Meta Reflection

I wanted to start my Meta reflection by doing something I do not normal do in my everyday life.

I wanted to end my time outside today by sitting in a circle, listening to the wind and thinking about myself. I realized there are a lot of things in my life that connect. Things that I realized that I am are, I am a Canadian citizen, I am a Treaty Person, I am a women and I have rights and freedoms. For me to say I am a Treaty Person was not easy. It took me awhile throughout this class to realize that I am a Treaty Person and now I am proud to be able to say that.

This video represents all the things I loved to do outside as a child. I loved to go on the trampoline, make snow angels and even go on walks. I have realized that my life has shifted a lot. I don’t go outside as much as I should. Going outside today on one of the coldest days was actually really fun. I challenged myself to do something I wouldn’t normally do. As stated in the Canoe Pedagogy and Colonial History reading by Newbery was that students have to challenge themselves with new experiences and understandings. I believe that this has to start with the teacher.

Since I want to be a future teacher, I have to be a role model to students. To be a role model in environment education, I have to be able to recognize my mistakes and my achievements. At the beginning of this course, I did not feel comfortable talking about myself in my blog posts. In my first blog post I talked about my uncle, relating it to the forest fires in Fort McMurray. I stated, “I was very proud of what he tried to accomplish during the natural disaster that occurred. At the time, I did not see myself as being a part of the environment. I couldn’t think of anything that I have done that effected the environment positively. As I said at the beginning, I never go outside anymore and my excuse is I am too busy. After our Skype call with Colin Harris, I realized that being to busy to go outside is not an excuse. Before our action learning projects I did not see a point in recycling, carpooling, taking the bus, eating organic food or reusing waste. I did not believe that me as a single person would impact the environment. I kept questioning myself, asking myself how could one person impact the environment. Even if I tried as hard as I could, this world still consists of many more people. But from looking back on the video we watched called the Flight of the hummingbird, it gave me hope. Doop Doop De Um motivated me because even though things may be impossible, she said, “I am doing what I can.” I want to be a teacher that students look up to, therefore if I show them I am doing what I can. I believe they will start too.

From watching The Lorax, it made me think of Doop Doop De Um. Doop Doop De Um is trying to better the environment for the animals. In the movie the Lorax, the boy Ted is trying to better his community. He said that nothing will change “unless we do something about it,” in his situation he needs the entire community to work together to bring back the trees. One hidden aspect that differs from the book and the movie was that Ted only wanted to do this to impress a girl. I have realized in my life that there are things I do because I want to impress someone or get a good mark in school. From not having marks in this class it helped me over-come that theory. When Ted realized how important it was to have trees, he decided to focus more on the community. From watching this movie, I realized that environment education does not happen based on a mark or based on impressing someone. To better the environment I need to do it for myself. If I believe I can do something, even if it is something little, then I will feel good about what I have done.

In the reading, The Scandinavian Philosophy of Outdoor Life, Gelter states, “One other important reason for being in nature is to explore its resources.” I wanted to end off this class by exploring my outdoors background. I have been to many places, like Mexico, Seattle, Las Vegas and Phoenix. One thing I loved to do was take photo’s of everything outside because it was all new to me. In most of the pictures I had taken outdoors, I did not include myself. It was actually difficult to find pictures of me being outside. After taking this class I decided that that is going to change. One day I want to travel and see what the environment holds and be able to find myself in the world. As the song states, “Waiting on the world to change.” I believe it is time we stop waiting.

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Part C: Teacher as Reflective Practitioner

