Dipping My Toes Into an #Edchat

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Yesterday evening I experienced my first #edchat on twitter. All types of emotions were running through me. I was excited, nervous and confused. I was unsure of how this chat would take place, if I could keep up, how to follow the chat and if I would have anything valuable to add. It was run by @ShiftParadigm and his guidance and responses to the chat were impeccable (I immediately followed him).

My favorite part about the chat was sending out a response I thought was valuable and having it be confirmed by not only my classmates, but people form around the world. Specifically when we got onto the topic of grading, I became really excited. I am a very big fan of Alfie Kohn and his theories towards grades and intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. I recently wrote an essay about the detriment of grading to students, and I used a point of mine from that paper and responded to a participant of the #edchat. Responding to @TamraExcell made me all types of nervous inside as all of her contributions to the night’s chat were impeccable inspiring. However, I did it. To my surprise there was so much response and support from people liking my tweet, to retweeting, to responding to me and creating a chat of our own from it! It was such a success and made me feel like I was talking to people who cared about the same things I do in education. Ill insert some pictures below of the tweet I posted!

The only thing I found  challenging with my first #edchat, was that I could not keep up! There was no real order in which it went on (perhaps its the beauty of this chaos that makes it so successful). There were so many conversations at once, I did not know who to respond to and at what appropriate time. Also, when people link articles, are we supposed to read them immediately and then respond, I certainly do not read fast enough to do that. The pace is quick, and perhaps it is because I am new at technology that I just need to practice to catch up. Did anyone else seem like they were jogging behind all the sprinters?

 

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Common Sense May Not Be So Common

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Before reading this introduction of “The Problem of Common Sense” I honestly was always an advocate for common sense. However, after reading Kumashira I realize that I was a consumer sucked into the idea of common sense being a positive things. Now I still believe in some aspects that it is healthy to use common sense, such as when it comes to the difference between right and wrong, but in saying that Common sense is so counterproductive I am beginning to realize! I am so taken aback by how this one section of a book completely changed my views on common sense. It mainly outlines how common sense is like stationary thinking. For example, as a teacher we teach our students to not use racism (common sense), but when you think about it, although it seems like once you say it, it’s common sense, it’s not. It takes practise and developing ideas on how to remove racism from the situation and classroom. We use common sense as a method to verbally state not to do something, but when does just saying something actually take action…. Rarely. It takes learning about racism and cooperatively coming up with ways to counteract it in order for an change to be taking place. Therefore, common sense is summed up as old fashioned thinking that needs to be updated because the world in constantly changing and so should our ideas of what common sense really is.

The oppression that takes place in and outside of school is often ignored, even though educators use their “common sense” in dictating students to not oppress. However, no action is taking place to do so. There for saying to use common sense is counterproductive as there is no action plan to back up this so called ‘” common sense”. Being commonsensical is so narrowed down to the tradtions of what we have learned is right and wrong that their is not room to develop new common sense ideas. Sticking to the same traditions put us in a stationary world of learning. Everything in this world continuously changes such as morals, education, views upon different social and political issues, however if we stick to the same thinking of what common sense is, there is no room for our development and ideas to grow. This would keep everything stationary. Which means there will be no hope for oppression to be diminished.

Relating back to the intro on teaching in Nepal in comparison in teaching in the United States and the differentiation between how education is viewed and delivered proves that common sense gives no room for development. As described in the reading, the United States have advanced in education much compared to Nepal. However if you closely read the differences, it is the common sense that differentiates. The United States, have upgraded in education and began to realize that common sense is not a way to teach by, however Nepal is stuck in that situation. And it is the lack of resources they have, as well as people’s attitudes towards their education system that keep them stuck in their own views of common sense and what teaching really is. Therefore common sense changes in each social context, which means different actions need to be taken in different environments in order to develop ideas to creat new common sense and allow it to continue to grow!

Overall, this sample reading was very educational and completely changed my views on common sense and how terribly counterproductive it is. it is this traditional way of thinking that everyone has experienced that does not allow us to grow morally and educationally. Instead of teaching common sense to students, we need to explore other ideas of what individuals believe needs to change and an action plan of how it will change, and of course it needs to be acted upon! Common sense is a static thinking that is a potential starting point for change, it will just take educators realizing that it needs to be avoided in order for our world to become a better place with less oppression, hopefully one day oppression free.

