Archive for January, 2017

Getting Started with Google Classroom

Posted on January 29, 2017. Filed under: digital citizenship, Eci834, educational, Genius Hour, Google Classroom, Masters, online safety, Technology |

Our ECI834 group has chosen to use Google Classroom as an LMS. It seems to be the most practical choice as many of us will have opportunities to use it now (or later) in our classrooms.

google-classroom

Photo credit: Alice Keeler via alicekeeler.com

I, for one, have not tested out Google Classroom before as I have taught grade 1 or 2 for the past 5 years and it’s a little bit too difficult to navigate for that age group. Instead, I have used SeeSaw pretty extensively. (Which I love btw!)

I am hoping to move up in grades in the next little while, so I know I will be able to use Google Classroom more and more.  I’m especially excited to use it for Genius Hour with older students.

The first thing I had to do in Google Classroom was create a class. I asked my group if we each wanted to create our own class for this project, or if we should have one class with different units. We decided on just one class.

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That meant that the next thing I needed to do was add my group as co-collaboraters within our “Genius Hour” class. For that, I googled “collaborate with other teachers on Google Classroom.” Helpful Google gave me step by step instructions, and the first thing I had to do was go to the ‘About’ tab, and “Invite Teachers.”  The only problem was that there was no one to invite! I tried typing in my group’s email addresses, and it didn’t work. Nothing came up.

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It turns out I needed to have these teachers as contacts before I could invite them to collaborate. So I had to open up ‘My Contacts’ with this specific Gmail account and add each of my group members as contacts.

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This step seemed a little excessive, as I feel like I should have been able to input their email address directly into Google classroom. It was especially difficult as a couple of my group member’s uregina emails didn’t work.  Once we got that sorted out, I was able to add all of my group as co-teachers for our class.

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Now I needed to create an assignment and somehow organize it so that my assignments would only show up in my module.  Google Classroom has a “Stream” for the students, and things show up in there as they are put in. I figured this could get confusing considering we were going to have six people adding assignments to this one class.  The Google expert, Alice Keeler, wrote a post about adding topics to Google Classroom. I learned that “topics” is a way that we can organize our content into units. I called my topic, “Digital Citizenship and Works Cited” as that is what my Genius Hour module is going to be on.screen-shot-2017-01-29-at-10-27-00-pm

I encouraged the rest of my group to create their own topic when they create an assignment as well. That way students can use the filter option later to navigate through the different assignments for each unit.  I will organize my own assignments with the Dig Cit/Works Cited topic/unit and then call them Assignment 1, 2, 3 etc. with a description of what they will be doing.

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Digizen.org

For my first assignment, I have decided to have the students complete an interactive digital citizenship game made by Digizen, write a reflective blog post, and fill out a Google Form that shares their digital citizenship score with the rest of the class. I figured this would be an interesting way to engage my students in the topic and get them thinking.

Some of my other EC&I834 classmates have also chosen to use Google Classroom for their LMS, and Jayme reminded me that one of the best features of Google Classroom is that students will have everything they need in one place. They won’t need to worry about losing assignments or misplacing certain instructions. I came across this powerful blog post a couple months back written by Pernille Ripp. It talks about how we as teachers need to try and remove barriers for learning rather than add them. This resonates with me while thinking about Google Classroom. Why would we get mad at students for losing assignments when we can help them by creating a place for them where this very thing is impossible? Google Classroom will be a great tool that will help students in this way, among others. I’m excited to dive into it further.

While testing it out this week, these are my Google Classroom pros and cons

PROS

  • Easy to navigate
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Simple ways to attach URLs, documents, Youtube videos, and any other Google Drive options to assignments

CONS

  • Had to add create new Google contacts to add other teachers as collaborators
  • There was no way to add a specific folder for a unit, so I had to use the “topics” tag
  • Once I have used the “topics” tag to specify units, I won’t be able to use it to specify other subjects.  I will have to create a new class for each new subject I would want. Ex: Science, ELA, Math etc.

Does anyone know a way around this issue? If so, please share in the comments!

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Unfollowing Idiots

Posted on January 26, 2017. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, digital citizenship, Eci834, educational, Facebook, Masters, online safety, Social Media, Social Networking, teaching and learning |

Ok, I apologize for using the term idiots. I guess I just need a catchy title that will grab attention and then we can start dealing with the issue at hand- what to do with those people on Facebook who annoy the crap out of you because of what they post!

