School of Animals!

I was flicking through blogs looking for some inspiration and I stumbled upon a quote that Janelle Law had posted on her page, “everybody is a genius.but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life beleiving that it is stupid”. This famous Einstein quotation made me think about the following short story that we read in my EPHYC class:

 The Animal School

Once upon a time, the animals decided they must do something heroic to meet the problems of a “new world”. So they organized a school. They adopted an activity curriculum consisting of running, climbing, swimming and flying. To make it easier to administer the curriculum, all the animals took all the subjects. The duck was excellent in swimming, in fact better than his instructor, but he made only passing grades in flying and was very poor in running. Since he was slow in running, he had to stay after school and also drop swimming in order to practice running. This was kept up until his webbed feet were badly worn and he was only average in swimming, so nobody worried about that except the duck. The rabbit started at the top of the class in running, but had a nervous breakdown because of so much make-up work in swimming. The squirrel was excellent in climbing until he developed frustration in the flying class where his teacher made him start from the ground up instead of from the treetop down. He also developed a “charlie horse” from overexertion and then got a C in climbing and a D in running. The eagle was a problem child and was disciplined severely. In the climbing class he beat all the others to the top of the tree, but insisted on using his own way to get there. At the end of the year, an abnormal eel that could swim exceedingly well, and also run, climb and fly a little, had the highest average and was valedictorian. The prairie dogs stayed out of school and fought the tax levy because the administration would not add digging and burrowing to the curriculum. They apprenticed their children to a badger and later joined the groundhogs and gophers to start a successful private school.

This story and Einstein’s quote made me think about how importance of knowing the students in your class and their strengths and their weakness. I think that sometimes teachers try so hard to “fulfill the curriculum” and ensure “equity” in the classroom, that student’s strengths are clouded by their weakness. As teachers how can we create a classroom that uses students strengths to improve their area of weakness? As a teacher I want to liberate students and encourage their talents, interests and abilities, while also challenging them to try and improve at their areas of struggle. As a teacher I think it is important that students recognize that it is okay if they are not excellent at everything, and it is okay if they might not succeed at something at first. I think this is where differentiation and adaption’s come into play. Who is in my class? What are their learning needs and what can be done to try and help assist them in their success?

I think that the story of the animal school shows an opposite theory to this. In this fictional school all students were treated like equals but were not reated fairly. Their strengths were not valued because they were expected to perform equally well in all subject areas. The teacher of this school did not alow for students to achieve a task in their own way and put great emphasize on the student’s grades. All of the animals stopped exceeding in their areas of strength because they were forced to put all of their effort in their areas of weakness.

What do you think the role of student’s strengths should be in the classroom? How much emphasize should be put on students area of struggle? Do you think that the Animal School was structures for sucess? 

 

Learning project udate and a shout out to all artists/drawers!

HEY you all 🙂 So I realized that my learning project has been sort of hidden away, so I thought I would attatch the links of my progress here:

The Starting Point

Locating Resources

Learning to Draw the Eye

Learning Update

Screencast on Resources and Learning

Creativity

Shading

Video Blogs on Value and Perspective 

If any one has any imput , sugestions, or expertise in this area or on my efforts PLEASE let me know! I would love to hear it – as I welcome all the help I can get.

Thank you for checking out my learning, I hope you enjoy 🙂

Cheers,

Emily

Passion and the Humming Bird

I have been thinking alot latley about experiences and how our experiences directly shape who we are , our intrests, likes/dislikes and our passions. One experience that I have had the last three summers that has greatly shapped who I am as an individual and as an educator, is getting to go to London, England and work at Pax Lodge- Which is on of four Internatonal Girl Guiding Centers. These last four summers I have been luncky enough to work with people from ALL over the world (25 diffrent countries!).One of my jobs this last summer was to develop a program that promoted the elimination of violence and subjectivity against women around the world. Women, to this day, are still one of the most globally margenalized population groups. I have beome extremly passionate about becomming informed on issues that effect girls and women around the world. I am particularly passionate about issues surounding girls and education.

