Day One

Monday was an interesting day. Granted, it already had the fact that it was my first actual lesson with the class going for the day, but it was the lack of structure that truly made the day. I arrived that morning ready to re-introduce myself to all twenty of the kids, to take in their self portrait assignments I had left and do an ice-breaker. My first mistake was expecting a larger assignment to be done by ALL twenty of the kids on the first Monday back to school. Over half the class needed time to complete their three-part portraits and needed access to computers to finish. This was a problem as I had not already booked any computers for the day as per my outlined lesson. Thank goodness for the librarian, he saved me.

This is where my second and more vital mistake to be learned from arose. I did not have a back up plan for the kids that were done their assignment. Of course, I am not completely unrealistic, I had expected maybe two or three students to need some more time to finish their visual portraits (the last part) and planned to allow them the space and time to finish drawing/cutting/gluing/printing, whatever they needed while the remainder of the class moved forward with the lesson. Those extra six kids really threw me for a loop down panic road.

So what did I do in this panicked state? I called the librarian hoping by some miracle that the computers were not booked. Thankfully, they were not and I promptly sent the kids who needed to use them upstairs to finish their project. Out walked three quarters of the class; in restrospect, this should not have surprised me, most kids would rather play on a computer than stay in English class. Six kids remained and I was not able to do the activities I had planned for the day with only six kids. It was something the majority of the class needed to be a part of. We ended up completing one of my goals for the day: Vocabulary Monday though this might have been more successful with the whole class. There is only so much excitement six teens can give for looking up old English words.

By this time, we were over half way through the class and I needed to check on the students upstairs to make sure they were working and to answer any questions if they had any. They did and even booted one kid off the computer for playing games when his project was done.

The rest of the class went rather smoothly and I was able to use the time wisely and get to know the eight students that were in the class for the last half of the period. However, after reflecting with my co-op and thinking about it, I should have moved the entire class upstairs and used the library as our vocabulary basis. What better place to learn new words than a library? Other than Google, I mean, you can’t always trust what you read. I wish I would have thought to bring the whole class upstairs. It would have made it easier to circulate all the students, answer questions, and keep everyone on task. I could have had the students choose their silent reading books a day early and even get them going early on their journals. Sounds like an awesome way to think on your feet. Instead of doing this, I panicked resulting in me speed walking through the school from one room to another and scrambling to pass the time in an efficient and meaningful manner. Lesson to be learned: expect the unexpected. It is better to over-prepare, than under prepare.

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Pre-Internship Experience

Though I have been keeping a daily journal for my own reflections, I have purposefully waited until the end of the pre-internship experience to post my reflection on wordpress. I wanted to make sure that I had time to put my thoughts into perspective and to think about my experiences as a whole. I know that when I begin my career as a teacher, I will be reflecting on myself on a daily basis and it will be harder to reflect on the whole experience so this is a luxury I wanted to take full advantage of.

My experience as a pre-intern can only be described as golden. I walked into the school with unspecific expectations and goals. I did not know what to expect and believed that I would not have as rich of an experience in a city school as I would in a small town school. I was absolutely wrong. My experience at this school and with my co-op was amazing. It was everything I had hoped for and everything I couldn’t even begin to imagine. I thought that I would not be comfortable in a larger school setting and that I would have trouble teaching students with rougher backgrounds and a harsh home life. I thought it would be difficult to connect with these students and to build relationships in such a short time as three weeks. Though I knew it was the goal of teachers to reach these kids, I did not think it would be as difficult as it was or that I would be successful. I thought that since this would be my first time actually in the school, the kids would “eat me alive,” as many people have teased me about. Thank goodness, I am apparently not very good at assuming things as I was completely wrong.

Not only was I able to teach subjects and topics I was passionate about, I was also given free reign over any of the co-ops classes I wanted and any other teachers’ class who was willing to let me in. I taught grade nine and ten English. Of course, in the beginning, the idea of teaching grade nines was daunting and I was nervous. Everyone says they are the toughest to teach since they are in that hormonal rebellious stage. However, I enjoyed my time with them. They helped me challenge my thinking about late marks, extensions, time management, teaching grammar, classroom management strategies, and keeping lessons fresh, interesting, and enjoyable. I also had the chance to teach First Nations content in a grade nine art class. This was a really cool experience because I taught most of these kids in English and had the chance to really build relationships with them. I saw these kids everyday, twice a day and really got to know them fairly well. The problem came in when I actually began to teach the art class because I had sat in on so many with them, that it was like I had almost become one of their friends. In English, they knew I was the teacher and that I meant business, but in art they weren’t too sure what to think.