 

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(No he doesn’t have an earring, it’s the lights behind him haha)

Meet Jon. Jon is my husband. Jon does not struggle with being a people pleaser, and he rarely cares about other’s approval. In fact, he frequently unfriends/unfollows people on his Facebook because he doesn’t like what they share/post. He doesn’t worry about his friend count, and if he hasn’t spoken to you for a while and you aren’t really friends, he will probably delete you.  It’s just the harsh reality of being a “Jon acquaintance” I guess.

While Jon is a little extreme in his Facebook decisions, I do remember having a conversation with some anti-oppressive educators about this very thing.  The advice we had been given in this anti-oppressive education class was that maybe it was time to ally with the oppressed by cutting out “friends” who would speak racist, sexist, classist things… online or face to face. This seemed like a good idea at the time as it was a small way to step out in activism. It was a way we could take a stand, put our foot down and say enough is enough!

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“Stop” photo credit: Brett Davis via Flickr

Well, I never did end up deleting anyone off of my Facebook, but there are a few people who have gotten close. The interesting thing about my life is that I am proud to say I have a VERY varied friend pool. I have anyone and everyone from the extreme left, to the extreme right, and many in between.  This was evident during Trump’s election. Even despite the algorithms Facebook sets up for you to show you what it thinks you want to see, I was blasted with both sides of the Trump debate.

Fast forward to last night where I saw an article shared that was blatant fear mongering.  Thank God someone called this person out for it as I was so close to just deleting the person. I went to bed and thought about if I should delete this person or not. I want to. I’ve wanted to for a few months now, but I couldn’t help but think of the echo chamber idea.

What’s an echo chamber you ask? Well Wired says an echo chamber is destroying democracy. Independent UK says social media echo chambers gifted Trump the presidency and the NY Times say that through echo chambers, most people are more likely to trust their social group than the news media. An echo chamber is basically surrounding yourself with people who amplify and reinforce your own ideas and beliefs.

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“Freed” photo credit: new alluminati via Flickr

I thought about what deleting this person off of Facebook would mean.  Sure, it would mean that I wouldn’t have to see some of their ridiculous posts anymore, but it would also mean that they wouldn’t be able to see any of mine. It would be limiting this person’s access to articles and ideas that are different than theirs.  I am lucky in that I have people from church, work, University, camp, friends, family members, among others who I dialogue with on Facebook. From what I know about this person, they are fairly isolated in their sphere of influence. Maybe I am one of the only people that will share something that challenges their thinking.

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“Critical thinking: Why our students need it” photo credit: open source.com via Flickr

Well, I could take a page out of Jon’s book and just unfollow them.  But all day I have been thinking about how that limits my own critical thinking. I clicked on the article this person posted yesterday.  I read through it and noticed there weren’t any references or any real facts. I was taking a critical look at this piece of writing and coming to my own conclusions. And truly, I am thankful for this opportunity. I am thankful that I have been taught critical thinking skills so that I can question something being put out there as truth. I believe this is an extremely valuable skill, especially for students, and we as teachers need to take this into consideration as we grant our students full access to the web.

So do you want to know what I did? I have decided to keep following this person. Endurance Marketing suggests 5 ways to eliminate your echo chamber and one of them is by continuing to follow people you’re not exactly friends with.  Another take away I got from their article is to get offline. How true is that! What are the chances people are going to get upset and storm out mid conversation when someone else says something they don’t agree with? The chances are slim.  People are much more likely to engage and hear another point of view when you are conversing face to face. They also suggest that being aware is the first step.

Are you aware of your bias? Am I aware of mine? Are you conscious of your social media echo chamber? Will you think twice before unfollowing the “idiot,” and will you think twice before only clicking on things you agree with.

Comment below with your thoughts! Are you guilty of living in an echo chamber?

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Professional Identity in ECE

Posted on January 24, 2017. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, eci814, Masters, Race |

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I drew this tree as a depiction of my response to the readings this week,“An early childhood professional’s authority” by Rachel Langford in Re-situating Canadian Early Childhood Education and “Authoring professional identities: Immigrant and refugee women’s experiences in an early childhood teacher education program” by Christine Massing.

The tree represents knowledge gained by the formal teaching of ECE. This tree is quite alive, but has many good and bad aspects to it.

