Building My Personal Learning Network

On my journey to become a teacher it is very important that I develop a personal learning network. A personal learning network is a group of people where I can learn and share ideas from, as well as voicing different opinions on my journey to become a anti-oppressive educator. The growth of my PLN in the past year has had a great influence on my pre-service teaching. Online sources such as Twitter, blogs, Pinterest, and Wikispaces have all become a part of my journey in education.

Twitter is my favourite part of my PLN. This is because Twitter allows for anyone to chat and share resources specific to what you are looking for. For example, in my EMTH217 class with Dr. Rick Seaman encouraged me to find out creative ways to teach area and perimeter. I used Twitter and discovered the popular Minecraft game as an excellent tool through @minecraftedu. I used Minecraft as a way to teach area and volume in my EMTH217 class.

In ECS210, during the Olympic games I followed the LBGT rights in Russia on Twitter and on the news. I tweeted a picture of the German coats as they had very similar to the colours of the Gay Pride flag.  I was very proud of this post as it caught the attention of many.  LBGT rights were a major topic studied throughout the ECS210 course.  I shared and retweeted many topics that other teachers had found that I could discuss in my classroom regarding this social justice issue.  I retweeted the Michael Sam coming out as gay, and being the first to do so as a NFL draft pick and NFL player. Through Twitter I was able to find and share a lesson plan that teachers would be able to implement to discuss LBGT issues through the Olympics in Russia.  Just recently I have began to voice my opinion on the issue of having a anti-gay speaker come to speak in my hometown, Weyburn.  As a result I have directly voiced my opinion towards the speaker himself Peter LaBarbera.  All these resources are authentic, real world learning possibilities I can use in my classroom.  Through twitter I was able to collaborate with others, listen and respect others’ opinions, as well as voicing my own opinion on controversial social justice issues.

I have learned various views on masculinity in the teaching profession through my Twitter comment, Why do you think there’s a gender split in the elementary teaching profession? Female teachers outnumber male teachers 9:1″.  This discussion took place between Katia, Mike Cappelo, and Kayla Lamport.  In the lecture on Monday, March 31st I made one tweet in class “The mistake of “Leave ‘the street’ outside the classroom” similar to leaving your culture outside of school in residential schools”.  I heard from other students that the tweet I shared had a viewpoint that the other students in the class had missed.  Twitter is great for sharing different opinions, and ideas.

Blogs is something I have just started to expand on in the past semester.  I feel as blogs are great for expanding my PLN because many great teachers blog and share amazing ideas.  Dan Meyer, a math teacher who is currently studying math education at Stanford University shows how to make math fun and engaging to students with the use of technology.  I was introduced to him in my EMTH217 class.  Blogging in class was also a fun experience because it allowed us as students to engage and ask each other questions and think critically on what others opinions.  I really enjoyed reading other peoples opinions on my blog posts.  I feel as it is important that we blog about the activities we do in class.  I feel as we should be blogging about content that is relevant to our teaching in the future, as well as answering important relevant questions dealing with our learning.  For example the use of standardized testing in Saskatchewan,  this is important because it could affect us as teachers in the future.  Another example of having relevant blog posts includes one of my best posts is about the anti-gay speaker that is coming to my hometown of Weyburn on April 11th and 12th, 2014. This I found was an issue that speaks to many in our community.  Blogs are a great voice for opinions, ideas, and experiences.

I need to continue to push myself to keep updated on my blog. I need to try harder and set aside part of the day to blog and put comments on others blogs. I could have added more comments and responded to more comments this semester.   As a goal, I have decided to keep my blog updated and as well as adding different resources and teaching ideas over the summer.

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Pinterest is a great resource for teachers because of all the great ideas that are shared on education topics. One thing that I have discovered on Pinterest this year was an online binder filled with resources and lessons for inclusive education. This was a great resource that we could use for my group’s inquiry project on inclusive education in ECS210. I have followed many other teacher’s Pinterest boards as well as creating  my own Pinterest board.  I have placed  pins that are going to be relevant to my teaching practices.

I discovered the wonders of Wikispaces in my fourth semester here at the University of Regina. Already I have already created two excellent resources focusing on inclusive education, and healthy living and physical education. These are resources that I will be able to use on day in my own classroom.  We have created lesson plans, as well as placed a variety of ideas, strategies, and resources to aid in the different grades and subject areas. Furthermore, I have joined a Wikispaces page that a fellow colleague has created where we will combine all our lesson plans on one page. This will enable us to put a variety of lesson plans on the site so when we leave the university we could potentially be leaving with up to a few hundred lesson plans.

