Grade 1 & 2

Princess Culture and Early Childhood Education: Application

Posted on April 11, 2017. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, eci814, First Nations, Grade 1 & 2, Kindergarten, Masters, Privilege, Race, teaching and learning |

In my last post, I ended with some questions about what we, as teachers or early childhood educators, could do to combat the racialized and gendered messages that our

6208199815_f8a332a456_m

“Disney princesses” Photo credit: Ricky Brigante via Flickr

students are being bombarded with in their Disney princess/superhero culture. We need to remember that racial understanding makes its way into our classrooms without effort. “Race is a structuring principle that must be interpreted in classroom interactions, not as a naturally occurring phenomenon but part of the assumptions that ultimately inform how people construct their world” (Leonardo, 2009, p. 233).

Our students have racial constructs already formed by the time they get to school, and many of those constructs have been influenced through their parent’s opinions, and the movies and shows the children have been exposed to. Unfortunately,

moana

Photo credit: Disney UK

we can’t wait for Disney to change their ways and disrupt the dominant discourse, because even though they are starting to try, by releasing movies like Moana, there are still many issues with movies like these portraying Indigenous people. It is going to require educators to take a critical look at the hidden and lived curriculum students are stepping into school with, and learning how to deconstruct these narratives with their students.

In my grade one class last year, we had talked a lot about male and female ‘gender roles.’  I didn’t have to give many examples before the students started chiming in with what the “world” tells boys and girls they can or can’t do. During our talking circle, students were giving examples such as, “People say boys can’t have long hair,” or “Girls like pink.”  I don’t think there was one student that day who didn’t participate in the talking circle; every child had experienced some type of gendered scenario where they knew how boys and girls were supposed to act.  It was neat watching them agree and sympathize with each other as each child gave examples of what they knew about gender and how it didn’t sit right, even in their little six year old bodies.

I decided to take this lesson a step further with my students because “to children, the boundaries between reality and fantasy life are often unclear (van Wormer & Juby, 2015, p. 591).  Kids don’t always understand that the behaviours on TV shows or in movies shouldn’t be imitated in their own lives. I wanted to try and help my students look critically at the gendered and racialized scenarios they see in movies, and deconstruct the message while relating it to their own lives.

The first clip we watched was Gaston’s song from Beauty and the Beast. Take a look if you need a little refresher.

When I chose this clip, I knew it would have a lot of the gendered physical characteristics  of males, and I was hoping the children would notice.  After we watched the clip, I asked the kids what Disney was telling them about men/boys. Sure enough, the kids picked up on so many of the physical qualities.

“Boys have to be strong.”

“Boys have to have big muscles.”

“They are hairy.”

“Boys eat a lot of food.”

“They drink beer.” (Oops, I may have forgot about that part of the movie!)

Then one student pointed out something that I hadn’t really thought about, but was so prevalent.

“Boys like to fight.”

Wow. How had I missed that obvious behaviour from the clip? Clearly Gaston was fighting with the men in the parlour, but I was more focused on the kids finding physical characteristics of what men “should be like.” This led us into a great conversation about violence and how boys are pushed into more of a violent social construct than girls.

We then looked at a couple other princess clips; one of Snow White, and another of snow whiteCinderella. The students were even quicker to find gendered stereotypes of women which included body image, a woman’s “roles,” and standard of beauty.  Unfortunately we don’t have to look far to see the media pushing women in one gendered cinderelladirection, and it mostly has to do with the beautification and sexualization of girls/women.  Our class had a really good conversation around this topic, and it even led into how they can be safe/protected online.  Many children recognized that inappropriate images of women are scattered everywhere on the web, and many children openly admitted to seeing these while they were using the internet in their own home. We discussed how “the world” sometimes treats women’s bodies as objects, and that is not fair or right. I reminded them of what they could do if they ran into inappropriate images/videos while online (close it immediately, tell an adult etc.) I try my best to incorporate digital citizenship lessons throughout the year as we use quite a bit of technology in my class, and I know students run into these situations at home as well.

