Sunday, October 21, 2007

ECP3002: Day 1 at a Catholic Primary School.

Thursday was officially my first day at a primary school. Even though it was the first day of the practicum, I did not find it as hectic or busy as I had stayed for almost half a day with the children during Orientation on Wednesday. It must be admitted that I was feeling a little bit at unease on Orientation, and the extra hours and extra day I spent with the children helped me to ease into the mindset and also possibly made the children feel more comfortable with me (or more for me indeed!)

Just to add more details to what we did on Wednesday, the class went for a swimming session at a public state. It was exciting (for me because it was my first time joining a class for swimming!). The children really enjoyed themselves there although they possibly only swam for about 13 minutes and possibly had taken more time to change into and out of the swimming attire than swimming! On Wednesday afternoon, the children watched possible the first third of the cartoon movie “The Incredibles”, which is part of their unit for Term 4. The children continued watching another third of this movie today after their lunch.

The children in this class with Ms. J (she’s married btw) and another class, Mrs. C collaborated together to write out the unit plans. Both classes watched the movie together, and undertook learning for the same unit as well as similar lessons. The difference that exists maybe the style of teaching that is demonstrated by the homeroom teacher, as well as to differentiate for some of the students in the class who may need differentiation with the learning of the curriculum.

The children have a routine that they follow when they come into the classroom each morning. However, they do not enter the classrooms till about 8.30am when the morning bell rings. This is among the routine that they perform when they enter the classroom.

  • Put their bags away on racks.
  • Take out their homework folder and hand in their homework.
  • Take out the Red sheet (reading log) and place on the table
  • Change Readers
  • Get morning talk ready
  • Hand tuckshop in (Mon, Wed, Fri).

I believe a routine helps children to ease into the mindset of getting ready for class and learning for the day. After the children have done that, the teacher will take roll for the day. Once she has done this, one of the children will take it to the office. The teacher also checks for the homework and the red sheet (reading log) each day.

There was Assembly after morning tea, and students from all year levels gathered in this room beside the Year 1 classrooms. One of the Year 3s presented a very beautiful moving message conveyed through powerpoint, videos, a play, singing and dancing. I believe that they must have put in a lot of time and practice to put in this performance for Assembly. The children from the other classes also enjoyed the Assembly as well.

Among one of the enjoyable aspects during the Assembly was when the teacher was called out to take a Raffle ticket from a jar. The Raffle tickets was given as part of positive behaviour management reinforcement strategies for children who “made good behaviour choices” during morning tea or lunch time.

The fact that the prize presented was a Tuckshop voucher for $1 did not matter, but all the students were awed by the “tuckshop voucher”, and this seemed to motivate the rest of the students to give a louder applause when the receiving child from Year 2 went forward to collect his prize.

I also enjoyed understanding the management and the workings of a Catholic school as up to this point of time, I had not been to one. I find it much more enjoyable as I also share and believe in many of the core values of the Catholic faith. Over all, the first day of the practicum was found to be a very enjoyable experience.

There are many so called "Catholic" and Christian schools in Malaysia, but the question is how many of them are actually run the way they are here? I'm not too sure how many of these schools have management that has been returned to the govt, but I do hope that it could be run voluntarily, as I do believe that there will be parents back in KL who would still aspire to have their children sent to these schools too.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Practicum at a catholic primary school.

When I checked my mail this morning, I received word from Sally, the administrator at the uni that they found a placement for my praticum. Apparently it's at St.S's, a Catholic primary school.

Well, if you are wondering, there is a vast difference in the way that private and state schools are run..I'm quite excited, but at the same time afraid of the prospect. So I guess I won't really be waiting that much after all. Maybe about three days later (than others) anyways. I have one week and a half more to myself to do the things I need to do after all! =)

Tomorrow I'll still be going for the volunteer work at D.H. So, yeah I have to start thumbing through the behaviour management part of the text I just borrowed to get ready for D.H tomorrow.

See ya guys later!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Importance of being Volunteer.

Eversince practising writing the Queensland Cursive writing, I have been noticing other cursive signs (out on the road even on the bus). *LOL*. I realise that there are different styles of writing the letter "r" and you know what? They are both right!

(okie, this is beginning to sound inanely seriously retarded for someone who has too much time on her hands)

Michael (who is an Aussie mate of mine) noted that a lot of employers LOOK HIGHLY at volunteer work. Because we give up our time to help out an organisation, as volunteers we can ask for a reference letter after a period of time. It must be remembered and understood that there is a minimum wage in Australia, and award wages go up to 15AUD p/hour here, and if we go without being paid, that's considered rather "charitable" of us..

The fact now remains that although I am not actually "employed", however I can still use my "volunteer work" as a sort of reference. I am just wondering how come I never thought of that before? Hmmmm....

