Initiate ‘Project Active’

I’m baaaaaaaaack!

It’s been a while since I last blogged and I’m going to try to keep up with this whole blogging thing a bit more than I did this past semester.  Starting today, I have decided to vlog about a project that I’m working on for a Physical Education class.

Here’s the concept:

3-4 times a week I will visit the gym and a few times a week I will work on some home workouts! I’m going to keep this blog updated with videos, written responses, etc.  Hopefully, I’ll notice some progress by the beginning of December!!

To start off with, HERE is a quick response to day one of my ‘Being Active’ development project.

Enjoy and join me as I cross yet another bridge in this crazy road we call life!!

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I wrote a song!!

Guess what guys?

I wrote a song as a final project for my ECS 210 class and it’s available for your viewing/listening pleasure!  I learned a few chords on the ukelele to make this song so please don’t be too critical.

Like, comment, share, and enjoy!

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.”

I have always been a fan of technology. Social media, video editing programs, and Microsoft Word are a couple examples of the technology that I have used in my day-to-day life. I have always used twitter, facebook, and blogs for personal use. However, after being enrolled in ECS 210, my thoughts and opinions on these social networking tools has expanded. I have been able to broaden my personal learning network (PLN) and I can’t wait to keep up with it throughout my education journey.

Blogging is something that I have always been interested in. I tried making a personal blog back in 2012 and it was a fail.  Then, in February 2014, I created this educational blog entitled ‘Crossing My Bridge‘. At first, it was really fun and entertaining.  But, as the schoolwork piled up, I found myself fading away from my blog (aside from the occasional ECS 210 assignment).  I never really kept up with it.  In fact, if you look back through this blog, you will find a minimal number of blog posts. However, I have been a keen user of the social media network known as twitter. I’ve had a twitter account for the past couple of years and I feel that it is a great tool to use.  It has been easier for me to use and access because I have the twitter app on my phone.

One specific example of the expansion of my PLN involves my journey through our ECS 210 inquiry group project. My job members and I were in the middle of researching and I was curious to see if we could learn more through fellow educators. So, I posted the following tweet:

Screen shot 2014-04-08 at 7.43.00 PMThis tweet was the moment in which I felt that I had truly began exploring my PLN.

I have come to realize that networking is a very important part of education. Throughout this course, I do not feel as if I was very active on my wordpress blog. I contributed the odd comment or two to my fellow students’ blogs but that was about it in terms of interaction. I also used google docs for some of my group projects and although it was also a helpful tool, I did not feel that I expanded my PLN through google docs either.  However, I feel that I learned the most through the simple tool that is twitter. For many people, twitter can seem to be an overwhelming social media network. But, because I had been using it for so long, I found it to be worthwhile and even enjoyable.  To reflect on how it helped me to expand my PLN, I will look back at the steps I took (and the steps that future educators can follow) to create a relevant twitter account.

First of all, twitter users need to know that it is important to surround oneself with educators on their online space. I started off by following Katia and Julie on twitter and then expanded from there. I then followed accounts like HuffPostEd and some other smaller education accounts.

From there, I explored some relevant hashtags (ex. #ecs210 and #edchat). I tried to contribute my thoughts to these hashtags to the best of my ability.  I then followed some of my fellow education classmates. I favourited/retweeted their tweets and tried to add to their conversations.

When it came time to begin researching for our inquiry project in late February, I immediately knew that I had to try looking to my personal learning networks (including twitter) to see if I could get some help. I knew that I was following Claire Kreuger on twitter  (she was a guest speaker whom we had listened to earlier in the semester who talked about treaty education). Because our inquiry project was directly related to treaty education, I figured that she would be able to help out.

To begin, I sent the above tweet out and got no response. I’m not quite sure how I thought that I would have got a significant number of responses from that one tweet, but I figured that it was worth a try. Thankfully, Katia helped me out. She retweeted the tweet and asked for help from fellow educators. From there, my PLN grew. I was immediately overwhelmed with support. Some help came from educators near and far….

Screen shot 2014-04-08 at 8.03.31 PM Screen shot 2014-04-08 at 8.04.10 PM Screen shot 2014-04-08 at 8.04.43 PM Screen shot 2014-04-08 at 8.05.17 PM Screen shot 2014-04-08 at 8.07.27 PM

 

From there, I was in contact with a few Saskatchewan teachers. We were soon exchanging emails and thoughts on treaty education. Not only were the teachers concerned about our project but they also cared about the concerns that we might have had about ourselves as future educators. Jackie Sakatch, in particular, gave us many tips on how to deal with resistance to treaty education in the future (a social issue that guided our presentation).

