Learning From Place

Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing is an article that discusses the nature and power of learning from place. The article illustrates the reflection of a research project that was conducted to honor the Mushkegowuk Cree people’s concepts of land, environment, and nature. By sharing the story of the river excursion which joined many generations from youth to elders, the importance of learning from experience and storytelling were conveyed which are two key ideas of the indigenous ways of knowing.

The article explains how decolonization cannot be limited to rejecting and transforming normative narratives but rather must also depend on recovering and renewing mentorship and intergenerational relationships. Thus, the river excursion which allowed individuals from vast generations to travel together and communicate with one another demonstrates many forms of decolonization and reinhabitation. While on the voyage, youth, adults, and elders learned about the history and significance of the river, related issues of governance and land management, and the culture of the community. A key theme was the importance of nature and land for the Muskegowick people which is more than just a resource; it is a spiritual and material place that all life springs from and the cultural identity of the people. The word The large focus on the word ‘paquataskamik’ which means “natural environment” was emphasized in explaining the traditional views of the land. The elders were also able to share many vibrant meanings of the river that go well beyond thinking of it as simply a body of water. The Mushkegowuk people saw the river as a way of life and believe that it has physical, spiritual, and emotional uses and meanings. The river is also used as a cemetery and it is expected that when traveling along the river those who have passed away remain in ones’ thoughts and prayers. The group also documented sites of significance for the community during the excursion which encourages reinhabitation of the land. Most importantly, while on the trip, an audio documentary was recorded to detail the experience of the travelers. Many voices such as those from members of the band office, health center,  and education system, were included allowing for community involvement beyond those participating in the excursion. The documentary was shared with the community and broadcasted on the radio in hopes of reaching a broad audience and allowing their stories and traditional knowledge to be heard and preserved for future generations to come. Reinhabitation and decolonization are dependent on one another but both rely on identifying a need for change regarding the use of land and ways of thinking and the river excursion, which helped members of the community share linguistic, cultural, historical, and geographical knowledge permitted for these realizations to occur.

After reading the article, I realize the significance of teaching from place and being aware of the traditional understandings of the community that I will be teaching in. Acknowledging my position in a given community will require me to commit to unlearning and relearning new perspectives and provide me with insight into the perceptions my students hold. It is important that I recognize my personal biases and remain aware of my own beliefs while being open to change and accepting of new ideas. I must remember that knowledge and curriculum can come from more than just textbooks and government regulated materials and that it is okay to ask for help when I do not feel confident in my knowledge about particular subject areas. Bringing elders and other voices into my classrooms will allow my students to learn from experts in their fields who can speak from experience and provide my students with true understandings. Encouraging learning from place in my classroom will require me to first acknowledge my position in the community but more importantly incorporate significant local knowledge and values into everyday classroom lessons.

 

 

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The Truth About Curriculum

Before Reading: 

I honestly never questioned the ‘how’ of curricula creation, but putting that into words makes me think that as a preservice educator, I definitely should. My understanding of how school curricula are developed stems from my personal experience in the Saskatchewan school system and the little discussion through some of my education courses thus far. I think curricula are developed by a group of people with some expertise or relation to the field of education whether that being that they had teaching experience or not. They decide what is critical for students to learn at each particular grade level and organize these ideas into outcomes and indicators in hopes that all educators are able to successfully cover the outlined topics in a given school year. When deciding what is important, I believe that society has a heavy influence and thus white eurocentric views continue to guide the decisions. I also know that in Canada, school curricula are provincially mandated thus I think provincial governments have the final say in what is implemented across the province. Once curriculum guidelines have been agreed upon, they become the new norm and are executed across the province. 

After Reading:

After reading Ben Levin’s chapter regarding curriculum policy and politics concerning what should be learned in schools I realized my understanding of curriculum development was fairly minimal and vague. Today, curricula are developed by bringing groups of experts together to draft new or revised versions by examining and evaluating current forms of curricula and suggestions for change that have been made. The two big concerns when designing curriculum are ‘what subjects should be taught ‘ and ‘what content should be included under each subject’ and there are various opinions regarding these questions. Curriculum decisions are shaped largely by “ideology, personal values, issues in the public domain, and individual interests” and because everyone has some relation to schooling, their personal experiences in school have a grand influence on educational policies. Post-secondary schools also have a significant influence due to the entrance requirements they have for students interested in enrolling in their programs. Levin opened my eyes to the power of politics regarding curriculum design and thus the influence that the economy and people in authoritative positions have on deciding what should be taught in schools. Levin also pointed out that once a curriculum has been approved by the provincial government, it is not always implemented successfully in schools because teachers’ practices are often influenced by what they know and value, and what is practical for them to implement.

