Globalization: Friend or Foe of Modern Learning?

 

Globalization has contributed to an amazing realm of possibility for modern education. But we can’t always assume it is always beneficial. We need to take critical stances as educators, and help ourselves, and our learners, to question what people say and write online. Question the motivations of others. While Globalization is amazing and the reason why we are emerging into new Modern Learning paradigms, Globalization can also be disparaging if we are not careful.

Perhaps the greatest friend of our 21st century is globalization, but it is also a foe in how it can scripts us, and re-script our histories. I have a growing concern that concepts and movements, and new trends have the potential to powerfully script new realities to benefit the privileged, white, heterosexual middle class. For instance, Growth Mindsets have become something other than what Carol Dweck originally intended for some educators. I believe that globalization practices, including social media, when there are no critical voices, have the ability to promote messages that might not be true. The concepts, ideas, and realities become something completely different than what was originally intended.

As educators, it is also important to ensure that our present does not replace and re-script the realities of our country’s history, especially that of our First Nations, Metis & Inuit, through globalization practices. Beyond assimilation, when we keep adding our own layers of understanding without critical stances, we are at risk of becoming scripted. For instance, the Legend of the 2 Wolves is a popular teaching tool in elementary schools. I have no idea if it is genuine or not, but I also have never checked this story out with any FNMI communities. According to this article, there are no local communities that this tale comes from. It is apparently not even a Native story. It becomes popular. We re-script our history.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is an excellent example of how we can harness the power of globalization to teach people about Canada’s past, and present. I hope that this will not become re-scripted.

If educators are change-agents, then re-scripting new concepts and movements to continue ‘normalized’ teaching and learning practices will only serve to benefit the privileged. This in turn negates real change, and continues to maintain supportive and empowering spaces for the status quo. It also Supports schools as harmful spaces for oppressed groups.

The remedy? Not easy, but a good start is to always taking a critical stance. Always question from who and where the information is coming from. Questioning our own biases and learning how our own biases shape the information we choose to hear and give privilege to in our learning environments.

What do you think?

 

Deborah McCallum

c 2016

 

 

Teaching Math for FNMI Students

 

The dominant ways in which math has always been taught in our Western society includes drill, rote learning, and a focus on math ‘authorities’ including the teacher.

This poses very serious problems for many of our mathematical learners, particularly for our First Nations, Metis & Inuit (FNMI) learners, whose perspectives and ways of knowing may not be included in the traditional curricular frameworks. Therefore, we are faced with very serious issues when it comes to considering who gets to learn math, and who will be included.

Math that is inclusive of different cultures and ways of knowing the world, is built on the awareness that math itself is about knowing the world. It is my view that we as teachers can do many wonderful things in the classroom to integrate basic skills with constructivist and culturally responsive ways of teaching math that will support multiple ways of knowing – particularly for students who are FNMI.

How do we use strategies and approaches that both facilitate learning in math, AND infuse FNMI ways of knowing? We start by recognizing the importance of connections, communication and contextualization of the learning of FNMI students.

What strategies help to infuse FNMI ways of knowing, perspectives and content?

Strategies

The following strategies can be designed to infuse FNMI ways of knowing, perspectives and content into the Math Curriuclum.

First, recognize that students learn by attaching meaning to what they do. Students need to construct their own meaning of mathematics.

2. Integrate Inquiry Based Learning into math. Check out the following website from OISE on Inquiry in Math. 

3. Provide holistic learning experiences that include cultural and social interactions through dialogue, language and negotiations of meaning.  This would include allowing other students, community leaders, Elders, Senators and other diverse resources to teach, facilitate, share and learn in our classroom.

4. It is impossible to isolate math from culture. It is important to strive to help change mindsets about what ‘real’ math is. Ask ourselves questions including is math about making financial transactions? Is it about complex beading, knitting, or making intricate porcupine quill boxes? Are our cultural routines linked to math? Become aware of how math is linked with culture.

5. Aim to create equal opportunities for Math learning for Aboriginal students. However, exercising caution not to merely integrate holidays, artifacts, stories and more merely as a form of ‘tokenism’. Also, exercising caution not to make FNMI students solely responsible for adding culture and learning to the math classroom.

6. Engage in Culturally Responsive Teaching of mathematics. When we don’t include culture in math, we are essentially positioning people ‘outside’ of math. Serious implications thus arise as FNMI students are at a greater risk of being forced into negative math mindsets and math deficiencies. Culturally responsive teaching is about understanding surrounding communities, and making the program ‘Student-Centered’.

