Monday, October 20, 2014

ETP-426 PORTFOLIO FOR MY PRACTICUM

Welcome to the beginning of Michael Ryan Lesser's (s264327) portfolio, for a practicum, which I completed at Orchlon International School, in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.  The course was ETP 426 Teaching and Learning 6 / Theory to practice.  The university where I was enrolled was Charles Darwin University.  The program of study was a Graduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning.  I taught two classes in the middle school range: First Language English and Geography.   My mentor teachers were Chia-Chien Wu (English) and Anupriya Sharma (Geography).  Throughout this portfolio, I have linked my evidence to the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership’s (AITSL) National Professional Standards for Teachers (AITSL 2011), which can be found as a PDF file from the following website:  AITSL PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS PDF


A few sites to learn more about my school in Mongolia.


In reference this letter below, Focus Area 1.1 (Physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students) is covered, as Mrs. Dalantai writes: "Mr. Lesser's teaching style and methods are very instrumental in developing self-confidence, team spirit and motivation among students...Once my son told me that should he need any advise or support he would always rely and count on Mr. Lesser...I think that it clearly talks about Mr. Lesser's personality that definitely serves as a role model for many students in my son's class."  Moreover, Focus Area 1.2 (Understand how students learn) is also mentioned: "He encourages interactive innovative techniques while teaching a new topic."  Focus Area 1.5  (Differentiate teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities) is briefly touched on, where Mrs. Dalantai mentions: "He encourages interactive techniques while teaching new topics."  What I believe that she was referring to is my use of technology, collaborative group work, student centred classes, and references to utilizing the various multiple intelligences of my students, which would include visual, audio, as well as kinaesthetic learners.

Focus Area 2.1 & 2.5  Content and teaching strategies of the teaching area) (Literacy and numeracy strategies) are covered, as Mrs. Dalantai explains: "He encourages interactive innovative techniques while teaching a new topic, including descriptive writing, book record keeping [book reports] and logical thinking."  Furthermore, Focus Area 2.6 (Information and Communication Technology (ICT)) was also covered in my classes, as she explains below: "He encourages interactive innovative techniques while teaching..." I use YouTube as a starter for many of my lessons; I ask my students to present Powerpoint slideshows; I use Google Classroom to present information to my students; I share folders from Google Drive and through Email attachments with my students; I send them weekly E-Newsletters; and ask my students to Email their work to me.

Focus Area 3.1 (Establish challenging learning goals) is also mentioned, as Mrs. Dalantai explains: "He encourages interactive innovative techniques while teaching...logical thinking."  Focus Area 3.3
(Use teaching strategies) is also mentioned: "He encourages interactive innovative techniques while teaching a new topic, including descriptive writing, book record keeping [book reports] and logical thinking."  Focus area 3.4 (Select and use resources) is also discussed: "He encourages interactive innovative techniques...", such as YouTube clips as starters, use of Google Translate or online dictionaries, as well as using PPT for my lectures or student presentations.  On occasion, we also use online voice simulators, for listening exercises, so students can get used to various accents, such as a British, American, German, Chinese, or French person speaking English.  Focus Area 3.5 (Use effective classroom communication) is also written about: "Mr. Lesser's teaching style and methods are very instrumental in developing self-confidence, team spirit and motivation among students...Once my son told me that should he need any advice or support he would always reply on and count on Mr. Lesser.  I think it clearly talks about Mr. Lesser's personality that definitely serves as a role model fro many students in my son's class."  If my classroom communication was simply to explain lessons and teach, they I do not believe that she would have written such a sentence.  Moreover, she also wrote: "He encourages interactive innovative techniques..."  She is referring to student centred classes, which focus of collaborative learning, though group work. Focus Ares 3.7 (Engage parents/carers in the educative process): if my relationship with Mrs. Dalantai was anything less, then how could she have written this letter?  Mrs. Dalantai, and many other parents, and I communicate often, through face to face discussions, emails, and phone calls.  Just the other day, Batta's sister called me to ask about his improvement in English and what he can do to improve.  She calls me once a week.  I also send out weekly E-Newsletters, communicating lesson plans, homework, strategies to improve their English or Geography, as well as homework assignments.

Focus Area 4.1 Support student participation) and Focus Area 4.2 (Manage classroom activities) are also supported in the letter below. As Mrs. Dalantai explains: "Mr. Lesser's teaching style and methods are very instrumental in developing self-confidence, team spirit and motivation among students.  He encourages interactive innovative techniques while teaching a new topic, including descriptive writing, books record keeping [book reports] and logical thinking."  The quotes from this parent speak volumes for my efforts to support students participation and manage classroom activities.  Focus Area 4.5 (Use ICT safely, responsibly and ethically) is also mentioned by this student's mother: "He encourages interactive innovative techniques..."  I discuss with my students about cyber bullying, through one of my extra curricular activities (Hall Monitors), as well as in class.  I also discuss issues about privacy and how to adjust their settings on social networking sites, such as Facebook and Instagram.  "Once a photo goes online, it stays there forever" is one thing I mention to my students often, trying to reinforce the idea that they need to be responsibility Online users and surfers.

Focus Areas 7.1 (Meet professional ethics and responsibilities) and 7.3 (Engage with the parents/carers) are met, through this letter, as evidence.  Yondonjamt's mother wrote this letter for me.  If we did not have an open and honest relationship, then I do not think she would have written it and I could not have asked her to do so.  Moreover, as mentioned above, I have weekly communication with parents, through an E-Newsletter, Emails, phone calls and face to face meetings.  Moreover, as she goes on to explain: "Mr. Lesser's teaching style and methods are very instrumental in developing self-confidence, team spirit and motivation among students...Once my son told me that should he need any advice or support he would always reply and count on Mr. Lesser.  I think that it clearly talks about Mr. Lesser's personality that definitely serves as a role model for many students in my son's class."  This would indicate that I meet many professional ethics and responsibilities with my students, that go well beyond simply educating them in subjects.  I care about their development as a person, and I am/should be obliged to be help mould future Mongolian and world citizens.

