Masters of Teaching Mind Dump #20
You can find previous Brain Dumps here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19.
I am now knee deep in the end of the second Trimester of my Masters of Teaching now... and that means that I'm busy writing assignments for the two units that I'm doing. I went to a part-time load this Trimester after finding that a full-time study load was a bit too much whilst juggling work and parenthood and it was placing a bit too much pressure on my wife to take up all bits and pieces that I wasn't able to do whilst studying and completing assignments.
So, this trimester has had me study two subjects... Literacies/Numeracies and Planning/Assessment for Year 11/12 Science. Of course, those aren't the full names of the courses... but it will do to have the flavour of the subject! Anyway, these two courses have been quite different in style and content. The Literacies/Numeracies one has a mix of postgraduate and undergraduate students, whilst the Science one has mostly postgraduate students.
The Literacies/Numeracies started off sort of interesting from an abstract point of view... but has veered off into frustration and annoyance as course material has often been broken or missing, the lecturer has been "less than useful" and whole course is mired in incomprehensible academic-corporate talk and writing... the sort of stuff that makes you tune out within 5 seconds and then after rereading... you start to wonder if the whole thing could either be said in less than a single sentence, or if the writer was ACTUALLY saying anything at all! To me, it is the stereotypical humanities style of academia... not the good type, but the circular argument one with little in the way of real substance. The subject material IS really interesting though... just the course is pretty poor. Hilariously enough, seeing as it references teaching methods and techniques, it appears that the course is also a demonstration of what NOT to do! So much so that I wonder if it is a ironic tongue in cheek... or just pure overinflated and anal incompetence!... so, that will be about the nicest thing that I will say about it!
Meanwhile, the Science one started off a little slow... but has proved to be really great and interesting! The lecturer is an ex-teacher in a little known subject that is known as Biology. I had no idea that that counted as science (he he...).... but she is really down to earth, and doesn't give too much of a crap about word limits and other little anal things like that (in comparison to other lecturer). She keeps saying that she reads and marks for substance, and as long as it isn't way off.. then it doesn't matter and she doesn't care! Even better is the fact that the assignment guidelines and lecture notes are comprehensible without a thesaurus for every second word... I also start to wonder if the Math/Science faculties of teaching are just not really into the jargon-babble that seems to pervade the other topics?
So, I have three major assignments due this month.
The first is a collation of forum responses to incomprehensible questions that were put out by the Literacies/Numeracies lecturer. We were supposed to respond each week, and then get feedback and then we would collate and edit them and then hand them in... last week. However, seeing as the lecturer hasn't replied to pretty much all the forum posts... we were graciously given an extension until the end of this week. Honestly, if there are no feedback replies... I will just dump it in. I really don't care that much about this topic anymore... and after reading many of the other replies... I don't even understand what most the students are writing (babble...) or even if they are even remotely close to answering the question that was asked! My wife read a few... she agreed. She often couldn't get past the first sentence... and after I explained the jargon and babble, she still didn't think that they were actually writing anything of substance! I can't bring myself to write like that... unless I was taking the piss, and that would be just too much effort for something that wouldn't be appreciated for the sarcastic manner in which it was intended!
So, the second one... and the one that I'm currently doing most of the work on this week, is the Science Assessment Design. We have to design an assessment tool (formative, NOT summative... summative are exams) that could be used as part of the school reporting of student progress and learning. I had a few proto-ideas in the month before as I was working through the content modules... and I've settled on a sort of literature review sort of depth study in for the Year 12 modules of Quantum and Special Relativity. The students don't have enough knowledge (or resources) to do actual first-hand research in these fields... so, I figure I will have them explore the birth of these fields and then the known limitations. However, I would have them also look at the impacts of these two gigantic monumental Physics theories upon technology,philosophy, society and culture. This would give them a great deal of leeway as to which way they would want to explore... some might like to explore memes of Schodinger's Cat.. or ideas of space-time... nuclear weapons/power.... who knows!!!!
By far the hardest part of this particular assignment is the fact that it needs to be water-tight with the state and national reporting and assessment standards. So, lots of bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo and incomprehensible babble... to make sure that the funding and politicians are appeased... and that parents can be assured that their precious children are... still precious. (Should I be this jaded before entering practice?).
The last assignment is another Numeracies/Literacies one. A huge weighting at 60% and a mandated pass to complete the course. It appears to be about analysing and providing feedback about student responses from a Literacy and Numeracy point of view. Sigh... this is yet another sign of how many of these topics are severely weighted towards a humanities in the early age sort of bent... This is a great thing for humanities subjects and early-childhood... but the range of samples that exist for Mathematics in the later years is pretty sparse (even accounting for all the missing links and broken pages that the lecturer has provided us...). We will be lucky if a task response includes more than about 100 words...
... anyway, I'm trying not to think about that one this week. I will probably write more about that next week. In the meantime, time to flesh out my Science assessment task!
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