From being in this classroom it has taught me a lot about being a future educator. I got to research a topic that related to me which was standardized testing. I was not surprised to see some of the research I did because I believed that standardized testing needs to be changed. I am a hands on learner, therefore being in the field has taught me the most in this class. From being placed at Sacred Heart Community School has taught me a lot. A few things it taught me was how to tell if you have lice or bed bugs. Lice and bed bugs were a frequent occurrence in the classroom. Some days we knew about it and others we did not. Despite the fact of the bugs, working with the students was a life changing opportunity because it opened my eyes to a new surrounding. As we learned throughout the class, there are many forms of diversity. I now have volunteered at two very diverse schools, one being Sacred Heart and another being Scott Collegiate. At both of these placements I was hands on with the students. I was extremely lucky to have been placed in the classroom at Scared Heart that I was. The teacher allowed my partner and I to work with students in groups, one-on-one and we even got to read to the whole class. From being in this school it helped me step out of my comfort zone. Usually in this environment, I am quiet and awkward. At first I struggled with determining which student would need help. After the first few weeks I overcame my awkwardness by not worrying so much about doing something wrong. I had to be outgoing and friendly to allow the students to trust me. I realized that students always need help and enjoyed having attention. After building relationships with these students, it was easier for me to be more comfortable in the situation. I had to be professional around these students and always come with a positive attitude and dressed appropriately, as we learned in class. At Scared Heart, the majority of the students were of First Nation descent. These students represented a wide range of knowledge and understanding. Some of the students struggled more then others and some needed more assistance. I got the opportunity to work with one of the students who was believed to need the most help in the classroom. This student had a learning difference, but the teacher in the classroom had told me that ever since day one they have not been able to figure out what was the difference was. This student had a mind of his own; when I was working with him he kept talking to me about irreverent things like ghosts and asking me if I believed in them. This student not only disrupted his own learning, but also affected other students in the classroom. This was really challenging for me to help him one-on-one with his work while he was concerned about a different topic. From being placed in this situation I wanted to create a goal for myself. I want to learn more about how to work with students who have learning differences or disabilities. To accomplish this goal, I have been looking into places I can volunteer at with children who have disabilities and looking into classes I can take at the University. In my personal opinion, I believe that for me to become a good teacher, I need to be able to accommodate the needs of every student I have in my classroom.

Another issue happened with this student that made the teacher have to send him to the quite room. I have never heard of a quiet room for students and I believe that it is something I need to learn more about. My journey throughout this class and my field placement has shifted. Before this class, I wanted to be put in a school that was white privileged and wanted to work with younger students. I have never been to a community school until this placement. I was surprised to see the school providing lunch and breakfast for these students on my first day. But after being in the school for 8 weeks, I learned that I love being in that environment. I loved working with students who see the world differently then me. These students value so much in their life. As the teacher told us that if the last thing she can do for these students at the end of the day is to give them a hug and tell them she loves them, then she will do so. Therefore she can motivate the students to come back the next day with smiles on their faces. I believe that there are a lot of hidden aspects behind some of these students’ lives that I never would have thought of. As we learned about in class lectures was that it is difficult for students to come to school who live in poverty. I believe a lot of these students live in poverty because many of these students do not even have proper jackets or shoes. It is heartbreaking to think about some of the situations these students might be in, but in the future if I got to work at a community school, I would be very blessed. The teacher in the classroom has showed us many ways to approach these students and make learning fun for them. I will definitely remember this volunteer experience while continuing on with my education journey.

Lecture Questions

Week 1: How can we over-come the typical stereo-types that teachers are associated with?

Week 2: Why would people send their children off to residential schools knowing how strict and how terrible they were? Was there no other option?

Week 3: Do peoples values differ based on the different school systems they attend?

Week 4: How do you know what educational approach is appropriate to follow?

Week 5: What would be the best theory to follow, transfer, shaping, travelling or growing theory?

Week 6: From learning to walk together, would it be possible to represent different perspectives in a diverse classroom?

Week 7: When creating a blog, how do you know if the information is important enough to share with students or their parents?

Week 8: The survey we did said that it is a myth that students with disabilities do not distract students in a normal classroom. How?

Week 9:In diverse schools, would it be possible to acknowledge language awareness among each student?

Week 10: Would gay or lesbian teachers be treated differently in the school system?

Week 11: Is technology going to take over the teaching world?

Week 12: What assessment is more important, formative assessment or summative assessment? Could you focus on one assessment more than the other and still be successful with your students?

Week 13: How can I engage a student who has no motivation?

Reflection of Week 4-8

Week 5: Inclusive Education-Diversity & Difference

The biggest form of diversity that is faced at this school is culture. There are many students in this school that have different backgrounds, the majority being Aboriginal. One incident happened a few weeks ago in the classroom that reflected on this concept. One of the First Nation boys in the class has long hair in a braid and the girl he sits by tried to cut it. The teacher then lectured the student and brought upon the idea that some students value their hair and have pride in it because it is apart of their culture. This was a way for the teacher to introduce some of the Treaty Education concepts. The students in this classroom have different things they value, whether it is their hair or their clothes. The teacher in this classroom also respects the things the student’s value. As I referred to in my previous reflection, some of these students might have different first languages that I have not noticed. It was difficult for me to see any sexual diversity in this classroom. I did not notice anything during my placement; all the students acted the same and enjoyed playing with each other even boys and girls. I believe this is a hard age to witness any sexual diversity without being with these students everyday.

