Teacher Education

Because we never stop learning...

Author: Anja (page 1 of 3)

Putting Children At Risk

It’s not something we do very often. In fact, as teachers, all we ever seem to do is exactly the opposite. We provide safe classrooms, safe playgrounds and play safe games or do safe activities. The OHS [Occupational Health and Safety] people are frequently seen walking around schools, with clipboards in hand, ticking off the boxes to make sure that every little inch of the school environment is as safe as it can be. Electrical plugs are checked annually, furniture is designed for safety over ergonomics and playgrounds are limited in their use by such rulings as ‘too hard to play ball’, ‘avoid the trees for risk of falling branches’ and playground equipment that is colourful and bright but tedious to use.

Gone are the days when such lethal weapons as the paper guillotine can be allowed anywhere near a school, let alone be used by children.

However, it presents us with a big question. Is this practise of taking the risk out of everything children do and providing nothing but safety nets in all activities, really such a good thing?

Sure, no teacher would ever want a child in their care to be at risk of danger, with their safety and care always being of paramount importance, but there are certainly elements about putting children at risk that will help them in their growth. So is right to remove these elements from a child’s learning? Does removing the heater from a younger child’s reach, for instance, solve the issue or make it worse? Surely we all need to learn that danger exists, so is it wise to live in safety bubbles? Continue reading

Tech Corner: Spyware

...So, you finally have the machines you want in place and then the inevitable happens. And don’t be surprised! It is not a matter of if, but when. Something goes wrong and you don’t know how to fix it. You cannot afford to call in the technicians and you need to resolve the issue as in yesterday. This new section will be a calling place for some of the answers.

Problem: Spyware is attacking your network and making your machines almost unusable. How can you fix it?

Solution: There are two vital steps here. 1. Getting rid of the existing spyware1 first and 2. Setting up your network with safeguards to prevent it from happening again.

Firstly then, use a program such as Spy Terminator, SpyBot or many others [most available free from the Internet if budgets are tight] and scan your system for spyware and malware. These little nasties are not viruses per se but they do act in a similar fashion and often with the same result. One thing to note here – you do not need them, the children certainly do not need them and the computer will be eternally grateful to you for ridding them completely. Depending on the amount of machines in your network, this can be a lengthy task, but to make sure you have cleaned the machines effectively, a scan of each machine individually is highly recommended. Continue reading

Personalised Learning

Yet another government objective that is waiting just over the horizon, like a black cloud waiting to burst, is that of the personal learning space – which basically means every student must have their own online personal space which should support their e-portfolios. This should be in place by 2007-2008 and the larger part of this new objective will involve the use of another key term, namely that of the learning platform. Learning platform’
an umbrella
term used to
cover software
whose core role
is to manage learning
materials for students.
Learning platform’ is an umbrella term used to cover software whose core role is to manage learning materials for students.
Quote via: Teachernet
The confusing part for teachers in all of this will be knowing which learning platform will suit them the best, and as is often the case with anything new, it may well be that it is not until after the system is implemented that most teachers will have any idea of what is going on exactly. Continue reading

A Few Ideas For Being Safe Online

1. Depending on the age of the students in your care, avoid email use on the wider net until you feel your students have shown they are ready to move on with safety. At our school, we encourage emails and even have some lessons where the children are not allowed to speak to one another verbally, but they are allowed to communicate via email. It means the children have no choice but to learn the email skills correctly and they also come to realise that incorrect sentence structure and lack of grammar can make it difficult for the recipient to read. Text-speech is not allowed and all email is through the Intranet only.

2. Encourage sensible aliases for monitored email and chat exercises.

3. Set up an account or accounts for pupils via an online email system such as G-Mail and monitor for correct use. Have all messages copied and forwarded to your own teacher account as a means of keeping control until you feel the student is ready to go it on their own. Set all spam filters and safety configurations appropriately. Continue reading

BLOGGING? It sounds disgusting…

One of the biggest things to hit the Internet in the last few years is a new phenomenon known simply as Blogging. It is taken from the term web logging and thousands of blogging sites are being added to the Internet daily. Indeed, this site itself, uses one of the more popular pieces of blogging software, WordPress, but there are many others to choose from. Just type in blog software or CMS [Content Management System] in your chosen search engine and you will soon find a myriad of choices before your very eyes.

Most require a server that can cope with Apache, MySQL and PHP, which are available on most respectable web hosts these days. Alternatively you can use a Windows IIS setup which is often the easiest available within a school intranet structure. [I highly recommend you are using at least Windows Server 2003 for this though, as IIS versions before this were not always so reliable.] Continue reading

Using Powerpoint with Effect: Book Templates

Book TemplatesI must admit, I cringe whenever I hear teachers bring up the topic of Microsoft Powerpoint presentations in their teaching. Having watched [and heard] every single transition effect with all of the accompanying sounds, another Powerpoint presentation could well be the straw that breaks this camel’s back.

