This is the blog hub for the teaching and learning reflections of ECS350 students at the University of Regina.
How would you respond to a teacher who asks you why he/she should develop and use Indigenous-based culturally responsive pedagogy (CRP) when there are no Indigenous students in his/her classroom (or school)?
If a teacher asked me why they should develop and use Indigenous-based culturally responsive pedagogy when there are no Indigenous students in their classroom (or school), I would tell them to take the time to learn and teach it to their students anyways. My question in return would be, if you didn’t know how to teach any core subject, would you have the choice not to teach it? No. You would likely take the time to learn the curricular content and prepare to teach your students in a meaningful way.
Students benefit from the things their teachers take the time to learn themselves. With Indigenous Education, you may not have Indigenous students in your classroom but it is important for your students to learn about it. The things we learn about Indigenous Education bring to life a lot of the dark times in Canada that are seeming to be hidden. It may not be directly related to your students but at the same time, as Canadians, it is most definitely related. It is important to learn about different events in Canada; even in Saskatchewan, some don’t know very much about Treaty Education. Everyone can value from learning about the history of Saskatchewan and aspects of Indigenous peoples’ as well.
Today’s two Culturally Responsive Pedagogy (CRP) topics (social justice and ethnomathematics) resulted in some discussion around the question of: How do we share with others (colleagues and students) that mathematics is actually not value- and culture-free? What are you thoughts on (and response to) this question?
I feel like in order to share with others that mathematics is actually not value- and culture-free, we must have an understanding of that ourselves. As a future educator, I feel it is extremely important to gain an understanding of how mathematics is actually not value- and culture-free. Researching the topic of culturally responsive pedagogy is a good start in understanding the content ourselves. Next, I would likely sit down with my colleagues and have a discussion with them about their beliefs on the matter; whether or not mathematics is value- and culture-free. Then, I would show them examples from our mathematics problems that show that mathematics is, in fact, not value- and culture-free. I would also show them some examples of mathematics that is not value- and culture-free.
At this point in time, I couldn’t do that. I don’t have enough knowledge of the topic in order to teach it to others. I feel the best start is to gain an understanding of the facts and figure out how to show it to others.
What do you feel are some of the advantages and disadvantages to “becoming aware”, in other words, to develop critical awareness (or, what is referred to as a ‘critical consciousness’) about mathematics and mathematics education?
I believe that there are some of the disadvantages to developing critical awareness about mathematics and mathematics education. In Culturally Responsive Mathematics Education, it is said that “What social planners and educators must face is a meshing of a variety of cultural inputs: The ethnic or racial culture of the individual; the influence of the family; their community and neighbourhood (socioeconomic); the school; learning; the classroom; and the national society at large” (Greer, B., Mukhopadhyay, S., Powell, A.B., & Nelsen-Barber, S., 2009) I feel like one of the biggest issues with “becoming aware” is the fact that there are a lot of different cultures who’s mathematics you would need to include in the curriculum; that may become a major issue because if you leave out a culture then are you truly critically conscious? With the past being very much about the “right” way of doing things, I feel as though many teachers would have issues with parents who believe that notion of “the old way worked for me so why change it?”
I feel as though there are advantages to developing critical awareness about mathematics and mathematics education. Providing students with an opportunity to better themselves using their own cultural knowledge allows for students to feel a sense of pride in their work and really allows the students to relate to their assignments/school work. I believe giving students input into their education, by way of culture, allows them to strive for something higher than what they would achieve by doing things the old way. Our education system needs to change for the better and becoming more culturally responsive is a way to do that.
Greer, B., Mukhopadhyay, S., Powell, A.B., & Nelsen-Barber, S. (Eds.) (2009). Culturally
Responsive Mathematics Education. New York: Routledge.
Based on your experience with the lesson analysis tool today, what new ideas/insights do you have for designing and teaching mathematics lessons that are culturally responsive?
After working with the lesson analysis tool today, the biggest realization I came to is that I likely don’t have any lessons that are culturally responsive. Though, I also feel that it would be extremely difficult to ensure that every single lesson we ever made was culturally responsive.
