Stories from the Field

Week Seven-The Role of Technology

Technology is used every day in my field experience classroom. This week for my field experience we went to the Board of Education Office where everyone received a half of a day experience of what it would be like to go to school in a one room school house. Thus, it makes the role of technology a little different from normal. Nonetheless, technology was still present. My cooperating teacher use her cellphone to take pictures of everyone on the field trip. The students throughout the duration of the morning identified three uses of technology, the phones. There was a rotary dial phone, a touch tone, and a wooden crank phone in the classroom. The students then showed their understandings of technology about how far technology has progressed, to the point where almost everyone has a cell phone.

On a normal day in the classroom technology for the students would be watching videos, listening to music while singing along, and looking at images from a projector. For my cooperating teacher she used technology to update students’ progress, update her blog, to communicate with parents and guardians or with other teachers, and to keep records. To do this, the use of technology is mainly through a projector and computer. In the school library there are a few computers for student use, as well as teachers. Primarily there is a laptop cart teachers can sign out for their students use in the classroom. For example, in grade five math students use a laptop to play games that help advance their own learning as one station in a lesson. In grade two the technology for math is quite different. The students learn to add two digit numbers on a one hundreds chart in their hands, as well as with the one that is projected on the board.

The students engage with technology inside and outside of the school through a weekly blog, a weekly email, and through twitter. Students know that my cooperating teacher is constantly taking pictures of the students, with media release forms, during class for the weekly email and twitter. This brings technology not only into daily routine of classroom life, but it also takes it home to outside the school. Technology gives the students of my cooperating teacher the opportunity to show their caregivers what they did today, shows them what they need to complete for class, and shows students that their teacher cares about establishing a relationship with students and also the community that surrounds them.

Week Six- Curriculum and Instruction

On Thursday this week in a grade two classroom what was being taught was English, Social Studies, and Math. The curriculum had us focus our lessons around the individual outcomes, and then my cooperating teacher makes the modification to suit the abilities to everyone in the class. In English we taught students to use a picture inductive model (PIM) to find words in the picture, to spell them out, and then to count out the syllables in each word. The students were all very excited to share something that they saw in the picture, they shot up their hand, excited to shoe what they had learned. The students are always very engaged and go home with stories of what they have learned and even though they don’t know that it is taught because it’s in the curriculum they come out with stories of the curriculum.

Later in the morning we then went to the gym where we had some firefighters from station three in Regina come in where they taught the students about fire safety. The students learned how important it is to know your address so that if your using a cellphone calling the fire department if it is an emergency then the students can tell the fire fighters where they are because if you are using a cell phone to call in an emergency they cannot track the call to find out where you are. The students then practiced their “stop, drop, and roll” in case they’re on fire, the students learned how to crawl out of a building in case of a fire, and they learned how to use a telephone to call 911 if there was ever an emergency.

In the classroom the students learn in a variety of ways. The students learn by signing, having movement, watching videos, and by having the teacher teach all around the class. For example, when the students were learning the seven continents we watched a funny video that helped the kids remember what they all were. We then recited what they were out loud and some students did a dance while they were reciting the continents to help them remember what they all were. This meant the students were learning through an auditory, kinesthetic, and visual way. The students, although it may take them a few tries, do see the relevance of what they are learning. For example, almost all students have taken the initiative to know that we live on the planet Earth, on the continent of North America, in the country of Canada, and in the city of Regina. The students know that this learning has importance, although I am not sure they fully understand its relevance, other than because they need to know where they live, quite yet.

