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Lila Gaertner's Education Portfolio

"Education is a journey, not a race"

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ECS 301

Canada as a Multicultural Society

Write a blog post reflecting on the process of developing the lesson on “Canada as multicultural society” with your group – what were some challenges? What did you learn in the process?

As a group, my 4 classmates and I tried to break down outcome IN5.2 by creating a modified indicator for that outcome and relating it to Treaty Education. This task seemed to be a difficult task for my group members and I, but I do not know why. I think we had a hard time creating the modified indicator and making it simplified enough for a lesson plan. Our modified indicator seemed to be a bit wordy. But once we started thinking, it got easier because we had more than one person working together to come up with ideas. I think we worked well as a group as we came up with the set, development and closure pretty easily. Once we got this far into planning the lesson it was even easier to come up with the differentiations, activities, and Mini Choice Board. I think one of the hardest parts of creating this lesson was creating the modified indicator and incorporating Treaty Ed into it. One of the main things that I learned from this activity was that I need to break down the indicator so small or specifically, so that it is exactly what you are going to teach that day.

POE (Predict Observe Explain) Experiment

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Well, today was my last day in my Pre-Internship classroom this semester and I can honestly say that I am a bit sad, but also a bit relieved at the same time. It was a great experience to learn by actually teaching in a Middle Years classroom this semester, but I am definitely ready for a break. All day, the class seemed a bit more anxious or “rowdy” because they were excited for their field trip to the Science Center that would be happening that night. Most of them would also be sleeping overnight at the Science Center as well, so I am sure this was a factor as to why most of the students were behaving the way they were today.

In my lesson today, I planned to do a Science experiment to keep the students actively engaged by giving them a chance to try to make a paperclip “float”. I first taught the students about buoyancy, buoyant force, and talked about different things that float before explaining the experiment. Then I introduced the Predict, Observe, Explain (POE) experiment and let the students pick their groups of either four or five people. The instructions for the POE experiment were verbally and visually given to the students on the projector screen and on a piece of paper in front of each group. I think I did well with differentiation today for visual, auditory, interpersonal and kinesthetic learners with this lesson. I think most of the students enjoyed this lesson because they got a chance to do an experiment and then find out that the results were not what they thought they were. Most of the students thought that paper clips were buoyant, but what they found out in the end of the experiment was that paper clips are not buoyant, but are actually just suspended on top of the water and held up by the water’s surface tension. So overall, I was glad that most of my students took this message away from the lesson.

As I worked on classroom management again today for my target, I think I did a lot better than I did at the beginning of the semester. Today, I worked well on monitoring the groups as they were experimenting and helped each group further their learning by answering their questions and giving them ideas to get the paperclip to “float”. I did have to ask for the student’s attention a few times though because one group was not paying any attention to what I was trying to say. I also had to take a moment to ask for their respect because they were wasting everyone’s valuable time to do the experiment and learn. In the end, the students became a little bit more respectful, so I feel like I have gained some ground over these past eight weeks. Classroom management has definitely been something that I have been improving on this semester, but it is also something that I believe that I will always need to be focusing on and improving on in my future teaching career.

Water Pollution Pledges

Today was a very successful day. I felt like a lot of the students were listening well, participating in small group and class discussions, and were very productive. I started my lesson this morning by doing a bit of a review. I caught my students attention by revealing candy to the person who answered the question correctly. I was a bit cautious about using candy as an award before the lesson, but I really think in the end, it had a positive effect on all the students because I gave everyone an opportunity to answer a question by only awarding one candy to someone even if they knew more than one answer. It also kept the students engaged because they were waiting for the questions so that they could answer correctly. Once I was finished my review of the water cycle and watersheds from the last few lessons, I taught my grade 7/8’s the importance of the First Nations and Metis people’s perspective on water and water pollution. I was a bit nervous about teaching this lesson because I was not sure how my students would react, but as I was teaching them this part of the lesson I was pleased that everyone was being respectful and stayed engaged.

