“Just don’t go gay”- a conversation with a child 

It’s been a very long time since I have taken the time to blog. My life this summer has become so busy and exhausting, which is how I imagine a teacher’s life feels. I have been working two jobs and one of them is at a day camp. This job is really testing my ability to interact with children and how to deal with difficult situations, which is essential for the field I’m going into.  I’m also gaining skills with collaborating with coworkers, whether that is coming up with an activity together or asking for advice on what works for individual children that they have worked with. I didn’t make this post to talk about what I have been doing for my job, however.

I wrote this blog post because I wanted to talk about a conversation that I had with a child the other day. It started out with the child asking me if I was married and I responded by saying no and that I was not in any rush to be married. The child responded by saying, “just don’t go gay”. I then asked the child why they thought this way and explained that we need to be kind to everyone, even if their beliefs are different. I’ve thought about this situation quite a bit over the past couple of days and I wonder if I should say more. In my past classes, we’ve talked about social justice and how we can spread awareness and encourage acceptance. I’ve been so confident that I could do it, also, but I felt awkward in that situation. I can’t just change this child’s beliefs that they have had throughout their life in their catholic household.

So I guess I’m making this post to ask others about what they would have done in this situation. How would you talk about social justice if it goes totally against their religious beliefs?

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Building a Community of Learners

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I started my blog a year ago, but I never posted anything about educational issues, thoughts or ideas.  The purpose of my blog was originally just to have a place to express what I was thinking.  It was a great way to organize my thoughts and I found it be very therapeutic.  If I wanted to rant about something or get something off of my chest, I knew that I could express myself through my blog.  For an example, here is my first post.  Being a shy and awkward person, blogging was a great way for me to voice my opinion.  It’s amazing to see how my writing has changed and I truly believe that blogging has contributed to my increased confidence and my ability to voice my opinion in public over the past year.

Being connected to people all over the world through blogging is very interesting.  It shows that people do read and care about what you have to say.  The blogging activities we went through in this class were very beneficial to introduce many people to the idea of building a Personal Learning Network.  We were able to post blog posts, comment on other posts and critically respond to other comments.  Doing this on a smaller scale is a wonderful starting point in order to learn how to reach a larger audience.  I really enjoyed how we were asked to comment on the blogs of our peers during seminars, especially since we were encouraged to pose thoughtful questions and positive responses.  An example of a thoughtful response by one of my peers is Kari Davis’ comment.  She said something positive about my post and she also posed a question that really made me think about my response back.  Having a well thought out comment on your blog post really shows that the person is engaged and it’s also wonderful to get feedback on your writing.

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Whenever I got around to commenting on someone’s blog, I had to take a while to really think about what I wanted to say, which I think is a good thing because that means that their blog post made me think.  I enjoyed reading everyone else’s posts because you get to see and understand issues from multiple perspectives.  Some of the things I read were so interesting because I never thought of some of the ideas my peers were discussing.  The way people in our class chose to represent and frame their discussion on their posts really amazed me.  For example, for the post on standardized testing, Eriko Parker chose to search the definition of “standard” and frame her discussion on the startling result.  In this way, I think it is very important and beneficial to read the opinions of other educators because the posts of others will always make you think about your own ideas and maybe those new ideas will help you in the future.  Reading from various blogs will also make you see an issue from a whole new perspective and light.

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Through my inquiry project this semester, I learned a very interesting feature with WordPress.  I thought I knew everything about the world of WordPress through my explorations before, but was I ever wrong!  I found out that you could have multiple administrators for a WordPress blog.  This feature is amazing because this could be a great way for educators to collaborate to create a blog.  An image that comes to mind is kind of like an educational magazine, but in blog form.  Multiple perspectives could be portrayed on one blog instead of searching through different blogs.  This could also promote up and coming bloggers so that they can build a larger readership.  The members of an existing blogger’s PLN could possibly read the posts of a new blogger on this collaborative piece and become a part of the new person’s PLN!

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I believe that our experiences through blogging will encourage us to keep on reading and commenting on blog posts we find interesting in the future.

