After my pre internship I did some deep reflecting and was quite shocked with the lack of a social environment not only in the classroom I was in but the school in general. Of course outside the classroom the students had their social interactions and the teachers did as well but with other teachers from what I saw.
My teaching philosophy is very relationship heavy. I believe in developing positive long lasting relationships with students and to create a social environment inside of my classroom. I want students to feel comfortable and able to kick back and have a good time in school and while learning valuable lessons not just in math, but in life as well.
I think that constructivism really meshes well with my philosophy of a social environment. I think it is important for students to be able to interact with other students in the classroom. I think also that discovery learning is something that has been preached throughout my university career, especially in a mathematics classroom, which has caused quite a stir around a lot of math teachers and caused a sort of a “math war”. I really want to do a lot of discovery learning when I am in my internship.
I think there is a lot of pressure to conform to what is the norm around the schools we are placed in and I think that if there is more people conforming to the standards and direct teaching and students doing notes, and taking tests and handing in worksheets, we are never going to reach our students full potentials and the potentials of students who do not learn by taking notes. I was shocked when I performed inquiry/discovery learning activities during my placement how the students who seemed to be struggling the most in the class, were the ones leading their groups and having a deeper understanding of the math that was being taught. But as soon as I went back to direct instruction they started to slip again.
So I think there definitely has to be a happy medium of sorts but with my philosophy I feel as though a constructivism approach is going to benefit all students in all different ways, and all we want as teachers is for our students to be successful and I think with my teaching philosophy and taking this approach of creating a social environment, my students will be able to achieve great things.
What experience my pre internship was. I can honestly say that my experience was far more unique then several of my peers. My cooperating teacher had extremely high expectations and was treating the process as though I was an intern. Coming into pre internship I had several great ideas of incorporating a constructivism approach to my teaching style and by using group work and inquiry lessons that involved group work and discovery learning in my lessons. However this was not the case as I only got to try a few discovery learning in my class.
For my discovery task I was teaching a foundations 20 mathematics class where students were dealing with the ambiguous case. In this task they were group and had to follow specific guidelines for there groups in order to complete the task. In the task the students were asked to create as many triangles as possible following a certain set of rules. I found when given group work the students were very confused and did not really now where to start because of the lack of group work they have been accustomed to in a math class.
Most of the math classes that I observed there was no group interaction at all and it was every student for themselves. Especially in the classroom I was in the routine before I got there had been, generally direct teaching and pretty stereotypical math classroom, where students were given notes then they had to work on assignments, then quizzes and test.
So when I assessed a discovery learning task and involved group work again the students were very confused but by the end of it they all worked extremely well together. This was also another opportunity for my students to use a different method of assessment as well and this included self and peer assessment where I created tow rubrics for the task in order for the students to assess themselves and their peers. I found for the first time they have done something like this activity they assessed themselves honestly and were very critical of themselves.
The most important aspect of this task was they were then able to apply the knowledge they learned to an exam and most of the students did quite well on the exam when some of the knowledge gained was from a constructivism and discovery learning method.
Overall I think if I was able to try more tasks involving discovery learning I think this idea of a constructivism would really have been successful and creating the social environment in my class would have been beneficial to the students learning.
Throughout the semester we have been discussing different strategies and theories to incorporate into our classrooms. For some reason this theory about constructivism and student centred learning really jumped out to me and peaked my interest in ways to incorporate this in y future classroom as an educator.
For starters what is constructivism? We learned in our Esc 350 class that constructivism is the practice that students are responsible for their learning and through certain practices they will discover learning for themselves through several different strategies, with the main strategy being group work. This theory stems from Vygotsky and Piaget who beliefs that social environment is important for learning which I agree with very much so.
The reason I picked this theory to do my inquiry project on is the fact I believe that social skills and a social envoy,met is very important in a students life and in their learning, because when i was in school and at the university level I find I strive better and learn more in group work. I think group work and cooperative learning are great ways for students to learn, not only because they are working with others and developing social skills but maybe their peers are explaining the knowledge in language and terms that they understand more than what a teacher can express.
