Standard 1 Know Students and how they Learn


1.2: Understand how students learn
1.5: Differentiate teaching to meet the specific needs of students across the full range of abilities

artefacts standard 1

In relation to standard 1, I hold the following beliefs:

Observation Record

“Adding the hundred column to add a challenge was effective differentiation on the run.”

M. MacLean
Year 5/6
7 August 2013

There is a tendency to think of teaching in terms of teaching classes. However, classes comprise of individual children and each child develops at different rates (Piaget; 1.2, 1.5), and learns in different ways (Gardner, Sternberg; 1.2). Yet learning is a social process (Vygostsky, 1962; Bruner, 1996, Freire, 1970; 1.2, 1.3, 1.5), as well as an interaction between what is known (prior knowledge, 1.3, 1.5) and what is to be learnt (Pritchard, 2013; Vygotsky, 1962; Howard, 1994; Thomson, 2001). Learning is also situated and metacognitive (Pritchard, 2013; 1.1,1.2) and should be placed in a context relevant to a child’s world (1.2, 1.3, 1.5) in an environment that encourages learner responsibility and self-awareness of learning needs (1.2).

It is therefore necessary to teach with a variety of strategies (1.2, 1.5) and present information in a range of ways to enable each learner the best chance of understanding information and concepts (Brualdi, 1996). Differentiated teaching (Tomlinson & Imbeau, 2010; Dempsey & Arthur-Kelly, 2007) is required to meet the learning needs of diverse individuals (MCEETYA, 2008) and create a full participation environment for student with disabilities (Destefano, Shriner & Lloyd, 2001; Eiglson & Traustadottir, 2009; 1.6) or cultural, linguistic backgrounds such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Garvis, 2006; 1.3, 1.4, 1.5).

During my third practical experience I planned, taught (1.2) and assessed an ACARA Science unit on Electricity (ACSSU097) to a composite Year 6/7 class of 24 students. Located in a small urban school south of Brisbane, significant cultural diversity existed in the class (1.3), with 58% of students speaking languages other than English. Academically, apart from a few high achievers, most students were historically low to medium level achievers with a lack of engagement and behavioural challenges (1.5). This unit was also the focus of assignment 2 for EDG3000 Designing for Diversity (1C).

Observation Record

“Nice conversational style. Invites kids to suggest ideas in a relaxed setting.”

M. MacLean
Year 5/6
16 August 2013

For effective teaching (Tomlinson & Imbeau), I endeavoured to get to know each child (1.2, 1.3, 1.5) through observation, examination of prior work and conversations before beginning the unit. I discovered that despite a variation of learning preferences (1.2, 1.5), most students had a common dislike for Science (1.2). They described it as “boring” and a “waste of time”, although most also conveyed care and interest in the environment.

I developed a unit plan (1C) employing backwards design (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005) to create engagement through relevant, authentic (Cutshall, 2001; Dawson 2009) and kinaesthetic activities (1.2, 1.5) and assessment tasks, including a sustainable energy project (1F or 1C p.10, 1I) and an authentic circuit diagnosis (1C p.28). Lessons also featured ICT use (1C, p.9)  including videos, pictures, research and simulations as well as reading and writing activities to ensure kinaesthetic, auditory and visual (1C, p.11) learning styles were all catered for (1.2, 1.5).

By linking the relevance and application of the curriculum (Wood, 2010; 1C p.5, Understandings), students felt (1.2) connected to it (Productive Pedagogies, Churchill et al).  Students used concrete materials (1.2; 1D) in group experiments (Vygostky’s social constructivism; 1E) to explore ideas without fear of failure reinforcing high consequential validity (Boud, 1995; 1.5). I created resources for the school such as circuit boards (1D), because learners engaged in personal experiences while participating in authentic tasks, benefit the most (Wood, 2010; 1.2, 1.5).

Continuing as per Piaget’s (1963) adaptation theory recommending concrete and direct learning experiences (1.2), I conducted many demonstrations (1A see below) during the unit. Predicted outcomes and “what if” scenarios were discussed. One demonstration involved passing electricity through a coil of copper wire suspended above a magnet showing the transformation of stored energy into electrical energy and finally kinetic energy. When a halved car alternator was displayed, students identified the wound copper coils of wire and magnets in an everyday piece of machinery.

1A: Electricity Demonstrations and Activities

Electricity Demonstrations

  • Vinegar and backing soda – transforming energy
  • Spinning a wire coil with an electrical charge
  • Car alternator – coils in real life
  • Acid (vinegar) and alkaline (zinc) battery cells light a bulb and power a buzzer. Connecting cells produces more electrical power. (show with voltmeter and bulbs and buzzers)
  • Making circuits using batteries, buzzers and lights
  • Decantation to separate oil and water (fossil fuels)

Electricity Student Activities

  • Making a simple light circuit
  • Making a simple buzzer circuit
  • Making a light and buzzer circuit
  • Creating a paperclip switch
  • Experimenting with switch locations effects in circuits
  • Creating a continuity tester
  • Testing circuits are complete/closed
  • Testing resistance of materials using continuity tester
  • Testing conductivity using continuity tester
  • Fault finding a circuit with a continuity tester


After the demonstrations, students were full of questions linking current knowledge with learning objectives (Vygotsky’s ZPD; 1C, p.6 SLO’s; 1.2, 1.5) – e.g. what other materials could we use to make a battery cell? Can we power a buzzer and a light at the same time? Why does the wire get hot? One question, if we use electricity to spin a motor, can we spin a motor to make electricity – became a mini investigation in which we spun a motor to light an LED, affirmatively answering the question and leading into our windmill project (1C, p.7, 10-11).

1J Download

1J Download

1C Download

1C Download

Over the unit students became interested in the topic and the negative connotations connected to science were overcome. By creating authentic, varied learning resources and presentation styles using ICT, concrete material demonstrations and inquiry tasks, each student was able to access information in a suitable way (1.2, 1.5). The students performed very well in the end of unit test (1J). The assignment was favourably marked with many aspects of the planning rated as outstanding (1C p.2). The student engagement, unit results and assignment marks and comments demonstrate my proficiency of knowing students and how they learn.

I enjoyed teaching this unit and found the interest ignited in students to be fulfilling. While the assessment activities were authentic and varied I noted afterwards the need to support ESL students with written tests (1.3). This is an area I worked to improve during my internship. I continue to improve my teaching strategies for diverse cultural backgrounds (1.3) including the further investigation of the works of Tomlinson, Imbeau, Dempsey and Arthur-Kelly, especially Tomlinson’s (2001) instructional and management strategies for the differentiated classroom.I have also had little experience with aboriginal cultural issues (1.4) and have identified the works of Beresford & Partington and in particular Kaye Price (1K) for further reading.

1K: Aboriginal Education Professional Learning Resource

1K: Aboriginal Education Professional Learning Resource

After the unit I also reflected on the two students who performed below expectations.  I was fortunate to be invited back to conduct my internship with the same class and I was able to target to work with them to very successfully complete their next unit of inquiry (1.5).



Standard 2: Know the Content and How to Teach it

Standard 3: Plan Effective Teaching and Learning

Standard 4: Create and Maintain Supportive and Safe Learning Environments

Standard 5: Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning

Standard 6: Engage in Professional Learning

Standard 7: Engage Professionally with Colleagues, Parents and the Community

Personal Introduction




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Price, Kaye (2012). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education: an introduction for the teaching profession. Port Melbourne, Vic. : Cambridge University Press.

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