TWITTER

I joined Twitter in 2011, but I hardly ever used it.  When I did, it was mainly for keeping up with what my favourite celebrities were doing.  As you can see from my very first tweet, I was quite clueless about how to use twitter and hashtags.Screenshot at Apr 02 11-25-37

It wasn’t until last semester in ECMP 355 that I actually started using Twitter for educational purposes.  Since last semester was kind of like my introduction to using Twitter as an educational tool, I was not as comfortable with using it yet.  In ECS 210, I feel a lot more comfortable with sharing my thoughts on Twitter because I have used it quite a bit now.  I also feel comfortable with sharing my thoughts on Twitter because the people in our ECS 210 class are great with creating conversations on Twitter and supporting the opinions of their peers.  Having your tweets retweeted or favourited is an awesome feeling and it lets you know that your peers and fellow educators are supporting what you are expressing.

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Posting relevant and interesting things onto Twitter and knowing the right hashtags to use are very important to branching out to other educators, which is something I’m still learning to do.  I have started actually looking at educational blogs and tweeting out the blog posts I found interesting, which is a new thing for me.

techhacksI’ve also realized the importance of commenting, retweeting and favouriting tweets of others.  This creates a great support system for educators and it also gives others a chance to give feedback on someone’s work.  An example I think of from class was when Raquel Bellefleur posted her slam poetry assignment.  She received encouraging comments from many people, including me, on Twitter and I can tell that she really appreciated the responses of others.

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Check out Raquel’s blog!

I also found it very interesting to look through the tweets that my classmates would share during classes.  It was wonderful to see the multiple perspectives and the key messages they got out of our presentations.  I’ve always had difficulties with creating conversations on Twitter and I really didn’t understand it, but through this class and other past classes, I’ve realized that it’s really easy to create a thread of conversations.  I would include an image, but Twitter wouldn’t allow me to view some of the past tweets that were sent out during the year, which brings me to the thing that I didn’t enjoy about Twitter.  I tried to look back on some interesting conversations that my classmates were having when Claire Kreuger came into our classroom and also when Grant Urban presented.  When I searched the #ecs210 hashtag, hardly any of my classmates tweets showed up on the day Claire Kreuger came and no tweets were visible from Grant Urban’s presentation.  It frustrated me to say the least.  Does anyone know why this happened?

 

GOOGLE DOCS 

I’ve realized that a great tool for educators is GoogleDocs.  For my inquiry project, my group members and I used a Googledoc to organize our thoughts and to share ideas with each other.  It served as a great way for us to have all of our information in one place and it was easy to take information off of it to work on the different parts of our lesson plan and our online space.  I think GoogleDocs would be a great tool for teachers to collaborate and provide feedback.  If a few teachers want to work on an idea together or create a document of some sort, they all have the option to edit and make changes whenever they want.  With that being said, you have to make sure you trust the collaborators because you don’t want to lose important information.  Google Docs is also a great way to share a document online.  Most often, when sharing a document from Microsoft Word, you have to provide a folder for someone to download.  This can become quite inconvenient because downloading can sometimes be slow and tedious.  With a GoogleDoc, you can see an online version, which makes it that much more accessible for people in your PLN to view.  With the different editing tools, you can share the document with all different kinds of privacy settings. google docs

 

FINAL REFLECTIONS

Overall, I think this was a great class and a great introduction into what a PLN is and how to build our PLN.  I feel like the group of educators in our class were very supportive and involved in the learning process of each other.  I think that is the whole point to building a PLN: creating a support network.  If we need advice or feedback, we can rely on the members of our PLN to offer suggestions.  If we want to seek out new ideas or gain a new understanding of an issue, we can read the blog posts or the tweets of the people we are connected to.  It’s wonderful that we can connect to people all over the world, instead of only connecting to the people we are around.  It’s important to connect to those people as well, but creating relationships on a global level will offer you even more support and insight on particular issues.  People from different parts of the world may carry different and unique experiences and sharing these experiences can be very beneficial.  I think that the knowledge we now carry from this class will become very consequential in the future and it will allow us to build a larger support system.  It’s great that we will be able to carry these skills with us as we finish our degrees and also later on after we get our teaching degrees.

Women as Objects

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This will just be a quick little post, but I’ve been meaning to share my thoughts about this topic.  A couple of weeks ago, one of my Facebook friends shared the photo above onto her profile.  She used the picture as a form of empowerment, but it had the opposite effect on me.  I think this picture is further objectifying women, even if it was intended as an empowering statement.  The quote is pretty much saying, “Women are cars”.  The fact that there are women in the picture that look like they are from the fifties also gives me the impression that we are expressing the ideals from that time, which was not a time for women to shine.  You see so many commercials, magazine ads, billboards, etc. with uncomfortable images of women as objects.  For example, here are a couple of images where a women literally become a part of a product: 

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Even though the first image is not really painful to look at, I believe that it has hidden messages in it that makes it very oppressive to women.  I just feel like people are finding comfort and power in the wrong ways.  Yes, it is great to be proud of who you are, but comparing yourself to an object is not helping your situation very well.