The last part of the student’s assignment was to re-iterate a stereotypical message they knew about boys and girls, and then offer an alternative. For example, “boys CAN have long hair,” or “girls can wear blue and boys can wear pink” etc. The students left empowered, and I had a student come back the week after and tell me how his sister was telling him something about a “girl colour,” and he told her there was no such thing as girl or boy colours! What a precious example of social/gender de-construction.

Unfortunately, I did not dive into an extension of this lesson that included race… but I wish I would have.  I think deep down, challenging gender constructs was more comfortable for me than challenging racial constructs, and so I left it at that.  Now that I have more anti-oppressive grad classes under my belt, and feel a little better versed in my understanding of Whiteness, identity, and erasure, I am willing and hopeful to tackle more lessons of this sort when I head back into the classroom after mat leave.

However, Leonardo (2009) does warn us that “whites must learn to be racially sensitive about contexts when race seems a legitimate theme to invoke and ask why it was relevant to them then and not other times… Whites can participate in building an antiracist pedagogy against white mystifications, and displacing white racial knowledge from its privileged position of classroom discourse” (p. 239). This makes me wonder what it looks like to challenge the “princess/superhero” culture in specific lessons, but support it on something like a school dress up day.

Last year we had a dress-up day called “Disney Day,” where, you guessed it, students were encouraged to dress up as their favourite movie character.

Not surprisingly, all students either dressed up as a character, or wore a shirt that had a superhero logo or character on it.  Looking back, I’m again reminded at how prevalent and engrained the Disney culture is in these children’s lives. I would never consider boycotting the Disney day, as I know these types of days are extremely fun for students.  But if I could do it again, I would choose to have some critical discussion around gender/race as a reminder before the day. The children can learn to spot Whiteness, erasure, and cultural appropriation. This type of day would be the perfect time for them to practice their awareness in this area.

Furthermore, an asset-based, positive way teachers can disrupt the princess/superhero IMG_2265culture in their classroom is by offering other cultural/linguistic alternatives. Mary Caroline Rowan in her article, ‘Resituating Practice through Teachers’ Storying of Children’s Interests’ explained how she used Aotearoa/New Zealand learning stories to impart traditional Inuktitut words to preschoolers. It “could serve as a means of first recognizing and, second, deepening Inuit cultural and linguistic approaches to early childhood education” (2013, p. 180). Incorporating First Nations, Inuit, and Metis languages through storytelling is a valuable pedagogical tool teachers can use to help combat ‘White ways of knowing.’ Rowan emphasizes that using Indigenous methodologies

“facilitated the development of a practice of making learning stories that I hoped would make Inuit knowledge(s), patterns, and meanings accessible and, in so doing, make spaces in ECE practice for Inuit ways of knowing and being” (2013, p. 180).

In what other ways can we make spaces in ECE practice for Indigenous ways of knowing and being? How can we disrupt the dominant discourse of princess/superhero culture and acknowledge the ways in which it directly influences student’s understanding of themselves and each other? I am only entering the beginning of this journey, and am hopeful to walk beside other early childhood educators who believe in this work as well.

References

Joseph, A. (2016, Dec. 2). With Disney’s “Moana,” Hollywood almost gets it right: Indigenous people weigh in. Salon. Retrieved from: http://www.salon.com/2016/12/03/with-disneys-moana-hollywood-almost-gets-it-right-indigenous-people-weigh-in/

Leonardo, Z. (2009). Reading whiteness: anti-racist pedagogy against white racial knowledge. In B. Ayers, T. Quinn, & D. Stovall, (Eds.), Handbook of social justice in education. (pp. 231-248). New York: Rutledge.

