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Journal Entries



April5, 2014

Week1 (Jan. 14 – 18)Entry #1 ‘TheSabre-Toothed Curriculum’

Ihave been looking forward to this important week which we begin ourforum on curriculum studies. The School first term is ending. OnMonday I attended a lesson on Sabre Toothed Curriculum whereimportant lesson was covered on devisinglessons that teach kids skills which significantly improve quality oftheir lives. Asa Kindergarten teacher, I need to develop my teaching activities sothat they have more fun, purpose and make them want to learn. This issomething I have been doing.

Inthe next days of the week I will utilize the skills learned in myEnglish lessons and play activities to actively motivate students.But how do I plan my lessons using the Sabre Toothed curriculum in myEnglish lessons? Some kids have great problem with reading andwriting phonetics due to their bilingual nature. After lesson onSabre Toothed Curriculum I changed my approach to teaching using morecaptivating aspects like small stories and games. I was surprised tonote changes in my English lesson. My students especially the slowlearners were more active, had motivated spirit to learn, and askedquestions competitively. During play times, I designed playactivities to have more meaning, fun and are purposeful throughintegrating Sabre toothed curriculum principle.

Whilereviewing the Internationalization of schools article, it left mewondering how to implement education curriculum that promotesinternational curriculum and safeguard cultural orientation of thestudents. International education helps students have foundation forglobal interaction which will enhance them work anywhere in theworld. But how do you implement International education atKindergarten? I have been reflecting on this aspect as I teach in mybilingual culture kindergarten.

Week2 (Jan. 21 – 25)Entry #2 ‘Marzanoengagement principles’

OnMonday I read an important article on Marzano how teachers shoulddevelop activities to improve performance through comprehensivestrategies of routine practices, content matter and assessments. AsMarzano article stipulates, Iplan to preview new information learned in English in followinglesson classes, communicate clear learning goals and using academicgames to engage students in learning. I have been giving periodic tests to my students on “Phonetics”(writing, naming and sounding words). After tests I always selectone student to write, pronounce or write the word as others listens.I insist the others to correct them with my assistant. The idea hasworked well in getting feedback and assessing class performance. Ihave been reflecting on what more comprehensive approach I could useon slow learners.

Afterreading Marzano Chapter on new knowledge, I designed some ideas onhow to cover particular topics in the part of the term. I wish tostart on another unit ‘speaking and listening’ for the kids. Inthis unit we will learn about listening stories, music, rhymes, poemsand assist student make their own stories. In my plan I will makemany simple stories, poems and songs that will require the studentsto listen and write words used. I have noticed that my students lovepoems and stories so I will use them to enhance writing andpronouncing hard words.

Week3 (Jan. 28 – Feb. 2)Entry #3 Implicit,Explicit, and Null Curricula

Wehave gone for a short mid-term break and I have been reflecting onthe topic covered in our curriculum class and the readings. I wasdiscussing the aspect of internationalization of school with myfriend from another school and I discovered that we have diverseexperiences. My friend says she feels de-motivated teaching atinternational school with multicultural students and teachers butunlike her I enjoy and appreciate working with my students mycolleagues and especially now we have group work in our class.

OnTuesday forum class we learned much on Implicit,Explicit, and NullCurricula.Our elementary school curriculum focuses more on explicit rather thanimplicit and null curriculum we teach as per our school curriculumand we are not creative. I will apply implicit principle to mystudents to expand their knowledge by been creative and cover wideareas of topics and activities to influence student attitude andlearning. The null curriculum part left me wondering about the areasI have not been teaching and are important to my students. What willbe the effect of null Curriculum to my students’ education? Will itinterfere with the main school curriculum? However, I have learnedthat as an elementary teacher, I have great influence on the classcurriculum by including aspects that will enhance more learning. Thelesions are so insightful I did not know how to analyze our schoolcurriculum this way.

Week4 (Feb. 4 – Feb 9) Entry#4 Deweyvs. Thorndike

Thisis the second week of our semester break, I spend most time at homereading class handouts and reflecting on my Kindergarten classlearning activities. The Kindergarten English curriculum has hardphonetics which they need to learn how to spell, write and pronouncebefore they head to second term. If they do not learn them, it willaffect their second term topics. After spending time on thesereflections I was looking forward to Deweyvs. Thorndiketopic. Dewey’s humanistic ideas on general knowledge transferintrigued me. His ideas reaffirmed to me that teachers’ work is toarouse and transfer general knowledge to students in an effectiveway.

Thorndikeideas were that, education means transferring specific learningthrough specific subject matter and enhancing active learning of thestudents. Thorndike adds that students are the centre of learning andnot objects of instructions. I have drawn interesting comparison inmy teaching methods and these ideas. I want to apply Dewey’s idealof education where my concern will be developing right attitude formy students and transferring knowledge that is intangible andimmeasurable beyond class tests. I have been to instructional in myteaching contrary to Thorndike’s principle. Could this be thereason some students are reciprocating less in learning?