After this we moved onto specifics about water pollution. I showed my students two videos and as they watched both videos they stayed engaged and definitely thought things through. After watching the videos on the life of a plastic bottle and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch the students seemed to be left with deep thoughts about the videos. Even in the discussion after each video I could tell that they were thinking deeply about the topics. One student asked, “Why can’t we just scoop up all the plastic in the ocean and recycle it?” and another student responded, “because there is too much plastic to clean up and it would take too much money”. These students had some very good questions to ponder and try to answer. After some small and large group discussions we came up with some things that we, personally, could do to help the water from being polluted with plastics. The students all had some great ideas about how to respect our water and how to properly recycle our plastics. In the last 10 minutes the students created some personal pledges on what they could do to help this ecological issue of plastics getting into the ocean. Some of their pledges were: to use reusable bags, throw their garbage in the garbage can, recycle their plastic bottles, reduce the amount of plastics they use, chew less gum, reuse their plastics to create something new, and use reusable lunch containers rather than plastic bags. In the last few minutes of class, I wrapped up by talking about Nature Works plastic cups. This was something else to ponder because it is a company that claims to make plastics out of plants rather than oil by melting plant sugars and making polymer chains, which are then 100% biodegradable, but in reality have to be recycled in a specific way, rather than composed in a regular landfill.

Overall, I would say that my lesson went really well. I was really proud of what I taught and what was accomplished. While my C0-op teacher and I went over my target sheet and overall evaluation for the semester she told my classmate and I that our lessons have been the best lessons that she has seen from any of the other interns that she has had. This made me feel really good about my efforts and my abilities to teach in a middle years classroom and I am very glad that I got placed at this school for my Pre-Internship.

Valuable Museum Visit

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Would you use the existing materials provided by the museum? If so, how?

Danielle and I would not use the worksheet that is provided from the museum, because we both think that it takes away from the overall experience of viewing and engaging with the artifacts personally. The day after visiting the museum we would get our students to answer reflection questions based on their experience at the museum, what they observed and what may have even challenged them.

We did not like how our class went around the museum twice in a group. We both thought that we were rushed through the artifacts that we on display. This being said, if we did take a middle years group to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, we would walk around in a group first and point out certain artifacts that tie in with the Treaty Education outcomes and indicators. After walking around in a group once we would have a class discussion about the artifacts that were pointed out. We would then let the students walk around in pairs or on their own to explore the rest of the museum and we would also suggest to them that they go back to the exhibits that we rushed through the first time around or that they did not get a chance to look at.

While letting students explore on their own, we would have them then go through once again just to make sure that they get to see all of the artifacts. After the students have gone through once, we would assign the students to go through again to pick out one artifact that they found challenging or even something that they would like to learn more about. The reflection questions in class the next day would be based on these engagements in class, which could turn into a presentation in front of the teacher or as an essay.

Some of the Treaty Outcomes the Museum would hit would be:

SI7.2-: Examine Oral Tradition as a valid way of preserving accounts of what transpired and what was intended by entering into treaty.

This outcome would relate with the Hudson Bay Company blanket display. In this display, there was speaking about an introduction to a conversation. The following questions could be asked such as “What do you think the conversation will be about? Why?” “Why do you think one person is wearing a winter parka and the other one is wearing a Hudson Bays Company Blanket?”

HC73: Examine the Indian Act, including its amendments, and explore the effects it has on the lives of First Nations.

For this outcome, you could get your class to reflect on a few questions and look for a few artifacts that either displayed information on the Indian Act or talked about it directly. For example, you could ask your students before they go to the museum to ponder these questions as they are at the museum: “Where do you see examples of the Indian Act being talked about, written about, or displayed in the museum? If you do not see the Indian Act being displayed in the museum, ask yourself why this may be?” You can also reflect on these questions and discuss them in class the next day. You can also discuss the language being used in the Indian Act and in the Museum with your class.

