A Classroom Lesson- week 4

Today was my fourth week in my pre-internship.  I got to teach a lesson in the classroom today after teaching in the gym and outside my previous 2 weeks. My lesson was on writing a persuasive letter.  The lesson went well for a subject than can be kind of dry to grade 4’s and even this learning teacher.

I chose to do a lesson on writing a persuasive letter because I thought it might be fun and it fits into the curriculum requirements as well.  I knew going into the lesson that it would require a fair amount of sitting and listening from the students and that can be hard to do for adults never mind 9 and 10 year olds.  The students did really well and I tried to get them involved in the “lecture”(for lack of better word) part of the lesson. I had them tell me what they remembered from a previous lesson that was taught on letter writing. We brainstormed together who we could write a persuasive letter to and what we could persuade someone to do.  I also played a short youtube video to explain some of what we were doing. I introduced an organizer for their thoughts and they got to work. The lesson went really well I felt. But….

 

After thinking about the lesson, I discovered I like teaching the fun stuff, like outdoor math games and basketball skills in the gym much more than writing.  I was reflecting on that lesson it is something that has to be taught, and I tried to make it interesting by allowing the students to choose who they would write to and what they were going to try to persuade that person to do. However, I was left thinking if I wasn’t overly excited by teaching the whole lesson, what did the kids feel like.  I was also left wondering how do I make the “lecture” part of the lesson more interesting and engaging. I thought the activity was good. Students need explicit instruction, but does it have to be so dry? I would love some suggestions how to make the lecture part of teaching more interesting. Until next time.

 

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Go Big or Go Home- Big Space Teaching Pre Internship week 3

This is the third week at our cooperating schools and second curriculum lesson to teach.  Last week I taught in the gym for a Phys. Ed class, a big space. This week  I was teaching in another big space, outside.  My lesson this week was an outdoor Math game.

I am fortunate that our cooperating teacher has given us our subjects we teach well in advance.  However, I chose math and suggested the outdoor game before I experienced teaching in the gym. After the gym, I was a bit nervous to tackle another large space, the great outdoors, for my math game.  The good thing about taking a game outdoors is that you can give the instructions inside while students are seated. This is helpful in that everyone can hear clearly and there are no distractions that the outdoors bring.  Giving the instructions and grouping the students before leaving the class also allowed me to get the game started right away, so the kids were more focused and it wasn’t difficult to get them on task, they were excited to start.  

The game we played was one that was created by my math group for an outdoor games assignment.  The group had taught the game to peers not children. I had to make a few adaptations to the game to get it to grade and content level, which then caused some minor confusion in playing.  I forgot to include an instruction for one of the requirements, the students brought it to my attention. The mistake was easily addressed and play continued. As I watched the students play I noticed that some were racing up and down the course because it was too easy.  I set a challenge for those groups that when they reached the end they had to add 4 digit numbers before they could proceed. They were up for the challenge. They were concerned that they had no pencil and paper to use. I suggested using a stick or their fingers to write in the dirt.  They embraced the idea and away they went. When they thought they had the answer they brought it to me and eagerly told me how they got it. I loved how they articulated their thought process and could see where they made their mistakes. The total aha moment of recognition of how they got the correct answer or where they went wrong was such a great feeling for me.  It made me realize this why I am here, is seeing the learning and the looks on kids faces when they figure something out.

Their teacher has done a great job in teaching them to think through math and the process, and how to defend their answers. In this class math is much more than facts and getting the right answer, it is being able to explain your process and see what went right and what did not. This is something I definitely want to get good at doing.  It is also really great to see the concepts we are being taught in EMTH in action.

So far both the lessons I have taught have been in big spaces, and have had their own unique challenges.  I think for a pre-intern, I have met the challenge. Up next an actual in the classroom lesson. I am excited to see what challenges and more importantly insights that brings. Until next week.

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Here we go! Pre Internship week 1 &2

Pre-Internship oh! My!