7. Step outside of traditional curriculum frameworks. Not Big ideas and high expectations, but the pedagogical frameworks. When we try to add culture, content, perspectives and ideas to math, we can change the traditional curriculum frameworks. Mathematical learning that incorporates FNMI perspectives, content and ways of knowing, should not be an add-on. We need to make sure that we change our traditional frameworks lest we inadvertently continue to promote the ‘othering’ and exclusion from math.

Math is about knowing the world around us. FNMI students deserve to be included in our curriculum. How will you strive to equally include FNMI students in your curriculum?

 

Deborah McCallum

2016

 

Teaching Math for FNMI Students

 

The dominant ways in which math has always been taught in our Western society includes drill, rote learning, and a focus on math ‘authorities’ including the teacher.

This poses very serious problems for many of our mathematical learners, particularly for our First Nations, Metis & Inuit (FNMI) learners, whose perspectives and ways of knowing may not be included in the traditional curricular frameworks. Therefore, we are faced with very serious issues when it comes to considering who gets to learn math, and who will be included.

Math that is inclusive of different cultures and ways of knowing the world, is built on the awareness that math itself is about knowing the world. It is my view that we as teachers can do many wonderful things in the classroom to integrate basic skills with constructivist and culturally responsive ways of teaching math that will support multiple ways of knowing – particularly for students who are FNMI.

How do we use strategies and approaches that both facilitate learning in math, AND infuse FNMI ways of knowing? We start by recognizing the importance of connections, communication and contextualization of the learning of FNMI students.

What strategies help to infuse FNMI ways of knowing, perspectives and content?

Strategies

The following strategies can be designed to infuse FNMI ways of knowing, perspectives and content into the Math Curriuclum.

First, recognize that students learn by attaching meaning to what they do. Students need to construct their own meaning of mathematics.

2. Integrate Inquiry Based Learning into math. Check out the following website from OISE on Inquiry in Math. 

3. Provide holistic learning experiences that include cultural and social interactions through dialogue, language and negotiations of meaning.  This would include allowing other students, community leaders, Elders, Senators and other diverse resources to teach, facilitate, share and learn in our classroom.

4. It is impossible to isolate math from culture. It is important to strive to help change mindsets about what ‘real’ math is. Ask ourselves questions including is math about making financial transactions? Is it about complex beading, knitting, or making intricate porcupine quill boxes? Are our cultural routines linked to math? Become aware of how math is linked with culture.

5. Aim to create equal opportunities for Math learning for Aboriginal students. However, exercising caution not to merely integrate holidays, artifacts, stories and more merely as a form of ‘tokenism’. Also, exercising caution not to make FNMI students solely responsible for adding culture and learning to the math classroom.

6. Engage in Culturally Responsive Teaching of mathematics. When we don’t include culture in math, we are essentially positioning people ‘outside’ of math. Serious implications thus arise as FNMI students are at a greater risk of being forced into negative math mindsets and math deficiencies. Culturally responsive teaching is about understanding surrounding communities, and making the program ‘Student-Centered’.

7. Step outside of traditional curriculum frameworks. Not Big ideas and high expectations, but the pedagogical frameworks. When we try to add culture, content, perspectives and ideas to math, we can change the traditional curriculum frameworks. Mathematical learning that incorporates FNMI perspectives, content and ways of knowing, should not be an add-on. We need to make sure that we change our traditional frameworks lest we inadvertently continue to promote the ‘othering’ and exclusion from math.

Math is about knowing the world around us. FNMI students deserve to be included in our curriculum. How will you strive to equally include FNMI students in your curriculum?

 

Deborah McCallum

2016

 

Innovation for New Pedagogies and Education Spaces

I have been thinking a lot lately about the deeper ‘why’ behind the need for innovation in education. The deeper WHY behind the need for new spaces and also new initiatives including, but not limited to, makerspaces and genius hour. While I have led initiatives like these before, and believe in them, I wanted to know ‘why’ they were important –other than the usual old rhetoric about meeting the needs of digital citizens in the 21st century. I wanted to really understand the deeper why.  

What I have come to understand, is that it has to be about equity and our deeper awareness of what equity means in the 21st century. It is also about recognition and restitution for all of our FNMI students and believe deeply in social justice.

Therefore, in my quest to understand why things need to change in education, ie., why students need more choice, voice and opportunities with technology, inquiry, different spaces and pedagogies, I realised that things need to change for the basic reason that we need to disrupt the status quo and promote equity.