The brown trunk and branches are the system of ECE itself. It’s an old system that has been around a long time. It is rooted deeply in history and years of the same type of knowledge. It looks very similar and the bark is not diverse. This part of the tree represents the “developmentally appropriate” practices that have been commonplace for years.

white streaks- These are the Eurocentric white views that permeate the system. The funds of knowledge are rooted deep in the waters of White, European male history and discoveries. The branches of early childhood theory all come from the core white principles and values.

The green leaves represent some positive outcomes of the early childhood system. Children learn knowledge and new skills. They are “Kindergarten ready,” and have many oral language experiences. They learn early numeracy and fine motor skills by making crayon leaf prints. They have a fun and successful time in Pre-K. These children are created by the system and made for the system.

Red flecks- These are the little bits of “blood” that don’t fit with the tree. These are the people who are trained within the system, but do not feel like they fit.  It is as if they don’t belong to this organism. They feel as if they were created for a different system completely. These people stick out and constantly feel like they are nicked, cut up and even wounded. They feel they are on display and do not camouflage well within the system. If they do make it through the training and into the workforce, there will always be tension there. They might blend in at times (autumn) when all the leaves turn different colours, and their difference is accepted as beautiful, but the majority of the time they stand out and are slowly losing their life force.

The black webs are representative of cultural growth within the tree. Just like spiders find their homes in rough places, but create things of beauty there, so these few black webs exist on my tree.  These are examples of small pockets of excellence. These people have used the system (the trunk and branches) to support their dreams, but have created their own masterpiece. They welcome the culture of the teachers and the students, and they incorporate it into unique ways of knowing.

The small grey areas amongst the tree branches and leaves show that this is a grey area. There is no black and white or right or wrong. It is multifaceted and has many considerations.

The green ferns are new buds. These are fresh new ideas and thoughts that are waiting to blossom. They are vibrant conversations that get people thinking in new ways. They are sharing groups and reflections that challenge the status quo. They know the system so well that they can use it’s life if they need to, but they also have the seeds and power to plant an entirely new organism when the time comes.

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An Online Genius Hour Unit

Posted on January 23, 2017. Filed under: digital citizenship, Eci834, Genius Hour, Masters, Technology |

I am excited to be working with Jen Huber, Jorie Gilroy, Kyle Dumont, Adam Krammer, and Lorraine Wagner on creating a Genius Hour unit/class online! Not only do we have a super sized group- we have a super awesome group. 😉 There is a lot of teaching expertise among these 5 teachers and I’m looking forward to working with them on our project.

twitterFirst, we decided to communicate through a Twitter chat. We are all using Twitter anyway, so it seemed like an easy tool for a group chat. From there, we decided on a Saturday morning Zoom meeting to meet “face to screen” and discuss where we were heading.zoom

During our conversation, different ideas came up around what type of modules should be included in this course. We decided on 6. One for each of us:

1) Introduction/start up- Jen

2) Questioning- Lorraine

3) Research- Adam

4) Works cited and dig cit.- myself

5) Demonstrating knowledge- Kyle

6) Evaluation- Jorie

I am really happy with these modules as I feel they encompass what Genius Hour can/should look like. Since I won’t spoil the rest of my group’s amazing modules, I will talk about my plans for how I will manage works cited and digital citizenship.

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In her blog, Jen Stewart Mitchell explains how she has seen the researched benefits of exploration and student driven inquiry. She notes that these types of projects help students become “passionate and engaged life-long learners.” I completely agree.  In fact, incorporating Genius Hour has changed my classroom entirely… BUT I don’t want this project to just be an explanation of how to do Genius Hour in a classroom. I feel it’s very important that since this is going to be an online course, there needs to be a reason it’s online. It really needs to be 2.0… It should not be paper content horizontally transferred to a word processing page on the computer. There should be a certain depth and interactive component that only online tools can bring.

img_1927My tension with this is that when I have done Genius Hour in my class, (check out my posts about those times under my category, “Genius Hour”) I have used many paper activities or resources. In fact, I still stand by the philosophy of using paper if it’s easier than tech, BUT for the sake of our course development, I want my module to be able to be used completely online, and then adapted for less tech rich classrooms if need be.

