Paper Plane Flight School

On Friday 21st June, we had our Paper Plane Flight School for all of Year 2 (approximately 75 students). Basically we took an investigation from the iMaths program (Investigation 7: Up, up and away) and made a fun day of it. The first step was to organise themselves into groups of three or four and then follow a procedure to create 2 types of paper plane, a dart and a glider. We then asked the students to create a modified plane. Each group ended up with 3 paper planes to fly in the flight test area (our school's gym).

After construction the of the paper planes came the testing. We took our flight school cadets to the flight test area and allowed them some practice flights before the real testing began. The planes were flown, essential data was documented and further testing commenced. 
Paper Plane Flight Test Area
Coincidentally, our Paper Plane Flight School was held on the same day as the school's Pyjama Day to fund-raise for Missing School. Which I hope explains the interesting attire of the students (and teachers!) in this photo. At this stage, at least one test flight had occurred, with the cadets then using metre rulers or trundle wheels to measure the distance flown.

In the end we had three test flights for each plane, with a total of nine test flights. Each distance was measured and recorded on the data sheet.
Now that our testing is done, the next job will be to graph the distance of the flight of the planes using a column graph.
Throughout the construction, test-flights and data recording, there were many skills the students needed to use: following a pictorial procedure to create paper planes, gross motor skills of accurately throwing a paper plane in the direction you want it to fly, measuring skills (using both a metre ruler and a trundle wheel), estimation and data collection. We covered several content descriptions from the Australian Curriculum for Year 2: Measurement and Geometry: ACMMG037. Statistics and Probability: ACMSP048, ACMSP049 and ACMSP050

We saw groups that worked well together (took turns and ensured everything was fair) to groups that needed a lot of support to achieve a successful paper plane flight.
In the end, all cadets were successful and earned their 'wings'. On Monday, we will see if they can use the skills we taught them to graph the flight of their planes. It was great to see students having fun and using many different skills without even realising that they were 'learning'!

Mentoring Preservice Teachers

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Recently I have been incredibly busy - both at home and at school. Due to this, I haven't had a chance to post about my teaching intern and the things I learnt about mentoring along the way. As this was my first time mentoring an intern, I felt like I was learning so much alongside her.

Teaching Intern

During this term, I have had a preservice teacher from the local university complete her teaching internship. I had a bit of an 'old teacher' moment when I reflected on the length of my internship (8 weeks) and the 4 weeks that are expected now. It seems like a short amount of time, but we made the most of it.

The Beginning

My intern was very proactive and ensured that she came in to visit the school before her internship commenced, meeting the deputy principal, myself and 2H.  She wrote a note to introduce herself to the 2H parent community and actively sought programs and planning documents to assist her in 'getting straight to work' when she started. It was great to see her interact with the students in my class in such a positive manner during her observation days and she got to know their names really quickly.

Teaching her own lessons

After much discussion between the two of us, she jumped straight into teaching. I did formal observations of her lessons, basing my comments on the Quality Teaching model. After her lessons, she was very reflective and thoughtful, often adapting her lessons based on her own feedback. It was interesting to get her to tell me her ideas on how the lesson went, but found myself telling her how I thought her lesson went, and what I would have done. Often, I would say to her that she had done just what I would have, and then we reflected together on how we could improve the lesson. 
The new framework for mentoring preservice teachers is about assisting them to come to their own conclusions by asking the right questions. When I went through the internship program, the mentoring teacher would tell you what they saw and how they would have done it as an example of 'best practice'.

What I learnt from my intern

It's very simple: the way I do things is not the only way. I guess I already knew that, but it was good to have a reminder. She did things in her own way, and still achieved the learning outcomes she had set for the lesson. 
I learnt that I needed to be so much more organised than usual, as I needed to give her time to mull things over.
Allowing someone to reflect on their own practice and supporting them with the right kind of questions is more effective than just telling them how to do it. Most interns and preservice teachers are reflective and know what went well with their lessons and what needed to be worked on, to the point where they are perhaps overly critical of themselves. As someone who is quite critical of myself, I learnt to focus on the positive and look for ways to improve a lesson rather than dwelling on the 'negative' things about my lesson.

The End

At the end of the 4 weeks (which whizzed by!) it was sad to see my intern go. She was someone I could quite comfortably team-teach with and a vibrant personality in my classroom. She had taken on the class as her own, and I could tell she was sad to say goodbye. We covered a lot of content and skills during her internship and I wish her all the best for her teaching career.

Any thoughts on mentoring? Feel free to share your ideas.