Looking for Connections

lead-net-pro-relationship-marketingLook for Connections. When students use technology, it should be within the context of larger learning goals rather than in isolation. “Technology used in isolation is less effective than when it’s integrated into a curricular set of activities,” says Pasnik.

Quoted from Education.Com (http://www.education.com/magazine/article/effective-technology-teaching-child/?page=2)

Tradition and Gender Equality

After the presentation of Treaty Education in our seminar this morning, I started to wonder about how to honor a tradition and gender equality.

Blair and Emma explained about how eagle feather as sacred object thus female in Moon cycle cannot hold it.
Grant Urban talked about the drums as sacred and it must be carried by male.

I am not against this tradition and I would honor it sincerely.

But, what should I do if girls in my future class would say “That’s not fair!” “why girls have to put up with tradition?”
I was a that kind of girl to think about tradition. I did not voice it our loud, but many tradition made me wonder.

If I did not say anything, that teaches students I do not care about it?
But what should I say?

What do you think?

Personal Learning Network

Assignment 2: Part 3

As a part of the assignment, we, education students, were asked to start building a learning network. As well, to be more technologically literate and to try out many form of social media.

First, I started with Twitter. I created twitter account a year ago for ECS 100 class; however, I left it sitting after that semester. I did not really like the word limit and just did not get the ‘hash-tag’ meant. So this was my second try.
I learned the power of Twitter through the business research I currently am helping since fall.
Twitter messages are quick, instant and immediate with the current event. It can create the immediate response to an event or issue and it becomes collective powerful message which can change the course of the event.
As well, it enable students to engage in the lecture/class in different ways. I see this as both positive and negative. Because for me, typing or checking Twitter messages takes up my concentration and disengage me from the class and I miss some key points from a speaker. Moreover, I found that I just cannot keep up with the speed of conversation sometimes.
The one thing that I like about Twitter is quick and concise way to share information. I have been using Twitter mostly for this purpose. My hash tag use has been still limited to small group of #ecs210. However, I started to expand it by following people connected through lecture, instructors, and PD opportunity. Twitter enables me to get to connect with the people from far away or people of higher status without formality and restriction.

twitter follow

Second, I created my blog space: Side by Side. Until this assignment, I often visited many blog site for pleasure; however, I never had a gut to try my own. I was worried about being out in the open sea of uncertain territory, on-line space; as well, I was afraid to be judged and the possibility of bashing and rejections. My anxiety toward having personal on-line space came from the news of cyber bullying. This does not happen just for teenagers, it happens amongst adult, internationally. It is too easy to post negativity and hostility toward others when you are anonymous in the cyber space. Whatever you put up on the Internet stays in the space and it could come back and haunt you.
I had to be conscious about keeping it professional, which meant constant reflection upon what I think and post about. It has been a good practice of learn, unlearn, and relearn about many aspect of self and other.
Once I started the blog posts, I became more comfortable sharing myself openly. It was helpful and encouraging to have like mind people, seminar group, as a learning network to start. It enables me to be more assertive to discuss with others. https://blogsidebyside.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/images-of-teacher-education/
Though, commenting each others’ post is sometime hard for me. Perhaps because I was afraid to sound too critical or not enough, and I ended up commenting something general. This is going to be my ongoing goal to become comfortable having conversations, asking questions. (Comments I’ve made)The network was connected through Twitter and it enables me to expand my network to outside of seminar group.
I received comment from an Education student from fourth year. https://blogsidebyside.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/teaching-philosophy/
I started to follow her blog to get inspiration from her.

The thing that you cannot forget is to attend PD opportunity.

I attended 1st annual HOPE PD and I was inspired by some of the presenters.
Reg Leidle (PE Consultant for the Ministry of Education, SPEA executive) talked about importance of building relationships between teacher and student, as well as teachers to create their own learning network.
He suggested to find mentors when you enter a school and stick with them, surround yourself with people who is inspiring and working toward same goals. Because you cannot change everything on your own and you need helps and collaborations from others to bring in any change into school.
Naomi Hartl is another person who talked about having a network of people to work and support together. She talked about the power of Twitter to connect with PE educators from all over the world. She is becoming a hub of the people and information to help others connect as well.

As a learner, I was independent, in charge of my own learning, and I was responsible for myself and that is it, so I believed. Obviously this is due to the education system I grew up in. We were always compared with one another and marked individually. I really do not remember working collaboratively with others to be marked as a group from Gr.1 to 12 education I received. So when I started university, although I see the point of group collaboration and I have had pretty good experiences with group work in my university career; I always had some sort of anxiety. Perhaps because I was not used to work collaboratively and there was always concern of relationships, responsibilities and power play among the group.

