Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Year That Was - 2012

Waiting for a train
I realise I've missed the boat a little on this one, but I had it half-written at the end of the year and just needed to return to it to add the finishing touches (photos, links etc)

January - Enjoyed the summer holidays and my flourishing veggie patch. Had a great bunch of basil, sweet juicy corn and more beans than I could keep up with. My tomatoes struggled because we had too much rain and the plants were infected with fungal disease. Took a simple family trip to Sydney to show the little guy some new sights and experiences!

Term One - Returned to work for a new school year teaching a Year 4 class three days a week and Preschool one day a week. Revisited the Rowan of Rin unit of work I taught previously and enjoyed the greater availability of both video cameras and laptop computers this time around. Also began using CARS for assessing and teaching comprehension strategies.

Struggled a little initially as I tried to determine what "Penny the preschool teacher" entailed. As it turned out, I was trying to squeeze too much into the day and over thinking things. Came up with a plan to simplify in Term 2.

My professional development focus was on the Quality Teaching model. I was a little disappointed to miss out on some other PD opportunities due to working part time or lack of available time in the evenings due to being a mum of a toddler. I have the passion and desire, but no time!

Holidays - prepped my veggie patch for my first winter crop which resulted in great garlic and onions come summer - but spinach and Asian greens were unsuccessful. It felt like the garden just froze until spring! Enjoyed Easter and had our first egg hunt with the little guy in the backyard.

Term 2 - Taught a Year 4 geology unit of work and, towards the end of term, started an Australian History unit. As we were using the new Australian curriculum, much of the content was new to me and I needed to do a bit of research in order to understand and explain how volcanoes/mountains etc are formed. In ICT lessons we began to explore responsible digital citizenship within our system's online learning community. Students began designing their homepage and wrote a blog entry.

At the Preschool I taught fundamental motor skills - catching, kicking, balancing, running, jumping. This meant I no longer had to organize table activities for the students and gather the materials. It made for a more relaxed day. The morning group also partnered up with their Year 4 buddies for activities on a fortnightly basis.

Holidays - Spent time preparing for our big trip to the USA.

Term 3 - We finished the Australian History unit and began a Technology unit involving textiles - my favourite Year 4 unit. Students learned new skills in sewing, knitting, crochet, macrame etc. For their main assessment task, they designed and made a gardening pouch.

The Preschool fundamental motor skills program continued as did the buddies program.

Holidays - I took long service leave for the last week of term and my family travelled to the USA to see friends on the West Coast. During this time we visited San Francisco, Napa and Sonoma, Portland, and Seattle.

Term 4 - This term got a little messed around with sickness. There were some weeks where we bounced from Matthew being sick, to me being sick, and back to Matthew being sick again. Despite being vaccinated, he managed to catch a mild dose of chicken pox, during which time I decided to toilet train him! It was time well spent!

When I did manage to get back to class, we were very focused on getting assessment and moderation completed and reports written. We finished off our Technology unit and saw the year out with a range of craft activities.

At the Preschool, I ran an ICT program to introduce students to the basics of using the computer lab. They logged onto the network and brought up the Maths Circus program from a Maths Activities folder. The key fine motor skills they learnt were coordinating ctrl + alt + del and double-clicking with a mouse. They enjoyed playing the Maths Circus games, modifying the difficulty level and sharing their achievements with their friends. At the end of the lesson they closed down the program and logged off the computer. Basic skills - but essential. I was really proud to see how far they came over the term and to know that their Kindergarten teacher has no excuse for not taking them to the lab now!

It was a good year all 'round, and I'm looking forward to what the next one has in store. Happy New Year all!

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