Tag Archives: education

Treaty Ed Camp 2018

15 Oct

This weekend I had the privilege of taking eight students to the UR S.T.A.R.S. Treaty Ed Camp. It was a fantastic event, filled with amazing sessions. This day is not only beneficial to myself as an educator, learning new things to apply to my own practice, but is beneficial for my students who we amazing enough to attend a conference on their weekend! We had one grade nine, two grade tens, and three grade twelves attend the event. At the beginning of the day I explained to them how they could utilize social media throughout the day, and showed them how to use the #TreatyEdCamp twitter hashtag. Throughout the day they were tweeting what they learned, and had amazing things to say. I was incredible impressed with their leadership, confidence, independence, and thirst for knowledge throughout the day. At the end of each session they would rush to find me, and tell me all that they learned. They took pages and pages of notes, and the conversation on the drive home was the most engaging discussion I have had about Treaty Education in a long time.

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Treaty 4 students with keynote speaker Erica Violet Lee

I wanted to be able to share some of the key themes that I learned throughout the day. One of the things that stood out most to me, as it came up from nearly every presenter I listened to, was language. Since taking my Cree class, I have noticed more and more, how much the topic of revitalizing Indigenous language comes up in talks about reconciliation. Language is a carrier for culture, and it is so crucial that we protect it! The beginning of the keynote speech, by Erica Violet Lee, began with a greeting in Cree. I was extremely excited when she began, because I recognized that I understood every single thing that she had said! This was the first time that I have ever actually understood another language (aside from bits and pieces of French) when it was actually being spoken to me. Language has been lost in my family for numerous generations, so I felt very empowered being able to understand what she was saying, and confident that I myself could deliver the same greeting. I clearly have a long way to go from here, but you have to start somewhere!

The keynote address was packed full of information and thought provoking statements. Lee often name dropped different authors, and I found myself adding books to my amazon cart as we went, like #IndianLovePoems by Tenille K. Campbell, and Nationhood Interrupted: Revitalizing nêhiyaw Legal Systems by Sylvia McAdams. She stated that it is “important that we are using the word genocide, because they don’t want to go there.” She talked about death, and mourning of that death, and being able to mourn without being weak. A powerful thing that she discussed was the idea of archives, and how the person who decides what goes in the archives is literally defining what knowledge is. She urged us to be conscious of this, as we are making our course outlines and deciding what content to teach, because we are also defining that knowledge. She shared stories of her time in high school, and the work she did to decolonize the racist mascot that she was told to identify with for so many years. So many powerful things were said during this keynote address, which will be available to watch through UR S.T.A.R.S. online!

“I wish I didn’t have to talk about colonialism everyday – What could we do if we weren’t always defending our humanity” – Erica Violet Lee

The first session I attended was Interfacing Indigenous Knowledge and Mathematics Education Through Math Fairs lead by Shana Graham. She discussed different ways we can assess mathematics that is more culturally broad. She discussed the idea that 1 + 1 = 2 is a Western way of thinking. When thinking about mathematics, the western viewpoint is that there is a right answer, and only that answer can be correct. She explained that this representation is not universally correct. She used an example of two paper clips. If you add one paper clip and one paper clip you end up with two paper clips. We could all agree that the logic made sense. She then grabbed a container of play dough, and had one ball of play dough and added one ball of play dough, and when she put them together she had… one ball of play dough! In that perspective 1 + 1 = 0. She challenged us to think that the way we are teaching mathematics is limiting our student’s creativity. She also shared a resource on math fairs, with examples of what she has done in her university classes.

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Treaty 4 students share their work from their session Colonialism on Canvas.

The second session I attended was Smudging in Schools by Jeff Cappo. He shared knowledge on smudging, the importance of smudging in schools, and then we participated in a smudge. He spoke on how important it is to make a connection with our Indigenous youth, and to make smudging more normalized. He explained about how smudging takes the negative out of you and leaves it with positive. I participated in this session with one of my student’s and we both discussed how smudging makes you feel grounded. Cappo spoke about the reasons why we smudge, and how we have to be doing it inside the schools… not outside, because that leaves the wrong message. Smudging outside is saying that it is not something that is inclusive to the school, and does not have the spirit of reconciliation.

