#whatisschool

I have been following a teacher online, his name is Mr. Kemp (Craig), he is a middle school teacher based out of New Zealand. Craig is also the founder of the online education twitter chat #whatisschool. He defines the space as a place where “people can express an unbiased response to questions about schooling, where educators have a voice in shaping the future through their experience, recommendations and interests.” They bring up topics such as defining and developing school culture, creativity, relationships, empathy, etc.

I have been exploring the online educational chat space, and it is definitely a great way to connect with other teachers and share your ideas. Craig and other moderators facilitate the chat through posting questions prior to the beginning of the chat, and then use the hashtag to keep track of answers. Because it is an online chat, you receive teachers from many different faculties, grades and countries. It provides teachers opportunities to learn about different perspectives of teaching while providing their own insights. This is a great way to start making global connections, which is also an area of Education Craig is very passionate about (I wonder why I am following him! 😉 ).

While I have usetwitter convod twitter, I find it is not the most productive site for having conversation on. I have never participated in a large group chat, so I do admit my bias and lack of knowledge may influence my criticality of the process. While limited character count could be beneficial for large group discussions, I find it could be limiting. I also find twitter to be slightly disorganized when it comes having conversations with multiple people. If everyone is using the same hashtag then conversations between people will not remain in order as they are chronologically listed, so you would have to continue scrolling through tweets to find the next message in that conversation. If #whatisschool becomes bigger, I think it would beneficial to create a forum of some sort in which only those involved in the conversation for #whatisschool can participate.


Another reason I enjoy following Craig’s blog is because he brings in a variety of guest bloggers from multiple fields of education, to provide a new perspective on different topics. For example, he recently had a grade 3-5 ICT teacher in the Philippines who discussed educational technology being used in teaching core subjects (one of the main 21st century literacies).

I am thinking about giving one of the online chats a try! I’ll keep my eye out on a topic I find interesting and I’ll let you know how it goes!

Skype Education

I’ve always heard about teachers communicating with other teachers around the globe and connecting their classrooms, but I was never sure how to find these teachers. I have found an effective way to connect my classroom globally, which was actually just featured (March 28th) on one of the blogs I am following, The Global Classroom Project. The first resource I am adding into my curation is the Skype Education website, which provides three different ways in which you can use skype in your classroom. You can collaborate and communicate with classrooms around the world, find guest speakers or take a virtual field trip anywhere around the world. It provides students with the ability to conduct collaborative projects or start international clubs. If teachers are not sure how to take advantage of skype, the website provides a variety of lessons teachers could use as well as stories of successful skype classroom interactions. The reason why I like the skype idea is because it makes the experience personal for the students. It is more than just having students read and research information about different cultures around the world; it allows them to make a personal connection with those cultures, through building friendships and having fun.

I want to focus specifically on one use of Skype Education which I think could have practical use in a 21st century teacher’s classroom. “Mystery Skype” is a  game crated by skype where students have to use their inquiry and questioning skills to guess the location of their classroom. I have embedded the video about this global guessing game as an introduction.

As I watched this video, some key words stood out including: technology, connect, world, fun, team, critical thinking process, empower. What do all these key words have in common? They are a part of the new story, they are used within 21st century classrooms, they are/are part of 21st century literacies.

Directly quoting Michael Graffin’s (The Global Classroom Project) blog post about mystery skype, he present’s clear objectives of this activity. There is a clear connection between mystery skype, integrated curriculum (IC) and global, multicultural, technological, and critical literacies (Which I added to each objective below in italics):

Students will use map skills to find the location of the mystery classroom (IC – Social Studies/Geography)

Students will use communication and critical thinking skills to ask questions to help them find the mystery location. (IC – Language; Critical Literacy)

Classes communicate with other classrooms via Skype or Google+ Hangouts. (Technological Literacy)

Students will learn to respect and appreciate the cultures and customs of others. (Multicultural & Global Literacy)

Students will be able to see the differences and similarities between themselves and others around the world. (Multicultural & Global Literacy)

I believe the Mystery Skype activity would be a great introduction for inquiry-based learning, as it gives student’s the opportunity to collaboratively formulate questions and gather evidence to solve the location. As these skills develop during Mystery Skype, a teacher can then apply them to a more authentic and real world problem which Drake, Reid and Kolohon (2014) describe as key components to Inquiry-based classrooms and learning.