Overall the use of technology has guided me in a very positive way in my journey to become a teacher. I am able to connect with a variety of people and learn from the experts through twitter. I am able to research many different blog postings, and comment on blogs asking insightful, critical questions to aid in not only my personal learning network, but also others’ personal learning networks. Pinterest is something I am very new at, but I see the great potential it has for classroom ideas, strategies, lessons, etc. Pinterest has thousands of resources anyone will be able to use. Wikispaces are very similar to blogs, but to me I see Wikispaces as a place to go and gather information and resources.  A blog is a place to show one’s journey to become a teacher, featuring personal ideas, and information about oneself. Creating a personal learning network is exciting for me as I have a love for technology and I cannot wait to use it in my classroom one day.

Weyburn Anti-Gay Rally on April 11-12

Today I have a rant. For those of you who do not know my hometown of Weyburn is hosting the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Rally on April 11-12, 2014.  As a part of the agenda there are going to be a variety of different speakers focusing on a variety of topics.  The issue is that they have also invited Peter LaBarbera, a man who is said to be anti-gay.  As the president of Americans For Truth he has been researching the impact of the homosexual agenda in America.  This has become a major issue in our city.  I am quite shocked that OUR city counsel has granted the  group $1,000 to host the conference in Weyburn (The Opportunity City) to allow this homophobic man to spew hate on this the LBGTQ people in our community.  LaBarbera says he opposes homosexuality on a moral basis.  LaBarbera has a lot of hate behind his message, as a result many citizens of Weyburn are protesting against LaBarbera and the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Convention hoping that he will be dropped from the roster.

I find LaBarbera’s message very problematic because of the hatred he is directing towards the LBGT community.  He may defend that he has the right of free speech, but here is Canada you CANNOT direct hatred on towards another group of people as this is illegal.  In Canada as this is hate speech, and hate speech comes above the right of freedom of speech.

LaBarbera claims to be a Christian preaching to what the Bible has taught him. LaBarbera says he doesn’t hate anyone, including homosexuals, but says he does believe homosexuality is wrong and the behaviour can be changed.  He says, “We believe lifelong monogamous heterosexual marriage is God’s plan for our life and that human beings are healthier and happier when they incorporate those values into their relationships”.

(ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!)

I believe in the Christian way of life, but who are you to say if you are unhealthy and unhappy to live in a relationship outside the norm of society besides yourself?  Who are you to judge others on how they want to life their life?  In the faculty of education at the University of Regina we focus on the idea that everyone is equal, every one should be represented in our schools, and also in society.  I just find this shocking how people can support the hate on another group of people.

I wish that LaBarbera would have paid attention to Pope Francis’s comment on homosexuality, “Who am I to judge”.   As well as just recently stating that the church might explore the possibility of civil unions for gays and lesbians.  “The pope’s attitude towards the topic of homosexuality earned him the ‘Person of the Year’ accolade in The Advocate, a U.S. gay magazine last year.”

To end my rant, I just wanted others to be aware of what is going on around us.  If any others want to sign this petition to tell Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association to rescind their decision to include Peter LaBarbera from the provincial convention held in Weyburn, Saskatchewan on April 11-12, 2014, you can find the petition on the bottom of the post.

https://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/saskatchewan-pro-life-association-say-no-to-peter-labarbera

Thank you, rant over.

 

 

 

Standardized Testing

The use of standardized testing to me is a very unfair way to test students on academic achievement.  This is because of the variety of ways students learn.  Teacher Joe will teach the curriculum different than teacher Bob.  As a result the students will have different results because of the many different styles the teachers teach in.  multiple-choice-cartoon

Their is a few things that I find concerning about standardized testing.  As Dr. Marc Spooner and Paul Orlowski state in the article “Standardized testing (almost) comes to Saskatchwan“, 

  • Standardized testing diverts teaching time and monetary resources away from student supports, teachable moments, and direct teacher-student contact time.
  • They are culturally biased, and biased against those for whom reading and/or English is a challenge.
  • Often induce a unhealthy anxiety in students.
  • Teachers will teach to the test. 

As a result standardized testing and standardized curriculum takes away the idea of having authentic real world learning experiences being taught in the class.  We cannot talk about what is currently happening in the world and have them be tested on relevant, current topics important in today’s society.  Standardized testing will make for social justice teaching to be much more difficult.