 

All summer and into September, I was anxious and excited to start pre-internship.  There was some trepidation too wondering where I would get placed, who my teaching partner would be, what would my cooperating teacher be like. I was so happy to find out we got to choose our teaching partners.  I was also so happy to be chosen by an amazing person to teach with her.  As it got closer to finding out our placements trepidation gave way to nervous excitement and just plain old nerves.  The morning of our first day I felt so nervous.  It turned out my nerves were unfounded.

 

My teaching partner and I carpooled to the school together so it was a little less nerve wracking arriving together rather than alone.  We didn’t meet our teacher before hand but had some very enthusiastic emails from her, which also helped to ease the nerves.  We were welcomed very warmly into the school that first day. Our coop teacher is amazing and energetic.  My teaching partner and I planned an art type activity to get to know the kids names.  I knew I had the right teaching partner when our instructions/lesson flowed so smoothly with one of us picking up seamlessly where the other left off.  It was great.  The intro lesson was received well by the students. Our teacher has given us the subjects we are teach each week up until the end of the semester.

 

Our second week went equally as well and started with some nerves again but this time because I was teaching an actual curriculum lesson, to actual young students.  My first lesson to teach was dribbling in Phys. Ed. for an hour.  The length of the lesson was intimidating since most elementary classes are 30 to 45 minutes. We are also learning in EPE 310 that the gym space is a hard space to teach in.  Intimidated was the feeling of the day.  Lesson time came and overall I thought for a first lesson, in what I was told was tough space, went well.  I over planned my lesson and didn’t get to most of it.  I was surprisingly good with that and taking my time and going with the students, I have a tendency to rush things.  Handing out and setting up equipment wasn’t something I considered in my lesson plan but I thought I handled it well.  The students are required to run for 5 mins at the beginning of class so I used that time to set up and all was well.  I did forget the “treasure” for the game but put that out as the students were practicing the skill.  The gym is a hard space to keep an eye on 25 grade 4’s but I was mostly pleased with how I did.  I know there is improvement needed but that is what learning is all about.

 

I am excited for next week, bring on place value in Math.  I get to play a game we created for EMTH 310.  I am excited to see how it will work teaching it to the grade  it was created for rather than adults.  Weather permitting we will be in another large space, outside, to play the game.  Nothing like tackling the tough things head on.  I look forward to sharing that big space adventure with you.

ECCU Final project

 

 

Artist statement about the quilt blockEccu pic

Why a quilt block for my project?  Fabric art is my artistic medium.  I have created a couple of other blocks for my classes.  I tend to choose to make the quilt block when I am excited about my learning in a specific class and its something that really resonates with me.   4 and half minutes was not enough to express what was meaningful to me from class and share about the block meaning.

Colours-   When I pick colours for these class projects, it is usually because the colour suits the concept.  Occasionally, though the concept chooses the colour.  It sounds out there but the colour choices are just something that I feel.

White background is common from all my blocks and it represents my white privilege/settler view.  That viewpoint is how I approach all my learning, it is part of who I am.

Pink- I usually choose pink to represent me.  In this project the pink represents my miskâsowin process, my journey.   Pink is my favourite colour and its makes me smile, no matter what.

Blue represents the tâpwêwin speaking your truth.  When I hear the word tâpwêwin, I envision bright, water not sure of the connection for me to the truth.  I had the image of a bright blue fabric for this concept.  When I pulled this blue out of my stash I knew it was tâpwêwin.

Mottled dull green- represents miyo-wìcêhtowin- learning and working well with others.  I am not sure why such a dull colour as I had a great experience working and learning from the others in the class.  It just seemed to fit.

Bright green- represents wìtaskêwin living on the land.  The bright green jumped out at me and I knew it was for this piece. It reminds of summer and forest.  I am not an outdoor person so land doesn’t really resonate with me.  It also represents my coming closer to being able to say I live on Treaty 4 land instead of just Regina.  It is also a reminder when I hear of name changes to buildings, streets etc to look deeper into why.