 

Week 6: Curriculum & Instruction

When we go to the classroom on Tuesday afternoons, the students are usually transitioning into reading and writing. For part of the time these students are doing AR tests. I have never heard of AR tests until being in this classroom. An AR test is when the students read a book to themselves or someone will read it to them and then they have to go do a short quiz on the computers about the book they have read. Since the classroom I am in is a 4/5 slip class, it connects with both; outcome AR4.1 Reflect on and assess own viewing, listening, reading, speaking, writing, and other representing experiences, the selected strategies employed and explore possible ways to improve and outcome AR5.1 Identify strengths in viewing, listening, reading, speaking, writing, and other forms of representing from the Saskatchewan Curriculum. Another concept the teacher teaches to the class is how to write paragraphs and how they are contributed into an essay. This concept connects to outcome: CC4.4 Use a writing process to produce descriptive, narrative, and expository compositions that focus on a central idea, have a logical order, explain point of view, and give reasons or evidence and outcome CC5.1 Use a writing process to experiment with and produce multi-paragraph narrative, expository, and persuasive compositions that clearly develop topic and provide transitions for the reader also from the Saskatchewan Curriculum. From looking at the curriculum outcomes, it shows me that the teacher is on the right track and the activities they do are extremely relevant for both grades. The stories of the curriculum are why something is being taught. From looking at the outcomes that connect to one topic I have witnessed that there is learning diversity among some these students. A lot of the students in the classroom learn differently and need different accommodations. One student I have worked with needs to be told exactly what to do all the time and needs to be watched or he will not do anything. Other students have the opportunity to learn at standing desks or they can sit on a bounce ball if they need. This is a great learning environment for these students because all students learn differently; therefore the option to move around or stand may benefit a lot of these students.

Week 7: The Roles of Technology

Technology in this particular classroom is rarely used. All of the assignments that the students are given are on paper. The only aspect of technology I have noticed in this classroom has been laptops that have been used for AR tests only. In the library of the school, they also only had 4 computers that students had access too. Technology is only used when students are done their work, then they are allowed to work on their AR tests. The teacher in the classroom has access to a computer and projector. The projector in the classroom has only been used for Brain Breaks for the students, that I have noticed. Brain Breaks, which I explained in my last reflection, allow the students to let loose and dance. The homeroom teacher also uses her computer for attendance and blogs. She posts on her blog every day, therefore students parents can look at it at home and know what the students have been doing and what events are coming up. One issue I have noticed in this classroom was that the school does not have enough textbooks for every student. If a student needs to do homework, they are not allowed to take home textbooks either. But textbooks are online for these students to access at home. Personally, I am a hands on learner, therefore I believe for some of these students it might be hard to learn from a textbook that is online or they might not have the resources.

Week 8 Overall Reflection: Looking at the Big Picture: Interconnectedness of Schooling & Society

The school I got placed at is a community school. It is unlike any of the schools I have gone too. I have learned a lot from the students and the teachers in this school. I have learned more in this placement then I would in any class. During my placement it allowed me to have a lot of hands on with the students. I got the opportunity to work and read to many of the students. Some days were better then others but overall these students enjoyed Hannah and I’s attention. These students taught me a new level of respect and let me view the world differently. I am very blessed to have the opportunity I did with these students.

 

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When I was at my placement, it was the teachers’ birthday. She wanted to show us what the students got her. The chocolate bar was 2 weeks of chore money saved up from 2 students. The two books were books that one girl won at a bookstore that she really wanted. She also received some McDonalds coupons and a lot of love notes. She told us that this is why she teaches and that this broke her heart. She wanted us to share it with the students in our ECS 100 class and show them that this is what birthdays look like at community schools.

