Today we watched a number of significant and relevant videos. Here are a few of the videos we checked out! I had never heard of Brother Ali, however I was very moved by his rapping and message he was singing about.
I enjoyed the presentation on Bloom's Taxonomy and got a lot out of this discussion. I was thinking how this would look like in the classroom and how I would use this teaching strategy to enable my students. Bloom's taxonomy seemed very straight forward and easy to follow. That this is a continuum and that it must follows each step by step. As we move up, we must have a STRONG foundation prior to moving up. If we focus on just the remembering and understanding, it is not the best type of learning and the higher level thinking occurs in the Creating, Evaluating, and Analyzing.
Due Process - Guest Lecturer Janice St. Helene (Faculty Coordinator) & Salmonfest
This morning we had a guest speaker, Janice St. Helene, and spoke about Program Interruption and Due Process. The presentation discussed the proper channels to use if we needed to withdraw for any reason.
At 11:30 our room hosted the PDP's First Annual Salmonfest, which consisted of some guest speakers, singing, posters and other artifacts, and a delicious salmon luncheon.
This week’s reflective journal focuses on some of the theories and specific skills that are crucial in our educational journey. We discussed Lev Vygotsky’s Theory of Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) and how he viewed interactions with peers as an effective way of developing skills and strategies. Something I was really interested in was the relationship to ZPD and Scaffolding. These theories focused on collaboration with peers where support is given to a less competent child from a more skillful peer. Scaffolding really seemed to set off a lightbulb in my head, because I could relate to this type of learning. As a student I recall that I had a great deal of success in learning when learning occurred through peer to peer collaboration. I thought of my own experience and using this type of learning when taught language arts, mathematics, and in sports. I recall being on both sides of the learning, as a competent child in gym class and helping other kids develop some skills. Additionally, I thought of being the less competent child and gaining support from other peers in language arts and reading. But I also remembered other times that this was not as successful. I thought of when I was quite young, and the students who were helping me would just tell me the answers to write. There was no explanation why this was the correct answer, because it was easier for the student to just tell me the right answer. So I started thinking about how I could use scaffolding to promote optimal learning.
First, I thought about what scaffolding looked like. It is the process of providing guidance and support on the way to mastery. So does that mean that scaffolding should be done only when the person assisting the student must be a master of the prescribed activity? At what age can scaffolding be introduced that promotes optimal learning?
Scaffolding is described as sharing knowledge through social interaction that can include modeling, providing hints or cues, and adaptation of the activity. It is suggested that elemenary school teachers break learning up into smaller, more manageable size to ensure student success. The step by step guide:
o I do, you watch
o I do, you help
o You do, I help
o You do, I watch
In my classroom, I can envision myself using scaffolding to optimize student learning. In order to be successful, I feel that I will have to clearly discuss my expectations for the exercise. I would break the students into small groups and assign certain roles. I believe that students can be taught and encouraged to use scaffolding to provide opportunities to all students. There would be an expert, reporter, and a non-expert. The expert would be knowledgeable about the content and expected to help motivate learners by providing enough support to enable them to accomplish the goal. The expert may model, highlight important features, or provide hints to enable the weaker student. The recorder would be responsible for documenting important points from the discussion of the expert and the weaker student. The expectation of the weaker student would be to be able to clearly explain what the learning outcome was. I feel that if each person is aware of their responsibilities that this would promote optimal student learning. Scaffolding promotes exploration and discovery from all students rather that finding the ‘right’ answers.
This is what I envision scaffolding will be like in my classroom. Although I am not in a classroom yet, I feel that is an important tool to develop. This tool allows for students to take an initiative in their own education. It also allows the student to think critically, select plausible solutions and conclusion. As well, it creates meaningful learning through peer to peer interaction and promotes team work. I am excited to try scaffolding out during my praticuum.
In David Orr’s Earth in Mind, Orr says “the danger with education is that students graduate without knowing how to think in whole systems, how to find connections, how to ask the big questions, and how to separate the trivial from the important.” For me, this is him talking about the importance of critical thinking. In my mind, there is no question that critical thinking is an essential skill that we must cultivate within young learners. I do however have many more questions than answers as to how that looks, works, feels in a classroom, as a teacher, a student, etc.
