Discussion Forum

These are some of the discussion forums we have as a discussion group in our ECS 100 class. What are your thoughts about these questions and responses?

Please comment below!

Discussion Forum Eleven: What age would it be appropriate to introduce students to gender and sexual diversity? How can teachers change the culture in the classroom towards more inclusion of gender and sexual diversity? How can school and community help to change the culture so that LGBT+ students are feeling more included? Is there anything from today’s presentation that you want to incorporate in your own future classroom?

“This week, through presentations, discussions, and readings I have broadened my knowledge of gender and sexual diversities in the classroom. After, I know feel that there is never a wrong age to start bringing in gender and sexual diversity in the classroom because it touches the lives of everyone around us, although for some more than others. Now I am not saying that at a grade one level we should go in depth about identities and what being sexually diverse means; possibly we could do that in middle years. But say in grade one if we are doing a lesson about families then maybe instead of having a picture of just a traditional family (i.e.. a mom, a dad, and two kids), maybe we have pictures of a variety of families; so two moms or two dads and varying amounts of children. This way you are incorporating gender and sexual diversity in the classroom and talking about families. It is never wrong to talk about families, and every student comes from a different family situation. This also changes the culture of the classroom to a more positive and safe learning environment that expresses acceptance and inclusion with gender and sexual diversities.

Schools and communities can help change culture so that LGBTQ students feel more included are by creating clubs within the school, by putting up posters, and by creating gender neutral washrooms. Something that I might like to incorporate in my own classroom that I took away from this presentation is the use of the term “zer” or “zem”. This includes of everybody. Now, students that are neither him nor her are included and the classroom is inclusionary to everyone.”

“I was also just thinking about how many teachers try to grab their students attention by saying, “girls and guys” or “okay boys and girls” and I really do not think wish to do this as an educator. After taking this course, I discovered how these statements provide some students with the feeling of segregation and exclusion. As an educator, I want to be someone who provides their students with the utmost amounts of inclusionary practices that I can! This has become part of my educational philosophy this semester to take an initiative to be aware and receive students attention by clapping, using an outdoor voice, raising my finger with one hand and putting the other to shush at my lips, or by saying, “Okay everybody” or, “Alright everyone”.”

Discussion Forum Ten: What are some ways you think we could assess students outside of the regular test format? Which forms of assessment do you think should be given the most weight when it comes time for tallying up the grades? The SAT’s are the most heavily weighted form of assessment in the US education system. Do you think this should be changed? If so how? What would you add or take away?

“Some ways that I can think of that would allow students to express the knowledge they have learned differing from a regular test format would be an assessment suited to each of the different learning styles. The first way being through an auditory assessment where students can listen to the various questions or scenarios from the teacher or a recording and then have the students respond either by writing or by recording themselves talking. Second, a kinesthetic assessment where the student can complete an activity or make something hands on; this way the students can physically show what they have learned. Third, visually students can create a video or poster that proves their understanding of the topic. Basically, anything that can prove the students understanding and can be assessed should be accepted for assessment just as a regular test.

I think that a form of assessment where the student is able to choose and is comfortable in proving their understanding should be given the most weight. An assessment that is ongoing and allows for continual progress throughout the year, or unit, should be given the most significant portion of weight for when it comes to grades.

The SAT’s should be changed because not all students are taught with the same focus on the material to be covered, the relevance of each outcome in the course is determined by the teacher. Resulting from this are students, even though they are taking the same courses, all have a different base of knowledge from each other because of the differing focuses on the relevance of each of the courses outcomes that the teacher deems the most important to the course. Because of these differing bases of knowledge throughout students in each class it is unfair to put all students through SAT’s. A way of changing the SAT’s would be to give the teachers a list of different questions they could have on the exam and have the teacher choose a certain number of questions use. This way teachers can pick the questions that reflect more of the focus over what they have taught, meanwhile it is still holds the principle of an SAT.”

Discussion Forum Nine: Has your interest changed in being a teacher throughout this semester? What is something that you have learned about inclusionary practice this week?