“The Problem of Common Sense” by Kumashiro:

http://ecs210.uregina.wikispaces.net/file/view/The%20Problem%20of%20Common%20Sense.pdf/559012353/The%20Problem%20of%20Common%20Sense.pdf

All Good Things Come to an End – Overall Fieldwork Experience

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As you can tell by my title, my field experience was amazing, life changing to be more accurate.

But, first I will tell you about my last day “on the job”. I walked into the classroom and all of my students were waiting for me, as usual, to give me a hug. I did my daily round of bear hugs and got ready to give my lesson. However, my co op said thatmy lessonw ould have to wait until after recess as the kids were finishing making Ukrainian Easter eggs. So for the first hour my partner and helped the kids create designs on their eggs and dye them. My partner then taught, recess occured, and then it was my turn! So I decided to do an Easter themed French lesson. I put french words inside numbered easter eggs and gave each table an egg. They opened the eggs and had to try and guess how to say the word in French. It was such a funny experience and the kids loved trying to guess how to pronounce the words. After we went through my lesson, which went so well, me and my partner decided to play a game with the students. We lined them up in four groups and gave the person at the front of each line a mini whiteboard and marker. We decided on a symbol (my partner and I) and then went to the back of each line and drew it on that person back. They had to draw on the next person back the same symbol, or as close as they could remember.  We were focusing on teaching them how to communicate throughother ways rather than speaking, so we made sure if we heard a peep we told them to be quiet! They loved it an thought it was hilarious when one groups symbol came out completley different from the original. At the end of the day we said our goodbyes and gave the students eggs filled with candy (sorry to the parents). Our co op and some of the students presented my partner and I with our own card the students made and signed! They wanted to put something funny on each of them and on mine they put how my lipstick was blinding because I wore such a bright colour one day, how cute is that. They also said I made vegetables fun, I hope they were telling the truth. After our hugs goodbye, our co op sat us down and thanked us for the past seven weeks, gave us some feedback about our lessons that way and then we were done.

I was so nervous begginging this semesters fieldwork because not only was it in an elementary school, but I acutally had to teach and create lesson plans. I really love kids , but i was scared being placed in an elemnatary school would change my mind, and of course it didn’t. This was the first time I acutally felt like a teacher.

My co-op teacher was amazing, brilliant to say the least. It is only his third year of teaching and I swear he knows EVERYTHING. I could tell just teaching alongside of him that he is a better teacher than most of the teachers I have experienced myself. I have learned an immense amount of strategies, tips, etc., from him.

The feedback I recieved for my target sheets are the main things that stick out as the most crucial part of my experience. He always explained where I strived, where I needed improvment, and suggestions on how I could improve.

His use of technology in the class has opened my mind a whole lot more compared to how I used to be. The way he intergrates technology that is so useful today and will dveleop into our future gets the kids excited and ready to learn, i want my classroom to mimic the environment of his.

One principle I have stuck to throughout the years in my own philosophy is emphasizing the positives within the classroom and outside of it too. In my grade 5/6 i noticed that the students resonded to positive feedback and appreciation much quicker and better than negative reinforcment. If someone was being good and recieved a class dojo point for it, everyone would respond in the same way that student did. It seems as though positive reinforcment sparks youths mind a little bit quicker, making them less likley to rebel. I am glad that this experience reinforced my own beliefs within making a classroom a positive environment.

During my seven weeks, I was only able to teach 4 times when I was at the school. This is because of all the adventures and field trips and activities my class got to participate in. I am very glad i got to experience alot of excursions with them as it made for a real teaching experience. Its not always just baout lesso planning, its about excursions and interuptions and taking management startegies outside of the classroom but, also having fun and getting to bond with the students. So whenever one of my classmates asks me if I feel like i got cheated because i didnt get to teach as much as everyone else, I always say I feel like I got the best possible experience out of my field work because I experienced what it was like to teach inside and outside of the classroom, I got the real experience.

I feel as if i was able to more clearly develop who I am as a teacher through this fieldwork. I was tested by the students many times, and felt I stayed true to who I am and want to be as a teacher. My style of lesson planning has improved and I feel as if i have a better grasp on managment strategies whether that be eye contact, mobility around the room, and prjection of my voice.