“The primary objective of smudging in schools are aimed at:

  • Promotion of health and balanced lifestyles of those we are with
  • Creating cultural awareness and aiding in the process of gaining a sense of cultural identity”

– Jeff Cappo

The third session I participated in was a session I have done before, but still learned new things when I attended. I listened to Edward Doolittle speak on the Peach, Stone, Bowl game. I was urged to attend this session because one of my grade ten students wanted to learn the game so that she could teach our math class this semester! I was excited for this to happen, and figured I could use a refresher on how the game works. Doolittle spent a great deal of time speaking about the intent of the game and the importance of language. He spoke to us in Mohawk, and explained that we do this best with what we have available. He spoke on the creation story, and how all comes from that. Last year he shared the Iroquois Creation story, and told us that before we begin we have to remember that all comes from here. During this session he explained a cultural perspective on math from Alan Bishop  that focus’ on 6 areas: measuring, counting, locating, designing, playing and explaining. This was a common theme, as it came up in the previous session on math I attended as well. Doolittle, like Graham, also discussed how our perspectives need to change. The game he explained was about probability, and he used this idea to show that our world is so much more complex than the theory that mathematics over simplifies.

“This was the best that I could do – people are scared to do Indigenous teaching in their classroom because they are scared they won’t do it right – that shouldn’t stop us from trying” – Edward Doolittle

The last session of the day was spent with Info Red, aka Brad Bellegarde. He shared his session Rap as the New Buffalo. This was a fantastic way to end the day because he was very funny and we were all excited to hear him rap. Again the topic of language came up, as he began listing the five dialects we have in Treaty 4. He greeted us in numerous languages and showed us how easy it is to be more inclusive with our language.

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Treaty 4 students with Brad Bellegarde

All together the day left me filling full – my mind was full of new information, my heart was full watching my student’s passion, my soul was full because I felt like I was truly participating in what I was passionate about, and my stomach was full because we made a quick stop at the Bannock House on the way home for Indian Tacos and Maple Bacon Moose Ears. Days like this are so incredibly important for all involved, and I strongly suggest participating in future years. If you would like to learn more about what happened at the Treaty Ed Camp you can follow the hashtag on twitter for more snippets of what was learned!

“It is precisely because education was the primary tool of oppression of Aboriginal people, and mis-education of all Canadians, that we have concluded that education holds the key to reconciliation” – Justice Murray Sinclair

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Orange Shirt Day 2018

30 Sep

 

As a teacher, September is a time that is very busy for me as I begin to get ready for the upcoming school year. September is filled with change – from new classes to teach, and new students to meet, clubs to plan for and events to run. It can be very stressful for me, but it is also a very exciting time as I, and I hope the students, begin to get back into the swing of the school year. Today, September 30th, I am taking time to reflect and remember that going back to school has not always been an exciting time for many members of our society – going back, or beginning to attend, a residential school would have had a significantly different feeling.

September 30th is recognized as Orange Shirt Day, and it honours the story of Phyllis Webstad. If you have not listened to Phyllis’ story, I encourage you to listen below.

The voice of the First Nations people in Canada has been long silenced. I am very fortunate to work in a school where I am able to have discussions on reconciliation with some of the youth in our city. Our school recognized Orange Shirt Day and we participated in a liturgy to focus on the voice of Residential School Students. Last year I had a group of very passionate grade 12 students who began our Treaty 4 group with me and a few colleagues. This year, I was concerned that there would be lack of interest, but our group increased in size. They took the leadership to lead our school and educate them on reconciliation, focusing on how they will use their voices this school year.

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Some of the members for the Vanier Treaty 4 club this year.

Our liturgy took place in the gym, and had a much different tone than other liturgies. A main difference was that we seated the students in a circle on the ground, rather than in our bleachers. Taking time in the day to talk about Reconciliation, to share knowledge, and give voice to students who have been long silenced in our country, was a very powerful moment.

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I wanted to be able to share our presentation as a resource for other teachers, or anyone who is interested in further educating themselves. The slideshow includes resources beyond the document that can even further your education. You can find this slideshow here.

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Some of the staff and students at Vanier who participated in Orange Shirt Day.

The Treaty 4 group made many challenges to the staff and students during the liturgy. They challenged everyone to become familiar with the 94 Calls to Action, and to listen to listen to Read the TRC Report. They also challenged Vanier to fill their social media with facts on Residential Schools, and to share what they have learned with at least one other person. We already had a Twitter begun, which has documented their journey for the past year, but we also began an Instagram page to help spread the awareness further. We challenged the school to use their voice for something important this year, and had them fill orange shirts with how they plan to do this (pictures to come). The last challenge we proposed to the school was to learn 100 days of Cree. We discussed the importance of revitalizing Indigenous languages. Since our presentation focused so strongly on voice, it was very suited to begin this challenge. Taking Cree 100 this semester has also motivated me to help the Treaty 4 group do this, as I myself am focusing on learning Cree this semester. The group made their first video, and will be posting each day to learn a new phrase or word. You can follow our journey on twitter or on instagram!