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What is a Community? (A response to “Building Community from Chaos”)

A community is…

  • forged out of struggle
  • about showing empathy
  • when students get inside the lives of others in history, literature, or down the hallway
  • having to share our own experiences, to show each other empathy.  Sharing provides openings, those openings make the class a community.
  • when students struggle together to reach a common goal.
  • helping students excavate and reflect on personal experiences, connecting it to the world of language, literature and society.

Empathy is key in a community.  Jim’s poem was powerful and goes to show how quick we are to judge people.  We are all guilty of jumping to conclusions.

The following commercial shows us how quick we are to jump to conclusions.

Autobiography Response

What hidden messages are now visible to you in what you could offer as your autobiography? For example, what does it mean that you did not address your gender, or your sexuality or your racialization as important or constitutive of your identity? Take Kumashiro seriously – “We need to be examining our lessons and lenses, their political implications, and possible alternatives…. we need to put front and center the very things we do not want in our … (autobiography), the very things we do not even know are in our … (autobiography).

I think I did not share my gender, sexuality and my racialization because society presumes “Curtis” is a male name.  As a straight male I feel as I did not need to address my sexuality because it is expected.  I did not need to disclose my race because it is expected for me to be white.  This is problematic because our society tells us that we have to address that we label ourselves from outside the  norm.  I see know it is important to treat everyone as equal, we cannot make assumptions.

Technology

How might the changing nature of learning and the increased prevalence of technology be related to social justice and anti-oppressive education? What is made possible/impossible by these tools and this type of learning?

As teachers we can link the use of technology with social justice and anti-oppressive eduction.  With advancement of technology we are able to open the doors to anywhere in the world.  For example, we are able to examine the LBGT issue in Russia during the Olympics without being there, we are able to discuss these issues on twitter with others.  These tools have allowed us to connect to many different people across the world.

Students are able to use technology in all their classes.  Students are able to show creativity in a variety of ways, technology has also allowed students to express themselves in easier ways then in the past.  For example, it is much easier to record voice recordings and videos and upload them to the internet then it was in the past.  Students are able to connect to other classrooms around the world.  I think this is amazing because we are able to witness another classroom in a different country or different province.  Technology has linked all corners of the earth together.  As teachers we are able to share ideas and lesson plans and develop our personal learning networks.

Curriculum as Narrative and Community

The story of Heather’s Moms Got Married addresses the social justice issue of gay and lesbian rights.  Upon reading the story I began to think about many questions and concerns regarding my past schooling as well as what my future would hold for me as a teacher.

At the University of Regina I have read articles dealing with LBGT issues, but I have not yet seen how to incorporate these issues into the classroom.  Mary Cowhey, the author of Heather’s Moms Got Married gives many resources and ideas to help teach elementary students LGBT issues. One can challenge these issues by incorporating lesbian and gay children books into the classroom to spark discussions.  Although Cowhey does not state using real world situations in her story I believe the children’s learning should be authentic. Therefore, it is important for educators to address the issue of homosexuality because it is a major issue in the current world.

Issues such as the Olympics in Sochi have brought light to the issue of homosexuality and gay and lesbian rights.  In Russia there are no laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination.  Such laws have imposed “harsh fines and jail terms for distribution of homosexual ‘propaganda’ to minors” (Equality Network).  I found this statistic shocking because if I read the book And Tango Makes Three to my class it would be considered illegal and I could be charged $37,000 in Russia.  Issues such as anti-gay thugs have lured LGBT people to meetings where they have been beaten.  Russia has done little to provide support to the victims of the senseless crimes.  Regina and other Canadian cities have put up the gay pride flags in front of their city halls.  Saskatchewan has also put up the gay pride flag in front of the legislative building in protest of Russia’s anti-gay laws.

The winter Olympics in Sochi have brought light to the issue of LGBTQ rights.  Such protests such as the German Olympic team sporting rainbow coloured coats during the opening ceremonies is a subtle protest for gay and lesbian rights.  Although the German team claims that the coats do not deal with the LGBT rights in Russia.   Google also promoted gay rights during the opening day of the Olympics.  “The internet giant transformed its homepage into a show of support for gay rights with a Google Doodle depicting athletes against a rainbow coloured backdrop” (Molloy, 2014).  I think as educators we can use current events such as what is going on in Russia to easily introduce and discuss such issues in an age appropriate manner. Students must think critically when discussing LGBT questions.  It is also important when your students ask questions to answer them “in a straightforward, educational manner” (109).

