Curriculum Expectations

Shauna sent me this video, and I’m glad she did!  I thought this was really interesting in showing the process of linking assignments to the outcomes.  I think this strongly relates to the new outcome-based pilot program that is being used for Math 9 this year.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUz3eRJe4r8&feature=player_embedded

Lip Dub!

When Dean first expressed his interest in creating a lip dub, I have to admit I was a little hesitant to volunteer; video recording myself is not really my favourite thing.  However, I’m so glad I signed up.  What a neat way to show everyone how we connected with classrooms from all over North America, and how diverse each classroom was from one another.

Anyways, here is the final product of the lip dub.  So happy with how it turned out, and definitely an activity I will keep in mind when an opportunity like this arises.

https://vimeo.com/63705339

Tutorial/ Life Transitions Assessment

During my pre-internship I spent most of my time in the Learning Resource Room. This room was for students with tutorials, completing independent studies, or just needed a quieter space to work.

For the tutorial and life transitions students, they set goals at the beginning of the semester. Three times throughout the semester, they self-assess and my co-op assesses them on how they are doing regarding using the time effectively and achieving those goals.

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Tech Task #11: A Peek inside your classroom

Throughout the past three years in the Education program, I have thought numerous times about what my classroom would look like.  However, I just thought of myself standing up there teaching; I never really considered the details.  How would the desks be arranged?  What would be on the walls?  Would it be loud or quiet?  Chaotic or boring?

These are all things that I never really considered until my pre-internship when I was actually teaching.  The first few days I spent with the Wellness 10 girls in the gym, they were loud and chatty and wanted to interact with one another.  However, as soon I was the teacher in the classroom, they froze.  I was so excited to do all these movement activities while learning with them, and they went silent.  It drove me bananas!!  Why aren’t they talking?  Why is no one moving with me?  Why is everyone sitting in single file rows when I told them they can partner up?  Right away I noticed two things I want with my classroom – movement and chaos.

I’d say I was a good student in high school, but I hated the classes where we silently read and wrote, and if we were caught talking we were penalized in some way.  I guess I am one of those people who prefers idle chit-chat while working, as opposed to dead quiet.  I also loved the classes when the teachers got animated, and we were allowed to move freely around the room.  If a student was losing it, they could go get a drink, or get up and move around.

It wasn’t until University when my EHE 310 professor had us move while we worked.  During a group assignment, we had to wall sit, lunge, or hold a plank for an allotted time while we discussed a question.  Once we were done that question we were allowed 20 seconds to sit, then move on to the next question.  I LOVED this!  Nothing in my mind is worse than being sedentary in a chair while trying to participate in group work.

One thing I learned from my pre-internship is that noise can be good.  Noise, chaos, and movement if used effectively can all be part of learning.  As long as I am able to bring the students back when needed, I have no problem with chaos in my classroom.

During EHE 310 our professor, Shelley, took us to a model classroom at Kitchener Community School here in Regina.  I loved this room.  We walked in and there was a trampoline, stationary bike, standing desk, and tipi at the back. There were desks in groups of one, two, and four.  There was also a mat area filled with two been bag chairs and stuffed animals.  Wowza was I shocked.  How could all this go on while I’m trying to teach?!  I was baffled at first that teachers thought this could go on during class time.  However, during the presentation, the facilitator asked us to look around – we were all doing something different using the tools that were given, and no one seemed to be bothered.  She then took us to a few of the teachers classrooms to watch it in action with REAL STUDENTS!  My perspective immediately changed.  If all of this can go on in a classroom and kids are still learning, then this is just the coolest thing ever!

The last thing I want my classroom to be like is very Inquiry-based.  I know it is pretty much all we hear about the first two years of education, but it wasn’t until this year, more so this semester, that I truly understood what Inquiry looks like.  Having Shauna as my mentor has shown me a lot about inquiry.  It seems the majority of the students classrooms are inquiry based, and the kids seem to really enjoy it.  I hope that in the future, my students look as engaged and willing to learn as Room 209 looks!  This classroom also looks like fun – it looks like a bunch of kids just hanging out, as opposed to a classroom.  I imagine it took Shauna and the other teachers at Churchill Alternative School a great deal of time to set up inclusive classrooms and safe places for those children.  That is something else I value, and hope to achieve in my classroom.

