Welcome! ~ Sonia Hankova ~ Education/Art/Science ~ E-Mail: sonia.hankova@gmail.com ~ Phone: +61 425 703 860

Edu Blog

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How can I best use feedback to enhance student learning?

Recent educational research (e.g. Hattie & Timperley, 2007; Shute, 2008; Naylor et al., 2014) has shown that feedback is one of the most powerful influences on learning and achievement. Effective feedback is an integral part of assessment, helps students identify what they are doing well and provides them with insights into how to improve in areas where they are in need of development. When delivered in an encouraging and timely manner, it can motivate students to succeed and engage with the topic content (Naylor et al., 2014).

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Capstone Research Project — Science Learning in Informal Settings

To what extent are higher-order thinking questions posed during the Mission to Mars program?

This project explores the role of questioning as a key pedagogic strategy to engaging learners in higher orders thinking and presents the results from observational research undertaken at the Victorian Space Science Education Centre. The research focused on investigating questioning strategies used to facilitate the inquiry-based Mission to Mars program. The aim of the program is to engage and immerse students in a technology rich and sensory stimulating environment based on real-life scenarios and hands-on approach to science learning within the context of space. The results of the research are presented in a report that highlights the importance of questioning in science education and presents VSSEC with some valuable data, feedback and recommendations for improvement. The research outcomes were presented at a mini-conference with university peers.

Access the full research paper HERE

Access the research presentation HERE

Story Writing in Remote Locations 2015

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 SWiRL 2015 – Bulman Community School,  Central Arnhem Land, Northern Territory


The Story Writing in Remote Locations (SWiRL) Program provides 4th year pre-service teachers from Victoria University unique opportunities to experience Australian education in an Indigenous context, and to develop valuable teaching strategies responsive to local communities and their cultural backgrounds. It has been taking VU students to remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory for 20 years with continued success.

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SWiRL 2015 — Exhibition Fundraiser

‘I acknowledge the traditional and original owners of this continent and pay respect to today’s Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities who are its custodians – including in particular their past, present and future Elders.'

I first heard about the SWiRL Program four years ago when I was writing my application for the Bachelor of Education degree at Victoria University. At that time, my friend Justine de Bruyn was writing her application for SWiRL and spoke to me about going to an Indigenous community in the Northern Territory for her final six-week teaching placement. It was back then that I decided that I too needed to go.

Two years later, I further spoke about SWiRL with my friend Elyse Scicluna, who described her experience as life changing. She has since relocated her life and is now teaching in the Northern Territory full time. At that stage I didn't need any more persuading – I decided that I was definitely going.

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Developing sequential learning programs and creative and engaging lessons

At Methodist Ladies' College (2014) I applied my skills in developing and delivering whole units of work: Astronomy, Health and Nutrition, Biological and Chemical sciences, including activities and assessment tasks that are in line with the AusVELS Science Curriculum, address multiple domains and cater to differentiated learning. These were based on careful considerations of how students learn, understanding their developmental characteristics as well as on my knowledge and understanding of the content, and how to best deliver it. 

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Designing engaging learning activities and classroom resources responsive to students’ needs and cultural backgrounds

Biology: Classification/Structure and Function of Living Things

Over the course of my Bachelor of Education degree and in my placements at the Bulman Community School, NT, Methodist Ladies College, Toorak PS and Cairnlea PS in Melbourne I have designed detailed lessons and units of work, with varied activities and assessments that cater to different learning styles and mixed abilities. I have custom designed worksheets and resources that are responsive to student’s needs, content and learning objectives.

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Approaches to modifying the science curriculum and differentiating learning


It is important to note that every single classroom is likely to have students with knowledge and skills from poor to well above expectation. I would say that successful differentiation in a classroom to meet the specific requirement of each student takes a teacher with vast amount of experience. Although I believe I have spend a considerable time both observing different teachers and also teaching different topics to different year levels, I feel I am only beginning to understand and build a repertoire of strategies to efficiently cater for individualised learning.

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Promoting self-confidence and pride, encouraging and sharing success 

Visual Art: Portraiture

Whilst teaching at the Bulman School I designed and delivered a structured two-session lesson on portraiture. The content incorporated history of portraiture and understanding artist's intentions, dimensions of the face, capturing person's character and personality. Students worked collaboratively - they had to draw a friend; followed step by step instructions as I explained these and drew them on the white board. Students worked individually yet collectively – working to contribute artworks to a classroom art gallery.

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Selecting resources and teaching strategies to deliver engaging lessons

I have over the course of past four years developed a wide vocabulary of teaching strategies to engage students and develop their critical thinking and creative skills, at the same time adhering to the curriculum content for the appropriate year level. I have been lucky to observe many great teachers, at university as well as in my placements.

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Creating a supportive and productive classroom environment conducive to learning 

Whilst teaching in the remote Indigenous community of Bulman, Northern Territory, I took the initiative to transform the Middle School 5-10 classroom to reflect a supportive and productive learning environment by arranging the tables in a collaborative way. This allowed the students to work more easily in teams and became more conducive to peer discussions as well as allowed me to better utilise and encourage peer support that is crucial in a multi-year learning environment with a broad spectrum of skills, abilities and attendance issues.

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