1.1 Analyse the role of initial assessment in the learning and teaching process.
Initial assessment should take place before a student commences a course to ensure they are on the right path (Ann Gravells 2007). It is about establishing your learners’ starting points and is a crucial part of the learning journey. It provides the information needed to decide a learner’s starting point and is the benchmark from which learners’ progress and measuring achievements.
Doing an initial assessment not only allows the teacher to identify the learners needs, but also helps removes any barriers to learning they may have.
Initial assessment should be done with the learner involved, it should be centered on the learner. As Green (2003, pp 5) states:
“Initial assessment needs to be done with learners rather to them. It should be of benefit to learners and help them feel positive about themselves and their potential to learn”
The outcomes of initial assessment help to form the individual learning plan (ILP). In fact, it would be difficult to supply all the information needed for an ILP without carrying out a thorough initial assessment.
The obvious roles of initial assessment to summarize is to:
Agree starting points
Identify learning goals
Plan routes towards these goals
Help learners to feel positive about their potential
1.2 Describe and evaluate different methods of initial assessment for use with learners.
Methods of initial assessment vary but it is important that they contain some form of skill/knowledge assessment, which can be validated by the teacher.
Methods of initial assessment involve:
Getting learners to do tasks / exercises to perform a certain skill and observing them lets you see how they are doing.
Learners can do presentations about an exercise they have had to do on a topic covered in a lesson, you can observe them doing this and see how well they are doing.
Interviews and Discussion
Discussing with learners, asking them questions and listening to what they say provides information about how they are and any issues they might have.
The interview process could cover things such as:
Reasons for applying
Career aims and aspirations
These could be written or oral. If using the same questions for different learners, this could be a problem, as they may pass on the answers. Asking questions can be used to assess knowledge and understanding.
Questions should be open which require an answer that demonstrates knowledge. (Ann Gravells 2007).
Not all learners are keen on tests; they are seen as very formal methods of assessing learning.
A gapped handout can be a useful way of testing knowledge. Learners are presented with information with missing words that they need to fill in.
1.3 Evaluate ways of planning, negotiating and recording appropriate learning goals with learners.
As part of initial assessment goals would have been recognised that the learner wants to work towards and achieve. The teacher and the learner would have formally negotiated and agreed upon them.
“If you don’t know where you are going, it is difficult to select a suitable means for getting there”
A supportive and respectful relationship between learners and the teacher will ensure that realistic goals and targets are agreed, and how their progress will be assessed and recorded (Gravells and Simpson 2008).
When targets are being agreed with the learner, these should always be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timebound). By doing this, everyone is clear about what is to be achieved and why, when, where and how (Gravells and Simpson 2008).
Recording the learning goals involves getting the learner involved, getting them to take ownership of them and to agree and negotiate them. All the goals and targets need to be recorded.
After doing an initial assessment the information gathered from it allows a teacher to device an Individual Learning Plan (ILP). An ILP provides a record of the 5 stages of RARPA (Recognizing and Recording Progress and Achievement) and allows the learner to reflect on their own learning and achievements.
The process of creating an ILP needs to involve the learners. They have to be individual to the learner and embed literacy, language, numeracy and ICT goals. By using regular tutorials and review sessions with the learner, allows the ILP to be updated and amended as needed.
2.6 Identify and evaluate opportunities for learners to provide feedback to inform practice.
Reviewing the progress of a learner regularly gives them the opportunity to have a one-to-one with the teacher and gives the learner the opportunity to review where they are up to and to discuss their goals and achievements. Any problems they have can be discussed and evaluated and goals can be amended if needed. Having reviews is an informal way for the learner to give any feedback they may have about how the course is going on a personal level.
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Learners can be encouraged to give feedback by directly asking them questions. If classes are small and interactive and there is mutual trust and respect on the part of the learners and teacher, then posing questions directly to a class may be feasible. However, there is no scope for anonymity of learner responses and some learners may feel uncomfortable voicing less popular opinions in such a public manner.
Learners could give anonymous feedback by means of a questionnaire handout about the course, they would fill it in and put into a box at the end of a lesson.
Getting feedback online is a possibility. Learners could email the teacher at particular points in the course with their questions, and some brief comments about what they find useful or aren’t sure about. Obvious downfalls of using any online method is learners need to have internet access, but if the education establishment has this in place, it doesn’t possess any problems.
3.1 Select/adapt, use and justify a range of inclusive learning activities to enthuse and motivate learners, ensuring that curriculum requirements are met.
Once schemes of work and lesson plans are devised you need to begin delivering learning.
Addressing the diversity of learners by selecting appropriate curriculum and course content is a critical aspect of inclusiveness.
Using a mixture of visual, aural and kinaesthetic methods of delivery will help reach all the learning styles of your learners(Ann Gravells, 2007). By using learning activities that use the aforementioned delivery methods you can include all learners’ learning styles within the class.
Remembering that lesson plans will have the courses curriculum learning objectives and outcomes on them we can identify what activities we can use.