The Advocates for Human Rights

As a big supporter of humans rights, specifically children’s rights, I would love to incorporate the Discover Human Rights Institute website into my classroom. Unlike the teachUNICEF website, this human rights website can be used by the majority of people, whether they want to learn more, get involved or teach about human rights. As Canadians we are unfortunately not able to access all the resources of this site, such as have the advocate group conduct presentations or events, but there are accessible resources online. This website could be used as a resource for the teacher, where they can find lesson plans and activities, but it could also be used as a site for student participation. In the Human Rights for Students section, students can explore human rights at their own pace and through their own learning styles. It was the games link that interested me the most and something that I would incorporate into my classroom, to bring that technological aspect to my classroom while keeping the activities easy to understand. One issue I did find with the links to the games was that a couple of the games were not available anymore, but either way there were still a variety of games which focused on a variety of human rights, which I believe junior students would enjoy.

In general, navigating this page is not too difficult because there are a variety of headings constantly on the page which make it easy to figure out where you need to go. The one concern I have about this website is the amount of clicking I have to go through to get to a specific resource, such as a lesson plan. But, I did enjoy how the lesson plans were an automatic PDF download. The visual aspect of the website varied based on the audience, the student section consisted of cartoons, brightly coloured headings, charts and pictures, while the educators section was plain and did not consist of very many visual effects besides the odd picture.

Teach UNICEF

While the general and country specific UNICEF websites are a great place to find information about UNICEF and the programs it supports, I believe the TeachUNICEF website could be of more practical use for teachers. This website is a collection of free global education resources for all grade levels, and major subjects, which provides lesson plans, stories and multimedia to cover a variety of social issues and social justice topics. These lessons are aligned with the US standards of education, but can easily be transferred into a Canadian classroom. It also provides information sheets about service learning and outside resources that provide service learning resources/tool kits, while sharing the specific UNICEF campaigns as well. I like the way this website is set up, because it has a search bar as well as the main headings/home page link always at the top, while the subheadings of the explore tab are listed in much smaller font at the bottom. I assume the Explore tab is the most used tab, as it contains all the lesson plans and is broken down into three columns at the bottom so that teachers can explore units by topics or grade level. Having the subheadings at the bottom makes it easier for teachers to navigate through website if they do not know where they are going, or also quick access to the specific resources they need rather than clicking through the tabs. I believe having TeachUNICEF as a separate website from the main UNICEF pages makes this website easier to navigate because it holds less information. Compared to the FTC website, the TeachUNICEF website is not as overwhelming.

I believe this website would be an excellent fit for teaching at almost any grade level because it provides the option to teach by topic. At the top of each topic page there is a summary of what the topic aims to teach as well as a form of multimedia which introduces the topic (either a picture or a video which presents an interview with a child, a short documentary, etc.). So rather than having one set out global education curriculum (such as the Junior World Changers Kit), teachers have the freedom to interchange topics based on the curriculum subject they wish to integrate it into. For example: integrating water and environment with science, health/AIDS with health/physical education, global citizenship with social studies, etc. The one issue with these topics is that not all of them have lesson plans for every grade level (for example: child labour does not have lesson plans for K-2).

Free the Children

As the world becomes more diverse and connected I believe it is important to start teaching from a global perspective. As a future primary/junior teacher I hope to incorporate both a global and multicultural literacy to my classroom. Both of these literacies link back to global education. Global literacy involves creating “settings that foster students’ understanding of the intersection between their lives and global issues and their sense of responsibility as local and global citizens” (Nair et al., 2012, p. 56). While multicultural literacy “consists of the skills and ability to identify the creators of knowledge and their interests, to uncover the assumptions of knowledge from diverse ethnic and cultural perspectives, and to use knowledge to guide action that will create a humane and just world” (Banks, 2003, p. 3). With these definitions in mind, I would use the following website in my classroom to help my students develop each literacy and become global citizens

The Free the Children (FTC) website contains a variety of information for global educators. FTC is an international charity that works towards empowering youth to become agents of change in both a national and international context. The FTC website hosts a variety of resources that teachers can use, such as a weekly social issue based column, lesson plans and kits. The Junior World Changers Kit found at found in the “resources, curriculum, and lesson plans” section of “get involved” is oriented towards a younger age group.