Out of all the technical strategies and tools I have learned, it doesnt amount to the love that I have for the students I my class. The bonds we created, the laughs we shared, the simplistic interactions we made, the safe and positive environment we formed; these are the things I will remember most. Without these connections, I would feel like this experience would be a waste of time. It is the experiences gone through together on top of the learning that create a real teacher, and I feel as though my co op and classroom made me feel like an accomplished teacher. My overall goal was to reassure my beliefs were on the right track and to make sure I made connections with the students in order to gain their attention, respect and love. This experince reinfoced everything I have believed in about teaching and created an unbreakable bond with me and my students. I am so thankful for this oppurtunity and will miss my time there greatly.

Can’t wait to see what next year brings,

Alyssa

The Tables Have Turned…

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In my 7th week at my placment, I got to judge the grade five to eight science fair! I remember when I was in grade seven and I had to compete in a heritage fair. Oh boy, was I ever nervous and the judges scared me to death (look whose the judge now). So when I got my clipboard to begin judging, all of the emotions of nerve came flodding into my mind and I began to wonder if the students were feeling the same way I did when I competed. Every table I judged, I made sure to ensure the students that I am just another person here to listen to them talk about their projects and that their is no pressure. I wanted them to feel more comfortable and I think being relaxed myself, really helped them to feel at ease as well. I judge twelve projects, including some of my students, but also other grades. It was awesome to see how creative these students were in their topics and how they executed it. Grading each project I found to be tough. The regualr person in me wanted to be bias towards my class and give them amazing grades, but the teacher in me knew I had to create an equal playing field for everyone to have a fair chance at a good grade. I met a lot of new students and teachers that afternoon and enjoyed every minute of it. Again, it was another week where I felt like I could have a ton of fun without a ton of pressure. In my week five reflection I metioned a boy with disablitlies that I sat with on th ebus and tried to get to know. He was competing in the science fair and created a project about volcanoes. I was not judging him, but decided to stop by and say hi. We talked for ten minutes about his project and how he has visited real volcanoes. And while I was reading, he came up and put his head on my arm and just stood there for a bit. I felt so honoured for him to open up to me as my students had previously let me know he is very shy. When I told him I had to move on he gave me a big hug. It was an awesome afternoon where I not only got to learn more about the students, but bond with the school as a whole.

Thanks,

Alyssa

The Vegetables Return

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My 6th week of teaching was my chance to finish up my French vegetable lesson with my 20 minute powerpoint on how to pronounce each word properly. On each slide I used a picture of the vegetable, the word in French and then little sounds or words to sound out each word. During the powerpoint, I asked each student to write down the word in English, the word in French, and how to sound it out. I would ask the students by a nod of the head of they had finished writing the word, in between each slide. This worked for most of the students except for a few towards the back of the class who i didnt notice had their heads down the whole time. After my lesson was over, which most of the children responded and participated to very well, I sat down with my co -op and he gave me some pointers on how to make sure those kids who werent, would participate. He said between each slide I should have walked around the room while each student was writing in their notes, just to make sure everyone was doing as told. That was an extremley helpful tip. He told me to start roaming the class more rather than just station myself at the front. This is something I have been stuggling with, but I am slowly mproving my my movement. We went curling immeidatley after my lesson, I helped out the same group again, and it was a lot of fun. We had a lot of laughs and cheers and success with the curling games. The children were sad when it was over as that was their last curling experience of the year with the school. My partner did not even get a chance to teach when we returned as the bus driver got lost and when we got back it was five minutes until hometime. Even though we have been rushed for the past few weeks, I don’t mind. It is nice to experience what really goes on inside of a school. We have gotten a very fuffilling experience with all these activites we get to take part in and also our lesson plans we get to teach. The variety of lengths our lesson plans have been, have been an awesoe learning experience and have helped in my ability to adapt to a certain time frame, and narrow down a lesson to what is most important for the students to learn. This week was crazy bsuy again, but very educational and fun, I am glad I got to experience it!

Thanks,

Alyssa

I’m Back and More Ready Than Ever!!