Some learning activities are:
By using activities that use a mixture of visual, aural and kinaesthetic methods, we can enthuse all learners.
Demonstrations can motivate the learner’s by getting them to do something practical, for instance, get the learner to put a computer together by actually doing this rather than just discussing about it. The learner would be more enthusiastic and motivated as they are physically doing something; they are not passive, silent learners. Rewarding the student when they have successfully done their activity will motivate them to learn more. Demonstrations can be supported with handouts and other activities to support all learning styles.
As Petty states:
“What the learner does is more important than what the teacher does.”
Coaching is a one-one or small group activity, which would involve the teacher giving a demonstration, which is then followed by an observation of the learners’ performance. Using coaching takes into account the needs of the individual.
Group exercises could involve members of a group who have a certain skill mixing up with learners who have different skills. This would motivate the learners to work together and gain knowledge from each other and allow inclusive learning to take place.
Ginnis(2002) pointed out that ‘learners are more motivated, engaged and open when they have some control over their learning’.
3.2 Analyse the strength and limitations of a range of resources, including new and emerging technologies, showing how these resources can be used to promote equality, support diversity and contribute to effective learning.
The following are a few resources teachers generally use:
Information and learning technology(ILT)
OHP’s have a great strength in the fact they can be used in daylight; you face the class and can therefore more easily control the group, get all the learners involved; it can be used with other aids; material can be prepared before a lesson or as the lesson develops and the material can be stored and used again. Limitations of using OHP’s are learners cannot interact with them. They need to be positioned in a classroom so everybody can see the material being presented. If the classroom is large, learners sitting at the back may not be able to see the material clearly.
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Handouts are useful in the presentation of information or worksheets. Using presentation handouts have the limitation of the fact that learners may take them home and not read them. A handout can be a straightforward record of the teaching that has taken place, evidence indicates that handouts that are solely used in this manner rarely lead to sustained learning. (Armitage et al, 2003). Care must be taken if any learners are dyslexic with the use of colours on the handouts. Gapped handouts are a good way to evaluate if learning has taken place by getting the learners to fill in the missing words. It must be noted that handouts need to promote equality by not using words on them that are gender specific – for example, male dominated wording.
ILT refers to the use of information and communication technologies to support the core business of your organisation (Gravells and Simpson, 2008). ILT is a term used for the entire computer industry and covers a wide range of technologies. As all learners’ are individuals with different needs, from different cultural backgrounds, gender, race and different ages the use of ILT promotes equality and supports diversity.
E-learning includes the use of electronic learning technologies; as previously mentioned this would include interactive whiteboards and data projectors and virtual learning environments. As each learner has different learning needs, there are different e-learning teaching methods. Some learners may prefer to learn when and where it is convenient for them, this can be achieved by distance learning from home or somewhere else. Learners are able to interact with their teachers and resource materials at a time of their choosing. The obvious limitation is that the learner needs to be self-motivated and may feel they miss out on one-to-one communication with their teacher, they can feel isolated.
Using virtual classrooms that duplicates what is found in a real classroom provides teachers and learners to meet virtually; they don’t have to be physically in the same room. This is known as asynchronous learning. Learners can engage with each other when it is most convenient for them to do so. They can leave a trail of their postings much like a blog for other learners and the teacher to see. Of course this has its limitations and is open for abuse. Limitations such as the learner could get somebody else to enter the virtual classroom for them; the learner needs to be computer literate and needs access to the internet.
The use of audio aids help support diversity, if somebody in the classroom was partially sighted, they would hear the information that is being presented. The teacher could have an induction loop system in the classroom to include learners with a hearing impairment.
By providing different environments and a range of resources, effective learning can take place. It is evident that by using a range of resources in teaching, different learning styles can be used which supports equality and diversity.
3.4 Select/adapt, use and justify a range of inclusive resources to promote inclusive learning and teaching.
The education establishment should promote inclusive learning for everybody. Having easy access to classrooms by means of having lifts for wheel chair users is an important resource. Classrooms should be laid out in such a way that wheel chair access is easily established.
Handouts are a clear way of showing if your learners are actually listening and learning. Consideration must be taken when designing handouts if some of your learners are dyslexic or have sight impairments – use different colour paper and use a larger-sized font. You may need to photocopy handouts in order to give out to the class, but you may have run out of the budget allocated to you for photocopying. Instead of photocopying them you could email them to the learners and get them to print them out or you could use the education establishment’s learning platform such as WebCT and encourage learners to access them here.
The use of the internet is a great resource for learning and teaching. Most learners would have access to computers at their place of study and have access to the internet. As we all know, the internet has a wealth of information and is a great learning tool. Teachers can use the internet to find lots of free resources by carrying out a search on their particular subject (Gravells and Simpson, 2008).
Most educational establishments have access to library resource facilities; learners would be encouraged to use this to help with their learning and assignments. If there is no library resource you could adapt and use the local public library, which would have books, ICT and other useful resources for your learners.
