blog challenge wk3

Week 3. The theme is: Connecting Students and the World

When I think back to my elementary and high school education, ‘connecting students and the world’ revolved around ‘Current Events’. Current Events consisted of paying attention to the news, what was happening in the community and the world. Once we found a story, we would stick it into a notebook and then we would write about it and sometimes, we would share them orally with the class. This was part of Social Studies classes.

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Having taught and substituted in a variety of classrooms, what I have seen regarding ‘connecting students and the world’ consists of a similar program that I have experienced. I unfortunately don’t remember the name of the program, but it consists of news stories that are happening in the world. Students read them and answer questions and extend their learning on the topics of issues happening today. The booklets come out each month I believe, and I have seen this become a part of Social Studies curriculum.

I have also heard from friends who are teachers who have completed Mystery Skype activities with their students, to connect their class with another classroom around the world. I have also seen pen pals and different writing activities take place between different schools. Now with blogging, there are potentials for students from all over to connect and share thoughts and provide feedback to others. I have also seen classrooms from different schools complete book studies together. With technology, there are many more opportunities today to ‘connect students and the world’.

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What I find interesting however is the idea that our classrooms are becoming more culturally diverse through the students we are teaching. We are using a curriculum designed to benefit students who bring with them cultural capital, prior knowledge, and we teach them the dominant ideas and values of society. Overall, I believe that our curriculum does not take into consideration students from culturally diverse backgrounds. If teachers are committed to teaching to all of their students, it is up to them, in the units they plan and the resources they use, to include their students funds of knowledge, ways of knowing and culture. I believe it requires a commitment from the teacher for all students to be seen and acknowledged within the classroom. Even though our curriculum includes ties to First Nations knowledge, ways of doing and knowing, it is still up to the teacher how they teach this knowledge and make these links.

When it is easy for us with technology now to connect and learn about the world and different groups, I would like to see more connections and learning for all students in the classroom that helps them be a part of the classroom, to be represented and to learn about themselves as well as others. While heritage fairs and cultural days at school are good in one sense, they do not offer students enough. They allow them to share their culture, their identity for a day, which often does not translate to this happening in the classroom regularly.

So ultimately, I believe it is important to ‘connect students to the world’ by including the cultures and knowledge that students bring with them when they enter our classrooms first, before ‘connecting them to other parts of the world’.

 

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blog challenge wk2

Week two of the challenge. The theme for this week is, What lights your fire?

Here are a few of the things light my fire:

  • Positive teacher-student relationships
  • Learning from students
  • Knowing that I’m in a position to support kids who struggle in school
  • Seeing what other teachers are doing and listening to their stories

I really enjoy being able to work alongside and learn from so many great teachers and students of all ages.

 

blog challenge wk1

So I’m a little late to get started, but better late than never. I’ve been wanting to get back into blogging and so when I came across the Blogging Challenge some Saskatchewan educators are taking part in and I thought I’d join in. Follow #skblog15 on Twitter to see posts from the others taking part in the challenge.

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The theme for week one was: What’s holding you back?

Through reflection, I can name many things that are holding me back. Here are some of them that I’d like to share:

  • Self-confidence – being confident in my abilities first as a person, second as a teacher. Teaching is a big responsibility and even though I have a piece of paper that allows me to teach, sometimes there is self-doubt that I won’t be able offer students the experiences they deserve.
  • Knowledge – I’ve learnt many things from education classes that I took from my university experience. However, I’ve walked into many experiences not feeling that I have enough knowledge to teach a certain subject or lesson. I know that it is okay to learn alongside your students and that we don’t know everything, but I guess this ties back to self-confidence.
  • Feeling like an outsider – I’ve had part time, temporary and substitute teaching experiences. I’ve always kind of felt that I don’t quite fit in. Perhaps this comes with not being in one place for long enough to develop relationships and a sense of community.

With time and more experience, I hope that I can rise above these feelings that hold me back.

#SpiritDay

i am

Image from queencitypride’s instagram

Today, October 17th was #SpiritDay. A day when Americans and people all over the world, wear purple and stand together in support of lgbt youth and to stand against bullying.

GLADD – (GLAAD builds support for equality by amplifying the voice of the#LGBT community and holding the media accountable for the words and images they present.) is a main organizer, organization and promoter of this day.

Through social media, GLAAD encouraged people to change their profile pictures both on Twitter and Facebook and to stand together. Thousands of people changed their photo, everyday people and celebrities. Search #SpiritDay on Twitter and you will see the messages of support. Landmark buildings even went purple and changed their lights and signs.

Will today make a big difference in the big picture of bullying and in the lives of lgbt youth? It might not, however, to the youth are longing for someone to talk to – it has made allies more visible. #SpiritDay, as it does each year (this is its 3rd), has started a conversation and continues to create a dialogue and awareness for people all over.

Today I wore purple. This week I changed my profile picture purple. Today I stood with thousands of others in support of lgbt youth and against bullying. Did I make a huge difference? I’m not sure, but I was part of something bigger. And maybe I let someone know that they can come and talk to me.

This is a poem. See tomorrow.

Reading the Books Our Children Have Written

They come into this room while the quail are crying to huddle up,

the canyon winds just beginning. They pass my big brown desk,

their faces damp and glistening like the first peaches washed,

and offer themselves to be kissed. I am their father still.

I kiss them, I say See you tomorrow! Their light steps fade

down the stairs, what they are saying like the far stars

shrill, hard to understand. They are saying their father

writes a book and they are in it, for they are his children.

Then they lie in their beds waiting for sleep, sometimes singing.

 

Later I get up and go down in darkness and find the hour they played

before they were scrubbed, before they brought me those faces.

There on the floor I find the stapled pages, , the strange mild

countenances of animals no one has ever seen, the tall dark man

who writes an endless story of birds homeless in the night. They have

numbered every page, they have named each colorful wing.

They have done all this to surprise me, surprising themselves.

On the last lined yellow page, one has written This is a poem.

Under this the other has answered. See tomorrow.

 

Dave Smith, from The Faber Book of Contemporary American Poetry