The Role of Technology
How is technology used in your classroom?
My co-operating teacher uses Mathletics for math activities, RazKids for reading online, Starfall - phonics and math, Tumblebooks for the children to can read online.
The teacher has tried, in previous years, buddyblogging but found it too difficult for the grade ones.
Take note of the technologies you see in the classroom and school. Visit the school library...what technology is available for student/teacher use?
There are no computers in the classroom of the grade ones, except the teacher's. There is a smart board but I have not seen it used as yet. There are 4 desk top computers in the library. However, there are computer carts the teachers can sign out to use in their classroom.
How are students engaging with technology (in school and outside the school)?
An interesting activity this week was having the children listen to a recording of different sounds – rocket ship blasting off, an owl, a firetruck, etc. They would then try to name the sound. Some could be tough like the firetruck siren. Was it an ambulance? Was it a police car? The children really enjoyed this activity.
Have an informal conversation with 2 or 3 students to see how they use technology, how they think technology helps them in their learning & ways they would like to use the technology.
Have a discussion with your cooperating teacher to see how he/she uses technology in their instruction, assessment & professional knowledge.
Curriculum and Instruction
A very interesting thing happened this week - the two students who were being taken out when disruptive are now inside the classroom with their own teaching assistant. So there were 4 of us in the classroom today for the entire time.
Questions for the week:
What is being taught?
Today the students started off with a sheet of questions addressing their strengths in learning and listening (self-awareness) as well as their behaviour with others. As the teacher went over each question with the children she asked them to be honest in their answers.
A great tool for self-control I noticed practiced is when the children have completed a task or getting ready to go to gym they are told to put their heads on their desks and be quiet. The quietest rows get recognition.
Another self-discipline technique is for the children to, once they have their coats/sweaters on, is to stand behind their desks with their hands on the back of their chairs.
Many concepts are introduced first through a story from a book.
How are students learning?
The students are learning to be aware of the skills needed to learn through the self-awareness questions. Though, I think, in grade one this is very new to them to assess themselves.
They are learning through stories read to them, going over lessons word for word as they fill out the answers. They, also, learn from movement during gym time, They learn to respect one another by walking down the halls quietly, waiting patiently for their turn, they are learning not to give attention to disruptive behaviour by being told to ignore what is going on.
The buddy system is in place for the students. Grade 5 students are paired up with a grade 1 student. One child from my class had 3 students as his buddies. I asked why and was told that two of the grade five students did not know English so were learning to read along with the grade 1 student.
Age appropriate books such as, Pirates Don't Change Diapers was a hit. As well, combining cool facts with the season such as, learning about the Halloween Crab (on their bulletin board in the hallway) make for an interesting and compelling reason to come to school. You never know what the next day brings!!
Do students see the meaning and relevance in what they are learning?
During the self-awareness quiz I felt that the child I was helping just wanted to get the lesson over with. She was not interested in looking too deeply into her motives or abilities to focus or even if she is answering the question "do you wait until the questions is asked before wanting to answer". I felt she just wanted to get the 'job' done. I wonder how many children really thought about the truth to their answers? Was the time sufficient to explore these questions fully.
The children had been learning about our five senses. This day they were focusing on sight. I read them a book on eyes which they seemed quite keen to pay attention to. One great question, out of a few statements made, was 'why do people become blind'? I answered 'well, some people are born blind, some suffer injuries, and others have diseases that cause blindness'. This seemed to satisfy the questioner and I hope got the others thinking more about how important and vulnerable our eyes are.
What are the stories of curriculum?
Indigenizing the Curriculum: The Importance of Story presented itself while I was searching the meaning of this question. There is a quote on page 3 shows how "the practice of hegemony manipulates what stories are told, and how they are told, and who listens".
It seems like the style of teaching is still Eurocentric. There is no evidence of Indigenous education nor is any specific culture addressed in an academic manner.
However, I feel that perhaps other times during the year this is covered to some degree.
What are the stories of learning?
We are mirrors of our environments. Those at home, in our communities, and at our places of learning. Me at the University of Regina where there is an acute awareness and need to learn about the past, present and future of the relationship between us, as immigrants, and the Indigenous people. The young students in the grade one classroom in my host school seem to be unadulterated to what I am learning, except for the students who wear different forms of head dress and/or are differently coloured, this is the only clue that other cultures exist.
Inclusive Education - Diversity & Difference Part 2
November 17, 2016 - this week when I was at my host school I asked about the inclusion question for this week.
How is your school community honouring diversity, equity and human rights for all students (including sexual and gender diversity) within their schools and communities?
My host teacher needed to think about this for a bit and said that the only thing she knew was that she had a sign outside her door saying everyone is included. I asked her if her school had any information sessions or seminars about this and she said no they did not.
I forgot to get a photo of this, but will get one next week.
Pictures used with permission.
To my surprise when I showed up for my fifth week of observation at my assigned school the students had the day off.
So to fulfill my requirement this week I will use the school that I work at as my example with a little bit of research thrown in for filler.
How is your school community honouring diversity, equity, and human rights for all students (including sexual and gender diversity) within their schools and communities?
Last year during the opening address our religious liason gave a talk on gender diversity. We, also, had a transgender male speak. There was an atmosphere of caring and inclusion. Learning firsthand from an adult that struggled many years to be recognized as the male he was is heart-wrenching.
In the year before this we had a new male student, who had previously attended the school as a female, re-enroll as a male. I found that he was accepted readily by staff and his friends. One moment of humour for me was when a group of boys, he included, were standing at the bottom of the stairs when a food order came in. I asked the boys for their assistance and all, but this one newly presented boy agreed to help. I noticed him hesitate and I stressed ALL boys were to help. They all teased him and said yea, you better help, too.
