Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Howard, Howard, How does your Garden grow?

Howard Gardner is truly a remarkable man! He identified seven distinct intelligences that have greatly contributed to the world of teaching and learning. Sadly, we often face the educational challenge where we assume that everyone can learn the same material in the same way. We need to realise that individuals differ in strength of these intelligences.  This is similar to gardening: every gardener (learner) can benefit from tips for planting. Yet, crops and flowers all have specific nurturing requirements that differ in amount and frequency. Therefore, we need to keep track of this in order to have 'plentiful harvest'.

I recently discovered an article about implementing the multiple intelligences in the classroom (shared by Ruzél van der Poel) and absolutely love the idea of creating a 'Music Center': students are given the opportunity to compose and sing songs about the subject matter, make their own instruments and learn in rhythmical ways. Those who consider themselves learning best by music will surely say: "Thank you for the music..."

So, how do we accommodate everyone? I think we can all agree that this will be a difficult task! It requires additional time, planning, effort, innovative ideas and assistance. However, in the end it will be worthwhile trying. You can help bring out the best in learners and make them believe in each day. Who knows - soon, the learning problems might just fade away!

I advise you all to follow the link to Ruzél's blog and read more about implementing Gardner's intelligences in the classroom. In addition, I also shared the following video of Lanny Sherwin, singing about people being different. 

Remember: birds of different feathers can flock together! 

Sunday, 29 June 2014

An 'App' a day keeps the problems away!

Sixth Grade Learning Games is a free educational app designed by Kevin Bradford in 2013. This app is specifically designed for Grade 6 learners (generally aged 12). These lessons are, however, also ideal for learners that are just about to enter 6th grade, or for the current 6th graders who need a bit of help mastering a specific lesson. All 10 game lessons are fun, interactive and designed according to real Sixth Grade curriculums and are modelled after Common Core State Standards. Parents and educators are ensured that the information and content is aimed at Grade 6, ensuring that the learners are practicing and learning content they need to know. 
The games teach subjects such as Language (English) and Mathematics mainly, including topics like: geometry, algebra, probability, statistics, number sense, reading comprehension, synonyms and vocabulary.
This app is designed in a way that learners do not only practice, learn and improve their Grade 6 core content, but also have fun at the same time. The interactive games ensure learners to improve answering questions in a specific time, to complete the ‘race’, building process or card game (teaching learners to be determined and goal-orientated) or even try a more advanced level. Learners are therefore provided with the opportunity to improve individually at a fun-filled and suitable pace according to their level (easy/medium/hard) and educational need.
The game on numbers sense, for example, specifically takes the format of a racing game. Depending on whether learners can answer the set questions along the track, their speed will increase while competing against the other cars. With each question asked, a question mark button is provided, allowing additional help and a brief description (if required) on the content tested in the question. This is very helpful, as all learners will not necessarily be up to date with what is asked or tested. Consequently, they are now encouraged to try, to participate and to excel.
Teaching numbers sense or words in class could be considered boring and unentertaining. Yet, if teachers introduce this app as an educational resource game in glass, learners may be inspired to pay attention and collaborate with others. The teacher could project the app on a white board and invite the learners at the end of the teaching session to participate in a topic-related game for a few minutes. The app would therefore not merely replace the formal ‘teaching and learning’ in class, but serve as an additional tool to ensure learner participation, excitement, learning and fun.
Furthermore, this app is also recently designed (2013), which makes the learning content updated and trustworthy.
Potential Challenges:
This specific version only includes 3 games to try for free. Even though you may unlock all 10 games through a simple in-app purchase, it will require additional cost. If the app is used in the classroom (as suggested with the projection screen), the teacher will have to download the app before-hand on a cell phone or computer/ other device. Should the free version be used, the teacher will need to find access to an Android phone (2.2 and up) and make sure that there is enough data/ space to download the app of 20 MBThis might be a problem, as not all teachers will necessarily have access to these specific requirements.
If the app should be used for individual learner practice at home (whether it be for individual improvement or for a specific homework task), the same problem may occur: not all learners will have the specific cell phone requirements or data to download the app. You could arrange a few minutes in class for small collaborative groups to share cell phones for usage in group format, but: it will be your responsibility to get the parents’ approval, find out from the school whether this is in line and acceptable with the school’s cell phone policy and to also ensure that learners are, in fact, working on the lesson game (not surfing the net or accessing other social networks in class time!).
Despite the potential challenges, I still think that there will be a way to incorporate this app within the class – even if only once a month for a few minutes at the end of the week. Teachers and friends could assist or help you to make Sixth Grade Learning Games part of your classroom. A further bonus: the app only requires 20 MB.
These are not simple lesson games that only focus on one-specific type of question, but the lessons all explore several fields applicable for the Grade 6 Classroom. See for yourself:
  • Number Sense (FREE): - Absolute Value, Roman Numerals, Number Lines, and More 
  • Probability and Statistics (FREE): Median, Mode, Range, and Probability
  • Geometry: Congruency, symmetry, and angle types 
  • Consumer Math: Learn about sales, tax, tips, and other ways to calculate money 
  • Algebra: Use the distributive property, evaluate expressions, and solve for x 
  • Word Memory (FREE): Use clues to match words
  • Spelling : Hundreds of spelling words of varying difficulty 
  • Vocabulary:  Learn the definitions of challenging words
  •  Reading Comprehension: Reading articles and then answer questions   
  • Synonyms and Antonyms : Identify different words that mean the same or opposite