Reflections of Week 1-4

Week One: Students & the Learning Environment

On the first day of my field placement, I was very nervous because I was put in a different surrounding and did not know what to expect. I was excited to be placed at Sacred Heart Community School and was extremely lucky with the teacher I got placed with. She allows me to work with her students when they are struggling and she puts me in groups with students she knows that will need extra assistance. I am in a grade 4/5 split classroom, which has a great amount of diverse students. I would assume that the majority of these students are Aboriginal and come from low-income families. The teacher had told us that she was talking to a child’s mother and that the student and his mother were living in a shelter. She then told us that at the end of the school day she tells her students she loves them and gives them hugs and for some of the students that is the only support they have until they come to class the next day. She also told us that the things these students experience in their everyday life is something that we would never be able to understand or be able to relate to.

The learning environment in the classroom is set up a lot different then what I experienced in elementary school. My classroom was set up in rows of desks, with two chalkboards on the wall. We kept all of our books and papers in our desk. My teachers always had their own desk too. Majority of my classmates were white middle class students. In my field placement classroom, the teacher did not have her own desk. She had a desk that the students could sit around her. By having this in her classroom, it is easier for the children to ask for help and get help. The children sat at tables with 3 other students, instead of sitting in desks. There were also no chalkboards in her room. She had one white board at the front of her classroom. I also realized her room was very organized, all the kids have there books in the same place. The one issue I seen in this classroom was that students had to share textbooks. There was not enough for them to have their own, so when they wrote tests or did assignments they had to take turns with their partner to look at the book. Overall the learning environment looks awesome to me, I love the idea of students sitting at tables with each other and the idea of having all there books set aside. At the end of the day the students either give their day a thumbs up or a thumbs down and if the majority of the week is good the teacher brings a treat on Friday. It was interesting to see the students decide if the day was good or not and most were completely honest.

 

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Week Two: School and Community

In my classroom, the teacher is from Regina. She told us she grew up here and lived here all her life. She is a white middle class woman. I have not observed all the teachers and staff members in the school, but the ones I have seen I believe are white Canadians. The school is located in North Central Regina. It is an older neighbourhood and I would assume most people living there would be of low-income which links to the idea of some of the student’s background. There is lots of garbage on the streets and side walks outside of the school, it does not look like the nicest area to me. The students have no place to go for recess therefore they have no recess. Since the students have no recess, the teacher does Brain Breaks. Brain Breaks are an online website that the students follow someone dancing to music. On the bright side of things, the school is getting rebuilt and they are adding on to it. Since Sacred Heart Community School is part of The Regina Catholic School Division, they are incorporating religious aspects to the rebuild process. On their school homepage, they have access to school events and the textbooks online. This allows parents to know what their children are doing at school and can have access to textbooks at home.

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Week Three: Teachers & Knowledge

In the classroom, all the students are always excited to answer questions. Before the teacher finishes asking the question, most of the student’s hands raise. Even if the student is wrong, the teacher will not tell them it is wrong, she will ask other students to help him or her out. She imposes concepts in an inductive way. This allows the students to build on their classmate’s knowledge and their own knowledge. She also contributes Treaty Education into her classroom. During story time, she gets all the students to sit on the ground around her as she read a picture storybook. This story was about Indigenous knowledge and culture. After she read the story to the class, she then played it on a CD player. The difference between her reading it and the students listening to the tape was that on the tape Indigenous music was played in the background and it was an elders voice telling the story. The teacher promotes knowledge by giving the students ideas and by asking them questions. They also do AR (after reading) tests online after each story they have read. When she approaches an idea to the students she lets them question it, then builds off their knowledge and extends it. This gives her an opportunity to understand what the students know and allows them to interpret it their own way. The teacher said the most important thing to running her class is procedures. She said that her classroom would fall apart if she did not follow procedures. She relies on her day planner and told us that majority of the time she does not get everything done she has planned, but she continues to push the students. The teacher is also learning new things every day from her students and colleges. Her professional knowledge is always gaining due to new technology being introduced into classrooms. Since the curriculum is also always changing she has to adjust to it and find new ways to teach her students.