We now are recognizing that there are many different ways to share an idea. More than one way to build knowledge. More than one way of knowing the world around us. We know that simple transmission of content from ‘expert to student’ is paternalistic. It also promotes apathy and indifference among students who are simply not interested.

How we ‘innovate’ can produce great potential for our young learners. As long as we are not using it to promote a more ‘privileged’ agenda, and that we are considering them as ways to promote more respectful and dialogical relationships with our students and communities. The traditional physical, virtual, social, financial and emotional boundaries of learning need to move, or disappear.

Innovating to foster equity and social justice in a context of privilege is difficult to say the least. But I think that we are acknowledging that our education system shares some of the complicitiy in maintaining an unjust status quo. Traditional teaching practices often promote this. We are challenging what we know to be true, in order to give voices to those who have not been able to have a voice in the past.

 

Here is what Innovation can do:

  1. Help us move beyond the beliefs that we need to define what is ‘correct or incorrect’ with our students.
  2. Help us begin to realise that what we teach, or not teach, needs to be relevant to students!! This is HUGE! If we continue to teach with content and strategies that are irrelevant to our students, then we are essentially ensuring that we help create apathy and indifference.
  3. Help us encourage students to really think about things – not just assume they need to understand our externally imposed teaching and evaluation protocol.
  4. Help promote cultural synthesis, not cultural invasion. We recognize that we teach our curriculum from a white settler perspective. Educators still lack adequate knowledge and understanding about the true First Peoples of this land we now call Canada.
  5. Help us realise that our role is not to teach, or transmit knowledge – it is now to ‘learn’ with the people.
  6. Help us understand that we cannot package and ‘sell’ the curriculum. It needs to be co-created among co-learners.
  7. Help us generate attitudes of awareness through critical reflection.
  8. Help us foster appreciation for intrinsic value and intrinsic human worth.
  9. Help us educate from a posture of solidarity with our co-learners – not from ‘paternalism’ – and a belief that we alone ‘know what is right’.
  10. Help us encourage students and educators who are more privileged, ie., in terms of class, social status, race, gender, sexual orientation, culture and more, to hear the voices of ALL students – this means we hear the voices of students and learners who are oppressed along the same axis – we hear the voices even when they are articulated in violence.
  11. Help us stop looking at the ‘other’, for instance FNMI students, as a ‘project’, or as solely having an identity solely linked to oppression.
  12. Help us move beyond sserting our own educational agenda.
  13. Help us realise that we all have a shared humanity.

For all the reasons listed above, is why I firmly believe in the necessity of innovation, in addition to initiatives that include, but are not limited to, makerspaces, genius hour, inquiry based learning, and creating more dynamic spaces.

We innovate to create equity, AND meet the needs of all learners in the 21st century.

If we are not engaging in new pedagogies and new ways of thinking, then I fear that we are working solely from a place of privilege that continues to promote oppression, apathy, and indifference – in addition to making school ‘unsafe’ for many of our students.

 

Deborah McCallum

C 2016

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

Regions of Canada Unit

 

Regions of Canadahttp://www.thinglink.com/scene/651799658980442114

 


The following is a list of overall expectations we covered in our unit on the Regions of Canada:

Visual Arts – with Norval Morrisseau:

D3. Exploring Forms and Cultural Contexts: demonstrate an understanding of a variety of art forms, styles, and techniques from the past and present, and their sociocultural and historical contexts.

Social Studies:

  • B1. Application: assess some key ways in which industrial development and the natural environment affect each other in two or more political and/or physical regions of Canada (FOCUS ON: Cause and Consequence; Interrelationships)
  • B2. Inquiry: use the social studies inquiry process to investigate some issues and challenges associated with balancing human needs/wants and activities with environmental stewardship in one or more of the political and/or physical regions of Canada (FOCUS ON: Perspective)
  • B3. Understanding Context: identify Canada’s political and physical regions, and describe their main characteristics and some significant activities that take place in them (FOCUS ON: Significance; Patterns and Trends)

Language:

Oral Communication:

1. listen in order to understand and respond appropriately in a variety of situations for a variety of purposes;
2. use speaking skills and strategies appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes;
3. reflect on and identify their strengths as listeners and speakers, areas for improvement, and the strategies they found most helpful in oral communication situations.

Media Literacy

1. demonstrate an understanding of a variety of media texts;
2. identify some media forms and explain how the conventions and techniques associated with them are used to create meaning;
3. create a variety of media texts for different purposes and audiences, using appropriate forms, conventions, and techniques;

We also connected with the Grade 9 class at North Collegiate using Green Screen and Twitter: Here is our Storify!!!!

