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Chelsey Sharpe

Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace. -Confucius

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ECS 311

Why start from scratch?

So I have found as a pre-service teacher I am looking for all the help I can get. So why am I always starting my unit plans from scratch? This is not baking, I need to teach my students and keep my sanity. I started looking online for help, my PLN on twitter help me to quick realize that there on unit plans on teacher pay teachers (which is an awesome resource), and other databases. These are all great, but I want to talk to you about the always forgotten model unit plans that are right in the saskatchewan curriculum.

Now I haven’t had much of a chance to go through all the saskatchewan middle years curriculums but I have gone through the grade 8 ELA curriculum and the model units are there under core/ additional resources and they are awesome! (a great starting point anyway).

In the grade 8 ELA curriculum these model units are thematic and flow in a logical way. They have extra resources and give pointers on how to teach the unit. The only thing they are lacking is the critical literacy part. This is a big deal, since we need our students to be critical thinkers. However, I was able to add in different critical literacy strategies with no problem.

So next time your in a panic that you need to make a unit, remember the curriculum isn’t just what we have to teach, but it also gives us the resources that we need to be able to teach.

What is your educational philosophy?

Today I set out to write my educational philosophy. I thought that I would be able to think about all I have learned this past year and write this wonderful philosophy down on paper. Well let me tell you I feel more lost than before I started. Since I am a person that is laid back and does not really have one personal view, I have found this a difficult task to undertake.

I started with looking up some great educational philosophers such as John Dewey and Nel Nodding. I think they both hit the nail on the head when it comes to education. The child has to have a holistic learning experience, while they are feeling cared for and empowered. That is great, so empowering I should write on this. How as a teacher I need to teach my students holistically in a caring classroom. I felt great… good starting point but than I realize I have to include my views of assessment.

Well isn’t that a pickle, assessment every teachers nightmare. As being a student for a very, very long time when I think of assessment I think of writing tests for teachers so they can compare me to the rest of the class, the school division, the province and the country. Ya no thank you, I do not want to be that teacher. So what type of teacher should I be than. I want to be the teacher that the students do not necessarily remember the lesson from tuesday but they remember that we went outside and caught bugs then counted, classified and pinned the bugs in our classroom. But were in there do you assess.

Ok so I know that I have to assess as a teacher, it is part of the business. I feel that I have to use different forms of assessment to make sure my students are learning and growing. Through anecdotal observations, presentations, group work, individual work and storytelling my students should be able to show me that they are hitting the curriculum that I have to teach.

So awesome I have figured out my philosophy of formative assessment but what about summative assessment. See I feel that summative assessment is hard, it does not really allow for feedback to the student because it comes at the end of the unit. Summative assessment is then used for the means of the teacher to prove to the parents that hey your child has learned something in the last six weeks. I know that it is more complicated then that but really isn’t this what it comes down to.  Do not get me started on the standards tests and the high stake testing. I just have to say thank goodness I’m a teacher in Canada and not the United States.

But even though I am a teacher in Canada, we do still have to give out some standardized tests such as the PCAP, but at least that is not high staked here in Canada. That just allows parents and school divisions to see where the students stands compared to the rest of the students in Canada. I guess as a teacher it is what you do with the information of standardized tests that is meaningful, not what the student scored. As teachers we have to take what we have learned about our students and apply it to help the student overcome their weakness.  For instance lets say Jenny scored low in reading comprehension, as a teacher I need to talk to Jenny and to Jenny’s parents to come up with a plan to help Jenny do better next time. That takes time! and I am will to use that time for my students.

So as you can see the process of coming up with an educational philosophy is daunting but writing down my beliefs here made it easier for me to think.. So I thank you. And I leave you with this question: what is your educational philosophy? and your views on assessment?

 

Head above Water?!

Today I have decided to blog about the end of semester. Usually the end of semester means relaxing and enjoying life. Well this time around I feel like I’m just keeping my head above water. The think is I am a dedicated student, I think of it as my full time job. When you have family you have to take school that way. So I have been doing homework everyday for about 5 hours a day. Which you would think that I would be all caught up and living life on easy street. Well let me tell you the truth, I feel like this ship is sinking. Everywhere I turn I can another think to put on to the pile of work that I have to do.

Now I know that it sounds like I’m complaining, which I guess I am kind of. I just feel that the semester has gotten away from me. I heard through the grape vine that assignments were not to be assigned during our pre-internship block, so lets have everything due when we get back. I think the university should look at the policy, I know that my colleagues and I have been feeling brunt out since we got back from our time away.

