Equity in Assessment

Research on multicultural groups including Black, Hispanic, First Nation, and ESL suggests that standards based reforms, large scale assessments, implementation of standards based reforms are unfair (Volante, 2008).

We run into problems when the big data is always used to prove what works in education, for instance, why we need Librarians, more standardized texts for guided reading, or to continue to teach from perspectives of dominant culture.

We need education that includes librarians, FNMI perspectives and multicultural approaches because that is what makes education work. That is what promotes equity and inclusion.

We should need education, FNMI perspectives, Librarians, funding and more because they promote equity with our students. Not because the high stakes testing shows that they support student achievement. We will only be able to achieve equity when we allow the variable of ‘equity’ to be a multi-dimensional construct. It is schools, families, and local communities that help close the achievement gap.

Do we need to have high-stakes standardized testing in order to compel schools to improve their instructional approaches? Is this really the only way?  We need to be careful that we are not assuming that standardized testing is anything other than an oversimplification of learning.

Those schools with more multi-cultural groups, and FNMI cultures, often feel compelled to narrow the curriculum just to boost test scores. Simply talking about how a standardized test is ‘culture-free’ or culturally relevant does not quite capture the challenges faced by different populations of people. It also only recognizes the test developers as the ones that can make significant changes to our tests to promote equity.

Also, traditional paper and pencil tests favour certain populations because it measures only certain skills and types of knowledge. We live in an era where we are trying to promote and recognize and acknowledge different types of knowledge. It just seems to me that standardized tests promote a ‘hidden curriculum’.

My point is that the curriculum can become narrow, and time spent preparing for areas of importance as deemed by high stakes testing.

Volante (2008) argued that assessment equity is a multifaceted construct based on technical quality, reporting, utilization and educational opportunity. I won’t go into those variables here, but I think that it is very important to know that equity is more than just the language and ideas on a standardized test. The fact is that our intentions and actual outcomes of these assessments are often incongruent, and the research continually demonstrates unintended consequences for Black, Hispanic, First Nations and ESL students (Volante, 2008). They simply do not do as well as their white counterparts. As a result, Multicultural and FNMI students are disenchanted or disengaged with school. Are we inadvertently limiting someones life chances just because of our obsession with standardized testing? Do we care more about schooling than education?

What if we stopped limiting our students and teachers by the language that we use, and gave ourselves permission to teach outside of the bounds of our standardized assessments? Curriculum definitely is more than our documents and assessments would have us all believe.

What does curriculum and assessment mean to you?

Deborah McCallum

c2015

Volante, L. (2008). Equity in multicultural student assessment. The Journal of Educational Thought, 42(1), 11-26. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/213797671?accountid=14771

Walking the Good Path in Life: Digital Citizenship and The Seven Grandfather Teachings

Photo 2012-11-12 10 39 36 AMFrom a First Nations perspective, you ‘Walk the Good Path’ when you demonstrate The Seven Grandfather Teachings. When you live your best life, you demonstrate Truth, Love, Humility, Courage, Honesty, Respect, & Bravery.

Now, this is true in our physical worlds, as it is in our virtual and digital worlds.

We all have a responsibility to help ALL people ‘Walk the Good Path’ in life.

In terms of our Education System, our Educators, just as our Children, are in need of the Seven Grandfather Teachings to continually learn how to create positive working environments, embed culturally relevant  and culturally responsive teaching practices for our students to foster confidence, and not fear.

Every single day, educators and students need to be honoured with open communication networks with staff, parents, and the community.

All people, need:

Love and Respect to strive for a mutual understanding of our own diversity;

Bravery to engage in Holistic Education each day and learn to live in harmony with each other;

Courage to follow the very Educational Initiatives that are put into place for the betterment of our students, and our society;

Humility to admit that we don’t have all of the answers;

Truth and Honesty to help us understand initiatives such as the Aboriginal Education Strategy that are a great benefit for all students, not just those self-identified as First Nations, Metis & Inuit.

The children of today are the leaders for tomorrow.

IF we train our children well, and treat them well, and honour their voices, THEN they will feel trusted, loved, and develop the courage to walk the good path toward their futures.

It is important to truly respect others, acknowledge their good work, cultural diversity, admit mistakes, strive to attain mutual understanding, create positive working environments, foster confidence and not fear.