The opportunity to teach in the art class was unique and rich because of the cross-curricular aspect. I taught three classes in Art focusing on treaties and First Nations sense of community and traditions. Each day the same student would ask me, “why are we learning about treaties and First Nations in art? Why can’t we just draw?” This is something that we discussed in many of my classes and though I expected the resistance, I was still floored by the obvious dislike and boredom most of the students expressed when they realized what we would be talking about. It made me sad that they were so against the idea of learning about a certain topic that they deemed belonging to another subject. The question for me became, how do I make these kids interested in what I have to share with them when they have been drilled by the school system that school has subject restrictions. Am I going to be fighting a constant battle against these lines we have created that separate each subject area?

This is one question that I struggled with throughout my pre-internship and am still wondering about. If it has been mandated that First Nations content be taught in every subject area since I was in high school dover eight years ago and students today are still resistant to the idea, am I fighting an uphill battle and can I possibly win? It makes me wonder, how many of my co-workers and current classmates will make a solid effort to teach this content in their classrooms and to help erase the boundaries between subject areas? As an English major, I know it is easier for me to incorporate cross-curricular content in my lessons, but I still think that every subject needs to be doing this. Cross curricular teaching, team teaching, and treaty content has not been drilled into our heads all these years for nothing. However, being in the school and hearing the students’ constant complaints and let’s face it, whining, makes me wonder who out there in the field is truly making the effort.

The last thing that really stuck with me throughout my pre-internship experience is something my advisor said to me. After my lesson one day, he sat me down and asked about my lesson and where I had come up with the set idea. He said that ingenuity and freshness makes teaching an experience for the students and the teacher. What really stood out to me though, was how he repeatedly asked my about my planning learning experiences, referring to my lesson planning. I loved this! As teachers, we are taking on the role of teaching young minds about society, social expectations, and learning in general. The moment we start planning our lessons we ask ourselves what we want our students to learn and get out of the lesson; we think about the big question and the essential questions and then we plan an experience that engages the students in the activity and their own learning. We are planning learning experiences. We are planning and co-ordinating opportunities for kids to experience something unique and valuable in their lives that will help them in their future. Honestly, after this conversation my mind was blown. He had spoon-fed me a new perspective on something that I considered work. With this new perspective, I found new drive and energy to make every lesson unique and memorable or as he would say an experience. Granted, this is what we are supposed to be doing anyways and simply calling lesson planning something else doesn’t change the fact, it just made me realize the importance of what I was doing. Sometimes you just need to hear from someone else what you are doing to truly understand the actual importance of what you are doing. I really liked his way of looking at lesson planning and honestly, it makes me even more excited to plan lessons, mini-units, units, and maybe even someday a curriculum.

Overall, it is safe for you to assume that I have had a wonderful experience at this school. Everyone who heard where I was interning at had nothing but crazy stories to share and lower expectations of what kind of students this school produced. However, I let them know the truth. When asked about the craziness that existed in those walls, I replied that any life worth living has to have a couple of crazy elements. When asked about students not completing their work on time, I replied that it only made me think about how I handle late assignments and extending deadlines. It’s been a challenge, but I am a firm believer that anything worth having is worth fighting for. I  want to return to this school in the fall. It has been a wonderful place to learn who I am as a teacher and to practice teaching strategies and classroom management. I was sad to leave the school and my co-op, but I am even more excited to start internship in the fall and to begin teaching the following year. It took less than one day of teaching to fully understand that my place was in the classroom with young minds who teach me about myself and the world as much as I teach them.

Pre-internship targets

There are many different things that I would like to work on during my pre-internship in order to build confidence as a teacher. First, I would like to be able to create lessons that fit in the time periods (50 min) I have been given. In the past, I have planned elaborate lessons and tried to fit what should have been spanned two days in one. I have become better at lesson planning, but it has yet to be seen whether or not I can actually use my time appropriately. I plan to do this through experience. The more lesson planning I do, the better I will become at judging how long a certain lesson should take. This target is one that will only be achieved as I continue to teach and move forward in my career.

The second target I would like to work towards is showing students my true emotion (basically meaning I want them to know when they are starting to push my buttons/are toeing the line). I have previously been told that I am almost too nice to the students and that this can be confusing for them as I am always warm and smiling. This does not mean that I should not be smiling, happy, and pleasant. Rather, it means that I need to find ways to communicate when students are misbehaving and when I have had enough of it. For example, I often handle situations with a smile on my face and this can be confusing if I am telling a student that they should not be doing something. They might think that I am not serious and find their misbehaviour or outbursts amusing. I need my class to be able to gauge and recognize my emotions. Basically, I want to work on my non-verbal communication skills with my students.

I plan on doing this by exploring with non-verbal communication; seeing what I am comfortable doing in the classroom to display my emotions. For example, I could try tapping my toes, placing my hands on my hips, maybe a particular look or stare (not a glare though). I will continue experimenting with non-verbal communication and ask that my co-op and partner observe my behaviour to help me grow.

