Project-Based Learning

In our ECS301 class, we dived into a project based learning unit being done at Mother Teresa Middle School in Regina. We based our lesson on what the two intern teachers did at Mother Teresa. The students noticed that there was an abundance of crab apples going to waste and they wanted to do something about it. Students decided to make crab apple jelly and sell it with profits going to a good cause.

Our job was to fill in the blanks and find out what outcomes in which subjects, assessment, essential questions, and jobs for all students in the classroom. I enjoyed planning out this activity based on the fact that it is truly very engaging for all students, and it is social justice related.


Reflection Three: Treaty Education and Volleyball

Today went over very well in my opinion. I was able to teach a small lesson on treaty education today because of the fact that the students had a volleyball tournament at Sheldon High School in the afternoon. In my lesson I thought that everything went over fairly well. Students we mostly on task, and attentive during my entire lesson, which is a major step-up from last week. My students loved my graffiti wall idea in which I had them come up to the board and write ideas on what they thought treaties are. I was very impressed of what they knew as the students stated that they last forever, and that was one of the major points I wanted to make in my lesson.

Some of the things that could have gone better mostly includes my development. I had a wonderful idea to do a stepping line activity which if the students agreed with what I was saying they would step above the line. I found that the transition to this activity allowed students to continue to chatter. Furthermore, once I got started with the activity students were still talking over me. I feel as I need to recognize this and as my co-op teacher stated, “wait for them to be done talking,”. This will be one of my goals for next week.

One thing I recognized this week is how difficult it is to make sure you are differentiating for all students. In my classroom there are a couple students I wished I would have differentiated the worksheets I gave to the class. I think it is important that as pre-interns we think about how we can differientiate students learning experiences now as we will definiately have to do this in our three week block next semester.

Apart from my lesson I enjoyed my day, Ms. Kadler and I acted as substitute coaches for the girls volleyball team and had a lot of fun trying to figure out what to do and how to get everyone organized.

Learning From Our Students

Response to the reading – Write a response to the following (2 or 3 paragraphs): What do you agree/disagree with in this article?  What ideas resonated with you? What ideas did you find troublesome?  How does this article support/contradict your existing philosophy of teaching? Bring your response in a digital format.

Noddings does mention many good points.  I fully agree with him on the point that by going with the minimal requirements on a planned vocation.  The student will have other opportunities to pursue real life interests  For example, myself in high school, I took all my math classes, and all three of my sciences.  I was told this will keep my options open.  At that time I already knew I was going to be a teacher.  Therefore, I know figured that I could have taken a trades class such as automotives to gain some alternative life experience that would have been beneficial to me outside of high school.

One thing that bothered me was the idea that we set standards for students and we assure students they will obtain these standards. The example Noddings uses is, “Can all students interpret great literature? Can all students play the violin well?”.  I think that all students can learn, some at different rates, and in different ways.  A student will not become a master of the violin the first time they play it.  Yes, some students will learn at different paces. But we have to be aware of differentiated instruction to find those ways of teaching.  There is no such thing as a unteachable student.

I feel as this article both supported and contradicted my philosophy of teaching in the following ways.  For example, it agrees in the way that we both believe that grades are not everything.  There is too much pressure on receiving high grades.  In my teaching I am going to try and break down the wall, that good grades, does not necessarily mean, good job, good money leading to happiness.  Yet the main contradiction is the idea is that some students are born in the way that they are superior at some things than others.  As I believe that all students are capable of learning at different rates, and by different styles.

Reflection Two: Physical Education

October 22nd, 2014

Day 2 at Davin Elementary School

I taught my first actual lesson plan today. I decided to do my lesson plan in physical education. I thought overall the lesson went good, and that I attempted to make cardiovascular fitness fun. One thing that I believe went very well today was my set. For my set the grade 8s were in the classroom. I asked a lot of prompting questions that the students were able to guess. I asked questions such as, “Where do we check our pulse? What is cardiovascular fitness? Why is it important that we measure our heart rate? What raises our heart rate? As well as, why do we not use our thumbs to take our heart rate?” The students were very engaged and answered all my questions.

Once we went down into the gym things got a little confusing and students were everywhere. Once I got the students settled down and sitting in a circle we went over instructions for our warm-up activity. I noticed that the students were very confused with the activity that I had wanted them to do. I received lots of confused looks and blank stares. This is because I believe my instructions were unclear. I also struggled with classroom management in the gym. I found that some of the students did not want to pay attention to me and I had to ask several times for them to settle down and listen to the instructions. A couple students proceeded to give each other piggybacks until I went up to both of them and told the boys to sit at the circle.