Tens of Thousands of Educators have such an important leadership role in raising and educating an entire generation of children for the future. Just as it takes an entire ‘Village to Raise a Child’; our children, educators and other professionals also need Love, Respect, Humility, Courage, Bravery, Honesty, and Truth to grow as human beings, and continue to make the world a better place. Not just for now, but for generations to come.

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012 – 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Professional Inquiry to Improve Practice in Education

It can be very daunting and challenging to make real changes in our practices as educators.  One way that we can do this is to actively engage in the process of Inquiry.

Inquiry is a creative endeavor where teachers do not have to be the ‘experts’. The answers are not necessarily in a textbook, yet are creative and collaborative results of unique and challenging situations in our learning environments.

The main tenet with Inquiry is that success will depend on deep and sustained changes with learners.

HOWEVER, Inquiry is NOT comfortable! It not only takes time, it also takes a great deal of focused energies to recognize urgent student needs. In fact, it forces us to actively challenge our pre-existing beliefs to ultimately create positive changes in our learning environments. This is not a natural human instinct. The nature of human behaviour is such that we feel that need to hold on to our schemas of the teaching and learning processes. The following questions are natural

Here are some key questions that educators often ask themselves:

  • How can I possibly choose a focus within the current contexts of accountability and standardization?
  • Why should I engage in professional inquiry if I am already comfortable with my existing knowledge and ideas of teaching and learning processes?
  • How do I begin to choose a meaningful learning focus?
  • What is the process by which I decide upon an issue that needs to be brought to the forefront?
  • Will my inquiry mean that everything else that is important in my class will be forgotten?

How can we engage in important inquiries that will result in systematic and lasting changes to our practice?

Steps to creating a Successful Inquiry:

  1. Identify a key focus, or an urgent learner need. As Stephen Katz from OISE states, a learner need is actually a teacher need.
  2. Engage in collaborative relationships with key people who can help you with your inquiry, including other professionals, colleagues, parents, and other key community members. For instance for First Nations, Metis & Inuit students, collaborative inquiry should include families and community members, including Elders and traditional teachers. This benefits the whole learning environment as well. It is through collaboration that new knowledge is created.
  3. Venture beyond generalized focus of self-improvement, and learn to make the focus specific according to our specific situations and needs.
  4. Access appropriate technologies
  5. Give yourself permission to be creative with your own interpretation and application of new knowledge
  6. Move from a position of ‘sage on the stage’.

 

It is difficult to admit sometimes that student learning needs are also teacher learning needs. There are always going to be learning needs for students and teachers. But, the fantastic news is that there are also going to be new ideas, new solutions, and new knowledge available. These can be found by collaborating with other educators, parents, community members, and students; accessing technology and placing importance on your own creativity, and not assuming that the answers are always to be found in a textbook.

New ideas and knowledge will always exist and we also need to give ourselves permission to seek collaboration, new ideas, and new knowledge when are faced with new learning needs with our students.

 

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

FNMI, eLearning and Culturally Relevant Education

https://flic.kr/p/jS3h

The FNMI populations across North America are incredibly diverse, both linguistically and culturally. With literally hundreds of different First Nations and Aboriginal populations, we are faced with many challenges with regards to how we can adequately preserve Indigenous knowledge and ways of living within Canada.

In our Western world, standardized, results-based practices, measurement, and same aged groupings learning the same thing at the same time prevails. Education systems within Canada not only supports these perspectives, but has also created a foundational basis that will be passed along from generation to generation.

Unless we can instill new Indigenous values that can be passed along to improve our Education Systems, and FNMI peoples. If we continue to ignore Aboriginal perspectives, then we will continue to systematically ignore the fastest growing population in Canada.

