Where I’m From

Now that I am getting more comfortable with the use of blogs (still haven’t tackled twitter yet), I feel it’s important to note where I’m coming from in terms of educational pedagogy.  For the most part, I have just been lurking around while trying to make sense of it all.  Throughout this process, there have been some overriding questions that I have been trying to answer: namely, what is the point of this course (ECI831)?  Now I don’t mean to sound rude when I say this.  I have just had a hard time making connections so far.  In terms of technology, there seems to be an underlying assumption that we all agree that technology use is the best way to go.  In terms of blog posts, there are some very different themes that have been emerging.  Sometimes I have difficulty finding common threads among the myriad of blogss that I read.  So instead of waiting for Alec to tell me, I made some decisions on my own.  First of all, I have decided that I am going to decide on the direction of this course all by myself.  Secondly, I’m going to share it with you (via blog posts). But before I can do this, I need to let you know where I’m coming from.

From an educational standpoint, ever since I completed my internship in a Metis town in northern Saskatchewan, I have had many questions about social justice and education equity.  I have also wondered if traditional teaching methods just create an ‘institution’ of learning, rather than a positive learning environment.  Just because students are quiet and sitting in rows, does it really mean that they are learning something?  I actually did this in my class once.  I sat at my desk and looked around at my quiet, studious kids ‘engaged’ in drill and practice.  I noticed that they looked bored to tears and were very quietly passing notes to each other.  Not exactly the engagement I was looking for.

Then I started my Master’s.  I have taken four classes outside of this course so far.  Each has used varied approaches and showed a variety of perspectives.  I’m going to include a brief synopsis of some of the classes I have taken, as well as include some relevant resources that will help guide you in my personal journey.  (Don’t worry, there is a point to all this – I’m just setting the stage).  As well, I can use some gratuitous links, videos, and tags in their descriptions.

My first class was EC&I 808 with Dr. Ken Montgomery.  In this class, we explored pedagogies of difference and the impact of colonialism on our education system.  This class gave me a better understanding of how racism and colonial power are perpetuated today.  Our first readings were about humility and the importance of bringing humility into the education profession.  See: Hole, S. (1998).  Teacher as Rain Dancer.  Harvard Educational Review, 68, 413 – 421.  The synopsis can be found here.  It also gave me a great starting point to begin to address this in my classroom.  I’m sure that anybody who has taught social studies in Saskatchewan has bravely tried to tackle treaties.  Perhaps you were better at it than me, but in my experience this unit has just provided students with an outlet for their racism.  After this class, I decided that I really needed to focus on social justice in my classroom.  It needed to be ingrained in every aspect of the curriculum.

Then I took EC&I 830 with Dr. Jo Szostak.  This course was a seminar critiquing technology use in schools.  In this course, I was introduced to Mike Wesch and his Vision of Students Today.

I really like this video because it starts with the reality of youth today and ends with issues of globalization and justice.  This video made me rethink my content delivery.

This class also made me question my use of technology and student achievement.  I discovered that there is very little research surrounding technology use and improved student outcomes (if you’re looking for a thesis idea…).  It also gave me a better understanding of the value of wikis and Web 2.0, particularly how their ideals and ideas can be transferred into a classroom.  As well, we explored George Siemens and his theory of connectivism.  I’m still not entirely sure if connectivism can be an entire educational theory (like constructivism, for example); but it was interesting to see comparisons of different learning theories.  No one ever talks about the disadvantages of constructivism.  If you’re interested in his blog, it can be found here.  After this class, I decided that I really needed to focus on technology in my classroom.  It needed to be ingrained into every aspect of the curriculum.

My most recent class was EC&I 804 with Dr. Janice Huber.  This class showed how narrative can be used to develop and understand curriculum.  In this class, I learned the power of discovering people’s stories.  Through the sharing of others, I was able to share my own story.  I think that this class tied very closely with Dr. Schwier’s concept of community.  We can’t really create community unless we understand the stories of others.  Otherwise it’s just a surface community of repeated rhetoric.  It’s like the 6:00 newscast that shows how everyone pitches in when someone is in need.  It doesn’t tell the story of others who have not been helped because their need does not fit in with the status quo.  After this class, I decided that I really needed to focus on narrative in my classroom.  It needed to be ingrained into every aspect of the curriculum.

So what does this all mean?  Outside of the fact that I obviously like to jump on the bandwagon.  It’s time to start putting this together in my practice.  That’s the point, isn’t it?  I need to take all of this knowledge and ideas and somehow implement it, effectively not ‘bandwagony’, in my classroom.  Which leads me to ‘Where I’m Going…’  Stay tuned as I try to sort this all out.  Feel free to contribute to the sorting.  It would be greatly appreciated.



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13 responses to “Where I’m From

  1. Hey there,
    First, students sitting in desks does not mean they are learning. Students actively engaged in their learning should be active, discussing and animated with one another. But it’s hard to do!

    I appreciate the video post. I have seen it a couple times before. The one thing that always sticks with me is that we are educating students and training them for jobs that don’t yet exist. I discussed this with my group of grade 8s in career ed and they were amazed at this fact. It literally made them stop and think…and then go home and share this fact with their parents.

    It definitely sounds like you are on the right track to sorting…I might jump on your track as you keep us posted!

  2. I think that putting it all together yourself is exactly what you should be doing — deciding your own direction is, I believe, precisely what is desired. You seem to have a delightfully critical eye for the material, which is very much needed as one decides which technologies to adopt, and why, and how.

