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.