Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I LOVE the Tech Committee and each of their Blogs!

I've been spending some time over the February break reflecting over my role (and my passion) as a "tekkie" teacher. I've been feeling kind of down and out - and isolated. Then today I started thinking what a (professional) lifesaver it has been to be part of this group of professionals. We are (mostly) all here because we want to be. Even if we have no one else on our respective staffs with whom we can work creatively, we always have each other. I have not only loved reading everyone else's blogs, I have NEEDED them to feel professionally nourished, inspired, and connected. This is gushing, I know, but not far from the truth.

I know that those of you who are in university programs have this connection and continual stimulation. For those of us who are not yet or no longer in this loop, I find this committee and these blogs a kind of lifeline. Last year, I started listening to edtech podcasts. While these were wonderful, most of them (Ed Tech Posse excluded) were not locally focussed.

Please keep writing. I have always found the networking approach the best way to be creative. I find most teachers and administrators to operate more from a "work beside" rather than a "work with" perspective. In the "work beside" environment, not a lot of "collective creative consciousness" ever happens. For most of us who work in "work beside" environments, (in my experience) the best we can do is be here, doing what we do, passing on any information to the interested, and hopefully inspiring by example.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

ELA, Social Issues, Technology, and Grade 6 SocSt. Curriculum.....

My first degree is a BA(adv) in Sociology, and I realized that a) it took me 4 years to acquire all the jargon and concepts to be able to have some understanding of social science; and that b) after acquiring all that knowledge I didn't have a clue how to speak about it in everyday English to a non-sociology grad. I don't know if that experience really colours my experience teaching middle years social studies, but somehow I STILL look at the curricula and think, "My gosh, how many years of university did it take me to make sense of some of this stuff!!!)

I still struggle with "teaching the skills" as Prof. Dhand would say, and covering the curriculum.

One attempt for me is tying the study of literature 2ith the study of social issues. A few years ago, my (then) co-grade 5/6 teacher and I decided we didn't like any of the Canadianized American ELA reading programs, and so we decided to order various novels from Oxford University Press (which yes, are unabashedly British). While a lot of work, I've found that having these novel sets have given me instructional flexibility. I have some novels that are written at a 2-3 year reading level, and a middle level interest level. I have some that are at year 5 and 6 reading and interest level, and I have some that can provide enrichment.

I have created a page of Youtube video links to add to the study of the social issues aspect of the novel studies.

On Thursday when no students were here, Donna helped me via Skype to create a new page of video links for my Grade 5 and 6 page. (The few students who were in the lab thought I was off my nut speaking into my computer screen!) I found some cool stuff, and a lot of school project type stuff (well, Youtube IS democratic!!!) I even found out that Grace the Pirate isn't just a level 3 reading story, she is in fact an historically documented Irish female leader of the Elizabethan age.

We haven't been able to start the novel studies yet...Monday's the day. I hope all this work is worthwhile.