I chose puzzle pieces to represent the concepts as well as my learning because they fit together nicely, like a puzzle.  Also though each individual piece represents a smaller piece of learning, you can complete the puzzle without those little pieces.  I at first designed the puzzle pieces as edge pieces.  Edge pieces mean it is the border of the puzzle and nothing more can be added outside that boundary.  I felt that meant my learning in relation to Treaty Education was complete.  I changed my mind because my learning for Treaty Ed as well as being a good teacher is nowhere complete.  Each class and interaction I have and will continue to have adds pieces to the puzzle that is my mìskâsowin process.

The quilt blocks like a puzzle takes small pieces and joins them together to create something that is meaning full.  Every quilt and many times the material has a story to go with it.  I hope that all my learning helps me to create meaningful beautiful classrooms and students.  At the end of my journey to become a teacher I hope to be able to display each of these small blocks in my classroom as reminder of my learning, how far I have come and I how far I have to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the photo of my crew from the video

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Treaty Event Blog #6

Preparing for the Treaty event, and our topic reimaging education caused me to think a little deeper on the topic of Treaty Ed in our schools.  During my preparation for the Treaty event I researched a little on exactly what the differences were in Indigenous education vs the settler image of education.  As I worked through that information, I began to think of challenging questions that may come up, as Tessa and I presented.  Thinking through those questions, which by the way, never did come up, allowed me to see that Indigenous ways of education are beneficial to all students and families.

The Indigenous ways of education seem to focus very much on learning by doing, inquiry or experiential learning.  The learning comes from working along side and observing others who have a higher skill level in a certain task than the learner.  The learning focuses on the process rather than the end product.  Much of Indigenous learning also takes place in nature, on the land.

How do we bring this way of learning into the classroom?  Well we recognize first and foremost that the process of learning is valuable perhaps even more so than the end product.  We as teachers bring in parents, Elders, and others who have knowledge, we allow our students to see that we are not experts at everything.  We acknowledge and incorporate the local Indigenous languages in our displays, books.  We play music that is important to our Indigenous students and we include the ceremonies that are significant as much as we do the settler ceremonies.  In our homes and communities we talk about what our children are learning about Treaty Education in their classrooms and expand on that knowledge. We talk to the policy makers about making Treaty Ed a part of the mainstream curriculum and not an add on hidden at the bottom of the curriculum website. In our communities, we talk about the token pledges and art work, so that those things have meaning and significance not just things that decorate the wall and look good.

These idea along with many others are important in the reconciliation process.  These things begin in a very small way to recognize that education was a Treaty promise.  In order to have reconciliation we need to begin to honour the Treaty promises.  These small ways as they become commonplace ideally lead to bigger ideas and actions.  The end result being that we see that Indigenous ways of learning benefit every child.

Complementary seminars working well together. Blog #5

I thought both the Truth and We are Treaty People seminars were well done.  I also thought both seminars complemented each other well, almost like the seminars were planned together.

I always struggle with name changes to buildings and things like that.  I am a bit of a traditionalist, and I don’t like change.  So, when I hear of proposed name changes for those types of things, I usually have the thought of why waste all that money.  After the What’s in a name portion of the Truth seminar, it has gotten me to reconsider my thinking.  I naively thought that those we honour by naming something after them would be stand out citizens of the time.  It was shocking that Davin was not such a stand out citizen, and still had a school of all things named after him.  As part of my miskosowin process for this class, in the future I will be doing some research into the name changes that are proposed.

During the debrief of the Truth seminar, the topic of the land acknowledgement statement and plaques/pictures recognizing We are Treaty People are being placed in visible places in the schools.  It was mentioned that these are just tokens with no real value, and that my idea of it’s a starting place was another common rebuttal.  During the discussion I wasn’t able to articulate my thoughts, but as we moved into the We are Treaty People seminar it became clearer.

