Friday Two Cents: Media Literacy Inquiry


 

This week I had the opportunity to “Captain” a class for the first time in the sense of setting the curriculum for the students, in a kindergarten class, as a teacher. Last week I followed the plans the teacher had laid out but this week I was able to plan for the week. During the first week, I was able to observe the students and I discovered an area they were interested in; superheroes. From this information I was able to create a program to help the students explore this subject while helping them in other subject areas such as media literacy, language and art.

If we are doing heroes, I though why not start with one of the first stories based on a hero. Therefore I started the week by introducing them to a picture book called Hercules. It is based on the Disney movie version. It is about 100 pages so we read only a few pages a day and I had my special bookmark to help us remember where we left off. The students loved this story and every morning they would ask when are we reading the story of Hercules.
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Warm and cool colour art


I then helped them to start thinking of colours as warm and cool with an art project. They would create a sun in the sky, divide the paper by drawing two horizontal and two vertical wavy lines and then colour it with warm and cool colours (the sun warm and the sky cool).
We then explored the world of heroes and villains by using characters they were use to from the media. I told them media are things they see and hear from movies, television, radio, newspaper, magazines and the Internet. We focused on the characters from the Marvel, DC and Disney universes and they came up with a comparison chart of what makes a hero and villain. They came up with words such as good, happy, helpful, smiling and kind for the heroes and bad, evil, scary, fights, steals for the villains. I also asked them if they noticed the colour of the outfits each group wore. They came up with light or bright colours for heroes and dark colours for villains.

Media Anchor Chart

We than had group activities where they would create their own superhero. One day it was a male hero, on the second it was a female. We noticed that there were more male/boy characters then female/girl. I then had them talk amongst themselves to come up with a few female character names. They came up with a few and we wrote them on post-it notes and placed it on the chart.
We also explored the idea of violence in cartoons. I showed them the scene of Charlie Brown trying to kick the football but Lucy moves it at the last-minute and Charlie goes flying. It may look funny but I asked, ‘How to you think Charlie feels?’ I also showed them a scene from Peter Pan when Peter and Wendy meet the mermaids. They said that the mermaids look like the heroes but after they saw the video they said that they were mean for picking on Wendy, pulling her hair and getting her wet while Pan just laughed. Scenes like that may look innocent but I asked how do you think Wendy feels. They said the mermaids were bullying her and Peter should not have laughed. They were very aware and we had a little discussion about it.

The final project for the inquiry was to create their own hero or villain. I gave them a choice of a male or female character outline to create their own character. I reminded them about the colours they should use for their character to make them look like a hero or villain. The results were amazing to see.
We finished the media literacy inquiry with the final project but the students wanted to do more. I told them that I will have the chart up for them and we can use the iPads to help them explore more during the last week of school. We also finished the story of Hercules and as a bonus I would bring in the DVD of Disney’s Hercules for everyone to watch. They were all excited and could not wait for next week.
Next week is the last week of school and the students are engaged and excited to learn more. As a teacher I can’t think of a better compliment they could give me.

 

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Friday Two Cents: To Boldly Go


 

This past week has been a whirlwind of a week to say the least. First off I finally made it onto the Occasional Teaching (OT) roster of a school board. I say finally because after 2 years in university, one year of teacher’s college and 2 years of supplying as an early childhood educator (RECE), I can say that I am working in my chosen career.

First Day as an occasional teacher (OT)

As great as that sounds it is only the beginning. I went in on Monday to the school I usually go to for my first day as a supply teacher. The experience was amazing! I was in a grade 5 class where all of the students basically knew me and I knew about half of them since kindergarten. I then covered a few other classes where I had the same experience.
At the end of the day I received some good news for me. A teacher had gone on sick leave and they asked me if I could cover the class until the end of the school year. I jumped at the chance and the best part  was that it would be in a kindergarten class that I have already worked in as a RECE!!
So the following day I started in the kindergarten class as their teacher until the end of the year.  The experience was a lot different then when I was a RECE. I have been in the several classes as a RECE for several weeks and months at a time, yet being a teacher in a class is totally different. They say the weight of responsibility weighs heavy on those in authority and I can now say from experience, that it does.
Before, I was helping the teacher, something very similar to a “sergeant”. Someone in authority and respected, but subordinate to someone else.   Now as the teacher I am like the officer, the “captain” of the ship. You still have someone to report to, the principal (Admiral), but you chart your own course, steering the ship in a direction towards a destination for learning. The crew (the students) are your responsibility, you must keep them safe and ensure that they benefit for your leadership.
This week of being the “Captain” in the class was amazing. I had the benefit of the programming of the previous teacher and then I threw in my own spin in teaching the material. Next week I bring in my own plan of action, so to speak. This coming week I am the captain of the S.S. Kindergarten. Their on going journey, into a new and exciting world of learning and exploration. To boldly go where we have not gone before.