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Today I was late for lecture! Actually I thought that I'd be the latest, but when I arrived, I found out that less than half of the students were in attendance....the class ended an hour before the anticipated due time. Oh well..

Anyways, the point of this entry is to inform all that I WAS supposed to start my second practicum in a primary school next week. However when I checked with the staff at the uni today, apparently the schools were "overpacked" with student teachers undertaking practical experience at the same time.

For me, I'd rather wait till the present cohort of students are done with their pract. That way I have more time to prepare before going in. I just can't "rock in" into any school without any information nor background knowledge, or planning (for success).

So yes, that means I have to call up D.H and tell them I am going in for volunteer work for the next two weeks. At least that will help me (mentally, & emotionally) to prepare for the behaviour strategies aspect of the teaching that I have to undertake. =P

Anyway, to prepare for the upcoming pract, I was advised (not too long ago) to borrow this book called First Days of School: How to be an Effective Teacher by Harry.K.Wong, from the uni library (which I did. The book is written by a team of husband-wife teachers from America. I've read some portions of it so far, and still trying to get the hang out of it. Some of the strategies that Wong recommends do make sense, but there are some which I find are a bit unorthodox (and I've not heard of before). As such, I am trying to do some research and validate if his strategies are effective or not.

I've also borrowed the Queensland Handwriting Resource for Lower Primary CD to which I will be printing out worksheets to practice my handwriting on. =P Oh well....All in the day's work of a teacher...

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Volunteering: Term 4 in new class.

Today I started volunteering for the first Tuesday in Term 4 at D.H. When I came in, I realised that there was about one or two new practicum students in Mrs.M, so I was assigned to a less busy class under Mrs.H, also in the same year level.

Helping out in this class is really FULL-ON! There really isn't a minute free...! The class had Mathematics for the first half of the session, following a spelling activity in the second half.

For Maths, Mrs.H reviewed place value, talking about Hundreds, Tens and Ones. I was assigned to an indigenous student... He was one of those who needed much attention and the teacher knew that.

For Spelling, they worked with a worksheet working on words with the double vowel sounds "_oo_". The teacher also worked with the students on suffix "_en". They had to add suffixes to nouns to become words such as "oaken, ashen, brazen" etc. Words that I wasn't even familiar with! *LoL*

When I say spelling, it doesn't mean that they memorised the words and the teacher dictates it out. Actually, the students already DO do some kind of "spelling" when they compose words, but so far, I have not seen the same kind of spelling which I am used to in Malaysia that they do here. So when I say "Spelling" it doesnt mean the same kind of spelling that we are used to back at home.

During morning tea, I realised that Mrs. M didn't attend the normal Tuesday P-3 departmental meetings today. I guess this could be attested to the fact that she had new pract students who had come in and she may had to attend to them.

Right before morning tea, Mrs.H did Handwriting exercises with the classroom. As I looked at how she taught them handwriting, I realised that I too needed to practise mine in order to get ready for the lessons at pract as well too as I didn't know how the script goes...

After morning tea, Mrs. H did reading groups with the students. The students were assigned to 3 groups (one with me), one to Mrs.H, and one to the teacher aide. I was assigned to a Sudanese boy (who could read fairly well, but still needed assistance), a new Aussie white boy (who just arrived on Monday) and the same Indigenous boy (who had gone for Reading Recovery earlier). We read this book "Rascal" one of those books that came from a literacy reading series.

One of the strategies that the teacher asked me to use with this group was to look for words ending with "_et". So after that, the two boys took out their reading exercise books and wrote down all the words ending with "_et" we could come out with. When they were done with it, I asked them to compose sentences using these same words we had just made. Mrs.H then explained that the reason for this is because she was going to work with the same words on Wednesday for literacy.

I could see that both the teachers had different styles to managing the class. In this class, they did not have those "good behaviour" sheets to stick on the table for raffles and prizes. The students had less time to muddle on their own, and she was very much more strict with the students.

The students also did a lot of Procedural writing activities, as it was displayed all over the classroom. They had also done a Science display where they had done a bicarb. soda, balloon and vinegar experiment. I asked some of the students who were standing nearby when they were getting ready to go out for morning tea. They could explain to me what the experiment was all about.

Among the first things that I saw as I entered the classroom was that the Student Profiles were displayed on the wall. Each student wrote a paragraph (or more) to describe themselves and their interests. Based on those profiles, I could immediately work out whom among the students had advanced reading and writing skills. For the two students that I worked with, it was evident (if not obvious) that the short description of their profile matched their literacy skills...

For the term unit, the teacher explained that they would be doing Diversity (which is same for Mrs.M's class, except that the latter might also be doing an author study on one of the australian authors, Mem Fox, which in my opinion is more interesting though)... =P

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