I’m curious about other opinions on this matter.  Did you feel the same way I did? Do you feel empowered by this picture?

 

How Stories Shape Our Lives

Part one of my ECS 210 assignment was to summarize 10 articles in “The New Teacher Book” and part two was to critically respond to the resonances and the dissonances in one or more articles.

Part One 

Part Two:

I chose to reflect on the article called, “Brown Kids Can’t Be in Our Club” by Rita Tenorio.  As a child, I was raised around people of all colours, including my own family.  One side of my family is mainly Aboriginal, another side is mainly white, my neighbours were Chinese, and a few of our family friends were Jamaican.  I realized, through this article, that a lot of children were not exposed to as many diverse people as I was.  The article says that, “we have to acknowledge that we live in a racist society and that children typically mirror the attitudes of that society”.   Although a lot has changed from when our parents were kids, people that are my age still tend to be racist, so I hope that through anti oppressive teaching, the next generation will be even more accepting of differences.

Reflecting back on my schooling in elementary school, I realized that we never really did talk about race and differences.  We learned about First Nations history, but we did not recognize physical differences between the classroom and the larger community.  I feel like education was more about creating a classroom where everyone was seen the same and treated the same.  Now, we are focusing more on how we are different and why we think that way.  I think a classroom that encourages diversity is way more effective than thinking that everyone is the same because none of us are the same.  We have different family lives, different skin colours, different hobbies, different learning abilities, etc.  The list goes on!  Whenever I had to draw a character in elementary school, I would always colour them peach.  I even referred to this pencil crayon as the “skin-coloured” one.  I find this quite interesting since I am far away from being “peach” coloured.  Even when I was in the older grades of elementary school, I still drew white characters and wrote about white characters.  If we learned about our differences in the classroom, I might have drawn a Native American person or an African American person.  My dad refers to me as “Heinz 57” because I have so many different layers of culture and race; I am Aboriginal, Ukrainian, French, Scottish (I think) and so many more that I can’t keep track of.  Most of us today do not identify as one thing because we have so many different components of ourselves.

We watched this video in ECE 325 the other day and I think it is very relevant to what I’m talking about in this blog post.  It brings these anti oppressive ideas into action.  They compare skin colour and hair textures, they have conversations about different races and they build a tolerance to all people.  The part that I really liked was when the teacher showed her students pictures of animals dressed up as Native Americans and actual pictures of Native Americans.  The students were able to pick out the stereotypical attributes in the animals, like the fact that not all Native Americans wear feathers on their heads.

One of the activities the children did in this article was first to put their hands onto the table to recognize the different colours of the students.  Later on, they would mix paints together to try and match their own skin colours.  A student in this article said, “We put black, white, red and yellow [together].  I like the colour of my skin”.  After reading this activity, I decided to try and do the same with my skin colour.  I used five coloured pencil crayons: Arizona Topaz, Roan Red, Soft Peach, Cotton White and Chestnut.  I was amazed at how many colours I had to use in order to somewhat match my own skin colour.  As mentioned before, if I ever had to draw myself, I would automatically take out the peach-coloured pencil crayon.  I find the fact that some people refer to themselves as pink, brown or black is quite interesting now that I have read this article because based on the experiences written in the article and on my own experience, we are not all one colour.  Even people from the same racial groups have different colours because we are not all the same.

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A “bump” that I thought of while reading this is the content in an anti bias classroom may challenge the beliefs of families.  I know of a lot of parents that are still not accepting of different races and sexualities, especially the parents of the children of my generation.  I feel like they have these old fashioned ideals from when they were younger and it is definitely hard to try and make them see and appreciate how far we have come with the acceptance and encouragement of all people.  Some of us may have been influenced by our parents to think in these oppressive ways.  I think the problem I would have is how to approach a family that has such different views from you.  Both parties would have completely opposing views and you cannot just compromise on issues of racism and sexism.  I do not want to force my ways onto these families, but at the same time, I want to build this anti oppressive classroom where everyone is on the same page.  This may be an unrealistic dream because there will be some opposed to the ways I want to structure my classroom.