Rowan, C. (2013). Resituating Practice through Teachers’ Storying of Children’s Interests in V. Pacini-Ketchabaw & L. Prochner, Resituating Canadian Early Childhood Education (172-188). New York: Peter Lang Publishing.

van Wormer, K. & Juby, C. (2015). Cultural representations in Walt Disney films: Implications for social work education. Journal of Social Work. 16(5), 578-594

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )

Bound by the Clock

Posted on March 20, 2017. Filed under: eci814, educational, Grade 1 & 2, Masters, teaching and learning |

This week’s reading talks about how since the clock has been invented, people, families, institutions- including schools, have been bound by time. I have felt this in my own life, and in my own classroom, and I know others feel this tension as well.

clock

In their chapter, Valuing Subjective Complexities: Disrupting the Tyranny of Time, Sherry Rose and Pam Whitty discuss how student freedom can be felt when their teachers do not strictly adhere to the clock. Even though teachers may pedagogically disagree with stringent teacher led behaviours, their classrooms tend to run strictly by time and schedules:

The schedule and its component parts become taken for granted scripts for organizing time. Passed on from one year to the next, ritualistic routines such as calendar time, snack time, outdoor time, and field trips remain embodied and unchallenged” (Rose & Whitty, 2013).

Not only is our school day run by clocks and bells, the curriculum is actually designed through subject minutes. Each subject is designated by a certain amount of minutes, and some subjects are clearly at the top of the academic hierarchy because they have more minutes imposed. This contrasts Ken Robinson’s creativity TED talk we watch last week:

Thankfully, since the Saskatchewan curriculum has moved to outcomes and indicators, I have noticed that teachers have more freedom with how their day can be organized. (Although I have heard this can change depending on which principal you have.) The principal at my school was pretty relaxed when it came to day/week/year plans. We could schedule our days pretty freely, and the only way our day was bound was to our prep times where other teachers would come and take the kids for Music, Phys Ed, or French.

On the other hand, my friend who works at a different elementary school had very strict timetable checks done by her principal. That principal wanted his teachers to tally how many minutes each subject was getting and total them at the bottom of their weekly plans. Each total had to be in line with the Sk curriculum document subject minutes, and their plans had to be handed in to the office and checked by the principal. Yikes!

I feel like Pre-school/Pre-K has a little more flexibility in how they structure their day than a grade one class, but I am going to share a couple things I do in my grade one class so that I am not as bound by the clock.

  1. I have a routine run by familiarity not time. Every morning, the very first thing we do is Morning Carpet Time. This title is more for the space we are using rather than the
    Mystery Word

    This is a slide from my Morning Carpet Time Smart Notebook File.

    structure or content of what we are doing. I have a Smartboard file called “Morning Carpet Time” that has around 30 interchangeable slides that I use throughout the year. My students get used to going through about 8 slides every morning.  Sometimes I switch the slides up daily, sometimes weekly, and sometimes monthly. They range in subject matter, but I have to admit, they do tend to have a math and literacy focus.  When there is a new slide, I teach them what they are supposed to do with it, and then from that day on, the helper of the day leads the class in all the Smartboard activities. This “Morning Carpet Time” does not have a time limit. Whenever we finish the slides is when we move onto our next activity.

  2. The students have come to learn that the bell does not dismiss them; the teacher does. Though I know young children have a desperate need for Recess, (as they should,) my class has learned that just because the bell goes, does not mean that they get to jump up and run outside… Especially when another class member is talking or sharing. The students have learned that if one of their classmates has the floor (or the teacher), they need to show respect and wait until that person, or that activity is finished. We have ‘worked’ through Recess in the past, and it is not a big deal. I can always take the students outside for a movement break later, or we can do one in the classroom when needed. Please don’t think that I am saying Recess isn’t important. I think it is vitally important. Students NEED to move, and have freedom of play, and be OUTSIDE… all I am saying is that the bell for Recess should not drive our interactions and emerging activities.
  3. I have mostly changed our visual schedule from subjects to activities. Rather than writing “math” on the visual schedule slip, I write “table activity.” This allows
    visual schedule

    Very similar to what my visual schedule looks like. Photo credit: Michelle, a special ed teacher

    freedom in navigating the ins and outs of the day.  If one activity goes really well, and I would like to continue it rather than moving to the next activity, I can use the next “table activity” time on the schedule to have the students keep working. The students are none the wiser, and I don’t have any ‘schedule loving Sally’s’ who say, “Teacher! Why aren’t we doing Health right now? Aren’t we supposed to be doing Health?” I also don’t have any times in front of each activity. The only thing on the schedule that would give students a sense of what time something is happening would be the Recess and lunch strips.