Though I have a great deal to learn before my classroom will ever look like this, I’m feeling confident that one day this classroom will be successful for me as a teacher, and my students.

Math 9 Pilot Program

One of the classes I’m working in during my pre-internship is Grade Nine Math with 9 students who all have differing levels of learning disabilities. I have to say, this is quite an interesting class! The students range in ability, but for the most part are all willing to learn. As I am working with them, I’m learning more and more about the new pilot program they are trying for grade nine math! Details:

– The teacher cannot assign homework – any homework the students do at home are completely at their own will.

– The students exams are rated on a scale of 1-4. On each exam, there are three sections: level two, level three, and level four. Level two is the basic knowledge that students must know. Level three is more difficult (usually include multiplication and division of fractions with a variable). Level four is typically a word problem. At the top of each test is the outcome clearly stated, and a rubric of what is expected for each level. If a student can complete the level 2 section with very few errors (I was told one or two minor things like misplacing a negative sign), the student has achieved the outcome. Though level 2 is considered a “pass” level three and four just shows a higher level of mastery of the desired outcome.

– If the student doesn’t achieve a 2 or higher, they must re-write the exam. The students are allowed as many re-writes as it takes to achieve a level 2. For those who achieve a 2 and want to re-write to try a level three or four are also allowed to do so as many times as they like. The only catch with re-writes, is the mark of the last test is the one that is used. For example, a boy I work with received a 3 on one exam and wanted to re-write. The next time he only got a 2.5; therefore, his marked dropped down to a 2.5.

– If the student has a great deal of support from an EA or a teacher, the highest he/she can get is a 1.9. If the teacher provides guidance or suggestions and the student receives higher than a 2, the highest they can get is a 2. However, how much guidance is given is at the teachers discretion; therefore, there is no strict line as to what is considered “too much support”.

– The student needs a level 2 on all exams before he/she can move on to grade 10 math.

– One issue I have heard about is grading. As I was talking to the math 9 teacher, she was explaining that she is unsure how the levels will average out, and how she is supposed to transfer that over into a grade.

– Though I believe re-writes are okay, I think it is a little strange that students are allowed as many re-writes as it takes them. Therefore, I’ve noticed that students don’t try as hard when studying, because they know if they don’t achieve a 2, they will have multiple chances to re-write their exam during class time that would otherwise be spent learning a new concept.

– The other thing I am torn about in this pilot program is how teachers cannot assign homework. I’ve noticed that the teacher I work with “recommends” having certain questions done for next day; however, students rarely take their books home and have the questions completed for next day. I have to admit I was a little frustrated by this at first – it seems that in math 9 there is a lot to cover, and if students don’t do any work at home, class time goes towards students finishing their assignments that they could have done at home.

– One thing I think was interesting about this pilot program is that the first week and a half is spent reviewing key concepts from Math 8. The students then write a test the second week of school, and from there are placed in classrooms based on their mark from that test. I am definitely on the fence about this issue. The room I work in is small, and all students there have some form of a learning disability. I think that works okay for them, because it is more one-on-one, and they are all on similar levels. However, at the same time, if we group students based on abilities (a room for students with a learning disability, average students, and gifted students) we are kind of labelling them right from the get go. I would like to see another math 9 room and see how diverse the learners are in each room.

It will be interesting to see how this pilot program works, and whether or not they find it successful.

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Room 209 Withdrawal

Pre-internship is definitely keeping me busy!  Unfortunately, my mentorship with Room 209 has resorted to back and fourth comments on each others blogs.  Though I am absolutely loving my pre-internship at Balfour, I do have to admit, I’m quite missing my Digital Degus.  A few weeks ago, we were working on a rubric for students to reference to for their substance abuse/addictions research assignment.  I hope things are going okay for this assignment and that the students of Room 209 are keeping busy with Speedy and Caine!