I know that this is university and I did choose to come back but I feel that there is a reason why so many of my colleagues including myself feel broken after this semester. Many times I did hear that you have to make time for yourself, what are you going to do to keep mentally healthy? I can tell you this, I fell in to the spiral of doing homework and looking after my family and not being able to do things for myself.

As I write this I am thinking of ways that I can help someone else that feels the same way I did and still do to an extent. First, lean on someone for support. I used my husband and my colleague and my family to keep me going. Keeping the conversation going is well worth it. Next, stop work at some part of the day and just sit. I decided that work can wait when I need time to rejuvenate. I for one stop all work at 9pm and had a couple of hours to myself at night (although now I’m struggling to finish my work). Next drink a lot of coffee or a beverage you like. I love coffee so I drink a lot of it. Hey I am a parent of a young boy and a student with two part time jobs. Somedays coffee is the only thing that gets me going in the morning. Lastly find a passion and do not let go. I love decorating, I was lucky to find a part time job that allows me to decorate customers homes. I still get the gratification so decorating, and not spend my own money…win win.

I would like to also direct you to a website that has a lot of helpful hints. Bell lets talk and information to help you keep the conversation going and to let you know that you are not alone.  If you have other helpful websites please comment so that we can keep everyone mentally healthy.

Why not just written assessments?

So today I have decided to discuss why do we as teacher rely so heavily on written assessments. I personally dislike the written assessment, they are time consuming to create, write and mark. So why do we as teachers rely on them so heavily?

Is it because our students need to be able to communicate their thoughts down on paper?Kind of what I’m doing right now. I think if we are trying to have our students write their thoughts down on paper, we should then have the write their thoughts on paper. Multiple choice, true or false, and fill in the bank sections on test save us time in marking but they do not necessarily show that the student is learning anything. Maybe they just know how do make educated guesses.

I personally like performance based assessments, these assessments allow the students to show that they truly understand what they are doing. Performance based assessments can be representative of a ‘real life’ scenario or it could be based off an inquiry that the student completed. Performance based assessments also allow students to learn while they are preparing for the performance itself.

Performance based assessments can also be interdisciplinary, cross curricular and done in many subjects. All subjects in school allow for students to perform what they have learned in front of an audience. It has been my experiences that students love to show off their ‘mad skills’ to people that are truly there to watch them and learn from the students.

So I ask again, why not just written assessments? because they are boring to the teacher and the student.

The Pre-Service Experience

Well now that pre-internship is over I can truly say I love teaching. I belong in the classroom full of children teaching them about the world around them. I know that some of my classmates did not feel this way but I am so happy that I have made this choice.  Lately, a lot of people have been asking me how do I go to school full time, work two part time jobs and have a family at home. I’m not going to lie, I am very tired and I feel guilt all the time because I am not around for my young son. But when I was in the classroom, it made me feel confident in the decision that I made to go back to school.

I found that during my pre-internship I had more time for the other things in my life other then doing university work. I was able to plan the classes I would be teaching the night before without having to do a lot of research. Lately my university life has been writing paper and doing projects, which is fine. My strength does not lay in writing papers, I thrive in the relationships I make with my students. When they are able to come to me with their problems, not only in school work but also in life. I feel that I am actually making a difference in this person’s life. I felt truly blessed.

I found it funny how some students put of a blockade that does not allow anyone to cross the line but when you do as a teacher it feels amazing. I had a few boys in my class that tried to put these walls up with my partner and I but by the time we finished our three week block, the walls were down and they were sad to see us go. I laugh when I think of these boy’s half the time they would not do there work because “Why do I need to learn this”, however when it came to me teaching them science they were excited and engaged. They even reminded me of the video I showed on my first day of teaching. I take this as a win, at least they remembered something from me. Even if it is just the Pop-eye video I showed on the first day.

I am thankful for the students that I had for three weeks. I learned so much from them, I hope that they learned something from me, even if it is that pulleys are difficult to thread. I now feel that I am ready for my internship next semester. As my co-op said to me, Chelsey, you are a great teacher. Have confidence in yourself and everything else will come together. She is right, I am a great teacher and I will make the most of my university experience before I am once again out in the world, working.

IMG_1817 A student working on the hard to manage pulleys.

 

The video I showed my first day teaching Forces and Simple Machines. It left an impression on my students.

 

 

 

 

Where has the time gone?