“My interest in a teacher have not changed this year, I still wish to become a teacher. However, my reason of why I want to become a teacher has changed. Due to our education at university and in the classroom this year has been the major impact. Before, it was my love for learning and the desire to pass that along to someone else was what I wanted from a career in Education. But this year, seeing the difference that we can make in our students lives really touched me. I want to dedicate my career to helping my students to succeed and overcome the challenges they may have to deal with on a regular basis.

Something that I took away from this week’s guest presentation was that, “once you sign your contract, you are signing up to teach all kids”. I thought that should be a huge realization for now only students but for all teachers as well; since we are all educators. We have to, and should want to teach all students, it is not a choice is it in all respects part of our job. It is also our job as teachers to provide our students with the best education possible, and you can’t do that by excluding anyone. I think it would be a good mind set to go into the profession with an open mind and providing the most inclusionary practices that we can inside and outside the classroom.”

Discussion Forum Eight: What are some approaches that you can take include differentiation inside of your classroom?

This week was my turn to facilitate our group’s discussion. What are your thoughts on these questions? Comment below!!!

Today we had our guest speakers start the conversation about differentiation and the roles it plays within the classroom. We learned that differentiation is how you include all students through your environment, instructions, and assessment. So I want to continue on with this topic, what are some approaches that you can take include differentiation inside of your classroom?

Some starters might be:
-What are some ways you can suit your classroom environment so that it benefits all students?

-How can you use adapt you instruction to suit the needs of all of the students in our classrooms?

-Is it important to have varied methods to assess your students? Explain why or why not, and if so how would you do this?

Some Quotes:

“I agree that the first step is building a relationship with our students, it is foundational that we do so. By setting individual learning goals it not only benefits the one student in particular but also creates a comfortable learning environment for all students. Looking back and assessing your students work is crucial, and so is giving constructive feedback that will allow the student to advance further. What might be an easy task for one student may be a daunting task for another. I feel that as educators, we must celebrate learning and all of the accomplishments of our students, large or small.”

“Varied methods and examples are crucial to students of all levels succeeding in math. To add to your math statement for the students of varied abilities, using manipulatives can be a huge help in the classroom. For example, you can use manipulatives for addition and subtraction in primary grade all the way to using them for algebraic expressions in high school math.

I 100% agree with you that we need to find differing ways of assessing our students. It is so great that we have all the assets, such as technology, we have today. This way it enables our students to be creative and allows us to assess using differing methods from the traditional ways.”

“Your idea about having varied work spaces in one classroom is an excellent idea! It would be fun for students to go around to the different stations at different points throughout the day. It would also, most likely, improve academic achievement throughout the classroom since it would enable children to learn in a variety of different ways. I am sure it would be a busy classroom!

However, on the other side of this I wonder how it will affect the other students that prefer a still and quite or calmer atmosphere setting. Would it affect their learning negatively? What are some more strategies or precautions we could take to go around this? Thoughts?”

“To conclude our weekly topic around differentiated learning we focused our discussion on classroom environment that benefits all students, adapted instruction to meet the needs of students, and the varied methods we can use to assess our students. From everyone that has responded up until this point I feel comfortable saying that we are all in agreement in many way, tactics, and approaches to teaching with a gear towards differentiated learning within the classroom.

As my first group member mentioned in his post, “The first step is to have a relationship with all of your students and be able to gauge where they are at and how quickly they can get where you want them to be.” This is extremely important. If we as educators want our students to benefit from our classroom environment then we need to build a relationship with them. This will enable us to know what it is exactly that will create a beneficial environment for our students.

Continuing on further on into our discussion another group member said this in regard to the different methods of assessment, “varied methods to assess the students. It is for the fact that every students have different learning styles, so you would need to vary the teaching style as well. Like so, if every students need different learning style, individualized assessment would be crucial as not all students can be assessed through writing exams”. It is so very important that we, as teachers, give students the opportunity to show us what they have learned. By presenting the students this opportunity we allow them to explore and have a deeper understanding of the course material then possibly just a standard test. So by assessing students in varied methods, such as creating an online website or project rather than a test, they not only expand their horizon of knowledge, but we are giving students the tools they need to show us what they know.