Making Genius Hour substitutions from paper activities to tech activities can be quick and easy; instead of students writing down their Genius Hour project ideas in a notebook or on scrap paper, they can send their ideas to Padlet or brainstorm using an app like BaiBoard. Though this substitution is pretty low on Bloom’s Technology Taxonomy, it does allow for some more interaction and collaboration between students, which may up their engagement level.

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Bloom’s Taxonomy for iPads via Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano’s Langwitches.org

For my module around citation and dig cit, what I really want to do is find valuable interactive ways for students to practice these skills within our course. I don’t want them to just learn how to cite properly and remember what being a good digital citizen looks like.  That wouldn’t move past the lowest two levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, Remembering and Understanding. I want to see students engage with Genius Hour citation and digital citizenship in a way that helps them retain it. If possible, I want to help them evaluate and create!

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I know there are many resources out there that allow for students to practice citing things properly and to be good digital citizens, but if you have one that you think this project should NOT do without, please comment below, and I will incorporate it!

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A Spiritual Journey to Reconciliation

Posted on January 23, 2017. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, Braiding Histories, cultural, Ed890, First Nations, Masters, Privilege, Race, reflection, Unsettling the Settler |

Before you begin reading, know that this is not a blog post. It is a final paper that has been cut and pasted into a blog post. It is my attempt at answering all of the questions I previously asked in past blog posts from my Ed890 class. It is written for a professor, and I posted it so that I have record of the final steps in my journey through that class.

A quick update as well would be that since having my daughter, I decided to postpone my project until I have officially finished my masters of education through course route. I still plan on completing the project, but I will be taking as much time as I need, not rushing to complete it so I can finish my degree. Here you go!

As I move forward with my Treaty 4 Reconciliation Project, I know there will be some hard decisions to make, and difficult questions to answer, especially as I start getting into the practical production of the project. I have already asked many of these questions on my blog, but I came at them hypothetically. I wasn’t really looking to answer them. Now it’s time to engage with them on a bit more of a practical level. As I enter into the creation of my project, I will begin to answer how I am going to come at some of these difficult decisions/questions. Below I will engage with each question separately and begin to answer how I plan on taking some of these bigger epistemological questions and engage with them pragmatically.

How can I help settlers unlearn Canada’s typical national story? 

Before participants enter into the Treaty 4 story, they need to be reminded of the dominant Western expansion story and its pitfalls. I would suggest that before participants take part in my project, they watch clips from “Canada, a People’s History” videos. There are some clips on YouTube, and the whole series can be borrowed from the library. Students should be asked to think critically about who is represented in the story, and who is not. By watching just a few clips, can they recognize who “Canada’s people” are? Who is the story about? What/who is missing?

Once students have looked into the dominant narrative of Canada’s history, the Treaty 4 story can be entered into thoughtfully. The Treaty 4 story needs to be re-told through the eyes of First Nations people. “I describe our stories as (re)tellings to signal that I am telling again – but telling differently – stories that have been narrated before… I want to convey to others, to elicit in others, the desire to listen and (re)member, to listen and acknowledge that which has happened” (Dion, 2009, 46-47). Voice needs to be given to the experiences and history of the First Nations people that were involved in the signing. That said, it cannot shift to become “just Treaty Ed.” The re-telling needs to look more like what Claire Kreuger calls “Settler Ed.” During the ARIS experience, students need to be questioned to be mindful of how this re-telling differs from the dominant narrative, and where they and their ancestors fit into the story… Aboriginal or not.

“Although this is distressing work, it is not to be done in the absence of hope – hope for a new and better relationship between Aboriginal people and Canadians is exactly what motivates me” (Dion, 2009, p. 113). How can I, like Dion, emphasize the power, strength, and wisdom of the First Nation’s people within the Treaty 4 story?

I think the videos I create need to show how resilient and strong the First Nations people are at the signing of Treaty 4. Each character that is introduced in the story needs to have a bit of a backstory and introduction. They shouldn’t just be a random character. I will have to be careful how many characters I introduce into the story so that participants can connect with each on a personal level. I think 4-5 characters is probably a good number for participants to follow along with. Using the backpack feature of the app, participants will pick up Cree words that emphasize these character’s strength qualities. Participants can pick up a word of strength and resilience before they meet each character in the story. I will do my best to tie in the correct word to the right character.

How can I foster an environment where the acts of colonial settlers can be investigated, and questions of responsibility can be taken up?