Another thing that conflicts me is the fact that not all schools receive as much support as this one does.  In the article, “Unwrapping the Holidays: Reflections on a Difficult First Year”, the teacher felt like an outsider because he tried to change the ways in how the school decorates for Christmas because not all students celebrate Christmas.  A lot of staff members were angered by this and thus did not support or encourage this individual.  This is all because people today are very sensitive about their traditional and usual ways of doing things.  In order to feel comfortable with teaching controversial issues and collaborating with others, you need to build a support system of educators.  Without this, you may feel alone and terrified to create an anti oppressive classroom and curriculum.  I’m scared that I would get hired in a school with educators that did not support my ideas or without anyone to talk to for advice, especially as a first year teacher.

In conclusion, I think that including issues of race and recognizing differences is very important to have in a classroom.  These children will grow up with different ways of thinking and will be able to recognize why everyone is different.  I think it is also beneficial for adults to educate themselves on anti oppressive teaching because it has been very valuable learning to me and several of my classmates.  In the video I posted above, there was a scene where a child asked what was wrong with a woman that was in a wheelchair.  The mother quickly apologized and ran off.  I think this is a perfect example of how not educating children on differences can result in these awkward moments.  The mother could have, instead, explained to her daughter why wheelchairs are needed or maybe the woman in the wheelchair would have been okay with explaining what happened.  Having conversations with children about differences will encourage acceptance and will open their eyes to the fact that our differences are what make us unique.

ELNG 200 Placement: Part Two


cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Jeff
Here is part two of my experiences at my ELNG 200 placement:

I went to my school for my fifth time on October 25th, 2013.  This was, by far, my favourite visit so far! I was there for a longer period of time, so I got to work with two groups of students.  The first group in the morning was working on some PWIM (Picture Word Inductive Model) work with a picture of sports related things.  Just like the other group I was with previously, the students would identify things they recognized in the picture and the teacher would write the word on the piece of paper.  They went through each and every word and spelled them multiple times.  They also recognized that a lot of the sports had the common word “ball”.  The teacher has noticed that they are having difficulties with sounding out words, so we went through the first bit of the Alphabet.  She asked students, in turns, if they knew the sounds of each letter and then the rest of the students would say a word that starts with that letter.  The students seem most excited about the alphabet!

In the afternoon, we had a couple of older students.  There were only two students available, so a classmate and I worked one on one with each student.  The student I was working with was encouraged to write sentences about things he knows and predicts.  Before class started, he was watching a YouTube video about Captain America, so the teacher suggested that he watches a Captain America video and write sentences about what he thinks will happen, starting with, “I predict” or “I think”.  The student decided to watch the last scene of The Avengers.  We watched it together and I would pause the video at different times and ask him to write a sentence about what he thinks will happen.  A lot of his sentences were looking the same, so I encouraged him to write a sentence with a different structure.

After that, he read a book to me and I was supposed to make sure he was reading the book in a natural flow, more particularly, the higher pitch of your voice when you ask a question.  He grasped on quickly to the reading of a question.  After each page, we would write down a verb from the story and put –ing and –ed endings onto them.  I then asked him to underline the base word or the word that is common in each set.  After we read the entire story, I asked him to tell me what the problem in the story was and the solution.  He was able to recognize the problem, but the solution was a little hard for him.  We read over the last couple of pages and looked at the pictures and he figured it out.

My last day at the school was on October 31st, 2013.  We started out the day with an assembly for an hour.  After that, we gathered our grade four and five literacy group students.  They were learning how to spell and say certain words the previous day and they were given a spelling test today.  Instead of erasing the words off the board, she left them up and didn’t tell them that those words were the words on the test.  The students figured out that they were the same words on the board, but they had to sound out the words to figure out which one she was asking.  I thought this was great because the sounds of letters and words stump them quite often.  They marked their own papers with check marks and put corrections underneath their original word.  I like the fact that the teacher does not like “x” marks for incorrect answers because I feel like they are very negative, as well.

After the test, we read a story called “Sam and Papa” and each student took turns reading pages from the book.  As I said before, they have trouble with sounding out words and we encouraged them to sound out each single letter.  When they were finished reading the story, the teacher asked the students to retrace the events of the story.  She has noticed that her students have trouble with sequencing, so this is why she is putting emphasis on this concept.  They were great at reflecting on what happened in the story, but they struggled with putting the scenes in order.  After reading and discussing the story, the teacher had three stations set up for the students, since we only had three students that day.  Two of the stations had literacy games on laptops and the other station was for rereading “Sam and Papa”.  The variety seemed to work for the students because it kept them interested.  Throwing in the literacy games was great because they were having fun while learning!