I have learned that I was correct in thinking that the provincial government has the final authority when developing school curricula. Thus, “an individual in a key position can either shape of hold up decisions” despite the opinions of others which is concerning as one person in power should not have the authority to influence the lives of all students and the future generations of our society. The significant influence of one individual shifts the focus from being on providing sufficient education for all students, to meeting biased goals. Often experts in a particular subject area are consulted when making the decisions about what should be included but this can also be problematic because the result of expert dominated choices will only be implemented successfully by other masters of the subject. The reality is that most teachers, especially those with elementary education degrees, will have limited knowledge in particular subject areas and will not be able to teach the objectives developed by experts. I believe what is most problematic is that despite new curricula being developed, they are not being implemented appropriately in classrooms. For example, treaty education was introduced to Saskatchewan’s curriculum in 2007 and yet students are still not learning the truth about treaties in their classrooms. Designing curricula is a political process which means it is driven by the most vocal interests and marginalizes opinions of those whose matter. Levin’s chapter exposed me to the troubling truths about the process of designing curricula and emphasized the importance of considering who is designing curricula.

Technology has the POTENTIAL to ENHANCE Learning

The Great Ed-Tech Debate of 2019 commenced this week with the topic of whether or not technology in the classroom enhances learning up for discussion. Originally, I did not expect this subject to draw up much controversy within our EDTC 400 class because the course is focused on integrating technology into teaching and learning, and thus, I anticipated that we would all lean towards agreeing with the positive side of the statement. The pre-vote that was conducted showed my anticipation was correct as only one member of my class disagreed that technology enhances learning. Fortunately, the purpose of the debate was a success as we were able to critically think about the topic under discussion, openly consider both sides of the debate and left the conversation with less of a concrete opinion on whether or not technology truly does enhance learning. Personally, I did not switch my vote but many members of my class did as some excellent arguments were made that challenged our initially biased opinion.  Professor Katia explained how it is “very easy to start poking holes into arguments” and how this topic is not meant to be looked at in a “black and white fashion.” The final result of our vote provides proof that there are valid arguments to both sides of the subject and reminds us as educators that we must cautiously consider our beliefs before implementing them into our teaching environments. Below I discuss some of the major arguments made during our discussion and some of my personal thoughts regarding the topic.

Class vote prior to the debate

Class vote after the debate

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first point I want to address was critical to our discussion and something we all needed to be reminded of prior to sharing our views. The topic at hand was whether or not technology ENHANCES learning with the keyword being ‘enhance’ meaning further improve the quality, value, or extent of learning. Although the topics are related, there are different arguments focusing on whether or not technology should be in the classroom making it critical to remember the keyword ‘enhance’ and focus our attention to it.

Arguments for the Pro Side

Global Collaboration: Technology allows individuals to connect with anyone around the world, and thus, provides students with access to learn from experts of the particular field they are studying in. As an example,  Ashlee drew our attention to a heartwarming Speaking Exchange CNA video where students in Brazil connect with seniors in the United States to develop their English speaking skills. This would never have been possible without the use of technology and even if there were skilled English teachers at their school the students still would have missed out on opportunities. Every student was partnered with a senior permitting the students to receive one on one learning opportunities which would have been impossible for an educator to provide to the same extent. The students also were able to teach their partners some of their first language providing them with another opportunity to learn through the teaching which helps to develop deep understandings. In situations such as this, technology provides contemporary possibilities that enhance learning for everyone involved.

Technology as a Resource: Educators are able to use technology as a resource in their classrooms in many ways. In an article titled 8 Ways Technology is Improving Education, the author expresses how through technology we have access to simulations, models, and virtual manipulatives which all offer beneficial visual representations in a timely fashion. For example, when teaching a lesson on fractions, instead of teachers having their students draw pie graphs for every change in the denominator a virtual manipulative could be used to save time and represent the relationships between various fractions which would permit deeper understandings of the lesson being taught. In my EMTH 200 course, the ability to reflect on and extend problems beyond finding the solution is highly emphasized. With the use of technology, students are able to extend problems beyond the means of the classroom and make global connections to the topic under study providing them with more beneficial learning opportunities. Technology can also be used as a resource for communication providing for a collaborative learning environment and allowing students to connect with one another and their teachers. By encouraging open communication and building relationships within the classroom, students may become more engaged in their learning and have the desire to participate which ultimately will lead to enhanced learning possibilities.