In closing I would like to quote Justice Murray Sinclair when he stated, “Education has gotten us into this mess, and education will get us out.”

Technology Troubles

7 Mar

This year I have been working really hard to create math videos for my lessons. I started in the first semester with Workplace 20 and Foundations 10 and found myself quickly giving up. I was very overwhelmed with all my work and was disheartened when the students didn’t use them as much as I had planned. Near the end of the semester I had positive feedback from the videos looking back and studying for the final, so this semester I decided I would try again and be more diligent.

I have been making videos for Precalculus 20 using the showme app for my iPad. I have found these videos to be effective for three main reasons:
1) I make the video before the lesson, so I practice teaching the lesson out loud before with a student which helps organize my lesson better.
2) I teach very involved students who often miss for sports and other activities, and there are also students absent all the time. When they miss they know to check the video online, which goes through all of the notes and they can fill it in. So far many of the students are coming to school already having watched the video for what they missed.
3) Time. There are so many students, and even without missing, it can be difficult to assist students who don’t understand concepts. The videos help when some students just need a refresh of the lesson.

What I have been trying to gear towards is a flipped classroom. I have been posting the lesson the night before, and a couple students have watched them before hand. There are a few difficulties I have been encountering that have stopped me from flipping my classroom. First I am very worried the students won’t watch the video beforehand. It is a different way of thinking for them so it may be a difficult transition. I have been trying to slowly transition, with the videos to work towards that. My second problem is with my own preparation. I am finding it difficult to have enough hours in my day let alone being extra planned in advance. I have been working on long term planning, and am a very organized person, but I’m worried that I won’t have a video ready on time or something will go wrong and mess the entire process up.

In all, I have seen many successes with the technology I have incorporated. Many students are using the videos and it is extremely beneficial in the classroom. I need to find the extra motivation to push myself to try more with my teaching.

There’s an App for That

4 Dec

Things that I thought I would continue to do once I started teaching: blog.

Things that I don’t do know that I started teaching: blog… sleep…

I really wish I could get into the good practice of blogging more often, so today I have decided to talk about apps.  In university I thought I had found all the most wonderful apps that are amazing and useful.  Yesterday I deleted 100 apps.  Today, I took a moment to realize how many apps I have downloaded since school has begun, and how I found apps that fit to supplement what I was teaching.  As I teach a course that requires curriculum outcomes that relate to games, I have found apps that work in each of my units.  Let me take a quick second to recognize the apps that I adore.

Crossmath! – This $0.99 game has been used more than anything on my phone.  It works for teaching factoring, balancing equations, deductive reasoning… and also when you are really bored.

Hexominoes – This app works for shape and space as well as logic! It costs $0.99

Rush Hour – All of my students love rush hour.  I even have a physical copy of the board game. Working in groups really is helpful as they communicate hundreds of strategies. Cost is $2.99.

Flow Free – This game is great for shape and space as well as logic, it is also FREE!

Tangram XL Free – Works for shape and space units, deductive reasoning, and is Free!

Vault Breaker – Tests your logic and deductive reasoning skills to crack codes.  It’s free and fun.

Battleship – Used this for review for graphs, plotting points, ordered pairs, deductive reasoning and strategy.  You can play against a computer, over Wi-Fi with another device, or pass and play.  It is free.

CribbagePro – Need I say more? Oh right, it is free!

And lastly, I had this app downloaded forever and not once had I used it or even thought about it.  Then I taught Pre-Calculus and I understood why it is a must have.

Free Graphing Calculator

These are just a few of the math apps that I have been using in my classroom, and felt like I needed to share them now that I am actually using mobile learning.

Using technology to start my teaching career

8 Sep

This may possible be the best app I have ever downloaded:

ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard

You can record your screen and voice on the iPad and post to twitter, Facebook directly. I am using them to put on my class website.

This is my class website: Miss Douglas’ Class Website
And my class twitter is @misssdouglas

I chose to use a posterous instead of a wiki because each post directly posts to twitter, so all my homework directly goes on twitter with only one update to make. There is also a posterous app which lets you post from your phone. You can also upload files which instability are posted through scribd so all the documents are embedded into each post easily.

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This is my showme page, I’m doing all my lessons on here, it takes two minutes to make and share a video. I am also making qr codes for each video and putting them right in my lesson so they can refer to the video if they need a reminder.

