Digital Literacy and The Big Bad Wolf

Last class, I presented my digital literacy mini-lesson to my fellow Ed-Tech 400 classmates. I chose to focus on digital collaboration as well as a grade 7 English outcome:

CR7.5 Listen critically to understand and analyze oral information and ideas from a wide range of texts (e.g., complex instructions, oral explanations and reports, opinions or viewpoints, messages presented in the media).

I, specifically, narrowed in on this indicator from the outcome:

Identify the perspective implicit within an oral presentation and what information, arguments, or positions are not included.

After listening to “The True Story of The 3 Little Pigs!” by Jon Scieszka,

I had my classmates explore and use some digital collaboration tools (MindMeister and Kialo) to brainstorm ideas. Next, they debated against each other either in favour of the wolf or against him.

I was impressed by the participation I received from my peers and the ideas they brought to the lesson. Through some discussion, we were able to make connections to fake news, media sensationalism, and even race issues in North America. Some of these connections might have been harder to make with grade 7 students but I do believe it would be possible, and these are very important connections to be made.

If I were to do this lesson again, I would focus greater on the aspect of digital collaboration. To do this, I would dedicate a full prior lesson to teaching the students how to use digital collaboration tools and discussing why these platforms are beneficial. Moreover, I would explain how these online tools can be used safely outside of school.

The biggest challenges I faced in the lesson were time and communication. I overestimated what could be accomplished in 30 minutes with my classmates which means I would have even accomplished less with actual grade 7 students. However, this was a great thing for me to learn as I was able to adapt my lesson accordingly and can now shorten my lesson if I were to do it again in the future. Another challenge was communication. I was unaware that I would not be able to send messages to the students when they were in their breakout rooms. For this reason, if I were to do this lesson again, I would create a google doc with the information the students would need access to while they were in their group discussions.

Upon reflecting on my lesson, I think I could have focused more on the digital literacy aspect and less on the English outcome while still “hitting” both. Since presenting my lesson, I have come across many ideas for digital literacy lessons on Twitter, Pinterest, and a variety of other sites. However, through planning my mini-lesson, I discovered many great digital tools that are available for students and teachers. I will be creating a digital literacy lesson again and I am glad to have my first one under my belt! A special thanks to my EDTC 400 classmates for being my guinea pigs!

LuLu“LuLu” by lusjan7 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

 

ECS100: REFLECTION

PROMPT:

As you observed and interacted in your field experiences, how did the focus questions connect with one another? What connections did you make personally and/or professionally to the ‘interconnectedness’ of our weekly topics, field experiences and assignments? How does this experience affect your journey to become a teacher? What do you need to learn more about? What questions do you now have?  What are 3 professional goals that you are setting for yourself for your next leg of your journey?

As I observed and interacted in my field experiences each week, I kept the weekly focus questions in mind. However, some weeks I found it difficult to accumulate a lot of information on the topic or found finding information on the topic to be unnatural, such as weeks 5 and 6. In these cases, I would ask my co-operative teacher questions concerning the topic or spend extra time walking around the school and taking note of things I found that were applicable to the questions. Overall, the core questions guided my field experience each week by allowing me to focus on certain areas and concepts which maximized my learning experience. Additionally, I found the order of the questions highly appropriate because it began with getting to know our learners and gradually moved towards deeper understanding questions about diversity and the curriculum, before ending with a reflection.

Personally, the field experiences further affirmed my choice of career and gave me the opportunity to explore many aspects of the teaching profession. Professionally, I was able to build a repertoire of resources from the guest lectures, and discussions with my co-operative teacher. Further, the discussion forums allowed me to network with my peers which is a valuable and transferable skill for my future career in education. Moreover, the weekly topics, field experiences, and assignments have largely guided my first teaching experiences and moved me along in my journey towards becoming a teacher. Furthermore, it has provided me with the resources and experience that will assist me for the rest of my journey.

Although my partner and I were given opportunities to work with small groups of students, I still have a long way to go in terms of lesson-planning and classroom management. However, these are skills I hope to practice in my next placement and I can not wait to apply what I learned this year in those classrooms as well.

Lastly, three professional goals I am setting for myself for the next segment of my journey are as follows:

  1. To prepare and lead a lesson for an entire class of students.
  2. To build my network. (Possibly online through social media such as Twitter.)
  3. To get more involved in extracurricular and after school activities during my next placement.