  3. Yr Athro

    Good start! Bold steps forward need equally bold questions
    Easiest to start with ‘It’s the system … ‘ because sadly that is what we are trapped inside. Changing the system is sometimes too difficult to contemplate due to those who control the access to resources, time and expertise. That’s the beauty of the stuff that @courosa does – you can see it all there and how it works. Linking to a body of teachers across the world gives that greater perspective, and we can all share five minutes rather than trying to put an hour or two in to supporting you.
    If you are interested in curriculum stuff, have a look here:
    Paulo Friere and Ivan Illich also make interesting reading: http://www.infed.org/thinkers/et-illic.htm
    To challenge the assumption. Technology isn’t necessarily the best way forward: if you a poor teacher, doing it with technology just leads you to being a poor but connected teacher.
    Technology offers a way to think about either extending or adapting what we do, or designing from the ground up using a different set of platforms. In many cases we can develop and extend what is happening in the classroom. Life for youngsters is high speed and high interest – you’ve already spotted that isn’t happening in your classroom (or mine for that matter).
    Technology use and improved student outcomes? Hmmmm … there’s a PhD there somewhere. Worth having a look at John Hattie’s work on outcomes (commented here by James Atherton who is a great teacher himself) http://www.learningandteaching.info/teaching/what_works.htm
    However … it’s not about outcomes for most teachers – it’s about the journey.
    The way forward – chose the items from the buffet that you can initially manage and then see how they work in practice. You can then expand your ideas as they work (or not!)

    Have fun!

  4. What is the point of #eci831? This “So instead of waiting for Alec to tell me, I made some decisions on my own. ” … You found it. I provide the context, and you choose your own adventure. It’s about being an autonomous and independent learning in an informal learning environment. And you’re finding your way. I look forward to learning from you.

  5. You might be interested in a technology integration matrix the Florida Center for Instructional Technology has created: http://fcit.usf.edu/matrix/matrix.php for perspective it may offer you about tech goals for a K-12 classroom. It may help you locate yourself and your beliefs and give you some ideas about your own direction. The entire site is well worth some time; there are great tech resources as well as lesson ideas tied to (U.S.) grade levels.

  6. onepercentyellow

    Awesome! Love that you’re into the choose-your-own-adventure. My first masters course pushed me into it, and though it was painful, it was a godsend. I am the one who must integrate all this into something meaningful for me. Only from there will I be able to share and contribute to the world.
    I’d love to see your reading list for narrative education! I believe that storytelling is at the core of the human experience, but I have not had a course in narrative education yet. Could you, would you, post it to me? 🙂

    • The actual reading list is a hard copy book or pages. If you’re in Regina, I’d be willing to share it with you. I can recommend a couple of really good articles though:

      “An inescapable network of mutuality”: Building Relationships of Solidarity in a First Grade Classroom, by Shira Eve Epstein (found through ERIC)
      This article talks about students creating change through ‘building solidarity’. They listen to a housekeeper speak about being a child labourer. In this case, the roles are reversed and someone who has traditionally not had power is given power.
      Also, try “Student experience of a culturally sensitive curriculum: ethnic identity development amid conflicting stories to live by” by Elaine Chan (also through ERIC). This article explores the narrative of the students and their views on how culturally sensitive the curriculum is.

  7. Yes, choosing your own adventure – that’s a great place to be in as an adult learner. I’ve really appreciated the ability in pretty well every course I’ve taken to be able to customize the program for my needs. Not quite as openly as this one…

    Karen provided a great link to the technology integration matrix. In a course I took on Technology Integration, we were introduced to the TPCK model which I find quite useful when working with instructors and helping them see how technology can be used http://www.tpck.org/

    Another great resource that you may have already discovered is Bloom’s digital taxonomy. http://www.openeducation.net/2008/04/11/blooms-taxonomy-and-the-digital-world/

    Another tip that we heard yesterday at a webinar regarding effective use of iPads in the classroom was curriculum fit – instead of taking one of your best lessons and trying to fit technology into it, start with one you would like to improve and then look at where you would like to improve the lesson – is technology an option? Is so, what technology and in what way?

  8. First, a quiet classroom is just plain wrong unless its a silent reading class. Classes need to engage, motivate and provide a collaborative, student centred environment that as sjphips writes prepares students for futuristic careers. If this is the case, how can our classrooms mimic the 1940’s and 50’s? The answer is simple – they can’t!
    Keep pushing the envelope and listen to what’s inside you already know what you need to do so just . . . . do it!

  9. Pingback: Redefining reality – a journey of trust and sharing « onepercentyellow

  10. swedinbalchik

    Hi Christie,

    I like the idea of synopsis of previous experience, the choices and decisions we make normally become a part of our identity. My investigation right now is to move from ‘practice and reflect’ (student) to ‘model and demonstrate’ (teacher) what I learned about the future of education..

  11. I think you have hit on the Eureka moment that I experienced a couple of weeks ago – the learning comes from self-directed inquiry and thus the experience is all the richer and more meaningful. The fact that the community of learners may only loosly be connected in terms of their motiviations and very different journeys, does not make the community any less valuable. It is the dialogue amongst the learners, the tips, strategies, frustrations, and constructive criticism that challenges us as individual learners and clarifies our path. This is what engages and invests us in our learning experience. In response to the Mike Wesch video which I too have seen before, this illustrates all too well that the traditional teacher directed, lecture style approach is not (now was it likely ever) effective as an instructional approach which appeals to the diversity of learners. Good luck on your journey!

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