A part of the program I created was a veiwing and discussing of Wangari Maathai’s video : ” I will be a Humming Bird”.Wangari Maathai, is one of my inspirations.  Wangari Maathai was the creator of the Green Bel Movement, which was an initiatve that empowered women in her country to improve their livelihoods by increasing their access to resources like firewood for cooking and clean water. She became a great advocate for better management of natural resources and for sustainability, equity, and justice. Wangari Maathai has inspired others to take a stand and do what ever is possible to make a diffrence in the world.

The Story of the Hummingbird tells the tale of a  great forest fire. The story starts by explaing that the earth has caught on fire and all the animals of the world are standing by and watching in fear as their world is destroyed. All the animals are helpless, except for the hummingbird. The hummingbird is frantically collecting drops of water and placing them on the fire. The elephant ( a much bigger animal) asks the hummingbird why he is bothering collecting water, as he is too little to make a diffrence in the situation. The humming bird replies, ” I am doing the best I can do”. This message is such a signifigant one because it reminds us that although we might feel overwhelmed by the way things are in a given issue all we can do is try. An action does not have to be big it just has to be.

It seems to me that as educators we want to help teach our students this message. That although they might ” feel insignifigant” their  actions can be signifigant.

I would love to hear everyones thoughts on The Story of a Hummingbird and about encouraging global change. 

 Does anyone have any ideas of how to talk about global change in the classroom? 

Who are your  inspirations and what type of message can they teach students? 

Can you Controll your identity online?

So all throughout the semester in ECMP 355 we have been talking about a digital identity. It’s kind of a cool idea to think that in this technological age we can create a “new identity” online. Youtube has been revolutionary for allowing individuals to speak their mind on their lives, their passions and their opinions. People from all over the world are becoming connected to one an another via “vlogs” ( video blogs) . Youtube is allowing people to embrace their identities in a open and collaborative way. The way that it is set up is that any one can comment on any video. This commenting function also allows fluent and open conversations and collaboration to occur. I strongly believe that youtube has in large part shaped this new colaborative era. Youtube has provided many artist ( such as Justing Beiber) with a career. Youtube is also an excellent way to gain insights into any issue that you might be interested in.

On the flip-side I have been wondering about what kind of negative connotations being completely open with your identity and opinions online might have. I think that sometimes people ( myself included) feel more safe ( less-judged) online. Perhaps this is because of the lack of face to face communication, the social barriers seem to break down. In schools a major problem is bullying via social media websites ( often reffered to as cyber bullying).The Bullying kitchen created a series of videos that show how many people say things online that they would never say in person.

I started to think about accounts of people who have shared their ideas on the internet ( so the whole world can see) and it has resulted in a very negative response from other people. One such video that comes to mind is the very popular movie that a middle years boy posted after being bullied at school for being a red head. Youtuber Coppercab posted a very powerful video saying that he is standing up for himself and will not tolerated being made fun of for his hair colour. In the video he proclaims ” Gingers have souls too”. That one statement made the video become viral. The video unfortunately got turned into a sort of a joke andSouthPark ended up creating a parody of it in his show. I began to think how negative this must have been on him. Would have he had the same amount of ridicule upon him if he did not post his “cry for help” online? Is this video going to become his identity? Or the identity that others lable him as?

I also got to thinking about how easy it is to feel safe sharing what ever you want via the internet. Although this can be empowering, I also think that a certain “internet ethic” needs to be present.

When we post something online should we have to follow the same political correctness that we would anywhere else? What do you think the implications of posting something on line might be?

I look forward to hearing everyone’s imput!

Documenting A Singal Day

This summer I was lucky enough to win a contes where I got to attend the Life in a Day premier. Life in a Day is  movie documentary sponsoured by National Geographic and Youtube and created by footage sent in from people from all around the world partaking in their ordinary daily routines. The result was a cultural mosaic of  one day of life. It is quite a neat film and I suggest you all take a look!

