School of Wonderstanding

 

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.

First Peoples Principles of Learning

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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.

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The New Curriculum at Work

Eagle Mountain Middle is the pilot school for SD43 to try out the new BC curriculum. The school’s instructional format is largely based around the core competencies in the new curriculum. Parents are constantly updated on student performance as they make self-reflection posts on FreshGrade that describe assignments they have been working on and how they feel they are progressing with the competencies. All report cards are structured in a “Exceeds Expectations”, “Fully Meeting”, “Meeting”, “Not Yet Meeting” format – forgoing formal letter grades.

Additionally, each team of teachers created a focus that their lessons would centre around for Term 2. The focus on Team Eagle, for example, is “How does conflict shape our world?”

GOAL 8) The development of the ability to create opportunities for learning that are consistent with learning objectives and the principles of learning described in provincial integrated resource packages.

GOAL 9) The development of the ability to blend theory and practice in well-organized ways that includes the ability to recreate, re-invent, re-constitute or discard practices that have been tried and found to be ineffective to individual and/or group learning needs.

That includes the ability to recreate, re-invent, re-constitute or discard practices that have been tried and found to be ineffective to individual and/or group learning needs

 

KWL chart for Sp. Ed Inquiry

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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?”

The Short Bus

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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.

Community Scan for EMM

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Eagle Mountain Middle is located at the top of Heritage Mountain, between Port Moody and Anmore. The school was first opened in Fall 2014. According to the EDI (Early Development Instrument) conducted by UBC, this area has very low vulnerability rates in all categories – registering lower than both the district and provincial averages. The catchment population is primarily English-speaking with an average household income of $100,000+ (2011 Census). The area is highly residential with Newport Village as the closest commercial area.

Assessment

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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.