17 eLearning and non-eLearning Strategies to learn more about Cultural Diversity in your Classroom: 

  1. Start where you are at in terms of your own knowledge, then look toward your closest communities FNMI to learn more.
  2. Access Websites, Online Newspapers including Windspeaker,
  3. Research books in Cultural Publishing Companies Online, including Goodminds, and Ningwakwe Press
  4. Join in a cultural event
  5. Visit your local band office or Friendship Center to obtain information
  6. Ask to meet with a Traditional Teacher or Elder
  7. Meet with a Traditional Teacher on Skype or Adobe Connect to bring them to your classroom.
  8. Do some reading.  Most communities have websites.
  9. Use 21st technologies to connect with other communities, such as wikis, blogs,
  10. Connect with other Education agencies that run through Band offices and Friendship Centres. Communicate with them over Twitter.
  11. Read local news.  There may be many current issues involving local communities
  12. Use Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (Government of Canada) weblinks.
  13. Differentiate your classroom programming and curriculum based on the aspects and respect for the FN/Metis/Inuit territory that is closest to you.
  14. Use Technologies for Students to share about their culture, ie., Animoto, Prezi. Take pictures with iPhone or iPod, and upload to Sliderocket, or create an iMovie to share culture with the rest of the class.
  15. Understand the needs of your Community.
  16. Strive to reach and engage the students from that community in meaningful ways.
  17. Do your own homework. What backgrounds and cultures exist in your classroom? Have any community strategies worked in the past, for example, cultural programming, building of community structures and other strategies to engage and motivate youth. Communicate with parents! This goes beyond the odd group email once in a while. Really strive to engage with the families.

As Educators, we can start with the knowledge we already have, and the resources that are available to us, including eLearning and blended learning platforms. From there, we can continue to focus on the similarities that exist between Aboriginal cultures. Many of the similarities have arisen from the impacts of European views and colonialization over the past few hundred years. This has created shared histories for FNMI peoples, but unfortunately, has also undermined and left many diversities forgotten.

As Educators, this presents a very large difficult task in terms of not just meeting the expectations of the curriculum, but also respecting the diversity within each and every classroom.

Whether we consciously acknowledge this or not, one of the tasks of the Education system is to look toward ways of restoring and renewing Indigenous relationships in Education, and reconciling Indigenous and Western viewpoints within our Educational practices. Only then, can we improve the quality of life for all FNMI people, our environment, Country, and the future for everyone.

Education can offer great tools to help deepen knowledge and understanding, and reconciling differences between cultures.

According to Indigenous perspectives, communities and Elders, and family were always very important in transmitting knowledge. Learning always took place when the student was ready. Teachers brought in at the ‘right’ times.

If students are not ‘ready’ for eLearning platforms, then this aspect can wait.  Technology should always enhance learning and cultural diversity.

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

13 Strategies to Promote Equity and Diversity in the Classroom For First Nations, Metis & Inuit Students

Photo 2012-11-12 10 39 36 AM

The FNMI populations across North America are incredibly diverse, both linguistically and culturally. With literally hundreds of different First Nations and Aboriginal populations, we are faced with many challenges with regards to how we can adequately preserve Indigenous knowledge and ways of living within Canada. Indigenous populations are also the fastest growing populations in Canada. We need to embed and integrate this knowledge throughout the curriculum, and not just as an add-on.

In our Western world, standardized, results-based practices, measurement, and same aged groupings learning the same thing at the same time prevails. This foundation continues to foster mistrust toward our education systems. What is needed are flexible and open ended curriculum expectations that lead students to deep learning and interconnected Indigenous knowledges.

We need to provide access to Indigenous values and knowledge that can be passed along to improve our Education Systems, FNMI peoples, the environment, and our economy.

After discussion with my husband, who is the FNMI Resource Teacher for our school board, and of First Nations descent, these are the tips we came up with for Educators to begin with:

13 Strategies to get Started Learning about your Local FNMI Communities:

  1. Start where you are at in terms of your own knowledge, then look toward your closest communities FNMI to learn more.
  2. Join in a cultural event
  3. Visit your local band office or Friendship Center to obtain information
  4. Ask to meet with a Traditional Teacher or Elder
  5. Do some reading.  Most communities have websites.
  6. Use 21st technologies to connect with other communities.
  7. Connect with other Education agencies that run through Band offices and Friendship Centres
  8. Read local news.  There may be many current issues involving local communities
  9. Use Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (Government of Canada) weblinks.
  10. Differentiate your classroom programming and curriculum based on the aspects and respect for the FN/Metis/Inuit territory that is closest to you
  11. Understand the needs of your Community.
  12. Strive to reach and engage the students from that community in meaningful ways.
  13. Do your own homework. What backgrounds and cultures exist in your classroom? Have any community strategies worked in the past, for example, cultural programming, building of community structures and other strategies to engage and motivate youth.