Iwill program my lessons in a way that promotes and develops love forlearning. This means integrating implicit and null curriculumactivities in class and been less instruction to let students takeactive role in learning activities. On Wednesday as I taught Englishclass I applied these principles I noted more active and creativeparticipation in poem recitation and reading activities. My concernis I need to apply more instructions to help the slow learners andbehavior control. Am in dilemma, how do I apply Marzanos andThorndike’s principle without conflict? Should I use Dewey’sgeneralist perspective or Thorndike’s narrow perspective onteaching?

Week5 (Feb. 11-16)Entry #5 Group project presentation

Wereturned to school this week. The students are excited to be backafter a short break and the excitement was despicable in the mannerthey chat and tell stories. We have been working on a group projecton developing a learning program as part of international schoolcurriculum.I have been looking forward to our presentation on portfolios.I was happy to learn how to make learning video power pointpresentation as well as video games for kids. Wehave worked hard on our report and presentation, I learned a lot,enjoyed every part from their hard work and experience. They havetraveled expansively, taught in many international schools. I wasinspired by their experience and I plan to enroll for further studiesto improve my knowledge.

Week6 (Feb. 18 – 23)Entry #6School events and classroom Activities Ifeel refreshed after the short break and was looking forward tointeract with my student. During this week I met with parents of moststudents and were anxious to know the progress of our learningespecially the poor learners. We hope to start new themes next weekas we are engaged in class planning previewing last sessionactivities. However, students are actively engaged with class workassignments. I had prepared music and poem recitation for my studentsduring morning sessions and swimming lessons in afternoon session.

Withmy colleagues help I have designed computer animation presentationswhich I have used for my students. They were excited and followed aspelling presentation so well. After oral assessment, I realized thestudent could pronounce and spell most words. This is encouraging. Iplan to use video games in during their play sessions in whichstudents create words using simple crossword. I look forward to greatresponses and ideas which will make them think beyond the themecovered in class especially now we are reviewing last term learningactivities.

Week7 (Feb.25 – Mar. 2)Entry # 7 Resumption of School activities

Thisweek we begin on our new topic Reading and writing words with samerhyme. I will start the week with a previewof new information to be learned, communicating clear learning goalsto my students and using more animation presentations to activelyengage students in learning.I will also connect topics on phonetics (spelling, listening andspeaking) covered previously with our new writing and speaking. Iwant my students to master phonetics on hard vocabularies andrhyming words. To enhance quick learning do I use Thorndike’s orDewey’s ideas in covering the topics? I will use Marzanos lessonson ‘arts and science of teaching’ to guide me.

Week8 (Mar. 4 – 9)Entry# 8 MyCurricular Orientation

Duringthis week I organized brief curricula orientation with myKindergarten parents. I had given them the fliers last week to informthem on this brief occasion. It is important they know what we arecovering in our English class. This is important in helping parentsunderstand the classroom curriculum we are implementing, discuss withthem on challenges faced when implementing classroom curriculum dueto linguistic difference and request them motivate their studentsespecially the slow learners.

OnMonday when we met, I was happy to hear the parents input. Mostparents have time to assist their kids with word spelling and writingphonetics. This was encouraging and I hope to see improvement. I wantmy students know how to spell, read and write Basic English words andsentences correctly. Parents were asked what they would find usefulas next steps in teaching their kids English lesson, a brief slidewas shown to the parents on how students interact in classrooms, andI asked them to share something about their students’ challenges. Ibelieve parents are part of school in curriculum implementation.

Week9 (Mar. 11 – 16)Entry # 9 Classroom activities

Thiswas an exciting week to my English class, using paint colors Iassisted them write different words using different colors on whiteboards. They were happy and actively participated. In the afternoonsessions I prepared cartoon movies for them. My students enjoywatching carton movies on animals. During story telling sessions Ihave heard most recount their adventurous holidays. I have beenwondering how we can organize a simple field trip though using moviesis also useful, they help students learn names and English conceptsrelated to animals. A real field trip would be an interactivecomponent since not all go to holidays. I have previously raised thistopic in our school forum but it appears not possible withoutparents’ effort. The class curriculum insists on such field tripsbut we have not been able to plan for one. This is something weshould consider in our next years curriculum.

Week10 (Mar. 18 – 23)Entry # 10, whatis International Education Marzanoarticle describe ways of engaging students in class throughcomprehensive strategies of routine, content and tracking students’performance. I have utilized these principles in my kindergartenclass through poems and stories about animals and ogres. To enhancewriting and reading phonetics I give my students assignments to writea small description of an animal they like. On the table I placedanimal sculptors and pictures on the walls. This has enhanced activelearning and improvement to the slow learners.