Friday, 27 June 2014

From The Student Teacher’s Desk…

Dear Readers

Welcome to my blog, 'ToolBoxEd'. Why ToolboxEd? Well, let me explain…

During this month I have attended a Digital Literacy Short Course presented by Casey Anley. This course was specifically aimed at teaching new teachers at the Stellenbosch Faculty of Education about ‘Going Digital’ (which introduces digital literacy and educational technology, as well as to consider how teaching and learning differs in the 21st century). If some of you are now overwhelmed by the idea of technology replacing our teachers, remain calm! Don’t fear technology – rather use it!

In order to successfully pass this course, we are expected to complete some assessment tasks. Starting our own educational blog happened to be one of them. So, here I am! At first, I did not know what to do or where to start, but I guess that’s how we all learn, right?!

I know…I have not yet answered the question concerning my blog name. Let me explain: ToolBoxEd eventually came to mind (after realising several other names already existed in this world wide web of ours!). Then again, I also spent some time reflecting, doodling and finally decided on ToolBoxEd. The name basically combines two words: ‘Toolbox’ and ‘Ed’ (referring to ‘Education’). Furthermore, the capitalized letters TBE imply ‘To Be Educated’. Hopefully, this blog will therefore be regarded as a so-called ‘toolbox’ with resources, tools and basic information on Education and Teaching itself.

It would probably be useful for you to know who you are dealing with, therefore I am sharing some background information about myself:

In December 2014 I will be completing the Bachelor in Education (BEd) degree with specialization in the Intermediate and Senior Phase. My major subjects are English, Afrikaans and Mathematics. I am particularly passionate about languages and have proved to be highly successful in these areas during teaching practice.

For the past two years I have been tutoring for TeachMe2. In this capacity, I am assisting with language development and homework. Furthermore, my leadership experience includes mentoring at Rachael's Angels (developing learners’ full potential through improved academic abilities and enriched life skills), coordinating music for Crosspoint Youth and assisting at Stellenbosch University during school learner visitations.

It has always been my desire to equip and enrich myself to such an extent that my teaching will make a difference in the lives of learners, developing their full potential in a remarkable way. May I inspire you to also do so!
Spending some quality time at
Immanuel's Haven

Teaching the children a few songs.
1, 2, 3, singing: " I just want to be
a sheep, bahbahbahbah..."
Reading Noah's Ark (at Immanuel's Haven)
A breath of fresh air!
Teachers all need a break at some stage! As
 they say: "Every successful [teacher] needs a
substantial amount of coffee"
- Stephani Piro

"So long, fare well..." (last day of teaching practice, 2013)