THIS IS A LETTER FROM A PARENT, ABOUT HER SON, MY CLASS AND MY EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY (Linked to Standard 1,2, 3, 4 and 7)




PORTFOLIO AND ETP 426 PRACTICUM JOURNAL, BY MIKE LESSER
This is a summary of my classes and daily journal.
 (Linked to all of the seven AITSL Standards)

vacationed in Pusan, South Korea, for the summer.  It was a cheap getaway, where I knew the people, had lived before, and could hike and get back into shape.  Lower back problems have plagued me for the better part of a decade, and more recently, weight gain and the subsequent higher cholesterol levels exacerbated the problem.  I also chose Pusan so that I could be ready, in shape, well rested, and ready for teaching in the fall.  I read many books, including required readings for ETL 421 and 414, read over the Cambridge International Examinations curriculum and engaged in online PD courses, in June and July, watched Ted Talks & YouTube clips of middle school teaching and read the geography texts, either after or during my rigorous daily hikes (Reading my texts, doing online readings and PD, and watching YouTube is evidence of Focus Area 2.2 (Content selection and organisation), 2.5 (Literacy and numeracy strategies), 2.6 (Information and communication Technology (ICT), 3.1 (Establish challenging learning goals), 3.2 (Plan, structure and sequence learning programs), 3.4 (Select and use resources), 3.6 (Evaluate and improve teaching programs), 6.1 (Identify and plan professional learning needs), 6.2 (Engage in professional learning and improve practice), 6.4 (Apply professional learning and improve student
learning), 7.2 (Comply with legislative, administrative and organisational requirements), 7.4 (Engage with professional teaching networks and broader communities).  As common sense and research shows, brain activity and growth benefits from 30 to 60 minutes of daily exercise.  Well, I was certainly getting my fair share’s worth of exercise, with anywhere from four to eight hours a day!  Then in August, I made my venture to Mongolia, where I would spend a month, acclimatizing myself to the higher altitude and new weather conditions, tour the Gobi Desert and the surrounding countryside, as well as familiarize myself with my new apartment, and, of course, my new neighbourhood in Ulaanbaatar.

On Monday, August 18, 2014, I returned to Orchlon School, as a Charles Darwin student teacher.  Much of the first week’s mornings were spent in meetings with various administrators, within the English and humanities departments, as a group of foreign teachers, as well as whole school meetings (Meetings and PD over this week would suggest engagement in Focus Areas 2.2 (Content selection and organisation); planning for 2.3 (Curriculum, assessment and reporting); 3.6 (Evaluate and improve teaching programs); 4.4 (Maintain student safety); 6.1 (Identify and plan professional learning needs); 6.2  (Engage in professional learning and improve practice; 6.3 (Engage with colleagues and improve practice); 6.4 (Apply professional learning and improve student learning); 7.2 (Comply with legislative, administrative and organisational requirements); 7.4 (Engage with professional teaching networks and broader communities).  Over the summer, the school campus moved, so I was also given a tour of the new campus.  A gym, swimming pool, theatre, the kindergarten, and several other parts of the school were still under construction, so it was interesting to see everyone working hard.  During our two weeks of student-free days, I was expecting collaboration, writing lesson plans, reading up on textbooks, but as the school was going to hold their new grand opening on August 28, our priorities were to decorate our classrooms, so that visiting shareholders, dignitaries, and parents would be able to see a school that would be ready for the children on September 1 (This is evidence of 3.7 (Engage parents/carers in the educative process); & Focus Area 7.3 (Engage with the parents/carers)).  The interesting and challenging thing about this was that we did not have a printer, photocopier, paper or computers.  We needed to dig deep, collaborate, and think.  We outsourced to a print shop for some very nice posters.  We also bought some plants for the classrooms.  I was given classroom 205, with another English teacher.  He also had another classroom and was still teaching at the old campus, so I offered to decorate our shared classroom by myself, and he agreed.  I was told that 205 would have social media as a theme, so I downloaded several humorous, yet tasteful, images from Google.  Some were the Facebook like icon of a thumbs up, the Instagram logo, and a few funny ones, such as:  “You must be desperate to come to me for help”, across the “second” page of a Google search.  Ms. Anu, my geography mentor, was quite busy setting up the humanities classroom, well before August 14, as she also taught older students, who came back at the beginning of August.  Therefore, there was not much for me to do, regarding decorating the geography classrooms.  My classroom looked ready as of August 26, so Pedro and I  took his SUV and went over to the old school to retrieve some of his old furniture.  When we got to his old office, we loaded his bookshelves and other items into his car, minus his ergonomic swivel chair, which was brought over to the new campus, but never to be seen again!  He emailed the teachers and searched high and low, but could not find it.  When we got back later that afternoon, we were informed that our classrooms also needed “welcome back signs”.  We tried cutting out letters from the alphabet, but these attempts were futile.  The administration realized this, so we outsourced again, and luckily, with an extra service fee, were able to get them done right away.  We put them up in the classrooms and thought we were definitely ready for our opening ceremonies.  Then, on the morning of August 27, we were told that our classroom needed more educational words and more decorations.  Talk about last minute!  We located a laminator and begged a primary teacher to let us use her paper and printer ink, which she had purchased out of her own pocket the previous year, and printed out vocabulary.  Then we were informed that we could not post these decorations on the wall, so we stapled string to the ceiling and used paper clips to put these A4 sheets of paper along the strings.  Whew!  We were finally ready for the grand opening the next day.