Now there are some areas where I can see this theory being a problem and it stems from students in these groups are doing more of the work than their peers and then when being assessed everyone is receiving the same marks, so i think that their is defiantly some work to be done when assessing using constructivism in our classrooms.
If this post was unclear of what constructivism is exactly here is a little video to help you understand. Click here for the link.
You can check out my summary of learning here on youtube.
Looking back at mathematics I cannot really say much, since math is my major, and throughout high school I was quite successful in math and really appreciate all the different ways of teaching mathematics brings. However I’m sure I’m not alone when it comes to how math was taught to us throughout our high school careers. Constant problems and practices learning from the textbook, board work, repetition, worksheets, then test, math never really tested my limits as a student it was generic and straight forward. My math classes really discriminated against other learners, people who never understood the concepts, but never helped these students, which led a lot of these students to believe they suck at math, when that is simply not the case. Math can expressed in so many different ways and from taking classes with Gale, its interesting to see these new concepts for how to teach math, because we are so accustomed to the traditional ways of teaching and learning math, we never reach our mathematics potential. So I think it is now my responsibility when I get into a school to teach mathematics that I don’t fall under the same colonization of the traditional ways to teach math.
After reading the article about math in Inuit communities, three ways they challenge Eurocentric ideas, are first and foremost the language, they do not use common mathematical language which is what Eurocentric mathematics is really based on, the concept that we are accustomed to we do not see them as much when they are being taught in this Inuit community. Secondly they are challenging the content behind mathematics where we are used to a simply base 10 system they work with base 20, and are not solving problems that revolve around their everyday lives. Lastly they do not call upon students who do not know the answer and they lecture instead of constant note taking this way the children will know when they are ready to answer a question and by not writing notes and notes can help the children appreciate math and not be bored by it. Which to me is really interesting because I think it will help math learners comprehend these concepts if they are more intrigued and actually have to listen rather then just copy what I am writing down on the board, this defiantly helps get away from Eurocentric Ideas.
This week was very informational to say the least, as we continue on our ECS 210 journey some major themes and major topics are coming up and being discussed. The one topic that has been brought up int he last couple weeks have been about the relations between First Nations and Non-First Nations people and the importance of teaching issues that First Nations people have dealt with in the past and are still currently dealing with in the present time as well. We had a guess lecturer this week who shared some great stories and the importance of discussing these issues. Not only did we have a guest lecturer we also were given a resource of Dwayne Donald and one of his lectures who highlighted this issue and the difficulty of teaching these issues or relating material to aboriginal ways of living/world-views.
Dwayne Donald made a really good point that when you sit down an Aboriginal person and non-aboriginal person to discuss these issues they always butt heads, or of they are not butting heads they have two totally different views, which goes to say there are two sides to every story, but unfortunately the non-aboriginal side usually is highlighted and deemed “better” or the “correct info” which is a little ridiculous if you ask me, I believe that both sides should be discussed into detail and then the students can form their own opinions about the matters at hand. We as educators is a touchy topic where there is one clear answer and there is the right answer and the wrong answer when it comes to discussing and forming opinions on these touchy topics, however it is frowned upon if we tell our students this is they way to believe or this is what is right, which can cause problems with parents, so how do we as teachers talk about these topics so that the right opinion shines without forcing our views on our students. This can also stem from Dwayne Donald’s definition of colonialism and denying relationship.
Another question we were asked to discuss was what is the point of/purpose of teaching treaty need when there is little to no first Nations people in the school or class? I feel as though the purpose is to educate students on the history of their country. Canada has belonged to the First Nations people since the start and they have impacted our country in many different ways, they have also faced several hardships due the government of Canada and deserve the respect and empathy they deserve. Another reason to teach treaty ed with few to no First Nation Students is they are treaty people too, the treaties affect the other students as well, we are all treaty people, and that along should be enough to incorporate treaty ed into our classrooms.
Which leads me to the final point of the definition of We are all treaty people, and like I mentioned, the treaties affect non-First Nations as well as First Nations and the impact treaties have had on aboriginal people, there has been a different type of impact to people who are not aboriginal.