I also struggled with the time management. Leading up to my closure I did not think I was going to have enough time to go through my closure activity. This caused me to panic and I rushed through my 3-2-1 activity. As a result I was done my lesson 4 minutes early. These four minutes may not seem like a lot of time, but the class is only 33 minutes long. I probably did what I was not suppose to do and dismissed them 4 minutes early.

From teaching this lesson something I would change is to have detailed written instructions on the lesson for my warm-up activity. I would also pause everyone if they were confused about what was going on and go over the instructions once more. I wished that I had a bit more time because I would have went into why heart rate is important and why we measure it.

Through this lesson I learned that students often have trouble staying focused when they move from classroom to gym. I had to tell students multiple times to get into the circle. I also learned that it is extremely difficult to get everyone moving and participating in different activities.

From my teaching day I generated the question dealing with classroom management. Classroom management is one of my overall goals in the pre-internship experience. Answers I get from you I will incorporate into my next lesson plans.

  • What are some good effective ways to get students attention in the gym or in the classroom?
  • What worked best for you?

Reflection One: First Day of Teaching

What went well in your lesson?  Be specific.  Did you have great time management?  Were students engaged?  Did a struggling student have a moment where things clicked?  Don’t discount small victories!

  • In our lesson, we decided to do the the beach ball icebreaker activity.  It went well because they listened to our directions.  The kids for the most part were engaged.  We asked them a lot of questions that made excellent icebreakers and the students also learned about other students.  I think that majority of our activity was enjoyed by the class.
  • Some things that went well today was seeing the excitement on a student’s face when he got the right answer after telling me he was dumb and didn’t know anything.  I also helped students create their “wheelchair ramp” in math class.

What didn’t go as planned?  Again, be specific.  Which things did you struggle with in your lesson?

  • Some things that didn’t go as planned include, one student pretending he was someone else and students would get off task. Example, there was a pair of students who were arm wrestling.  Some students were very hard to hear, so it is important to maintain the classroom management and make sure that everyone is being quiet and respecting others.

How would you change the lesson if you were reteaching it?  What modifications would you make?

  • I think if I was re-teaching this lesson I would do it in a more open space.  The room has pods of desks in the middle, making it difficult to create a circle and to toss the ball without hitting the ceiling.   I also think that instead of allowing the students to ask us a question after every question they answered, the best way would be to get the students to pass the ball around and answer questions and not ask the teacher any questions just to keep the class moving and students on task.  I would then have the teachers introduce themselves by the students having to ask the teachers some questions on the sheet.

What did you learn about teaching or about yourself this week in the classroom?  This could be positive or negative.  Reflect on this learning.

  • I think that I have to really pay attention and not be afraid to tell them when they are not engaged, or tell them that they need to pay attention.  Making sure to keep the students on task and engaged.  As I am going to be teaching a physical education lesson next class I was told it would be a good idea to be prepared and have another activity planned “if one should go south”.  I knew teachers have to think on their toes, and even only after one day I can see why.  Our teacher had to be constantly make sure students were on task and if they were off task the teacher made sure that they would be back on task.
  • I am excited to teach a physical education lesson for next class because of the great ideas I was given in our EPE class with Kathy Fowler.

My Goals for My Field Placement

Throughout my field placement I want it to be a growing experience for me. I do not have a lot of experience teaching in the classroom so I have a few goals that I want to work on. I will improve on these goals by going to Davin Elementary School once a week for 8 Wednesdays in the grade 8 class which I am placed. With the help of Tammy I am confident I will be able to reach my goals.

Goal one: Saying “Um”

Making sure that reduce the times I say “um” while teaching a lesson plan. I know I will struggle with this because I always have had difficulty kicking the habit. I want Tammy to help me pick up on all the times I say “um” and help me reduce the number of times I say “um” by the end of the semester. Making it less and less each week.

Goal two: Classroom Management

I think classroom management is very important. I want to make sure that I can keep my classroom under control. I want to watch how my co-op teacher Natalie keeps her classroom under control. I want to take notes of what works best for maintaining a calm and collective classroom. To complete this goal I will keep track of what Natalie does to keep control, and I will work on using these techniques in my class.

 Goal three: Staying calm and not getting jumpy and making sure my voice projects clearly.

I want my students to be engaged when I am teaching; I want them to be paying attention to what I have to say, and on task. I think for me to help make this goal, I have to keep calm and make sure that what I’m saying makes sense. I need to make sure that my voice is projecting clearly. To reach this goal I want Tammy to make sure that I am able to clearly project my voice and that I do not look nervous.

Introduction & Why I Want to be a Teacher

My name is Curtis Bourassa, and I am in my third year in the middle years program here at the University of Regina. To begin, I would like to thank you for letting me teach in your school. I am very excited to get into the classroom and start teaching as a part of the pre-internship program.