Thursday, August 28, 2014, turned out to be a sunny, bright, dry and hot day.  Geoff, the science and English teacher, pulled me aside and recommended we wait in a second floor classroom, rather than bake outside.  We waited in his classroom, which had a window with a view of the stage.  We waited until we heard the music begin before going out.  Many of the other teachers had sunburns by the time we got outside.  Various dignitaries, such as the Minister of Education, the Principal, Head of Primary, and the most senior teacher, gave various speeches, cut ribbons, and received/gave out flowers, awards and certificates.  Many groups of students gave traditional Mongolian performances.  We, the teachers, then stood in the front entrance to greet students and parents, who came into the school, many for the first time (This is evidence of 3.7 (Engage parents/carers in the educative process;  & Focus Area) 7.3 (Engage with the parents/carers)).   After lunch, we went home early.  The next day was the first day we had time for lesson plans.  I prepared my lesson plans for grades 9, 10, 11, and 12 English.  Ms. Anu, my mentor teacher for geography, had lesson plans prepared for the entire last year and agreed to lend them to me, and told me to feel free to alter them to suit the needs of this year’s students.  This really saved me, as it would be my first time teaching geography (This is evidence of Focus Areas 2.1 (Content and teaching strategies of the teaching area); 2.2 (Content selection and organisation); 2.3 (Curriculum, assessment and reporting); 2.5 (Literacy and numeracy strategies); 2.6 (Information and Communication Technology (ICT)); 3.1 (Establish challenging learning goals); 3.2 (Plan, structure and sequence learning programs); 3.3 (Use teaching strategies); 3.4 (Select and use resources; 3.6 (Evaluate and improve teaching programs); 4.1 (Support student participation; 4.2 Manage classroom activities); 4.3  (Manage challenging behaviour); 4.4 (Maintain student safety); 4.5 (Use ICT safely, responsibly and ethically); & 5.1 (Assess student learning).

On Monday, September 1, 2014, we had some sudden and unexpected news.  Pedro had taken a job at another school, and the school hired Owen, from Australia, to replace him.  Owen would be shadowing Pedro for a week.  I proposed to my vice-principal, Pedro and Owen, that Owen and I switch classes.  My comfort zone is and always has been middle school; my geography classes were in grades seven and eight, and, plus, I did not think Charles Darwin University would allow me to complete my practicum half in middle school (geography) and half in high school (English).  We met, and with the help of Chad, the grade nine English teacher, who would guide Owen with grade nine English, it was agreed that the switch could be made, and it was an easy switch as the students had not yet met with us.  I handed over my lesson plans to Owen, and he was put into the fire, so to speak, right on day one.

I met my first group, grade 6 English, with my Mongolian co-teacher, Susie.  She would meet with grade 6 eight times a week, and I would meet with the same students eight times a week.  Each period is forty minutes long.  We split the class into two groups, based on a speaking test that we administered to that class (The speaking assessment is evidence that we used Focus Areas 1.3 (Students with diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socio-economic backgrounds), as well as 1.5 (Differentiate teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities), as half of the students came from public schools, where they did not learn English properly, nor had the means to hire private tutors or attend after school academies to improve their English. The other half of the class came from overseas or international schools within Mongolia. 1.2 (Understand how students learn); 5.1 (Assess student learning); 5.3 (Make consistent and comparable judgements); & 5.4 (Interpret student data) is evidence, based on the speaking assessment we conducted).  We decided to have a low group and a high group.  Some students, such as Emily, Alberta, Pierrette, Martha, Denise and Lulu-Belle, could speak English like they were native speakers.  On the other hand, Drako, Sam and Tyreene could not answer simple questions, such as, “How old are you?” and “What class are you in?”  We decided, later on, to use the prescribed textbook, Checkpoint English, for group one, while we were recommended to use Primetime English One for the second group.  We discovered that the Checkpoint book was too easy for group one, while it was too difficult for group two.  In October, we finally made the switch to Primetime.  The switch was only made so late, because the books got held up at customs, and there was an issue with shipping. (By using a different textbook for the lower group, this is proof that Learning Area 1.5 (Differentiate teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students  across the full range of abilities); 2.1 (Content and teaching strategies of the teaching area); 2.2 (Content selection and organisation); 2.5 (Literacy and numeracy strategies; 3.1 (Establish challenging learning goals);  3.2 (Plan, structure and sequence learning programs); 3.3 (Use teaching strategies); 3.4 (Select and use resources); & 4.1 (Support student participation were considered)  Behaviour wise, the two grade six groups have, thus far, proved to be my most well behaved students amongst the middle schoolers.  Still, we spent the first few classes going over basic class rules.  For some, I prescribed, but mostly, the students came up with their own rules and consequences. I have so many great things to say about these two different groups of grade sixers.  Even when it is the tenth period of the day, they want to participate, give speeches, finish their work early and ask for more work, and are still well behaved.

My grade 7A English class is quite a different story, compared to their 6C counterparts.  I have been told by co-workers that this is because of their age; going through puberty, hormones are raging; but actually, I find this class, in particular, to be much more of a challenge than others.  Certain ring leaders are mostly the culprits.  At times, I have asked Elmer and Kermit to sit at my desk and this has worked, but it is only a temporary solution, because they cannot sit there every class.  When they are engaged in group work, away from each other, they function much better.  I put certain “controllers” in their groups of four, purposely just to control these two boys.  It has worked, to a certain extent.  However, when they are required to work on a project, such as an essay or a speech, they are just the worst.  They speak Mongolian, throw things at others, interrupt me and their peers, and laugh at me when I discipline them.  And get this, they are in the higher group!  It is really unfortunate for the others, who are amongst the best students of English in the country.  Erma and Sue have won school, city and nation-wide competitions for their excellence in English.  Yet, they are bullied in and out of the class by Ken and Tim.  I have taken steps to deal with this.  The lower half of the class, which feeds/fed off their classmates’ lethargy, has been merged into the other group, so I now have two groups of lower level, intermediate, and advanced students.  This has proven well for Demi, Amy, and Addy, as they are trying harder now that they are no longer in the same class as their lazy counterparts.  Elmer and Kermit have also been separated, as have Ken and Tim.  Even boys and girls, who “like” each other, but where the feelings were not reciprocal, were separated.  Yesterday, I emailed nine different parents about their child’s behavior in class, and carbon copied their homeroom teacher, the head of secondary, and the head of English and said that if their child’s behavior did not improve, we would have to hold face-to-face meetings at school, to help better outline a plan for the following term.  As we have just read,  through class 7A, several AITSL standards have been met.  Focus Area  1.1 (Physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students) focused on separating students who liked each other, as well as separating bullies from victims, and lazy students from hard working ones.  Separating the lower abilities students and merging them into classes with higher ability students looks at Focus Area 1.5, to Differentiate teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities.  Emailing and contacting parents takes into account 3.7 (Engage parents/carers in the educative process), as well as 7.3 (Engage with the parents/carers).  Meanwhile, Focus Area 4.3: Manage challenging behaviour was touched upon, when dealing with the misbehaving students.