Thereadings and lesson on international education enlightened me on whattrue International education is.International education means a comprehensive approach to educationthat intentionally prepares students for active engagement in theglobalized world.Schools should make efforts to prepare students for global communityand that is what we do in our kindergarten. By incorporating culturaldiversity stories and interactions in our classes have a foundationof international education though we have a long way to go. However,I will strive to implement various aspects related to internationaleducation curriculum such as culture,language, social cohesion, building a sense of identity and culturalawareness as universal human values.

Week11 (Mar. 25 – 29)Entry # 11 Classroom activities at Kindergarten Thisweek I have been busy setting reading and writing trials for mystudents in preparation for main exam in mid April. We have coveredmost topics as per the elementary English curriculum and am delightedthat most students can speak, read and write English words learned inclass. We have another break in mid April and I have been preparingprogress reports for parents on students’ performance andcurriculum coverage.

Mystudents like holiday breaks a lot but I know they enjoy holidaytrips. We also have some interclass drama, poems and songscompetition on Friday. My colleague and I have been busy organizingfor the event. I have prepared my student well and I enjoy theirrecitation, I have no doubt my English class is the best. Marzano’s‘Art and Science of Teaching’ principles have greatly enhanced myteaching method as well as maintaining class discipline. I haverelied heavily on implicit, null, Thorndike’s and Marzano’s ideasin my subject coverage and for sure there is improvement. Areextracurricular activities effective in enhancing student learning orlower class participation as students become less serious on classwork in favor of outside games? What is the compromise?

Week12 (Apr. 1 – 5)Entry # 12 ‘what is understanding’

Duringthis week the School convened another brief parent meeting inpreparation for break. My Kindergarten parents were anxious to readand enquire more on their children progress. It has not been easy butwith the parents help and my input from the skills learned incurriculum class, students’ performance has improved. One Chineseparent commended me for improvement he has seen on his son who speaksand writes Basic English well especially pronouncing words with samerhyme and phonetics.

Ihave been reflecting on their understanding process there is stillmore work in finding better ways of enhancing understanding. But amworried, are parents motivating their children to learn? I enjoyedthe lesson on understanding. I have been reflecting and relating thetopic with previous lessons of Marzano, Thorndike and explicit,implicit and null curriculum, on how to improve my studentperformance. I am happy with their progress in mastering reading andwriting before they take the second term.

Week13 (Apr. 8 – 12)Entry # 13 Exam and Term break

Itwas another busy week in which students were sitting their exams, wemarked and prepared assessment reports and on Friday parents pickedtheir children for the term break. I plan to spend the term breakdevising creative plans for my classroom activities. I wantactivities that will enhance my students learn efficiently throughportfolio activities in the School curriculum.

Iintend to supplement this with lessons learned in my Curriculumforums, particularly on Marzano teaching principles, integratingaspects on international schools and employing Sabre Toothed,Thorndike’s ideas. My focus is on ways of enhancing quick learningto cover English subject units in time. I will also develop morevideo presentations on cartoons to enhance my student understandingof English words.

Week14 (Apr. 15 – 19)Entry # 14 Schoolwide Enrichment Model

Duringthis week after the term break I attended the curriculum class wherewe learned a great deal on School wide enrichment model. As a teacherone needs to try new ideas and experiments in solving educationalproblems which may not be solved through school curriculum. Schoolenrichment model advocates for hands-on learning, first-handinvestigations, and the applicationof knowledge and thinking skills to complex problems.

Afterthe lesson with my kindergarten colleague we reflected on how todevelop unique school based program using local resources, studentdemographics, and school dynamics to enhance learning for slowlearners. We discussed different ways of doing this. We will stilluse curriculum portfolios as assessment tools and show our studentshow to write weekly reports on what we have covered and learned. This will help to motivate them in learning and assessing theirunderstanding.

Week15 (Apr. 22 -26)Entry # 15 Finalweek in our curriculum seminar

Thisweek we summarize our course seminar. It has been a great interestingcourse. The content covered has really expanded my knowledge oncurriculum development and how to enhance learning in internationalschools particularly for elementary students. The topic on explicit,implicit and null curriculum gave me significant knowledge to covermy class content. Marzano teaching principles has also helped me knowhow to enhance student engagement in learning and maintainingdiscipline. I hope to research more on Thorndike’s and Dewey’sideas on how to approach subject content in class. In addition, ideason Schoolwide Enrichment Model has opened my eyes on how experiment and trynew ideas in enhancing student learning in situations where theschool curriculum does not do so.

Overall,this course has given me an amazing opportunity to absorb andinteract with experiences of talented teachers. I am appreciative forthe interaction. However, it has not been easy for me. I have had achallenge in workingfull time at School, attending lessons and balancing all these withmotherhood. But the experience learned is priceless, I feel moreknowledgeable and experienced in teaching at international school.