Monday, July 16, 2012

Profiling Students

Profiling students is an important part of generating self image and developing student goals.  These goals keep them focused during the difficult years of senior school.

Sadly, often profiling is a haphazard event, and I'm not sure it should be this way.  Today, small schools have limited options for students, especially as the half cohort travels through the system reduces subject offerings.  If we put subject offerings and student profiles together, career options could be made more transparent.

Medical via University (Science Degree, RN, Medical Sciences etc)
Human Biology 2A, 3A Maths, Psychology 2A , English 2A, Chemistry 2A
Medical via Tafe (EN):
Human Biology 1A/Integrated Science, 1DE Maths, English 1A (and 3 of Media, Art, Psychology, WPL or cert courses)
Arts via university

By generating profiles that are supported by the timetable, students can aspire to these pathways and these can be published throughout the school so that students understand what they need for these subjects.

This could be taken further into lower school so students can aspire to higher learning.  Students in 8D need to aspire out of it or seek alternate pathways (and be given reassurance that this pathway is viable).  These alternate pathways need to be developed to build self esteem and empower lower ability students.  Lower school pathways may look like:

8D and business studies, (C grade average or lower)
8A/B/C, (C grade average, B grade or higher in selected vocational class)
8A, Extension Math and English (B grade average or higher)

Now students have reason for taking extension classes or participating fully in options classes.  There is a clear return on effort - a trait of the current millennial generation.

Each lower school "generalist" profile needs a profile champion that builds the self esteem of students and focuses on the positives of each profile.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Engaging parents through Edmodo

Edmodo is a product that I have used a lot this year.  With continuing use of ICT I have noticed that the effects are often not what is expected.

The most recent effect is the re-engagement of parents in education. Parents have felt disengaged from education due to (I think) the closed door nature of classes.  Parents have expressed that they are afraid to teach their students as they do not know the correct way to present mathematics.  Often they can complete a problem but have difficulty with using the correct working.

Now, having marked a few teachers work, this is no real surprise as teachers use a wide variety of techniques to solve problems.  A method ok in year 8 is a big no no in year 9.  Balancing method in year nine is where I most often put my head in my hands as students often have no real connection made to BIMDAS(order of operations), nor to where a new line of working (formal algebraic notation) should be used.

Edmodo, by presenting board work online (such that parents can access it), is starting the process of re-engaging parents in high school education.  They can see what homework is set, what teaching method has been used and what the mark was on a test - such that they can help  a student revise/relearn/correct any practices that are not up to scratch.

It has also relieved pressure on teachers as comments like "You haven't taught my child that", or "I didn't know my student was doing poorly" are now not as potent - the information has been available all along.  It gives parents back a role in the teaching process as the primary carers (at least for the other 14 hours of the day) - something that has been lacking in recent years, especially where parental knowledge is not sufficiently great to understand the difficulty of engaging and teaching students.

Is it a pathway to parents again understanding that teaching is a real skill and that for the most part teachers are doing a reasonable job?

The counter side is that it will expose dodgy teaching techniques and (through increased scrutiny and transparency) open teachers to criticism.  The lack of use (as stated before in a previous post) may also expose a teacher at risk, as posting information online is often the first thing to go when available time is poor.