Sunday, January 29, 2006

Reading - Creating Social Justice Classrooms

I have a hard time believing that the things in this article happen in real life, espcially to children. I guess I have wake up and smell the coffee becuase this stuff does happen and it might show its ugly head in my classroom. What I liked about this article was the fact that the teacher was not afraid to bring this situations into the classroom via literature and discuss them with her students. I hope if this ever happens I will have the courage to do so. Children need to make sense of the world around them and like the case of the "Three Robbers". If we try to avoid such subjects they will surface in that students will try to make connections to what they are reading to their experiences. I think as teachers we have a responsibility to be aware of the potential situations our students might be in or might face and be prepared for them so we are not taken off guard. Like the article made reference to many times, we can use literature as conversation starters about subjects we feel are delicate or subjects we fell might make their way into our student's lives. We can use real life situations our students might face as opportunities to help them problem solve potential ways to avoid certain situations or provide them with ways they can cope with the situations they might face. I think as a teacher we need to also make our students feel comforitable with us and see us as someone they can talk to and confide in. By making ourselves open to our students we might be able to help them head of potentially bad siuations, if they feel they can talk to us.

I also liked how the article stressed connecting the home with the school. Home plays a valuable role in the education of students. As teachers we should have many opportunities available for parents to participate in their child's learning. Just like students learn in a variety of ways, parents view involvement in the eduation of their child in different ways. Therefore we need to provide parents with many ideas, ways, and opportunities to be a part of their child's education.

Reading - The Case of the Three Robbers

There are many themes that came from this reading that has reinforced many of the concepts we have been taught in this program. The first theme is the idea taking advantage of "teachable moments". Like the author of this article, to many times I think we as student teachers feel that if our lesson is not going totally the way we had planned it, it is a failure. We get so caught up in being the best we can be for those who are "watching us" that we get tunnel vision and can't see beyond the restraints for our lesson. I guess I shouldn't speak for all of us, but this is often how I feel. I feel that if the lesson isn't going as planned it is a failure. But I think what this article has reinforced is the idea that more valuable learning experiences that we didn't plan for may arise and should be taken advantage of. Also, another point this article reinforced was the idea of connecting what students are learning to their real life. In the article students were doing this for themselves and making sense of the story from their experience. Is this not the idea behind constructivism, students connecting what they are learning to prior knowledge and experience? I think as teachers we need to make an effort to connect what students are learning to their proir knowledge and experience. The article also has reinforced the idea of connecting what children are learning to real life. Children need to know how what they are learning connects to life outside the classroom. All in all I think it was a great article for beginning teachers to read as Iam sure it will be a situation we will all be faced with, a situation we feel totally out of control in simply becuase it is a new experience!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Teaching with Night John

Even though I found the content of this novel informative in that it brought to life how slaves were treated, I found it difficult to read for that very reason. To read how slaves were treated, the in-humanity of their treatment very much upsets me. I find it hard to believe one human being can do this to another, yet it does happen. Another reason why I found this novel hard to read was the language it was written in. Often, especially in the beginning, I would have to re-read passages just to understand what was happening. For this very reason, I think if I were to read this in my class I would do it as a read aloud. As the teacher I would read a chapter or so to the class and then as a class discuss what took place in the chapter so that everyone would have an understanding of what went on. I might be under estimating what students are capable of getting on their own, but I feel if I had a hard time at times understanding what was going on they might as well.

I think I might opt to have class discussions rather than literature circles related to this story. I feel that there are too many sensitive topics in this story, such as the abuse of slaves, to have students work in groups to discuss. I think I would want to be the mediator in such conversations related to the book to ensure that students were staying on topic with their discussion and not moving into areas some students might feel sensitive or uncomforitable about. Don't get me wrong, I think that there are many ideas in this story that should be discussed that might be sensitive issues, I just think I would want to have some control over where the converstaion went. I also think I would have students write in a response journal after every reading to get their feelings and thoughts about the book. I feel this is a good way to assess for understanding related to the book. I also know there is a movie about this book, and I think as some sort of culminating activity, once the book was read, I would show the movie and as a class compare the movie and book using a Venn Diagram.

I found a great website that offered many great suggestions for using this book in the classroom. Turning sections of the book into a Reader's Theatre was one idea. Other ideas included things that can be done as pre-reading activities (Colin would love that!) to thematic connections such as prejudice, getting along with others, freedom and leadership. This book can lend itself to cross-curricular connections in history, music, science and geography. I highly recommend checking out this link!

Night John Teaching Ideas

Even though I found this book to be a hard read for a number of reasons, I still think it would be a book I would use. I think the many learning opportunities this book lends itself to outweighs my own personal feelings related to its content

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Literature Bibliography - Book 4

Murphy, Stuart J. (2005). More or Less. HarperCollins Publishers.