We were asked in the Treaty people seminar to do a mind map of what the statement We are Treaty People meant to us.  Through that mind map and the video the group showed, I was able to sort my thoughts out.

I do acknowledge that the statements and plaques can easily become just tokens and that the it’s a starting place can be a rebuttal, for those that don’t want to do much, or just tick of the Treaty Ed box.  I also see those things in a different light.  I see those statements and plaques in a prominent place as tool to start a conversation, about a very hot topic in this province.  I also see placing those things on the walls in the schools, tells the children that this is important.  Kids are taught implicitly and explicitly at home and at school, that things that go on the walls are important.  In our homes we place photographs, art work that have meaning to us, in the school when things are hung on the bulletin board the children know that it is important  and meaningful.   I also feel that if parents and visitors are seeing these things, it becomes a little easier to ask questions about it or for those who are nervous to brooch the subject it gives them a starting point in non-threatening way.  I don’t believe most people are ready for an in your face approach to these topics and I think that approach will turn people off and they will tune out, then we make no progress. This is most definitely an issue that will not be solved in a few years.  As Justice Murray Sinclair says it will take generations.  I know most us of hope not, but the rift has been growing for generations, it won’t close quickly.  What we can do is start with our young kids and teach them well, and they will teach others.

Becoming critical, somewhat. Field trip 2

I didn’t really know or maybe I just wasn’t paying attention, to the fact that Fort Qu’Appelle was where Treaty 4 was signed.  As I reflect on the field trip experience, it is odd to me that the place just didn’t feel like it had that feeling of historical significance.  The feeling I am talking about is one I get when I am at a place and I am in awe to some degree of what had happened in that place.  I have been trying to sort out why there wasn’t that awe, even minimally.  I wonder was it that I was just trying to absorb everything, and because treaty education is so new to me that I was hyper focused on not missing anything significant that I didn’t give myself a chance to just be and feel.  Maybe it was that the town is so modern, and other than a monument or two and some murals on the wall there is very little that tells the town’s significance in Saskatchewan and Canadian history.  Or is it that my old learnings and teachings are still so deeply rooted, that I didn’t feel the significance, if that is so then I really need to continue examine my feelings and thoughts regarding treaty education, on a deeper, more critical level.

Some new learning and connections did come out of the trip.  I found what Larry said about pipes not being able to be taken into the city because of the sacredness of the pipe and that the city was not a place for something so sacred intriguing.  As well as when he talked about how education was important but so was ceremony. The week before we went to Fort Qu’Appelle I had read an article about a smudging walk in the North Central neighbourhood in Regina.  I found it very interesting that the article mentioned that since the smudging walk began, positive things were happening the neighbourhood.  I think it very much tied into what Larry was telling us.

Alma shared with us that Indigenous people never suffered from cancers and diabetes before the white settlers arrived.  I couldn’t help but think that these diseases are just one more ongoing way that the colonizers are affecting Indigenous peoples in a negative way.

I really appreciated the impromptu tour of Sacred Heart Church in Lebret.  I am always excited to tour most any church, I find them so interesting and peaceful.  One way in which I have grown is that before taking education classes, is that I would have appreciated what the guide had to say about the building and enjoyed the tour.  I noticed that after we left, and I had a chance to process I was looking at the information more critically, than I usually would.

I had a few questions that I am left with after this trip.

  • Was Sacred Heart church the church that Calvin was referring to when he said the Metis built it? If so why was that not mentioned in the church tour?
  • I noticed that there were ribbons on Alma, Evelyn and Audrey’s skirts. Are the ribbons significant or just decoration?
  • This is just a wish. We were in the healing center and I would like to have learned more about the center and how healing is promoted there.

