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

The Rookie Teacher



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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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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Summer Learning Loss 0

Posted on July 25, 2012 by Lauren

A Canadian study has revealed that summer learning loss is not an equal opportunity issue. According to the research, kids from high income families experience increased reading levels while kids from low income families experience decreased reading levels over the summer months.

I strongly encourage you to check out the entire article: Summer Widens Rich/Poor Learning Gap

photo credit: besteducationapossible.blogspot.com

These results may seem obvious at first, but the research is valuable because it raises the questions WHAT ARE WE DOING ABOUT IT? and WHAT CAN WE DO DIFFERENTLY IN SEPTEMBER TO EVEN OUT THE PLAYING FIELD?

Considerations: summer program availability/ cost, support for parents, school/school board/community/private initiatives, neighbourhood demographics.

The Toronto Star article cites summer literacy camps as an effective way to reduce the summer loss of children from low income families. Unfortunately it seems as though access to these programs is limited and inequitable. For example, in the Halton region I have not heard of any free/low cost summer literacy programs for students; even after a bit of digging I came up with nothing. It is very possible that such programs do exist, but if they are not widely known or easy to find then I would suggest that they are ineffective. Other regions have excellent programs. The Brantford Public Library has been running a 100% free math and literacy program for over 20 years. The library hires university students to provide 1:1 summer tutoring. Each region has it’s own programs; what is available for students in your area?

The Rookie Teacher would love to hear from you. Please join the discussion by adding your comment. Let us know – What will you be doing in the 2012/2013 school year to overcome summer learning loss? How can teachers support low income families to increase literacy skills in our students? What programs are available in your school/school board/community?

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Holistic Education 0

Posted on July 24, 2012 by Sarah

For July and August I am taking a highly recommended course in Holistic Curriculum with Jack Miller at OISE. Halfway through and I can already say it’s been a transformative experience. With every class starting in an unobstructed circle, our group of 24 eager graduate students share experiences and learn from each other. From kindergarten to young adult language teachers, middle eastern to South American natives, rookies to veterans, we’ve all been given the opportunity to discuss and collaborate in a safe, respectful environment. Finally you can feel what it’s like to be a part of a holistic classroom that values the people in the room and not just brains on sticks. As we begin our small group presentations I am excited to see the contributions from my peers and to share them.

@sarlowes

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

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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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What’s behind the food we eat? 2

Posted on March 08, 2012 by Sarah

Here’s an update on what we’ve been discussing in my Pedagogy of Food course at OISE. First of all, we have a severely broken food system. Do you ever think about just where did your orange come from? Was it handpicked in a developing country? Was the worker paid fairly? How old are they? Are they happy? We partook in a mindful eating experience that reflected on these questions while also slowly, mindfully experiencing one raisin at a time. This blindness is called commodity fetishism. It’s an unhealthy attention to a commodity without regarding the social relationships that brought the commodity to us. It’s a product of our economic and political systems, creating a veil so we are unable to make informed decisions as consumers. We are unaware if the

The New Fred Meyer on Interstate on Lombard by lyzadanger

photo: lyzadanger, flickrcc.net

orange was picked by a child or by a woman who was sexually harassed. These types of veils are found everywhere in systems that affect us everyday, but when a small handful of corporations control the entire food distribution of the world, it becomes quite worrisome and dangerous. A phenomenal amount of money is spent selling and buying food, eating out, transporting and storing food, yet such a public necessity stays in a fairly private light, rarely being discussed. So what can we do as educators? Help foster critical thinking! Encourage, nay, praise questions! Excite students to make a difference and challenge them to form values and stand up for what they believe in. Model what active, citizen engagement is and have conversations about food. Plus, the only way you can inform others is to inform yourself.

 

An excellent resource for more information is “The No-Nonsense Guide to World Food” by Toronto author Wayne Roberts. It’s an essential read for everyone!

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Pink Shirt Day: Anti-Bullying Awareness Campaign 0

Posted on February 29, 2012 by Natasha

PINK SHIRT DAY ORIGIN

In Nova Scotia students banned together to stop bullying.  It all began when a grade 9 boy was bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school.  Bullies used homophobic slurs to taunt this boy, for wearing pink.  David Shepherd and Travis Price, two grade 12 students, were sure to stand up and speak out against the bullies.

Article from the CBC.

TODAY

In Victoria, BC, Canada over 600 students and teachers from Reynolds Secondary School, Arbutus Middle School and Cedar Hill Middle School staged an anti-bullying flash mob on the grounds of the BC Legislature. The students danced to “Born this Way” by Lady Gaga.