In ELNG 200, we had a class about putting cultural groups in a box. We then talked about how this is relevant for all people of different genders, sexual orientations, sizes, races, etc.  I have not heard any of foul language or name-calling while at this school, but maybe some of the ESL students are not aware of these words or that word carries a different meaning in their language or culture.  To follow up on this argument, an interesting thing to think about is the fact that a lot of children would probably not know the negative version of some of these words.  In Gloria Naylor’s article, for example, she explains that the “n” word had a different context to white people than her family, which were black.  When a boy called her this name, she did not understand the meaning, but quickly understood that it was a bad word to them, since the teacher had a negative response.

The students continue to mention some words in their own language because a word the teacher said sounds like that word.  This can prove the idea that all language derives from one early language.  In terms of English as a global language, I feel like that is proved also in ESL classrooms.  They have basic speaking skills in English and they are quickly emerged into regular English speaking classrooms and ESL classrooms.  This is a little different than our discussion on globalization because we talked about English speakers coming into countries and making English a required language.  These students have come into Canada with intentions to learn English because it is the most common language spoken in Canada.

I can link audiolingualism to my experiences, as well.  Audiolingualism consists of drills, question and answer, dialogues, positive reinforcement and a lot of repetition.  When the students are learning new words or looking back at alphabet sounds, they repeat that word or sound various times to get the learning to sink in.  This relates to when I talked about the teacher going through the alphabet and getting the students to say the sound and a word starting with the letter multiple times.  A lot of the times when I’m reading with the students, I will get them to repeat words to me and read a sentence over to reassure me and themselves that they understand what they are reading.  A lot of dialogue goes on in class, which is a great aspect of this classroom.  The teacher will often ask something relating to the lesson, and the students will answer and reflect on each other’s answers.

Myth #2 in our Language Development textbook is:  Younger children are more effective learners.  The reality explained in the chapter is that younger learners are better at learning with little or no accent, but older learners are more efficient.  I have noticed at the school that the older learners in grade 4/5 are progressing and understanding faster than the younger learners in grade 2/3. This is on a smaller spectrum than what the author might have been thinking (children vs. adult), but I think it is relevant.  A lot of the newly arrived students in the ESL classroom have brothers and sisters in different grades, so they all came into Canada at the same time.  The older siblings often compare words in their own language and apply that to their learning.  This is not happening as much with the younger students.

You can say that we use operant conditioning in the classroom, also.  We are big high-fivers and this often happens when the students succeed in an assignment or accomplish a goal.  The students do language learning activities on the computer some times and this is a motivational tool for them to work hard during the learning beforehand because they really enjoy the activities online.  The teacher will also sometimes bring in snacks for the students on special days. You can tell that this encouragement affects the students because they smile or look very happy.  You can see a sense of accomplishment and pride in them, which is one of the greatest things to see with this profession.  These moments are the best things to experience because I see the students progressing, and at the same time, I am progressing because I am learning so much from these individuals as I work with them.

ELNG 200 Placement: Part One


cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by peko-chan
Since my semester is over, I decided to reflect on what I’ve experienced throughout the semester.  In my ELNG 200 class, we had a placement in an ESL classroom.  As an assignment, we wrote two letters to our professor and connected our experiences to the class.  I thought I would share my experiences from my placement!  This is my first letter:

October 10th, 2013 was my first day at my ELNG 200 placement!  I was very surprised when I walked into the doors of the school I was assigned at because I have never seen a school that has looked like this before.  The furniture was colourful and everything looked new!  I met with the ESL teacher and she gave me a tour of the school and went through the kinds of activities she does with her students.  One thing that I found interesting was that when children pick a book at the library, they should follow something called the “5 finger rule”.  When students pick out a book, they should read a page and put down a finger when they don’t understand a word.  If you put all 5 fingers down on one page, then that book is not appropriate for your reading level yet.