Multimedia Representations: It is commonly known that all students are unique and have various learning style preferences. By presenting subject material through various multimedia representations, educators can adhere to the varying learning needs of their students. Courts and Tucker discuss how Audio (voiceovers and podcasts), videos, simulations, and blogs can be expanded and used to enhance learning for all students in their journal about technology in the classroom. Multimedia can be integrated at simple and static levels such as using power points or sharing videos but it can also encourage active learning through the use of simulations and digital conversations. By incorporating multimedia representations into classrooms, educators can also design lessons to include the interests of their students which again permits engagement and thus the quality of learning available for students.

Arguments for the Con Side

Technology as a Distraction: We all have experienced technology distracting us in one way or another in our daily lives. By incorporating technology into the classroom, students may be distracted by the flashy visuals and sound effects. Technology can also cause distractions in the classroom when it fails to operate smoothly. I remember teachers struggling to load videos or connect to audio being a frequent occurrence in my classrooms thus permitting time for my classmates and me to visit but causing everyone to be off topic and teachers having difficulty regaining the class’ focus. Julia Klaus’ article explains how students often become caught up in the excitement of technology and forget that the purpose of having it in the classroom is still for learning.

Cheating, Plagiarism & Academic Dishonesty: Reanne brought our class’ attention to an idea that I would never have thought of myself, but believe that it is critical to consider. Providing students access to technology gives them means to google any question they have been assigned with answering and we all know it is not difficult to copy and paste it without having to think for ourselves. Students also have more means to share answers with one another through devices without the teachers knowing they are doing so. In Mathew Lynch’s article, he states “students often do not think that what they are doing is wrong” when using modern-day methods such as Google to cheat. Some educators do lesson appropriate use of technology and academic conduct but this takes away from their time to teach curriculum objectives which can also be problematic.

Ill Considered when Implemented: Personally, I believe this is the strongest argument for the opposing side. Students who do not have devices available to them at home may be inexperienced in skills such as typing or researching topics which will put them behind in course work if this is expected from them for assignments. In Technology, But Not for All, Liz Riggs mentions how despite the intention of educational technology being to “level the playing field”, there are studies that show the achievement gap between rich and poor students is growing due to the implementation of technology in classrooms. The internet has become an incredibly popular commodity but there is still a digital divide that exists leaving low-income families with less technological access and knowledge. Educators cannot expect that all of their students have access to the internet and are equally comfortable performing tech-savvy skills.  44372487464_c039a9e5e1                               Photo Credit: verchmarco Flickr via Compfight cc

In Conclusion 

It is undeniable that technology plays a critical role in the 21st-century society that we are living in, and to quote John Dewey, an inspirational education theorist, “If we teach students today, as we did yesterday, we are robbing them of tomorrow.” Technology did not always exist which is why traditionalist educators continue to argue that it is not required to provide high-quality learning without it, however, the world has changed and it is crucial that education adapts to these changes to provide students with skills applicable to today. By utilizing technology in the classroom to enhance learning, educators provide there students with a glimpse at the wonderful powers of technology and the endless possibilities that it provides us with.

Image result for george couros technologyAfter being exposed to arguments for both sides to the question; “does technology enhance learning?” my personal belief is that it can. I am not a firm believer that it always will and I do believe that there are implications that must be addressed but I have faith that when implemented correctly, the POTENTIAL for technology to ENHANCE learning is incredibly high. As a future educator, I am grateful for the opportunity to learn how to correctly implement technology into my future teaching environments so that I can hopefully provide all of my students with the best learning opportunities in the years to come. Thank you, Ashlee and Reanne, for leading an awesome discussion and engaging our class to develop new insights and perspectives. After just one debate, I recognize the value in being able to discuss important topics from directly opposing sides and look forward to having my beliefs be challenged and gaining more new perspectives in the weeks to come!

Sincerely,

-Miss. S

Never Stop Learning because Life Never Stops Teaching

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” 

-Nelson Mandela

The following is a list of Educational resources that I have found useful as I progress through my education experiences:

  • Shattering the Silence – the story of residential schools in Saskatchewan formatted as an E-book resource for educators
  • Kahoot – a free game based learning platform that permits interactive and fun learning
  • BrainPOP – animated educational clips
  • Crash Course – and educational youtube channel that covers a broad variety of subject
  • TV Bullies: How Glee and anti-bullying programs miss the mark – informational article about the importance of properly addressing homophobic harassment in schools
  • Treaty Ed Camp – professional development event organized by teachers for teachers focusing on integrating treaty education into the classroom for all age levels

“Children won’t care how much you know until you show them how much you care”

-Joy Woodard

Reading Response #7 – Oh Canada: Bridges and Barriers to Inclusion

Inclusive education is vital in order to move forward as an accepting society that doesn’t discriminate against or segregate difference. By incorporating the value of inclusion into the Canadian education system, our country’s youth will be integrated with students from various backgrounds and learn how to coherently cooperate together rather than isolating those who resemble difference and creating a divide through segregation.