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Friday Two Cents: New Rules, Positive Behaviour And Discipline


This past week has been a bit trying to say the least. The students in the class are all great yet the dynamic in the room between the students has been a bit … unkind to one another. One of them even told me that they were not being good friends to one another. These are kindergarten students so the social behaviour is something that needs to be taught and encouraged in great deal at school.

With this information the teacher and I embarked on a new inquiry, ‘Being a good friend to each other.’ I was asked to try to develop a few lessons to help the students be kinder to one another. The first thing I thought of was to create a chart of positive behaviour we need to work on. I read the book “What does it mean to be kind?” and the class and I created a chart together. We called it Manners and we came up with a few ideas. The first was saying please, thank you, you’re welcome and I’m sorry as the number one class rule. We also came up with listening to each other, helping others, being patient, sharing and treating others the way you want to be treated.   Not a bad start for kindergarten students.
The next day I reminded the students about these rules by pointing out examples from their own actions when they were and weren’t following the rules they helped to come up with.   Yet I also brought in a couple if things to help solidify these rules. One was a book called “How full is your bucket?” and the other was my Mufasa and Simba puppets.
My Mufasa and Simba puppets helps the students see that the adult lion Mufasa has rules that Simba may not like but they are there to keep him safe. These rules are not there because he wants to be mean to Simba or that he does not like him but because he cares very much for Simba. The moral is that adults have rules for kids because they care about them and they want them to be safe. As well, if Mufasa is upset with Simba for breaking a rule he is not angry with him all the time, he still cares for him. The same is true with adults like their mothers, fathers and teachers.
The book “How full is your bucket?” encourages positive behaviour by using the idea of an invisible bucket to show children how easy and rewarding it is to be kind, appreciative, and caring by “filling buckets.” This is not a new concept for the students but perhaps some reminding will help them. I reintroduced the bucket idea on Thursday and all day Friday they kept talking about filling each other’s buckets.
It feels good to see that they are embracing this idea and the other concepts I have been trying to instil in the students. Yet the one thing I have been doing as well is being very firm when it comes to room discipline. I allow the students free expression yet the rules, manners and the bucket ideas are being strictly reinforced by the teacher and myself. I thought that they may have a problem with the extra discipline I am introducing but it appears that the students are welcoming it. I have noticed a bit more smiles on the students and a feeling of calmness in the room when it comes to the students’ personality dynamics. I guess the drill sergeant in me has a place within a classroom even when I am only there for a short stay. Only time will tell if these initiatives will hold up for the rest of my stay.  

Friday Two Cents: A Child And A Song


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‘Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.’ Plato

It is two days until Christmas and I am in the full Christmas mood. I am feeling joyful and triumphant but it has nothing to do with the long-awaited holiday break from school or the anticipation of any gifts. No, comes from the feeling that this season brings out in me and one amazing act of humanity and a song.

I have always tried to distance myself from the commercial side of this season. From an early age I discovered that Christmas has nothing to do with the gifts you get or give but from the feeling of warmth, togetherness and love for my fellow-man. Every year it has become harder and harder to find examples or to try to get into that feeling. Yet in resent years I have been tuning into a local radio station (CHFI 98.1 FM) that plays Christmas music from the end of November to Christmas day. I have found that listening to the Christmas music has truly helped me to get into the Christmas spirit. Yet one day this past week helped me to truly feel good about this holiday season.
I was supplying at a school where the majority of the students are immigrant families, new to Canada. Many don’t celebrate Christmas as a religious celebration but are into the gift giving and good feelings of the season. While I was in a class at this school many students told me what they wanted for Christmas. Yet one told me that they just wanted running shoes for their mom, dad and brother. I asked if her family needed shoes and she said no but she knew that it would make her parents happy. To say this moved me, would be understating the fact. Instead of asking for a toy for herself, as many school children do, this kindergarten child wanted something to make her family happy. Beautiful.
Then to make a further connection to the true meaning of the Christmas season, that night I heard a song that touched me so much that all I could think of was this child. The song is called “The Christmas Shoes” by NewSong. It’s about a boy wanting to get his mother shoes because she has been sick for a long time and he wanted her to look beautiful if she meets Jesus that night. With that song and that child earlier in the day, I realized that I got a glimpse into the soul of humanity. Sometimes we see moments of amazing beauty, whether in art, nature or people. I saw the goodness and love that this Christmas season has to offer and it was thanks to a child and a song. As Plato once said,
 

‘Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue.’ Plato

 

That song truly speaks of the love and beauty in humanity and it comes from the most innocent member of the human race. A child. It seems appropriate.