“If the current quest for reconciliation is no different from settler practices of the past – a new colonial tool of oppression – it has now become imperative to challenge Canada’s peacekeeper myth. Peeling back the layers of myth reveals that we must confront our own repressed and unscrutinized past as part of our own truth telling” (Regan, 2010, p. 67). I struggle to know how to push someone to investigate acts that have become so commonplace. I often think why didn’t anyone question what was happening to the First Nations people when thousands of Settlers were coming to Canada and First Nations people were being displaced right and left? We know that obviously there were some people who questioned what was happening, and certain people who challenged the policies that led to residential schools and reserves. That said, they were not loud enough, and we know that these systemic oppressions continued for too long, and still continue. I think the best way to have participants investigate these acts is to allow the participants to “interview” a Settler within the Augmented Reality Treaty 4 story. The app gives options for the participants to ask characters within the app questions and receive answers. I think one of the characters will have to be a Settler, and as the participants ask them questions, their racist worldview will have to be exposed, as will the benefits they received because of the Treaties. With some proper questioning afterwards, participants will have the opportunity to reflect on Settler actions and policies.

When is it our turn as colonizers/settlers to take responsibility for our own history, and work towards reconciliation from our end? Where do these understandings fit into the way I take up my Treaty 4 Reconciliation Project?

I believe the time is now. As Vanessa Watts from University of McMaster and Hayden King from University of Toronto point out in their article, “TRC Report a Good Start, but now it’s Time for Action,” there have been many Canadian reports done in the past that report on the violence and atrocious conditions First Nations people have had to deal with.

“The formulaic response to these moments of clarity and accompanying opportunity has been tacit acceptance, followed closely by delay and obfuscation, then apathy, and finally the status quo. It is a tradition in this country to ignore progressive solutions to the Canadian problem. This aversion is rooted in a resistance to sacrificing privilege and sharing power” (Watts & King, 2015).

Watts and King believe that it is no longer good enough to ignore yet another report about the racism and oppression facing our First Nation people. After reading the Truth and Reconciliation report’s Calls to Action, anyone can see how clearly something needs to be done.  That said, these Calls to Action in some ways are much bigger than me, and in other ways, they are exactly for me.

“The dynamics of symbolic violence are evident in the visceral exchanges between residential school survivors, government officials, and church representatives in public forums and less visibly in the everyday bureaucratic processes and practices that serve to reinforce colonial power relations. This subtle violence is all the more elegant because it is embedded in a language of healing and reconciliation that is seductive to both the colonizer and the colonized, albeit for different reasons” (Regan, 2010, p. 116).

I do not want to be a part of more subtle violence towards First Nations people. First Nations survivors have been putting in the time, the effort, and the back-breaking work of fighting policy, stigma, and oppression for years. It is time we as colonizers/Settlers stand behind them as allies and support the important work they have been doing all along. Reconciliation does not require me to re-tell the Treaty 4 story. Reconciliation does not require me to create a new lesson/unit for my own students. Reconciliation requires me to take responsibility for my own Settler history, learn about the ways I take part in racism and oppression, and work towards making that right in my own life. For me specifically, that has come as a call to make this Treaty 4 Augmented Reality app. I have realized that as I begin to take responsibility for my portion of history, I can work towards helping others understand where they might fit as well.

Who/What audience should my project be intended for?

After reading through the course texts, I have decided that this project should be mainly intended for Settlers. Sure, others can take part in the experience, and learn alongside us, but the First Nations people of Saskatchewan have been historically re-victimized by being asked to continually share about the oppression their people faced, teach others about this oppression, and then fight the governmental policies and systems that continue to oppress their people. It is time that Settlers learn about our own oppressive history and challenge our own ways of knowing.

“Decolonization is about changing lives and, in connection with research, conducting studies in different ways that directly benefit Indigenous peoples, instead of once again subjecting them to a research process that has ‘extracted and claimed ownership’ of Indigenous ways of knowing only to reject the people responsible for those ways of knowing” (Strong-Wilson, 2007, p. 117). I feel like I am struggling to find a balance between my desire to re-tell the history of Treaty 4 from a First Nations point of view and my desire to help White Settlers disrupt their own historical understanding of Saskatchewan’s history. Can I do both well?

