pre-internship day 1 snapshot

Day 1 was a success! I am just happy to get to hang out with students all day and soak up their vibrant personalities. Schools have always felt like such welcoming, warm places to me, so it’s awesome to get to spend the next three weeks there with a fantastic co-op and a group of 25 wonderful students (who keep me on my toes, teach me TONS, and help me improve as a teacher every single MINUTE). Here are some of today’s highlights:

Best Thing About My Lesson: The students really enjoyed the hands-on music tasks (which is good, because they are part of every single lesson in my unit!). Yet another reminder that music works magic with kids!

Uh-Oh Moment: YouTube videos wouldn’t play with sound! Stay calm, think fast, ALWAYS have a back up plan (and time fillers).

Something To Work On: Relax. Keep expectations high and students accountable.

Something New I Tried: “Around the World” engagement strategy: Teacher moves around the room while talking to students and they have to continually pivot to stay facing the teacher. Will have to practice this a bit more so all students are following me with their eyes.

Quote of the Day: “Is Superman real?”

What I’m Excited for Tomorrow: Playing my guitar and singing with the students! Wish me luck!

-KKF

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news awareness, gender equity, and music’s influence – oh my!

Over the past few days, a few things have come to the attention that I thought would be worthy of sharing with all of you:

News Awareness This one is a personal development target for myself. I have never been one who turns on the the news on TV to catch up with national and global happenings, mostly because I find the news to be very disheartening, monotonous, and skewed in its representation of different perspectives. However, I have realized recently that, as a teacher, I have a responsibility to keep up with important current events that my students may have been hearing about and have questions about that we can address as a class. As of now, if a student came up to me and asked, “Teacher, what’s happening in Ukraine?” I would have no way to answer them. That is not what I want for my future classroom. So I have perused the App Store on my phone and downloaded a handful of news apps that I am trying out in order to spark myself to get with the times and avoid future embarrassment over my obliviousness to recent news stories. I’ll let you know which ones I have found most helpful after I have given them all a fair shot!

Gender Equity In my ECS 210 class, groups of us are doing Inquiry Projects on a topic of our choice, and mine is “Gender Equity.” My instructor (check out her blog and Twitter account!) lent our group a couple of textbooks to pull ideas from, and I found one particularly insightful: “Rethinking Early Childhood Education” (by Rethinking Schools, Ed. Pelo, 2008).

Image (this is what the book looks like)

Here are just a few of the points that I gleaned from my short time reading:

  • Science kits in toy stores had NO female figures (girls or women) on the boxes –> What does this say about our society’s beliefs about girls’ interests and capabilities?
  • The word ‘tomboy’ makes a girl into a boy, simply because she doesn’t act in a stereotypically associated ‘girly’ way –> just because of her actions, she can no longer retain her identity as a girl? Is it, then, abnormal for girls to be ‘tomboys’? And what could be a possible alternative for this word ‘tomboy’? I’d argue that she is a girl just as much as her female classmate dressing up as a princess, wouldn’t you?
  • Game Boys have a similar effect –> Does this mean girls can’t play with them? Do you think a video game console today would be named something similar that rejects one gender? Is this just an innocent mistake, or does it have deeper repercussions?
  • The children’s story “The Three Little Pigs” creates a hierarchy of living spaces. Houses made of straw or sticks are significantly symbolized as ‘less than’ those of bricks, when people in other countries live in these types of ‘lesser’ homes. –> Yes, this one isn’t related to gender, but I found myself so taken aback that I just had to include it. It makes me wonder what other, hidden messages we are portraying to children in classic fairy tales and fables…
  • Something that I realized as a result of this lens of gender… There have been types of Lego that are specifically advertised towards girls because they have pink and purple pieces and all the sorts of things that little girls will (presumably) like. Aren’t these blatantly ‘girly’ toys just perpetuating these stereotypes, though? Why can’t girls play with normal Lego? This is creating the idea that girls can’t use boys’ toys and must have their own, separate, girly-fied versions. I see no reason for boys to have superhero dolls to nurture or girls to have frilly Lego to build princess castles with. I don’t think we need to change the nature of the toy in order to try and market it towards a certain audience.