Finally, I want to work on my wait time. I am willing to wait for a response from the class, but too soon in my opinion, am I moving on and repeating myself for the students. I have noticed that my co-op teacher is incredibly good at waiting for students to have time to formulate a response. There have been very long pauses in her class and sometimes even I have been felt slightly awkward. I hope to reach her level of patience by the end of this experience.

Treaty Lesson Micro-Unit Plan

Unit Planning General Outline

Curriculum:

English Language Arts 20    Module/Unit/Outcome: Comprehend and Respond 20.1

Communication Media 20    Legal and Ethical Issues Module 2B

 


Unit Outline:

Day 1: Intro to Treaties (causes, lead up, reasons)

-Teachers will introduce what treaties are, how many there are in SK, and the historical context surrounding the treaties but will not go into explicit detail
-Handouts may be given to read and facilitate learning
Day 2: Treaty game (coloniser vs. colonised) -The teachers will split the class into two groups. Each group will be given an envelope containing information about who they are, their general beliefs, a brief history of each group, and their role as either the group being colonized or the group doing the colonizing

  • Colonizer EX: historical context might include the desire to expand the country, gain more resources, or search for particular riches
  • Colonized EX: historical context could include the desire to grow into a stronger nation and to create allies with newcomers while not jeopardizing their own culture

-Each group will then be asked to discuss who they are, why they want to enter into treaties, their goals, and how they will go about making these goals
-They will then be told to enter into negotations with the other group
-From this point the teachers will observe the proceedings and help where necessary
-Close to the end of the period, the teachers will draw the discussions to a close and lead a discussion about the process of treaty making
-Students will be asked to create a reflection of their choice about what they learned (writing, drawing, blog, etc)

Day 3: Treaties in depth

-Teachers will teach in depth treaty lesson about their history, why they were made, if they were fulfilled or not, how they were fulfilled, relevance to current time, and discuss the Numbered Treaties in particular
Day 4: Residential Schools

-Students will learn about the history of Residential Schools and the effects they have had on today’s First Nation culture
-Teachers could show a video, a variety of testimonies, and literary works to accomplish this task
Day 5: Contemporary Issues

-Students will learn about the contemporary issues that exist because of the treaties and residential schools and asked to complete a major assignment
-Please refer to attached lesson plan for this day
Days 6/7: Classroom time to work on projects -These days will be work periods on the chosen assignment
Days 8/9: Classroom Share

-These days will be presentation days where students share their knowledge and understandings of contemporary treaty issues
Day 10: Talking Circle

-This final day will be a talking circle where students and teachers discuss what they learned, their opinions, any questions that have that might not have been answered or arose from their group inquiries
-They will also discuss contemporary issues and how these are being addressed and whether or not change is effective and/or positive/negative

Synectics Model assignment

Synectics Model
Synectics is understanding together that which is apparently different to find practical and realistic solutions to problems in effective and creative ways. It is using metaphors to solve problems and make the strange familiar and allows students to make unique and creative connections between what they know and what they are to learn.

Steps of the Synectic Model:
1) Have students list words to describe a topic they are familiar with.
Ex) Education – learning knowledge
Teaching experience
Subject Areas reading
Writing rewards

2) Students choose one object group relating to the words given and form a Direct Analogy between the descriptive words and words from a seemingly unrelated category.
Ex) Knowledge – a way of knowing understanding ideas
Curriculum experience
Individual being “smart”

3) Students are asked to view reality from the perspective of the metaphorical object selected in the previous step. Ask them to tell how it feels and encourage explanation.
Ex) Curriculum and Experience
(view knowledge from the perspective of “curriculum” and from the perspective of           “experience”)
Curriculum is what we are taught in schools. It is facts, theories, and
Experience is what we do in the world that teaches us skills or ideas.
4) Students examine the list of descriptive feelings from the last step and put together juxtaposed words. Look at abstract connections between the juxtaposed pair.
Ex) Curriculum vs. Experience
– Knowing and Doing
– “Do as I say, not as I do”
– Driver’s Ed.
5) Create a new direct analogy from the pair of words.
Ex) Education is like Driver Training
6) Re-examine the original topic and make a connection between the new analogy and the original idea.
Ex) Education is like Driver Training because it gives you theory and rules, but you need to    apply those to actually experiencing driving in order to gain the knowledge.

