Wednesday, 26 November 2014

3 Profiles: Secondary School Student's Opinion on 21st Century Learning

As part of tutoring with the SSEN Learning Centre this month, we are focusing on understanding ourselves as active 21st Century Learners. 

We first worked on brainstorming and defining what we think 21st Century Learning looks like in the classroom today using mind mapping.

We then wrote individual mini-blogs to reflect on how the current education system in Ontario is providing 21st Century Learning opportunities and what else can be done to bridge an existing gap.

To begin, the students were each shown this tweet by Lester Laminack to spark their active minds for engaging with 21st century learning concepts. His website was also used for reference.

(All information/images shared with permission)


 Students from a century ago and students from 21st century are very different. Invention of electronics, such as smartphones and personal computers is the biggest difference between them. Students' learning style and the time period is different. We cannot have a class without collaboration and interactions between students and teachers, and we should remember that we are learning for our future. 

Teachers usually restrict students from using cellphones in a class, but technology can be a tool for students and teachers to make them learn better. Almost every students including grade 1 to grade 12 knows what smartphone is. They use smartphones to communicate with their friends, or playing games a lot, and these reasons make teachers to hate smartphones. However, if teachers can teach students using the smartphones, students will be motivated to learn, because they already are very familiar with the learning tool called smartphones. Electronic resources, such as ebooks or online learning videos actually help students to learn and remember them. 

Teachers in Korea are stuck in the old learning style, which forces students to memorize, not to learn, and actually have a beneficial effect to students for the future.  Students in a class must follow instructions that teachers give, and cannot have a discussion within the class. This method usually makes students to forget what they learned after a year or two because they didn't really understand what teachers were saying. What students did were just copying what teachers said. This is very inefficient way to get students to learn. There must be discussions and debate in the class, and students must share their own opinions and interact with their classmates and also the teacher. Collaboration is also important, but the old method prevents students to learn collaboration and confidence to speak up, and actually "learn". This is why we should have think about the future for the students that really can help them to "learn" something from the education system.


I often think about technologies settled in our school sometimes needs to be changed or improved. And this comes to my mind very often when I look around my school. When I am looking at slow computer, I think about how should they improve this computer's speed. It's not that I am uncomfortable with these technologies we have in my school, instead, of course if my school is going to expand the level of technologies in learning, they could start putting some more thinking into it. For instance, they could put more classwork into technologies and do some classwork with computers and taking notes with computers to prevent sore arms and hands by writing a stack of notes and make it easier to access their work and so on. They should have more serious rules about electronics and doing other things on computers instead of finishing their classwork. A lot of things should be changing soon and specifically technologies in schools.

Monday, 24 November 2014

EDUC 1F95 - Seminar 12 - The Pedagogy of Possession

I have been very excited to reach week 12 (in my Graduate 5P30 - Teaching, Learning, & Development) and read Norris’ article Arendt, Freire, and the Pedagogy of Possession as it links so closely with the TA work I am doing for Norris’ current EDUC 1F95 course. 

In 1F95, we are guiding first and second year students through the Introduction and Foundations of Educational History, Philosophy, and Sociology. For some of these students, it will be the first time they are exposed to applying critical thinking skills to micro and macro lenses of education from both a student and educator’s point of view. This paper weaves together an understanding of consumption and possession and how it relates to education, schooling, policy-making, and hidden curriculum. The big concept this week for 1F95 is exploring hegemony and how it exists in schools. Hegemony, in a very basic description is domination by consent. I am hoping by sharing this paper, written by their professor, with the students in 1F95 that with guidance, they will make connections between hegemony, consumption in schools and the pedagogy of possession.
Linking this article to the theme of development – we can see that the influence of consumerism has a major potential effect on the self-image and self-worth a student places on his or herself. The concept of a self-fulfilling prophecy is “the notion that the assumptions and expectations that teachers and other service workers hold about students can influence students’ lives” (Wotherspoon, 2013, p. 43).  The multiple influences that students receive at school help to shape their self-identity and meaning making processes. Agents of consumerism (marketing departments and companies) are constructing generation X & Y consumers as part of the socialization process in schools. Students are exposed to hundreds of consumer messages a day at school, these products and concepts embedded in the education environment make escaping the consumer reality near impossible. It is by illuminating the intent behind marketing and consumer culture to students that they can begin to create their own idea of how to construct their identity. In no way can we erase the inevitable influence consumerism has on students but making students aware and critical of it is one way to develop students as agents of change.
This model of preparing students to think critically about the choices and purchases they make does not work well for companies who bank on youth blindly consuming. There is a ‘significant incompatibility between commercial values and the promotion of critical thinking” (Norris, 2005, p.261). I wonder about the implications for the economy and society as a whole if in the next 50 years schools have encouraged students to develop exceptional critical thinking skills about the consumer culture around them. It seems like a good idea to have youth be aware of the obvious and hidden influences consumer culture has on identify and life-long meaning making. What if this has a profound negative impact on the way consumers exist in relation to the economy? It would seem as if the whole system would have to shift to accompany this new standard of critical thinking. Perhaps, however, that at that point the people running this consumer culture will be from Generation X & Y and will have a fantastic response to altering the consumer culture.
Norris, T. (2005). Re-thinking re-producing consumption: Hannah Arendt, Paulo Freire and the pedagogy of possession. Philosophical Studies in Education, 36, 77 - 90.

