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Creating a dialogue about what it’s like to be a new teacher.

The Rookie Teacher



Quick Tip For Tomorrow: Snap Cube Factors 0

Posted on February 09, 2015 by Allison Dyjach

We all know that getting students to learn the factors that go into a multiplied product can be a tricky task, and simply writing out a list, reading it out loud, and trying to memorize it by rote is not going to help a student truly understand what this “factor” thing even is. This past week, I was blown away by this seemingly simple task that my mathematics curriculum professor handed to us. With only a set of snap cubes and a number line, my fellow teacher candidates and I were completely engaged in this problem solving activity.

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Phase 1 complete; all of our factors lined up!

First, each group of 4 was given a bag of snap cubes and a number line drawn out on a strip of chart paper. Then, we hear, “blue cubes represent the number 2. Put a blue cube on every number where 2 is a factor.” Simple enough. Next, we move on to green, which is 3, yellow for 4, red for 5, and so on up to 10. We stack all of the cubes on top of each other to make a bright and interactive representation of all of the factors for numbers 1-24.

Now, here is where the brain switches its function and the real application comes in. We are told to keep all of the cubes connected as they are, but shuffle them around and mix them up for a minute, and then…place them back on each correct space, just as they were. This was a little bit more difficult than anticipated, but eventually by working through each number and finding the relationships between the different colours (as well as some prompting questions from the professor…), we were able to get the model back to its original state.

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Phase 2: time for some problem solving!

After leaving class, I knew I had to share this activity. What a rich learning task for students and a great way to dissect what is actually behind a factor and a product. The only way to truly learn and understand math is to manipulate its components, apply them and problem solve with them. I could see an entire lesson being based on this activity, because if it was able to get a bunch of 20-something teacher candidates’ brains working in overdrive, I’m sure it could be just as engaging in a younger classroom.

Do you have any go-to activities when you tackle factors with your students? Would you use this activity in your class? Share your thoughts with us in the comments or send a tweet our way @RookieTeacherCA!

 

Allison Dyjach is a Faculty of Education student at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Connect with her on Twitter @AllisonDyjach, or follow more of her Bachelor of Education experiences on Instagram @allisondyjach

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Teaching from the Thinking Heart 0

Posted on November 06, 2014 by Sarah

Nothing has been more transformational to my teaching practice than my experience with a Tribes certified instructor for my year long Teacher Education/B.Ed year. Though some people come out with a mixed experience when they pursue Tribes certification, it is certainly a course that whole heartedly depends on the instructor. I was fortunate to have someone who deeply understood the Tribes philosophy, a holistic approach to teaching that nurtured individuals, fostered positive social interactions and grew community.  Moreover, I had Gail for an entire year, not just the handful of hours it takes to get the Tribes Basics training.

teaching heart

Not only did Gail have a direct impact on my teaching strategies, she encouraged me to pursue my Masters at OISE and highly recommended a course with Jack Miller, all of which has led to this post. Jack is a leader in holistic education with almost 40 years of experience in the field. In his course, which I optimistically wrote about with the Rookie Teacher here, we practiced meditation daily, participated in various visualization exercises, kept a journal of reflections, gave mini workshops practicing our holistic approaches and had an authentic Chinese tea ceremony, always sitting in a circle. Our final assignment was a reflection piece on Holistic education and our experiences with it thus far. Needless to say, mine centered around my year with Gail. A few months after the course had completed, Jack e-mailed me asking if he could publish my final paper in his next book.

Fast forward 2 years and it’s here: Teaching from the Thinking Heart – The Practice of Holistic Education. I’m obsessed with the cover art. I’m chapter 4: Tribes – A Transformative Tool for the 21st Century. The book itself is also quite innovative for its narrative content. As an academic text used predominantly in courses, it is quite rare to have something written in the first-person. This further speaks to the Holistic approach, validating teachers’ and people’s experiences for what they are, no citations required. As such, this book is very approachable for non-academic readers as it’s not bogged down in scientific or educational jargon.