Grade 7B English is quite a rambunctious group.  They are not inherently bad children, but they are still “all over the place”.  As long as you crack the whip, they will stay in line.  Still, this group requires a lot of my energy sometimes.  The first group has a lot of very nice children, but they also have that “Bart Simpson” kind of attitude and energy.  Again, some of the best students in the country in English came out of this group, but they are working alongside of children, such as Albert, who is an undiagnosed special needs student, and David, who refuses to write in his notebook, cries when I ask him to, and fights with his classmates.  I created a bound book for Albert: a compilation of 300 worksheets from an American Dyslexia website.  I do not know which learning disability he has, but some effort needed to be made for this unfortunate child.  He could not speak until he was 5 years old, and is developmentally stunted, physically.  His mother’s response was to throw the book in the garbage.  Concerning David, I spoke to his homeroom teacher, and he has promised to try harder, beginning this week.  With regards to Albert, Focus Area 1.6 (Strategies to support full participation of students with disability) was covered. (He has since been given a new book, which I take back every class and hold onto for him).

In Grade 7C, there seems to be less behavioural issues.  Zindane is one of my challenging students.  The expression, “The apple does not fall too far from the tree”, really applies to her.  Her mom scolded her for not receiving 98% in English.  She received “only” 92%.  When asked what she could do to raise her grade, I told her to write an essay about why students don’t do their homework, as she is notorious for not having the time to do it.  It was 750 words.  Both she and her mom said that it was too difficult for her to do, so her low grade of 92% remained.  Ernie, on the other hand, the class bully, beat people up, disrupted the class, and ran rampant over his classmates and my lessons.  I talked to him after class, alone, with other teachers, and with administrators.  He improved tremendously, so much so that he became a hall monitor, to help stamp out other cases of bullying.  I gave him a Rubik’s Cube, to thank him for his improvements. (For Ernie, Focus Area 4.3 (Manage
challenging behaviour); 4.4: (Maintain student safety); &  7.1 (Meet professional ethics and responsibilities) were covered).

By the end of the term, however, I adapted to some Mongolian cultural traits, as well as balancing my teaching style in the lesson.  When a teacher enters a classroom in Mongolia, the students are required to rise, and say, “Good morning, Mr. Lesser”, and then be seated.  However, I take this as an opportunity to settle them down.  I do not instruct them to be seated for at least three minutes.  I write on the board, set up my computer, take attendance, and give a few noisy students “the evil eye”.  Thus far, the message has been received.  After the three minutes is up, they go about their work, but whenever a student acts up, I immediately bring it to their attention, in a very stern manner.  I rarely smile now, as I did at the beginning of the term, because I need to maintain a fa├žade and demeanour of a strict teacher in control.  They still work on group work, but the moment someone is out of line, I crack the proverbial whip.  This has worked, and I will continue with this approach, while teaching in Mongolia.  (Focus Areas 3.5: (Use effective classroom communication); 3.6 (Evaluate and improve teaching programs); 4.3: (Manage challenging behaviour) were discussed in the paragraph above).

Grades 7 and 8 Geography
I was meant to teach only two to three hours of geography a week, as Ms. Anu had been given nine classes.  It was quite a burden for her, but she said she was up to the task.  However, after some time, she had several health issues, so very often, I would offer to substitute (or was asked to), as would her husband, Mr. Faisal, the business studies teacher.  As a result of her health issues, the school took some classes away from Ms. Anu and gave them to me.  She had her entire year’s worth of lessons, materials, worksheets, and exams prepared, so she told me to use them.  This was of tremendous help, as I am/was a new geography teacher, quite new to the subject and curriculum.  However, I was familiar with many of the students, because they were my English students.  Many similar behavioural issues stemmed over from grade 7 to grade 8, but less so, as the grade 8s were less familiar with me, and saw me far less often, so it was actually easier for me to concentrate on teaching, rather than “building a rapport”.  This may sound cold, but my experience, thus far, has taught me that having less of a relationship with the students, actually seems to ground them, and they are able to concentrate more on studying.

I spent the better part of the summer reading the two textbooks, The Blue Marble 1 and 2.  Much of the geography taught is/was quite simple; most things taught, I had already learned on my own over the years, having lived overseas for 18 years, and just by studying on my own.  However, I will admit, that I need to brush up on my knowledge of physical geography.  My geography students, according to Ms. Anu, are quite lethargic and are incapable of complex work, like the Indonesian and international students that she taught before.  I agree, as the level of English is somewhat low for this course, and the students are not used to this level of difficulty.  I also think one issue is that they study geography only once a week for 80 minutes.  If they had more time with geography, they would have potential.  The students have between 15 to 20 different classes a week, so it’s hard to compete with this kind of timetable.  Certain students study math five hours a week, and after school and on weekends, so between math and 19 other courses, geography is going to have to take a second seat.  (With regards to this section about Geography, Focus Area 2.2: (Content selection and organisation); 3.1: (Establish challenging learning goals); 3.2: (Plan, structure and sequence learning programs); 3.6 (Evaluate and improve teaching programs); 6.1 (Identify and plan professional learning needs) and because much of my discussions with my Mentor, Mrs. Anu, who taught me how to plan, evaluate and improve my lessons and teaching strategies, many AITSL Standards have been met).




LESSON PLANS
Below are lesson plans for grades six and seven English, for weeks seven and eight of term one.  I always begin my lessons with a quick opener, sometimes a 2 minute YouTube clip directly related to the topic of the day.  I normally use the prescribed text, along with various supplements.  At times, these supplements could be worksheets, or a class poster project, a speech, or an in class essay. I normally prefer to assign a month long assignment, rather an exam.  Such examples could be an autobiography, a diary, or a descriptive essay.  I usually finish my lesson with a plenary, to check if student learning was successful.