Fortunately, Microsoft Powerpoint can be used in other ways.

Take book templates as one example. Simply throw in a nice background on a slide, jazz it all up to look like a book and before you know it, students are writing their own books and having fun in Literacy.

I came across the idea via some boring conference one day and although the original template I was given was about as exciting as watching grass grow, with a bit of imagination, they really can work. I have used them with children in year 2 up to Year 6 and they all enjoy them. Add sounds, movie files, even something as simple as recording themselves reading their stories. It’s easy and it’s highly effective. Continue reading

Software Review: Education City

Education City

With online access speeds ever increasing and schools wanting to make sure that they get the most from their tight-budgets, new online resources such as Education City are proving to be very popular. The one big advantage of course, is that they are regularly updated and maintained, meaning there is no need for schools [especially ICT Co-ordinators] to have to do it all themselves.

Schools subscribe to the service and buy as many modules as they wish. Continue reading

Benjamin Bloom and his Taxonomy

Benjamin Bloom is recognised as the the leader in the pursuit of defining educational objectives early this century. Developing a classification system (a taxonomy) of educational objectives, Bloom divided his findings into three domains;

Bloom listed six basic objectives within the COGNITIVE domain:

1. Knowledge – remembering or recognising something previously encountered without necessarily understanding, using, or changing it.
2. Comprehension – understanding the material being communicated without necessarily relating it to anything else.
3. Application – using general concept to solve a particular problem. Continue reading

Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky

Jean Piaget (1896-1980) is recognised world-wide as one of the leaders in the understanding of Intellectual and Cognitive Development.

In his theory of intellectual development, Piaget utilised structuralism and related it to cognitive growth. In this process, Piaget identified four stages of development as a child grows, namely, the sensorimotor stage; the preoperational stage; the concrete operational stage; and the formal operational stage.

Piaget also believed that individuals construct their own meaning (constructivism) through the interacting processes of assimilation, adaptation, accommodation and equilibrium, and the extension of schema, or ways of thinking.

Key Piagetian terms:
Assimilation: Fitting new information into existing schemes.
Adaptation: Adjustment to the environment.
Organisation: Ongoing process of arranging information and experience into mental systems or categories.
Accommodation: Altering existing schemes or creating new ones in response to new information.
Object Permanence: Understanding that objects have a separate. permanent existence.
Operations: Actions carried out by thinking them through instead of actually performing the actions.
Reversibility: Thinking backward from the end to the beginning.
Conservation: The principle that some characteristics of an object remain the same despite changes in appearance.
Schemes: Mental systems or categories of perception and experience.
Equilibration: Search for mental balance between cognitive schemes and information from the environment.
Decentration: Focusing on more than one aspect at a time.
Egocentrism: The assumption that others experience the world in the same manner as you do.
Compensation: The principle that changes in one dimension can be offset by changes in another.
Seriation: Arranging objects in sequential order according to one aspect; like size, weight, volume.
Classification: Grouping objects into categories.

Piaget’s Four Stages of Development:

Sensorimotor 0-2 years Begins to make use of imitation, memory, and thought. Begins to recognise that objects do not cease to exist when they are hidden. Moves from reflex actions to goal-directed activity
Preoperational 2-7 years Gradual language development and ability to think in symbolic form. Able to think operations through logically in one direction. Has difficulty seeing another person’s point of view.
Concrete Operational 7-11 years Able to solve concrete (hands-on) problems in logical fashion. Understands laws of conservation and is able to classify and seriate. Understands reversibility.
Formal Operational 11-15 years Able to solve abstract problems in logical fashion. Thinking becomes more scientific. Develops concerns about social issues, identity.

Applying Piaget’s Theory in the Primary Classroom


1. Use concrete props and visual aids whenever possible.

2. Make instructions relatively short, using actions as well as words.

3. Do not expect the students to be consistently to see the world from someone else’s point of view.

4. Be sensitive to the possibility that students may have different meanings for the same word or different words for the same meaning. Students may also expect everyone to understand words they have invented.

5. Give children a great deal of hands-on practice with the skills that serve as building blocks for more complex skills like reading comprehension.

6. Provide a wide range of experiences in order to build a foundation for concept learning and language.

Concrete Operational

1. Continue to use concrete props and visual aids, especially when dealing with sophisticated material.

2. Give students the opportunity to manipulate and tes
t objects.

3. Make sure presentations and readings are brief and are well organised.

4. Use familiar examples to explain more complex ideas.

5. Give opportunities to classify and group objects and ideas on increasingly complex levels.

6. Present problems that require logical, analytical thinking.

Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934) was a contemporary of Piaget. For Vygotsky, the learning process was not a solitary exploration by a child of the environment, as suggested by Piaget’s personal constructivist theory, but rather a process of appropriation by the child of culturally relevant behaviour (McInerney and McInerney:1998)

Vygotsky is remembered mainly for his theory of social constructivism (also known as a cultural-historical theory) in which he believed that cognitive development can be understood as the transformation of basic, biologically determined processes into higher psychological functions.