 

 

Writing:
3. use editing, proofreading, and publishing skills and strategies, and knowledge of language conventions, to correct errors, refine expression, and present their work effectively;

Reading:

1. read and demonstrate an understanding of a variety of literary, graphic, and informational texts, using a range of strategies to construct meaning;
Science & Technology – As we study our endangered animal and look at the interrelationships between the environment, physical features, animals, culture and industry of each Region of Canada.

humpback-whale-436115_1280

  1. analyse the effects of human activities on habitats and communities;
  2. investigate the interdependence of plants and animals within specific habitats and communities; 3. demonstrate an understanding of habitats and communities and the relationships among the plants and animals that live in them.

New Pedagogies for Deep Learning & the 6 C’s:

Develop and assess key future skills, what Michael Fullan has called the 6 Cs:
Character education — honesty, self-regulation and responsibility, hard work, perseverance, empathy for contributing to the safety and benefit of others, self- confidence,
personal health and well-being, career and life skills. (All the learning skills on our report card!)

Citizenship — global knowledge, sensitivity to and respect for other cultures, active involvement in addressing issues of human and environmental sustainability. – Learning about FNMI cultures, sharing knowledge with others.

Communication — communicate effectively orally, in writing and with a variety of digital tools; listening skills. – Artistic expression, twitter, blog, green screen, google hangouts, google classroom, writing, reading, listening, oral.

Critical thinking and problem solving — think critically to design and manage projects, solve problems, make effective decisions using a variety of digital tools and
resources.

Collaboration — work in teams, learn from and contribute to the learning of others, social networking skills, empathy in working with diverse others.

Creativity and imagination — economic and social entrepreneurialism, considering and pursuing novel ideas, and leadership for action. – Novel ideas for supporting endangered animals and protecting the environment in each region of Canada.

Mrs. McCallum

Is Curriculum a Living Organism, or a Fixed Machine?

Is Curriculum a Living Organism, or a Fixed Machine?

The world is changing rapidly. Just think about how we have moved from an Industrial revolution, to a knowledge economy that requires new skill sets. Knowledge is being built and re-built and changed on a daily basis. Facts can be looked up on the internet. Therefore, the curriculum and subject matter can only be important to students in so far as they find it meaningful. Today’s students need to have opportunities to reflect, critique, and have choices in how they create meaning.

I think this translates into the curriculum needing to be a living organism, that grows, changes and evolves. Yet knows what it needs to grow into – based on its own DNA.

We have our pedagogical structures and frameworks flexibly in place, we have the knowledge that enables us to anticipate student responses – yet we are also open to inquiry, ideas and building the curriculum somewhere into the unknown as it unravels with students — I am learning to help students collaboratively and independently build knowledge with each other in meaningful ways.

adult-education-572269_1280

For knowledge to have power, it has to be personally meaningful. For knowledge to be personally meaningful, it needs to evolve rather than be planned to a tee.

One of the key ideas that has really become salient to me these past few months, is that curriculum is SO much more than the syllabi we use for our planning. Curriculum is a holistic process, rather than a final product that we dole out to our learners. It is a living organism, that by nature, needs to look different each year depending upon the new variables and global situations we come across each year.

There are multiple ways to interpret the curriculum, and all have the ability to bring much value to the classroom.

However, not all educational goals can be known. Therefore, we can allow ourselves to think of the goals and curriculum as evolving entities – evolving in real time – rather than being planned to a tee. We can let students take their learning deeper, versus superficially covering the curriculum expectations as per syllabus.

Certainly, with busy lives, busy families, there is comfort and value in being able to look at a document that outlines your lesson. There is comfort, and value in looking at your plans from last year and tweaking them to fit your students this year. We have to acknowledge this, because this is part of human nature.

Yet, there is also value in always thinking progressively and differently. Pushing the boundaries, thinking boldly and being brave.

I am very happy that we are educating in a time where terms including innovation, digital technologies, learner-centered are becoming the norm. I am happy that we are living in a time when we as educators have opportunities to look at what we are doing, ask ourselves why, consider principles of equity in the classroom, and consider learning needs and how to help students succeed in 2015 and beyond.

