Portfolio Artefact Number 2 – Poetry Word Cloud

Click here to see the poetry word cloud, as well as my   presentation on Portfolio Artefact Number 2. 

Artefact

Poetry Word Cloud

Topic

Issues Relating to Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Groups within the School Community

Domain

Professional Knowledge

Standard

1 – Know Students and How they Learn

Focus Area

1.3 – Students with Diverse Linguistic, Cultural, Religious and Socioeconomic Backgrounds

Rationale:

This artefact is important to me as it demonstrates my growing ability to understand students and how they learn, by developing programs and activities which cater to the diverse range of learners within the classroom. The focus of my artefact is on issues relating to culturally and linguistically diverse learners (CALD) within the school community. This artefact is a significant example of how my teaching practice has been developed in line with the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) professional teaching standard 1, particularly focussing on “teaching strategies that are responsive to the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural religious and socioeconomic backgrounds” (AITSL, 2012, p.1).

Context:

While undertaking practical experience I taught a class made up of ninety per cent culturally and linguistically diverse learners (CALD). Initially I failed to conduct research on the types of learners that occupied my classroom; therefore I created programs and activities which were not suited to the learning styles or needs of these students. The result was a class full of disengaged, shy and reluctant learners. Once I conducted research on CALD learners I was able to start developing appropriate and effective teaching strategies, which involved students undertaking visual tasks, such as creating a word cloud.

Analysis / Reflection / Research:

The needs and interests of students within a classroom can vary dramatically. If teachers implement teaching and learning strategies which are not tailored to suit these needs and interests, then the classroom can become a meaningless and unengaging space for learners. In my case, initially the students in my class felt overwhelmed by the content, as they did not understand the terms and themes being studied, and they could not relate the information to their prior learning experiences.

After conducting research on CALD learners I discovered I was asking students to complete tasks that were focussed solely on individual writing tasks and I did not provide an opportunity for students to build on their prior knowledge.  Dalton and Grisham (2013, p. 308) argue that “developing breadth and depth of vocabulary for culturally and linguistically diverse leaners (CALD) depends on building connections between words and developing elaborate webs of meaning.” Baumann  and Kame’enui (as cited in Dalton & Grisham, 2013, p.308) further argue that graphic organizers and visual displays are useful for CALD learners in the study of English, as they clearly highlight the relationships between words.

With the findings of the research in mind, I asked students to each contribute five words they associate with poetry in order to create the class word cloud. The students then created a definition of poetry using the word cloud as a guide. The word cloud activity was a success as students were able to build on their prior knowledge, were visually stimulated, they were able to work collaboratively on the task, and the nature of the task was not too complex. Gay (2010, p.8) states that practising teachers often make the mistake of employing “deductive approaches to solving problems,” where discourse tends to be instructive and the teacher focusses on one student at a time rather than a collaborative approach to learning. Gay (2010, p.8) argues that CALD students prefer and require “more inductive, interactive and communal tasks.” My experience in the classroom with CALD learners is evidence of this. As I started to create tasks which were in line with the students’ skills and interests, I noticed improvement in the level of engagement and learning that was happening in the classroom.

Conclusion:

After teaching a class of CALD students while on practical experience I now realise the importance, and the benefits, of finding out what types of learners occupy your classroom. I now understand the importance of adjusting content to suit students’ diverse needs. By creating activities which enable students to engage in a wide variety of tasks, not just written tasks, students are more likely to be engaged and motivated, as they are able to showcase their learning through a medium which best reflects their skills and interests.

 

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