In the end the hardships and abuse that First Nation people have suffered through out the years is heartbreaking and deserves to be discussed in our classrooms and incorporated into our school systems as well as curriculum.
For this week we had to read an article that discussed decolonization and rein-habitation and to discuss these topics and list some examples that were apparent throughout the article.
1. List some of the ways that you see reinhabitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative.
Well it is said in the article that we read that these two go hand in hand and by these you can not have one with out the other. For starters I did not even know what reinhabitation even was before I read the article but after reading it and going through it I know what it means and for those of you reading who may not have an idea or understanding of what reinhabiation is, recreate peoples environment so that they can live well. Now decolonization to change the way we we think so that the main intention is not to hurt and exploit the people of these lands any means necessary. This article also talks a lot about relationships and just as these two words go hand in hand and have a relationship. In the article it also highlights the relationships between the youths and the elders which is very imprint in First Nation Culture as it is one of the main ways that the youth can learn from someone who has incredible life experience and can help the relate on a level that a school just can’t. Also by having this river trip that was mentioned it was great to see that the youth was learning where they came from and learning about the “place” which is something that may have been forgotten due the youth being colonized. Overall is quite eye opening because I never really thought about the word place in a literal sense, I never questioned the place I was learning or where the place I was learning in and the importance of the land. It is defiantly eyeopening and definitely something that should and needs to be considered moving forward in my educational journey.
2.How might you adapt these ideas to considering place in your own subject areas and teaching?
This question made me really think, with my major being mathematics it is really hard to try and grasp the understanding of place when it comes to math, just because it is something that is so logical and math does not really have any kind of “big picture” or special meaning its very concrete. However that would not stop me from trying to implicate some of the lessons learned in the article and relate them to math for instance I would, have my students go out into the land and have them look for anything that they can relate math too, whether that be estimating how long the river is or how tall that tree was, and by also having my students apprentice the land and all that it offers, might give them a better perspective of using math in everyday life. They also could look at the space around them and see if they can relate math to the spaces around them, this could lead to shapes, area, volume, distance, scale factors, etc. Which are some of the bigger outcomes in the math curriculum. Hopefully by allowing students to actually just take a second and look around them and appreciate whats around them, then they can maybe take away some big ideas that math has to offer.
We as teachers have always had the “good student” in our minds. In another blog post we read an article by Kumashiro titled common sense, which detailed how we as teachers have this stereotype and “common sense” on how school should be. Now we have this stereotype and “common sense” of what a good student is. Sadly when people are asked what is a good student according to the “common sense”, we get some answers that are just not true. When asked what is a good student people will answer most likely, a quite student, who always listens, does not question what they are learning and does not question the teacher, they always do their work and hand assignments in on time. Also most of the “good students” are stereotypically white students. Now this is something that I feel needs to be addressed because that is just not the case, Canada is a very multi-cultural country and has many different races that are in our school systems. By having this common sense of a good student the white students tend to be privileged more than other ethnicities, which is very upsetting to see but we are so accustomed to this type of “common sense” in our country that no one really bats an eye.
This common sense idea of what makes a good student really made me take a step back and look at what I feel is a good student. I personally believe a good student, is a student who is respectful, does their work, asks a lot of questions, takes responsibility for their learning and be able to laugh and enjoy their time at school, no matter what their race is if they have these characteristics they in my opinion are considered a good student, however even if they do not have these characteristics that does not mean that they are bad students, no one in my opinion is a bad student, its the “bad students” that need our help the most in order for them to be successful so it is important to try and help those “bad students” gain maybe just one or two of the “good student qualities”.
What makes this impossible or see is the “common sense” of being a good student is that again we are so use to being fed what a good student is, whether we see it in movies, tv shows, ads, posters, etc. The list goes on but we don’t bat an eye and are not even realizing that the “good student” image is actually incorrect and quite frankly racist. I think that we as teachers need to avoid the common sense way of seeing things in the schools and prepare for the students you have, because every year you will have new and old students and its going to be different every time you get a new class you have to be ready to adapt and have a clear mind and a clear concept of what makes a good student because that will change every year in my opinion.