These are just a few things I have found that work for myself and my classroom. Are there any tricks that you know of that help your classroom not have to follow the clock to the minute? Please share in the comments below!

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Treaty Misconceptions and Facts

Posted on December 12, 2015. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, Eci832, eci832finalproject, educational, First Nations, games, Masters, Privilege, Race, Technology |

As I have been developing my Treaty 4 ARIS game/experience, I have been thinking about what content should be included, and what misconceptions should be addressed through this experience.

I have looked at some information from the Office of the Treaty Commissioner, and they have a lot of great resources when it comes to the history, story, and misconceptions of Treaty 4.

I am going to use some of their misconceptions through my project.  I want to find a way to incorporate the facts clearly by having my participants learn them through story and experience. Here are some of the things I want to address:

Screen Shot 2015-12-12 at 8.50.54 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-12 at 8.51.11 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-12 at 8.51.22 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-12 at 8.51.34 PM

When I meet with the Aboriginal elders and allies helping with this project, I will discuss how they think we can address these myths through the game’s story.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 4 so far )

Digital Citizenship in Grade One

Posted on November 29, 2015. Filed under: behaviour, collaboration, digital citizenship, Eci832, edublog, educational, Grade 1 & 2, Masters, online safety, parents, reflection, Social Media, Social Networking, teaching and learning, Technology |

There are a few ways that I try and teach digital citizenship in the primary classroom, and after my #eci832 class, there are some new things I am going to try now. In this post, I will share what I am doing, and what I want to try to incorporate into Health later this year. I will bold each tool or instruction method I am discussing.

Twitter– For the past 3 years, I have been using Twitter in the primary classroom. (@mrsmaleysclass)  I use it to teach sentence structure, grammar, and conciseness.  BUT, Twitter is good for more than that! In fact, Twitter is a perfect tool to talk about online safety. Every time someone follows our class, we look at their profile and decide if they are a) safe b) someone we can learn from c) a company.  We have decided as a class that we are only going to follow other classes or people that will be posting stuff applicable to grade one.  We don’t follow individual teachers, and we don’t follow every class that follows us. We look at their profile, their profile picture, their bio and their tweets, and we vote on if we should follow them.  You wouldn’t believe how many times kids choose not to vote on a class because their profile isn’t interesting enough, they don’t have a profile picture, or they haven’t tweeted consistently or often enough.  This in itself has shown students what a creative/positive online identity can look like.

The students have also learned about hashtags through Twitter. This is a year long learning curve as they don’t always understand the contextual underpinnings or language play that happens with hashtags, but they have learned some hashtags that are safe to use, and some that aren’t as good. For example, one day one of my students wanted to wish another student a happy birthday in his tweet. He wanted to use the hashtag #happybirthday.  We decided against it after checking out the hashtag and realizing that there was some inappropriate content there.  We decided we didn’t want to promote that content to other classes that might be following us.

Twitter is also an excellent avenue to look at advertising.  Since 2013, Twitter has used targeting advertising towards its users. This has been a great opportunity to show kids the difference between our regular home feed tweets, and those used as promotional tools. Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 7.07.13 PM The children can easily recognize the little yellow “promoted by” arrow and we often talk about what they are trying to sell us.  My goal is that students (even in grade one) should be taught critical thinking. They should be questioning what they see and who they follow. They can’t assume that everything is safe or trustworthy because we have a class account.

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 7.07.13 PM

An example of a tweet we got last year where students were encouraged to think critically.

That being said, I do have MULTIPLE students who have joined Twitter since being in my class. I haven’t encouraged any children to get their own Twitter account, but once they have used it in the classroom, they like it so much they ask their parents if they can get Twitter. At that point, it’s out of my hands, and all I can do is be a good online example for them.  I must say, it is neat to watch them interact with each other online though!