Week Five: Inclusive Education-Diversity and Difference

At my field experience the school community, including parents, staff, and students all honor diversity (including sexual and gender diversity), equity, and human rights. It starts at the classroom level by ensuring that all students have an inclusive education. Inside the classroom all students, no matter their differences, are presented the same education as their peers. For example, there is one student with a prosthetic leg. This does not mean that he has different expectations then other students. The student goes outside for recess and is a part of the classroom in every retrospect. The only difference between this students education and his peers is that he gets to come in from recess a few minutes earlier, if he wishes, so that he has time to get undressed from his winter gear and get ready for class so that he will be ready to learn at the same time as his fellow peers. Although this may exclude him from his peers, though it is at his discretion because he can choose to come in or not, it is an inclusionary practice because this allows the student to be ready to learn and benefit from learning in the same way as his fellow peers do.

At the school level there are many ways that diversity, in its multiple forms, is being honored. For example, the Circle of Courage is not just displayed in my cooperating teacher’s classroom physically, emotionally, and spirituality but it is demonstrated everywhere throughout the school. The Circle of Courage is in every teacher’s classroom, it is at the main doors, and there is a big banner with the Circle of Courage on there. In doing this, the school is showing that they not only acknowledge but value and honor the diversity amongst their students.

Lastly, at the community level diversity, equity, and human rights are all honored in a variety of ways. One way is through communication. The parents and guardians are all very involved in the learning community. For example, my cooperating teacher is in constant communication with her school community. Since there is constant communication everyone is very aware and honor’s the differences between each other. That is why this past St. Patrick’s Day when a parent wanted to send themed cookies into the classroom she emailed my cooperating to make sure that it would be okay with everyone first. This showed that the parent was concerned and wanted to honor everyone’s diversities and making sure this would be an inclusionary practice and not an exclusionary one by making sure that it would be okay.

 

Week Four: Inclusive Education-Diversity and Difference

The different forms of diversity I have observed with in the classroom and school are those within, ethnicity. The schools I have attended previously were ones of a typical rural community. The teaching staff is predominantly made up of white males and females, as were the students. This differs in my field experience. In this school there is all types of different ethnicity, going along with diversity. In this classroom and school I am able to start and uncover the different culture, practices, and traditions of other students and staff.

Some different forms of diversity that are not visible would be the different learning styles of the students. Such as, kinesthetic, visual, or auditory. These are all in the classroom, I think the majority of the students within the classroom have the most success with visual learning. For example, the students picked up on a one hundred chart that if you are taking away nine from any number the answer will always be up one row and one to the right. They knew this because they were able to see it, they were using their visual skills. Although not every child thought this way. Some, the more kinesthetic learners, would move their finger back nine spaces from the starting number to subtract nine. By doing this the kinesthetic learners were able to touch to be able to figure out the answer. This shows the different diversities that are not visible within the classroom in one way.

One way I see the school, or more so the classroom and cooperating teacher, honoring inclusive practices is in my cooperating teachers teaching style. She truly teaches to the child, not to the curriculum. Everyone is included in the classroom by doing activities and school work that everyone can participate in, which is not an easy task. To do this my cooperating teacher must come up lessons that can be adapted to suit the needs of every learner.

Week Three: Teachers & Knowledge

At my field experience school there are many different examples of how teachers honour different ways of knowing. In particular, one way my cooperating teacher honors different ways of knowing is by having a poster of the Circle of Courage on her whiteboard. When you walk in the school to the right of the main doors the Circle of Courage is also posted in a frame, as well it is posted in a variety of different ways around the school. This circle represents four categories that lead individuals to knowing. It revolves around these four main categories and presents questions. Among the questions are: Who am I? Where do I come from? Why am I here? What is my purpose? The belief is that every child, teenager, and adult needs to have the answers to. Belonging, generosity, independence, and mastery all represent ways of knowing. In the classroom all ways of knowing are valued, respected, and encouraged to be brought forward by students.

I see teachers promoting knowledge in the classroom by encouraging students to share what they know. Whether it be different languages or a different approach at a math question. A key support to my cooperating teacher is her educational assistant, they both have a very good relationship with each other and it is obvious they work well together. My cooperating teacher refers to us as a team in the classroom. Which makes sense because in order to have a team you need t have its supports to hold it up.