The foreword by Nel Noddings (so awesome!) speaks to the recognition of our current context of standardized curricula, objectives and evaluations and the stigma surrounding the mere mention of the word ‘soul’. Teaching to the head. But throughout the book you gain confidence and insight into the practice of teaching to the body, mind and spirit. Our students are more than just heads, their humans with emotions. As educators we must find the courage to stand up for Holistic curriculum, nurture the soul and work to make each moment in our students’ lives loving and joyful.

Copies of the book can be ordered from here or by contacting me personally.

 

 

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An Update 0

Posted on October 05, 2013 by Sarah

My, my it’s been far too long since I’ve shared my thoughts with the awesome Rookie Team and it’s readers. Almost a full year in fact, my apologies. But nonetheless what an amazing public forum for discussion that I’m super grateful to be part of!

In the last year I’ve finished my Master of Education, enjoyed a beautiful summer in Toronto, and landed a permanent position at a school with an awesome staff! Evidently my days as of late are spent planning furiously and resting!

My M.Ed (in Curriculum Studies and Teacher Development) is one of the best decisions I made. I think I gained the most valuable, transformative experiences of my life (too early to say?) collaborating and discussing with professors, teachers and peers at large. Every course (I had 10 over 2 years) engaged me in a new way and pushed me to think critically about the world and my role within it. I certainly miss being challenged the way that I was so regularly during my time at OISE, it has truly shone as a leader in educational thinking. My time there has made me a stronger teacher and person without a doubt. Thank you to all who supported me throughout that chapter completing 7 years of formal Education Studies (I completed  a 4 year Honours at Brock in Education as my undergrad as well).

The courses I took at OISE for my M.Ed (and I wouldn’t trade ANY in!) are:

  • Foundations of Curriculum
  • Teaching and Learning About Science and Technology: Beyond Schools
  • The Holistic Curriculum
  • Transformative Education
  • Cooperative Learning Research and Practice
  • Poststructuralism and Education
  • Media, Education and Popular Culture
  • Special Topics in Adult Education: The Pedagogy of Food
  • Environmental Decision Making
  • Environmental Finance

photo: flickrcc.net / giulia.forsythe

 

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A listening exercise to change the world 3

Posted on November 29, 2012 by Sarah

Okay, maybe the title is a bit ambitious haha. But I would very much appreciate you taking the time to listen to a radio program I made in my Popular Culture, Media & Education course this term at OISE.

The course examined what messages are embedded in our media that maintain power structures and marginalize the voices of many. Our assignment was to create a 10 minute radio segment voicing a story that isn’t covered in mainstream media. We must ensure that definitions of cultures are being defined by themselves and not a dominant narrative, often times the privileged white male.

This is a great exercise to bring into the classroom. Let your students tell their stories and create alternative media, whether a magazine, a video, a website, music or radio. Radio has an interesting way of telling stories allowing many people to hear it at the same time and teaming up with a community radio station is a great learning experience for students. Help them examine the messages that are being sent, why they are being sent in that way and empower them through highlighting choice. We are active recipients of media and if we don’t voice our opinions the capitalist-agenda will continue to manipulate and distort our reality.

Audacity is a great free program available for download that you can use but I made this program with Garage Band.

Please don’t hestiate to ask questions if you have any!

 

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Bits From Books: A Thought Experiment 0

Posted on November 25, 2012 by Sarah

“Can a stable, fair, and peaceful world be created in practice — and in time? Can people change their thinking and behavior from today’s selfish and self-centered material-gain and power-oriented wats to cooperative and sustainable ways? The answer is yes: through conscious change by a critical mass. But can conscious change be embraced by a critical mass before current trends and problems become intractable? The answer is still yes: by accelerating the spread of the consciousness that’s already emerging at society’s creative edge. The rapid spread of an evolved consciousness is a basic precondition of moving toward and effective and timely WorldShift.”

Ervin Laszlo, WorldShift 2012, p.71

“A handbook for conscious change that could transform the current world crisis into planetary renewal.”

 

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Earth Charter Chats 0

Posted on November 21, 2012 by Sarah

Have you seen the Earth Charter?