At around 9:30, we picked up 4 children from grade 2 and 3.  Once we got all settled in her room, she brought out a story called “Friends”.  The first page had two dogs on it and the name was underneath their pictures.  She started out by asking them to read their names.  One of the dog’s names was Taco and that went further into a discussion about the student’s favourite food.  I think this was great because the students recognized that Taco was a kind of food and connected that to their everyday lives and preferences.  We then started the story.  Every page had about 1-2 sentences and she got them to read a sentence each in order.  It was interesting to see that they are very committed to reading and sounding out the words when it was their turn.  A few of them sounded out the words correctly, but the word was said wrong because English is very difficult that way.  For example, instead of saying “t-aw-co”, a student said “t-ah(as in [a]pple)-co”.  When one student was struggling, the other students would try and help that student read the sentence.  This is great for relationship building and for creating a support system within the school.

After reading the story, we looked at strips of paper that included a picture and the English word underneath.  She asked the students, one at a time, to find the word she said and then to spell it out.  After we did this we joined the class where the students were from and participated in a reading activity.  The teacher asked the students to read a book to another person.  I sat with one of the ESL students and got him to read a book to him.  I realized that he had trouble with a lot of the words and encouraged him to sound out everything he was reading.  Another thing that seemed to help was to get him to repeat the words over again to try and remember those words.

My second time in the ESL class was October 17th, 2013.  We had two more students in the classroom today, with a total of six.  The teacher had training earlier on in the week on a program called PWIM (Picture Word Inductive Model).  First, teachers would choose a picture that their students can relate to and the picture is attached to a larger piece of paper.  For example, we used a picture of a child’s room with toys.  Students are asked, one by one, to pick something in the picture and identify it.  Some of the words the children said in my example were “toys”, “vacuum”, “dinosaur” and “garage”.  Every student picked out one word from the picture, which came to a total of six words.  After that, students are encouraged to sound out the word and to try and spell it.  We went over their words multiple times and spelled them out each time.  Dawna put the sheet up on the board and asked the students to write the words in their notebooks.

After we identified words in the picture, we spelled the words again, using movements for letters in the “attic”, the “basement” and the “main floor”.  Words in the “attic” are tall letters like t, l, f, d, h, etc.  Letters in the “basement” are letters that hang low like g, y, p, q, and j.  Lastly, letters on the “main floor” are letters that are in the middle like a, e, r, u, i, etc.  We then proceeded to the grade 2 classroom again where we participated in the students’ time to read to another person.  I read with a different student than last week and I used the same strategy of repetition for mistaken words.  I didn’t just want to tell him what a word said if he made a mistake and this student did very well with sounding out the words for himself and figuring out the word.

My third time at the school was on October 24th, 2013 and I was with a different group of children today that were in grades 4 and 5.  The day started out with journal writing and they had monsters as a theme.  They first brainstormed describing words that they could use on their monster.  For example, “sharp teeth” was a term used.  They went through each and every word and spelled them out.  The students then decided what they wanted their monster to look like and put that description into a sentence.  The next step was to decide where their monster was and write a sentence about it.  One student decided that his monster was in his backyard.  One student I was working with was not really engaged in the activity and was not making any decisions.  This student was not writing sentences, so we decided that he could draw a picture of his monster first so he got an idea of what his monster will look like.  I read through the list they made and had to give him multiple suggestions until he started working.

In the afternoon, we read through a poem:

Two little bats sitting on a wall

One named Peter,

One named Paul

Fly away Peter,

Fly away Paul

Come back Peter,

Come back Paul

The students all read through the poem by themselves, one at a time.  They were asked to identify the rhyming words (wall and Paul).  They compared various combinations of words to hear if the words sound similar.  The students were then given a fill in the blank worksheet of the poem.

While I’m at my field experience, I try to keep in mind the myths, theories and content that we have learned in ELNG 200.  This class has opened my eyes to a lot of ideas that I have never really thought of before.  While working with these students, I think about the myths of bilingualism and I free my mind of any of these misconceptions.  I’ve realized and heavily thought about how easy it is for people to believe these myths if they are not aware of them.  For example, there’s the myth about the child’s brain being monolingual.  Parents will become nervous because they are concerned that their children will not be able to separate their two languages and it will result in slower linguistic development.

There’s not really a choice of staying monolingual for children coming in from non English speaking countries.  Teachers and peers can’t really communicate with this individual if they cannot understand each other.  There is this one student in my placement that doesn’t like to use English in the school and heavily relies on the students that speak the student’s home language.  Using their first language is celebrated, but if the students do not dedicate a certain amount of attention to their second language learning, they are not going to grasp English as fast.  Like we said in class: if you don’t use it, you lose it!  Also, from my experiences, learning a new language is most effective when you speak with a community of people that are learning the language alongside you or to a community of native speakers of that language.  This shows how important it is for students to have access to language.  Using the language more benefits the child socially and results in communicative competence.