When I first asked this question, I was bound by the fear that I had to do both well. In the weeks following, I have realized that the freedom lies in an open hand mentality. Though I have previously stated that I don’t want to be the White Knight, my thoughts and even actions proved otherwise. I felt like this project was my one shot to get it right. How on earth was I going to help Settlers disrupt their racist thought patterns and honour Saskatchewan’s Indigenous people through the re-telling of Treaty 4? I have now come to a place of open hands. It is not my responsibility to do anything in anyone else’s hearts or minds. God, the Creator, has set me on a reconciliation journey. I have realized that my role is to walk in obedience to what I feel called to, and trust that He is big enough and strong enough to guide the rest. This project’s success is not measured by how many people it reaches.  If this project reaches 100 people, or just 1 person, (myself), it has been useful. This project has been a spiritual journey for me, and as I have begun to de-colonize my own life, I have come to realize that success cannot be measured by Western standards. In fact, if I try to do that, I am losing sight of the spirit of intent that began this whole project in the first place.

Where do I fit as I blend my own spiritual understandings of creation and promise with those of our First Nation’s ancestors?

This process has also caused some inner turmoil for me over the past few months. I consider myself a Christian, a believer, and a Jesus follower. With these names have come years of Bible training, church attendance, and Euro-centric understandings of the world. I don’t think all of these experiences have been bad ones, and I don’t think all of them have been good either. What I do know is that my basic understanding of God has been framed through a Western church lens. That said, I have had many moments of deep spiritual connection with the Creator of the World, and for these times, I am forever grateful. I believe God has set my path for me, and called me into a relationship with Him. In the times when I have experienced God in the deepest ways, it is not surprising that they were free from the constructs of church policy, church business, and church frameworks.

I wish I could say that I have figured it all out and can now give you a solid vision statement of what I believe and how First Nation’s understandings of the world fit into my Christian beliefs. I can’t.  What I do know is this:

  1. I have a lot to learn when it comes to First Nation’s spiritual practices and ceremonies. I don’t have much experience with them, and my understanding in this area is limited to historical accounts of these practices or other’s experiences with them. I would like to grow my knowledge base of the spiritual side of ceremonies and traditions. Especially those surrounding the signing of Treaty 4.
  2. “Indigenous peoples are those who have creation stories, not colonization stories, about how they came to be in a particular place – indeed how they came to be a place” (Tuck and Yang, 2012). Right now, I feel like God is calling me to go deeper with Him in my understandings of Him as Creator. I have been convicted that I don’t have much of an appreciation or relationship to the land or creation.  I have been conscious of this, and have began taking time to appreciate the outdoors in ways that I haven’t before. It has started small by giving gratitude while on a run near my local creek, thanking Him for the cat tails and birds flying by. While driving through the prairies, I have looked out the window and tried to imagine what the natural Saskatchewan landscape would have been like before the farmer’s fields. I thank God for the beautiful never-ending sky and clouds that seem to represent His vastness. I also feel like I want to take a bigger step and devote a day or a weekend to being outdoors; learning and appreciating all that the Creator has given to us. This would be deeper than just a camping trip. The intent and spirit behind the day/weekend would be connecting with God as Creator and honouring all that comes with being on the land. I am trying to wait on the Lord in this respect, and trust that I will know when this trip should happen, where it should happen, and with who.
  3. This is a journey. I don’t have to have all the answers, and I don’t have to be at a certain point to feel like I can move forward with reconciliation. I want to meet with, and dialogue with First Nations people who are on this journey as well. I want to learn from Elders and listen to teachings that challenge my mind and heart. I want to trust that the work God is doing in my life is a good one, and that it will continue. I believe this journey is bigger than myself and as I move forward, I know I must remain humble and contrite in spirit.

To conclude, I have realized that this journey is a messy one. It’s not always clear what road I will go down next, and I’m not always sure where I fit or how. I know I have grown tremendously over this last year as I have learned about these topics, yet on the same hand, I feel just as helpless and just as inexperienced as before in many ways! I look forward to starting the practical part of my project with open hands, and I am willing to see this project change, shift, and grow as it continues.

References

Dion, S. (2009). Braiding histories: Learning from Aboriginal peoples’ experiences and

perspectives. Vancouver: UBC Press.

Regan, P. (2010). Unsettling the settler within: Indian residential schools, truth telling, and reconciliation in Canada. Vancouver: UBC Press

Strong-Wilson, T. (2007). Moving Horizons: Exploring the Role of Stories in Decolonizing the Literacy Education of White Teachers. International Education. 37, 114-132.

