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Chelsey Sharpe

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

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teachers

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.

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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?

 

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.

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Tech Presentation

My group did a presentation on Aurasma check it out on Pinterest.  I will definitely be using this technology in my classroom.

Field Trip to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum

Last week we went on a field trip to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, this was a very informative experience for me. Although we did not take any students with us. I came up with a “uh ah” moment when going through. This moment came as everyone was racing to fill out the worksheet that the museum provides. Students are like adults we RACE to fill out worksheets when the worksheet is like a scavenger hunt. Nothing is learned  because you are looking for the answer to the questions and not taking the time to look at every artifact.  I think that worksheets make the museum experience fun but that is not why we go to these places for field trips. We go to learn… Right?

I read a few articles on taking your students out on field trips. I do agree with Jay P. Greene, Brian Kisida and Daniel H. Bowen authors of The educational value of field trips: taking students to an art museum improves critical thinking skills, and more on the fact that museums have seen a decline in school trips. I feel that I was disappointed with my experience at Royal Saskatchewan museum, the last few times that I have went with my students as an educational assistant. The exhibits are out dated and not much details are provided with the artifacts. However, this being said I would take my students there as a teacher but with one key change I would make up my own worksheet that lead to inquiry project after the museum visit.

I have also read the article called Transforming a Field Trip Into an Expedition Supporting Active Research and Science Content Through a Museum Visit by Rebecca Morris. She states that she found the same thing happened with students that I have mentioned earlier. Since students are not in their usual routines during the field trip experience, many of them do not retain much information. However Rebecca has also come up in an great strategy for taking student on field trips. Make it an expedition instead (Oh here is the learning). Having students research at a museum is like an inquiry project outside of the classroom. Perfect! Students lead their own learning while looking into artifacts that they find interesting. This is such an amazing concept.

Well lets see if this will work going to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum (Note I’m using this museum since I was just there). To start we as a class would have a discussion on  what being a critical thinker looks like. Thats way they know that there maybe biases in the museum and that it is ok to question these  the bias.  Next, I think I would make up a choice board so that the students know that there are some expectations on what they are to be doing. Now this is were the inquiry happens, instead of having the students race around the museum looking for answers to a worksheet, they have to find a topic that interests them. They have to seek out everything that the museum has to offer on the topic and fill out a worksheet that has open questions. This would lead to a research assignment when we got back to class. This assignment could be researching the different views of the topic or how the views of one source can be different then the views of another. My students will then make a social action plan that can better education themselves and the others in their class.

I would love to do this with a class now. It would be interesting to know what they take out of learning to be critical thinkers. This experience for me was definitely eye opening. My students may not like the fact that they will have to learn something when we go on field trips.

Pre-internship Day 3

So what a great day, I forgot my lesson at home on the counter. However it all worked out because I use google docs which allowed me to pull up and print my lesson plan and information package out at the school. I highly recommend using google drive as a teacher and for your students.

Anyways my lesson went really well for having to teach while to about forty students. The grade sevens joined our class due to the grade six students going curling.  So since the school I am at has a 5/6 split and 6/7 split, this left the grade sevens to join. I was not prepared for them, so I taught to the grade five students. We continued our lesson on the Canadian Federal Government. We reviewed and then we looked at how to make poster for the information we found last wednesday. As a class we came up with some criteria that the poster will be assessed on. I found most students were engaged in what they wanted on the poster, however a few got hung up with the amount of words I allowed them to use. I really wanted them to learn that a poster should not be covered in sentences. That only a few many verbs are all that you need. Although it seemed to be a hard concept to get we came up with good criteria for the posters. These included: uniqueness/individuality, pictures, colour, neatness, word limit not included the title (I bended my criteria there). Although I will marking for the criteria, I’m also marking on “stuff” that the outcome does not cover.  So this is my question to you, do you think teacher’s should only mark on the outcome they are trying to reach with their student? or should a teacher mark to stuff like neatness and uniqueness?

Through this process I have learned a few things about myself as a teacher.  First I have a high tolerance for background noise in my classroom.  As a EA, I absolutely hated background noise when I was working with students in a classroom. But as teacher, I found that a little noise does not make me feel as nervous to stand in front of the class.  I have also learned that teachers have to be one step ahead of everyone else. For example, when I planning a lesson plan, I think of all the possible questions that I will be asked. The amount I come up with changes but I find that when I do this hit almost all the question that the kids come up with.  I have also learned that my past experiences with autism and other abilities have given me a head up for what to look for while I’m teaching.

Pre-internship Day 1

When coming into pre-internship I did know what to expect. I had fears of it being a total mess to me rocking as a pre-intern. None of that happened, but I was very happy that I had such an excellent partner in the classroom. She was great with the kids and very personable. However, I found myself to be shy at first and not as outgoing. So that is what I’m going to work on next week.

I feel very lucky to have ended up in a multicultural classroom. The kids are amazing and the teacher is so accepting to everyone in there. Since most of the students use english as their additional language, as a community the class works together to make sure everyone understands what is being asked of them. It is quite neat to witness.

Our lesson plan did not go as smoothly as I hoped for.  However, the students enjoyed the tangled web activity. It works very well, the kids were eager to catch the yarn, so they could contribute in the discussion. Here is a link to the plan that we did:   http://www.protocol-education.ca/blog/protoblog-sophiew-lesson-ideas-tangled-web. We had to change our lesson plan at the last second. We where going to have the children make name tags for their desks, but since they already had their names on their desks, the activity was redundant.  I think we should have concluded our lesson plan a lot better. We just ended it and had the students put their desks back.  We should have concluded with a debrief on the activity.  We could have discussed that in their community, there were many kids that do many different things what make them unique. It would have had more of a closure to the plan.

Lastly, the classroom we were in was an open concept classroom, with an opening between our class and the 4/5 class next door.  I went to an elementary school that was open concept,I had forgotten how noisy and disruptive it can be.  However, the children seem to have become accustomed to the surroundings. However, it must be madding for the teacher to always have to compete with the other class.

All in all it was a great day. I can not wait to go back next week and improve myself.  Also I am going to be teaching about the Canadian Federal Government, If you have any helpful ideas on how I should approach the topic. please leave me a comment.

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