As Educators, we can start with the knowledge we already have, and the resources that are available to us. From there, we can continue to focus on the similarities that exist between Aboriginal cultures. Many of the similarities have arisen from the impacts of European views and colonialization over the past few hundred years. This has created shared histories for FNMI peoples, but unfortunately, has also undermined and left many diversities forgotten.

As Educators, this presents a very large difficult task in terms of not just meeting the expectations of the curriculum, but also respecting the diversity within each and every classroom.

Whether we consciously acknowledge this or not, one of the tasks of the Education system is to look toward ways of restoring and renewing Indigenous relationships in Education, and reconciling Indigenous and Western viewpoints within our Educational practices. Only then, can we improve the quality of life for all FNMI people, our environment, Country, and the future for everyone.

Education can offer great tools to help deepen knowledge and understanding, and reconciling differences between cultures.

According to Indigenous perspectives, communities and Elders, and family were always very important in transmitting knowledge. Learning always took place when the student was ready. Teachers brought in at the ‘right’ times.

I would state that this requires teachers to hone their instincts, and pay attention to aspects of the child that are not located on standardized tests, and look-fors on standardized teacher evaluations. It requires true listening skills, instinct, and qualities often overlooked and not indicated on standardized Teacher Evaluation forms.

This is the first in a series of posts that will explore how to effectively incorporate FNMI perspectives into the Curriculum.

Deborah & Ian McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Culturally Relevant Pedagogy in Education for First Nations, Metis, & Inuit Students

Embedding culturally-relevant pedagogy into teaching can help students to:

  • build self-esteem, understanding, and tolerance between individuals, classrooms, and greater community;
  • increase open and acceptable communication among and between students, staff, admin, parents, and community;
  • build respect, aid in collaboration, and allows for integrated and differentiated teaching approaches that benefit all diverse cultural backgrounds and special needs for all students.

Students benefit from culturally responsive teaching approaches because it:

  • fosters less fear and greater confidence,
  • increases the feeling of being understood, decreases the feeling like they must assimilate to fit in,
  • helps individuals to embrace and feel accepted for their own culture, and
  • allows students to feel comfortable to always set higher standards for learning and achievement, because they are accepted and understood.

The truth is, we never know what our student’s cultural backgrounds are. Just because students may appear to be Caucasian, does not mean that they are not of First Nations, Metis, or Inuit heritage, or another cultural background.

Questions Educators can Consider:

  • How many of our students self-identify?
  • What are the residual effects of the Indian Act and Residential school system that we are unable to ‘see’ just because a student looks to be Caucasian?
  • Do we have to know the cultures of all of our students

Culturally Responsive Teaching Practices can accomplish, an increased awareness and mutual understanding of our diversity. Educators don’t necessarily need to know each and every culture, but we should aim to understand that they exist, and aim to understand each student as a whole person, including the cultures that make each and every one of them special and unique.

Differentiated Instruction practices, and using a wide variety of resources, including the students themselves, and other members of the community can help to infuse diversity into the classroom as well. If we are using resources that do not include diversity, this can also be an important discussion point, and opportunity to engage in further inquiry, and critical thinking.

Culturally Responsive Teaching Practices can be infused using a variety of Differentiate Teaching strategies, talking circles, Holistic Teaching practices, and through students own research and sharing within the classroom.

Examples of Culturally Responsive Teaching Practices:

  • Providing Continuous Communication with parents in appropriate ways that meet their needs
  • Inviting parents to communicate
  • Recognizing own limitations and communicating them
  • Conducting needs assessments and surveys for parents
  • Sending home Weekly or monthly newsletters
  • Researching cultural backgrounds of students
  • Touring student’s neighborhoods
  • Understanding student’s behaviours in light of community norms
  • Setting clear expectations
  • Creating respectful environments
  • Adapting lessons to reflect ways of communicating and learning that are familiar for students
  • Differentiating instruction
  • Teaching and talk to students about differences between individuals
  • Encouraging students to direct their own learning
  • Working with other students on projects that are culturally relevant to them
  • Culturally mediated Instruction
  • Helping students to recognize that there are more than one way to interpret a statement, event or action,
  • Setting realistic yet rigorous goals
  • Allowing for opportunities to share culture
  • Teaching students to question and challenge their own beliefs and actions
  • Creating meaningful connections between curriculum and real life
  • Giving Choices of working alone or in groups
  • Integrating units around universal themes
  • Accessing appropriate websites, videos, and links that will support your Pedagogy
  • Using eLearning strategies to share and teach others about student cultures

