Masters of Teaching Mind Dump #7



You can find previous Brain Dumps here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.

This week, I've been trying to burn through the coursework as fast as possible as there are a few assignments coming due in the next few weeks. Normally, that wouldn't be a problem... but it appears that I have some music recording work in the next couple of weeks, and so that will take complete days out from time that I use for studying, researching and writing. So, in the interests of having a slightly less stressed future me, I'm trying to get the coursework out of the way beforehand!

As I've worked through the four units that I'm doing online this Trimester, I've found that two of them are really decently laid out and clear, whilst the other two have been a continual struggle of lack of clarity, confusion and broken resources. I will probably make complaints about the bad two later... but for the moment, I did leave great feedback for the one course that is EXCELLENT as far as construction and clarity is concerned. I don't often leave feedback on anything... so, it was a bit of a hesitant moment for me... however, I can't stress how important a well laid out and constructed online course is for studying! You can't easily just up and ask someone, and having to hunt for fixes or resources is just a little (big...) barrier for learning. Something to keep in mind when I am in that position of a teacher...

Speaking of terrible design... I think I have a particular gripe with the people who designed the websites that hosts the secondary school curriculum AND those who designed the curriculum. The website is terrible to navigate... I thought that poor website design was a thing of the 90s, but apparently it is still a thing. Mostly among Australian government front-ends...

... and the curriculum. I have nothing specifically against the content of the curriculum, but I do want to have a bit of a big gripe about the people that decided to throw easily understood concepts (Maths/Physics) through a thesaurus or business/academic gibberish generator and then present everything in an especially opaque form. In some cases, it is absurd... actually, it is mostly absurd. Often, by reading the "outcomes", I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what Math/Physics concepts are actually being taught... often, I'm not even sure that it is Maths or Physics! When we finally get down to the examples (several page clicks away... crap design...), it turns out to be something that could have been said in about 500-1000 less words. Perhaps more like 20?

One hilarious example was with the lecturer the other day. We were reading the "learning outcomes" for linear equations. Linear equations aren't that complex (y=mx+c and little bits about what a line is, like steepness and up/down-iness) ... but after reading the description and learning outcomes, it sounds like constructing a hyper-drive to take us to a different universe. It is dense and opaque...

There was mention of "pronumerals"... the lecturer kept reading it and saying... eventually, one of us was brave enough to ask what a "pronumeral" was... turns out that a "pronumeral" is a "letter", eg. y=3x+6 (y and x are "pronumerals"). @#^@#%^@$@%&%#^&#^&#%^&#%^&#%^ Who write this crap?

Anyway, most of this week has been occupied with designing safety posters and completing a Lab practical lesson plan for Year 7 students. Its supposed to be backed up by lots of references and citing, so it isn't really a practical lesson plan that we would be otherwise be using in regular teaching. More a demonstration that we have thought about the readings and research that we have done into lab safety at schools.

I'm getting more used to the humanities style of writing (hopefully, not in a opaque sort of way) where there is a lot of citing and referencing going on. I'm still not particularly keen on it... I know it is used to strengthen your case and to provide "backing". But it also seems to me that it shows up the weakness of your argument and understanding if you need to call upon higher authorities to justify your reasoning.

So, the safety awareness of creating a lesson plan is interesting but seriously full of legal protocols and systems. So, it can be quite a dense sort of area... however, I am operating under the assumption of assume nothing and err on the side of caution.

... apparently, dropping a tiny little bit of acid/base on a student's hand is not an acceptable way of teaching them about the hazards of those substances!

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