Decription: This book is about a young boy named Eddie. Eddie has a booth at a school fair. Eddie's booth involves him trying to guess people's ages. If Eddie gets the age wrong, he gets dunked. If Eddie can guess the age in three questions or less he wins! If it takes him four questions or more, the person wins a prize! Finally if Eddie can't guess the age after six questions he gets dunked!

Grade Level Suitable For: Grade one and up

BC Curriculum Links: This book is a great book to integrate across the curriculum. It can be used in math when it comes to comparing numbers which is important when understanding the concepts of "greater than" and "less than". It is also good for demonstrating the problem solving techniques Eddie used for guessing the right number. It can also be used in Language Arts as part of a predicting activity. Students can try to guess the next question Eddie might ask to help him guess the age. Students could, during a second reading, develop other questions Eddie could ask to help him guess the age.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Multicultural Book

By J. Philip Miller and Sheppard M. Greene

This book originates from a song sang on Sesame Street. The song and the accompanying illustrations emphasize the idea that no matter what we look like, where we live, or what we do, we are all the same in our hearts, where it counts. The line "we all sing with the same voice, we all sing in harmony" follows talk about how we as humans are different, we might be different because of where we live, because of what we look like, or what we do in life, but even though this is the case, the book emphasizes that in the end we are all the same, we are all human. The illustrations in this book are great in that they represent the races on an equal footing as well as the genders. The book also includes those with disabilities in its illustrations. This book can take on many forms in the classroom. It can be used to discuss what diversity is and what it means as well as to discuss the idea of inclusion. The book promotes itself to talking about individual and cultural uniqueness as well as talk about what ways we are all the same.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Read Aloud

Boo! by Robert Munsch was the book of choice for my read aloud.

Boo! is a great book to read around Halloween. The book is about a young boy named Lance who decides to paint a very scary face for Halloween instead of wearing a mask. Lance paints a scary face and tests it out on his Dad to see if it is scary enough. Once he decided it is scary enough he heads out trick-or-treating. His face is so scary that when he goes door to door and reveals his face to people they fall over because they are so scared. While they are fallen over, Lance helps himself to all the candy they have.

This story is most suitable for the primary grades. When it comes to links to the curriculum a great way to use this book is to use it to talk about safety around trick-or-treating and Halloween which fits nicely into the Personal Planning Curriculum - Safety and Injury Prevention. The book allows for many opportunities to discuss things that should and should not be done at Halloween in regards to safety. Also, this book can be used in Language Arts in a variety of ways, one just has to use their imagination!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Literature Bibliography - Book 3

Trottier, Maxine (2005). Terry Fox: A Story of Hope
Description: This book is a biography of Terry Fox's life and was written with the intended audience being younger children (ages 6 and up). The book details Terry's life before he got cancer as well as Terry's attempt to run across Canada to not only raise awarness about cancer, but to also raise money for cancer research. Text is accompanied by actual photos of Terry. This is a great book to use to educate students about why they participate in the Terry Fox Run every year. This kid friendly book will help students understand what happened to Terry and why he decided to run across Canada as well as make them realize why we still run today.
Grade Level Suitable For: Any grade
BC Curriculum Links: There are many ways this book can be used to comlement the curriculum. The book can be used in Language Arts in a variety of ways including aspects of the Self and Society aspect of the curriculum. Also this book would complement areas of the Personal Planning curriculum.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Literature Bibliography - Book 2

Bulducci, Rita (1997). Halloween Pigs.

Description: This book is based on the classic Folk Tale "The 3 Little Pigs". In this version the 3 Little Pigs decide to dress up and go to a Halloween party for wolves. At the party there are many yummy treats for the pigs to eat and they can't help but eat them, as they do the wolves start to notice that the 3 "new" wolves are very much different than them in their mannerisms. As the pigs eat more and more their costumes are not able to hold up!! I will leave it at that!! You will have to read the book to find out how it ends! This is a great book to read around Halloween as the students love it!

Grade Level Suitable for: Primary grades

Links to BC Curriculum: This is a great book to use when comparing two stories using a Venn Diagram. Using this book and the original story of the "Three Little Pigs", students can brainstorm as a class the key words and ideas from each of the stories using web diagrams and then on their own (once they have learned how to use a Venn Diagram) students can fill out a Venn Diagram comparing the similarities and differences between the two stories.

Literature Bibliography - Book 1

Ulmer, Mike (2001). M is for Maple.

Description: This book takes the format of an alphabet book. Each letter of the alphabet represents something unique to Canada, therefore the books focus is strictly Canadian. Single pages or pairs of pages are devoted to describing a feature of Canada specific to that letter. This story can be read during a Social Studies unit about Canada as the content is specifically related to Canada. The book can also be used to introduce students to some of the many symbols of Canada. Whether you are young or old you will love reading this book and looking at the amazing pictures that accompany the text!

Grade Level Suitable For: Grades 3 and up

Links to BC Curriculum: Social Studies