“We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.”

photo by: digital_trash, via flickrcc.net

How are you discussing global citizenship in your class? The charter is available in many languages, please consider using it in literacy, science, social sciences, art. Even in math we can calculate how much waste we are making, how much populations are growing, the decline of resources. Ecology must be embedded within our teaching, we can’t wait for it to be mandated in the curriculum. We will need future generations to think creatively about upcoming problems. As mass media and globalization connect people, we still must maintain our preserve our diversity in the web of life.

Never underestimate the difference one person can make. Always be open to be surprised by the possibilities of your students.

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Bits from Books: Trans-local learning 0

Posted on November 21, 2012 by Sarah

“Suppose that there are no universal solutions to global problems — like poverty, hunger, or environmental destruction. Suppose that the kind of large-scale systems change that many of us have been yearning for emerges when local actions get connected globally — while preserving their deeply local culture, flavor and form. What if people working at the local level were able to learn from one another, practice together, and share their knowledge — freely and fluidly — with communities anywhere? This is the nature of trans-local learning, and it happens when separate, local efforts connect with each other, then grow and transform as people exchange ideas that together give rise to new systems with greater impact and influence.”

From Walk  Out Walk On: A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now – Margaret Wheatley & Deborah Frieze

photo by: Stuck in Customs, via flickrcc.net

Each one of us in our classrooms, schools, neighbourhoods, communities, nations can make such a difference. We may not know the answers, a plan, an end goal, but we will figure it out, together. Assumptions like the experts have the answers, we mustn’t fail, there’s no time for experimenting, we need power and governments to change, have been internalized by a dominant worldview that sees people as parts of a working machine. Power in this system is unquestioned. But we need creativity, pleasure, laughter, trial and error, growth. We need to learn and relearn our responsibilities to each other and to the Earth. Walk Out Walk On explores communities from Mexico to India, from Columbus, Ohio to Johannesburg, South Africa who are inventively creating healthy and resilient communities that bring people together with love, care and play. Refreshing examples, encouraging words and a positive, inspiring book to help motivate us all. No one is coming to help, we are part of the solution.

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A Call to Teachers of the World 0

Posted on October 15, 2012 by Sarah

‎”I know the whole world is watching now. And I wish the world could see what I can see. Sometimes you have to go up really high to understand how small you are.” Felix Baumgartner

Dear Teachers of the World,

Have you taken advantage of this major feat in scientfic and human history in your classroom? Why not use it to discuss how the planet is interconnected and to ground and unify your students with the rest of the world?

I’m working on a radio program about consciousness transformation and recently I interviewed Velcrow Ripper (Canadian documentarian and visionary) prior to his Toronto debut of the film Occupy Love. The film is a powerful visual representation that uses the universal concept of love to appeal to everyone. From the Arab Spring, European Summer and Occupy movement there have been millions protesting against economic, environmental and social injustices. Nelson Mandela said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” I hope the teachers of the world recognize the vital role they play during this critical time in human history and teach accordingly.

Many astronauts return with an understanding of the world as a global village as Felix did. We are all children of the earth. There is enough food in the world to feed all 7 billion of us. There is enough money for us all to live.

Global military expenditure stands at over $1.7 trillion (Canada’s is over 22 billion).

Rising sea levels, retreating snow cover and glaciers, extreme rainfall and flooding, long-term drought, economic decline, high unemployment and debt, resource depletion and contamination, overpopulation, over consumption. We are experiencing the crisis you may often say ‘will come’. The life EACH one of us are living is likely UNSUSTAINABLE. A total cultural paradigm transformation is necessary. What you buy does not bring more meaning to your life. “Activism and creating change in the world shouldn’t be a burden, it should be a great sense of joy” (Velcrow Ripper) Activism can take shape in many forms and is doesn’t suit everyone to march on the streets. But each individual can affect their communities and the people around them.2012 is a turning point. Future generations, your children and if not already, your students WILL ask you what you were doing during this time. What will you say?

 “One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change. Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions. Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Please take the time out of your busy days to have a discussion with the children of the earth about the state the world. Empower and support them to be the change.