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After three weeks of not being at my field experience because of spring break, skiing, and my grandpa passing away, it felt absolutley amazing to be back! I felt like I was doing my first week all over again. The excitement and nerves set in quickly, but as soon as I walked into the door, I had the warmest welcome from the students. I was greeted with hugs upon hugs! That was one of the best feelings I have ever had. As soon as lunch recess had ended the students quickly made their way to their desks as they knew they were leaving soon for curling. My partner taught her music lesson in 15 minutes, however the students had no time to do the assignment because the bus was early and we had to get going. It was a very rushed day, however a lot of fun! When we all loaded up on the bus, I sat with one of the FIAP students who was very quiet. I was able to get him to say a little bit about his excitment towards curling, however the students let me know when I got off the bus, that he rarely talks to anyone. I took charge of one of the curling lanes. I really got to test out managment startegies to keep the kids on task. I really had a good chance to bond with these students though. They were very hard working and very supportive of eachother, so it was a great time. I found a lot of students complaining that they already knew how to curl and they didnt need practise, they just wanted to start. The phys ed teacher let them know that everyone should feel on an equal level so that when playing time comes everyone feels they have a fair shot. I really liked how he calmly explained this to the students. When we returned from curling, I had fourteen minutes to do my lesson. I taught french once again this week, but this time it was on vegetables. I knew I would not have enough time to go through all of th vegetables and how to pronounce them and give them my handout sheet to work on. So i decided that for this class I would immediatley give the students my hand out so they could practise the words on their own first, that way they would become more farmiliar with them. Then the next week I would go through the vegetables and the proper pronunciation. The handout they recieved was a list of English vegetables with the French translation directly across from it, these were under the title of ingredients. Across form the French words were blank spaces underneath a “recipe” column. The assignment was to use the french words in order to create a salad! They also had an empty bowl on the bottom of the page to draw their own salad! The kids loved this. I did have a few that said they didn’t eat salad, and my co-op interupted them by saying, “don’t think of it as a salad then, think of it as an icecream sundae with a ton of topping”, that is such a cool idea that could be used for any lesson where students are questioning things. The kids were ver well behaved during my mini lesson, mainly because they were tired from a long day of skating and curling, so I found my delivery to be made with ease. It was a very nice first week back. Although it was hectic, it was more fun than anything else!

Thanks,

Alyssa

 

These Things Take Priority

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I was unable to make it to my fourth week of teaching on March 3rd, 2014. My Grandfather had passed away that weekend from ALS and his funeral was on the same day as my field experience. Even time like this are an exception to many rules, I still get very nervous about missing things. I emailed my co-op teacher explaining why I could not be in and he completley understood and said “things like this take priority, and I completley support you in your decision to not come to school today”. That took a huge amount of weight off of my shoulders. He told me he was going to saya prayer with the students for my family which made me feel rather humbled. I have only known my co op and his students for a few weeks, but because their hearts are so big they had already begun to feel like family. My Grandfather was diagnosed with ALS six months ago. The doctors reassured us he had two to five years to live. However, on top of the ALS he also had Alzheimers disease. The combination of these two gruesome monsters deterioarted my grandpa physically, spirtually and emotionally very quickly and he passed away. It was a shock and took a huge tole on my ability to stay focused and on track. After the funeral i felt closure and began to make my way back to normal routine, however he is always in the back of my mind. I just wanted to let you guys know that things like these do take priority, and it is a time to be with your family. Dont worry about other things for those moments of loss, just take the time you need, it will be easier and better in the long run.

Thanks,

Alyssa

No Teaching this Week!

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This week, my students went on a skiing trip to Mission Ridge Ski Lodge. Therefore,me and my partner were unable to go to the school this week for our third week of field work. It was nice to have a week off as all  of the lesson planning along side of five classes is getting pretty tough. I have been finding myself staying up very late the night before each field work in order to get it done, and sometimes I am even waking up early to put last minute touches on the plan. Next week, the students have skiing in the morning, and then curling in the afternoon, so my parnter and I each only have 15-20 minutes to fit in a mini lesson…. we will see how that goes!