Written by:  Lila Gaertner and Danielle Vankoughnett

Gaining Respect

What I appreciated about today was that early in the morning before school started, someone in the staff room saw my classmate and I and asked, “Who are you filling in for or who are you for the day?” So when I told them that we were actually Pre-Interns they just smiled and said, “Oh, I see.” It made me laugh, but at the same time it made me feel honored that someone already thought that I was a substitute teacher at this school. It also seemed like my classmate and I already fit in and looked like teachers. 🙂

Today’s schedule was Day 5 and therefore, the schedule was a bit different than what I was used to, but it was still an overall great day.  Our co-op teacher was back from her holiday from Mexico, the students were back into the rhythm after a four day weekend, I got free chocolate cake at lunch, and there was an Oreo cookie sale at lunch. In the morning, we started with my classmate’s lesson on food chains and food webs. It was a fantastic lesson. I even joined in on the Kahoot activity for fun to see how much I was paying attention. One of my favorite quotes for the day was when one of the students asked, “Who is Miss G?” during the Kahoot game. Once I said that it was me, they said, “What? You’re not supposed to play!” I found this to be funny because I assumed that the only reason they were “upset” was because I beat their score in Kahoot. But just to let you know, I didn’t win first place, so it was not like I beat them in that sense.

After recess, I helped the grade 8’s with their math assignment. They were working on an assignment on multiplying fractions and they also did an “assessment” on multiplying and dividing fractions. Once I reminded myself how to multiply and divide fractions, I was able to help quite a few students before their assessment. I found it interesting that our teacher called it an assessment instead of a test, but I did like the name change because it did not seem as intimidating of a word.

After lunch, I taught my lesson on watersheds and Regina’s water system. I believe I did a pretty good job teaching the lesson, managing the class, and leading the group discussion. I focused on classroom management today as my target and I got a lot of good feedback from my classmate and co-op teacher. They said that the students responded well to my “if you hear me, clap once” technique and they were engaged throughout the lesson. I also started off the lesson very personally by saying that I would appreciate it if they all listened to my lesson. I also showed the students respect and asked for their respect by using a specific choice of words/language and actions/gestures. I was also very transparent in my lesson. I did this so that the students knew what was coming up next in my lesson. I think some of the best parts about my lesson where when we discussed as a class why we thought Wascana Lake was so polluted, and when we played the life sized “Lakes, Oceans, Rivers” game. I think the Brain Break game was awesome to get the students moving around in the classroom, thinking about watersheds, and laughing together. I don’t think I would change anything in my lesson this week because it seemed to run very smoothly and the students were very engaged. I hope this is the same for next week.

After my lesson, there were a few of us that got to bake cookies in the kitchen downstairs for the parent/teacher conferences this Friday (pictures above). I got the privilege to work with 5 of the girls from our class and bake cookies for their Friday bake sale. In the end, I didn’t really make the cookies, but I helped where needed, had fun, and built relationships with the students at the same time. I also got to taste some of the cookie dough and final cookies as well. In total, the girls probably made over 12 dozen cookies in less than an hour and a half. They made cracker jack cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and Oreo cookies that would later have cream cheese icing in them.

Now that the day is over, I feel that I have gained a little bit more respect from the students and for that, I am grateful. I am making little steps by building relationships with the students.

Remembrance Day Service

Today was a little bit different than our typical Wednesday in the classroom. We had a substitute teacher today because our usual co-op teacher was on holidays in Mexico for the week. We also decided to switch our day two schedule around by starting with Bellwork and then going into my lesson instead of the usual Literacy lesson.

Since today was the last day of school before Remembrance Day, we had a Remembrance Day service and therefore, some of the students had to leave before or during my lesson to practice choir or carrying in the poppy wreaths for the service. This was kind of unfortunate because some of the students missed out on my lesson about the water cycle. I was actually surprised that some of the students did not even know what the water cycle was until I taught this lesson. I think most of the students responded well to the lesson and once I gave them time to work on their written, visual or dramatized representations of the water cycle, I was able to see their understanding of what was just taught. They did seem to take a while to focus on the assignment, but once I wandered around to each person to see how they were doing, they seemed to appreciate the direction given to them.