Love,
Sarah

photo by: Camdiluv, via flickrcc.net

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Bits from Books 0

Posted on October 13, 2012 by Sarah

So this is my final course term in the  M.Ed program at OISE and it’s probably my busiest! This semester all my courses are exceptionally interesting while aso challenging (though I could probably argue that for the other semesters). I’m taking Education and Media/Popular Culture which discusses gender, race, identity  power, and media. Transformative Learning which has a similar atmosphere as my previous Holistic Education course where 20 of us sit in a circle discussing world issues, collective consciousness and a shifting global worldview. And finally I’m taking Environmental Finance at the Rotman Business school at U of T, where I am the only education student amongst a crowd of MBA’s who can talk circles around me. That being said I am able to stay afloat through my environmental motivation and willingness to learn. I attended the PRI-CBERN Academic Network Conference today in fact, as suggested by our instructor, which gave me a fascinating insight into the business side of things. If there’s one theme that prevails it’s the need for members of civil society to become active and engaged in the realities of the world. It will take each one of our best efforts to inspire, empower and change a dominant ideology that engrosses the world marginalizing and distracting many from what’s important. I look forward to writing more specifically about each course but have many projects on the go this month. At the very least I’m going to try to update with quotes from some of my reading material in what I’ll call “Bits from Books.”

“The crucial task of the educator will be to develop an awareness that sees through the logic of destructive globalization and to combine this with critical skills to resist the rhetoric that now saturates us.”

Edmund O’Sullivan, Transformative Learning: Educational Vision for the 21st Century, 1999, p. 33

photo by: ericmay, via flickrcc.net

photo by: ericmay, via flickrcc.net

 

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What is Literacy? 1

Posted on July 09, 2012 by Andrew Blake

I am taking the AQ Reading Part 1 over the summer and have decided to blog some of my ideas and the discussion questions being addressed in the course. Our first discussion question was:  Define literacy. Comment on how literacy has changed in the 21st Century and what we as teachers need to consider to be effective literacy instructors due to that change.

Here’s what I think…

I strongly believe that in the traditional sense, literacy can be defined within the realm of reading and writing. However, I believe in the 21st Century we must adopt a more generalized sense of the term, as the mode of literacy changes. I believe in a definition that encompasses the interpretation and creation of communication. We hear of Media Literacy, Critical Literacy, and Technological Literacy. It is the ability to absorb and internalize a message someone is creating (reading) and it is then interpreting that message and creating a response in a variety of forms (writing, oral communication, texting, slogans, etc). In that sense we see Literacy as the ability to infer and interpret images as well as text. In fact Literacy in the broadest sense could be defined as the intake of information, images, signals and then the production of more or new information to be passed on to others.

When we were sitting at my staff meeting yesterday and examining our strategic goal we spent a lot of time discussing a general goal we could apply to JKs to Grade 8s and the connection between image and text as all literacy comes from an image.

clicking away! by eirikso

Clicking away! by eirikso, flickrcc.net

One change in the mode of communication in the 21st Century is the accessibility to a variety of modes of writing.  The Internet and other technology has allowed millions of ideas to be published on a second by second basis with little to supervision or accountability. Even 30 years ago if I had an idea I wanted to write down and show other people I would have to go through the publishing process with countless edits, re-writes and the potential for rejection. In 2012, I can, in less than 10 minutes, share my ideas with the world regardless of validity, quality and restraint. I am by no means criticizing the ability for people to publish their creative, genuine ideas which are truly incredible when you think of all of the things we see on YouTube, Blogs, Facebook on a daily basis. I applaud the accessibility to publish information. However, the concern can exist that we as educators need to teach our students the ability to think critically when looking for information and asking themselves questions like who wrote this, what is their message, which voices are heard or not being heard. We have to teach on the basic level the ability to distinguish fact and opinion in order to ensure our students are able to successfully navigate the massive resources at their digital fingertips. We have to teach children to read for the deeper meaning, which is a daunting task at best.

What is your definition of Literacy?  Comment below, join the discussion on Facebook, or send us a tweet @RookieTeacherCA.

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