Week 4: Inclusive Education- Diversity & Difference

There are many different forms of diversity I observe at the school. The children in the classroom are visibility from different cultures and backgrounds. Many of the student’s background are Indigenous and some are Philippine. The teacher’s backgrounds I have observed are majority white citizens. In the classroom there is no visual learning differences, but if you dig deeper into the students learning, you find various learning differences in the classroom. The biggest difference is that many of these students cannot stay focused; they are always playing with stuff on their desk or wanting to leave their seats. The teacher also picks out students she knows will need extra help and gets me to work with them in groups of two or three. Another form of diversity that might be amongst these students that is not visible could be language. Being in the classroom, the teacher is teaching and has her assignments in English but some of these students might have a different first language that I do not know about. Language is something to consider in this placement because of the majority of Indigenous students. Some might have Cree as their first language or another Indigenous language. To honour inclusive practices in her classroom, she always gives students a fair amount of time to work on an assignment. The students are able to sit at her desk when they need extra help or with the teacher’s assistant that comes in everyday after lunch. She has a standing desk and a bouncy ball chair for students who can’t sit comfortable at a desk. The school has a Quiet Room for students that are having a bad day in the classroom and need to be alone.

Part B: Teacher as Researcher

Standardized Tests

One critical issue that I personally faced during my school experience was standardized testing. Standardized tests are high weighted exams that are given to each student in the same grade to compare and contrast where they stand on a grading scale. These exams lead to many challenges and difficulties among students. With these issues being faces, it leads to the discussing about whether or not these exams should be continued in the education environment or not. As I research through four articles, it gives me a better understanding of the critical issue at hand.

The article, “The impact of no Child Left Behind on a student achievement,” acknowledges the shortcoming of standardized testing. This article states “The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act compelled states to design school accountability systems based on annual student assessments” (Dee and Jacob, 2011, p.1). The schools are more concerned about students doing well on a test, rather than the actual learning and comprehending of their students. These schools are more focused on achieving the state-level requirements, therefore they are teaching to the test. In extreme cases, teachers may be adjusting the students grade, to benefit the teachers overall rating. The tests are negatively affecting the student’s ability to learn and understand. Teachers are not taking time to meet students learning needs because they are too focused on their class achieving a certain grade average, which may effect their learning in the future.

This article brought to light another negative issue to me, that teachers are more focused on how the school is ranked rather then on the students learning. I do not think this is acceptable because the teacher’s main focus should be the learning and understanding of the students. I also do not think it is right to teach students to the test because it is a smaller spectrum of learning. I think students need an environment that allows them to question their learning, instead of being forced to learn a certain way. In my high school experience, we were taught to the achievement tests. Personally being taught to the test, I realized it was not beneficial to me. This article and my experiences make me believe that the curriculum should be taught on a broader range for students to succeed.

The article, “Heightened test anxiety among young children: Elementary School Students’ Anxious Responses to High-Stake Testing,” examines how students deal with standardized tests. The article states “we live in a test-conscious, test-giving culture in which the lives of people are in part determined by their test performance” (Segool, Carlson, Goforth, von der Embse, and Barterian, 2013, p. 1), explaining the idea that tests are controlling students education. It is also suggesting that tests are the only important aspect in your education. Anxiety among students is increasing because of standardized testing that leads to students getting overwhelmed and stressed. A study was shown in this article of school children in Grades 3 through 5. The students who wrote tests in the classroom had a lower anxiety level then students who wrote high-stake tests. This lowered motivation for young students and resulted in failure. These tests are only increasing anxiety and stress on students, rather then helping them learn.

After reading this article, I knew that test anxiety existed but not to that level. I never knew that young children would experience test anxiety to the same extent as older students. The fact that anxiety can start at a young age for school children over tests is awful. These students experience poor grades and lack in motivation. I do not understand how children who have to deal with test anxiety at a young age are going to deal with it when they are older because I believe things will just get worse. In my school experience, I only started to worry about tests in Grade 10. From starting to get bad habits in Grade 10, it had lead to many more in my future learning. My anxiety I had through tests was that I could not memorize what was important or sleep the night before the exam. Since I did not have much sleep or did not feel prepared, I went into these exams already stressed out. I think that these tests should not be used as grade for students and I believe that the article is leading to the idea that if we eliminate high-stake tests, it will eliminate test anxiety.

The article “Through Another’s Eyes,” talks about modifications and accommodations when it comes to standardized tests. Tests are carefully put together and examined with goals in mind by the writer. They also believe that the test users should follow certain instructions when it comes to writing these tests. Every student should write the same test with the same modifications, unless students have a learning difference. When it comes to modifications and accommodations for these specific students, they believe the test should not be changed at all but the environment should be altered. Some of the scenarios they give are that students may get more time, get to go in a comfortable quiet room and a distraction free environment. Other students, who have to write the test with no accommodations, have to be in a distracting environment, which may lead to stress among students by watching others struggle.