My target this week was to move around the classroom during my lesson from the projector, to the board, and to each of the students individually. I think I did a pretty good job of this and our substitute teacher for the day even saw it as a great classroom management strategy. If you get rid of the “stage” at the front, the students are less likely to think they can get away with misbehaving in the back of the classroom.

During the work period during my lesson, there was one group that I allowed and trusted to be a group of five to do a dramatized representation. I think I should have thought about this a little bit more before saying it was okay for them to work in a group of five because once they started working, they were off task and a bit disruptive. So next time, I would stick with my “max 3 people in a group” rule. In the end, their drama and understanding of the water cycle was pretty good, but I still wouldn’t put them together in a group that big again. All of the assignments that the students handed in to me ended up being very creative in their own way. I loved seeing the different creative pieces come together. Seeing and reading the assignments at the end of the lesson was probably my favorite part of the day.

After my lesson was over and their recess, our school had a Remembrance Day Service. They had a few poems read, a skit, students carrying in poppy wreaths, a choir song sung called “Imagine”, and of course a moment of silence to remember the soldiers that were lost at war. This was a great service and I was happy to see that the two MC’s of the service were a grade 7 and 8 student from our class. They did a wonderful job.

Slowly, but surely I am building relationships with these students. I was able to play a different version of Dodge-ball with the students and also comment on their work that they did on the water cycle during my lesson. I also had a chance to talk with one of the students who usually does not want to participate in class. He had walked out of the room during one of the lessons and I simply went out to talk with him for a few minutes to ask why he was out there. He said he wasn’t interested in the lesson, so I asked him what he was interested in. He said he didn’t know, but I knew he liked basketball and said I liked basketball too. Then I asked him nicely to come back in and try to get something out of the lesson and he actually listened. I was surprised because my co-op teacher had mentioned that this particular student does not usually like women and that he does not usually listen to anyone. So it was nice to see that over the past few weeks I have been gaining his trust and that he is beginning to respect me more. I hope to continue to build good relationships with all of my students in the next few weeks.

Laura Budd’s Presentation

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Last week I was very privileged to sit in on Laura Budd’s Presentation on Assigned Sex. I really enjoyed her talk because she was very knowledgeable, open, and passionate about the topic. Hearing Laura’s story about transitioning from a male to a female was very intriguing and heart wrenching because of all she had gone through, but it was also very emotional because she had overcome a of of challenges with the government, strangers, friends, herself, and her family. Laura made a good point that when you are born with an assigned sex, most people assume that you will express and identify yourself as that sex, but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes people feel like they should have been born as the other gender; this was Laura’s case. There were a lot of expectations on her when she was the only male in the family and she was expected to take care of the farm when she was growing up.

I found it interesting that gender is defined the ages of 3 and 5 and that your sexual attraction is defined around the ages of 13-18. For most people, it is easier to assimilate and try to fit into the gender norms, rather than being different. But I liked Laura’s approach with the presentation because she had many truthful quotes throughout her presentation. One of them said: “The biggest challenge of life is to be yourself in a world that is trying to make you like everyone else.” I also like the quote, “Never be defined by your past. It was just a lesson, not a life sentence.”

I appreciated the classroom application that Laura also brought into her presentation. She gave us all practical things we could do after hearing her speak. Here is her list:

  • Learn more about the lives of gender and sexually diverse people
  • Use affirming names and pronouns
  • Be kind and Friendly
  • Interrupt Prejudice
  • Know the language
  • Bring literature into the classroom that respects all students
  • Provide access to information to gender and sexually diverse people and topics
  • Strive for gender inclusivity
  • Love and respect all
  • Bring the lives of the gender and sexually diverse people to life in the classroom

At the end of Laura’s presentation she made a few other good points. “Don’t settle for anything other than respect. Everyone is worthy of love and respect, no matter how they express themselves. Most importantly, love and respect yourself for who you are, even if you look different to others.”