Wotherspoon, T. (2013). The Sociology of Education in Canada 4rd Ed. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-542660-1

EDUC 1F95 - Seminar 11 - CBC News Article

CBC NEWS- Posted: Mar 12, 2014 6:59 PM MT Last Updated: Mar 12, 2014 8:26 PM MT

The Alberta government plans to include oil and gas companies in consultations on the new school curriculum.

School boards were asked to come up with groups to provide input on what children should learn.

Education Minister Jeff Johnson is defending the decision to include oilsands companies in consultations on Alberta's new school curriculum. (CBC)

The Edmonton Public School Board plans to ask oilsands companies Suncor and Syncrude what to teach children in kindergarten to Grade 3.

"What are we looking for in the graduates of tomorrow. Certainly we have a perspective but we need to hear all stakeholders," said Mark Liguori, assistant superintendent of schools for Edmonton Public.

Education minister Jeff Johnson thinks including the business community in discussions will help.
"One of the things I think they may be able to help with is how do we attract kids to that side of the business, science technology and engineering piece of the education system that so much of the economy is telling us we're short on," he said.

However, NDP education critic Deron Bilous thinks this is the first step in allowing corporations to influence Alberta schools, which he worries may go too far.

"There's also examples in the United States where coal companies have been involved in curriculum design where they've written a completely one-sided view speaking only of the benefits," he said. 
Johnson says companies are only providing input and will not write the curriculum.

Syncrude and Suncor aren’t the only companies involved in curriculum consultations. Stantec, PCL Construction, Apple and Microsoft Canada will also get a say.

Suncor has yet to receive an invitation to join the consultations. Syncrude hasn't decided whether it will take part.

Answers included are reflective of the conversations had in EDUC 1F95 Seminar 15 & 16 - Nov 21

1. Should oil and gas companies be allowed to influence curriculum? Why or why not? What impact do you think they would have?

The conversation began heated about this topic. The conversation shifted from who should be able to have a say to who already has a say in curriculum development. What really would be the disadvantages of Canadian companies having a say (not a definitive vote - just a say) in the content of curriculum? 

We discussed how society is always in need for the development of schools to foster youth into relevant, contributing members to local economy and society.  Shouldn't we have a curriculum and school system in place that aids students to developing into contributing members of society with the skills and knowledge needed to survive in that society as an adult. Who better to speak about the skills and needs in demand for that society than the companies on which help build the society? 

The consensus was that companies should be able to have a say but that means all Canadian companies. Allowing certain companies influence and others not can create a biased curriculum with skewed skill sets and societal competencies. The final vote in curriculum standards and content should be left with educational professionals and researchers. They should be considering a holistic view of Canadian needs and skills for a successful society. This includes but cannot be limited to assessing the influence of economic companies. 


Tuesday, 18 November 2014

EDUC 5P42 - Genius Hour Presentation

Genius Hour Idea: Exploring educational uses of USD - Understanding by Design
Genius hour is a movement that allows students to explore their own passions and encourages creativity in the classroom. It provides students a choice in what they learn during a set period of time during school.

