Tuesday, August 5, 2008

PD day 2 Yawn...

They say you only get what you put in. It's a bit hard when the opportunities for comment are limited to predetermined answers. The issues with planning in today's environment were clearly circumnavigated. It amounted to, plan guys, you're professionals do what you think is right. Oh, and here are five teaching stratagies.

Here were some of my questions and comments by PD staff
1. How many schools engage in values based education planning: few
2. Has middle schooling research been analysed before implementation at new schools: no, currently being investigated by ECU
3. It is important to know what is taught above and below your year group in any subject as kids may be at multiple levels: Duh!
4. There is significant slippage in year seven and nine due to adolescent hormones: True for some, excuse for most.

Here were some answers given by my fellow primary teachers.
1. "It is more important that students enjoy maths than have developed skills that they will retain."
2. "It is ok to teach to level three as lower ability students will switch off if they don't understand."
3. "Oh, is that what is taught in year 8. Why are you complaining - you don't have to do that much!"

..and I suppose it is ok to be able to write sentences with poor spelling, without capitals and full stops too. Numeracy is as important as literacy. Maths should not always be fun - it should have a fun element but there is a need to learn the skills too. Understanding without the ability to retain knowledge is a useless pursuit; you are building a house of straw without retention in mathematics. This is not rocket science people!

Here is some other useful stuff that is not common knowledge (apparently):
1. If a student is meeting outcomes and standards framework 'targets' then they are performing at the level of a reasonable student (eg. a 'B' student). Targets are meant to be the mean teaching point.
2. If a student is just reaching a NAPLAN benchmark, it describes a minimum performance requirement indicating assistance required. The child probably requires an IEP to lift him off the benchmark.

The obvious conclusion here is that many teachers are only teaching to targets and not extending into higher levels. This has always been the concern with developmental strategies - a developmental strategy in a heterogenous class relies on teachers teaching multiple levels nearly all the time and having strategies available to monitor performance and stretch students (a notoriously difficult task) - saying that good kids will pick it up later is clearly not good enough.

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