 

ECS100: WEEK 7

PROMPT:

How is technology used in your classroom? Take note of the technologies you see in the classroom and school. Visit the school library…what technology is available for student/teacher use? How are students engaging with technology (in school and outside the school)? Have an informal conversation with 2 or 3 students to see how they use technology, how they think technology helps them in their learning & ways they would like to use the technology. Have a discussion with your cooperating teacher to see how he/she uses technology in their instruction, assessment & professional knowledge.

This week, my partner and I visited the library to take note of the technology available to the students. However, my partner and I noticed a lot of other things that stood out to us about this library. Most notably, the library is not its own separate room. It is an open area on the main floor of the school and it has a lot of neat spaces. There are reading nooks and holes in the walls where students can read. Interestingly, there is only one computer in the library for the librarian’s use. However, the students are often allowed to read books online, with the use of school-provided chromebooks, during their read-to-self period in the classroom.

In addition to reading, literacy and math games are often played on the chromebooks by the children. The most popular game is Mathletics which many of the teachers use as a task for students once they have completed assigned questions in class. The students also use technology in its basic forms such as typing out reports on the chromebooks. Outside of school, the students interact with technology constantly in the form of cellphones. However, at school, the students are asked to hand in their phones at the beginning of the day and they do not get them back until they leave the school at the end of the day. This is much different than my experience in school where we were allowed our phones all day and it was up to the classroom teacher to make his/her own rules in regard to cell phone use.

Furthermore, the teacher uses technology in his instruction by using his projector to display a handout while he explains the concept to the students. In the past, he has also used youtube videos to strengthen the students’ understanding of a certain topic. For his lesson planning, he borrows outlines and ideas from division websites. He finds these very useful because they save him a lot of time and keep him from overworking. Fortunately, he offered to email the links of the websites he finds most useful to my partner and me.

Overall, I learned a lot about the use of technology by both students and teachers. Unfortunately, Monday was my last field placement day and I am sad that the practicum has come to an end. However, I am beyond thankful for the learning experiences it has brought me.

 

ECS100: WEEK 6

PROMPT:

What is being taught? How are students learning? Do students see the meaning and relevance in what they are learning? What are the stories of curriculum? What are the stories of learning?

My second last day at my field placement was another great day for attendance. There were nineteen kids! My field partner and I find it interesting that even six weeks in we are still seeing new faces in the classroom. However, this can be challenging as we find it is not enough time to get to know the kids well. On the other hand, my partner and I ran our own literacy and numeracy groups on Monday and working with the students in small groups allows us to get to know their individual personalities as well as their strengths and weaknesses.

My partner and I are in the grade 6/7 classroom during the literacy and numeracy periods. After taking attendance, the teacher reads the students a chapter from the novel that they are reading together as a class. Before he begins reading, he asks the students to recall what happened in the last chapter and they discuss together. This is teaching the students reading comprehension which is something, our co-op mentioned to my partner and myself, that some of the children struggle with. By recalling the previous chapter, the students are drawing from prior knowledge and learning through group discussion which is very beneficial. In the numeracy period, the students have developed a strong understanding of the meaning and relevance of their current unit. This week the students were beginning their unit on fractions and have been working on adding and subtracting fractions, finding equivalent fractions, and converting from mixed to improper and vice versa. As the teacher mentioned to us and the class, fractions is an important unit in grade 6/7 as it is highly applicable to regular life events such as cooking and baking. I am glad that the students are able to find meaning in what they are learning at school.

Overall, I am sad that our placement is coming to an end but I am so grateful for all that I am learning during my time at my placement school.

 

ECS100: WEEK 5

PROMPT:

How is your school community honouring diversity, equity, and human rights for all students (including sexual and gender diversity) within their schools and communities?

Firstly, I would like to mention that yesterday was a great day for attendance at my placement school: 17 students were present in the grade 6/7 class! Additionally, my partner and I ran our own literacy stations once again and it was awesome to work with the students in small groups.