Inclusive education means that all students are welcomed into regular classroom environments and are encouraged to learn, contribute, and participate, in all aspects of school life by being provided with adequate support from school leaders. In order for inclusive education to be successful, both academic and social elements must be addressed and adjusted to create respectful learning environments that provide a sense of community for everyone involved. The article describes that academic experiences include more than just receiving an education through the curriculum’s outline. Further, the article points out that learning through involvements with a diverse group of peers encourages respectful relationships and develops values to be applied towards everyday life. Academic inclusion inspires multiple teaching styles and a variety of topics to be discussed from various points of view, to ensure every student’s perspective and abilities are acknowledged. Social inclusion in the school system includes creating a sense of community and belonging for every student based on mutual respect. It is important for all youth to feel a part of something bigger than themselves which can be provided through comprehensive and welcoming classroom environments. As a preservice teacher, I understand the importance of embracing an inclusive classroom on both academic and social levels.

Inclusive education has been discussed for many years but prominent progress is yet to be identified or implemented because ideas presented are different in comparison to how classrooms function and challenge the beliefs that society has relied on for many years. Teachers play a dominant role in developing the dynamics of their classroom which means they must receive proper training and education in the field in of inclusive teaching practices in order to advance notable change. As a first-year education student, I found it puzzling that diversity was the prestige concept discussed in year one courses. That said, I am becoming more aware of the significance of preparing teachers with accepting mindsets in order for them to thrive in classroom settings and adapt to various groups of students and their unique needs. Formulating the new generation of teachers with adequate training in inclusive education will encourage change within the school systems and lead towards producing a more inclusive culture. It is exciting to know that society’s youth will be taught to cohesively cooperate with a diverse set of abilities at the learning table. I am excited to be part of the teaching generation that has the resources to impact the course of education in Canadian schools, but find it problematic that teachers today have not received appropriate training.

Due to my previous schooling experiences, I am left wondering how inclusive classrooms can be established to ensure every student is receiving equal opportunities to learn. How can I adapt to the various learning styles and needs of my students while still ensuring each individual is receiving a sufficient education to be academically and socially successful in their futures? How can our society redirect itself to encourage independence among students with disabilities rather than diminishing their chances through isolated programs?

Introducing Miss Schneider

Hi all, my name is Kendall Schneider and I am currently enrolled as a second-year student in the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina studying Secondary Education and majoring in Mathematics. I am new to the beautiful city of Regina but excited to explore fresh opportunities and have my learning challenged as I gain a stronger understanding of concepts that will help me to pursue my desire to teach others.

I grew up in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and graduated from St.Mary High School in June of 2017. Moving away from my family and into a bigger city has been a drastic change but it puts me one step closer to fulfilling my dream of becoming a teacher.

Throughout my years in grade school, I was involved with Girl Guides of Canada both as a member and volunteer as a mentor for the younger girls. The program has taught me independence, respect, and the importance of friendship and teamwork while allowing for once in a lifetime opportunities and surfacing my passions to camp and travel. I strongly believe that traveling is a powerful form of education and that camping helps people construct a grateful attitude towards life. I hope to works these beliefs and ideas from my personal experiences into my teaching style to help combine my passions with my career.

My family memberare major sports enthusiasts and although I do not competitively play a sport myself, I enjoy cheering on my brothers, watching professional leagues and being a part of intermural teams. I am looking forward to joining a teacher team where we can learn and grow alongside each other.

I am very familiar with the stigma that high school students are difficult to teach because they don’t always respect authority or care what the teacher has to say, but I am motivated by the challenge to inspire and enthuse students and help them appreciate and recognize the significance of the gift of education. In a blog post by Brian Gatens, he explains how teaching high school students insists that teachers go beyond instructing simply the content of the course but rather provide their students with work habits and social skills required to be successful in our forever growing technology-centered and team-based world.

Technology is continually becoming a greater factor in our everyday lives and it is important to develop a professional online presence in order to successfully obtain a career in the Education field. I am excited about the opportunity to develop a polished e-portfolio that I can carry with me in my future endeavors. I hope to continue to present myself to the world in a professional manner, express my thoughts and ideas in a sophisticated format, and communicate with those who I have professional relationships with through my e-portfolio.