JWCThis resource provides the teacher with a full set of lesson plans that can introduce students to social justice issues, citizenship, and becoming engaged in both local and global settings, as well as level appropriate information guides for the countries FTC is involved with. While this resource is something I would use in a primary classroom, it is not something I would recommend for intermediate and higher. If a teacher believes their classroom is too advanced for the Junior World Changers Kit, the FTC website has a “Library of Resources” in which you can find lessons and resources based on the grade, class subject, topic, the country you are teaching in and the language you speak. Although I should mention that currently FTC only has education resources for Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, an educator from other countries could use these resources and revise the lessons towards their curriculum.

I already have a background knowledge of Free the Children and Me to We, which is why I think this resource would be an excellent addition to my classroom. There are things I would tweak, in order to ensure student’s are learning about the important aspects and not the consumer identity, but it is great way to incorporate my past trips and experiences with me to we into the classroom and make my stories more relevant for my students.

Curating My Global Education Resources

As the world becomes more diverse and connected I believe it is important to start teaching from a global perspective. As a future primary/junior teacher I hope to incorporate both a global and multicultural literacy to my classroom. Both of these literacies link back to global education. Global literacy involves creating “settings that foster students’ understanding of the intersection between their lives and global issues and their sense of responsibility as local and global citizens” (Nair et al., 2012, p. 56). While multicultural literacy “consists of the skills and ability to identify the creators of knowledge and their interests, to uncover the assumptions of knowledge from diverse ethnic and cultural perspectives, and to use knowledge to guide action that will create a humane and just world” (Banks, 2003, p. 3). With these definitions in mind, I would use the following websites in my classroom to help my students develop each literacy and become global citizens.

This “Global Education Category” of my blog will be used as a portfolio for online global education resources which I would like to incorporate into my future classroom.

References

Banks, J. (2003) Teaching for Multicultural Literacy, Global Citizenship, and Social Justice. 2003 Charles Fowler Colloquium on Innovation in Arts Education. University of Maryland, College Park.

Nair, I., Norman, M., Tucker, R., & Burkert, A. (2012). The challenge of global literacy: An ideal opportunity for liberal professional education. Liberal Education, 56-61.

Going Glocal

Okay, I have to say this is a great development for me, I actually wanted to write this blog today, for the sole purpose of writing about something I enjoy. For those who do not know me, I am a big global education and participation activist. I guess this interest began with my desire to volunteer internationally. In grade 11 I was provided the opportunity to participate in an International Development trip run by a small program called HOPE (Home, Opportunity, Prosperity & Education). This program began as a recovery program for families who were severely affected by a hurricane in the Dominican Republic.

This family originally lived isolated in the mountains, in an ‘establishment’ comparable to a mud hut with banana tree leaves as the roof, only eating one meal every two to three days. Through conversation with Juan Antonio one day, he expressed his thanks for our group building his house, he left us with these words, as I will leave them with you, “No one has ever done anything for me in my life, which is why this is so important to me. Thank you very much for finding me and coming back to ensure I got a house, and please, never forget me.”
This family originally lived isolated in the mountains, in an ‘establishment’ comparable to a mud hut with banana tree leaves as the roof, only eating one meal every two to three days. Through conversation with Juan Antonio one day, he expressed his thanks for our group building his house, he left us with these words, as I will leave them with you, “No one has ever done anything for me in my life, which is why this is so important to me. Thank you very much for finding me and coming back to ensure I got a house, and please, never forget me.”

HOPE stood for more than just those four words, HOPE providing people with dignity, working towards solidarity, promoting human rights and sharing the common good. It meant making a difference not only in our lives, but in somebody elses. It meant providing people with dignity, working towards solidarity, promoting human rights and sharing the common good. There were certain events and people on my first trip that made the experience unforgettable, and drove me to continue my participation in international trips. After my first trip I participated in 3 other HOPE trips organized by student’s rather than the school between grade twelve and second year of university, building a total of 5 homes for 5 different families. Each of these trips had such profound impacts on myself, and consist of so many inspiring stories from local community members that I could write a blog on each of them (I just might).

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For example: This boy’s name is Geraldo, and when he was younger his foot was run over by a vehicle. His foot never healed properly, so he currently walks on his ankle. Not once did I see him act any different from the other kids, he ran, played soccer, danced never stopped smiling. His injury never stopped him.

My most recent international excursion was during May last year and was probably my most influential experience yet. As I’ve gone through the Brock University Con Ed program I have really learned a lot about myself as well as children and youth. In May, I went on a 3 week trip to Kenya, to participate in a community development program through Me to We.  This was the moment I was able to connect my education to my interests and future goals.

