“Stick It To The Man:” Day 8

Today was the final day for the fall semester placement. The eight weeks flew by! We had a relaxed, yet busy day together. We continued working on our newspaper and then we attended “School of Rock” at Campbell Collegiate.

The newspaper is coming along great! I am impressed with the work the students are completing- I have attached the political cartoon a student created about the team name debate. It is powerful! The editors are now busy editing and formatting; I look forward to being able to share the final project next week!

My co-op and I went through my evaluation together, and I asked him if I could also ask the students to evaluate my approach and provide feedback; he loved the idea. After recess, I handed out their journals and explained to them I value and appreciate what they say and I want to know what they feel I should work on, what I am great at, and what I should teach in March. I was impressed with the respectful and thoughtful responses. There were a few students who enjoyed the station activities, and there were a few who did not. They appreciate my creativity and my passion to teach.  Overall, my top quality, based on the students’ journals, is that I care and reach out to each student, not just a few. I had two students who were not interested in the social studies unit I taught; I valued that they were honest about disliking the topic but they appreciated how I worked hard to provide engaging activities. It was a vulnerable position and I was nervous about what I was getting into. I received excellent feedback from the students. It definitely opened my eyes to the vast learning styles in the room; I will be sure to plan lessons I can adapt to reach each student effectively.

The musical was a great end to the day. We all had a blast amidst the chaos of entering and exiting the auditorium. We wrapped the day up spending the last five minutes outside. The students were all sad to hear it was my last “official” day and they were excited to hear I will definitely be visiting often until my full three weeks in March! It was exciting to hear how excited they were about having me for the full three weeks. I am so humbled by the relationships I have developed with each student!


The political cartoon completed by a student!




The Museum…again

We (Jasmine and Zakk) visited the museum again this week! Unlike our last visit, we walked through the museum slowly and we used the worksheets provided by the museum. The experience influenced us to think and consider what a trip to the museum would like with our own classroom in the future.

We both agreed we would refrain from using the existing materials provided by the museum. Asking students to work through sheets as they explore limits the actual amount of exploration they complete. We would definitely promote our students to guide their own tour and collect photos of various exhibits and pieces that resonated with them- similar to what Sean asked us to do for our social studies class.

We believe a trip to the museum encourages critical engagement; this trip through, and seeing the questionable presence of First Nations’ peoples cultures and practices needs to be viewed by a critical eye. A perfect example of this is having students look at and discuss the quilt on display. Personally, we had never noticed this piece until Monday. Pointing this display out is vital and it definitely assists in promoting critical thinking amongst students.

We do believe Treaty Education outcomes can be reached during a museum visit- although it would take rewriting the indicators and, again, using the critical lense as you toured through the museum.

Essentially, a trip to the museum with our class would based around several key questions to push students to think outside the box about the presence of various pieces of First Nations’ artifacts and culture.


Inquiring Minds Want to Write: Day 7

Yesterday, I had the valuable opportunity to co-plan and co-teach an assignment and lesson. At the beginning of pre-internship I was most excited for the opportunity to co-teach often with my partner. I was worried I would not get this opportunity still so I was thankful my coop was willing to plan and teach an exciting wrap up assignment for the lesson I taught the past six weeks.

The students were excited to begin the project we introduced: a classroom newspaper highlighting contemporary First Nations’ issues we need to know. I was blown away as we brain-stormed together as a class. They provided ideas that we had not learned in class- a true indication they had been considering my lessons outside of my assigned teaching time. I felt incredible as I realized how much the students learned and, more importantly, how much they cared about the topic.

I feel my coop and I are a great co-teaching team. We have a similar style- he is just better and more experienced obviously. I think the best part of coteaching with him is I find myself teaching up to his ability. We also bounced off each other’s ideas and comments. I think the students also really enjoy when we are both strongly present during lessons. It was a great experience and I look forward to doing the same next week.

The students immediately began researching and writing about their topics; they also asked to continue working because they were having so much fun learning. Some of the topics students are writing about are the Sixties Scoop, the Residential School legacy, the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Northern Saskatchewan, the cost of living in Northern Canadian reserves, and the clashing worldviews during the signing of Treaties. I cannot wait to see the final product and share it with everyone! I think it is going to be truly incredible!