Storyboard That! is the world's best story board creator! 
  • Simple & Fun Interface:The storyboard creator uses a familiar drag and drop interface that users of all ages pick up in seconds. Our creator allows you to fully customize numerous aspects of your storyboard; from coloring in your own character, to adding text, we have everything you need to get the story straight!

  • Detailed Image Library:Creating a beautiful and expressive storyboard is easy with our extensive and well curated library of over 325 characters, 225 scenes, and over 45,000 images in search. If that still isn’t enough we offer another powerful tool; the ability to upload your own images!

  • Focus is on The Story: By using a storyboard like a graphic organizer it helps structure students work into a linear and concise story. Although it feels easy at first, breaking down ones thoughts into just a few cells works critical skills in prioritizing the right information and creating a good story flow.
 To learn more about how StoryboardThat! works and how educators can incorporate this tool into their classroom and project based learning activities - explore the PREZI presentation I have created by clicking HERE

Monday, 17 November 2014

EDUC 5P42 - Effectively Warming Up

A method for enhancing the ability to communicate in the classroom that can be easily over looked by teachers is daily warm up activities to begin the class. The benefit of the warm up, besides the fun consistent addition to any lesson plan is the opportunity for classmates to interact together in a non-threatening manner. One of the most useful warm up activities is the ones that involve improvisation. Examples of warm ups that include the method of improvisation are; charades, blob machine and I’m going on a picnic. Including improvisation allows students to feel comfortable bringing up personal impulses and thoughts in a safe, inclusive space. The warm up allows students to openly communicate with each other at the beginning of every class. This is exceptionally helpful to a teacher, for the rest of the class the students will feel more like a community and more likely to continue communicating between themselves.

The book Free Play written by Stephen Nachmanovitch delves into the importance of free play within any social situation, especially school. Nachmanovitch describes how “Improvisation is intuition in action, a way to discover the muse and learn to respond to her call. Even if we work in a very structured, compositional way, we begin by that  always surprising process of free invention in which we have nothing to gain and nothing to lose”(Nachmanovitch 41). This is the key component to improvisation, allowing the students to feel like they are having fun and making their own decisions in such a structured and somewhat hindering environment that high school can be.

When I was in high school I did the best in the classrooms where I felt like my opinion was heard and accepted. The classrooms (not just drama) that allowed a period of time at the beginning (or end) of the class to work on a small task with the class were the places where I felt the strongest in academics. As a future teacher, I want to enable my students the opportunity to feel heard, accepted, and safe in their academic and social endeavors. I will use warm up activities in all of my classrooms not just my drama classrooms.

Over my dramatic and academic journey I have been able to learn different methods in which to communicate with students about important topics. The method of workshopping a scene is an incredibly effective way in which to give your students a venue to speak their mind without feeling scared. The environment that the teacher must create in the classroom/workshop space is the key component to having work shopping work. The teacher must describe the process fully to the class and the class will have to agree on rules for the process. Examples of rules could be; waiting your turn to talk, never say “no” but instead say “yes, but let’s try adding this, or taking away this.” Once these parameters have been communicated the open communication can begin.
Helpful links for warm up activities:
1.  Warm up & Cool Downs Grades 5-11
2.  Improvisation related warm ups 
3.  Games Booklet - 39 Pages

Thursday, 13 November 2014

EDUC 1F95 - The Sociology of Education Seminar 10

Chapter Two - Sociological Theories of Education 

This post will outline the major concepts and definitions needed to understand the content in the chapter and apply to existing social circumstances in the world around us. 

Structural Functionalism: A theoretical perspective that explains social phenomena with reference to their mutual influence on one another, especially though social needs the fulfill and the contributions they make to social order.

Critical Sociology: Engages in a critique of social structures and practices by probing beyond descriptions of the status quo. It is committed to social change as well as social analysis.

Interpretative Analysis: Is concerned with the analysis of social processes rather than social structure 

Correspondence Principle: The view that presents educational reforms and outcomes as consequences of economic requirements, labour market needs, and inequalities within a capitalist economy.

Cultural Capital: The resources that people possess for economic and social success, which include not only wealth and economic assets but also knowledge and understandings about social expectations, dominant values, and other pertinent information that institutions use in their ongoing operations.