Wish me luck,

Alyssa

Classroom Managment: Class Dojo and Classroom Rules

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While reading the first article, my head began to nod (in a good way). Growing up i had always noticed that if specific rules aren’t made in a classroom, all hell can break loose. And I had specifically noticed morals were not being leanred either. Using these umbrella rules such as “respect for all” dont give students specifics to go by. Do they even know what respect means? As the aritcle suggested they should be used as school values rather than a rule. And ounderneah these values, specifics should be listed and added on to as time passes. In my teaching philosophy i focused on students as individuals and their unique ways of learning, this connects to that. Students understand things in different ways, so in order to accomadate that, specific rules need to be made, in order for everyone to understand.  Classroom managent was something I outlined in my philosophy as well, as being something that needs to be easily understood so everyone has an equal level of knowledge towards the rules. Using broad statements can end up in so many bad ways specifically when dealing with younger children as this is the time when their morals and understadnings are being shaped. I feel as though this article could be a sister for my philosophy they mesh so well!! As for the article about ClassDojo, I smiled when I began to read it. In my placement, this is a tool that was shown to me on my first day by my cooperating teacher and I thought it was the neatest idea ever!!!! This is a great way to encourage the kids, another huge aspect of my philosophy. It inspires the to want to do good, and this tool that helps practise good habits will help shape the childrens morals and manners without them even realizing it. It such a fun way to encourage the kids and recognize their good behaviour which is so important in a classroom. Without recognition of good behaviour, students would feel as though it is worthless to even try. My philosophy again is about individuals needs and wants and how to apply yourself as a teacher to those. With ClassDojo, it allows the chidlren to realizeing you are taking the time to notice and recognize their good behaviour. This will allow for a better relationship between the teacher and the student and for the want to do good. It creates sucha a positive environment in the classroom and I can say that with complete confidence as I see it at my placement every week! ClassDojo and specific classroom rules falling under a value umbrella are essential tools for a great learning experience and teaching experience for both the teacher and student.

-Alyssa

Second Pre Interning Experience + I Successfully Taught French!

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This time walking into the classroom I was alot more nervous. Not only was this the first time I was going to teach in front of a class, but me and my partner couldn’t find the time to plan out a lesson plan , so we had to do it over text the night before and quickly go over at while the students had recess. What a nightmare. The kids started off after their indoor recess with either reading, playing scrabble or working on their blogs, which I love the fact that they each have their own personal blog where they get to pick a topic each month and research it! My partner and I sat in the back of the classroom quietly going over the lesson plan and deciding who would do what. We decided that since I had taken a french course in university (side note: I almost failed that class), that I would do all the speaking and pronouncing. This made my stomach turn. We were originally planning on teaching vegetables however, we were having trouble, so we asked if we could do a valentines themed lesson. I would hold up a picture in front of the class and ask what it was in english ad how it related to valentines day. After that I would say the word in french, as my partner wrote it down on the board beside the picture and and then I would count to three and the class would say it all together. If they werent loud enough, I would tell them to say it again. After we went through all the words, the students had a word search to do, as practise to remember the words. Once the word search was done, a fill in the blank was given to them and they had to try their best to fill it in fromt heir memory. They could use the wordsearch as their word bank, but they had no reference as to what each word was in english except their memory. We made sure to tell the students that this was not for marks, because they all bgean to get a little nervous. We allowed them to work in partners which calmed them down, and my partner and I walked around and offered help. The children seemed to enjoy the activity and almost all of the sheets were 80% or above, so we were thrilled! The teacher gave us great feedback and overall i thought the lesson went amazing for a last minute planning situation. Their were two students that werent participating during the lesson, that my partner and I didn’t notice, howver the co-op did. He made sure to let us know we have to watch out for that and immediatley solve that issue or the students will think it’s okay. he understood we did not know their names, but explained that even as a substitute you won’t always know the names, so we need to be careful. I found it a little difficult to keep thestudents from talking to eachother, but I found that the clearer I made my voice and the more eye contact I created, it was easier to get their attention back in place. The teacher sat us down after school and let us know what we need to improve on, but mainly how well we did for not knowing french! I was so pleased with all of his constructive criticsm and encouragment. My target was to speak clearly, because i have trouble with being shy, and my co-op said I did perfect with my pronouciation and clarity! Very pleased about that! He explained I should move around a bit more, because i was stationed for alot of the lesson, so that will be the next lessons target! Next week I wont be in the classroom as the students will be skiing, however the week after I am teaching french again, and it is going to be vegetables, so I am getting nervous and stumped on what to teach!! I’ll have to figure something out and this time I will not leave ituntil last minute…. or at least try. loving Pre Interning so fa!! i’ll be back with another post in two-ish weeks because of reading week!

-Alyssa