This is a great quote to wrap up the post. It pretty much sums up what we need to do now that we know more about the gender and sexual diversity that may be in our future classrooms.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

~ Maya Angelou

Classroom Management

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I found this article to be very interesting because it gives an example of only needing respect in the classroom. One teacher explains to another that they only need one rule in their classroom and all of the other rules fall under the one category of respect. But another teacher says that respect is more of a value because it does not explain “what” needs to be done or followed as a rule in the classroom. I think that it is important as a future educator to understand the difference between a value and a rule because if you do, you will be able to manage your classroom differently, which will then hopefully help the students to respect everyone in the classroom and learn together as a team. I think that I could help the students respect each other by making a classroom covenant with my students. This idea would be helpful so that the students would respect one another through out the year because of the promise/agreement that they made on the covenant. To create the covenant, I would have the students suggest ideas of what they thought was appropriate and not appropriate behavior in the classroom. From there, the class would make a list of rules that we would all agree upon. Even I would agree on the rules, so that the students knew that just because I was the teacher did not mean that I could break the rules. After making up rules like: no swearing or fowl language, keep a positive attitude, encourage one another, help one another when needed, and listen when it is someone else’s turn to talk, I would make sure that all of the students agreed to sign the covenant and promised to do their best at following these rules for the whole year.

I know that some students on the other hand will like a challenge when it comes to school and some will even like a challenge when it comes to focusing on good behavior in the classroom. The article on ClassDojo makes a good point that keeping score of the students behavior is a good way to boost their confidence and even help encourage them to change their behavior when they have made mistakes. I think that challenging them all to reach a certain score would encourage them to be respectful in the classroom all year. Eventually if the students collectively got a certain score, you could host a small party in your class to celebrate their respect for everyone and their willingness to learn. It would be a great celebration for the students to look forward to.

I like both of these articles’ ideas because I feel like they fit nicely into my teaching philosophy. I want to encourage good behavior in my classroom and if making a classroom agreement/promise/covenant and even a sort of competition will help, then I will do it. I think that making a covenant and competition could be fun for the students and it would hopefully make their learning experience more positive overall.

Half Way There!

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I can’t believe I am already half way done this semester’s Pre-Internship! It’s crazy how time flies when one is having fun! This morning was a lot of fun because I got to go with my students to an event called “Try-a-Trade”. This event had three sessions where the students could pick different booths to go to and try out an activity that dealt with Trades. There were booths with different Trades like: electrician, mechanics, dry wall, carpentry, culinary arts, auto body detailing, graphic design, welding, framing, and make up and hair stylists, etc. It was an enjoyable morning because I got to just roam around the room and watch the students try out different Trades. Some of the activities that were there were very amusing. They looked so fun and intriguing that I wanted to try quite a few of them myself, but held back and just observed for the students’ sake.

In the afternoon, I was able to teach my lesson on sending and receiving a Frisbee. The students seemed very engaged when I asked them questions and they were very excited to learn more about Ultimate Frisbee as well. As I was teaching the lesson, I think that the students seemed to continue to be engaged because they do not get to pass around Frisbees at school very often. This is probably due to the fact that their school actually doesn’t own any Frisbees. I also think that the students were even more excited to use the Frisbees because they were from the University of Regina. As the lesson continued, I noticed that a lot of the grade 7/8’s skill level with a Frisbee was low, but they progressed by doing the drills before the game was introduced, which was nice to see. Since we played a similar game last week, only with beanbags, it was mostly a review as to what the rules were for Ultimate Frisbee. There were some minor blips of unsportsmanlike attitudes and actions throughout the game of Ultimate Frisbee, but overall, the students played pretty well and had fun while doing so.  As they played, every once in a while, I would stop them to give them some pointers or hints on what strategies they could use to improve their skills in the game. My questions seemed to be timed well and I even waited to see if they had anything they wanted to say.

Compared to last week, I think I have gained a little bit more respect from my students, which was a nice improvement. I had one student act out in my Phys. Ed. lesson, but then they later apologized for being so disruptful. This kind of shocked me, but I was very thankful for their apology. I know it is hard for Middle Years students to open up and feel comfortable around new people, so I feel honored that they are starting to feel more comfortable around me and respect me more as their teacher. I look forward to the second half of my Pre-Internship this semester and getting to build relationships with my students and learn from them. I am up for the challenge!

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