As a module, we were given the opportunity to lead a Spring Break day camp at Central Elementary. Our team was the Purple Elephants! We worked collaboratively to plan two activities: a spring craft project and a kids’ fitness session. It was a great experience to get to be a part of a program at a school so connected to the local community.
GOAL 1) The development of a clear, coherent and justified view of education that is continually and consciously reshaped through experiences with a variety of learners in a range of socio-cultural contexts.
GOAL 6) The development of the clear commitment to respect and celebrate students that demonstrates the understanding of how Indigenous epistemologies and pedagogies create opportunities to meet the needs of all learners.
My school community in 401/402 was dedicated to integrating First Peoples traditions and ways of knowing in the classroom. This played a role in our team’s question, with our examination of how the world is kept interconnected through natural and human conflict. Classes often participated in talking circles for discussion. The school was even in the process of commissioning a totem pole to represent the school’s four animal teams.
GOAL 7) The development of the ability to create a caring, cohesive community of learners that celebrates and appreciates the spirit of inquiry.
In module, we started a “Know, Wonder, Learned” chart as a jumping off point for our Special Education inquiry projects. Our biggest takeaway seemed to be that special education is COMPLICATED. There are so many factors at play when designing a program for a student with learning disabilities.
From our chart, it seems we most wanted to know how we, as general education teachers, could help our students that required the extra assistance but possibly weren’t receiving it; additionally, we wondered about the long-lasting affects of Sp. Ed labels and modified programs.
My topic I decided on for my own inquiry was: “How do different service delivery models (inclusive vs. pull out) affect students and the assistance they receive?”
Before PDP began, we were asked to read The Short Bus by Jonathan Mooney. The part-autobiography, part-travel journal, tells the story of Mooney’s trip across the United States in a renovated “short bus” to meet a series of people who have in some way been “outsiders” in either their education system or their communities.
In module, we were then assigned a chapter to depict visually. It was very interesting to see how different people interpreted the themes of the chapters and how evocative the drawings could be. The biggest takeaway from my chapter (5) and another group’s (4) seemed to be the sense of being on a line between normal/successful and abnormal/outcast. I believe that this is something Mooney struggles with himself throughout his journey, as he feels he has been “faking it” to stay on the normal side.
GOAL 10) The development of ability to use assessment and evaluation practices in a thoughtful and ethical manner that makes use of varied practices of assessment that is congruent with learning goals.
In preparation for creating our mini units and lesson plans, in module we completed an exercise examining the two main types of assessment: formative and summative. In groups, we brainstormed different ways to assess student learning and then categorized them as either formative or summative. My group soon found that we could make an argument for all methods of assessment being formative (assessment for learning) with it only becoming summative if “final” was included in the description. This reaffirmed our thoughts that there are constantly opportunities to give feedback on student work that gives them a chance to grow towards their final measure of achievement.
GOAL 8) The development of the ability to create opportunities for learning that utilizes relevant learning resources and technologies.
Using Susan Dion’s Braiding Histories, our module designed a series of lessons to deepen our perspectives on Aboriginal education. My group was given the chapter entitled “Listening – But What is Being Heard?” We led a storytelling exercise to demonstrate how dominant discourse can erase different voices and perspectives. Afterwards, a graffiti activity led into a discussion about the Canadian representation of First Peoples and how that affects us as educators.
GOAL 2) The development of a clear commitment to lifelong and life-wide learning that is rooted in the development of reflective capacities.
In the first week of module, we each created a poster to represent our personal educational journeys and the “dragons” that have been obstacles along the way. I chose the analogy of a stage for my journey, as my biggest obstacles have been public-speaking and being strongly introverted (which have hindered me in times where discussion participation is the primary judge of achievement). I have always loved learning, and several of my stepping stones demonstrate this, as I got further towards my educational goals.