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 7.08.25 PM

Here’s a few examples of kids who have joined Twitter since being in my class. You make your own judgment. Do you think I exposed them to it too early?  Or perhaps are these the type of kids who would have joined anyways? I think we have moved beyond the question, “SHOULD students this young be on social media?”  The fact of the matter is, THEY ARE. Payton, Bayan, Greyson, Rayka, Minwoo, Justin, Maguire, Brody, Jed,

Research– Even though the students are young, I still think one of the best skills I can teach six year olds is how to research.  Gone are the days where the teacher is the giver of all knowledge.  Children need to be good at finding the information they want to know at the click of a button. A useful skill for student of all ages is Googling information and finding research that is safe, informative, and appropriate.  Why wouldn’t we start teaching this skill as young as possible?  We do Genius Hour in my classroom, and the kids get to learn about any topic they would like.  This involves gathering information, and researching their topic. I have tried different kid friendly search engines, (Safe Search Kids, KidRex etc.)  and I have come to the conclusion that Google is actually easiest and has the best results.  A lot of the time the kid safe search engines have pre-set filters that try and sway results to things that have to do with kids, but that aren’t always helpful.  For example, if a kid is interested in cars, these are the top results the child would get if he/she typed “cars” into KidRex’s search engine:

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 6.48.27 PM

The top results have to do with car seats, and buying and selling cars.  If a child typed “cars” into Google, these are the top results:

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 6.48.41 PM

Google’s results are already more appropriate and easier to navigate than the kid friendly search engine.  Google’s results bring up the movie Cars, which many children are familiar with, and it provides the Wikipedia entry that would have lots of information about the history and the make up of cars.  This is just one tiny example of how Google outdoes the other kid friendly engines, but there are many.

What I have learned is that for the students to be great researchers, they need to know how to type key words like +kids/ for kids when necessary.  Depending on their reading level, usually the BEST option for them is to click right on the Videos tabs so they don’t have to read at all.

 

 

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 7.23.42 PM

One thing I haven’t ventured into yet is copyright.  It was hard enough to teach grade one students how to find a Google image, save it to camera roll, and then use it in their Genius Hour presentation.  If anyone has any great ideas or kid friendly tools on how to find creative commons images that would be easy for grade one, I am all ears!

Blogging– Another way I try and promote a positive online digital identity is through our class blog.  I use the student blogging platform, Edublogs. (Mrs. Maley’s Class Blog) Every couple of weeks the students blog.  We talk about not sharing personal information in their posts like address, phone number etc. Sometimes the students are prompted with writing tasks, but a lot of the time they are allowed to blog about whatever they want.  I have found that this type of writing becomes much more authentic than students only printing in a journal for me to see.  The kids know their audience is global, and their writing improves drastically over the year.

Last year I also started a blogging buddy program with grade 11 students from Campbell Collegiate.  The grade 11’s would comment on my student’s blogs and in turn, my students would grade/rate their narrative essay assignment where they wrote a children’s book. The collaboration between both classes was neat, and through specific feedback, my students were able to improve their writing and digital identity.

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 7.43.34 PM

Things I want to do: After watching Sext Up Kids a couple weeks ago,

http://www.cbc.ca/i/caffeine/syndicate/?mediaId=2200745858
I decided that I wanted to address some of the gender, body image, and sexual content issues mentioned in this documentary with my grade one class this year.  Obviously I can’t address a ton of the sexual content that Sext Up Kids talks about, but my eyes were opened to the fact that kids in grade one are definitely not immune from this type of exposure even at an early age.  In the documentary, Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter, suggests that it’s not a big jump to make between girls wanting to be “the prettiest little girl” to “the hottest little girl.” And THAT is something that we can talk about.

In the Saskatchewan Grade One Health Curriculum, one of the outcomes is based solely on Pedestrian Safety.

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 8.18.12 PM.png

Though I will definitely cover this during my Health class, it already seems a little out of date to me. How much time do kids really spend outside crossing streets/dealing with traffic without an adult?  My guess would be not as much time as a child might spend unsupervised on a device/computer inside the home. I have decided that I am going to devote a large chunk of time during my Health block to explicit digital citizenship/sexualization/gender lessons.  We know that digital citizenship must be taught all throughout the year in different ways/contexts, but I also think this might be something I need to add into the curriculum on my own.  I plan on using puppets to help create dialogue on this sensitive issue.