Continuing on to what we can do to adapt instruction to meet the needs of our students another group member said this, “allowing for different learning styles and figuring out how each child learns best. Give examples that are relevant to many students in the classroom, not just one specific group of students. That way all the students have a chance of truly understanding the concepts being taught”. I do not think that we as a group could agree with this more. If us teachers are doing our jobs right, we are teaching all students. Not accommodating to one particular group of students, but rather teaching to all. Yes, this means we will have to adapt our lessons and every day teaching, but that is something we are signing up to do at day one. We ensure that every child has the resources they need to learn to their fullest potential, and doing so in every way that we can.”

Discussion Forum Seven: How are cultural inclusion and the inclusion of both rapid and slow learners prevalent in classrooms?

“Students should not be separated by their peers. If we want to be apart of an inclusive community we cannot segregate or separate any students, we must include all. As you say, “Since we don’t live in a society where we separate people by their intelligence and test scores, I believe we should not have separate classrooms by different learning levels” this is all very true. But what if we talked about learning ability rather than the level they are at. Would that make a difference? I guess what I am getting at is if learning level was taken out of the picture and learning ability was put in, would the perspective shift?”

“One effective strategy for providing inclusion for all students within the classroom is the seating placement. The classroom I am currently in has all the students arranged in a U shape because it physically includes everyone. It also allows for the teacher to move functionally and evaluates all of the students work quickly. The teacher supports that work with children with needs is mainly an educational assistant. However, the teacher spends time working with children with needs as well, along with specialist that come into the classroom, also when us interns are in the classroom we are able to work with these students as well.

The teacher physically helps include students that are subjected to division by culture or disability by allotting specific student space for every student, with in the U shape. For example, we have students on differing learning plans, a student with ADDHD, a student with autism, students speaking little English, we have all students included in the seating plan of the classroom so that it is easily accessible for all students to receive inclusion and no division.

I do not believe that students should be separated by learning level. After all, if we separate students by learning ability why don’t we separate them by race or gender? Besides, isn’t that all segregation?”

Discussion Forum Six: Technology is changing the traditional classroom setting in our current generation, how should we use it?

“Technology is a controversial issue when in the classroom. Some educators choose to utilize it, while others choose to use different teaching methods. I would have to say that the level you can have your students participating with technology really depends on resources you have readily available. Of course there are some schools that are more privileged with technology than others, due to their own individual circumstances. It is appropriate for these schools to utilize this within their teaching practices. There will also be schools that continue to have a more traditional approach, such as using pen and paper.

Digital textbooks could be quite an asset taking into consideration how quickly material in textbooks become outdated, or if the curriculum has shifted towards other approaches. For myself personally, I rather have a textbook then a digital textbook because I like reading from a book rather than a screen; sometimes it gives me headaches when I am looking at it for to long. Which is something to take into consideration. However, I think it is a smart idea for classrooms to implement digital resources if the school has easy access to technology on hand for every student. It would (most likely) cut down on the cost of the textbook itself, the textbook would not get damaged, and it would be easily accessible to students.

I had an experience using a digital textbook last semester for my Biology class. I liked that it saved me tons of money that I would have spent just to look at a couple of pages. I also enjoyed that I could look at the textbook anywhere when I had my laptop. I didn’t have to haul around extra weight all the time. On the negative side, I did not enjoying reading/staring at the screen to read longer readings, but that’s just me.

If schools were introduced to digital textbooks I think that around the grade eight level would be most appropriate. I believe this because at the elementary level kids shift focus so quickly that even printed textbooks are not often used. In grade eight you are starting to gain a higher intention span, as well as receiving more homework then before. For that reason a digital textbook would be great because students could potentially access it at school or whenever they are doing homework, when they are home, or for using it to catch up on school work if they are absent.”

Discussion Forum Five: How you can react to unexpected change and challenges in the classroom, and how you can be more inclusive and supportive of FNMI students and students of other cultures?

“I grew up in Kamsack, Saskatchewan. For those of you who don’t know where that is it is about three hours north-east of Regina. It is a small community, but full of heritage and culture. There are three reserves within a few minutes they are Cote, Keesekoose, and Key First Nations. There are Federal run schools on the reserves but many children come to the public schools in Kamsack (Victoria Elementary School and Kamsack Comprehensive Institute). There are not many differences in our ethnicities. Mostly likely, you either have an Indigenous background or an European background.