Happy Christmas.

Friday Two Cents: Using Statistics To Help Teach


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The week before the end of the school year is a crazy time. Teachers getting report cards ready, children doing last-minute assignments, end of the year concerts and so on. Everything is coming to ahead for the end of school and the beginning of summer break. With everything else the softball and t-ball leagues I run at the school, are all wrapping up and I have only one more game left to play.

I finished the T-Ball season with the championship game this week. The T-ball league is for students from the grades kindergarten to grade 2. It was a fun-filled game with all the students enjoying themselves while trying to capture the T-ball Championship. In the end it came down to the closest game of the season. The two teams, Monkeys verse Chipmunks, played their hearts out, but the Chipmunks prevailed defeating last year’s Champion the Monkeys. The final score was Chipmunks 29, Monkeys 28. A nail biter, right to the end.
T-Ball Championship Game: Monkeys vs Chipmunks

T-Ball Championship Game: Monkeys vs Chipmunks

This following week the older students will be playing their championship game on Tuesday, with both teams looking forward to the final game. The two teams, the Bears and Dolphins both came to the finals on two different paths. The Bears were in first place from the first week and never looked back finishing the round robin with a 5 win and 1 lose record. The Dolphins on the other hand started in the bottom losing their first two games, scoring a total of 3 runs for both games and having a run scoring percentage of 20%. But they rallied back and finished the round robin and even 3 wins and 3 loses. Yet the amazing thing is that they ended up finishing first in runs scored with 60 and having the highest run scoring percentage at 61.2%. How do I know this? I keep statistics for the league.
Yes I keep statistics on the children. They are not that detailed, just on-base percentage (OBP), numbers and types of hits and runs batted in. The beauty of it all is that the students keep the score and I enter the numbers into the computer to get the stats. At the beginning of training camp I would teach every child how to keep score on the score sheet and the teams would do so. They are very enthusiastic and do a great job. Many would think that keeping stats would be detrimental to the children; on the contrary, it encourages them and helps them with their self-esteem. On more than one occasion I would see students looking at the weekly stats and telling others what their numbers are. The children all look forward to them and it is also a great teaching tool.
You might not think it but it truly is. Many children would ask me how I come up with the stats and then I would explain that it is all simple math.   They all look at me in astonishment and then I would show them on the board how simple and useful math can be. One example is how to get their OBP. I would take the number of times they would get on base (OB) and divide by the number of at bats (AB). Then this would give me the percentage of how many times they get on base.

 OB / AB = OBP –> (10) / (12) = .917 –> .917 * 100 = 91.7%   OBP is .917 or 91.7%

 Strictly speaking, I just taught them that math is a part of a game that they enjoy.
Yet I also discovered another benefit of the statistics for the students. Part of the program is to develop leadership for the older students and teamwork for everyone playing. The captains and assistants are given responsibilities, one of them is creating their lineups and player positioning for the games. I noticed the captains and assistants would use the statistics when they are creating their lineups. They told me they would place players in a specific way to help score more runs and position where their pitchers would pitch.
That’s what I love about baseball. You can learn to play the game and yet once you do you can learn something new about it. For the children, without even knowing about it, they learned math, strategic planning and social skills outside the classroom.  
Oh one other question the students kept asking me. ‘Who is going to win the Championship Game?’ I answered with ‘Who do you think will win?’ Many looked at the stats and gave me their predictions. Even teachers have given me their predictions after looking at the statistics.
I’m curious who you think will win based on the stats. The two teams playing in the championship game are the Bears vs. Dolphins with the Bears having home field advantage. Below are the stats and a poll. Let me know and I will let you know after the game Tuesday who the winner is and if your predictions were in line with the children’s.

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Stats2016wk07 copy pg03

 

 

Friday Two Cents: I Am A Teacher


 

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                  Jaques:

                     All the world’s a stage,

                    And all the men and women merely players;

                    They have their exits and their entrances,

                   And one man in his time plays many parts,

                              As You Like It Act 2, scene 7

 

This past week I went to Stratford Ontario where I was able to enjoy a great performance of Shakespeare’s As You Like It. I have read this play and seen it several times and the scene where Jaques recites these famous words ‘All the world’s a stage’ and the rest, have always filled my thoughts with wondrous possibilities.

