Recently came across these amazing YouTube lectures about how video games can positively impact education. Surprisingly they discuss about how games can be a great tool for teacher to engage students in an individual manner and practice the differentiation to a greater degree.
Part 1: An End to Fear
Unfortunately the whole UK teaching job fell through due to red taping; however, I will try again next year! Currently I am teaching Grade 3 - 6 English in Geoje Island (second largest island of South Korea). It is very famous for its massive Samsung shipyard. I would say that Geoje Island is a mix between Vancouver(although not nearly as nice) and Whistler (not nearly as nice, again). There are many foreigners here due to booming shipbuilding business. I have included what the climate is like here below if you are interested and pictures of the city.
My elementary school is quite large(940 students and 73 staff members) compared to Canadian schools. It is almost impossible for me to remember all the names as I have to teach approx 600 students. Each grade has about 6 different classes with 25 students each (e.g. Grade 6 Class 1, Grade 6 Class 2, Grade 6 Class 2, etc). I teach each class for 40 minutes a week focusing on conversational and listening skills. Only 40 minutes per week makes it very difficult for me to develop any meaning relationship with the students. I am still trying though. One of the best thing about Korean elementary school system is the lunch program. Each school has a massive cafeteria which serves all the students and staff with healthy and fresh meals (and none of these pizza hot lunch business from Canada). I am always looking forward to having lunch with the staff or students. Also each class is approx. 40 minutes and between each class there is 10 min recess. For lunch and lunch recess is an hour. I am still trying to analyze how Korean and Canadian system differ and how I could learn from this to apply them in the future.
Another thing I noticed was Korean students' relationship to their school. It is considered their second home and they take care of the school. This means that there are no janitorial staffs. Students clean and take care of their school - the entire school is spotless. They learned not to litter indirectly as they need to clean up more if they litter. And from what I saw they seemed to have fun while cleaning.
As far as I can tell South Korean school does not seem to use differentiated learning and still stuck in the old ways of teaching and learning. One way of teaching for all. Also despite being a massive school, I have not seen any students with exceptionalities (therefore no teaching aid nor special aid). I believe that those students with disabilities or exceptionalities are sent to a specialized school. I will get into this topic more in the future.
After coming home back to BC, I had a few months of professional limbo. Around September I began teaching again full time. One class in particular was special. It was one on one class which ranged from English, Social Studies, Science, to Math. Therefore many group activities and games were out of the question. Also making that personal connection with the student was paramount which I did immediately.
His passion was all things transportation and city planning (especially bike paths). I utilized to our advantage for any analogies, explanations, and working on the projects. His other passions are video editing, filming, and Minecraft.
Below are some examples of summative assessment projects which the student had created.
Science: Mentos and Pop Experiments
Humanities: Industrial Revolution - Minecraft
Humanities: Passion Project
Overall, I am very proud of the project which the student has accomplished. His passion really shows through his projects. Moreover due to his passion, he is mastering research techniques to gather his information and analyzing them.
Before writing this report I did a candid self-reflection of my personal and professional growth in personality, and teaching style. I was a timid observer in Ed2500 with no experience in classroom management, or any grasp on curriculum. During PSI and PSII, I learned much about education from collaborative planning to the crutial classroom management. I have transformed into a different person … a different teacher who is still growing and evolving.
PSIII is the best practicum experience by far.
At St. Paul’s the staffs and colleagues are treated as family members including the interns. I didn’t feel such sense of belonging to a school/place until now. This factor made me happy to get up in the morning and step out the door to greet my students – it was like homecoming whenever I stepped inside the school. When PSIII started, my teacher mentor (the amazing Mrs. Primeau) gave me a week of blessing to get to know the class and the school to help me become familiar with the routine and to put my mind at ease. Despite this I was quite intimidated by Grade One students – although I did not show it.
Over the weeks, I bonded with my students as I taught math, drama, art, social studies, and physical education. Through my stern but fun personality, I gained their respect and became their leader in learning. I became to care and love each one of them – although at times, I feel disappointed at myself for not giving every student the same amount of attention.