GRADE SIX GROUP ONE'S LESSON PLAN WEEK EIGHT 
(Linked to AITSL Standard 1, 2, 3, 5, 6)

GRADE SIX GROUP TWO'S  LESSON PLAN WEEK EIGHT
(Linked to AITSL Standard 1, 2, 3, 5, 6)




GRADE SEVEN'S LESSON PLAN WEEK SEVEN (Linked to AITSL Standard 1, 2, 3, 5, 6)

GRADE SEVEN'S LESSON PLAN WEEK SEVEN (Linked to AITSL Standard 1, 2, 3, 5, 6)



The lesson plans above, as well as the worksheets, rubrics, and photos of students, below, demonstrates the following AITSL Standards.  For example: 1.2 (Understand how students learn), since each lesson has YouTube Starters and other items to consider differentiation.  Moreover, Focus Area 1.5 (Differentiate teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities), brings into question using art, since it gives a chance for the low level students to express themselves.  Furthermore, Focus Area  2.2 (Content selection and organisation) relates to the innovative teaching and learning strategies outlined in the lesson planning. Focus area 2.5 (Literacy and numeracy strategies), is covered, as English concentrates on literacy, while geography and English teaches numeracy, through graphs, music, cooking, surveys, statistics, charts, and other methods.  Using YouTube is one example of Focus Area 2.6 (Information and Communication Technology (ICT)), while Focus Area 3.1 (Establish challenging learning goals), is met through lessons and set homework.    When the lesson plans are created the week before, Focus Area 3.2 (Plan, structure and sequence learning programs) is considered.  Research is done on a weekly basis, when creating lesson plans, covering Focus Area 3.4 (Select and use resources).  Focus Area 3.6 (Evaluate and improve teaching programs) and 5.1 (Assess student learning), are also done, when I or my mentors sit down, discuss the positives and negatives of each lesson and implement improvements for future lessons.  Every lesson plan is sent to parents on a weekly basis, so Focus Area 3.7 (Engage parents/carers in the educative process) is also done.  Focus Area 6.1 (Identify and plan professional learning needs) are used as guidelines to create proper lesson plans with colleagues, such as my Mongolian counterparts in the English and Humanities dept. who teach English and geography.


(Linked to AITSL Standards 1, 2, 3, 5, 6)

GRADE SIX GROUP ONE WORKSHEETS AND SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIAL, BORROWED FROM http://www.scholastic.com/






GRADE SIX GROUP ONE QUESTIONS TO ADD TO THEIR AUTOBIOGRAPHY 
(Linked to AITSL Standard 1, 2, 3, 5, 6)




GRADE SIX GROUP TWO WORKSHEETS AND SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIAL (Linked to AITSL Standard 1, 2, 3, 5, 6)




The Primetime English textbook covers a and an in the beginning of their book, so this is a supplementary material provided to grade 6 2nd group in week 8.



Countries and Nationalities was also one of the Primtime topics covered by grade 6 2nd group, so this is a supplementary worksheet for them to cover in week 8 (Linked to AITSL Standard 1, 2, 3, 5, 6)



Grade 6 week 8 worksheet 2nd group (Linked to AITSL Standard 1, 2, 3, 5, 6)


Grade 6 week 8 worksheet 2nd group (Linked to AITSL Standard 1, 2, 3, 5, 6)


 Grade 6 week 8 worksheet 2nd group (Linked to AITSL Standard 1, 2, 3, 5, 6)


 Grade 6 week 8 worksheet 2nd group (Linked to AITSL Standard 1, 2, 3, 5, 6)




Grade seven's week seven exercise.  After finding the words, they translated them words into Mongolian, wrote the definitions in English, and then wrote each word in a sentence. (Linked to AITSL Standard 1, 2, 3, 5, 6)



October's grade seven theme is dairies/journals.  For one of the lessons in week six and seven, we had a discussion, with the following questions. (Linked to AITSL Standard 1, 2, 3, 5, 6)


HARD WORKING GRADE SEVEN STUDENTS, WRITING AN ESSAY ABOUT ANNE FRANK AND HER DIARY.  THEY ARE TRYING TO SHOW EXAMPLES OF LITERARY ELEMENTS, SUCH AS PUN, ALLEGORIES AND PROVERBS.
 (Linked to AITSL Standard 1, 2, 3, 5, 6)




The following is a poster, created by grade seven.  As you can see, English is not their mother tongue, yet, they are able to take and pass a first language English class. (Linked to AITSL Standard 1, 2, 3, 5, 6)


Grade seven made a photo album, just like one that Anne Frank had.  This was their teacher's simple example.  it was also a rapport building exercise. (Linked to AITSL Standard 1, 2, 3, 5, 6)


Taken from http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/teachers_guides/9780385751063.pdf
The following four photos are part of grade seven's week 8 lesson.  They read the Boy in the Striped Pajamas, as part of reading week and month.  In their textbook, Checkpoint Two, they were learning about Anne Frank, so this was one of several supplementary lesson materials provided. (Linked to AITSL Standard 1, 2, 3, 5, 6)







GRADES
Every month, we enter grades into the Orchlon grading system.  We first grade for exams and assignments, which amasses seventy percent of their overall grade.  Then there are several other categories, which include attendance, homework, classwork, behavior, listening, reading, writing, speaking, and listening.  However, I was told by the Dean of Foreign teachers and other senior staff members, that the several other categories can be combined or weighting redistributed, according to individual class needs.  After discussion with the students, I used the other thirty percent and called it attitude.  The students were told that a correct answer or wrong answer is better than no answer.  A willingness to try, work hard and be respectful where what would earn them the whole, half or none of the extra thirty percent of their grade.

Google translate helped me understand some of the students' names.  However, I find that by finding and reading their names in Cyrillic, this helps me to comprehend their alphabet and it also enhances my Mongolian and Russian reading abilities.

Standard 5 Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning

5.1 Assess student learning: Students formative and summative assessments were looked over and discussed within the English and Humanities Dept. with my mentor teachers and other colleagues. They gave me their exams, as well, to look over and provide feedback.  Assignments and collaborative projects are also good examples of work, especially for intelligent students who do not excel at exams. 