Subject Area Uses:
Info Pro/Business Communications – develop deeper understanding of abstract concepts and overcome creative blocks by thinking about it from a different perspective
English – comparing and contrasting abstract ideas, characters, etc. from literature
Social Studies – develop empathy and understanding for historical figures
Science (Chemistry, Biology, Physics) – compare and contrast ideas between the different branches/disciplines

Positives and Negatives:                                                                                                                                                                                                   -Teaches and develops creative and deeper thinking                                                                                                                                                       -Enhances irrational part of our way of knowing                                                                                                                                                            -Allows students to shard prior knowledge and extend understandings                                                                                                                  -Encourages interdisciplinary relationships Is fun when done correctly                                                                                                                  -Can open doors to “aha” moments when proper connections are made                                                                                                                  -Some students may struggle or feel left out because they might not be at the same level of creativity as others                                                                                                                         -May not be effective in logic/fact based classes                                                                                                                                                                -Certain steps can be difficult for certain individuals because they may not want to participate                                                                        -Requires appropriate group interaction to be effective

Classroom Considerations:
This should be done with higher level grade for more complex thinking and ideas, but it can be done with lower grade levels to build vocabulary and nurture abstract thought. However, it should be simplified for younger age groups.
Teachers need to be aware that this strategy uses the “spur of the moment” answers to move forward and there is only so much they can plan for. It is spontaneous, but also class dependent to continue.
It works well for larger groups with multiple perspectives and may be less effective in smaller or less diverse groups.

Synetics for Creative Thinking in Technology Education Classes:
http://search.proquest.com/eric/docview/235290687/fulltextPDF/13BE877D84C1F251583/1?accountid=13480

Making a Metaphor Through Synetics:
http://search.proquest.com/eric/docview/210496775/fulltextPDF/13BE877D84C1F251583/5?accountid=13480

Reader Response # 2

The textbook defines authentic as a task that requires students to perform in a realistic, real life context. It is a task that is meant to engage and motivate the student in a manner that is relevant to the student. Authentic assessment allows for students to demonstrate knowledge mastery by applying it to a real-life situation. This type of assessment gives teachers the chance to assess not only the finished product, but also the ongoing development of the project throughout the working period, which allows for formative assessment. For this reason, it is important to have a set criteria in place at the start of the project; it shows students the level of expectation involved with the assignment. 

Formative assessment is a way assessing student work and providing ongoing feedback throughout the learning process. It does not simply look at the end result and give a mark based solely on the end. Rather, it takes into account the learning process of the student as well as the finished assignment. Formative feedback needs to be consistent as well as specific. To tell a student that he or she “is on the right path” is not helpful to the student as he or she does not know what he or she is doing to be on the right path or how to continue on the right path. Feedback is necessary for students to recognize the need to improve their learning. 

When the textbook said that students who received only ongoing, specific feedback did 60% better than other students who were only given grades I was a little surprised. I had never really thought about the relationship between grades and feedback deeper than simply knowing that I needed to give both. Thinking back into my own high school years, I can remember being returned multiple papers that had both teacher feedback as well as a mark. The first thing I would do was flip to the back to see that mark, and then usually satisfied look over the comments the teacher had left. I never really thought about what a student would do if he or she only received either a mark or feedback. In my opinion, I think I would prefer feedback rather than a mark given only those two options. Feedback would let me know how I was doing, what needed more work, and what I was doing correctly. If i were to only receive a mark, I would not really think about the assignment outside of the fact that I had either done well or not well. I now understand that by giving ongoing feedback and assessment I can help students work towards the mark they want while helping them deepen their learning and understandings.  In the end, I would also be able to give them a mark that they knew what they had done or not done to earn it. It would give the students motivation to take control of their own learning. 

I also feel that I would like to learn more about creating rubrics that are fair and justifiable. I find checklists to be very great assessment tools but too relative and sometimes not specific enough to provide an accurate and fair mark for everyone. One student may fulfill one requirement differently than another student while another may not understand the requirement at all. I am a firm believer in self-assessment and allowing students to have an impact on how they are graded. This could be through giving each student a learner contract, in which they would be able to chose the weight of each assignment, giving higher worth to certain ones they might feel more confident about. This would also help students take control of their learning. I would do this as well as have student input in creating the rubrics for each assignment. These kind of assessments would allow students to build their own meanings and to delegate relevance in their own learning. What one student may deem important knowledge may different from another. This must be done with caution and guidance from the teacher and with the curriculum outcomes and indicators in mind. However, I believe that every teacher can make learning authentic, relevant, meaningful, student centred, and fun through the use of ongoing assessment.

Pedagogy KWL chart

Know Want to Know Learned
-pedagogy is our teaching practices both as individuals and as a collective

-it involves strategies, methods, personal values, and experiences that come together to create our way of teaching

-to know more about what it is

-how to use it

-generate a general better understanding

-thoughts and believes of teaching

-if curriculum is everything then pedagogy is everything we do to teach curriculum

-if pedagogy is our teaching practices then it is constantly evolving and growing as we ourselves are lifelong learners and developing our teaching repertoire

-includes more than simply our skills, and practices. It includes our environment and both the comfortable and uncomfortable knowledge that surrounds our teaching.