This implies that children are born with a diverse range of perceptual, attentional and memory capacities which are substantially transformed in the context of socialisation and education. Put in a very simple manner, the theory is that children are only as cognitively developed as the culture in which they live, allows. For Vygotsky, the culture and environment in which a child grows over-rides the mental and cognitive schema processes outlined by Piaget.

As a consequence of this line of thinking, Vygotsky put forward the notion that a child’s learning is shaped by their social influence. Known as Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development, he defined it like this “… as the distance between the actual development of a child as determined by the independent problem solving, and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more peers. (Vygotsky:1978)

The essentials of a Vygotskian Social Constructivist Perspective for Education For teachers:

– a belief that education is to develop a student’s personality;

– a belief that education is to facilitate the development of the creative potential of students;

– a belief that effective learning requires the active involvement of the learner

– a belief that teachers direct and guide the individual activity of the students but they do not

dictate or force their own will on them. Authentic teaching and learning come through a collaboration by adults with students

– a belief that the most valuable methods for students’ teaching and learning correspond to their developmental and individual characteristics, and therefore these methods cannot be uniform

– a belief that schools should provide the tools that learners need to internalise the ways of thinking central to participation in the cultural world around them.


All of the information on this page has been adapted from either

McInerney, D.M. and McInerney, V. Educational Psychology: Constructed Learning (Second Edition)

(Australia: Prentice Hall, 1998)


Woolfolk, A. Educational Psychology (Fourth Edition)

(Englewood Cliffs, USA: Prentice Hall, 199

Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences


Some theorists believe believe that intelligence is a basic ability that affects performance on all cognitively oriented tasks. Consequently, an “intelligent” person will do well in computing mathematical problems, in analysing poetry, in taking history essay examinations, and in solving riddles.

Evidence for this position comes from correlational evaluations of intelligence tests.

J.P. Guilford (1967) and Howard Gardner (1983) are the most prominent proponents of multiple cognitive abilities.

Guilford has suggested that there are three (3) basic categories, or

faces of intellect:

mental operations – the process of thinking; contents – what we think about; products – the end results of our thinking.

Mental operations are further divided into five different subcategories:

cognition – recognising old information and discovering new; convergent thinking – where there is only one answer or solution; divergent thinking – used when many answers may be appropriate; evaluation – decisions about how good, accurate, or suitable something is; memory – remembering previous information given or experienced.

Guilford’s model of intelligence has several advantages as well as one major disadvantage.

The model broadens our view of the nature of intelligence by adding such factors as those related to social judgement (the evaluation of others’ behaviour) and creativity (divergent thinking).

Certainly, human mental abilities must be complex, but Guilford’s model may be too complex to serve as a guide for predicting behaviour in real situations or for planning instruction.
In addition the problem of explaining the persistent correlations among all these “separate” mental abilities remains.
Multiple Intelligences

Howard Gardner has proposed a “theory of multiple intelligences” in which he suggests that people possess at least seven (eight since 1997) different forms of intelligence.

He claims that the capacity of individuals to acquire and advance knowledge reflects the priorities and opportunities that society presents in a cultural domain.

In this framework, intelligence is seen as a flexible, culturally dependent construct and as such it reflects a social constructivist perspective.

Each of the seven intelligences, listed below, are characterised by core components such as sensitivity to the sounds, rhythms, and meanings of words and capacities to discern and respond appropriately to the moods, temperaments, motivations and desires of other people.

An example of this is:

“a surgeon who needs both the acuity of spatial intelligence to guide the scalpel and the dexterity of the bodily kinaesthetic intelligence to handle it.”

The Multiple Intelligences are not subject specific and can be related to many different learning areas.

Gardner’s own definitions of the Intelligences are seen below :-

Verbal Linguistic

1.Linguistic intelligence is the capacity to use language, your native language, and perhaps other languages, to express what’s on your mind and to understand other people. Poets really specialise in linguistic intelligence, but any kind of writer, orator, speaker, lawyer, or a person for whom language is an important stock in trade highlights linguistic intelligence.

Logical Mathematical

2. People with a highly developed logical-mathematical intelligence understand the underlying principles of some kind of a causal system, the way a scientist or a logician does; or can manipulate numbers, quantities, and operations, the way a mathematician does.