I was born and raised in Weyburn, where there is not a whole lot to do for teenagers. However, I did find a lot of enjoyment in volunteering and working with different people. I have had the opportunity to volunteer with youth with special needs and young adults aged three to twenty one, as well as with at-risk youth in a variety of different programs. I enjoyed my experiences with these people because it is so rewarding. Being a part of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters program is part of the reason that led me in the direction to follow a career in education. The Big Brothers program is very gratifying in the fact that you have the opportunity to be a role model and make a difference in a young child’s life.

I want to be a teacher because I have always enjoyed going to school and helping others, even from a young age. In my school experiences one of my biggest role models was one of my interns in grade nine. He has had a major impact on my decision to go into education. I believe this shows that you do not have to have a lot of experience to make an impression on students. My goal is to be a positive role model for the students in all the classrooms I walk into.

I believe teaching is not only about teaching students how to learn. Teaching is about making a difference by being an example for others, and continuing our growth as learners ourselves. I am excited to begin my teaching journey, as this pre-internship is a major milestone on the way. I would like to thank you again for being a part of my journey, as this will give me the opportunity to learn from the best allowing me to grow and learn along my way to becoming a teacher.

Curtis Bourassa

Beliefs and Challenges of Assessment

In my experience in school we had a variety of different assessments, whether we knew we were being assessed or not. Journals, tests, oral examples, homework checks, etc. were all common forms of assessment. However, I see now that a lot of emphasis was but on to the tests. Prior to these articles I thought that assessment was all about grades. I thought it was a number in a book, only dealing with marks. I realize now that this is not necessarily the case.

From “Learning to Love Assessment” it really opened up my eyes as to what assessment really is and what it should include. Some things that stuck out to me include,

  • “Informative assessment isn’t just about tests.” There are a variety of different assessments a teacher can do to foster the best in all his or her students.
  • “Informative assessment isn’t always formal.”   It doesn’t have to be a big exam at the end of a unit; a journal could be a form of informative assessment to assess the level of understanding of your students.
  • “Informative assessment happens during not after an outcome.” I think it is important to be always be assessing your students work.
  • Ask your students how they learn best, and how they would like to be assessed.
  • Assessment helps you notice where your learners are at with their work.

From chapter 6 in “Our Words, Our Ways”, the reading opened my eyes from another perspective. I also learned many different things that I will bring into my classroom.

  • The idea of fair grading practices, and to be open to negotiations for late assignments, or the need for second chances.
  • Provide students, with a review, practice questions, and give students a minimum of three days to prepare for a test.
  • Many Aboriginal students can be supported when they are given multiple forms of assessment
  • Self-evaluation is a great form of evaluation as it supports cognitive assessment, builds motivation and improves attitudes towards evaluation.

The main challenges I see with assessment deal with differentiation. As a beginner teacher I think it will be hard to be able to differentiate for everyone. I think it will be hard for me to get past the idea that it’s not about the mark. Just because that’s the way we were taught throughout school. How does one go and assess someone without marking a student on the work. If you know that one student shows that they understand an outcome in one form of assessment but not on the test, how would you go about giving the student a mark that shows their understanding?

Response from Chapter One of Gregory and Chapman on Differentiation

As teachers we can differentiate,

  • The content
  • The assessment tools
  • The performance tasks
  • The instructional strategies

The Content

To differentiate content one example would be to give choice in an assignment, this would allow the student to pick a topic that they enjoy and want to learn more about. Another example of content differentiation would be in math, some students may learn different differently; some may find the use of technology to understand volume or area better than using manipulates such as unit blocks.

The Assessment Tools

As stated to differentiate assessment tools one most important techniques is to have a blending of the formal and the informal assessment tools. As an educator I think it is important to have a variety of different assessment tools such as pre-tests, check-ups, oral exams, written exams, to aid in all students understandings.

Performance Tasks

Speaking from experience from a high school English class, our teacher allowed us to create our own projects, as long as she approved them. For one project we could choose to do our own creative project such as building a significant prop and being able to explain the significance of the prop to the class, or we could write poetry, create a picture or drawing of a scene for the novel, or write a paper. By giving the students choice it allows freedom and also creates less stress on the students.

Instructional Strategies

For example, a traditional spelling test could be different for many different students. But an oral learner may benefit from spelling the words out loud rather than writing them down. A musical student may remember the words better if they were to practice singing the letters. Making sure that you foster to the multiple intelligences is a good way that can aid a teacher in differentiating strategies.

Challenges of Differentiation

I believe differentiation will be one of the most difficult things I will face in the classroom, I believe differentiation can be very time consuming, in the way that a lot of planning will have to go into every lesson. Another challenge I see is parents not liking the fact that all the students are doing different work and/or are getting assessed differently. You also must be able to get to know your students well enough to know what might interest them to help you with their multiple intelligences and in turn be able to find a way of differentiated instruction that would help them.