I feel that through this simple inquiry project, my personal learning network grew. I have gained more education followers on my twitter account and I am no longer concerned with posting a question/project response on twitter. It is allowing me to gain responses and interaction with people all over.  In fact, global learning is available on any social media network, really. You can ask a question and be answered by someone from across the globe within a minute. I know that, if I truly need it, help is a click away. I feel that the following quote is relevant on why educators should expand their personal learning networks: “If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go with others”.

 

Inquiry Learning

For my ECS 210 class, Emma Basky, Jordan Bali, and myself created a lesson plan & blog.  We focused on teaching treaty education in the classroom while facing resistance.  It was an absolute blast to create and I learned so much along the way.  I has been almost a week since we presented and I still can’t get over it.

Treaty education can be a long process – especially for someone who has little-to-no background on the topic.  But, in the end, I’m glad that I chose the topic that I did.  I learned so much and can’t wait to continue expanding my networks & opportunities.

Please, feel free to check out our wordpress blog and let us know what you think!

As Long As The Sun Shines Blog –> aslongasthesunshines.wordpress.com

 

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

I recently read a couple of blogs written by educators from Texas and Alberta.  They both discussed the ways in which a teacher runs their classroom.  In particular, they focused on behavior management systems & the idea of classroom “rules”.  As teachers, we have such autonomy and control over our classrooms.  This control can have both a positive and negative impact on our students.  It all comes with practice and knowledge of what works and what doesn’t.

The first blog post I read was written by Matt Gomez (@mattBgomez) and it was titled “Be Brave: The Only Rule In My Kindergarten Class” and it can be found here.  I love that Matt used the idea of “being brave” as a key motto for his kindergarten classroom.  Students of all ages should be able to step out of their comfort zone and be brave in everything they do.  However, although I agree with Mr. Gomez’s thoughts on classroom rules being “restricting” and “demanding”, I feel that some sort of classroom conduct should be visible and known to the students.

An appropriate example of this was brought up in our ECS 210 class lecture.  In my future classroom, a list of classroom beliefs can be compiled alongside students.  Instead of having complete control over the beliefs for my classroom, I can work together with my students to decide what works for them and for me.  Like Julie stated in class, this creative process can be done at the beginning of the school year and it can work much like a treaty (a contract or agreement) among the students.  This is a great interactive project that can get students thinking deeper about what it means to not only be a good student but a good human being.

The second blog post I read was linked to the Mr. Gomez’s blog.  It was titled “Too High A Price: Why I Don’t Do Behavior Charts” by Miss Night (@happycampergirl) and can be found here.  She opened with a relatable example of why she does not agree with behavior charts.  I understood her point but I also felt that some type of behavior management was needed in a classroom.  I felt that this type of system could help to make sure that students were self-aware of their behaviors.  I must have jumped the gun too quickly because as soon as I had this thought, I read about Miss Night’s opinion that behavioural plans, “are private. They are discreet. They are between me and that child and his or her parents.”

I agree with this idea 100%.  Although it is important to document a student’s growth, as teachers, we need to realize that this growth is personal and not to be seen as a public display.  When a student’s documented growth is much more discreet, this type of system can be tailored to each independent student and promote self-efficacy.  It is a way for children to grow on their own and be aware of their strengths/weaknesses, all the while respecting their privacy and dignity.

Hidden Lenses

This week, my ECS 210 class was asked to read Chapter 3 from Kumashiro’s Book ‘Against Common Sense’.  This chapter talked about uncertainty and certain lessons that could appear in teachers’ curriculums – both unintended and intended.  On page 41, Kumashiro stated that, “we need to be examining our lessons and lenses, their political implications, and possible alternatives”. This week, we were asked to look deeper into our autobiographies (one which I will post on my blog later this week).

In my autobiography, I reflected on past experiences that made me want to become a teacher.  This included people, events, etc.  However, although this was my autobiography, I did not address my gender, sexuality, or race. Why? Well, I find myself asking that very question.  I guess that I was more concerned with focusing on educational experiences rather than simply looking at myself.  I wrote about people & places that have shaped me to become the future educator that I am today.  However, one person that I forgot to mention was myself.  I didn’t look deep enough into my own identity and how it can shape my classroom.

i_am

I am a white, straight, middle-class female.”  This was one sample sentence that I could have opened with.   Instead, I chose to dive right into the moment that I decided to become a teacher and not necessarily the moments specific to my own personal identity.

It’s not that I’m ashamed of being white. Or female. Or straight.  It’s just that at the time, writing my autobiography, I simply didn’t see these things as relevant.  I felt that they were not necessary to include in my paper.  But, looking back on the whole writing experience, I feel that I should have mentioned more about my identity.  Because every part of me shapes who I am, relevant or not.