Some educational establishments have expert help available to both learners and those teaching them, responding to them and supporting their learning. These are often referred to as ‘disabilities unit’ or ‘equality unit’ and will usually contain personnel trained in identifying and responding to specific learning needs (Race, 2007).
Their should be departmental help within the teachers department on such issues as ICT assistance, this could come from technicians to help with ICT equipment or a programme leader who could assist with helping the teaching get up to speed with new ICT equipment such as an interactive board.
4.1 Use and evaluate different communication methods and skills to meet the needs of learners and organisations.
Communication is a means of passing on information from one person to another. It is also a manner of expression, for example, your body language, voice and gestures you make (Ann Gravells, 2007).
Methods of communication involve:
Feedback is a verbal communication skill that identifies clearly that learners are actively listening. Speaking clearly at the right pace is an important verbal communication skill. If some of the learners’ first language is not English, you need to be careful with use of words they may not be familiar with.
Non-verbal communication includes such things as your body language, gestures, and even the way you sit. It is important you dress appropriately, act professionally and confidently, as the learners will observe your dress, manner and attitude.
Written communication can be in the forms of a handout, email, computerised presentation to name a few. It can be used to direct the learners to do something such as direct them to a given location.
Listening is an important communication skill. You need to be able to listen to what your learners say when giving responses and answering your questions. Not being able to listen to what your learners are saying and answering their questions satisfactory causes communication to break down.
Empathy and sympathy are also skills of communication.
You can express empathy when you have personally experienced something your learners have gone through. You can sympathise when you haven’t (Gravells and Simpson, 2008).
4.2 Evaluate own communication skills, identifying ways in which these could be improved including an analysis of how barriers to effective communication might be overcome.
During part of my team-teach, I tried to communicate clearly and not use any jargon that could have misunderstood the learner’s. The information that was presented using the data projector was clear and not ‘cluttered’. I asked appropriate questions and listened to the learner’s responses.
I felt I spoke too quickly during the team-teach and should have spoken slightly slower than normal. By speaking slightly slower would give the learners time to take in and assimilate what is being conveyed.
When giving handouts, I made sure there weren’t any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors on them, failing to do this would lead to confusion for the learners.
A skill to communicating effectively is to project confidence.
Asking the right questions at the right time to get the information we need allows us to communicate effectively.
Oral communication must be clear and not heavily accented. It must be accurate, not ambiguous or biased and be expressed in a professional manner.
We must be aware of what the learners currently know, no point aiming a lesson at too high a level if the learners aren’t at that point – this would lead to confusion.
As Nickerson, (1999, 2001) stated:
“The ‘curse of knowledge’ leads us to overestimate what others know.”
Testing communication prior to use can help overcome communication barriers. Learners may have cultural differences, which may have an impact on their literacy learning. Initial assessment may help here, once you are aware of any issues, you can work on them and communicate in a way that enables learners to interpret what you are conveying.
The learner’s body language can help overcome barriers to communication. By using regular eye contact with all learners you can see the expressions on their faces and this helps identify if there is any communication problem.
The learners themselves may have barriers; they may have preoccupations, which lead to lapses in concentration, or they may not understand the terminology being used, they may be colour blind thus handouts need to be adapted for them.
Physical factors in the classroom play an important part in effective communication. The classroom layout needs to be correctly laid out in order for the learners to see and hear you, the lighting has to be good, and noise levels to a minimum.
Introducing a complex topic can cause communication problems to the learners, to overcome this, you need to break the topic down and present it in logical manner.
6.1 Use regular reflection and feedback from others, including learners, to evaluate and improve own practice, making recommendations for modification as appropriate.
Prior to doing the team-teach I had to do a micro-teach session and reflect on it. Having kept a reflective journal it was noted that I had to look at timing issues as I was trying to cram too much information into the session that made me run over time. With this taken on board, the team-teach session was done as to not cram too much information in and to try and get the timings more precise. I feel the information content was better, the timings were a little better, although the team-teach still went over time but I believe that was down more to the questions being asked from my peers.
At the end of the team-teach, feedback handouts were given out to my peers, which provided me with an evaluation of the session and allowed me to look at possible modifications for future sessions I plan on doing. All the feedback was positive, everybody stated that they had learnt from the session, that the handouts had been clear, that a variety of teaching styles had been used and the visual aids had been used effectively.
Some of my peers had commented on how the session may have been improved upon such as not to make the session too subjective and try not to use own opinions without providing evidence. These have been noted in my reflective journal and will allow me to improve my own practice.
As well as using a handout for feedback I informally spoke to some of my peers to help me realise if the delivery of the team-teach had been successful or not.
My communication skills need improving to make sure I speak clearly, and a little more loudly and slowly than normal. I have learnt that some of the words used in communicating verbally need to reflect equality and inclusiveness and not be biased in any way.
I also need to identify which elements of the minimum core is being addressed, especially the specific ones and to add these to my lesson plans and scheme of work in future.
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