Cultural Reproduction: Recognition that, while education contributes to ongoing social inequalities, it does so through cultural and social practices as well as economic requirements.

Human Capital Theory: A theoretical approach, with frequent policy applications, that emphasizes education, skill development, and other learning processes as investments that enhance capacities and opportunities among individuals, thereby contributing to general economic growth.

New Institutional Theory: A theoretical orientation drawn from research in several disciplines including sociology, economics, and organizational studies that focuses on the distinctive characteristics of institutions and institutionalized arrangements and explores their impact on broader social and economic processes.

Pedagogy: Process associates with the organization and practice of teaching. The term refers more generally to various kinds of interactions (and how there are understood and organized) in teaching-learning situations.

Racialization: Categorizing and treating people based on observe physical group characteristics and the stereotypes of group differences that are products of historical and social processes.

Resistance Theory: Analysis that highlights children, youth, and other students as active participants who can oppose and shape their education and social futures rather than as passive institutional clients.

Self-fulfilling prophecies: The notion that the assumptions and expectations that teachers and other service workers hold about students can influence students' lives.

Symbolic Interactionism: A theoretical perspective that emphasizes the importance of language, meaning, and use of symbols in our development of self-awareness and, through our relations with others, as the basis of societies. 

Thursday, 6 November 2014

EDUC 1F95: Sociology of Education – Seminar 8

Developing a framework for studying The Sociology of Education in Canada

This post is the beginning of many posts for my EDUC 1F95 – Foundations of Education course I am a Teaching Assistant for this FW 2014-2015 school year. My students will be exploring the sociology of education using Terry Wotherspoon’s book The Sociology of Education in Canada: Critical Perspectives, 4th Ed. for lecture and seminar readings.

These blogs titled EDUC 1F95: Sociology of Education – Seminar # will provide a place for my interpretations, thoughts, critiques, and comments on the assigned readings each week. These blogs will be in part for myself to conceptualize my thoughts for seminar discussion and also for students in my seminars to expand their thinking and inquiry about the content provided each week. These posts are NOT to supplement or replace existing seminar material and content.

Each post will include the guiding questions and material for the seminar each week, followed by a brief overview of the chapter material and followed by comments or thoughts. Please feel free to comment on any of these blog posts to add your own comments, thoughts, revelations from class, or to pose questions!

Here we go!

Seminar 8 – Friday November 7, 2014

Chapter 1 - The Sociology of Education in Canada
Chapter 7 - Making Sense

Guiding Questions:
1. What is sociology? What do sociologists study?
2. What are the characteristics of the different sociological perspectives?
         a) Structural functionalism 
         b) Interpretive analysis
         c) Critical sociologies  
3. How do they compare to one another? What are the key contrasts in sociology?
4. Is sociology in Education a science? Why or why not? What about educational research? Is it a science and why or why not?
5. Review the four critical approaches to the analysis of Education. 
        a) Critical pedagogy 
        b) Feminist pedagogy
        c) Anti-racism education
        d) Political economy

Goals & Discussion:
1. Students should understand how structural functionalism, interpretive analysis and critical sociologies are conceptual frameworks that view society differently.
2. How do educators use sociology to understand and improve education?
3. Reflect upon how students used the ideas or arguing and writing with style in assignment 1 (connection to Making Sense Chapter 7 )

Let's explore the following:

Sociological perspectives:

1. Structural functionalism: this form of analysis examines social institutions and other elements of society in relation to the social system as a whole. It is sometimes known as the order perspective because it is concerned with factors that ensure the maintenance of social stability.

2. Interpretive analysis: an approach to understanding social life that emphasizes the role played by meanings and inter-subjective relationships in social activity

3. Critical sociologies: engages in a critique of social structures and practices by probing beyond descriptions of the status quo

Critical approaches to the analysis of Education:

1. Critical pedagogy: an approach oriented to progressive educational change by linking educational practices and experiences with social critique and a vision of educational alternatives

2. Feminist pedagogy: an approach to educational analysis grounded in a critique of gender inequalities in education and the factors that give rise to them, and committed to practices to change those inequalities

3. Anti-racism education: an approach to educational theory and practice oriented to identifying and changing attitudes, policies, and practices that discriminate on the basis of race