Also, I survived my first week of teaching, and posted this entirely from my phone. #lovetechnology

Discovering Your Direction

16 Jul

The second great experience I have experienced this summer came from doing another math workshop. I was asked to put on a workshop for the First Nations University for their student conference Discovering your Directions. This event had grade nine First Nation students from local schools and school divisions. There were many great activities, and I was to lead the education and math workshop.

For the workshop I focused not only on an interactive math activity, but also speaking about my own education experience as well as the education program at the university of Regina. When the group came in I could tell they were not very excited that they had to “go to the stupid math” activity. I totally understood, everyone is aware that most people don’t have the most positive attitude towards math.

I chose to do die hard math, an activity I have done with Math on the Move before, because it was interactive and exciting. As soon as I started the clip I had them hooked and they had a much better attitude. They finished these quickly so I started my second game, the math alphabet. For this activity I put the alphabet on the board and an integer beneath it. I then put a sum on the board and they had to come up with a word that added up to that sum. This got even more of the students involved as they started competing for the longest word, or who could make the best sentence. Finally I ended with my new favourite puzzle, the rebus. I put 20 puzzles on the board and they were very competitive finding them out to see who could answer the most.

The most rewarding part of the conference was when a student asked if I was a real teacher, and if that’s what my math classes were always like, because they have never had a math class like that before. I laughed and was relieved that I could make math interesting for them.

The last part of the conference that I participated in was a student panel. Myself, along with four other university students in different areas, were asked questions about school and university. I answered questions like what my favourite subject and classes were, what my biggest struggles have been, what high school classes are important, and how my culture has affected my university experience. This was a wonderful opportunity to share things that I have learned over that past years with many young and eager minds.

I am so grateful and fortunate to have been apart of such a beneficial program for youth in our province, and would be eager to do so again.

Summer of Math

15 Jul

I haven’t blogged in a very long time. I haven’t been over the top busy, so I can’t even use that as an excuse. I have fallen out of practice, which is unfortunate.

Fortunately, though, I have had some very exciting experiences this summer and want to get back into the habit. First I have been hired as a math teacher at Vanier Collegiate in Moose Jaw. This is the high school that I attended and I am ecstatic to be able to work there in the fall. This is one of the main reasons why I want to continue blogging, as I wish to reflect on my work again the way that I did before.

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Math on the Move team 2012 via mathonthemove.uregina.ca

The first amazing experience I had this summer was being employed by Math on the Move for the second consecutive summer. This is a program run from the math department and education department at the University of Regina that takes math workshops to rural Saskatchewan schools for a half of a day. It is very similar to the Math Camp put on at the university every September, but a mobile version.

Through this activity we were able to reach seven different communities working with grade 9 and 10 students. We had jam packed days where, on same days, we did a workshop in the morning then again in the afternoon in a different town. Being able to be a part of this program twice has been extremely beneficial for me. Not only have I been able to visit numerous schools and school divisions in the province, giving me a new insight on how different schools run, but also I have had to think of innovative activities to do twice.

This year we had a program much similar to last years, which I blogged about here. We had four different stations that lasted 20 mins each, and the students rotated to all of them. At each station they were awarded points for their team, then at the end we had a final round to compete for points to see which team won.

All of the activities done this year were well planned out and fun. One station was playing the game of nim and creating a strategy. Another station was a stats baseball game that was made where you used the stats of a baseball player and simulated a game. The other station was a life size version of the app Rush Hour.

My station was also based on an app that I play often called Crossmath. The game is very similar to Sudoku but much different as it incorporates mathematical operations. I made cross math boards by getting two different mobile white boards which were 18″ X 24″. I then used electical tape to make the outline for the board and used white board makers to write in the different problems.

Cross Math Board without problem written on

Some students were able to finish these problems quite fast, and others it took some help. After doing this workshop so many times I knew the problems off by heart, and knew where the kids would get stuck and how to best help them. The problems end up turning into a simple math equation that they can solve, but they use their own reasoning skills to come to the answer. I am going to put these boards in my classroom for students to use! Examples of cross math worksheets I made are below.

Easy Cross Math

Medium Cross Math

Hard Cross Math:

The final activity consisted of many math problems that we had put together that the students had to accomplish. The rules were that they could only have one question out at a time, and if they discarded the question and wanted a new one, they could never get that question back. There was strategy involved with how they chose their questions! An element that I incorporated into the final questions was rebus’. I love them and I used them many times in internship with my students to fill time gaps. They make you think about problems from a different approach, which is why it was the question I started with during the final round. A great website to find rebus puzzles is Fun With Words and an app that I use on my phone is Rebuzzle. Below is the final activity that we used.

Answers to above questions