 2 have been working collaboratively to program robots to move, teach their robots to dance and play board games using robots.Watch this space for more images and stories!

teachers learning to program Bee-bots

teachers learning to program Bee-bots

so much fun!

so much fun!

Feedback Loops

As part of our Eleebana Gifted and Talented Kindergarten project, we have been focusing on the importance of feedback (a formative assessment strategy). It is quite timely given that Semester 1 reports (a summative assessment tool) are currently being prepared by teachers to report to parents about student academic progress so far this year.

Feedback to any pupil should be about the particular qualities of his or her work, with advice on what he or she can do to improve, and should avoid comparisons with other pupils.
Giving our students regular feedback is a very important part of the process of design-based learning. We have been using student-centred pedagogies or teaching strategies – DT (design thinking) and GBL (games based learning). Both have a strong focus on feedback as a ‘loop’, creatively referred to as a ‘feedback loop’.
The ultimate user of assessment information which is elicited in order to improve learning is the pupil.
 http://weaeducation.typepad.co.uk/files/blackbox-1.pdf
gtk-feedback-nicks gtk-feedback-lilyf gtk-andrew-feedback gtk-feedback-amelia
Here’s how our process works:
After reviewing lots of board games,  3/4E students drafted a couple of their own original game prototypes.  These board games designs needed to teach Kindergarten students how to program BeeBots to move around the board (spatial and logical thinking) while learning concepts that include: healthy eating, the human body, making healthy choices, the effects of growth and change (conceptual thinking).
3/4E students showed their Kindergarten buddies their prototypes. They negotiated together to select the game design they liked the most
(1st feedback loop).
3/4E students revised and modified their prototypes and did a test run of their designs with a classmate and their buddies (2nd feedback loop).
This week, Mrs. Birleson and I have been giving more detailed feedback to each student about their game. At this point, it is critical to make sure that the object of the game is achievable yet challenging, not to mention fun! (3rd feedback loop).
Watch this video to see what Andrew has to say about the feedback process:

Cooperative Creative Collaboration!

In week 3 Kinder Red joined their BeePals in 3/4E to use their creative thinking caps! We gave our BeePals our thoughts and opinions on how the cooperative Bee-Bot games should be played. We discussed rules, themes and visual art designs. The collaborative discussions went on through the afternoon and the design process began with our prototypes.

this is what a prototype looks like

this is what a prototype looks like

collaborate-prototype2

another prototype

Jack D, Dom and buddy discuss their game

Jack D, Dom and buddy discuss their game

Kinder students are very capable at working together in cooperative groups. We do this everyday! It is amazing though, that Kinder Red has been able to use their higher-order thinking skills and creativity to collaborate extensively with our Stage 2 friends. We have appreciated design, problem-solved, discussed and accepted varying opinions within our small groups and used higher-order thinking to assist with the holistic development of these board games that will inevitably be used by both classes with the BeeBot robots to integrate with our COGs units, “Healthy Choices” and “Our Needs.”

collaborate-coopah

cooperating and collaborating

collaborate-isabella

Kindergarten can be very creative

collaborate-eliza

Eliza makes cards for their board game