Saturday, 9 February 2013

Making Movies!

Another week done and closer to graduation! It was a less busy week for sure, but there was still a lot going on between work and school. Today I worked at Winterlude at our university. It's a festival that the university has in the winter (this is its second annual one) and invites staff, students, and the community to come together in a fun day. I wasn't able to go to last year's Winterlude as I worked at my other job, but this year I got to and had a lot of fun working with the other student ambassadors and the staff from student services. They definitely did an amazing job organizing and putting in countless hours to make a fun day for everyone!

This past Friday I attended a PD put on my by friend and fellow student colleague, Tyler Letkeman. He is likely the most talented individual I know when it comes to technology. He always finds great ways to include it in the classroom. I like that he finds meaningful ways to use technology in the classroom, as I think there needs to be a purpose for technology if we're going to use it, and not just use it for the sake of using it.

Tyler gave us a lot of great facts about the use of movies in today's educational world, and why it relates better to students. Some of the facts he gave us were that there are 8 years of video uploaded to YouTube every day. I could barely comprehend 8 hours of video, let alone 8 years! The next fact he gave us is that on average, the Canadian adult watches 1500 hours of television and watches 2800 commercials a year. As an avid television watcher, I can definitely see that this would be true.

Some of the information that he gave us that I found extremely interesting, especially as an English teacher, is how even literature has taken its place in the world of the media. Tyler gave the example of searching for Pride & Prejudice. When typed in to google, more of search results that he got back were for the movies. The same is true for The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings. All of literature's classics and greats are slowly but surely being transformed into movies. When I think about the books I'm reading now, which are Life of Pi and War & Peace, both are movies. All of the Shakespeare plays we read in high school have been made into movies; one of my favorite novels that we read in high school, Brave New World, is being into a movie; even The Great Gatsby is scheduled to be released this summer (although there is an older version made).

A lot of people, myself included, have said that movies ruin the books. Either they change a character from how we imagined them in our heads, they change the plot, or leave out important details. Media is making literature more available to all students, however. In most cases, a student is more likely to head to a theater to watch a movie than pick up a book. In a lot of cases, students enjoy the movie so much that they want to read the book after. This was the case with the Hunger Games. When I was in a grade 7 classroom this past spring, we took the students to see the movie, and afterwards, almost all of them wanted to read the book.

Tyler also lead us through how to use Windows Movie Maker, which is the program that we will most likely be using in schools. There was just a small group of us, so he was able to help us with all the problems we encountered. All of us being new to the program, there was many! I didn't get a chance to make a full movie while we were there (although we did film one, using the shot information that he gave us), but I have been experimenting with it this weekend.

I can definitely see myself using movie making in my classroom. I think it will engage students and also create a new way for students to find success in a classroom since they won't be just writing essay's and papers, which are definitely over-used in English classrooms. Thank you so much for all the great information Tyler! To check out Tyler's blog, go to his blog.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The New Provincial Report Card

My goal was to write a blog once a week, but I've already failed at that. Week three didn't quite make it, but I'm back for week four and hopefully won't have too many weeks that I'll be missing. Last week was a very busy week, with work and school. I had a presentation for my Educator and the Law course, two lesson plans plus art work, and an exam in my Counseling for the Classroom Teacher class. I'm glad that things are starting to get more quiet now.

As well as school and work keeping me busy, I also had two Professional Development workshops that I attended. The first one, which I attended last Friday, was called the New Provincial Report Card. While out in my student teaching placement last term, I had the chance to get to use the new report card. While my Cooperating Teacher and I were working on it together, we ran into a lot of difficulties, mostly with the technology end of things. The most difficult part of the experience was getting the comments placed in the comment bank. Once we figured out how to do this part of the program, things ran quite smoothly.

One problem I had with the report card to begin with, was that I didn't like that there was a comment bank. I believed this made the comments much less personal and didn't give parents the information that they needed or would want in a report card. During the PD, however, I learned that a comment bank didn't need to be used. We looked at some of the comment examples that had been used for other students, and how they were both personal, and included all the aspects that the comments needed to include. 

During my first week at P-School, we were given a quick introduction to the report cards. One of the things they mentioned to us first was that one of the main differences was that you could not include comments that had to do with behavior in the main subject area of the report card. A lot of questions arose from this, such as if a student does not attend class and therefore has a low mark, why can't you mention lack of attendance as a way to improve a mark. At the PD I attended, the two presenters mentioned that this would be listed in the specific behavior area of the report card, and that they also hoped that this would allow for better communication between parent and teacher, as any issues could be brought up at the parent-teacher interviews.

One aspect about the report cards that I really liked was that they encourage teachers to be jargon-free. The report card also discourages teachers from just writing about what units had been covered. I remember getting these sorts of comments on my own report cards in school, and I always disliked them because you could tell that the teacher had just copy and pasted it onto every one of the student's report cards. These unit descriptions often used a lot of jargon that parents really don't understand or care about. Making comments jargon-free and more simple allows parents to understand what their child is doing well in the course, and what they need to work on in the future. I think this is a great idea because parents who do not have a strong science background, won't be lost in the scientific jargon that a comment may include. 

I went into this PD session not knowing a whole lot about the new report cards, and I left learning a lot! While this blog is just a quick overview of some of the things that I had known before and what I learned in the session, there is a lot more that I can learn, and I'm sure that once I have the chance to write my own report cards in my own classroom, I will learn a lot more.