I was thinking the other day what a great tool this video would be to use in the classroom .It is a great film to discuss culture and traditions around the world. Although certain scenes might need to be fast forwarded through or skipped, I feel that watching and discussing people from all around the world is a great way to get students to think about what life might be like elsewhere, while also making them realize that although cultures might be different, people are people.

I also thought that working towards creating a “life in our class” video would be kind of cool! The video could be an opportunity for the students to use technology to display their own cultures, the class culture and the daily ins and outs of life as a student.

Poisoned Teacher- what do you think?

I was shocked when I read an article about a teacher in California whose students tried to poison her with rat poisoning… twice! (First in her coffee, and the second in the frosting of a cupcake.) The three students who have admitted to this act were ten years old, and all three of them have been expelled and relocated to a school for students with disciplinary “problems”.

Many things came to my mind after reading about this incident.

Such as: why? Why would these three students want to poison someone? Why did they want to poison their teacher?Did the teacher have a good relationship with these students? Were there any misunderstandings between the students and the teacher? Was there anything going on in the school, in the classroom or at home that might have contributed to these students decisions? Did they understand what they were doing?

I further began to think of our role as an educator. One of the students who was interviewed about these students stated that “I heard that they reason why they did it was because they didn’t like the teacher… Because [they’re] strict.” I have no idea what this teacher was like or what the school was like and in no way am I denying that what the students did was wrong and illegal and that no one deserved that, but I wonder if these students would have ever thought of doing such a thing if they had thought differently of their teacher. As a teacher we are in such an influencing role, and I think that how our students perceive us means a lot. That being said, no teacher, or no person is ever going to connect with every person or every students that meet.. And it is unrealistic to think so.

A lot of people (the local teachers association included) believe that these students should have charges pressed against them (even though they are ten years old). I do not think agree with this statement, although I do think that action should be taken to ensure such an act does not occur again, and to ensure that any root causes of these students actions are discovered.

What are your thoughts? What do you think should happen?

How to teach math?!

http://www.cbc.ca/video/swf/UberPlayer.swf?state=shareaudio&clipId=2171965136&width=512&height=126

I recently stumbled across the excellent CBC pod-cast “Making math make sense” that interviewed a panel of parents, teachers and math educators on their thoughts on the current Saskatchewan math curriculum and teaching practices. 

It was really interesting to hear how many people are concerned about the current math practices in Saskatchewan. Many people argued that students in Saskatchewan are not being taught the essential basic skills that are needed in order to succeed in math. They argue that teachers are now focusing so much on student discovery of math concepts that students are failing to inquire necessary skills. Some parents argue that these inquiry methods are very visual and that students who are not visual learners are set up for failure. One parent said that the only reason their kid knows their multiplication tables is because they are practicing them at home. They argue that teachers should not be avoiding route memorization and direct teaching of basic skills.

On the other side, some educators are arguing that the new math curriculum is encouraging a real understanding of math, rather then just the memorization of facts or steps. They argue that this true understanding is what is going to ensure students master more complex math concepts. They also argue that teaching math through inquiry and student discovery makes math more relevant, which keeps students more engaged.

My current personal philosophy ( although it is constantly evolving) is why does math need to be taught in one way or another? I believe that it is important for students to have opportunities to discover math concepts. I also believe that these experiences can help foster a true understanding of the way that math concepts work. I also believe that there is a time and a place for direct math instruction and memorization. I also believe that any teacher-teaching math needs to take their students into consideration. A math teacher should always be asking themselves a) how do my students learn? What has given them success? What could help further their understanding of these math concepts?That being said, math is an area that I am very eager to gain further ideas and insights into how to teach it effectively and meaningfully for student success.

 I am now opening up the discussion to all of you:What did you think about the podcast? What are your thoughts on the Math Makes Sense textbook? How do you think math should be taught? What are some of your concerns on how math is currently being taught?

ps- If you want more imformation on the group which was interviewed go to http://wisemath.org/- lots of imformation and useful topics to think about!