One of the biggest struggles I would have with the lesson analysis tool is ensuring to include, in my lesson specifically, time(s) for students to be able to speak in their own language as a tool for their learning. I definitely see the benefit of it but it isn’t something I ever really thought about including in my lesson plan.
In our class discussions we talked about how difficult using this tool would be. As much as I see how I could struggle, I also see the benefits of using a tool such as this. Though, as I said before, it isn’t always something that is directly on the lesson plan, as an educator I know these are things that we think about. I like the fact that the tool really makes you think about truly how culturally responsive your lessons are. You may at times feel as though your lesson is culturally responsive and this tool, or one similar to it, will show you that your lesson in fact is not.
It’s often said that a goal of education is compassion and care. I personally believe a goal of life should be compassion and care. I’m currently in week 3 of my final internship as an Education, and this morning, the staff was called into the staff room and given grave news about the medical prognosis of one of its staff members. In the midst of this situation, I could sense that every staff member was affected. There were tears, hugs, and offers to cover one another’s workload as we process this news. This staff has become like a family, and cares for one another as such.
I’m really impacted by the depth of care these professionals have for one another, and it inspires me to not just see my work as a “task to get to done” but as a place where you can foster an atmosphere of compassion and care.
You better believe that the students pick up on the way the staff treat one another – from what I’ve heard from the more senior teachers, the morale in the school has never been higher. When the leaders in the school set a healthy tone, the students feel safe, secure, and want to come to school.
Teaching is about modelling lifestyle and relationship, not just delivering information.
For my Summary of Learning, I made a Prezi.
Follow this link to see it! Press play and enjoy.
Best wishes to all you future teachers out there!
As a future teacher, I get excited when I can help other people learn!
Here are some ways I helped others learn throughout this semester of ECMP355:
I tried to be as “present” as possible (which can be difficult in an online course!) and contributed to conversation and the chat feed as often as I could.
I regularly checked the ecmp355.ca blog hub to see if there were any learning projects to which I could contribute. I often contributed to the learning project of Cassidy Oesch, as I am a fellow knitter. Usually once or twice a week I’d find somebody’s project to give suggestions and comment on their progress. I tried to ask questions of them rather than just saying “Great!” or “Wow!”.
Whenever I’d come across a thought provoking article I’d be quick to share it on social media, with my own thoughts added usually. I found it very interesting to see who would grab on to the article – sometimes totally random would comment and share the article and before I knew it it had been re-tweeted a few times!
Often people would post Google forms, or ask questions on Twitter and if I felt I could add something to the conversation, I would reply.
Having previous experience with Google docs, it was fun to show other members of our group how Google docs works. We made a lot of use out of this platform!
In my learning project, I tried to not only showcase my learning but also to make my videos and posts in a way that others could learn Hebrew along with me. I found myself teaching Hebrew at some points!
Click to view slideshow.
When I was in between grade 11 and grade 12, I went on a summer exchange to France. Essentially, I went to immerse myself in the French language. What I actually gained from that trip was so much more than the language itself. Not only did I learn French, but I also developed a cultural awareness that has shaped my mindset.
I learned to see the world from a totally different lens and consider that others may actually think differently than me!
Oh yes, I also gained a best friend! Her name is Mathilde, and since becoming friends, we’ve cheered each other on as we’ve become adults, professionals, wives, and mothers! (We still FaceTime regularly and travel “across the pond” when we can…we still laugh about how they took me to the Eiffel Tower and we took her to the garbage dump to watch the bears come and eat trash.)
Mathilde and I in a Parisien restaurant, May 2011
This is why I love language learning. It opens up a whole new world of relationships, understandings, and adventures. That’s part of the reason why I chose to become a French teacher – I want to help students develop a cultural awareness and deepen their understanding and respect of others’ viewpoints. This is of utmost importance in our multicultural nation.