5.2 Provide feedback to students on their learning: Each assessment has a section where I add comments.  I try to be as positive as possible and mask criticism with ways to improve for the future.  I also asked colleagues for advice and gave them some advise on how to give and provide constructive criticism.   

5.3 Make consistent and comparable judgements: Many evaluative assessments are made throughout the year.  Mid-term and final exams are collaborative efforts, on the part of primary and secondary teachers. Moreover, we grade different grade levels then our own for these summative assessments, so we are not biased in our scoring.  

5.4 Interpret student data: Monthly analyses are done, which provide examples of student and class areas of strength and weakness.  These analyses are shared amongst the dept. 

5.5 Report on student achievement: Twice a year, report cards are sent out to students and parents.  The home-room teachers compile evidence and reports from each subject teacher and then provide the parents with a package.  


THE FOLLOWING PHOTOS ARE THE EXAMS, PROJECTS (BOTH GRADE SIX AND SEVEN) AND RUBRICS FOR SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER GRADING. (Linked to AITSL Standard 5)


GRADE SIX SEPT. EXAM RUBRIC

GRADE SIX SEPT. EXAM, FIRST PAGE ONE.  THEY WROTE THEIR PIECE OF FACTUAL WRITING ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE PAGE. (Linked to AITSL Standard 5)



OCTOBER GRADE SIX ASSIGNMENT RUBRIC (Linked to AITSL Standard 5)



GRADE SEVEN SEPT. EXAM RUBRIC (Linked to AITSL Standard 5) 



GRADE SEVEN SEPT. EXAM PAGE ONE (PAGE TWO WAS WRITTEN ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE) (Linked to AITSL Standard 5) 



GRADE SEVEN OCTOBER ASSIGNMENT RUBRIC (Linked to AITSL Standard 5)





GRADE 6C ENGLISH SEPTEMBER GRADES (Linked to AITSL Standard 5)

GRADE 7A ENGLISH SEPTEMBER GRADES (Linked to AITSL Standard 5)

GRADE 7B ENGLISH SEPTEMBER GRADES (Linked to AITSL Standard 5)

GRADE 7C ENGLISH SEPTEMBER GRADES (Linked to AITSL Standard 5)



The following several photos are forms filled out by my mentor, Chia-Chien Wu, for middle school English and Literature.  Forms A, B, and a lesson observation form are provided. (Linked to AITSL Standard 6)


Standard 6 – Engage in professional learning (regarding the forms from CDU below)
6.1 Identify and plan professional learning needs: Mrs. Wu and Sharma and I held daily meetings to discuss Cambridge Professional Development, as well as the AITLS Professional Standards, and how these two curricula and standards could be applied to my courses at Orchlon.
6.2 Engage in professional learning and improve practice: In addition to the methods used in 6.1, we had weekly dept. meetings, where co-workers gave lectures and hands on workshops and tutorials to engage us and help us learn.  For example, new ways to use our brain, or getting students ready to read before they know how to read.
6.3 Engage with colleagues and improve practice: My co-workers from the English and Maths Depts. and I sit in the same office, so there is is a constant flow of collaboration occurring.  We help each other with lesson planning, creating assessment tasks, dealing with special needs students, and differentiating our students and their work.
6.4 Apply professional learning and improve student learning: Many of my co-workers share the same enthusiasm and frustrations as I do.  The major issues are classroom behaviour management and motivation.  Many students do not do their homework.  Is it because they do not enjoy English and geography, or is it because they have homework from 20 teachers, and cannot possibly do it all?  In my opinion, even if they stayed up all night, they would not be able to cover the load expected of them, so the students need to learn how to prioritize.  I often remind my co-workers that our 11 and 12 year olds are not super-human or robots.  They may have interests to are not even academically related, such as ballet, hiking, or collecting stickers.  I try not to assign too much homework, or I let them know about it a week in advance, so they can get a jump on it.  Some of my co-workers agree and some go their own ways.















THIS IS FORM C (Linked to AITSL Standard 6)







THE FOLLOWING FORMS ARE FOR GEOGRAPHY FROM MS. ANUPRIYA SHARMA
(Linked to AITSL Standard 6)















GEOGRAPHY


 A sample geography exam from Sept. (Linked to AITSL Standard 5)


Standard 5 Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning

5.1 Assess student learning: Students formative and summative assessments were looked over and discussed within the English and Humanities Dept. with my mentor teachers and other colleagues. They gave me their exams, as well, to look over and provide feedback.  Assignments and collaborative projects are also good examples of work, especially for intelligent students who do not excel at exams. 

5.2 Provide feedback to students on their learning: Each assessment has a section where I add comments.  I try to be as positive as possible and mask criticism with ways to improve for the future.  I also asked colleagues for advice and gave them some advise on how to give and provide constructive criticism.   

5.3 Make consistent and comparable judgements: Many evaluative assessments are made throughout the year.  Mid-term and final exams are collaborative efforts, on the part of primary and secondary teachers. Moreover, we grade different grade levels then our own for these summative assessments, so we are not biased in our scoring.  

5.4 Interpret student data: Monthly analyses are done, which provide examples of student and class areas of strength and weakness.  These analyses are shared amongst the dept. 

5.5 Report on student achievement: Twice a year, report cards are sent out to students and parents.  The home-room teachers compile evidence and reports from each subject teacher and then provide the parents with a package.  




