Sunday, January 31, 2016

Grade Wars

     When I took on my teaching position I inadvertently took on the responsibility of planning our school's largest spirit-activity: Grade Wars. Started in our school by my predecessor, Grade Wars is a week-long school/community-spirit activity between our high school classes that sees them competing in various events that are based on everything from athletics and academics to social-justice and just plain craziness.

     I say that I inadvertently took on the responsibility....  While it is encouraged, Grade Wars isn't something that was deemed mandatory by my admin team so I actually didn't take it on during my first year of teaching because I was overwhelmed with my regular responsibilities already (even though this is something that is totally up my alley and I was really excited about). As such, no one picked it up and we had a lot of disappointed students! :(

     Naturally, in my second year I was feeling a lot more prepared and knew about the event from the start of year so I had no issues with taking it on. I loved it so much that I agreed to plan and hold the event this year as well even though I am home on mat leave!

     This event is something that brings all of our students and staff together and leaves them talking about it up until the next event in the following year! I've uploaded our planning document to my TpT Store for FREE so head over their to download it, modify it to meet your school's needs, and plan your own event!


grade wars, school spirit week, student council activities, student council on teachers pay teachers, grade wars for high school

     You can head over to the Teaching in a Fishbowl TpT Store to 
download this program (20 pages of info) for FREE

Monday, January 25, 2016

Further Thoughts on the Education Paradigm

*This post has been written as part of my journey through my Master's Degree in Curriculum & Planning through Brandon University

Changing the Education Paradigm. (2008) Uploaded to TED. Availble onine at: https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms

     Sir Kenneth Robinson's speech, "Changing the Education Paradigm" has recorded over 1.6 million views through the TED platform and countless more through the various versions uploaded online through text and video platforms. The video is viewed by everyone from pre-service teachers and educational PD attendees to parents and businessmen/women around the world. The graphics of the video and charisma of Robinson make for an engaging video that is often widely accepted despite evidence of argumentum ad verecundiam.My critique of Robinson's speech is available here. Some additional thoughts:

1. On the reference to George Land's research on creativity...

Including the work of George Land in his work leads this author to believe that Sir Kenneth Robinson ironically fell for the trap of argumentum ad verecundiam that he is also accused of. Robinson alludes to George Land’s longitudinal study in the closing minutes of his speech as a means of emphasizing his argument that the present education model deteriorates creativity in children (Robinson, 2008, p. 3, para. 7). Land’s background is that of a general systems scientist and his focus appears to be centred around communications and business (World Business Academy, 2016); while respected in his field Land does not have the background in education to contribute effectively to Robinson’s argument. Ornstein and Hunkins (2013, p. 17-18) warn of the dangers of having unqualified professionals influencing the field of curriculum and stress the challenges of having to worry if, “…whether the candidates who take positions are competent”.

Ornstein, A. C., & Hunkins, F. P. (2013). Curriculum: foundations, principles, and issues. New Jersey, US: Pearson Education.
Robinson, K. (2008, June 16). Changing education paradigms. RSA events transcript. Retrieved January 14, 2016, from https://www.thersa.org/globalassets/pdfs/videos/2010/10/rsa-animate---changing-paradigms/rsa-lecture-ken-robinson-transcript.pdf
World Business Academy. (2016). George Land, PhD. Retrieved January 24, 2016, from https://worldbusiness.org/people/george-land-ph-d/

2. On comparisons between Robinson and John Goodlad... 

Sir Kenneth Robinson echoes the laments of John Goodlad who, in 1969 expressed disenchantment with the results of his study that revealed that, “… rarely did we find individual pupils at work in self-sustaining and inquiry” (Goodlad, 1969; as cited in Ornstein & Hunkins, 2013, p. 83). Goodlad concluded that the education model of the 1960s viewed students as, “... passive reciepents of content” (Goodlad, 1969; as cited in Ornstein & Hunkins, 2013, p. 83), which is one of the three styles of teaching set out by Johann Herbart; coined as, “teaching without education” (Herbart, 1806; as cited in Lundgren, 2015, p. 789). Robinson called for opportunities that awaken students and allow for them to experience excitement and feel invigorated (Robinson, 2008, p. 3, para. 2); the direct opposite of a passive experience. While parallels can be drawn between Robinson and Goodlad this author feels that Goodlad would find offense with being cited alongside a man who has been accused of argumentum ad verecundiam; especially considering that Goodlad felt that school reformers trick the public into thinking that, “all schools are failing” (Goodlad, 2007; as cited in Ornstein & Hunkins, 2013, p. 86).