4. Political economy: an approach that emphasizes the interrelationships among social, economic, and political factors in social life; critical political economy examines the causes and consequences of deep-rooted forms of social and economic inequality

Notable definitions and concepts from Chapter 1

1. Agency: Recognition that human beings act on the basis of various degrees of choice and free will

2. Positivism: A philosophical approach that emphasizes sensory experience as the basis for all knowledge, applied as a scientific framework that seeks to derive and test laws based on empirical evidence from systematic observation and measurement

3. Sociology: An academic discipline concerned with the nature and organization of societies and the relationships that exist among individuals and society

4. Social structure: Elements of social life that are relatively patterned, interconnected, and enduring, often understood with reference to the rules and boundaries associated with different forms of social action

Weekly Words of Wisdom (5P30/5P42/5P37/1F95)

November 6, 2014 

Radiate // “Find ecstasy within yourself. It is not out there. It is in your innermost flowering. The one you are looking for is you.” - Osho

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

The Twenty-First-Century Teacher - Revisiting the Story Model (5P42)

 The story model describes a change process in expanding contexts from the personal to the social, cultural, global, and universal. The frames of the Story Model represent ways of knowing. The first three frames suggest our knowing is informed by individual or social differences; the universal frame also informs out ways of knowing and speaks to the aspects that connects us to others. 

- Our knowing is filtered first through a frame informed by our personal experiences. The students in your class will all learn a bit differently because they will connect new knowledge with their unique past experiences. Your personal frame will also affect your own learning.
- The second frame is a cultural frame; culture is defined as a set of values and beliefs that drive group life in the particular culture we live in. 
- The third frame is the global frame. In the twenty-first century, we are all connected to and affected by global conditions, and the global frame is evident in education. Students in classrooms around the world collaboratively engage in tasks ranging from peer editing to sharing ideas about solutions to global problems. 
- The outer frame is the universal frame. This frame reminds us that, regardless of our differences, we are all human beings with similar needs, drives, and emotions. 

(Drake, 2014, p. x-xi)

 Chapter 6 - The Twenty-First-Century Teacher in Interweaving Curriculum and Classroom Assessment written by Susan Drake, Joanne L. Reid & Wendy Kolohon provides a look at how teachers can educate and engage with students effectively in the twenty-first-century. 

A Canadian Education Association study called Teaching the Way We Aspire to Teach: Now and in the Future (2012) asked teachers what they valued. The teachers identified the following:
  • passion for teaching and learning
  • caring and commitment for students
  • creativity, flexibility, and willingness to take risks
  • knowledge and drive for self improvement 
  • energy, enthusiasm, and engagement
  • trust, collaboration, and connectedness 
As a complementary view, when asked what engaged them, 220 students wanted teachers who love their work, who believed in students, and who acted like human beings (Wolpert-Gawron, 2012). 

A close match existed between how teachers aspired to Be and how students wanted their teachers to Be. 

I was curious to see how other twenty-first-century educators are predicting and preparing for fast changing educating practices in the upcoming years in North America. While poking around on wordpress blogs I came across one blog called Rliberni's Blog - Radical Language that posted about his predictions for teaching and education in 2060 and the journey we have to get from here to there.

He proposes that classrooms will be radically different. We will shift completely away from passive learning where students sit in rows and they copy information (image on left) to active/creative/meaningful discovery (image on right).

Image citation: From video

This shift, he explains in his video, comes from the changing needs of the society for different kinds of labor and economy players. He proposes that there are three kinds of thinkers and industry players in society that ensure the stability of our economy and society. Yellow represents physical labor (which he suggests is the most prominent and needed component of the work force today). Pink represents mental labor which makes up a good chunk of today's work force. The small blue box in the stack on the left represents the amount of art/innovation/creative/active/discovery labor that exists currently in society. 

If we compare these three types of labor to the existing model of education, we can see how the stack of labor on the left is representative of what exists today in the work force. If educators and students alike have identified the need to shift from the existing story model of education to one representative of twenty-first-century thinkers and innovators, we can see the need for teachers to shift their practices too. Educators need to be responding and assisting the shift from passive learning to active discovery learning to keep up with the predicted shift in societal and labor patterns.