One thing I focused on was incorporating technology. I utilized my SMART board in most of my lessons – especially in math and drama/social studies. As a video gamer/tech-geek, incorporating technology was an easy step for me. The new media element such as YouTube is very important to me and I truly believe that it is the new way of expressing oneself. We created several YouTube videos to make the students proud of their work, and connecting with others not just within the class but in the entire school, and with their family and the world. During every Christian Action school assembly, we put on our classroom video for the entire school to watch. My students’ reactions were always positive and enthusiastic and they also loved that the views are still climbing.
At the beginning, I conducted a classroom survey about the students' interest. Minecraft, an ingenious videogame, seemed to be the common denominator among my students. Therefore I began to develop my math lessons around Minecraft theme. At first I did not realize this, but it was a very time consuming work as I had to make all the math materials, worksheets, SMART board presentations, and comic strips from scratch. But I could not stop as my students were hooked – the learning did not seem like a chore but kind of fun. That is the only thing that keeps me going with this mammoth Professional Inquiry project.
Despite huge improvements in personal and professional development, I still have myriad areas which I would like to improve: efficient communication with parents, and meeting timelines. I have improved in communicating with the parents but I feel that it is still inadequate. I would like to create some sort of social network for the parents to communicate with them efficiently. I feel that phoning parents is an unreliable way to communicate as I cannot seem to reach them at time. I had some trouble with timelines in my PSII – in a middle school setting. And now with my Grade One class, it became hard to judge what an appropriate timeline is for these very young people (as I noticed huge difference between students). I hope I will improve on these areas as I gain more experience and wisdom.
This PSIII experience also gave me invaluable insight about school dynamics such as the interaction with administrations/board office, the parent/teacher interviews, the report cards, and the Catholic school environment. I am always overwhelmed and amazed by how much I learned each day – not just teach. It feels like I only skimmed the surface of the teaching profession and I am hungry to learn more to be the best teacher I can be for my students and the future.
As the PSIII internship's end was fast approaching, I wanted to spread my love of technology and new media. I decided that I would like to create a New Media club which would introduce basic Photoshop skills and tools to Grade Six students. Around 20 students signed up but only a little over half that amount showed up to the after-school club. Those who attended demonstrated their creative side with the boundaries which were given to them. We first started off with Media/Technology literacy. This had to be the introductory lesson as they can "abuse" their Photoshop talent to do ill. Also I wanted to teach them that the images you see on internet or in life are most likely fabricated, cannot be trusted, and one needs to be conscience whenever you are "consuming" those images. First lesson was the stamp tool which one could use to remove any blemishes and "imperfections." Also you can erase a person or anything out of a picture. Next lesson was cropping tool and colour editing. They were given some templates of American dollar bills (could not do Canadian as they are coloured and it will make things significantly more difficult for the students). They took a picture of themselves and pasted it on the dollar bill. The hard part is to make it look convincing. The results are shown below. I would say that these are acceptable considering the students had just started. I believe that given some time, they could make it look authentic.
Overall, I wish I could stay longer for my PSIII internship and develop this New Media Club further but ,by the wise words of Nelly Furtado, with "all good things come to an end." But such experience enriched the students with interest and new skills and myself professionally.
Perseverance is defined as steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. It is one of many positive qualities we want to instill within our students to have the resiliency to overcome hardships in real life. One of my childhood favorite tale - Hare and Tortoise - came to mind as I thought about how to teach this complex concept to my Grade Ones. I was able to find just the right resource in the school library which included the scripts and art directions for the students and teachers. Each student was asked to pick which role they would like to play as. From there the students were given scripts and asked to practice it at home with parents. During quiet reading period, students were called to the recording room and they did an excellent job with voice acting with some directions from me. During the art class, they created their respective animal masks - those who finished early could work on any other props. Overall video footage shooting, directing, and editing fell on my shoulders as the students were not able to handle such a task. But it gives me ideas for the upper grades. The result was a story which students loved and laughed with pride at their work. They can always come back and see what they were like in the past. Perhaps in the future, the students can show their children what they were like.