“I Was Traumatized:” Successful Stories from Week 6

Today was another great day with my 7/8’s! We are working on our Practical and Applied Arts (PAA) projects in the morning. My cooperating teacher is offering the photo transfer project and it is really neat! The last group’s final photos turned out amazing. Today a new group started the project and it was exciting to be a part of the photo picking process and to hear the reasonings behind why each photo is chosen.

I was also provided a tour of the incredible grade 5 room right beside ours. The teacher runs an inquiry based program and she was excited to share her approach and ideas with me. I was blown away by the work, learning, and projects the students were doing. They have an incredible tower garden and they were excitedly cutting their greens to have a salad party. She invited me to join her room and I am looking forward to spending a full day in December learning with her class!

I taught right after lunch and I was nervous about this lesson. Our previous class discussions during my lessons naturally lead us to Residential Schools. I decided to open with a simulation of the experience- this meant turning on the mean switch and I did not think I had it in me. I rudely greeted students as they walked in, barking orders and demands of them to immediately get to work. On their desks, an assignment was waiting for them- all written in Cree. The students were mortified and speaking out in frustration. I continued to yell at them to just get to work; I do not care if you can read it or understand it- just GET IT DONE! One student timidly asked, “why are you acting this way?” Another student asked, “did you forget to eat lunch today, Mrs. Korpan?” This humorous comment made me break but I turned around and went back into character. The students were awkwardly laughing and they really did not know what to do. I did have one student speak out, say he knew exactly what I was doing and refused to listen to me. I yelled at him to just shut up, sit on the floor, and get to work. He went to my coop about my language, and he just shrugged his shoulders. He fully participated in the lesson and he even joined in and kicked students out of the classroom with me. After fifteen minutes, I asked the students how many felt frustrated they had a lesson in a language they didn’t understand and every hand went up. I asked students how my attitude towards their learning made them feel and they all agreed it was traumatizing. This lead into an incredible discussion and debrief about Residential Schools. I had intentions of doing a journal entry but I had to let the lesson finish organically and that was simply sticking with the discussion. Afterwards, students approached me and they really enjoyed the lesson. It made me happy and it made the very difficult role worth it seeing how much they took from the lesson. We finished the day with “We Were Children.” This is a documentary about residential schools. The students were engaged and interested in the film; I noticed some were upset and they all were shocked that my treatment actually was nice compared to the reality.

I am excited to spend the next two weeks working on an inquiry project with the 7/8’s about contemporary issues with First Nations peoples of Canada. The students have been thoroughly engaged and I believe they are going to create something incredible with the project we have planned!

“Three Stars:

* Awesome simulation to residential schools and hook to the lesson: students were frustrated having to do work in Cree

* Great conversation and questions from students

* The stories that you were able to pass down to students were incredibly impactful

One thing that you are getting really good at is noticing students in the class who are not on task or who are not listening and stopping the activity in a really fast and subtle way.

Amazing lesson and amazing discussion. Well done!”

The best part of every week is the amount of laughing my coop and I do. We spent a solid hour after school laughing until we cry about the day. I am thankful we share the same sense of humour; it has allowed us to create something amazing!

Now, please enjoy this photo I was granted permission to share from a student. It is his cat celebrating a birthday with a hat and lipstick on. I LOVE these students and their incredible senses of humour!

The Power of Personal Stories: Day 5

Another Wednesday has come and gone! This week was a wild day in the classroom. The students have started Practical and Applied Arts, they were all abuzz about the election results, we had two Remembrance Day assemblies and they had their final volleyball tournament right after school. Oh- and we were hours away from a four day long weekend. Energy was high but it made for an exciting day.