Old places, new thoughts. Field trip 1

Our first field trip of the year took us to places around Regina.  Leading up to the field trip I had a bit of a crappy attitude, because of course its Saturday taking a day away from my family, been to some of the places that were scheduled a time or two so what was the point yada, yada.  Of course, with many things that I start out with a crummy attitude about attending, once I get going, my attitude changes sometimes slowly, other times quickly.  This time my attitude changed relatively quickly because of the people who were on this trip.  As we trickled into the classroom to meet and start our trip, we were having casual conversations about our lives.  To me when I am in any type of group, this is my favourite part, getting to know people on a little bit of deeper level whether they share personal stories or just chat about class stuff in a more casual way.

We took a trip out to the Regina Indian Industrial School(RIIS) grave  site.  I had just been there in March with another class.  Back in March, what stuck with me was how the parents didn’t know if their child was in there or not and mostly though was that I thought having unmarked graves was a huge injustice.  In the couple of months between the visits I mulled over that having marked graves was not necessarily something that may have been important to Indigenous people but maybe a settler way of thinking.  I did still think it was very unjust that there were no records or the records of who was buried were lost.  What hit me most on the second visit was the vast difference between the RIIS grave site and the other grave sites in Regina.  The RIIS grave site was on a busy road, it is not marked so anyone driving by would have no idea it was there, a train track is right beside, and planes are flying quite low. As one of the men in the video said it is not a restful place.  Compared to the Riverside cemetery, it is well marked, it has a fence around it and paved paths for people to follow, it is a very peaceful place as it should be.  The inequalities just astounded me.

Another space that I have been too countless times was the museum.  This time though instead of just admiring the beadwork and looking at the artifacts in the Indigenous galleries, I paid closer attention to the wording used in the description of treaties.  I found it ridiculous that one statement about why the treaties came about was worded that the First Nations needed to the treaties to “cope” with the white settlers.  It just blew me away that someone thought that was a good way to explain treaties.

Melina Laboucan-Massimo was interesting to me in several ways.  When she spoke about her sister (I think) being one of the Missing and Murder Indigenous Women in this country, it really made think again of the faceless doll project and how it keeps these women as abstract and that really nothing needs to be done about their plight.  As Melinda shared about her sister it also hit me that perhaps if more Indigenous people had a platform like Melinda did to share about the personal side of the issues, perhaps there would be more of an outcry and demand for change.  Non-Indigenous people use their influence all the time.  I also felt that the success of her community with the solar power needs to be heard far and wide because I think it would give many people pause to think of the negative stereotypes they hold against Indigenous people.  The community is taking on big oil to save us from ourselves.  We need to sit up and take notice and listen.

In all it was a great day with great learning.  Mostly though the conversations on our way to the different locations were great and while I don’t remember specifics, I do know that it provoked my thought process about what I had learned.

 

Learning from each other Blog #4

I was part of seminar 1 on the Treaties in Canada.  In preparation for the seminar my understandings Treaties was deepened.  Through my other classes on my journey to be a teacher I came to understand I was a treaty person because I live on land that was acquired through Treaty 4 and I still benefit from that treaty.  The deeper understanding came from Tammy’s comparison of the treaties being like a marriage covenant rather than a contract.  The covenant made sense to me because when the Indigenous nations came to negotiate the treaties, they believed that their Creator was part of that treaty and that the Creator owned the land.  Therefore, the land was not theirs to give, but to share.  Much like in good marriage, you aren’t expected to give your identity away but to share yourself with your partner and work together to build something great.  The other thing that created deeper meaning was listening to Pam Palmater’s talk on section 35 of the Constitution Act of 1982.  That section affirms and acknowledges the treaty rights.  However, as we move forward, that section is repeatedly ignored, and treaty rights get stampeded time and again.  We keep getting further away from reconciliation each time the treaty rights are ignored and trampled on.  I thought at first, naively, the 94 calls to action would solve the issues between the white people and Indigenous people in Canada, I see now we have a long way to go.