I’ve noticed the dimensions of phonology and semantics in the students. It’s interesting to hear the different phonological sounds that the students use.  There was a time in my experience where a student misunderstood me because our sound systems are different.  I was going through each sound of a word with this student and I said something that sounded like the letter ‘r’ in the student’s home language.  Sometimes in class, students will recognize a word the teacher says because it sounds similar to something in their language.  This shows the different semantics in our languages.  One student answered a question of her’s with “lala” (I’m not sure if that is the proper spelling) and she asked what “lala” meant.  The student responded by saying that “lala” meant sleep in their language.  The ESL teacher is always eager to learn new words in their languages and the students are excited to share this with her!

I definitely see the internal and external factors that influence learning a second language in my experience every time I’m there.  All of the students are under 20 years of age, so they fit that part of the theory.  Most of the students I have encountered are very confident and have a high self-esteem, which results in excellence in communication skills!  When students are on the shyer side, it’s hard to tell if they have a high self-esteem or not, especially since I’m not there everyday to get to know them.  There are a few shy students that do not seem to want to speak out in class.  This could possibly be a silent period for them.  Some of the EAL students are shy, but they are excellent at communicating in English. There is a lot of motivation in the classroom from peers and teachers.  Students in the class are always helping each other out, as well as the teachers.  The students are also reflecting on their own experiences with their home language and with their cultures.  The teacher is great with helping the students out with curriculum learning.  She is always referring their cultures and helping with clarification.  She also creates a risk free environment through her instruction and leading conversations.  I also feel very comfortable in her classroom and I can have conversations with her naturally.  As I mentioned before, there is access to language at the school because the majority of people speak English.

Should Teachers Be Friends with their Students on Facebook?

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by SimonQ錫濛譙

Since I’m done for the semester and most of the stress is gone, I thought I’d take this time to blog about some things that I haven’t talked about on my blog this semester in ECMP 355.  The question of having teacher-student relationships or teacher-parent relationships on Facebook came up quite a bit in class.  I personally think that it’s not the greatest idea when you are dealing with elementary or high school students and their parents.  For me, my Facebook account is for personal updates and connecting with friends I have made over the years.  If we have students or parents as friends on Facebook, everything you say or do could be criticized.  It seems as though if someone finds out that their teacher has a life, it’s the end of the world.  I remember when I was in high school, we would think it was the craziest thing if we saw our teachers out at the grocery store or in any public place.  It’s as if we thought that teachers live at the school or something!  I feel like it’s okay once your students are out of school, especially if you have developed a great relationship with that teacher.  For example, I’m friends with my teacher from high school on Facebook and she is one of my inspirations to become a teacher!  I think this is not such a big deal with university students, however.  At this point, we should all be mature enough to be able to do this.  Once you get to university, professors start to treat you as adults and equals.  You may even develop friendships and mentoring relationships with these professors.

I think it’s a great idea to start a page on Facebook or create a Facebook account solely for educational purposes.  We explored this when we looked at the Hackel Hub Facebook Page.  This teacher documents what’s going on in the classroom and what the students are learning about.  This is a great way for parents and guardians to be involved in their children’s learning and for them to be aware of what their children are learning.  Seeing their child’s successes and progress will ensure that their children are in good hands!  Before the teacher posted anything, the teacher sent out a permission form for the students to be shown on the Facebook page.  The options were: I allow my child to be photographed with their name, I allow my child to be photographed without their name or I don’t allow my child to be featured on the page.  The page is completely private, so only people that are friends with this Facebook page will be able to see the content.

Overall, I think using Facebook for educational purposes is a good thing, but only if it is used in the right way.  This is my own personal opinion, but having students access your personal Facebook page may become problematic.  Students and teachers may analyze and criticize what you say on this social media site.  They also may think of you as less of an authoritative or role model figure because of the things you post.  This all comes down to how you portray yourself online, though.  You may not have problems with this, depending on what you post.  Facebook may be another way that you choose to develop your digital identity.  In the end, I think that using Facebook to document and update family members on your students’ progress is a beneficial way to use this social media site.

What do you think? Is it appropriate to accept friend requests from students?