girl lego

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music’s Profound Influence While listening to an “Epic Film Scores” playlist on my Songza app (which I HIGHLY recommend that everyone download!), I could easily recognize which movies certain tunes came from – sometimes within just a few bars. As a huge lover and advocate of music, I enjoyed this simple reinforcement of how easily music sticks with us and embeds itself into our memories – often infused with a deep, emotional connection. This is the driving force behind my firm belief in using music daily in my future classroom – if a song I sing in a Grade 1 class can be recognized fifteen years later when my students are in high school because of something they learned from it, or the way it made them feel, then I am definitely doing my job right. Music is such a powerful force, why not harness it for learning?

Thanks for reading! Until next time,

-KKF

does school kill creativity?

Well, it’s official – this is my first brand new post on my WordPress blog (all of my previous posts from my old Blogger blog have been brought over now – glad that’s finished)! And what a great way to start fresh!

I came across this TedTalk on We Inspire Futures and absolutely loved it! Sir Ken Robinson gets his point across very clearly and peppers his presentation with his sweet sense of humour, making the video both informative and entertaining. It also led me to question my views as a future educator.

I think with all of the debates about standardized testing, the issue of creativity is often brought into question as well. I remember someone on Twitter saying “Is standardized testing producing standardized thinkers?” or something to that effect. This video gave me a similar question. Can our artistic students truly flourish in the education system we have set up for them? And how can we ensure that our future choreographers and filmmakers and actors/actresses are being properly stimulated and engaged in the classroom?

As I think more and more about it, I realize that Arts Integration is going to be  HUGE part of my future classroom. Some statistic somewhere said that children who play an instrument are more likely to do well in school, and I truly believe that we can’t focus entirely on Math formulas and English concepts to educate our children. Their education deserves to be much more enriched with creativity and opportunities for artistic expression and discovery.

I have loved music as long as I can remember. I always made up songs and sang them to myself when I was playing outside as a kid. One Christmas, one of my cousins got a miniature electric keyboard and one of the pre-set songs it played was “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic and I was maybe 5-ish at the time and was just belting it! haha My uncle ended up telling my parents that I had a future in voice and that led to me being put in piano lessons and, later on, I took up voice AND guitar lessons instead, which I am sorely missing this year! I also loved being part of the Drama club at my old high school. And while I don’t consider myself a good dancer or artist by any stretch, I still find these types of art beautiful and a wonderful way for people to express feelings that they can’t elsewhere (and I am VERY jealous of people who are good dancers or artists, because I would LOVE to be!). That is what music feels like to me and I would never want to stop a student from developing these amazing talents.

Because the arts are so near and dear to my heart (which is kind of surprising, seeing as I am also a very analytical and organized person, not your typical artist personality), I really want that to show in my future classroom. I smile when I picture myself, guitar in hand, singing with my students and I insist that this future become a reality someday!

This topic also gave me a lesson idea…

I am in Art 100 this semester and one of the things that is clearly stressed to us over and over is that art, while primarily considered to be made primarily for its aesthetic appeal and visual beauty, is more modernly geared towards expressing one’s opinion. So I think it would be great for students to pick a side of an argument or a controversial issue that they feel very connected to, and turn it into art. Whether they want to make something out of clay, draw a picture, write a song, choreograph a dance, it doesn’t matter! But expressing their interest in a topic in a medium outside of a report or powerpoint could really help them deepen their thinking (and also, it’s way more fun, am I right?). This may be a bit difficult for a Grade 1 class, but I never want to underestimate the creative capacity of kids these days (seems like kids in school know WAY more than I did at their age – kind of scary! haha) and there are many ways you could adapt this for younger students.

I am sure that I will have WAY more posts about fostering creativity and integrating art into other subject areas, so stay tuned! I think I’m gunna go dance crazily around my room and sing into my hairbrush for a while – haha! :p

 

 

getting ready to go song

1, 2, 3, 4
Get in line to go out the door
5, 6, 7, 8
Hurry now, we can’t be late!
9, 10, 11, 12
Check my partner and myself
Now that we are ready to go,
Lights, camera, action and on with the show!