In my school experience, we had to write achievement tests where we would have to go in the gym with every student who is writing the same test. The gym would be set up in rows of desks, where we had to sit in alphabetical order. Each student would have the same exam booklets and pencils on their desks and would only be able to look at the test when instructed. These tests were timed and if you were not finished when time was up you still had to hand it in. Since I had a learning difference, I got certain accommodations that were purposed in the article. I got to go in a silent room and sit at a table rather then a desk. I was the only student in the room and I also received extra time on my test. The one thing that was the same as the other students was the exam. No matter what accommodations you may get, the exam was never changed, which also relates to the test in the article.

Another article I researched was “Standardized Testing in Kindergarten.” This article talks about a kindergarten teacher, Darla, at Harborview, who faces a dilemma with standardized tests. She was told by the district administration that she had to start giving her kindergarten class standardized tests because the children in grade 3 were not prepared enough when it came to writing their federally required test. This change was hard on Darla because she did not think it was right and did not know how it was going to impact her students. The first time she did the test, the children were uncomfortable and became stressed in the learning environment. Darla then wanted to end giving out these tests to her children but did not know how. She realized if she stopped giving out these tests then she could possible lose her job. She then went through the National Institution for Early Childhood Professional Development code, which stated, “Above all, we shall not harm children. We shall not participate in practices that are emotionally damaging, physically harmful, disrespectful, degrading, dangerous, exploitative, or intimidating to children” (Feeney and Freeman, 2014, p. 85). Darla believed that the test can harm children, therefore she got together with her colleges and did more research on the topic, and then she could bring the issue to the principle.

Reading this article surprised me because I would never think that it would be right to give a standardized test to a child in kindergarten. I believe these children are too young to be experienced with a high weighted exam and pressure. The teacher in the article stands out to me. She knows it is not right to place this on her students, so she decides to do something about it. I like how she does not ignore the issue, even though it might get her in trouble or even fired. She is looking out for the well being of her children and I believe that is something every teacher must do. When it comes to these exams, I think teachers need to acknowledge the effects it makes on students and find ways to resolve conflict.

From researching these articles, many more issues were brought to my attention. The idea that standardized tests were given out to such young grades surprised me. I did not think it was right to put all that pressure on a young child. Another issue was the ranking systems; that a school had to meet a certain requirement that each student had to meet. By doing this teachers focused more on the grades rather than the learning. To reflect on all the articles, it starts with the school meeting its needs. For a school to meet its needs, they need the success of a student. To get a student to succeed when it comes to standardized tests, the teacher has to teach to the test. Teaching to the test, narrows down the students learning. Students do not get the opportunity to question their learning or understand why it is important. Since students do not get to connect with their learning on their own personal level, then it leads to more issues. Students then would experience anxiety and stress, which could lead to failure. These students are also getting compared to one another. The students who received better grades would get acknowledged more, while the other students would continue to struggle. These tests did try to meet the needs of some students, but it separated them out from the others. All of these articles had something negative to say about standardized tests. It is more harm to students than teachers realize. Through my experiences and from researching these four articles, I believe that standardized testing is of no benefit and should be eliminated.

 

Reference Page

Dee, T. S. and Jacob, B. (2011), The impact of no Child Left Behind on student achievement. J. Pol. Anal. Manage., 30: 418–446. doi:10.1002/pam.20586

 

Feeney, S., & Freeman, N. K. (2014). Standardized testing in kindergarten. YC Young Children, 69(1), 84-88. Retrieved from https://login.libproxy.uregina.ca:8443/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1511123513?accountid=13480

 

Segool, N. K., Carlson, J. S., Goforth, A. N., von der Embse, N. and Barterian, J. A. (2013), HEIGHTENED TEST ANXIETY AMONG YOUNG CHILDREN: ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENTS’ ANXIOUS RESPONSES TO HIGH-STAKES TESTING. Psychol. Schs., 50: 489–499. doi:10.1002/pits.21689

 

Yara N. Farah. (2013). Through Another’s Eyes: Modification or Accommodation in Standardized Testing? Gifted Child Today, 36(3), 209-211. doi:10.1177/1076217513485584

Part A: Teacher as Student, Student as Teacher

I attended the majority of my schooling in the small city of Camrose, Alberta. When I was in school, we had one school for kindergarten to grade 6 students, a school from grade 7 to grade 9 students and then high school, which was grade 10 to grade 12 students. As I grew up I was taught not only the curriculum, but also taught how to adapt to these new schools and what they expected from us. In grade 12 we have to write diploma exams, which are worth 50% of our overall marks. The government makes these exams, and every student in Alberta has to write these exams at the same time. I was taught to prepare for these exams since grade 6 and that if I ever wanted to attend university, I would have to be successful on these.