For more information, news, and resources visit PinkShirtDay.ca.

A great PDF about The Bully, The Bullied, & The Bystander.

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Occasional Teacher Mini Series: Planning/Prep Coverage: The Lounge Podcast: Episode 7 7

Posted on February 20, 2012 by Natasha

The Lounge is a biweekly podcast brought to you by TheRookieTeacher[dot]ca.

Welcome to our Occasional Teacher Mini Series.  On this episode, two RookieTeachers discuss Life as Rotary (Planning/Prep Coverage) Teacher: When you only have 40 Minutes.  It’s no secret that as rookies, most of us will begin our careers as a supply teacher, 0.## contracts, planning, rotary, long term occasional teacher, etc. Chances are that you will begin your permanent (or LTO) in a part-time contract with prep coverage, even .18, is better than nothing!  Listen in to hear Andrew share his experiences as a French Teacher, including: his classroom management strategies, the routines he built, and how he manages assessment and evaluation for ~200 students.

SHOW NOTES

Each episode features three segments:

  1. Topic Discussion
  2. Quick Tip for Tomorrow
  3. The Rookie Resource Bank

Topic: Life as a Rotary (Planning/Prep Coverage) Teacher: When you only have 40 Minutes

photo: creativeorganizing.typepad.com

photo: creativeorganizing.typepad.com

Quick Tip for Tomorrow: Something you could do the next day in class with little or no prep and is applicable to most grade levels.

  • Andrew: Magazine Boxes (for yourself, for students who require accommodation, and to keep your students organized). As a bonus, you can have students decorate them (according to The Arts: Visual Arts curriculum). There are many DIY magazine box projects on Pinterest.com.
  • NatashaPermanent 4-corner sheets (put them in page protectors with butterfly clips for easy transportability)
The Rookie Resource Bank: any electronic, print, or event resource that we found helpful in our first few years of teaching.  Of course, these are all applicable to all teachers.
  • AndrewIndex Cards on a Ring (assessment/evaluation strategies, observation notes, handy to pass off to someone else). Option: colour code them!
  • Natasha: CDs (or websites) that come with resource/text books – USE THEM!  Often contain lesson plans, printables, assessment/evaluation strategies
Quick Shout Outs
  1. New Teacher Chat <#ntchat> on Wednesdays at 8:00pm EST on twitter > twebevent.com/ntchat [using this website saves you from having to add the hashtag to each post]
  2. Thank you to all the guest bloggers who have submitted an article to the site – we really appreciate your support and willingness to share your stories and experiences
photo: Neon Mic by fensterbme

photo: Neon Mic by fensterbme

Rookie Teacher Online
We are always looking for ideas, feedback, tips and tricks of the trade.  Find us on Twitter @RookieTeacherCAFacebook.com /TheRookieTeacher.  If you are looking to get involved with our team, please contact us!

Thanks for listening. Join us for our next episode when we discuss So, you’re the new one, eh?

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Online learning, Epistemology and Unemployment 0

Posted on February 03, 2012 by Sarah

Just wanted to share (again) a couple of education related articles in the news recently in case you missed them!

Reading (318/365)

Reading by Jack Amick, flickrcc.net

The Globe and Mail released “Canadian schools falling behind in online learning, report says” discussing Canada’s lack of embracement of online education technology… but is that a positive or a negative? Many of the comments are particularly interesting. Is Internet-based learning where we should be focusing our attention and resources? Perhaps schools should instead try to maintain and grow the relationships and interconnectedness the school can bring to students, teachers, parents and the community. How you respond to this discussion may depend on your epistemology, or theory of knowledge. Is knowledge something concrete that exists independently of our minds? Or is knowledge a social construction that changes throughout time?

 

Rows Upon Rows

Rows Upon Rows by N.Dunn

The second article may be the reality many of us Rookie Teacher’s are experiencing hi-lighting that 24 percent of new teacher graduates remain unemployed. “Teacher’s college applications plummet” through Maclean’s discusses the unprecedented capping on the number of first-year education students at 9,058. Another initiative I’ve heard being mentioned around OISE is the possibility of making teacher’s college a 2 year program. Yet the more disturbing part in the article for me was the picture chosen to display the education topic: rows of desks. Will we ever internalize the school as being something co-operative, interactive and personal?

On a different note, classes have resumed at OISE for my M.Ed. This semester I’m taking Pedagogy of Food, Co-operative Learning, and Post-structuralism and Education. I like to tweet about insights as I have them and am always looking for feedback and discussion so don’t be shy! @sarlowes

 

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