I wasn’t sure how long my lesson would be because of the wild schedule so I had to be flexible. I was asked to prepare a Remembrance Day lesson which is a hard task when I am unsure if I have 30 minutes or 60 minutes. I decided to keep it simple because I was teaching the last hour of a wild day before a long weekend. I chose to do an art response and the students were asked, after listening and sharing stories about the wars, to create and explain a medal of honour they would award to a soldier. I opened the discussion with my husband’s grandpa’s incredible and inspiring story from World War II. The students were engaged-the most engaged I have seen them at this time of day. They found the story amazing and they immediately went to work on their medals. I enjoyed the down time while they created; it allowed me to chat and get to know some students who don’t say too much.

I did have several opportunities to work on classroom management and student discipline given the structure of the day (or lack thereof). My cooperating teacher overheard me chatting with two girls who were disrespectful and he really appreciated my approach to handling their behaviours and actions. It is nice to hear his feedback; I appreciate the hard work he puts in to ensure I learn the most I possibly can during this experience.

I am humbled at the relationships I have built with students. I was so excited when a few of the boys asked me to come to their hockey games- I truly feel when students ask you to attend personal sporting events it shows a level of respect towards you. I look forward to definitely making it out to watch a few hockey games of the students; it is important to follow through with these opportunities to establish strong relationships.

“Three stars:

*Sharing your personal story and making a connection with students

*Understanding that for many of them it was a long day and being flexible with your plan

*Staying on top of some of the behaviours by stopping them before they even started.”

Classroom Management 101

Classroom management is a hot topic. A quick search on Pinterest will flood you with thousands of pins with the “best approach.” In my opinion, there cannot be one “best approach” when you are educating a diverse group of anywhere from twenty-two to thirty students.

I appreciate Dr. Curwin’s article about values in the classroom. Based on my experiences and teaching philosophy, I do feel this is where my management style fits. My second day in the field, my cooperating teacher asked me specifically about what my management style looks like. I hesitated- I didn’t have a defined theory or practice, so I simply told him I believe the best management stems from relationships. Perhaps this is where our relationship grew from because he nodded in agreement. There are important values to bring into the classroom; in my classroom I work in, the students, with the teacher, created an agreement that outlined expectations of both students and teacher. The agreement itself is an excellent management tool because, whenever students start to fall off task or act silly, a simple reminder or question “what’s our job?” often brings everyone back to focus.

I believe ClassroomDojo has a great benefit in certain classes, but I have not thought about how I would incorporate it into my management style. I believe allowing students to give and take marks away from each other could lead to hurt feelings or popularity contests. However, just because it doesn’t fit in the class I am in right now, I can think of classes I have worked in previously that ClassroomDojo would be remarkably successful for the students.

Overall, I believe there is no “one size fits all” management technique and, in my future as an educator, the approach I use will be defined by the students in the classroom and not by what looks the coolest on Pinterest.

Opening the Discussion: Gender & Sexual Diversity

Laura joined our class and she shared her incredibly inspiring journey of transitioning. I am thankful the conversation about gender and sexual diversity is finally happening. The first two years in classes left me feeling quite prepared and educated with respect to several other marginalized groups I will teach, but I never felt prepared to discuss, support or provide resources for gender and sexual diverse students and staff. I believe this conversation is vital; this conversation needs to be as prevalent as every other. This semester I fully realized my lack of knowledge and increased need when I entered my classroom for pre-internship. I was immediately inspired to gain resources and knowledge immediately to effectively teach a couple of my students.

Laura’s story is important to listen to, learn and grow from. I did not know what to expect and I was thankful Laura was so open and honest. It was upsetting to hear how long she had to live a lie; it was inspiring to hear how she took the chance of losing so much but, instead, gained so much more. I was humbled at how accepting everyone in her town and family are; I honestly was not expecting that of a small town given my personal experiences with my hometown. I do hope there are more towns like Kelliher, Saskatchewan; I also hope my hometown will be that open one day as well.

I appreciated Laura’s emphasis on literature. She is absolutely correct when she says reading helps us all. It was fabulous to see there is a great collection of books for children. I also researched more online and I found further books about family dynamics with two moms or two dads. It is wonderful to know these books are out there because, teaching a student with two moms, I realize the value in sharing such resources to promote classroom understanding.

I look forward to taking the discussion about gender and sexual diversity further in the next few months prior to internship. I believe it is a conversation more teachers are wanting to have and it is important the opportunity is available.