So I arrived at North Star safe and sound. Michael and Krystle had done very well to make me feel welcome and had provided me dinner and a brief tour of the school and surrounds (there’s not much there) on Sunday afternoon. I even got to see the school bell that John Goh is so infatuated with, I didn’t dare ring it, not even once!
On Monday morning I arrived at North Star at about 8:20, an hour before the official beginning of the North Star school day. North Star is a wonderful old school, the classrooms that are in use at the moment are all on the first floor of the original school building, built in 1942. The school bell mentioned previously is an old bell which one of the senior students gets to ring by hand.
I found Michael on the first floor and we set about linking devices to the school system and generally just getting stuff ready.
The principal, Marian arrived and Michael took me over to meet her. Marian is a lovely lady who has been teaching at North Star Public School for 30+ years! I introduced myself, we all spoke for a while before going to meet the remaining North Star staff, Jane, the office and financial services lady and Kylie the SLSO. Yup, 4 staff at North Star, that’s it! Of course, there are others who contribute to the running of North Star, such as the parents who work and provide food for the tuckshop and Mick, who drives the school bus, but as far as schools go, it’s pretty small. 🙂
Anyway, so what did we do?
Well, the kids arrived by bus and we all said hi.
To begin the day we played an introductory game where everybody sat in a circle and took turns to roll a die. If the numbers came up ‘1’ or ‘2’, either Michael or I had to say something about ourselves. If the numbers came up ‘3’, ‘4’, ‘5’ or ‘6’ one of the students in the corresponding year had to stand up, introduce themselves and say something about who they were. This went reasonably well as an icebreaker, I think, but it tended to have a ‘domino effect’ whereby everybody said more or less the same thing, for example “I’m Lee, I have a wife, two kids and two dogs” (insert different name, siblings, cousins pets etc). Still it was fun, and not only did I learn something about each student, it also made it easier to put faces to names, which is massively important.
This was followed by spelling and maths. For maths we split the students into stages (years 3 + 4 and 5 + 6), I helped out years 3 + 4 and Michael helped years 5 + 6.
Two things I took from this lesson were:
a) how important it is to talk everything out with each of the students, learning how they came to their answers, and where they might be running into trouble. This helps not only the individual student but also the students around them who may be working on
something similar or having similar trouble(s).
b) how difficult it is to break down some of the mental calculations that I, as an adult do so simply and take almost for granted, and take students through these in a step-by-step manner. I found this difficult also because there is often more than one way to get there and what works for one student might not necessarily work for another. Having said that, I think it was fun. I learned from this lesson, and I feel as though I helped some of the students learn too.
Michael has recently begun the 100 word challenge with his students. The 100 word challenge is a UK initiative whereby students are given a weekly writing prompt to which they are to respond in no more than 100 words. Responses are displayed on each student’s
blog and shared with other students around the world (there are about 700-800 worldwide entrants per week).
The challenge closes each Saturday and some of the works are chosen as the showcase for that week. Some of the students in the North Star 3, 4, 5, 6 class have already been showcased and a few more of the students in the class are pretty keen to have theirs
showcased too. I think the initiative is good because it provides some students with an external audience for their writing and some additional incentive for refining and improving as they continue the challenges.
This week’s prompt was ‘Suddenly the pain in my arm’, and again we split the groups across stages, with stage 2 going first whilst stage 3 uploaded images of some work they had been doing last Friday to their student blogs. It was interesting to see the range of
ideas that students had for their 100 word challenges and the way in which different students approached the task. Some had difficulty squashing all of their ideas into the 100 word limit, whilst others took a while to get started. It’s still the beginning of the
week so we all have plenty of time to refine the stories and I’m sure they’ll all be epic by the end of the week!
After lunch we decided to try launching Project Awesome which we’ve been planning with Bianca for some time. However I’ll write about that shortly in a separate post as this post is already quite long and I think the launch of Project Awesome deserves a post of its own. 🙂