So I began my exploration by thinking about what critical thinking is to me. I believe that to critical think, students analyze and evaluate evidence and learn to make judgments based on sound reasoning. It reaches beyond the mere acquisition and retention of information or set of skills, and enables the learner to use that information or skills to guide their behavior and make their own connections and conclusions. I also believe that critical thinking is an important skill that must be nurtured and developed in students. What I am unclear on however, is how I can facilitate this for my students.
My first burning question is at what age, can critical thinking be introduced to students? I believe that no student is too young to benefit from my modeling critical thinking, but I am less sure of the roles that maturity and knowledge base play within a student’s ability to critically think on their own.
As an elementary teacher, how will I begin to incorporate critical thinking into my classroom? One way that I think critical thinking can be incorporated into my practice is by constantly connecting learning back to the big idea. My recollection of elementary school is that these connections were not present. It seemed that once a unit was completed, there was no revisiting the material at a later period or connecting it to the large idea. This is something I intend to include within my teaching practice.
Since elementary schools are set up with one educator teaching all subjects, this presents an opportunity to develop solid critical thinking skills such as finding connections between subjects. Should it be as direct as my telling the students to question anything they read or learn and consider its source and intention, or should it be more subtle? How does one go about creating lessons that encourage students to take charge of their own thinking?
Although I am not in a classroom yet, I feel this is the first skill that should be introduced and developed. I can envision lessons that begin with a question leading to student analysis and acquisition of what they believe is relevant about the problem/situation. From there, they would select plausible solutions and conclusions, implement them, and then evaluate the outcome. This I can envision, but the details of it are far less clear. What resources are needed, what background knowledge is required, is this plausible with a diverse class of 24 students? What would that question be? What happens if the students have a weak knowledge base, can they develop their critical thinking skills? These are questions I will explore as I begin my journey as a teacher.
Reflection on the movie ‘Youth Made’
What a powerful video that took a great deal of courage to participate in. The video clip that we watched began with poetry written by Aboriginal with imagery of the oppression faced by Aboriginals. The video focused on the affect of residential schools and the attempt to eliminate Native culture through assimilation and residential schools. The beginning also stated facts of the oppression and the consequences from residential schools. For example the video stated that 70% of all residential students were sexually assaulted. The video then joined three Aboriginals speaking to the camera and discussed their first hand accounts. They described that their parents were still dealing with the pain and suffering from residential schools. As the Government of Canada was issuing money to the survivors of residential schools, it was described that many of the memories that had been surpressed were now surfacing. Another important point from the three whom were interviewed expressed that caucasians did not respect Aboriginals or understand the reason that Aboriginals are turned off from education. That their parents hated school because of the residentials schools and then were passed down to the next generations. This is very important because as a teacher I must be able to connect with each and every student, regardless of the colour of their skin. I must also be sensitive and respectful to all students and support in anyway possible.
This morning we had a presentation on the history of the BCTF that was very informative and illustrated the long feud with the provincial governments.
In the afternoon we had a discussion from Celeste who is responsible for finding all PDP students a practicum placement.
Today we attended the Yaletown Roundhouse for a screening of the documentary, We were children. Prior to watching the movie, William Lind introduced the film. He sang a beautiful song and then shared some information about himself. Mr. Lind is a very positive person and seemed genuinely kind, knowledgeable and approachable.
The shocking true story is based on two survivor’s of the residential schools, Glen Anaquod and Lyna Hart. These children endured brutality, physical abuse, mental degradation, and a complete erasure of their culture. I was shocked that for over 130 years till 1996, more than 100, 000 First Nations children were legally required to attend government-funded schools run by various Christian faiths. As a parent of three children aged 3 and 9 years old I was most affected when I considered how difficult it must have been to let the government take your children. Very upsetting…
Susan Dion, Braiding Histories
Today we watched a lecture from Susan Dion that she gave to the Faculty Associates a few years previously. What an insightful presentation and I got a better understanding of the atrocity Indigenous People of North America dealt with from the hands of Europeans initially and their Euro-centric views. From the presentation Dion uses a Time Line to put into perspective the chain of events from the Pre-contact era right up to the Present day. This was very insightful and I could see myself using this technique when I was in a class. It was very easy and straight forward to understand and very powerful to observe. I was most shocked to learn about the creation of the Indian Act and how this was so profound and the complex situation of Non-status and Status. It has illustrated a very dark period in the history of Canada. I was very inspired from Dion's work and feel that I have only scratched the surface of this difficult topic.