Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Building Futures

The workshops that were put on by the Ministry of Education were very valuable in that they not only reinforced what I am learning in my classes but also provided more depth related to topics that I chose to learn about.

I found the presentation on Effective Instruction in Literacy very valuable in that I got a better sense of what literacy and literacy instruction really encompasses. I found this quote really resonated with me: "Ultimately, we want students to think critically, feel deeply and act wisely." I find these words very powerful and at the same time they really sum up what we would like to transfer as teachers. One of the pieces that I found really useful is the Model to differentiated instruction presented by Dr. Jeffrey Wilhelm, which has a huge influence on student achievement.

I also found the Special Education presentation very interesting and comprehensive. Some of the statistics that were presented were quite shocking - like the fact that in 2006 - 30,000 of students that were formally identified as "exceptional" did not have IEPs. Another interesting point is that an IPRC decision is only valid in the jurisdiction that it is written. This information makes me really think about the impacts that this has on families and children.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Block I debrief session, January 10th

I found this session very helpful in that everyone had a chance to voice their concerns about the next placement as well as any other anxieties or issues. This kind of opportunity to ask questions provides us with reassurance and important information. Also, I really think the opportunity for students to give feedback was very productive. Giving everyone a chance to voice their opinions on things that should be happening in our weekly session, makes the sessions relevant to everyone.

The accepting atmosphere, where no question or concern is seen as a bad one, promotes positive group communication and growth.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Transformational Practices

While at my practicum I noticed something called Transformational Practices. I researched this and it turned out to be different strategies and ways of helping students to achieve literacy success. This approach is used in Peel and includes: Determining Important Ideas, Graphic Organizers and Frameworks, Manipulatives as Thinking Tools and Strategies for Vocabulary Development. Another great resource within the Transformational Practices package is the test-taking skills/EQAO Preparation.

An example of a Transformational Practice:

Determining important ideas - teaching how to determine important ideas and how to distinguish important information at the word, sentence and text levels:
  • find the main idea
  • understand what the author considered important
  • distinguish differences between fiction and factual text
  • identify key ideas or themes
  • distinguish important from unimportant information in relation to key ideas or themes in text
Peel District School Board. (2007). Transformational Practices: Working Together to Achieve Literacy Success.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Social Issues Day

Social Issues Day was a wonderful experience that not only brought awareness of issues related to children/adolescents but also promoted critical self-analysis. I find that experiences, such as participating in workshops and seminars gives me the opportunity to add to my existing knowledge of the topic, and to question how my personal opinions affect my worldview.
Early Intervention in Psychosis
This workshop was a wonderful summary of what defines psychosis, why early intervention is important, what the Cleghorn program does, how they work with clients, who can use the services and other issues related to psychosis. The most wonderful thing about this workshop was that one of the presenters was courageous enough to share a personal account of his experience with psychosis. I found that by allowing myself to look at psychosis through this person's experience, I gained a better understanding of it and I know what signs to look for in children/adolescents. The most important thing that I took out of this workshop is the belief that everyone's experience must be validated and noone should be put down for their opinions, feelings or observations. The experiences that people with psychosis go through seem real to them and therefore cannot be dismissed.
Children and Grief
This workshop was applicable as everyone was involved in reminiscing about their feelings related to loss. As soon as I tapped into the feelings, everything I was learning through the workshop seemed so much more relevant. I find that this workshop has given me the basic tools for dealing with loss in the workplace. It also prepared me to comfort and counsel children in a compassionate but professional manner. One thing that I found really interesting was that although there are four stages of grief (shock, denial, anger and guilt, as well as acceptance), people grieve at multiple times in their lives and often they irradically jump from stage to stage.
Global Education - UNICEF
This workshop gave me some ideas of how to apply global education issues to classroom activities and interweive it into the curriculum. By reflecting on the groups that I belong to and the sensitivities around those groups, I reflected on the fact that every person exists with a multitude of experiences as well as contextual influences that affect their view of the world as well as their sensitivities to world issues. This workshop was very relevant to my practicum placement in Peel as the school I am in is multicultural and every child comes from a different background and set of experiences that I need to consider when planning lessons.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Differentiated Instruction

After the meeting we went to, on Friday afternoon, hosted by the Peel District School Board, I realized that everything I am learning in class and the experiences I am getting in practicum, are all finally coming together.

My practicum placement in the grade one classroom provides me with the opportunity to work with a range of student abilities. The need for differentiated instruction has been very evident right from the beginning. Whether related to abilities, English as a second language or special needs, I am planning according to the skills of each child. The challenges that teachers face when planning for various abilities can be overcome with the help of advice from colleagues or by accessing resources. I noticed that discussion with other students is very helpful and provides me with a variety of ideas and strategies that I can use in the classroom.

I think collaboration is a key factor to being an effective teacher.

Monday, October 8, 2007

B stands for Bullying

Throughout my experiences related to teaching as well as working with children in different settings, I noticed a huge incidence of all types of bullying. This is a huge concern for me and I believe that teachers can do a lot to improve the situation. I think it is wonderful that the school boards are getting involved in this matter and sponsoring a variety of programs related to this issue.

Things To Know
  • It is natural for children who are being bullied to feel scared and helpless.
  • Bullying often occurs because children do not have high self-esteem.
  • Do not promise to keep the bullying a secret.
Things To Do
  • Work along with the school, parents and other teachers to deal with the issue together.
  • Model good communication and an unbiased attitude within the classroom.
  • Talk about diversity and acceptance.
Things To Say
  • "Don't fight back, go and tell an adult you trust".
  • Inform parents that it is alright to ask if their child is being bullied or if they are bullying other children.

Peel Committee on Sexual Assault/Peel Committee Against Woman Abuse, November 2002

Activity: Drew, Naomi. (1987). Being Human is Being Special. Learning the Skills of Peacemaking, Jalmar Press.

Read this poem: I look in the mirror and who do I see? My very own person who looks just like me. I look at my eyes, I look at my face, knowing that no one on earth or in space is quite like I am, one of a kind. My body is special and so is my mind. Each person alive has something special to give. We each make a difference each day that we live. I love myself and I love others too. The world is a special place. 'Cause it has me and you.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

How to Really Love a Child

I picked this up at a conference and tweaked it a bit because I wanted to share it with you, enjoy:

Be there. Say yes as often as possible. Let them bang on pots and pans. If they're crabby, let them take a bath. Love yourself. Realize how important it is to be a child. Go to a movie theatre in your pajamas. Read books out loud with joy. Invent fun things together. Remember how really small they are. Giggle a lot. Surprise them. Say NO when necessary. Teach feelings. Heal your own INNER child. Learn about parenting. HUG trees together. Make sharing emotions safe. Bake a cake and eat it with no hands. Go find elephants and kiss them. Plan to build a rocket ship. Imagine yourself MAGIC. Make lots of forts with blankets. Let your angel fly. Reveal your own dreams. Search out the positive. Keep the gleam in your eye. Mail letters to important figures (religious or other). Encourage SILLY. Plant licorice in your GARDEN. Open up. Stop yelling. Express your LOVE.... A LOT. Speak kindly. Paint their running shoes. HANDLE WITH CARING :)

Reference: Vosark