All students who graduate from Kamsack Comprehensive Institute are required to take a History 30 class. The teacher for this class for the past few years is a woman who I am privileged to have been one of her students. It is my goal to have a classroom that is as comfortable as hers. As you all know, part of History 30 is learning about the Indigenous peoples of Canada. For this class we had numerous elders come into our classroom to interact with us, outings into our communities (such as going to Cote’s school for a presentation on “Conceptions and Misconceptions” regarding Indigenous peoples and the world surrounding us), and often there were powwows held at our school that everyone attended.

In elementary school we did activities such as making our own mini teepee’s, making artwork, having speakers, and building shelters outside out of milk cartons(I can’t quite remember what it was called, it wasn’t a lean to, a teepee, or a igloo but it was something like that).

Since I was the Vice-President of my school, which gave me even greater opportunities to explore culture. I was chosen to represent my school by giving a presentation of my school at the annual Elder’s Gathering. It was there that I learned that everyone sits in a circle so that you can see everyone and hear everyone. I then later learned that when you are walking around the circle it is traditionally practiced that you walk in a clockwise around the circle.

The point I am trying to make here is that when you have a school/community full of culture, as educators we need to embrace it. We can do it by participating in the activities such as the ones above or by learning and teaching about the different cultures we have within the classroom when can create a comfortable classroom community.

Another way to make your students feel comfortable inside the classroom may be to have traditional art work of the culture (maybe even by a local artist, for myself this was my favorite part about my school atmosphere, my favorite artist was Bryan Marion). This allows students to feel at home, or at least somewhat comfortable because they know that their culture is valued in the teachers eyes.

These strategies would work for being inclusive with other cultures as well by implying the same principles.

Miikwecc (thanks!) for reading, I know this response was rather long!”

Discussion Forum Four: How can we as teachers provide an equitable learning environment for all of our students?

“As educators, I agree that we need to provide an equitable learning environment for all students. Some ways that we could potentially do this would be, for technology in the classroom, to have some type of technology that stays in the classroom and remains available to all students to use for educational purposes. We can also make our library or classroom books easily accessible by putting them out on display and therefor making it easier for students to take books home. Allowing students to take these resources home they receive more opportunity to learn. Especially since not all children have books at home or if they don’t have access to a public library then finding books to read at home could be quite difficult! As teachers we need to realize this and give our students a higher chance of success by providing these materials.

For communication, I think that giving an agenda to a students gives us the best chance of having communication between school and home. If we made it mandatory for the students to get their a parent or guardian to sign their agenda (which would be filled with things like what their homework is, what forms need to be signed, and what they got on their last test) that that would be the best way to keep up communication for a good learning environment and have every child succeed to their full potential.

As teachers, we need to focus our lessons inside the classroom around all the different kinds of leaners we have inside the classroom. Visual, auditory, read-write, and kinesthetic leaners are all very different and to give or students the best shot at succeeding to reach their full potential then we need to do that in a variety of different ways. By teaching, providing examples, and doing activities in these different ways then we give students the chance to learn in the way that comes easiest to them and then they also learn how it may be easiest for their peers. Giving this variety ultimately strengthens our students because they are becoming progressive learners. Experiencing this in the classroom would be a good example of an equitable learning environment for all students.”

Discussion Forum Three: How are you going to fulfill the demands of becoming a teacher?

This week was my turn to facilitate our group’s discussion. What are your thoughts on these questions? Comment below!!!

Since this week’s reading is on the Saskatchewan Curriculum site, I thought for our discussion this week we would focus on what needs to be done before we start teaching in the classroom. As future educators, we know that there are tons of work requirements that we need to fulfill before the “school day begins”. For each class, teachers decide how they will successfully meet their aims and goals, meet outcomes and indicators, and create an effective learning program. This all takes time, so the discussion for this week will be: How are you going to fulfill all of these demands?

Some starters might be:

-How would you balance your time both in and outside of the classroom?

-Do you feel that a teacher’s salary should reflect the amount of effort they need to put in so that they meet these demands? Why?

-Given that teachers have part of the summer off, does that makes up for the stressed workload throughout the school year? Why or why not?