This young boy, in grade 7, was assigned to use one of the kindergarten washrooms for his own. I felt that would have been a wee bit humiliating for him. However, the staff of 50+ only had two toilets for themselves and this was the only way to accommodate his needs.
Many examples of Indigenous beliefs and art are present in our schools.
Our new school, completion date is spring this year, will have many more bathrooms for everyone and they will all be gender neutral with common areas for the sinks.
I did some digging and unearthed a few articles addressing the needs to both accommodate and understand the needs of the LGBTQ students that attend Regina schools.
According to the following article the Regina Catholic School Board is a little ahead in accepting diversity in this regard.
This article, published by the Ministry of Education, recognizes the need for learning environments that LGBTQ students feel safe, trusted, included and accepted for who they are. Accommodations of everyone's needs including girls that wish to play traditionally male orientated sports, like football. Questions are raised as to how coaches will handle gay-bashing remarks on and off the court (p.57) Gender preferred dancing in pow-wow's is also addressed and exclusionary practices are called into question(p. 46) and the list goes on.
The Regina Catholic Schools Catholic Studies Curriculum appears to be studying diversity issues in relation to their belief system. The desire is to grow in their understanding of all issues of diversity and the role they play in diverse religious/faith beliefs, gender diversity, diverse viewpoints, especially Indigenous worldviews, medicine wheels, etc.
Sunday, 4 December 2016, 4:22 PM
by Fallan K
Wow! Thanks for the articles! I had no idea, and apparently neither did the teacher I was with.
I did not even think to look for gender neutral washrooms. All I noticed was the clearly labelled "Women Staff Only" washroom.
Thanks for the reading material, I gained some new knowledge and understanding!
Inclusive Education-Diversity & Difference Part 1
What are the different forms of diversity you observe within the classroom and school?
Cultural diversity – I see many different cultures represented in the classroom in both the student population and in printed material around the room. The classroom pictures I have included highlight the many different cultures in this school. It truly is a microcosm of the world’s cultures. Of note: I looked for books/pictures of children with physical handicaps and saw none.
Religious diversity – in my school religious diversity is shown in the manner of dress and ways they wear their hair. For example, a Sikh boy will be wearing a turban, an Indigenous youngster wears their long hair braided, a Muslim girl wears a hijab. Other than the outward appearance as the only indicator. I have not witnessed the Muslim children having an opportunity to face East to pray during the day.Christianity and other religions/beliefs that do not have any outward identifying marks probably are present but are not easily noticed. No one wearing crosses or such. Although, next week I will take closer notice.
Diverse teaching strategies – in these last four weeks I have noticed many and varied teaching methods intended to reach every learning style. I found that the diversity enriched the learning environment and kept the children interested.
Linguistic diversity – although there is at least one culturally different language spoken it is admonished and the children were told to only speak English. I thought of the experiences of children in residential schools and how they must have felt. However, when I spoke with a staff member at the school I work at and asked her what their response is to children speaking to each other in their own mother tongue she said they discourage it. Why? Because she said it is rude to the other students when they are not partial to what is being said.
Diverse learners – there are students who would rather visit with one another than stay on task. Others like to do others work for them instead of finishing their own. Of course, ever teachers blessing are the students who do their work well in a reasonable time. However, there is the odd student who does a mediocre job, because they pay no heed to neatness, and is finished early, but he/she is done. Then there are the students who would rather not be sitting at a desk at all and try all manner of Houdini moves to escape both their work and the room – no kidding.
Family diversity – The many definitions of family include the traditional nuclear family, same-sex parents, lone parent households – which could be the result of death, divorce, separation or abandonment, or even children in a foster parent situation. These are not readily noticed nor am I aware of the individual student’s circumstances. However, I believe each of these family units are evident in this school community.
Teacher diversity – at my school there is a predominance of white female teachers. Even the principal is a teacher. Out of 34 staff members only 8 are male and they are white as well, excepting the custodian who seems to be of Asian descent.
What may be some forms of diversity that are not visible?
The forms of diversity that I have not seen in my host school are students with a physical handicap, hearing disability, blindness, or mental incapacity. Although there are students that have troubles with behaviour that is acceptable within the classroom. There does not seem to be an income disparity in this school compared to an inner city school where there is sometimes a noticeable difference in the ‘haves’ and the have-nots’.
In what ways do you observe the school, classrooms and teachers honouring inclusive practices?
Accepting cultural/religious norms are evident as the children from different backgrounds are allowed to both attend the school and their culture is honoured because they are able to express their upbringing in tangible ways. Inclusive practices that I witnessed are adapting a lesson to engage students in their learning strengths; students of varying abilities are equally encouraged and supported in their work and understanding of concepts being presented; books and pictures of diverse cultures are very evident. The degree of respect necessary for success in honouring inclusiveness is impressive. All children are respected and taught to respect others – even if this means being assisted by another principal/teacher/assistant in another room until he/she is ready to respect his fellow classmates and his/her teacher before being admitted back with everyone.
Tuesday, 8 November 2016, 11:07 AM
by Lisa P
You are so thorough in describing the diversity in your school, I wish I had mentioned a few more. Family diversity, for instance, is one that is very common in our school and others. I feel like this one is an important one to remember when discussing activities that include parent involvement, so we don't accidentally exclude a child. I recall last week when I was placed in the grade two classroom, the children were preparing for 3 way Conferences (previously known as 'parent teacher conferences), the teacher said "when you bring your Moms, Dads, Grandmas or Grandpas..." In the moment it seemed the teacher was reminded how diverse her students family lives were. Thanks for the reminder!
Teachers and Knowledge
Pictures above from left to right: