Join me as I explore different happenings in Education

This summer I am taking the Summer Institute at the University of Regina. In my EC&I 804 class, we have been asked to do a self-reflection of our own lived curriculum. I have to admit that it took me a while to understand what this entailed because curriculum to me has always stood for what we need to teach in school according to what the government has assigned for various grade levels. The following is the Voicethread that I chose to do in order to represent my personal story of lived curriculum.

Self reflection of lived curriculum

Here is also a copy of what I said in case the audio does not work correctly.

According to Wikipedia the definition of curriculum refers to the course of deeds and experiences through which children grow to become mature adults.  This definition is very different than the definition that I have been using the past eight years as an education. When I thing of curriculum I think of outcomes and indicators and prescribed subjects for different grade levels. Looking at the definition of curriculum according to Wikipedia, I will attempt to describe the deeds and experiences that helped to shape me and have allowed me to be the person that I am.

The first experience and probably most important experience that has shaped my growth into that of an adult is my family life. I am the second eldest child in a family of eight children. There are seven girls and one boy within an eleven year age span.  My parents were famers and my father worked a second job at a sodium sulphate mine to support the family. We grew up on a farm and used the land and our livestock to support the family.

My formal education began in a small town school, Cabri School. It was a small school with just over 200 students when I began in Kindergarten. My class remained relatively the same from Kindergarten through to Grade 12. Most of us began Kindergarten together and the last child to join our group joined us in Grade 2. One little interesting tidbit of information: my family was the same size as the number of students in my class.

I would consider my schooling to have followed the traditional or technocratic education style. I learned by sitting in a desk for most of the day and doing what I was told by my teacher.  We had very little opportunities to discover information on our own. My memories of school involved me taking in information from the teacher, who knew everything, and answering questions with the answers that I knew the teacher expected.  We were not encouraged to investigate new ideas or concepts.

My first experience with autonomy was in Grade 8 when a new science teacher, just out of university, arrived at our school. He challenged our way of thinking and encouraged us to take risks. He allowed us to try out new ideas and to find solutions to problems on our own. It took a while to understand what a teacher like this expected of us because he didn’t seem willing to give us explicit directions.  For a learner who liked black and white instructions, like myself, this was very difficult.

Outside of my formal education, sports also played a very important role in my life as a learner and this was where I was allowed to let my creativity free. When I looked back at how I behaved while playing sports it is apparent that I was a rule followers.  I was very careful to follow the rules of the game and to make sure that those around me did the same.  However, in the aspect of the game where you were allowed to be freer, like how to hold a ringette stick, I did things how I wanted to do things. As a right handed person, I was instructed how to hold the stick properly. This did not feel “right” for me so I developed the habit of holding the stick with my left hand. This had transferred into all sports where I need to hold something. I have been told often that I do things “backwards”.

Music also played an important role in my curriculum of life. I had a number of teachers over the years but most of my memories revolve around the fact that I cannot sight read music, well that is to say that I find it very difficult. I however have great skills when it comes to memorization so if you give me a piece to learn and the time to do so, I will do it. I have noticed that these skills transfer to my formal education also. If you expected me to do something immediately without time to process the information I feel nervous and get flustered, however, if I have the time to look over the information, I seem to be able to internalize it quickly and I feel much more comfortable with whatever is expected of me.

Graduation marked the end of my life on the farm and with my family. At the age of 18, I moved away from my parents and began my university career at the University of Regina.

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I have found another new online resource that I am extremely excited about.  In my online class, we were asked this week to look at Jing and to create one for the class. I had heard about these in the past but I had not taken the time to learn how to create them. Looking back, that was a big mistake. They are super easy to create and so very, very useful.  For this class, I created a Jing that will help parents to be able to better navigate a blog that I created for them. In the classroom, I can already envision a number of different ways that I will be able to use this resource.

Jing is incredibly easy to use. It does require you to download a program to your computer, but in my humble opinion it is definitely worth it.  The only problem that I had using the program is that I am extremely picky about the work that I do and I re-created my Jing about ten to fifteen different times because something always happened that made me not like the work that I had done.  Eventually I simply said, enough is enough and went with what I had.

Here is a link to the Jing that I created if you are interested in seeing how they can be used. French Immersion Resources for Parents Blogs Walk Through.

Voicethreads

Recently in my EC&I 834 we were asked to complete a Voicethread as one of our assignments. I had heard about these before but I had yet taken the time to learn how to put one together. To my amazement, they are incredibly easy to do and quite a bit of fun. The whole process doesn’t take that long and the final product is quite stunning.  This is a tool that I can definitely see myself using in the classroom in the future as the students will love being able to record their own voice and hear what other have to say.  I believe that parents will also love this tool because it will give them the opportunity to hear their child speaking French. All too often I have parents say to me that they never hear their child say anything in French and this will be a chance to show them what their child know. I have included a link below to the Voicethread that I created for my class.
http://voicethread.com/book.swf?b=3139910

Glogster

This is a tool that I was asked to use in my EC&I 834 class. I found this tool to be fun and easy to use, but at times a little frustrating.  It was easy to add items, graphics, sound and images to the interactive poster that I created but I got frustrated when trying to add a video directly into my poster. I eventually gave up and decided to simply link it to my page. I tried a number of time to add a video but each time it would simply tell me that it was loading but it never did.

This tool can serve so many functions in a classroom. The first and most obvious would be for students to create their own project. Another function would be to use it as a homepage for a unit that you could be working on in the classroom or to set it up as a PD opportunity for yourself. I chose to take my Glogster in a different direction. I set up mine with parents of French Immersion students in mind.  I added links to videos (in English), books that can be read at home that follow the theme, audio soundtracks of vocabulary that we will be learning, and so much more.  I found this tool to be a great way to improve parent communication and parent involvement.

Please click on the following link to view the Glogster that I created – Nos 5 sens

As I am sure most educators are aware, we are referred often to Bloom’s Taxonomy. In a graduate studies course that I am currently taking (EC&I 834) we were asked to look at a slightly different version of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Andrew Churches has adapted this well known tool and has created “Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy“. This is a rather innovative tool (in my humble opinion) that allows us to see where technology fits into the whole scheme of things and also how technology can help us to attain some of the higher levels of the taxonomy.

If you scroll down on the above link, you will find Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy map. This is the tool that I especially enjoyed because it enabled me to visualize where all the technology that I have been incorporating into my classroom fits in the big picture. If you want more information about this take on Bloom’s Taxonomy, check out the following wikispace.

 

Bloom's Digital Taxonomy Concept map.

Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 2.5 License

Time flies when having fun!

 

So for the first time tonight I participated in a Twitter chat. I have been a little hesitant to jump into a chat in the past but I was on my computer (under the pretense of doing some homework for my current grad class) when the chat started so I thought that I would give it a try. The topic of choice tonight on Kinderchat was Report Cards: Friend or Foe. I knew right away that this was a topic that I have some background knowledge on (seeing as I have to do them three times a year) so I thought that I would try it out.

Twitter bird logo icon illustration by Matt Hamm, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License  by  Matt Hamm 

Before I knew it, the chat was over and I had participated in a fairly good conversation with people all over. We compared how report cards work in different schools, talked about how the grading system worked (there are actually some schools that use grades still in Kindergarten instead of a number scale), how some schools are phasing out report cards in favor of portfolios, etc. The topic also changed slightly as the night went on. There were a number of teachers that were talking about making sure that they had to have their retention list in to their administration before their report cards went home. This sparked a conversation about how many school were on opposite sides of the coin in regards to retention. We also discussed the benefits to full day kindergarten.

This last topic interested me greatly as the Saskatchewan government has been making noise lately about making Kindergarten students attend school full-time. When the topic was first brought up in Saskatchewan, I was on the fence as to whether or not it would be a good idea. After having listened to many of the people tonight, it certainly seems like it might be a smart move. Full day Kindergarten will give the children a chance to explore new concepts with even more depth, spend more time on literacy skills, play more with math, etc. As a teacher, full day Kindergarten would enable me to feel less stressed. When you only have two and a half hours in a day, it is hard to fit everything in and some of the basics were often falling to the wayside. This might just be one move that the government makes that will actually benefit the students.

How My Blog Has Evolved

As I sit here today, I have been thinking about how much my blog has changed since I started EC&I 831. I initially started blogging because it was a requirement for class, but class has now ended and I have decided to continue blogging. I was curious to know how my blog has changed so I thought that I would enter the URL into Wordle again to see if it came up with something similar to the original Wordle that I created about a month ago.

When I look back at the first Wordle that I made (the one with the white background) it looks as if Classroom, children and Kindergarten where the three most common words that I used in my blogging.

According to my second Wordle, it appears as if the word Parents has started to appear more frequently in my blog.

As I go forward from here, I am not sure what path I will take. I continue to look for new and exciting things that I can try in my classroom (when I return to work). I am hoping that this blog will turn into a something where I can write about the new experiences that I have tried and also a place where I can continue to grow as a teacher.