Some Quotes:

“As future educators, we know that there are tons of work requirements that we need to fulfill before the “school day begins”. For each class, teachers decide how they will successfully meet their aims and goals, meet outcomes and indicators, and create an effective learning program.”

“Effort is a difficult thing to measure, regardless if it is the amount of effort the teacher puts into planning, teaching, etc. or even assessing our students and the effort they put into their assignments. How do we gage effort?”

“We all need to find our own balance, inside and outside of the classroom, as to how we fulfill all the roles of a teacher.”

“To conclude week three’s discussion I believe that everyone agrees that as teachers we all need to find our own balance, inside and outside of the classroom, as to how we fulfill all the roles of a teacher.

“One of the demands of being a teacher that was agreed upon was the level of time that is required from the teacher. The first group member to respond said this, “I think time management is necessary to balance your time both in and outside of the classroom”. While another group member had said this, “Time management is definitely important and I think how the balance works is dependent on what an individual person can handle and when”. My understandings of this is that, as individuals, we need to find a way to manage our time that works for us not for someone else.

The discussion then lead to talking about effort, where there is an understanding amongst us that effort cannot be measured. Although that wasn’t what my initial question or prompts were regarding, it was still an interesting and meaningful discussion to have.

We also discussed if having the summers off makes up of the stress of the job during the rest of the year. Some agreed, some did not.

We then went on to talk about the workday of a teacher. It is clear to all of us that a teacher works far more than other people insinuate. The question also asked if their pay should reflect that, and I think that most of us believe that it should. As the second group member to respond said, “Teachers work far more than eight hours and it would be great if their pay reflected that”. This is true, the picture posted proves that teachers put in a tremendous amount of time, as well as effort. There were some discrepancies as to how we gage that, which is to be anticipated. We are all our own people and have different opinions and experiences that has led us to believe what we do.

Overall, it was a great discussion around how we meet all the demands of being a teacher”

Discussion Forum Two: What are the detrimental and the beneficial effects technology has in the classroom and the learning process?

“I 100% agree that cellphones/iPods/iPads are a distraction when it comes to learning in the classroom. I think that there should be a bucket or something at the door where the teacher collects the electronics to minimalize distractions unless they are to be used for an educational purpose. The teacher needs to delegate when it is appropriate to be on these devices during class time, or rather when the electronics are being used for an educational purpose. For example, if you want your students to do some research of their own for a project then it would be not only appropriate to use our resources (i.e. the electronic devices) but it would also be an educational advantage to have those resources in the palm of our hands.

But we also need to consider the students that do not have the luxury of having an electronic device. If the devices are to be implemented into in class learning, then we need to have some iPads (something that will allow access to the internet) on hand for those students. But then too you are singling out the students that cannot afford electronic devices and that’s not something you want to do within the classroom. As teachers, we want to create a comfortable environment for all students not make them feel “different” then the other students. For that reason I feel that, unless the school can provide electronic devices for all students to access at school for educational purposes, individually owned cellphones/iPods/iPads should not hold a place in the classroom.”

Discussion Forum One: Why do you want to be a teacher?

“My father is a teacher. The reason why I want to become a teacher aspires from him. What I saw the most in him, as an educator, was how much he truly cared about all of his students. Throughout our school, and other schools, he was respected by all- students and staff. I feel that the reason behind this was because he, among being encouraging and being a positive influence, showed that he cared. You could see many examples of how much he cared like: being at the school at 7:30am every day (I’m talking no matter what- sometimes I would have to go with him school, as you could imagine it didn’t always go over to well for him when he had a 13 year old daughter who just wanted to sleep a little longer), or how you could go for help in the morning or every Monday/Wednesday afterschool until 5:30 (again this was no matter what), and you could also see it through the extra-curricular teams he would coach like basketball or golf. I want to be that for my students. I want to be someone who is dependable, caring, and would do almost anything for her students. That’s is why I want to become a teacher.

I am most defiantly a teacher 24 hours a day, especially if you live and work in a small community where everyone knows you and you know everyone. As a teacher we have to present a good image to our students, because we set the example for them. If we, for example, have inappropriate pictures all over Facebook that does not present a good image for firstly the teacher, and secondly the school. We need to, as educators, be aware of the choices we make in day to day life because we continually need to be a role model for our students.”