I came up with this little chant randomly one day and thought it was kind of cute. When you are teaching the class the song, you can elaborate on the “Check my partner and myself” line so that children look at the person next to them and make sure that they are standing still, with hands at sides and ‘zip their lips’ to get ready for the hallway!

are the 4 streams of art being represented?

Today, in my boredom at being done all of my homework (which I know I will be desperate to remember when exam time comes around again…), I decided to explore around the Saskatchewan Curriculum website.

One thing I found surprising, yet logical, is the allotted times for each subject area (which are as follows):

*values are in minutes/week
*these are from the Grade 1 curriculum

560 English Language Arts 
210 Mathematics 
200 Art Education (50 each for Dance, Drama, Music and Visual Art)
150 Social Studies 
150 Physical Education 
150 Science
80 Health Education 
_____
1500 = 300/day = 5 hours

For some reason, I assumed that the Math and ELA values would be much closer (though I know that developing reading and writing skills is the primary focus and most well-known characteristic of Grade 1). However, I never realized just how the time allotments were broken down. More than 1/3 of the school week is spent on English (which is a joyous realization for me, as English is my favourite subject area. If I were in Secondary Education, I would, without a doubt, be an English major!).

Thinking about these numbers, I wonder if students are truly getting these exact times as suggested. At the elementary school in my hometown, classes are 45 minutes long, which certainly doesn’t divide evenly into any of these numbers. 

The area I wonder most about is Art Education. Certainly, elementary-aged students receive an abundance of Visual Art lessons, what with all the arts and crafts that they do. As for the other three categories, though, I am unsure. Certainly Dance can additionally be a fundamental unit in the Physical Education program, but how are Dance, Drama and Music being represented in an average Canadian classroom?

When we think about Art class in a Grade 1 classroom, we automatically are reminded of cutesy crafts made with scissors and glue. These creative (and usually messy) projects are a hallmark of Art class in the primary grades. I can’t remember Grade 1 all that well, but I am quite certain that we didn’t have any Dance, Music or Drama incorporated into our Art lessons.

This discovery has led me to make a goal to incorporate all four of these sections of the Art curriculum into my future classroom. Young children are the perfect group to be doing these artistic things with and there are so many ways that you can incorporate dance, music and drama into a Pre-K to 5 art lesson (see my cultural music focused lesson plan, posted on March 7th).

This personal exploration has allowed me to think critically, set a goal and, best of all, feel accomplished on this lazy Saturday afternoon! I know that the teacher education program is helping me grow as a future teacher every day, but I can also steer myself down that path in my spare time as well. 

All of the information in this post was found at
http://www.curriculum.gov.sk.ca/#

music as cultural integration/alphabet art

I am starting to bring over some of my posts from my Blogger blog! This is the first one I ever made 🙂 Enjoy!

This is an idea for a lesson plan that increases cultural awareness and incorporates a musical aspect. Being a lover of Chinese and Spanish music, I think it would be great to explore the music of different countries around the world with a class.

1. Pick a country and play some examples of traditional or modern music.
2. Talk about the instruments the kids can identify, or show google images of foreign instruments that are interesting or different from what the children already know. Maybe try making some of your own to play along!
3. Express how the music makes you feel or what mood it has. Is it angry sounding, light and airy, something you would dance to?
4. How would you dance to it? Watch a clip of traditional dancing to enforce this idea and get kids to imitate it or create their own moves!
5. Have they heard this type of music before on t.v. or in a movie? Can they make any connections to music that they have heard or are familiar with already?
6. Repeat with a different country!

This second activity utilizes the alphabet, but applied in a fun way for kids to practice their letters!

Pick an animal, object, person, etc. to draw. Now see if you can create a picture of it using only letters to draw.

Example: a bear. You could use an ‘O’ as the head, p’s or d’s as ears, a sidways ‘c’ for a mouth, etc, etc. Let kids be creative. Explore what letters make round shapes or straight lines. Make sure you use different colors to make your picture unique!

Stay tuned for more in the future!

-KKF