The main critical issue I faced was with student learning because I was the type of student who struggled in school. I got tested ever few years because I had a learning difficulty when it comes to reading and comprehension. Luckily enough I was in a school that took those things seriously, therefore I got the help I needed, but when I first found out I had this, I was extremely upset and did not want to tell any of my friends. I remember getting pulled out of class in grade 8 to get tested for it again. I felt like my entire classmates were judging me and were curious to where I went. After that day of school was over I remember going home and crying to my parents and telling them I never wanted to go back to school. I was worried that I was going to be pointed out in class and moved to a different classroom to do my assignments and exams. That night my parents called the school and told them it was not right to pull me out of class and test me when I am not prepared for it and was already upset about leaving the class. My parents had no idea that it was going to happen that day as well, so when I came home upset they were not very pleased. Still from this day, that is one of my worst memories about school, but when I went into high school I started to understand it better. I was really frustrated in this situation and I never thought of the students who were in worse circumstances then I was. There are lots of students with learning disabilities that they make them go into special needs classrooms. Many of these students I think would be good in a normal classroom, but since teachers don’t have the time to go over things with these students then they have to be separated. I feel like the way I felt in my situation wouldn’t even compare to what those students thought.

When it came to writing my diplomas, I was lucky enough to get more time and get a reader for my exams. My high school counsellor helped me get the accommodations I needed so I had a fair chance like every other student. After I realized that talking to a counsellor about my accommodations actually allowed me to have a better understanding of concepts and gave me a chance to succeed. When it came to studying for my diplomas in grade 12, I was not prepared for them at all. I got really stressed about the achievement exams and did not do well on them. It dropped my overall average almost by 10% in each class. After getting my official transcripts I never thought I would ever be able to go into university my first year out of school. I started to do online courses in the summer to try to get my grades up. I then got told that if I applied at a school in Saskatchewan, then my diploma marks would not be looked at. After all those years of stressing about diploma exams was pointless. I still believe the Alberta school curriculum should get rid of diploma exams, which is another critical issue I had to deal with during my schooling.

 

Post #6

In my daily life I do not think about the world and others around me that much. I do not think about how much energy I am consuming, how much emission I am contributing into the air or I do not think about people living in poverty. I focus on my own life more then I should. In Traveling with a World of Complexity: Critical Pedagogy of Place and My Decolonizing Encounters by Yi Chien Jade Ho, it states, “Toxic chemicals are being dumped into rivers that many people depend on for daily use” (2). This statement brought me back to all the commercials I see of children living in unprivileged countries, which barely have water or rely on dirty water. It is sad to think that our world has come to this and that we use water without even thinking about it while there are people who do not receive any. I am wondering if everyone was better for the environment if this would not be an issue?

A few years ago, I went to Mexico and got to volunteer at a school with unprivileged children. We got the opportunity to help clean up around their school. We picked up garbage and washed a wall that was important to the school. Even though some of the children did not speak our language we still could communicate with them through actions. It is sad to see the environment these students are learning in comparing to what my learning environment was. They had no playground, only a basketball net that was falling apart. These students do not have much, but they always have smiles on their faces. I also volunteered at a school located in Regina that does not have clean running water. Students could not drink out of the taps at the school. The learning environment of these schools could have been impacted from the environment. If I were in some of these situations, personally it would be hard for me to learn in a dirty surrounding. Reflecting back to my Action Learning project, I believe that little things do matter and that if everyone does something little, maybe we could live in a better world and decrease the poverty rates.

I know we are not supposed to add a picture for our post but I wanted to show how simple it is to impact a learning environment for students. This was an easy job for us and it made the students extremely happy. Little things do matter. This image was taken outside in a little hut they had around their school yard.

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