I believe that teachers continue to build their professional knowledge simply by being in the classroom. Each day in the classroom brings a new experience; one that you can reflect and build from. If we as educators did not reflect upon our experiences then we would not be learning to our full potential. By reflecting we build our own professional knowledge.

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Week Two- School and Community

At my field experience school I have come to know a few people fairly well. First, there is my cooperating teacher. Second, our educational assistant that is with the classroom. Third, the vice principle. It was quite interesting to meet the vice principle as he grew up a nearby rural community a mere twenty-ish minutes from where I grew up (Kamsack, Sk). We enjoy similar things, such as experiencing all that Duck Mountain Provincial Park has to offer (which is a lot, I highly recommend going there); also we even know a number of the same individuals surrounding or communities!

I would describe the school itself as very welcoming and approachable, along with everyone in it. The surrounding community seems to be very positive and dedicated to providing the best/most meaningful education possible. The link between school and community here is the committed communication with both parties. My cooperating teacher communicates with parents and guardians, as well as the rest of the school and community, by sending out emails with pictures of what they are doing in class on a regular basis, she has a blog that is updated every week about what they are doing and what will be happening the next week, and sends home agendas everyday among other things. Yet, it is not just my cooperating teacher that is making a contribution to creating a link between school and community, but the parents and guardians as well. Often there are parents and guardians that are helping in and outside the classroom. In the past few days the class went on a hike to Boggy Creek for Outdoor Education. There were seven supervising adults. As you can see, creating a supportive school and community is very important to all individuals here.

On another note, today in my field experience we had an Aboriginal story teller come in to speak to our class and the grade one’s. She was wonderful. All the children were fully engaged and were eager to show off their counting and language skills by counting to ten in Cree. These children can count to ten in around six different languages French, Cree, Greek, Spanish, Japanese, and Swahili. My cooperating teacher tries to incorporate all the ethnicities and cultural backgrounds into the classroom setting. She highly values this, as her first language is Greek. This is another example of how the school and community are coming together; to embrace everyone within and to create a safe learning environment for students at school and at home in the community.

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Week One- Students and Learning Environment

“Who are our learners?” is a daunting question considering everyone is a learner. In a school sense, students learn from their teachers. However, teachers learn from their students; making them a learner as well. In my field experience I learned that even in a relatively small group of students there can be an extreme gap of varying abilities within that one class. For example, in a math lesson the students had a work sheet they were to complete with questions adding two digit numbers. Some of the students could do these in their heads, some showed their work by adding to the left, and all of the students had number chart that went up to one hundred (whether or not they used it was up to them). Some students could add any two digit numbers that you gave them and others were struggling to add numbers like three and one together. This happening made me a learner because I learned that, as educators, we have to cater to all of the students varying abilities in a variety of ways.

Thursday morning was my first field experience in the classroom. I have to say it was a wonderful learning environment. It was a bright classroom full of colors and life! Although the classroom was small and the students had to sit close together my cooperating teacher seemed to make everything work. When the students walked into the classroom they each had a locker with a nametag they colored themselves. There must have been around twenty-two students, each had a cover that went over their chair that held the students notebook, pencils, books, etc. since some of the students worked at tables instead of desks.

This classroom reminds me of what it felt like to be a grade two student, school was so fun and after you learned something you felt so accomplished, like you were an expert in that field now, almost. However, this schooling was different than mine. In this classroom you could eat whenever you wanted to (to promote a healthy stimulated brain), there was lots of singing in this class room (like when my cooperating teaching wanted to get her students attention she would sing Ecoutez {listen- in French} and then all the students would sing along and my cooperating teacher would have the students attention), and there was tons of artwork/student work/posters in the class room where as in my school teachers were not allowed to have anything on the walls because it was viewed as distracting to students by the school division.

The space in the classroom made me feel very welcomed and at home. It was the kind of learning environment that I would my students to have. Over all the space was very positive and it reflected positive attitude on everyone within the classroom.

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