I plan to look at different children’s books and movies as a starting point.  The students will look for different gender/sexualization themes.  I want the students to have discussions and think critically about what it means to “be a boy,” or “be a girl.” I want them to start unpacking their own identities and discuss how this might affect online behaviour. Today’s Meet is a great tool I have used in the past to create a back channel for students to share their ideas while watching a movie. They can be recording what types of stereotypes they see as they watch.

I have a colleague who teaches older grades who has shared with me that she doesn’t talk about sexting much during her digital citizenship lessons because she is worried about what the parents of her students will say.  This is a very real concern at our school because we have high parent involvement.  Often times parents at our school have very strong opinions about what happens in classrooms, and sometimes what they say or want goes.  Obviously I will have to be very careful about how I address these issues.  In the past, my daily class blog post has been a great place to debrief parents on certain conversations we have had throughout the day. Sometimes grade one students ask questions about death, war, or school shootings and we have to gently address those issues without scaring them or giving them more information than they need to know.

As a public school teacher, this might be dangerous to say, but overall, I think the best thing I can teach students is how to look at/listen to their heart. As Jen Stewart Mitchell discusses in her blog post, citizenship is citizenship.  It doesn’t matter if it’s online or offline. Children and students young AND old need to listen to their conscience, and make choices based on what they know to be right and wrong; and that, I believe, is what makes you a good citizen. Sure we are all going to screw up and make mistakes, but our job as teachers isn’t to make or limit the student’s choices for them, but rather give them opportunities to reflect on, and learn from their mistakes.  And if we as teachers don’t give students an opportunity to peel back the layers of their heart and critically look at the reasons they struggle or desire certain things in life, how can we expect them to do this on their own? Are they supposed to “just know better?” It’s something to think about…

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Learn Like a Pirate in Primary Grades

Posted on July 9, 2015. Filed under: educational, Genius Hour, Grade 1 & 2, LearnLAP | Tags: |

This summer I have had the awesome opportunity to read the book Learn Like a Pirate by Paul Solarz. I have had some great conversations about its content through friendships, an ISTE tweet up, and the hashtag #2k15reads.  One of the best moments for me at ISTE was when I met Angela Gadtke @mrsgadtke at the #LearnLAP #ISTE2015 tweetup.  She is a Kindergarten teacher, and so we started chatting back and forth about what learning like a pirate could look like in the primary grades. We are even hoping to have a Google hangout one of these days to chat more. I think we will have to invite the #LearnLAP primary community in on it as well!

By no means have I come to ANY conclusions about how to teach this way seamlessly, and because it’s still July, I haven’t had the chance to test any of the ideas with my students yet, but here are some of my thoughts so far:

Student Jobs-

Paul has lots of his students do his job for him. He has them transition each other from one subject to the next, he has students give instructions, meet kids at the door and do the other “regular” teacher jobs of a classroom. Here are some I think could work in primary:

Meet students at the door: Love this one. I think it could totally work, and there is always that 1 kid who is in class way before the rest of the students anyways.

Mail helper– Rather than me standing by the lockers trying to hurry the kids up to get their backpacks off, get out their mail etc. I would love to pass this job onto a naturally bossy child who loves that kind of stuff anyways lol! I think giving them a job where they can use their “gift” for good is a nice way to honour who they are while training them to be helpful rather than bossy.

Attendance Taker: I have some kids who would definitely be able to login to a classroom laptop, use my password and put in the attendance for the day.  What I think I would like to do is have a check in system on the lockers so that attendance taking would be easy. I’m thinking of drawing on the lockers and sectioning it into four parts- Home/School/Appointment/Washroom.  If the students had a magnet that represented themselves, they would be able to move it from home to school when they arrived in the morning.  If they knew they were going to be away the next day for an appointment, they could shift their magnet from school to appointment at the end of the day.  This might also be a way to have students police their own bathroom use. As a rule, I don’t let students go to the washroom when I am teaching from the carpet.  We do tons of centre based/student directed work during the day, so when I need to teach a concept on the carpet, I need them there. That said, when I am working with small groups or individuals, the other children are working on their own stuff, and this is usually the time where I get interrupted the most. The question is usually, “can I go to the bathroom?” If I had a magnet system, the students could see if someone else was in the washroom and they would just have to wait until that person gets back.