I am happy that we have an FNMI department at our board, and that there are staff that help us to understand how to make our curriculum non-assimilationist and de-colonize the curriculum not just for FNMI students but for all students. This means looking at the curriculum in new ways and making changes to include FNMI as an equal part of the curriculum – not for reasons of ‘multiculturalism’, but because we recognize equally the first peoples of turtle island.

medicine-wheel-401408_1280

Students are always evolving. They are not merely the passive recipients of knowledge – nor do they want to be.

In my experience, it is the active engagement in building the knowledge for themselves that engages them. I have taken great steps back from serving them up knowledge and content. My students are actively building the knowledge they need through strategies that include Michael Fullan’s 6 C’s: Communication, Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Character and Citizenship. This links very well with the Grandfather Teachings too.

It is a very interesting, exciting and promising time for education indeed!

What does curriculum mean to you?

My reflections and findings about my year of evolving the traditional classroom into an Education Commons.

Deborah McCallum

Copyright, 2015

Play for Innovative and Resilient Learners

 

Innovation through ‘Play’ is essential for all students. It promotes a growth mindset and is inclusive of all student values, identities, voices and cultures. This includes all students with FNMI backgrounds. When learners can engage in play, their potential for learning will dramatically increase. A big part of this is because play not only has the ability to connect all aspects of a student’ life, but it is a the heart and soul of innovation.

We  can incorporate play into our learning environments through creating time and space for innovation and play.

It is increasingly essential for educators to help learners to be in constant pursuit of innovation. This includes helping students to understand how to locate and access the appropriate resources that will enhance and promote the learning experience. Educators can help students, including our FNMI students, to become innovators, to make sense of our world in the 21st Century. We can do this by:

  • Allowing time for PLAY!!
  • Helping students to set appropriate goals
  • Continually assessing and reassessing goals
  • Reflecting and thinking about goals.
  • Locating, Accessing, and properly using important resources.
  • Identifying Student Values

Our students come to the classroom with values, experiences, cultures and knowledge that is essential to their learning. If we over-identify with the classroom itself as the primary environment for learning, this will marginalize other wonderful aspects of a students life. Play is a great way to help promote identity, values and voices of our students. Then we can innovate to help them integrate learning into important knowledge, culture and experiences that they live with.

Educators play a large role in by helping students create balance by:

  • Helping students to set priorities in their lives.
  • Supporting a balance between school-life and home life.
  • Facilitating learning opportunities that help students to process and examine important topics in society.
  • Enabling students to identify and understand explicitly what is important to the student in his or her own life.
  • Providing time for students to Play and Innovate.
  • Promoting Personal Safety

It behooves our students to be able to reason, look at all viewpoints, consider options, and know how to ask for help. Educators can help students to set priorities, make plans, but also to be flexible and adaptable to sudden changes. For this to happen, students also need to feel safe to try new things, safe to take risks, and safe to be themselves.Educators can facilitate this by acknowledging all of the important variables that affect student safety, and how they effectively learn in our Schools. These include:

  • FNMI connections, culture and knowledge
  • Ethnicity
  • Culture
  • Gender
  • Family
  • Relationships
  • Time for play
  • Time for innovation
  • Poverty
  • Special Needs

Caring and dedicated Educators can be aware of, and proactive, to promoting equality and understanding within the classroom. This is also essential to spurring on innovation!

Certainly, many new changes exist as our ever-changing workforce continues to change to meet new cultural norms and expectations, including globalization. The experiences that students will face during key developmental years, will play large roles in helping our students to develop their own self-esteem, skills, and careers. Helping children to integrate school work and play together in a continuous and fluid manner is one way to achieve these goals.

This is very similar to helping individuals to integrate their life roles together through work and play later on down the road.

Right to Play  is a powerful organization that strives to engage students, spark innovation, and also promote healthy communities.On May 10 I watched them give a powerful presentation about how we can use play to overcome poverty, conflict and disease in disadvantaged communities. Research has indicated strong links between playful adaptability in children and characteristics including creativity, innovation, spontaneity, personal success, goal achievement, sense of humour, competence and resilience! These have always been important aspects of FNMI cultures.

Further, all of the aspects are also essential in the workplace, (and a shame that many of us as adults of have lost touch with these fun aspects of life!)

Teachers can strike an optimal balance within the classroom by setting aside time for play and innovation.If individuals have not gained adaptability skills in their youth, this will undoubtedly affect future resilience, acceptance, growth, and the ability to adapt to an ever changing world. The future of Canada and Canada’s economy also will be stronger with more resilient students. I am very privileged to be a part of such powerful PLN’s that support Innovation and Play in learning.

 

Deborah McCallum

Copyright

© 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.