Well another week has come and gone at the school. I have learned so much while being in the field. First, Classroom management changes with every class and on a daily basis. Second, no matter how much you try some kids will never fill out their worksheet and Lastly, the energy I once had has now gone. I still love to teach because of this ever changing atmosphere.

My students are all very good, even though some kids are more difficult than others. I feel that I have a great relationship with them all. However, I have found that with classroom management it changes on a hourly basis. I tried many different techniques this week, from counting down from 5 (5, 4,3,2 ,1 and eye on me) to working with a group at the front and keeping the other student engaged with simple machine word searches.  I found that all my students are engaged in my lessons I plan,  just my management strategies need work. Is this a first time teacher struggle?

How do you get students to fill out their worksheets? I have those students that do the work but do not fill in the worksheets. I have overcome this issue by having ten minutes of review and completion at the beginning of my classes. I also made sure to say to the kids that I wanted them to fill out their worksheet to the best of their ability, that way my EAL students did not feel like they were struggling. When I looked at their worksheets, I found that I got better work the next day.

Since being back in school and being a student again, I forgot how tired you get as a teacher. I have learned that I need a cup of coffee in the morning and when I get home from my work day. I also have been exercising and doing the things that relax me after school such as cooking. My question to you is how do you keep yourself energized as a teacher? Will I just get used to being tired all the time?

This was another great week and I cannot believe that this up coming week is our last week in the classroom. I feel like it is going to be a hard transition back to student again. I have been so thankful for this experience. IMG_1643

Me setting up a pulley experiment for my student. The kids learned that the more pulleys in a system the less effort it takes to move a load.

 

Cross – Curricular Teaching

In my pedagogy class my group and I decided to do an inquiry on cross-curricular teaching. When we first started researching this subject I thought that it was very hard to do. I quickly found out that I was wrong. All teachers teacher in this matter without even knowing it.

As a group we have created a website called Teach Cross Curricular. This resources package includes example lesson plans, blogs that look at making it effective, and why its important. Check it out and lets us know if you like us to add anything.

S

Craziness of Science

Well this week has gone by fast, the start of pre-internship has come and gone. My students are so wonderful and I am learning so much.  I have been teaching my grade 5/6 class all about force and simple machines.

When I wrote up my unit plan for simple machines, I had my students learning something new everyday. However, since the start of pre-internship I have revised my plans. I have decided that I rather my students learn one or two simple machines really well, then going over all of the simple machines and the students not remembering what they have learned.

I have found some excellent resources online with Teachers Pay Teachers. This is a great resource that all teachers should have in there back pocket. You can sell or buy different lesson plans. I found a lesson plan on first class levers that I adapted, and it worked like a charm. Did I mention that it was free!

The relationships that I have already formed with the kids in beyond great. Everyday they come in and smile and I remember why I love being in the classroom as much as I do. I have been able to form a relationship with the most difficult of students, and he now puts in the effort that I ask of him. I just can not wait of the upcoming two weeks. It will go by extremely fast.

But as I leave you for another week I want to pose this question: Why is it that you teach, is it because you like to form the relationships that you do? or is it because you get to pass on your knowledge to the next generation? I think for me it is a little of both.  I did read this quote the other day; Teaching is tough but so are you! everyday that we have a bad day, we need to remember this but it takes special people to do what we do.

 

 

 

 

New Found Respect…

No one told me that teaching would be easy, god knows that I have seen the amount of work that goes in to teaching our youth. However, over the past week I have been working on a couple of unit plans for my pre-internship three week block and I now realize how much work it takes to just plan. I have been a student for a long time now, and I thought the work that I had to do was a lot. Now I realize that my work is just getting started as a teacher.

I have been finding that when it comes to planning I am taking one step forward and three steps back. I think this is because I want to create the best unit for my students that I possibly can. I get an idea of how I want to present the information to my students, then I find something else online and I go back and change it. I have now been working on this unit for a month. Being realistic, I know that I will not have a month to write a unit plan when I’m teaching. The planning doesn’t just stop with units from the units I you create the lesson plan. But before the units you all have to have a year plan for every subject you teach. I have not done this much planning in my life.  I really commend my teacher friends that not only do this work everyday but they have families at home that they have to look after. Then on top of all this planning, they have mark too.

I leave you with this clip about marking from Mr. D. I feel that all teachers and hey lets face it students do this.

My hat goes off to you teachers out there, this is my question to you: how do you balance everything that expected of you, with your home life?

 

 

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