Computer Cart- This year I had a tech helper who did all things techy for me or for any subs who came into my class.  He also was in charge of making sure the other children had plugged in the laptops, and that the laptop cart was closed and locked. My colleague Trina Crawford @tcrawford2011 inspired me on this one as I always see her little tech helpers wheeling the laptop cart down the hallway and making sure everything is put away properly!

Other jobs– During our tweet up, Cindy Scheurer @cscheuer48 said that her students know that if they have to remind her to do something more than once, then it becomes their job. I love that. If I’ve forgotten to do something more than once, chances are the kid who realized it is going to be watching for that anyways. Why not pass off the responsibility!

Debates:

I loved Paul’s energy lesson debate that he does in his class. It seemed like such a fun engaging way to have children learn content and promote retention.  In primary, the only debate I have done was one on hunting. Before we had any conversations about the use of animals for needs and wants, (Science curriculum) the children debated whether they thought hunting was good or bad.  It was interesting to see the children take in the other side’s ideas and then offer a rebuttal. Before we formally addressed any of their thoughts, I had the children record their views, and we put the videos on YouTube.  As the lesson went on, we would revisit some of the arguments and talk about how they developed and if ideas had changed.  The part I find funny about the whole situation is that the “Hunting is Bad” YouTube video gets quite a few hits daily, and I get a ridiculous comment at least once or twice a month (sometimes more) from pro-hunting advocates who are furious with me and the children for this point of view. Warning: If you are going to check out the comments, beware of some extreme language and complete idiocy. 😉


Project Based Learning:

This is something I would like to get better at.  My classroom participates in Genius Hour, and they love it. It’s their favourite “subject” at school.  But, I would like to try and incorporate some more PBL.  I went to an awesome PBL session with Mike Gwaltney @mikegwaltney at ISTE, and it got me thinking about what I could do next year.  Up until this year, every year my class has adopted an animal.  The first couple years we adopted an elephant from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (that I got to visit on my trip to Kenya).

Sities

The year after that we adopted a penguin, then we adopted a polar bear.  The kids always loved it.  We would get a little stuffed animal that would be representative of our real animal, and I would send it home with the students with a video camera so they could document the time our class pet spent with them.  I would compile all the clips together and we would watch what the animal did at every house.


The students loved this project, and they developed a real love for our adopted animal.  I even had students asking their parents if they could adopt their own penguin/elephant/polar bear. In fact, for one student’s birthday, she asked her friends to donate money rather than a present so that she could adopt her own elephant!

This past year, I was convicted that we could probably do more than just adopt an animal. There are people in our world who are surviving on much less than our $50 that we pay to adopt an animal, and so I started looking into our class sponsoring a child. I found this awesome organization called Chat to the Future. This organization was set up by a teacher who wants to connect schools in North America with a household of children of all ages in Uganda. The whole set up is amazing and the children from the USA and Canada can regularly Skype the children in Uganda to connect with them and share songs, stories and dances.

The problem was that my students really didn’t connect with this project as much as they did to the other ones.  It got me thinking about their scope and what matters to them.  During the ISTE session, I started thinking about ways that my grade 1/2 class could do something relevant to them. The people at my table were talking me through different options, and I think I might have to do something at the student level.  I really want the project to be developed and initiated through student interest. There are plenty of great PBL ideas and resources on teachers pay teachers, but I don’t want to print out a nice cookie cutter project and fit my students into the pre made mould. I want to support them through the development of an authentic project themselves.

Give me 5:

Ahhhh….I don’t know if I can do this!! Paul allows his students to interrupt the class (as a teacher would) and yell “GIVE ME 5” when they have something important to say, share or ask. He trains them on how this looks and he proves in his book that it is an effective way to support student leadership and risk taking.