In my paper, I did, however, realize that in my future classroom, I need to be careful not to push my own life into the classroom without taking into account the many differences in each student.  This includes being aware of hidden curriculums that may come across in my lessons.   I always knew that it would be hard for me to shape an anti-oppressive classroom while being aware of the many lenses throughout the class.  But, as Kumashiro states, “we should expect that our teaching cannot help but to have hidden lessons” (41).   So, I hope to one day have a neutral classroom.  Making this neutral classroom will be tough but it will be one thing that I hope to achieve throughout my teaching career.

“The point is to not only teach children what to think, but also how to think.”

Ohana Means Family

IMG_1881Much like children in a classroom, families come in different shapes and sizes.  Some are small, some are mixed, some are bloodline, some are extended.  Regardless, every student comes from some form of family.  As teachers, we need to be open and willing to learn about these diverse families.

My representation above is in response to an article found in The New Teacher Book.  The reading can be found on page 95 and it is entitled Framing the Family Tree by Sudie Hofmann.  The reading opens with frustration as a student is faced with the issue of not having a father to give her Father’s Day card to.

This family issue was not one that I faced growing up.  I had two parents, a mom and dad, and my family (the nuclear family) was considered the traditional family unit.  I was able to do Mother’s Day/Father’s day cards, family trees, and other assignments without experiencing anger,  bitterness, and uncomfortable feelings.  Nowadays though, this traditional idea of family is slowly dissolving.  With such a changing society, there are increasingly more diverse families in Canada and throughout the world.

Families are not just a mom, dad & kids anymore.  Same-sex couples, blended families, mixed race couples, and single-parent families are slowly becoming part of this idea of ‘family’.  And as teachers, we need to be aware of this.  In my future classroom, I feel that it will be tough to not become oppressive in my teachings.  I’m slowly learning to realize that the family that I grew up with is not the same as my peers.  However, I do have an open mind and I am becoming increasingly more comfortable with all families.  This allows me to get to know many diverse types of families and to not define family simply as ‘the nuclear family’.

With this in mind, I will try to make sure that I am careful in choosing projects in my teaching career (such as the Family Tree).  At this point in time, I think that it will be hard for me to not single out students who may not fit the ‘ideal family’ that I am so accustomed to.  However, I will try my best to get to know my students personally and involve their families inside and outside of my classroom as much as I can.

Ultimately, throughout the stages of our lives, our families are there for us when we take our first steps and although they are changing, they often continue to be a safe and comfortable part of our lives.

‘New Teacher’ Reveals & Experiences..

Here are my basic summaries of the ten readings in The New Teacher Book.  Take with it what you will…

1. Teaching in the Undertow

It is one thing for a person to have beliefs and guiding principles.  However, putting these principles into practice is another.  When a teacher wants to teach about important issues, there are a few things that they can do to make sure that you they able to proceed effectively.  These can include seeking out friends or colleagues to help out, starting small (for example, making a statement on a classroom bulletin board) and figuring out how these principles can fit into the content area.  Much like a riptide, it’s important not to head into these obstacles head-on.

2. Brown Kids Can’t Be In Our Club

In today’s society, many adults live with racist ideas.  These attitudes tend to reflect on the children of today as well.  It is important to have conversations with children about these issues, even when they are fairly young.  We can discuss issues of social justice while making the discussions age appropriate.  By learning about each other’s lives and families, hopefully we can lessen the ideas of racism & negative difference.  Some sample activities to promote this can include ‘me pocket’, partner questions, let’s talk about skin, etc.

3. What can I do when a student makes a racist or sexist remark?

If remarks like this come up, there are several ways to deal with the situation.  Simply saying “that kind of talk is not allowed here” or assuming that the kids are too young to know what they’re saying is not right.  In responding, it is important to realize that the hidden curriculum in a classroom can help to deal with issues such as this.  Students need to learn respect and how to deal with situations when racist or sexist remarks come up.

4. Framing the Family Tree

Families can be defined in many different ways.  Often, to children, families are described as a unit that makes them feel safe and happy.  Families can include parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, foster parents, guardians, and many more.  It is important that school settings offer this type of comfort and validate every family structure.  There should be a constant communication between teachers and families in the community.

5. Heather’s Moms Got Married

Often teachers ask how they can incorporate LGBT issues into the classroom and get away with it.  Teacher censorship remains the status quo in many schools and this makes it tough to challenge social issues such as this.  By defining family as a group of people who love you, classrooms can begin to discuss these diverse types of family.  Teachers need to approach same sex marriage in the same openness as the grade two students did in this reading.

6. Out Front

Homophobia is still a common part of society today.  There is backlash against the LGBT community. However, positive action is growing at a quick rate as well.  Although school staffs are becoming more trained on creating positive environments for LGBT youth, there are still other steps that can be taken.  This may include inviting positive role models in to speak with students and incorporating gay issues into the classroom.