That being said, to summarize my Hebrew learning project, I feel that I learned more than just a vocabulary list. At the outset, I kind of thought that’s what I might end up doing: drilling vocabulary flashcards for 50 hours. Very quickly though, this project shaped up to be a wholistic cultural lesson. As I learned the language, I learned about the people, the traditions, the culture that is totally different than my own.
I learned that you have to let the language sink in and become a part of you, in a way.
Once I gave up on memorizing and gave way to exploring, this project became a lot more fun. I learned aspects of the Hebrew language that were important to my everyday life. I also learned about how I learn!
I also learned that you can learn almost anything with technology and access to the Internet! Living in a small town in Manitoba, there are no Hebrew speakers here that I know of. It was really great to be able to access Hebrew speakers online and learn from them!
To access my series of blog posts in chronological order, follow this link:
Another thing I learned was to not limit yourself to one educational tool. I was tempted to stick only to my Hebrew for Dummies book, but am I ever glad I didn’t. That would have been SO BORING. To name a few, here are some tools I used to learn Hebrew:
- podcasts (ex. Hebrew Podcast)
- connecting with people on Twitter
- local resources (friends!)
- books (ex. Hebrew for Dummies, the Bible, The Sabbath Table, HaYesod)
- YouTube videos (ex. videos in Hebrew with English subtitles, language learning tutorials)
- apps (ex. Ma Kore Learn Hebrew)
- blogs (ex. learnhebreweasily.blogspot.com, hebrew4christians.com)
- making my own videos – hearing myself speak helping me adjust my accent
Overall, I’m left with a well-rounded foundation in the Hebrew language. I can say a number of phrases and words. I can sound out most Hebrew text. I can listen for key words from a native speaker. But really, overall, I am left with a desire to keep learning and exploring this beautiful language, this beautiful culture!
About a month ago, I watched this video about a language learning technique called “shadowing”.
A basic breakdown of beginner shadowing (for those of you who don’t want to watch the video!) is as follows:
- Get a book that has your native tongue on one page and the translated version in the language you are learning on the other page.
- Access an audio version of that book in the language you are learning.
- Read the text in your native tongue, and also follow along with the audio version, practicing the words, in the language you are learning.
When I first heard of shadowing, I kind of giggled (yes, giggled) because this is how my mom taught me how to read! Apparently, I was an ambitious 3-year old, and my mom would sit me down with taped (did I just age myself?) versions of Disney books, and I’d follow along with the written words in the book. She said eventually I just started matching words on the page to words in the story and before she knew it, I was reading! Shadowing seems to be a lot like this. The only thing is you need the book and audio in both languages, which was something I didn’t have at the time.
Lo and behold, yesterday, my friend randomly gives me a gift…and it’s a Hebrew-English Shabbat (English: Sabbath) prayer and blessing book.
This seems like a strange, random gift from a friend so here’s the back story: A number of my friends, as Christians, have begun to “Remember to observe Sabbath and keep it holy”, which is the 4th of the 10 Commandments. (It’s basically a day of rest, which is really awesome in my opinion.) I guess she found this book on the internet as an example of what Jewish people do to honour the Sabbath, thinking we could learn a thing or two.
To my surprise, this book would work perfectly for shadowing. There is also an audio component I could order.
A page from my new book The Sabbath Table, from a Messianic Jewish group called the Vine of David.
Another cool thing about this book as that it further opens up the culture of the Hebrew language, not just the language itself.
All that being said, I now have a new tool in my tool belt to expand on my Hebrew! I haven’t begun shadowing yet, but as I paged through the book, I was encouraged to see that I knew a few words already and could start matching up English words to their Hebrew translation.
If you are reading this on a Saturday…Shabbat Shalom!
In taking ECMP355 as part of my Bachelor of Education, I’ve been exposed to so many great tools that I’d like to use in the classroom. Sometimes though I find it almost overwhelming to decide which tool to use for what purposes. This little graphic that I’ve shared will hopefully help me as I enter my internship semester and attempt to provide a well-rounded education to my students.