The problem with this for me is that I can totally see a grade one student yelling “GIVE ME 5!” and getting the whole class’s attention only to show them the neat little ant that is crawling across the carpet at that very moment. I can just see the whole lesson being de-railed by the class crowding around that ant, and it taking 20 minutes to get them back on task and focused on what they were doing.  I’m not entirely sure that my young students have the developmental capacity to understand when to interrupt the class to share relevant learning. That said, by no means am I opposed to the idea, I just need some more conversation about how it might work itself out. I might try something out in my math or Daily 5 Centres where the students know their job the best and have a self directed engaging task to get back to if there was an interruption.

Since I have never used the term “Give me 5” with my students, I was thinking about which attention grabbing strategy I could teach the students to use.  I use several in my classroom. Sometimes I sing a little tune and have the students finish the tune off.  Sometimes I ring my chime hanging from the roof or the bell that’s by my desk.  Sometimes I say 5 and then clap 5 times, then 4 and clap 4 times, etc. all the way to 1. No matter what attention grab I use, I always say Stop, Look, and Listen before beginning what I am going to say.  I have watched my students mimic my classroom management countless times, and I always laugh when a little 6 year old student says (with sass) something like, “I will just wait until you are all ready before I pick someone.” I have no doubt in my mind that the students will be able to get the other students attention in a positive way, I just don’t know how and when I want them to do it yet!

This post is way longer than I had planned, and for that I apologize. Hopefully this sparked some ideas of your own and you would be willing to continue the conversation with me.  Feel free to tweet me at @mrsmaley or join in at #LearnLAP or #2k15reads

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Genius Hour Resources from ISTE 2015

Posted on June 30, 2015. Filed under: Genius Hour, Grade 1 & 2 |

I just finished presenting on Genius Hour in the primary classroom at ISTE 2015, and it was such an honour to tell everyone about this amazing new educator movement! I’m not sure what I expected a poster session presentation to be like, but it was kind of intense! I really feel like my Genius Hour experience is a story, and people kept stopping by halfway through my story! I didn’t know if I should re-start, or jump around, talk to the new people, or the people who had been there for a while! What a learning experience! So I apologize if you stopped by and my presentation seemed disjointed! …It was.

I am going to post the resources I talked about in one place (this post) so you can see the tools that go into my Genius Hours.

My ISTE Keynote in a PDF:

Genius Hour

The apps we use throughout GH:

Please visit my teaching website and click on “Apps We Use” to see some of the collaborative apps I mentioned in my session. These were used for the students to brainstorm ideas in real time about what their project would be about. When you click on the picture of the app, it will take you directly to the iTunes store to download it onto your device.

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 4.20.13 PM

The research stage:

Ask an expert!! My biggest suggestion to teachers today was to move from teacher to facilitator.  Use your time to find experts for your students.  When my students wanted to learn about Monster High, I thought it was going to be one of “those” projects. I was wrong. William Lau, the director, agreed to answer some of my student’s questions. Here is some example of how awesome our experts can really be!

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 4.27.52 PM

aniamtors 1anim 2 anim direction and supervisingdreditor imagingmodeling production storyboard0246_001-2

Presentation Stage

During the presenting stage, students use all sorts of apps. (Check my teaching website out to find those!) The app I used to live stream my student’s projects so parents could watch from work or from home is Bambuser. It stores the videos on its website so they can be re-visited at anytime. Best part about this? You can get your students to go back and use their highest level thinking skills to analyze their own presentation.

bambuser

Finished their presentation

When the students finish, I allow them to work on Makerspace. Our classroom Makerspace just uses recycled materials from my home, and whatever the students want to bring or donate. Click on the ThingLink below to get an understanding on what some of those things are:

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 5.00.54 PM

Read and listen to this CBC article to hear how our class does Makerspace!

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 4.42.38 PM

Still have questions? Please feel free to tweet me @mrsmaley or follow what my students are doing @mrsmaleysclass

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

« Previous Entries

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...