I think the Connaught school community honours diversity, equity, and human rights for all students within their school and community in a few different ways. First, by taking a walk around the school, I have noticed several GSA posters. As mentioned in my previous post, the GSA is a Gay-Straight Alliance Club that has been available to Connaught students since September of 2017. Secondly, the bathrooms at Connaught are very different than the ones in most schools. There are no “boy” or “girl” signs on the doors. They are just one stall bathrooms with no signs dictating who can and cannot use them. I think this is wonderful, especially for a smaller school like Connaught where there is no need for large bathrooms with several stalls so keeping the bathrooms non-gendered was a great decision. I think this is a better option (when possible) than having a gender-neutral washroom because kids will not be singled out or targeted for using a separate washroom. Lastly, as mentioned in a previous post, Regina community schools have a program that provides the students with a snack and there is also a breakfast program available for the students who come early to eat before school. I think this is equitable because the students who belong to families that may not be able to afford to send their kids to school with food are still being fed. Additionally, it is not made obvious to the other students who these children are that cannot afford to bring a snack every day.

Overall, I have been fortunate to observe the honouring of diversity, equity, and human rights for all in a variety of different ways at my placement school.

 

ECS100: WEEK 4

PROMPT

What are the different forms of diversity you observe within the classroom and school? What may be some forms of diversity that are not visible? In what ways do you observe the school, classrooms and teachers honouring inclusive practices? 

This was an exceptionally special day for me at my placement because I was able to work with the students more closely. My co-operative teacher assigned both my partner and me a literacy station each for the daily five. I was able to work with three to four students at a time on a worksheet for writing introduction paragraphs. This also gave me the opportunity to observe the different levels of reading and/or writing abilities amongst the grade 6/7 students. The separate groups varied greatly in their strengths and weaknesses. After reflecting on our day with the co-operative teacher, he asked my partner and I if we noticed the varying degrees of writing abilities in the groups. After speaking with him for a while, he mentioned that this class has the greatest amount of disparity in learning that he has seen thus far in his short teaching career. Overall, I had a lot of fun and it was a great hands-on learning experience for my partner and myself.

Within the classroom and school, I visually notice diversities among ethnic and cultural groups. However, I understand that my visual assumption of someone’s cultural background is not to be taken for absolute truth. Furthermore, I notice diversity in learning and comprehension which is not always a visible diversity. As mentioned by my co-operative teacher, the grade 6/7 students vary greatly in reading levels and grade levels, with many students performing below their appropriate level. Students who are not working at grade level for math, sometimes go to another room to work with an LRT during numeracy class. Most of the time, however, all of the kids remain in the classroom for the numeracy lesson which is an inclusive practice.

Some forms of diversity that are not visible include sexual orientation and gender identity. An inclusive practice that relates to this is that there is a GSA- Gay Straight Alliance at the school. Furthermore, there are several posters around the school promoting the GSA that include meeting times and location.

Overall, I had another great day at my field placement and I look forward to next week.

 

ECS100: WEEK 3

PROMPT

How do you see teachers honouring different ways of knowing? How do you see teachers promoting knowledge in the classroom?  What are the key supports that teachers rely on? How do teachers continue to build their own professional knowledge?

 

The morning of Monday February 25th was my third time arriving at my placement school. The theme of this week’s story from the field is teachers and knowledge. My co-operative teacher promotes knowledge, ways of knowing, and coming to know by using various methods of instruction. He understands that each student learns differently and because of this he uses both audio and visual instruction when explaining concepts and ideas. When presenting the class new subject matter, the co-operative teacher gives examples of both right and wrong answers. He uses the projector to help with his lesson and this week, he showed the class a youtube video to begin his literacy lesson on summarizing stories. The video showed the students how to summarize using their hand as a guide: “use the 5 fingers, in 5 words or less, in less than 5 minutes method.” The video went on to break summarizing down into 6 steps (a step for each finger plus your palm): who, what, when, where, why, and how. After speaking with Mr. McMann, our co-operative teacher, he told us that he finds technology is a useful support in his classroom. He noted that it is especially helpful in math for students who are finished their work early because they can play Mathletics (a computer math game). Mathletics allows the students to continue to learn and practice math after their class work has been completed.

Our co-op also noted that the LRT is someone he considers to be a support to him as a teacher. Additionally, he mentioned that an EA is a support he wished he had the privilege of having in his classroom on a daily basis. His students vary greatly in their math and literacy levels and he thinks an extra support in his room would benefit the students who are struggling in those subject areas.

Overall, this field placement taught me a lot about the different levels of comprehension and understanding amongst students and some of the supports available to teachers to support all of the learners in their classroom.