However, as I worked with my colleagues this semester, I had a moment of epiphany: the power of collaboration and building network.

My burden of group work came mainly from countless face-to-face meetings for organizing a project. There were always interruptions of unrelated conversations and personal stories, it can be hard to stay on task and productive. Everyone was skeptical at first about the use of technology; though, it became so much more productive and effective by use of the technology and shared online space.
Google Doc and shared blog space enabled us to create, edit and share document from remote areas; especially for me who live in rural area. This opportunity gave me the idea of connecting classrooms from all over the world.

fecebbok

I cannot forget that my PLN experience was created by great passionate people with the help of technology.
It is important to find great mentor and colleagues for PLN and technology enables us to connect without boarders, moreover across over the hierarchy.

Who’s Standard Is It Anyways?

As I thought about standard all week, it came to me that I do strive living with standards. What really matter is that I have my standard set for myself and it is not curved in stone. It shifts and changes as I change. What I think it is standard does not mean it is for you and I think that is OK.

However, it becomes problematic to use government’s = majority’s standard for all people, especially students.

So, I decided to look into the definition of standard in Oxford Dictionary. And there it was, the problem of standardization for students.

standard

I don’t know if you can see inside of pink box, but it said:

  • Used or accepted as normal or average:
  • 1.1(Of a size, measure, design, etc.) regularly used or produced; not special or exceptional:

So by using the standardized education initiated by the government, we are producing ‘normal’ ‘not special or exceptional’ students.

But if we, as teachers, have high standard of what education is like for children…
if our standard was to believe in anti-oppressive education and holistic approach in assessment…
Perhaps it is time for us, educators, to stand up for our standards, not the government initiative.

Think about Standardized Test

I grew up with the education system uses standardized test and I guess it was advantage for me. School and teachers actually did not prepare for the test, it was up to the students. They can attend prep school or buy books on how to conquer the test. Although it was stressful and pressure was intense, I was very good with memorization, easy format to master and I could train myself for it, as well I got good scores and it enabled me to try out for a second rank senior high school in my district. In a way, it prepared me for the competitive society I was going to enter into. However, I never question on why there is standardized test then. I actually just accepted it as the way to measure students’ academic success and I just needed to use my short-term memory for the trivia type questions. I knew I would not use these information for anything else, and I don’t remember most of it.

So when I came to Saskatchewan and learned there were no standardized test, I thought that Saskatchewan education is too soft on kids, not challenging enough and/or would not prepare for the ‘real’ competitive world.

Although I disagree to the standardized test for primary school age, somewhere in my head, I still thought there is no harm in standardized test for high school students when I heard about SK government’s announcement of standardized test. I have seen students being pass through year to year without demand and becoming irresponsible to their own learning. Then they become grade 10 and realize that they have to work to get grade. The provincial wide standard may demand students some pressure to work hard and think carefully about their own learning.

I think many of you are going to disagree with me and I know I want to disagree with myself. I really do understand the cons of this standardization of curriculum and assessment tests and it will oppress minority students more. I aspire to be an anti-oppressive teacher and celebrate diversity of students, though I am conflicted with myself for seeking some kind of standard I can follow. Perhaps because I grew up in a country where people were demanded to meet the standard all the time. I think having a set standard is a comfort for me, so I know how much I need to do to meet the level I am required.

As I wrote down the paragraph above and realized how setting a standard is actually limiting one’s ability and undermine one’s thinking… how much I need to do to meet the level I am required…

Bigelow talks about an aspect of standardized tests that is offensive to teachers. The test represent the authority of the state, implicitly telling students, “just memorize the facts, kids… if teachers do any more than that, they’re wasting your time” (p.177).

Standardized curriculum and tests will take away teachers’ agency and autonomy, that would make us into robots to create more robots…

I really need to think more about this…

Reference:

Standards and Tests Attack Multiculturalism by Bill Bigelow : The New Teacher Book

 

 

Poverty and Education

We had an amazing presentation from Bonnie Morton (Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry) on Monday lecture.
And I wanted to take a little time to reflect on Poverty in our society and words from Bonnie today.