THIS IS A BLANK SUMMATIVE EXAM SAMPLE (Linked to AITSL Standard 5)








THE FOLLOWING IS AN EXAMPLE OF SOME WORKSHEETS THE STUDENTS WORKED ON, AS WELL AS THEIR STUDENT BOOKS. 
(Linked to AITSL Standard 1, 3, 5, 6)







THE FOLLOWING EXAMPLES ARE OF A TERM PLAN AND A LESSON PLAN THAT MS. ANU AND COLLABORATED ON. (Linked to AITSL Standard 1, 3, 5, 6)



The lesson plans above, as well as the worksheets, rubrics, and photos of students, demonstrates the following AITSL Standards.  For example: 1.2 (Understand how students learn), since each lesson has YouTube Starters and other items to consider differentiation.  Moreover, Focus Area 1.5 (Differentiate teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities), brings into question using art, since it gives a chance for the low level students to express themselves.  Furthermore, Focus Area  2.2 (Content selection and organisation) relates to the innovative teaching and learning strategies outlined in the lesson planning. Focus area 2.5 (Literacy and numeracy strategies), is covered, as English concentrates on literacy, while geography and English teaches numeracy, through graphs, music, cooking, surveys, statistics, charts, and other methods.  Using YouTube is one example of Focus Area 2.6 (Information and Communication Technology (ICT)), while Focus Area 3.1 (Establish challenging learning goals), is met through lessons and set homework.    When the lesson plans are created the week before, Focus Area 3.2 (Plan, structure and sequence learning programs) is considered.  Research is done on a weekly basis, when creating lesson plans, covering Focus Area 3.4 (Select and use resources).  Focus Area 3.6 (Evaluate and improve teaching programs) and 5.1 (Assess student learning), are also done, when I or my mentors sit down, discuss the positives and negatives of each lesson and implement improvements for future lessons.  Every lesson plan is sent to parents on a weekly basis, so Focus Area 3.7 (Engage parents/carers in the educative process) is also done.  Focus Area 6.1 (Identify and plan professional learning needs) are used as guidelines to create proper lesson plans with colleagues, such as my Mongolian counterparts in the English and Humanities dept. who teach English and geography.


AITSL PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS LINKED TO MY TEACHING PRACTICUM AND PORTFOLIO

The following section in this portfolio will correlate my professional practicum at Orchlon International School, in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, to the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership’s (AITSL) National Professional Standards for Teachers (AITSL 2011), which I viewed as a PDF file from the following website:  AITSL PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS PDF

Standard 1: Know the students and how they learn
Students in a middle-school range are going through developmental changes.  These changes can sometimes be seen as a hindrance to teachers, but I try to utilize this situation to my advantage, as well as to my students’ advantage.  They are placed in groups with an equal number of boys and girls, or in certain cases, just boys or just girls in the groups.  These children, aged 10 to 14, often have a lot of energy, as all children do, so we play games and do other activities that require their physical attention, such as meet and greets, gallery walks, and making posters.  I also give the students stickers for doing well, which focuses on their positive behaviour, rather than any negative behaviour.  The student with the most stickers at the end of the term receives a prize.

I find that students develop and learn better with short activities, each lasting no more than 10 minutes.  Ideally, seven minutes is the perfect length of time, but extra time is usually given for explanations and bathroom breaks.  Student-centered and collaborative activities are the way to go.  The students’ various learning styles are always considered, such as audio, visual and kinaesthetic learners.  This is why we play games, do collaborative work, watch videos, draw, write, and listen to the teacher’s instructions, to accommodate the multiple intelligences.  Activities that include weak, intermediate, and advanced learners are also considered in my lessons (differentiation).  For example, I try to pair up the advanced English students with the weakest, so that the advanced can learn through review, while the weaker students feel more comfortable being given a set of instructions a second time from one of their peers.

My classes are comprised of Mongolian students, who are mostly from affluent backgrounds.  However, some are not so well off.  Some have parents who live in different countries, so they are living with their grandparents, a sibling, or even alone.  Therefore, when they arrive late or do not do their homework, due to taking care of younger siblings, or having to organize their own way to school, etc., I often give them a break.   Many Mongolian adults also drink heavily, so there are often problems at home.  Some parents’ standards are so high that kids are beaten for minimal reasons, such as receiving a 92% on their exam instead of a 98%.  Moreover, the students are often bombarded with tests, as Mongolian teachers tend to give too many exams, so I give them a break and assign readings, videos to watch, and projects to work on, instead of the typical examinations they would expect in their Mongolian-led classrooms.

There are no Aboriginal or Torres Straights Islander students who attend this school, and in my classroom, there are only Mongolian students.  Some were born in America, but moved back to Mongolia quite early in life.

I do have a student who has special needs, but Mongolia, still a very developing nation, does not have special needs specialists.  I asked this student’s parents if I could give him an external assessment, from the American Dyslexia Association.  His parents refused, thinking that would bring shame to their family.  Therefore, I downloaded several hundred pages on dyslexia, printed them, bound the pages, and made a booklet for him to give to his parents, but the book was thrown into the trash!  To help him in class, I give him oral exams instead of written, and worksheets where he colours and draws, because he cannot read.  The other students also really try to help him, which is encouraging.

Standard Two: Know the content and how to teach it.
The courses at Orchlon are quite prescriptive, so we follow the Checkpoint, Prime Time (English) and Blue Marble (Geography), and we are asked to cover all the chapters from the books.  This sometimes works out great, because there are eight chapters in the Checkpoint book and eight months to teach.  Each chapter is supplemented heavily by projects, downloaded activities and worksheets from the Internet, also activities that I create based on my own knowledge.  I also give the students assignments of my own based on the chapters.  Sometimes, the students are required to take city-wide English contest exams, called Olympiads, so in this case, we can use their Olympiad scores for the monthly course score, which happens at least three to four times a year.

Many of my classes incorporate ICT, mostly just by playing a YouTube video.  We also use the Google Classroom APP to provide information.  For certain students, who do not have Internet access, but their parents do, I send home weekly E-Newsletters with the lesson plans, and supplementary activity worksheets, so the lines of communication remain open.

Literacy is covered on a daily basis, and I teach English through numeracy, utilizing cooking, music, and geography charts.  Cooking covers measuring (in numeracy) and dividing, while music covers counting the beat and verses.