Lundgren, U. P. (2015). What’s in a name? That which we call a crisis? A commentary on Micheal Young’s article ‘Overcoming the crisis in curriculum theory’. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 47(6), 787-801. doi:10.1080/00220272.2015.1095354
Ornstein, A. C., & Hunkins, F. P. (2013). Curriculum: foundations, principles, and issues. New Jersey, US: Pearson Education.
Robinson, K. (2008, June 16). Changing education paradigms. RSA events transcript. Retrieved January 14, 2016, from https://www.thersa.org/globalassets/pdfs/videos/2010/10/rsa-animate---changing-paradigms/rsa-lecture-ken-robinson-transcript.pdf

#TRSD32 Tweet Challenge of the Week

     Ever since our division was encouraged to join Twitter at the end of September I have been trying to keep participation going by posting weekly "Tweet Challenges". This week's challenge is:

- #TRSD32 Tweet Challenge for the Week of Oct 6th 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Foundational Understandings: Curriculum, Instruction, Theory & Practice

*This post has been written as part of my journey through my Master's Degree in Curriculum & Planning through Brandon University.

Can you differentiate between curriculum and instruction?
Levin (2008) stated that "curriculum is an official statement of what students are expected to do". This changes depending on the subject manner, grade level, and abilities of the student(s). Instruction is how an educator assists students in their journey towards understanding.

Levin, B. (2008). Curriculum policy and the politics of what should be learned in 
schools. In M. Connelly, F.M. He, & J. Phillion (Eds.). The SAGE handbook of
curriculum and instruction. Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage Publications.

What is the relationship between theory and practice?
Ornstein and Hunkins (2013, p. 15) described the interconnectedness of theory and practice as, "The test of good theory is whether it can guide practice. Good practice, in turn, is based on theory." An area of concern addressed by Rempel (2015) discussed the challenge Manitoba curriculum faces in regards to the incorporation of socially receptive programming that is not necessarily backed by strong long-term research; our practice is not being based on theory. Ornstein and Hunkins (2013, p. 16) echo this sentiment by stressing that educators "avoid fads" and ensure that any programming is researched and tested before being implemented at a large-scale.

Ornstein, A. C., & Hunkins, F. P. (2013). Curriculum: foundations, principles, and issues. New Jersey, US: Pearson Education.

Rempel. K. (2015, January 9). Zoom Lecture #1. 02:782 Curriculum planning and materials design and development. Manitoba, Canada: Brandon University.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Changing the Education Paradigm.... But How?

*This post has been written as part of my journey through my Master's Degree in Curriculum & Planning through Brandon University.
Changing the Education Paradigm. (2008) Uploaded to TED. Availble onine at: https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms

     Sir Kenneth Robinson's speech, "Changing the Education Paradigm" has recorded over 1.6 million views through the TED platform and countless more through the various versions uploaded online through text and video platforms. The video is viewed by everyone from pre-service teachers and educational PD attendees to parents and businessmen/women around the world. The graphics of the video and charisma of Robinson make for an engaging video that is often widely accepted despite evidence of argumentum ad verecundiam. My critique of Robinson's speech is as follows:

1. Significant theoretical, historical, psychology foundations: 
In 2008 Sir Kenneth Robinson argued against aspects of the present-day education system that stem from an essentialism philosophy that Ornstein and Hunkins (2013, p. 38) described as an educational trend where, “cognitive achievement is stressed, along with rigorous grading, testing and discipline.” Robinson claimed that the current view of academic ability stemmed from the viewpoint during the enlightenment period where there was an emphasis on knowledge of the classics (Robinson, 2008, p. 2, para. 5) which reflect the idealism and realism philosophies influencing the essentialism standpoint (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2013, pp. 31-36). Robinson called for an education shift that echoed progressivists who call for educational models that, “...allow students to say what they think and to think for themselves” (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2013, p. 39) and for facilities that cultivate collaboration and ensure the longevity of one’s culture (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2013, p. 40).

Ornstein, A. C., & Hunkins, F. P. (2013). Curriculum: foundations, principles, and issues. New Jersey, US: Pearson Education.
Robinson, K. (2008, June 16). Changing education paradigms. RSA events transcript. Retrieved January 14, 2016, fromhttps://www.thersa.org/globalassets/pdfs/videos/2010/10/rsa-animate---changing-paradigms/rsa-lecture-ken-robinson-transcript.pdf

2. Do you agree or disagree with his viewpoint? 
My teaching style reflects the views of Sir Kenneth Robinson in the sense that I am receptive to having students demonstrate their understanding in a manner that best suits their personality, interests, abilities, and resources but sometimes feel hindered by an educational system that requires me to model a particular type of learning in order to appropriately prepare them for divisional assessments. I am hesitant to engage this comparison further due to the fact that although Robinson’s argument has gained a large audience through the popularity of both the TED and RSA platforms, his talk essentially glosses over socially receptive topics such as raising standards, awakening student potential and reducing the amount of standardized tests (Robinson, 2008) but offers little links to hard evidence in support of his claims and no suggestions on how he believes his views should be achieved. Furthermore, I find fault in the way in which Robinson discusses public education as if it is a cohesive model around the world. Robinson’s background is in post-secondary education in the United Kingdom (Wikipedia, 2016), he discusses the topic of Attention-Deficit-Hyperactivity-Disorder (A.D.H.D) in the United States, and alludes to the work of George Land and Beth Jarmen whose study took place in multiple countries, yet Robinson uses this dichotomy to paint a seemingly cohesive portrait of public education.