Teaching Strategies & Best Practices:

  1. The use of ‘Talking Circles’ within the classroom to introduce cultural perspectives into the classroom is very important. Additional benefits of Talking Circles can include turn taking, respect, creating a classroom community, sending positive messages relating to Character Education & Inclusiveness, and building Community, Culture, & Caring into the Education system.
  2. Engaging in Holistic Teaching is also important so that educators can help students to connect personal feelings, emotions, and experiences with the knowledge to create meaning.
  3. Integrating Medicine Wheel Teachings into the Curriculum is valuable to integrate First Nations, Metis & Inuit perspectives, and create a positive classroom community for behavior and learning, and helping students reflect on their own gifts & strengths, and to set personal and educational goals.
  4. Engaging in ‘Storytelling’ where students can create their own ‘Stories’ or legends about their special gifts.

Best Practices can also Include:

  • Helping families out by filling out paperwork etc.;
  • Going that extra mile to help make personal connections to teachers and staff
  • Incorporating cultural teachings across the curriculum into content areas including science, art, music, language, history, geography, & social studies
  • Inviting families to share with the classrooms and schools if they are comfortable
  • Helping to connect families to community network supports
  • Teaching students to deconstruct bias in learning resources
  • Inviting Aboriginal Elders, Storytellers, Authors & Artists into the classroom
  • Using resources that represent an Authentic voice
  • Technology may or may not be used within the home, so use this form of communication with caution. We must use it in ways that support our families and students, not alienate them.

References

Deborah McCallum

Helping our Children to ‘Walk the Good Path’ in life: The Seven Grandfather Teachings & Educating our Children

Photo 2012-11-12 10 39 36 AMThe Seven Grandfather Teachings tell us that you live your best life, when you can demonstrate toward others, the constructs of Truth, Love, Humility, Courage, Honesty, Respect, & Bravery.

From a First Nations perspective, you ‘Walk the Good Path’ when you demonstrate Truth, Love, Humility, Courage, Honesty, Respect, and Bravery.

The 7th Generation Principle also states that what happens now, will still have an impact 7 generations from now. So, it stands to reason, that the important leadership that educators provide now, should still be positively affecting our population 7 generations from now.

In difficult political times, when governments impose unfair laws and sanctions, and continue to marginalize groups, it changes a population of people. Human beings are not infallible, and a lack of respect and love shown toward others will have a negative effect. You reap what you sow.

Our Nation’s Leaders have a responsibility to help our Children to ‘Walk a Good Path’ in life. This takes Courage, and, according to the 7th Generation Principal, will help the next 7 generations to continue to ‘Walk the Good Path’.

In terms of our Education System, our Educators, just as our Children, are in need of the Seven Grandfather Teachings to continually learn how to create positive working environments, embed culturally relevant  and culturally responsive teaching practices for our students to foster confidence, and not fear.

Every single day, educators need supports to open communication networks with staff, parents, and the community. They, like all people, need Love and Respect to strive for a mutual understanding of our own diversity; Bravery to engage in Holistic Education each day and learn to live in harmony with each other; Courage to follow the very Educational Initiatives that are put into place for the betterment of our students, and our society; Humility to admit that we don’t have all of the answers; Truth and Honesty to help us understand initiatives such as the Aboriginal Education Strategy that are a great benefit for all students, not just those self-identified as First Nations, Metis & Inuit.

The Educators of today are the Leaders for tomorrow. We need to train our Leaders well, and treat them well, so that our Educators can turn around and feel trusted enough to Nurture our children, and prepare for a brighter future.

It is important to truly respect others, acknowledge cultural diversity, admit mistakes, strive to attain mutual understanding, create positive working environments, foster confidence and not fear.

Tens of Thousands of Educators have such an important leadership role in raising and educating an entire generation of children for the future. Just as it takes an entire ‘Village to Raise a Child’; Our children, Educators and other professionals also need Love, Respect, Humility, Courage, Bravery, Honesty, and Truth to grow as human beings, and continue to make the world a better place. Not just for now, but for generations to come.

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.