Bringing Global and Multicultural Literacy into my Personal Standpoint

During the three weeks I was there, we had the opportunity to build the foundation for the first vocational school built by the Adopt a Village campaign, while also exploring the 5 pillars of community development (education, clean water, health care, food security & alternative income), as well as our personal leadership styles.  It was during our reflections and discussions that I began developing my personal standpoint on theories and praxis of children and youth.

While I acknowledge that each of the 21st century literacies is important to incorporate into the classroom, I have a personal preference towards multicultural and global literacy. The aspect of multicultural literacy that really resonates with me, which I would love to incorporate into my classroom comes from Banks (2003) definition of multicultural literacy which aims to use the knowledge from multiple cultural perspectives to guide action in making a difference in the world we live in. I don’t want to go to into detail on how global literacy and multicultural literacy are integrated, because I have a paper for my 4P27 class which I want to focus on this, and I don’t want to be charged with plagiarism ;). But global literacy also discusses the recognition of different perspectives from multiple cultural groups around the globe. I believe I can use my previous experience to give my student’s a practical example of how it relates to our lives. I want my classroom to become GLOCAL. I want my students to be aware of both the global and the local perspectives and issues around the world, while making connections between them.

One of the Free the Children classrooms built for the elementary school in Enelerai, Kenya
One of the Free the Children classrooms built for the elementary school in Enelerai, Kenya

One resource I am very excited to explore further and implement into my classroom is the Free the Children “Junior World Changer Kit”. It contains a whole set of lessons and the foundation behind them, that teachers can incorporate into their classroom, that can connect to the curriculum. I would love to further explore and analyze these documents in the future prior to becoming a registered teacher.

I wanted to get into my knowledge and understanding of human rights, specifically child rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, but I think that will be another blog, as this became more of a lengthy introduction to my background as a future teacher. I am excited to continue sharing my past and present journey’s with you all!

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Reference:

Banks, J. (2003) Teaching for Multicultural Literacy, Global Citizenship, and Social Justice. 2003 Charles Fowler Colloquium on Innovation in Arts Education. University of Maryland, College Park

First Post – Final Year

You know, starting up this blog has really made me think that I should of done this a lot earlier. The idea of reflecting on my progress as a student and future teacher as I move throughout my undergrad is something that would have been beneficial to me in the long run. But, I’m starting now. I am in my final semester of my Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Studies, with one more year remaining in school for me to complete teachers college and receive my Bachelor of Education. I have definitely learned a lot about myself and within my fields of study during the years, but I know there is so much more for me to learn.

I am currently taking a course EDUC 4P27: 21st Century Literacies Across the Primary/Junior Curriculum. It is a course that is supposed to develop from the knowledge I gained last semester about backwards design, and the Know Do and Be’s of the Ontario Curriculum. While some of my blogs will be directed towards part of an assessment task, I hope to post personal blogs about my growth outside of this class as well as create a ‘never ending hand bag’ full of tips, tricks and ideas for future classrooms.

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This week in class we have used the ‘jigsaw’ method to learn about multiple 21st century literacies. While I have never been a fan of the jigsaw method in the classroom I understand the purpose and positive aspects it brings to student’s learning (for those who are unfamiliar with the jigsaw method, the basic steps and other information can be found here). What I took away from this activity actually came from the discussions my group and I had at the end of  each presentation rather than the presentations themselves. Each literacy is so different and complex, yet they somehow manage to connect to each other. We created a mind map that would help us visualize these connections.

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One over arching theme we discovered is the aspect of critical literacy, and how being critical is an important aspect in almost all other literacies, explicitly in some such as environmental literacy, and implicitly in others. While I am comfortable in my understanding of each literacy, I am still weary of how to implement this into my future classroom. The 21st century literacies are a new concept to me, never explicitly experiencing them in my own education makes it difficult for me to imagine the implementation in my own classroom. I am feeling slightly overwhelmed with the amount of knowledge I am supposed to help my students achieve, not only do I have to follow the curriculum expectations, but integrating these literacies adds an additional challenge. Yet, my goal is to not shy away. Hopefully this class will help me gain a deeper understanding of the literacies and how I can manage my time to connect all literacies to the curriculum. Throughout my next blog posts for this class you will hopefully be able to see my increased knowledge and understanding of each literacy.

I am excited to start this new blogging adventure with my readers, I hope to incorporate my experiences as a tutor and after school programer, as well as previous experiences of international travel and volunteer work in my reflections. Making both you and I aware of how I have evolved as a student, and will continue to evolve as a teacher.

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