Land, G. & Jarmen, B. (1998). Breakpoint and beyond: mastering the future today. US: Harper Collins.
Robinson, K. (2008, June 16). Changing education paradigms. RSA events transcript. Retrieved January 14, 2016, fromhttps://www.thersa.org/globalassets/pdfs/videos/2010/10/rsa-animate---changing-paradigms/rsa-lecture-ken-robinson-transcript.pdf
Wikipedia. (2015, December 19). Ken Robinson. Retrieved on January 15, 2016, from:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Robinson_(educationalist)#Career

Monday, January 11, 2016

Curriculum Controversy - Discovery Math Isn't Adding Up

*This post has been written as part of my journey through my Master's Degree in Curriculum & Planning through Brandon University.

In 2013 Manitoba Education Minister Nancy Allen announced the implementation of a revised math curriculum that focused on, "... developing math skills, procedural thinking, conceptual understanding and problem solving to ensure students are getting a solid foundation" (Manitoba Education Press Release, 2013). The curriculum shifted from an inquiry-based approach, often touted in the media as "discovery math", to an algorithm approach that focuses on deep-level numerical understanding. Levin (2008, p. 11) stated that, "5% of clients complaining can lead to political disaster". In Manitoba the inclusion of discovery math lead the government to see public ridicule from university professors, the creation of WISE Math (the Western Initiative for Strengthening Math Education), complaints from multiple stakeholders, and a formal petition from parents; political disaster by Levin's definition. Manitoba is still under pressure regarding math education after recent PCAP test results ranked Manitoba at the lowest in the country; it will be interesting to see if and how the curricular changes will address the concerns expressed by provincial and federal stakeholders.

Levin, B. (2008). Curriculum policy and the politics of what should be learned in  
schools. In M. Connelly, F.M. He, & J. Phillion (Eds.). The SAGE handbook of
curriculum and instruction. Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage Publications.

McDonald, M. (2013, September 3). Frustrated parents convince schools to step back from new math. National Post. Retrieved January 5, 2016, from http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/frustrated-professors-convince-schools-to-step-back-from-new-math-and-go-back-to-basics

Manitoba Education. (2013, June 18). Manitoba streghtens quality of math education with revisions to kindergarten to grade 8 curriculum. Retrieved January 5, 2016, from http://news.gov.mb.ca/news/index.html?item=17770

Stoke, A. (2014, October 8). No surprise in Manitoba students' poor math showings. CBC News. Retrieved on January 5, 2016, from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/no-surprise-in-manitoba-students-poor-math-showings-1.2792542 

Monday, January 04, 2016

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!
 
     Ok... so Happy New Year +4 days! I did take a conscious break from blogging over the holidays but was so excited to blog about New Years on Friday then our internet went out and our son decided to go from sleeping through the night to waking up 11+ times in the night.... related? I don't think so.... but still frustrating none the less! So even though it is four days late I would like to wish all of you in blogland a very happy 2016!

     If you are a relatively new follower to the blog (or if you have forgotten) I actually started this blog in January of 2012 after setting blogging as my New Years Resolution! Over 500 posts later and that continues to be the only New Years Resolution that I have EVER successfully kept!
 
Happy New Years Gif. (2015). Uploaded to Gyphy. Available online at: http://www.inewyearstatus.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/happy-new-year-2016-animated-gifs.gif

     While the past few years have been extraordinarily exciting I think I would be lying if I didn't say that 2015 was the best year on record! In short, my 2015 "Highlight Reel" includes:
- completing my second year of my Master's degree in education
- purchasing a cabin on Lake Manitoba where we spent our entire summer
- receiving notice that one of my papers will be published in an upcoming issue of the BU Journal of Graduate Studies in Education

 
In 2016 I am looking forward to:
- Continuing my Mat Leave until September and spending as much time soaking up the cuddles with my little guy
- Presenting at the 2016 BYTE Conference
- Seeing my paper published in the fall 
- Beginning my 3rd year of teaching
  (I am so fortunate to have received my DREAM schedule when I return from leave)
 
In 2016 my New Year's goals are:
1 ) To blog at least 5 times a month
2 ) To assist other teachers in my school/division with their tech endeavours (when possible)
3 ) To NOT use my phone when around my little guy
4 ) To get at least a B+ in all of my Master's classes
5 ) To prep sufficiently for my classes in the fall to free up evening time for the family
 
Nothing too revolutionary... I feel like my goals are pretty standard,
 but I also feel that they are very practical and relevant!
Now it is your turn, what are your New Year's goals this year?