Seminar 2 was a presentation on Missing and Murder Aboriginal Women and Children.  I thought the group who presented did a great job of presenting such a tough topic.  It was a topic that generated a lot of discussion.  I had mixed feeling about the activity of creating a faceless doll to represent a missing woman.  One of the things that really bothered me about these dolls, not just in class, but the whole movement is that these women aren’t faceless.  I think that it is very disrespectful to the women themselves, and to their families.  I remember a case of an Indigenous woman who had been murdered, and the media kept referring to the woman as the victim never using her name.  I remember the family being on the media and saying her name at every opportunity because they felt she deserved to be known by her name not as just some faceless  woman.  I don’t remember who the victim was because it was 20 or more years ago.  I do remember how important it was to her family that her name be known.  Because of this instance I feel those faceless dolls are disrespectful to that family and all others.  As we talked about in our circle when we know someone’s name we enter into a relationship with them.  I also felt uncomfortable and guilty after making the doll.  My doll was in my mind skimpily dressed.  It wasn’t intentional, I am just bad a judging size.  However, because of the badly sized clothing on the doll I felt that I was perpetuating a stereotypical image of the women.  I hated the thought that if someone other than my class was to see this doll that the image of the women being prostitutes would be front and center.  Many of the missing women worked as prostitutes yes but they were so much more than job they did.   I really appreciated that group took the time to debrief the activity and make us think if the activity was valuable in the classroom.  I do not think it is.

 

Apologies Blog #3

First, I was very excited that Pam Palmater’s talk about reconciliation was a requirement for this class.  I had wanted to attend in person, but the timing was off.  She is a very powerful speaker.  The part of her talk that resonated with me most was when she spoke about the apologies offered to the survivors of the residential schools.  I never realized just how poor some of the apologies were.  I was always on the uneducated understanding that officials would give good meaningful, genuine apologies.  When she said that an apology is an acknowledgement of wrong doing, reparation, and a promise not to do it again, it was like a light bulb went on.  I had heard some of the official government apologies, I began to see why they aren’t good enough.  The reparation is there in some instances, and in most instances, reparation is given grudgingly and as part of a court judgement.  The acknowledgement that residential schools, for example, happened is there but there seems to be very little, if any, acknowledgement of the damage and how wrong it was. There is no promise or commitment not to do it again.  As a matter of fact, in land claims and education the wrongs continue, just in a different way.

On a personal level, maybe its coincidental or not? but there has been a lot of talk recently about Pope Francis and how he will not be issuing a formal apology to the Residential school survivors.  For me this is causing some discomfort in my ideas and beliefs.  As a practicing Catholic, the Pope is the authority of the church and as such his decisions are to be in the best interest of all Catholics.  He sets the tone for the Church’s followers in these hot issues.  As an education student and a compassionate person, I find it unbelievable that it is so difficult to offer a true, heartfelt apology.  I don’t know if any of the churches involved have made financial reparation, but the possibility of financial repercussions shouldn’t preclude someone from making an apology.  I don’t fully understand all the legalities and semantics of why the apology won’t be issued by the Pope but I do know that  part of my miskasowin process is to try to understand it and work out this internal conflict I have.

As for myself, while I grapple with the whole Catholic church apology thing, there are things I can do in regards to Truth and Reconciliation.  The first one is to listen to more Pam Palmater, she makes things very easy to understand, in common terms.  The second is to continue to be open to and ask critical questions, when my beliefs and ideals are in conflict with Truth and Reconciliation principles.  I feel have come a long way since starting my education journey, about my very racist ideas of Indigenous people, most just uneducated nonsense.  However, it is still a process.Just because my knowledge has changed, improved and allowed me to change my surface thinking in big ways, there is still a lot of work for me to do to over come all my deep held thoughts and attitudes that are 49 years in the making, the deep ideas and rebuttals aren’t going to change in 2 years.  It is especially hard when many of same aged friends hold those old views, it’s a real challenge for me to have those discussions yet, because I feel so unprepared yet.