7. ‘Curriculum Is Everything That Happens’

Pre-service teachers and interns learn a lot while at college in the educational field.  However, there is still a lot that can be learned in the classroom and through experience.  In fact, schools are often impacted by a larger social focus and that we need to bring these issues into the classroom.  We need to get to know students on a personal level and make them feel welcomed and valued for making a contribution in the classroom.  Students learn from everything around them (hidden curriculum), not just specific facts and content.

8. Working Effectively with English Language Learners

In schools, there are four types of language learning programs.  These include English as an Additional Language, Transitional Bilingual Education, Developmental Bilingual Education, and Dual Language Education.  We need to make these students feel involved and part of the classroom.  This can include teaching in a way that is understandable.  For example, speaking slowly & clearly, using visual clues, being prepared to spend additional work with students.  A teacher can do this, all the while encouraging them to maintain and develop their first language as well.

9. Teaching Controversial Content

There are several controversial issues that teachers are interested in teaching but express doubt in doing so.  Some of these fears can include getting fired, feeling isolated, having parents challenge your intentions, and having the principal retaliate against your ideas.  However, teaching provides educators with great authority and autonomy.  Specifically, in this reading, there is a part in which the author asks who has the authority to decide what to teach, to which one response is “you do”.  With this, teachers should let parents and the principal know about content beforehand to ensure that these controversial issues run smoothly.

10. Unwrapping the Holidays

In this reading, examples revolved around the idea of Christmas and how it is important to celebrate several holiday traditions and customs in a school setting.  Regardless of what the topic is (in this case, holidays), it is important to realize that colleagues will have different worldviews.  Many teachers will be used to traditional teachings and belief systems that are already in place.  In one’s first year of teaching, it is important to speak up and be open to change.  But it is also important to use caution and wisdom when questioning or challenging these foundations that are already instilled in a school environment.

 

References:

new teacher book

The New Teacher Book: Finding Purpose, Balance, and Hope During Your First Years in the Classroom. Eds. Terry Burant, Linda Christensen, Kelley Dawson Salas, and Stephanie Walters. Rethinking Schools Ltd. 2010.

For as long as the sun shines, the grass grows, and the waters flow..

On February 3rd, 2014, my education 210 class was privileged to have a guest speaker: Miss Claire Kreuger from Moose Jaw (feel free to follow her on twitter or read her blog!!)

She talked to us about how, as Canadians, we are all treaty people. She also mentioned that it is our duty, as teachers, to make sure that treaty education becomes part of our classrooms – and I couldn’t agree more!

Growing up, I didn’t learn much about the First Nations culture.  In fact, it wasn’t until grade 10 in my Native studies class that I even learned a bit about the history behind the nation that was stolen so many years ago.  So, on Monday, it was a breath of fresh air to have Claire in our classroom talking about how she has integrated treaty education into the classroom.  She focused on treaty education through digital learning – a part of teaching that I am very interested in.  I enjoy using technology in classroom (though, sparingly) and to hear her ideas of combining the two (technology and treaty education) was eye opening.

I hope to teach my future students about the agreements that we made to share this native land. You know, this native land that was made for you and me.

And if you now have that song stuck in your head, you can listen to it here 🙂

“Look at us. Running around, always rushed, always late. I guess that’s why they call it the human race.”

This week, I read from an educational volume published in 1886.  The title of the book was A History of Education by F. V. N. Painter, A. M.  The book opened with a comparison: relating man to a tree.  I was thoroughly enjoying the opening of this book (you know, because I’m a sucker for similes and metaphors).

I began to read about how education helps to ensure that we are properly fit for the duties of life and a worthy destiny.  The book described the end of education as ‘completing human development’. I assumed that this process of human development was common for the entire human race as an educated society.  In fact, in the book, it was mentioned that education itself has existed among all nations and that is, in some form, as old as the human race.  Throughout time, I feel that we are constantly learning and thus, this fact stuck out to me as true.

As I read on, it was then mentioned that Asia was the birthplace of the human race.  As I continued to read on about education in China and India in the late 1880s, it soon became apparent to me that the teaching styles in oriental countries were quite different than that of the Western culture that I’ve grown to know.  (Of course, this volume is more than 100 years old and thus, education has obviously changed quite a lot since the book was published.)

However, with information on the history of oriental education on my lap, my definition of race and racialization began to change.

I had always thought that one’s race was defined by their biological makeup, but I soon came to realize (and agree with what I had read in this article on race) that “race is a social invention”.  This is what I think is meant by the fact that teachers are being taught to think in ‘racial terms’.  By focusing on social history, social events, and social change, I believe that I can become a better teacher.