Tuck, E. & Yang, K.W. (2012). Decolonization is not a metaphor. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society. 1, 1-40.

Watts, V. & King, H. (2015, June 5). TRC report a good start, but now it’s time for action. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/trc- report-a-good-start-but-now-its-time-for-action/article24824924/

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Re-situating Early Childhood Education

Posted on January 17, 2017. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, eci814, Masters, Race, reflection |

I read Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw and Larry Prochner’s Introduction to Re-Situating Early Childhood Education. I love that they are taking a critical look at how early childhood is done in Canada. A couple years ago, I would have never thought there was a reason to do early childhood differently, but since starting my masters, I have taken some post-colonial theory and anti-oppressive education classes that have really opened my eyes to the systemic oppression evident throughout our education institutions.

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“The Ivory Tower” photo credit: Daniel Parks via Flickr

To be completely honest, I battle this idea of changing ECE.  To be “developmentally appropriate” is something I am proud of as I teach primary. I am very passionate about play-based learning, and learner centred environments. I see “success” in the way I have been teaching, and I believe in it. Challenging traditional paper centred classroom environments would be quite a bit easier for me then challenging the way ECE is thought of. To buy in, my entire pedagogy needs to change, and thankfully it has been… slowly… but surely.

Reggio Emilia is a play-based early childhood approach that claims to be based in neuroscience. I have used this style of teaching/learning to inform my own practice over the years.

An example of this is shown through a story that happened this past year.  I was teaching grade one at W.S. Hawrylak School. I often dismiss students from the carpet by what colour they are wearing. “Whoever is wearing blue, go wash your hands for lunch…  Whoever is wearing red go line up etc.” One day I dismissed any students who were wearing the colour black.  One student piped up and said, “My skin is black! Can I go?” I sort of stumbled over my words and said, “No, we just do coloured clothes” or something like that, and left it.  When sharing this story with my professor, Carol Schick, she challenged me to acknowledge what the child was doing in recognizing race. She encouraged me to affirm that child’s statement of race next time rather than ignore it. This seemingly made a lot of sense. I shouldn’t pretend like we don’t see race and we only see clothing colours. We do see race, and acknowledging it is a simple initial step to combatting racism. This was only one of the few “ah-ha” moments I have had as my knowledge has been increasing around post-colonial issues/structures.

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This is my 3 day old niece who’s father is black and mother (my sister) is white. I often wonder how race will play into her life.

What the book’s introduction started to clarify for me was that it’s not that the learning happening in ECE that is bad, it’s the system of learning that needs critiquing.  We need to think critically around the institutionalizing of learning. Education has valued early learning, but only through a neo-liberalistic lens; “Investments are made with an expectation of future benefit” (p.5, 2013). Basically we are investing and feeding into early childhood as a part of “the system” expecting/encouraging it to produce and support that very system. (One in which is based in capitalism of course.)

The authors also call out the binary/dualistic thinking that permeates early childhood education. These discourses are based in power, surveillance, and regulation. “Reconceptualist scholars remind us, these [binary] distinctions are contingent upon dualistic conceptions of power and, as such, they are problematic” (p.7, 2013). I think it’s Canella who suggests that childhood itself is a constructed concept. It allows the adult to become a powerful body, and the child to be seen as vulnerable. When we look at these issues from a re-conceptualist point of view, we are encouraged to change perspectives and come at them from a strength based approach; “This fluid and strength based approach de-establishes the developmental psychology perspective of the unified, rational, vulnerable child” (p.6, 2013).

One question I have is how does this knowledge challenge educators to approach planning/viewing/co-creating space in a strength based way for children?

How do we re-conceptualize Regina’s ECE’s power issues in regards to language, heteronormativity, and race specifically?

In what ways can educators disrupt capitalism and colonialism while still working within the common local framework of a play-based/developmentally driven childcare environment? Does this mean that classrooms should not include grocery store/post office centres for example?

I know that these musings will only be the beginning of what comes out during this class, but I am excited to dive into the work of post-colonialism through the lens of early childhood education.

Although I only can write about one introduction- this video reminded me of the word pathologizing from Early Childhood Curricula and the De-pathologizing of Childhood.

I can’t find the shorter version of Austin’s story that I saw on Facebook, but here is the whole episode

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