 

Doing my Part – My Contribution to my Classmates’ Learning

A major aspect of EDTC 300 was contributing to other’s learning and by doing so challenging myself to practice constructive criticism, develop confidence in providing feedback and allow my perspectives to be altered. Involving myself in the many online platforms used in this course made it easy for me to assist others in there learning journeys.Outside of weekly communication with my classmates through Zoom, the EDTC 300 Google Plus community, Twitter, and WordPress allowed me to communicate with my classmates.

Google Plus Community

I was unaware that google plus existed prior to this class but I now believe that it has awesome benefits to allow for a group to communicate and share with one another. Whenever I had a question regarding class work, I posted it to our google plus community because I thought if I needed clarification than maybe my classmates did too. This also allowed me to receive answers from classmates efficiently rather than solely relying on my prof and provided the opportunity for my classmates to also see the responses. Our Google plus community was an excellent resource for sharing content and asking questions that were specific to the EDTC 300 class.

Replying to classmates with words of motivation and encouragement

Reminding classmate Tera to turn off her comment moderation after noticing that it hadn’t been done yet and attaching a screencast to provide her with directions to follow

Looking for classmates help in remembering how to find my WordPress comments. Nicole also appreciated this and used it to create her contribution blog post.

Saved myself and classmates from a long and unnecessary read

Asked for advice regarding video editing – something that was brand new to me at the start of this course

Commented on classmates posts when I felt fitting – this is only one example of many

Twitter

Twitter was brand new to me this semester but I was willing to challenge myself to develop an account, follow my classmates and begin tweeting to the recommended one or two tweets tweet per day. Over the course of 13 weeks, I promoted #edtc300, produced 128 tweets, and regularly commented on my classmate’s posts which makes me believe I was successful in contributing to my classmates learning via Twitter. By engaging with my classmates’ posts I believe I made them feel appreciated and encouraged them to continue to be active on Twitter. I also participated in Saskedchats when possible which allowed me to influence other educators’ thinking while gaining new education perspectives myself. By sharing resources related to the course, sharing links to my assignments, tweeting my thoughts and opinions, engaging in Twitter chats, using hashtags, and commenting on, re-tweeting or liking my classmates’ posts I have developed a Twitter PLN and provided helpful resources to encourage learning beyond class content. I have included a screencast to show a vast variety of my tweets which can also be found on my Twitter profile. The pictures highlight the different ways I was able to contribute to other’s learning using Twitter.

Sharing course-related resources and using #edtc300

Acknowledging my classmate’s efforts by showing gratitude for their work and providing positive feedback

Sharing my personal posts and classmates’ work so that it can be acknowledged and appreciated by others – it is motivating for my classmates to continue their good work

Engaging in Twitter Chats to share my thoughts and opinions in course-related discussions

Engaging in stimulating conversations with classmates on course-related resources

Blog Comments

Each week my EDTC 300 classmates and myself were asked to make two blog posts, one for our Learning Project and one based on the particular week’s topic of study. Along with other homework, this felt like a lot to do some weeks so it was up to me to comment on my classmates’ posts with positive feedback and motivating advice to help them stay on track. Most of the time my classmates’ posts were very well done and educational for me to read so rather than making suggestions on ways to improve their posts, I found myself complimenting them on their strong efforts and offering encouraging or inspiring advice. I enjoyed responding to my classmates’ comments on my posts and clarifying any questions they might have left for me, in order to further both of our understandings. Due to the immense amount of effort that each of us put into our blogs, I felt the need to acknowledge my classmates work to provide them with the sense that their commitment to their blog was appreciated. Below I have included a few of the comments I made throughout the semester that best summarize the content my comments typically consisted of. I also included a screencast of my Comments I’ve Made Dashboard Page which shows some of my most recent comments.

Provided Kylie with words of encouragement when she was feeling discouraged with her learning project

Answered Tera‘s question to provide her with clarification and improve both of our understandings of the topic discussed in my blog post

Blog commenting helped Rebecca and I learn from each other’s resources and progress since we chose the same topic for our Learning Project. We were able to share our similar learning experiences with one another by engaging in conversations over our blogs

Responding to Classmates’ concerns and highlighting aspects of their work that stood out to me while further analyzing and interpreting their ideas

Simply sharing my love for my classmates’ creativity and acknowledging their weekly progress

And of course, more conversations with Rebecca because we were constantly learning from and with each other

And that should do it. Obviously, this post cannot explain every detail of my contribution to the learning of others but by breaking it down into the Google plus community, Twitter, and Blog commenting categories I was able to summarize my offerings to improving the learning environment for everyone involved in EDTC 300. It was an honor to be a part of this class and not only learn from my professor but rather learn from each other and have the opportunity to help enhance my classmates’ learning.

  • Kendall. S