I grew up in a working class, but a middle class family. We did not have any lavish life style, very few family trips, lived in company’s apartment building longer than anybody lived there (18 years) but I never had to worry about my basic needs – food, shelter and clothing. My father worked hard until his retirement, I never heard him complaining about his work at home. The neighbourhood I grew up was just starting to redevelop as a nice suburb and upper middle class families were moving into brand new houses, and there were still like us renting in the apartments, or row houses (they were very few of them though, because those houses were torn down and new ones came up).
There were unspoken understanding inside me, or it was the adults’ attitudes about social class, that I classified out neighbourhood into 3 levels – row house=little poorer than me, apartment=average, and own house=richer than me (plus landlords=riches). It is shameful to think back about my perspectives, but as long as somebody is poorer than me I was secure = meaning I am not that poor, I am average , or not in the bottom. Although I thought about if I were rich (like if I had a million Yen..), I did not try to see beyond my world. Especially avoided the dark grey areas that were known to be lower income housing or back allies of the city centre where homeless people on the cardboard boxes. As long as work hard, I would not be in the bottom – that was my perspective. In other words, lower-income people didn’t work hard enough. Never occurred to me to think about the circumstances they were in.

First time I started to see the world with poverty was when I came to Fort Qu’Appelle. There are distinct divide in this small community, population of 2000. Wealthy families with large mansions and cottages around lakes, middle-income families with nice, modest homes with yards and vehicles, and low-income families in trailers, on social assistance. I felt same attitude I experienced as a child, people in middle or upper class looking down on people in struggle. Blaming them for the situation they were in: they depend too much on social assistance because government pays them for being lazy, if they work hard enough… etc. That was little over 10 years ago.

I saw the change started to happen when the schools in Fort Qu’Appelle changed to community schools. We became more educated about poverty and became more supportive toward family circumstances. We became more culturally responsive toward First Nations in the community and positive influences were brought in. All of the good things are happening; however, one thing struck me while I listen to Bonnie’s story.

Bonnie stressed about learning “Basic Skills” is fundamental for children from struggling families. Education is a way out of the situation.

Reality is that as teachers, we tend to rely on families for students to be “school ready” before entering into schools. Meaning, expecting a child to have some basic skills, such as a child to be able to hold pencil, spell own name, recognize ABCs, count to 10 and knows those numbers, can use scissors and sit at a desk. And I think children who will be taught or receive activities to foster these skills at home are usually families from middle and upper class families. And I believe many teachers tend to be raised in middle class families who were taught basic skills before school started. I was one of them.

I have seen some students who entered kindergarten without any of those skills. And usually they were from families in poverty. For them, the start line is way behind from their classmates and they have to struggle from beginning. When they enter into grade one, family reliance becomes more intense – especially reading. As normal routine, I have seen teachers sending several books home with students each week, expecting parents to help them read. I have heard some teachers stopped sending books to particular students who kept forgetting to bring books back. The teachers’ comment was, “Oh, they will lose it again.” This does not help the students, they would fall behind again. But do we consider about their family situation? Chaotic environment? Can parents read?

It seems like school is not a good place to learn for struggling families, if we don’t change our attitude.

Apologize

20140311-231017.jpg

This picture shows us not to be afraid or feel ashamed to apologize.
It shows that mistakes happen in life and we should accept that.
But be sincere and apologize for the mistakes or wrongs.
Because the other will accept your apology and forgive you with a kind smile.

How many time have you been told to say just say sorry and did so as a kid? How many time have you told any kids to say sorry to end the fuss?

If we have the value of apologize like in this picture, perhaps we can make something negative into positive learning experience.

Rules vs. Beliefs

After yesterday’s lecture and readings, I decided to talk about rules and beliefs in the classroom.

I have been involved in schools, classrooms and children’s camps for long time now and I always believed in establishing classroom/camp rules and expectations. Because my observations and experiences taught me that without any rules and expectation, kids will walk all over us, adults, and we lose control of them.
Miss Night said in her blog,

“A child’s dignity, privacy, self-respect are no less real or important or valid, than mine. When I undermine a children’s privacy and dignity, I do damage to their relationships: with their peers, with me, and with themselves.
Yes, behaviour charts can create a classroom full of raised hands, quiet voices, walking feet, please-and-thank-yous.
But a child’s dignity is too high a price to pay for criss-cross-apple source.”
After I read the tweet post, then the lecture, I started to see the different sides to the rules and expectations I had for students.

Perhaps it shows that I don’t trust my students’ will to be good. It is like I expect them to fail to be good without any rules set out or rewards to fish them in the direction I want.
Perhaps it shows that I am trying to build a controlled environment where I am in charge, that is not trusting relationships with students to build a community.

These things are something that I wanted to avoid, yet, I could have done just that without thinking about it.

I shall discuss beliefs with my students and make into treaty, shared promises. The promises to build good relationships, community of learning with respect and dignity.