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Coming into the Faculty of Education I was very timid about learning about gay and lesbian people.  It was something I was nervous about learning.  I did not have an open mind and I thought my stereotypes were true.  As I grew up I was told that people who identified as LBGTQ were different and that there was something wrong with them.  I did not receive any education that regarded LBGTQ issues in a positive light.  Before coming into the faculty and if someone told me I had to teach about LBGTQ people I would feel extremely uncomfortable.  I could not imagine having to teach about such matters.  This is because I did not have the chance to learn about such issues in my schooling.  Now I recognize through many university courses the importance of LGBTQ rights and the discrimination they have faced in the past.  As a future teacher language is very important.  We have to be aware of and change language such as “mom and dad” to “parents and guardians”.  By teaching students at an early age that there is nothing wrong with identifying as LGBTQ the students will become comfortable talking about such issues.

In the story Out Front also addresses LBGTQ issues.  What spoke to me in this story is the adopting the anti-slur policy.  Terms like “gay”, are often used to say something is stupid, or as Annie Johnston says, “really yucky” (117).  The term “queer” or “fag” is tossed around by many calling someone weak.  I believe it is very important as teachers we must follow and adopt the anti-slur policy.  By adopting the policy we can encourage others to take on the anti-slur policy.  As Johnston says, “This is not sufficient to create a classroom that welcomes the existence of a queer population.  To take this further step, teaching must include queers and queer issues in their curriculum” (117)

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I enjoyed the Out Front story because it promotes the use of authentic learning.  It uses real life situation to teach LGBTQ issues.  Johnston focuses on teaching older students in the middle to high school age range.  She states how to include LGBTQ issues in different subject areas.  For example, you can focus on the gay liberation movement and compare it to other civil rights movements in a social studies or history class.  In physical education “teachers can talk openly and respectfully about gay athletes” (119).  Again it is important to develop curricula that students will be willing to talk about and ask questions about.

It was nice to see how schools now establish policies protecting gay and lesbian youth from harassment, violence and discrimination.  Schools also develop support groups for gay-straight alliances (106).  Growing up in Weyburn, I do not recall there being a group such as a gay-straight alliance in our high school.  We also did not have a LBGTQ support group. My question then becomes if you come from a small town what can a person do to help support people who identify as LGBTQ?  Do you need to be in a big city to have a large student body to have a gay-straight alliance group, or LGBTQ support group?  Both Heather’s Moms Got Married and Out Front stress the importance of including LGBTQ issues into the curriculum.  We must educate our students the diversity of families and support LBGTQ people so the students leaving high school do not bring in the criticisms and stereotypes that I came out of high school with.

References

Equality Network. (n.d.). LGBT human rights abuses in Russia. Retrieved from http://www.equality-network.org/our-work/campaigning/lgbt-human-rights-abuses-in-russia/

Cowhey, Mary. (2010) “Heather’s Moms Got Married The New Teacher Book: Finding Purpose, Balance, and Hope During Your First Years in the Classroom. Eds. Terry Burant, Linda Christensen, Kelley Dawson Salas, and Stephanie Walters. Rethinking Schools Ltd. 2010. pp. 111-22.

Johnston, Annie. (2010). “Out Front.” The New Teacher Book: Finding Purpose, Balance, and Hope During Your First Years in the Classroom. Eds. Terry Burant, Linda Christensen, Kelley Dawson Salas, and Stephanie Walters. Rethinking Schools Ltd. 2010. pp. 111-22.

Molloy, M. (2014, February 07). Google doodle goes rainbow for gay rights ahead of Sochi winter Olympics. Metro. Retrieved from http://metro.co.uk/2014/02/07/google-doodle-goes-rainbow-for-gay-rights-ahead-of-sochi-winter-olympics-2014-4294426/

Claire Kreuger’s Presentation

Claire brought up and addressed many points in her presentation of how to incorporate First Nations content into the classrooms.  There are three reasons why we have to include Treaty Education.

  1. Its our job.
  2. Students value it.
  3. Its about making relationships

She also said how it is difficult to teach and to begin because Treaty Education is not inline with the curriculum, not on the report card, there is few resources and many teachers are uneasy when it comes to teaching Treaty Education.  We must find resources and follow the Treaty Education outcomes and indicators to be successful.

I learned four things in particular from the lecture based on Claire’s “4 mistakes”,

  1. Important to realize that all First Nations cultures are not the same.
  2. Don’t teach what you don’t know
  3. Don’t tell other people’s stories
  4. “We agreed to share the land not give up our land.”

Claire’s presentation was inspiring to me because I found her students’ work astounding.  The students were able to use iPads to aid their learning by creating videos, songs, podcasts, stop motion, and she also allowed for choice in her teaching.