So what is my final verdict on the new provincial report card? While I know that I will encounter a lot of challenges with working with these report cards, a lot of research has gone into the positive way these report cards will be for creating parent understanding and learning about their child as a student. Creating a positive parent-teacher-student relationship is important and creating greater ways to communicate is going to be great for teachers!

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Choice Theory Thoughts

What a busy week! I almost didn't succeed in getting my blog post in for this week, but I decided that instead of dusting, I'd fit this in. It's been a busy week at school with assignments, and also with my room mate. He and I decided that we needed a pet for our apartment. Since we're not allowed to have pets like a dog or cat (which we would prefer), we decided on two goldfish. They have been very distracting, and great for my procrastination.

One thing we've been learning about this week in my Counseling Skills for the Classroom Teacher is Choice Theory. This is a theory by William Glasser based on, as the title said, choices. We have been learning the basics of the theory, which is most easily understood through a diagram we were given in class. I couldn't find a very good image online, but below is one I found online that shows the entire diagram, just in a very small version.

The diagram shows the relationship between the Read World and our Quality World. Based on our values, beliefs, and life experiences, everyone's Quality Worlds are different. We all have images in our Quality Worlds that make up what we want in life. To obtain the things we want in our Quality World, we have to choose how we behave that will help us obtain what we want. The bottom part of the diagram shows that the scales are equal, so the behavior one has chosen is satisfactory to reaching what one believes to be the Quality World. In the top area of the diagram, the scales are unequal, and the person has chosen the wrong behavior, and therefore the arrow points back in, showing that another behavior needs to be chosen. It's almost like a "Try Again" option.

Glasser's Theory also focuses on the Five Basic Needs. These are Belonging, Power, Fun, Survival, and Freedom. These fit into what we want our Quality Worlds to be, as we all place these needs at difference important levels. In class, we all filled out forms showed each of the needs and asked where we would place their importance on a 1 to 5 scale. It was interesting to see where everyone's answers fell and how different everyone believed the importance of each need to be in our lives. Our professor reminded us after, that when we are counseling our students, that we need to think about what needs are most important to them, and think about their behavior and how to help them with this in mind.

I really like a lot of things about the Choice Theory model. I think it almost empowers people to think that their choices are making a difference in their happiness. As I've been reading the book, Choice Theory, written by Dr. William Glasser, I have come across a few things that I disagree with. The book says that we choose to be depressed, anxious, or happy. While I think in many cases, the choices we make can effect these, I do believe there is a scientific aspect that Glasser often ignores. Chemical imbalances are very real, and we can not choose to have a balance or unbalance. I don't want to take a stance on whether or not medication is right or not right, however, I think that in some cases people do need it and according to this theory, people do not need medications, just different choices.

We are only halfway through the course and I haven't completed the reading of the book yet, so as we continue on my views on this may change. However, this is my opinion to this point in the course. We are learning a lot of useful techniques of how to talk to students. I like that my professor has made the course very hands-on and applicable to the classroom. Even though role-playing the counseling situations is difficult, it's definitely going to be useful later on!

Friday, 18 January 2013

Textbooks: Useful or Not?

Second week, and here is my second blog post! I didn't know what I should make this blog post about this week, as it's been sort of a slow week at the university.

In my Reading, Writing, and Thinking Skills class we have been talking about text books and whether or not their use is appropriate in the classroom. We also learned methods about how to help our students read textbooks.

I found this discussion quite interesting because in university, I have actually used my textbooks a lot. The first few years of university I would buy my textbooks and never read them, and I was not a very good student. In my third year I started reading my textbooks and I found that I would take in the information and became a better student as a result of this.

In university, we are mostly choosing our classes, so most of the content we are reading is somewhat interesting to us. However, in high school a lot of classes are mandatory. I also found that when I highlighted information in my own textbooks I was able to connect to the information better. Because students don't own the textbooks, they do not have this information available to them.

This has made me think a lot about using textbooks in the classroom. Because I have mostly been in English classrooms, we haven't necessarily used a textbook in the usual sense. We have used plays and novels, however. It's easier for English teachers to use these "textbooks" in their classroom because they are often used to talk about a specific theme and discussions about students understanding of the novel is usually done in class.

I can definitely see how textbook use in classes such as math or science would be more difficult. It was definitely an interesting conversation, and one that I will think about when I go to use textbooks in the future. I will also be sure to try to recognize my students understanding of the vocabulary, which can definitely be confusing.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Giving this a Go!

This term in university all of my friends and I decided we would take Art Methods and learn more about being artistic. After the first class, two of my friends left me to take Internet for Educators, to gain more experience with technology. As much as I'm dreading having to show off my artistic skills (or lack thereof) and I am wishing that I could switch to Internet to Educators, I am going to stick out the Art class, because I honestly believe it will be beneficial to me in the long run.

However, I am going to start blogging and hopefully learn along with my friends in Internet for Educators. Hopefully they will be willing to share their knowledge of the internet with me! I have always wanted to start a blog, but I usually start and post twice maybe and get bored. I'm going to make a goal to make at least one blog post per week. That shouldn't be so bad, and if I get really into it, I can always blog more!

So as an introduction to myself, I am a second year Education student in small city in Manitoba. I am focusing on high school, but I would also teach middle school if there was an opening. I have student taught both, and loved both experience! My main subject areas are drama and English. I have the most experience teaching English, but I also had experience teaching math to a grade 7 class. I also taught them Art, hence wanting to take an Art Methods class!

I am very passionate about teaching, and would love to get a job where I was involved with working with At-Risk Youth. That being said, I am open to teaching anywhere, as long as I am doing what I love - teaching!

So there's my first blog post. That wasn't too painful, but we'll see where things go from here!