Standard 3: Plan and implement effective teaching and learning

Most of the sub-standards in Three have been evidenced and discussed throughout this portfolio, but below are some other areas not covered:

On several occasions, I have emailed parents about their child’s unruly behaviour.  Normally, the school suggests that, firstly, we discuss the issue with the homeroom teachers; secondly, if these initial meetings do not end the misbehaving or other issues, we email the parents; thirdly, we call the parents; and finally, we invite them in for a meeting.  Experience has taught me that telling the homeroom teacher is not the best solution as, usually, the homeroom teacher has two or three solutions:  hit the student, scream at him or her, and do nothing, as, if the student does not achieve success, the homeroom teacher’s salary is docked.  These three items are best to be avoided, which is why I usually just go straight to email.  I am planning on a course of action with several students, such as writing a contract, to (hopefully) guarantee a change, and asking their parents to sign it, so they are a party to it.  I have an open and good relation with the all my students, the problem students, and the successful ones.  The expression, “the apple does not fall too far from the tree”, really applies here.  The students who are well behaved and do their work usually have great parents, and the students who are left to their own devices at home and have uncaring parents are normally the ones that require more attention in class.  Every Friday, parents receive a copy of the E-Newsletter, and Friday is also an open day, when parents and other caregivers are welcome in the class.

Cambridge, the curriculum offered at Orchlon, offers online PD, such as Introduction to Cambridge Secondary or Introduction to Cambridge Primary, as well as examiner and ICGSE courses.  The PD offered during the beginning of the year was, in my opinion, useless, but I do look at my lesson plans at the end of the day or week, to see what worked and what did not, so I can then change them and, hopefully, use them in future years.

Effective classroom communication is utilized, as I rarely raise my voice, I use audio or visual means to gain attention, such as counting down from five to one, turning the lights on and off, as well as simply standing silently and waiting patiently.  I also know that my students like a band called ‘One Direction’, so I incorporated it into an exam.  Also, many of my students like professional wrestling, so I watch World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), so I can talk about this with my students.  Other students like a TV show called ‘Dr. Who’, so I downloaded a couple of episodes.

Standard 4: Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments

Student participation is supported through group work; each member is assigned a role, such as president, assistant, secretary or timekeeper.  Moreover, as participation is graded, they are encouraged to partake.

In meetings, I see many stressed out teachers, stressed out due to a lack of knowledge regarding classroom behaviour management.  Some are inexperienced teachers, while others lack professional certification.  I try to help by suggesting things such as my sticker rewards system for positive reinforcement.  I also initiated the hall monitor program, after learning about bullying at the school.  Sixty students signed up to monitor the halls, create posters to educate students about bullying, racism, and to provide peer counselling.  These students also led in-class workshops about bullying and proper student etiquette.  Moreover, I also wrote the school anti-bullying policy.  This was asked of me for two reasons: firstly, to deal with the bullies and the victims and, secondly, because the school is currently creating a new website, and having a bullying policy on it would sell the school as more legitimate and international.  As mentioned before, in class, to deal with bad behaviour, I negotiate with the students for daily class rules and consequences.  If students are acting up, I take them out of the classroom and have a discussion with them, one-on-one.  They do not like to be embarrassed in front of their peers, so this method reinforces their trust in me.  Furthermore, when a student interrupts me, I say, “You have made me feel bad.  That is because of something you did.  How do you feel now?”  They always answer with, “I don’t feel good.  I am sorry”.  This strategy gets them thinking about what they did wrong and, hopefully, makes them think twice about doing it again.  Additionally, I also discussed cyber-awareness, (including cyber bullying), through appropriate Facebook posts.  Once, a student showed me an inappropriate photo of his friend on Facebook, so I told the student in question to take down the photo, which led to the before-mentioned comment about Facebook posts.

Standard 5: Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning

Each month, we are required to submit grades, as well as a grade analysis.  Essentially, 70% is based on assignments and tests, while the other 30% is based on reading, writing, homework, and other details.  However, my supervisor told me I have some leeway with this 30%, so I told the students that the other 30% is based on attitude.  If they try hard, are polite, do their homework, then the 30% is theirs.  However, if they are rude, do not do their homework, and forget their books at home too many times, they will receive zero.  The other 70% is based on assignments, such as book reports, autobiographies, descriptive essays, brochures, posters, speeches, and role-plays.  Each rubric has a section for feedback, which I also give in their notebooks.  I also communicate with the students via email and if they ask, I will allow extra credit assignments, normally based on novellas for teenagers, such as Anne of Green Gables.  For these extra assignments, I ask the parents to sign the book reports.  The grade analysis is an Excel programme that we use every month, which basically shows us where the students are successful and where they are struggling.

Later in the year, we will hold teacher-parent conferences and meet the teacher night.
Every piece of work, such as midyear plans, yearly plans, lesson plans and worksheets are uploaded to Google Drive, which is shared with all educators and administrators at school, while Google Classroom and email are used to share all work with students.

Standard 6: Engage in professional leaning

Cambridge has many documents that help engage teachers in professional learning, such as schemes of work and online PD.  There are also international conferences, but these are for senior teachers and administrators only.  Each term break, the school offers professional development, of which I take full advantage.  Moreover, one of my co-workers, Chris, is doing a teaching qualification at the University of the Pacific, in Washington, DC.  He and I also discuss the latest teaching methods with our colleague, Levi, who is a professionally-trained teacher from Colorado.  Some of the things that I learnt in ETL 421 and 414 were applied to my teaching practicum, as well.  I learnt about how to use numeracy in the classroom, through music, cooking, charts, graphs, human geography, and telling time.  Additionally, the classroom behaviour management techniques I learnt from my other courses at CDU are being applied daily, such as the negotiated classroom rules, as well as ways to manage troubled students. 

Standard 7: Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community

I believe that my efforts to implement anti-bullying measures, such as the hall monitor program, as well as a school wide anti-bullying policy demonstrate my efforts and willingness to meet professional ethics and responsibilities.  Organizational responsibilities are met when the school asks us to follow new rules, such as safety measures (fire, evacuation, etc.), and we conform.   For example, school cleanliness is an issue, so we are asked to wash our hands when entering the cafeteria and after using the bathroom.  We had a fire safety drill in October, so we were asked to follow certain rules related to this, to help the students quickly exit the school.  In addition teacher-parent communication via email, phone and face-to-face occurred.  Sub-standard 7.4 was also discussed through previous standard discussions.




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