Visual Spatial

3. Visual spatial intelligence refers to the ability to represent the spatial world internally in your mind–the way a sailor or aeroplane pilot navigates the large spatial world, or the way a chess player or sculptor represents a more circumscribed spatial world. Spatial intelligence can be used in the arts or in the sciences. If you are spatially intelligent and oriented toward the arts, you are more likely to become a painter or a sculptor or an architect than, say, a musician or a writer. Similarly, certain sciences like anatomy or topology emphasise spatial intelligence.

Body Kinaesthetic

4. Bodily kinaesthetic intelligence is the capacity to use your whole body or parts of your body–your hand, your fingers, your arms–to solve a problem, make something, or put on some kind of a production. The most evident examples are people in athletics or the performing arts, particularly dance or acting.

Musical Rythmic

5. Musical intelligence is the capacity to think in music, to be able to hear patterns, recognise them, remember them, and perhaps manipulate them. People who have a strong musical intelligence don’t just remember music easily–they can’t get it out of their minds, it’s so omnipresent. Now, some people will say, “Yes, music is important, but it’s a talent, not an intelligence.” And I say, “Fine, let’s call it a talent.” But, then we have to leave the word intelligent out of all discussions of human abilities. You know, Mozart was damned smart!


6. Interpersonal intelligence is understanding other people. It’s an ability we all need, but is at a premium if you are a teacher, clinician, salesperson, or politician. Anybody who deals with other people has to be skilled in the interpersonal sphere.


7. Intrapersonal intelligence refers to having an understanding of yourself, of knowing who you are, what you can do, what you want to do, how you react to things, which things to avoid, and which things to gravitate toward. We are drawn to people who have a good understanding of themselves because those people tend not to screw up. They tend to know what they can do. They tend to know what they can’t do. And they tend to know where to go if they need help.

8. Naturalist intelligence designates the human ability to discriminate among living things (plants, animals) as well as sensitivity to other features of the natural world (clouds, rock configurations). This ability was clearly of value in our evolutionary past as hunters, gatherers, and farmers; it continues to be central in such roles as botanist or chef. I also speculate that much of our consumer society exploits the naturalist intelligences, which can be mobilised in the discrimination among cars, sneakers, kinds of makeup, and the like. The kind of pattern recognition valued in certain of the sciences may also draw upon naturalist intelligence.

Gardner’s view of intelligences affects the way in which we teach in our classrooms. He challenges our ideas of what is intelligent behaviour, in particular, the emphasis in schools on the development of verbal and mathematical abilities of children to the exclusion of a broader range of intelligent behaviours.

The essentials of a multiple intelligence perspective for education:

For teachers

Present material to be learnt in authentic environments.

Encourage all children to develop competencies across all intelligences.

Utilise mentoring and apprenticeships with experts in the area of development.

Develop an interdisciplinary curriculum to facilitate the interconnections between the i

Encourage the cooperation of parents and community in students’ education.

Ground education in the cultural institutions and practices of our society

Implications for assessment

Integrate curriculum and assessment.

Be flexible in assessment practices to allow individuals to demonstrate their various competencies.

Develop authentic assessments.

Develop alternative assessments such as portfolios and work samples.

Develop intrinsically interesting assessments.

Set fair assessments that do not depend on other competencies as intermediaries.
Below is an example of Spelling Activities based on Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences:
Credited to Debbie Draper, Williamstown Primary School, South Australia


Verbal Linguistic:
Select words from the text
Say them – Look – Say – Cover – Write – Check
Make – crosswords – wonderwords – jumbled words
Add – endings – prefixes – suffixes
Dictionary work – alphabetical order


Logical Mathematical:
Write your words in code
Do word webs
Identify patterns in your list words
Rank your words in terms of – length – difficulty
Classify your words in several different ways


Draw the words – illustrate the meaning
Write the word in fancy lettering styles
Play “Pictionary”
Arrange your words into – chains – ladders
Draw the words as they sound


Body Kinaesthetic:
Act out the words
Play charades
Say your words in sign language – deaf alphabet
Dance out the meaning of the word
Clap out the syllables of the words


Tap out the syllables
Create a rap incorporating the list words
Learn Morse code and tap out the words
Write a song and sing the words
Play the sound of the words on a musical instrument


Work with a partner to say/spell words
Do mimes of list words
Form peer coaching teams to help learn words
Play word games in small groups
Games – Scrabble – Memory – Hangman – Boggle – Up Words


Look at your spelling work – do a P.M.I.
Set goals for improving one aspect of your work
Think about the ways you learn best – what helps/hinders you?
How do you feel about school subjects? Where do you rate spelling?
look back over your spelling assignments – do a self-evaluation


Much of the information on this page has been adapted from either

McInerney, D.M. and McInerney, V. Educational Psychology: Constructed Learning (Second Edition)

(Australia: Prentice Hall, 1998)


Woolfolk, A. Educational Psychology (Fourth Edition)

(Englewood Cliffs, USA: Prentice Hall, 1990)

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