We are the stars of our own performance/life but the line ‘one man in his time plays many parts’ has always interested me. In the performance Jaques mentions the seven ages of man and within each age we are playing our part. Be it baby, lover, soldier, old man we have our parts to play. Yet I take this in a different light.
If I have to think of the parts I play I come up with others such as son, brother, uncle, friend, lover, warrior, teacher, student, helper, etc. I find that I play many parts to many people in my life. I find this very interesting as I am myself but it is as if I have a community of people within me and depending on the situation, that personality appears to meet the need. It is not a case of multiple personalities. The person everyone is dealing with is still I; it’s just me putting on a different hat. With the students I put on my teacher hat, and then with my teacher colleagues I put on my teacher/colleague hat, along with my friend hat, etc. As the idiom suggests “I wear many hats.”

I have always found this idea interesting especially after someone told me what I do as a teacher. I have been told I wear the hats of a coach, artist, writer, technician, mathematician, producer, director, prop manager, scientist, engineer, banker, caregiver, administrator, nurse, inventor, sergeant major (disciplinarian), encyclopaedia and maid, just to name a few. This is just when I am at school. I have been called a man of all trades, but I always thought that this was a bad thing because you know a lot of things yet you’re a master of none. I guess knowing all these jobs does make me a master of one thing though. I am a teacher … and I’m proud of it.

Friday Two Cents: Oh The Places I’ve Been


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This past week I reached a milestone that I though I never would reach. I worked in my 50th classroom as a supply early childhood educator (ECE) at the school board. I started in 2013 and since then, I have been in about 22 different schools and 50 different kindergarten classes. Over this time I have been in some classes that had the same teacher, but from year to year they had different students. The student’s personality differences change the dynamics in a classroom wherever I have worked with a similar teacher, therefore I see the class as a different classroom. In some cases I have been in 5 different kindergarten classrooms at the same school. I even have been in several French immersion classes during this time period.

I have been keeping a count of the number of classrooms I have been in since someone asked me how many different classrooms I have been in, back in February. One surprising thing is that this past school year I have been in 25 different classrooms alone. Amazing, the first two years I was in 25 different classrooms but in this past one year I have equalled it. Mind you I did go to teacher’s college one of those years so that would make a difference in the number of classrooms I would be in.
Yet reflecting back on the past year and the 25 classrooms, I can say with one thing for certain. Kids are kids no matter where you go. They are all very curious; they love to ask questions on topics of their interest and personal questions on your life. They all enjoyed my drawings and creative work with them and of course they loved George and my other puppets. Whenever I go back to a school or a classroom they always ask about George.
But even though I have been in all these different classrooms it sometimes feel like a hollow victory. I look at this number and all the experience I have accumulated; yet I still am looking for a permanent position as a teacher of my own classroom. There are days when I feel like I am making progress and advancing in my career. Then there are days when the harsh reality of my situation sets in and you are only as good as your last job. The saying “It’s not what you have done for me that counts but what you have done for me lately”, comes to mind. On several occasions I have felt that no matter how good I do my job, I feel unappreciated. That for all my helping and hard work, to make a class and school that much more enjoyable for the students, it falls to the side like leaves falling in the autumn breeze. It feels like no one notices, no one cares.
However those feelings pass as I try to be positive and think of the most important aspect of my journey into the different classrooms. My observation and learning from the different teachers and their teaching styles. I have observed many lesson plans and what is great is that I have been asked to conduct my own lessons in these classrooms. Lesson plans for math, language, art, technology and science to name a few. I even helped out a school with their science project on the life cycle of the butterfly. I don’t have my own classroom but it feels good to do some lesson plans to keep my teaching juices flowing.
Below I have created a logo of a blue silhouette male teacher holding the hands of two students. Each of these silhouettes’ represents a different kindergarten class I worked in. I placed a number on the top right side that represents the year I was in that classroom. The classes that were French immersion are represented with a white fleur-de-li because the majority of the classes are English. Directly beneath the logo you can see a tally chart of all the classes I have been in. The 25th is shaded in silver and the 50th is in gold.

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Saying I have been in 50 different classrooms is pretty impressive. I have to remember to think of the positive side of my journey and remember those famous words written by Dr. Seuss.

“Oh, the places you’ll go!

There is fun to be done!

And will you succeed?

Yes! You will, indeed!

 

KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

 

You’re off to Great Places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting.

So…get on your way!” Dr. Seuss

 

I’ve already moved a few mountains, what’s few a more.

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