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Sharing Means Caring – Lesson Share

23 Feb

As a teacher, I have never in my life found a lesson plan and used it in its entirety – ever.  I recognize that there is no need to “reinvent the wheel” but the more I teach the more I realize how different each teachers intentions are when they develop a lesson plan.  This is the magic of teaching.  Yes, we have common goals regarding the specific skills and knowledge that we need our students to learn during a lesson – but the approach and the details that we use to reach that goal are very different.

So instead of packaging a neat lesson plan (which may or may not meet the criteria for a “lesson plan” where ever you are at this point in time) I am going share the overall idea, resources and purpose of my lessons.  Do with them what you will.  My favourite way to lesson plan is to set the purpose and goal of my lesson and then Frankenstein the best ideas from lots of different lesson plans into something that works best for me and the students I am working with at that very moment.  As every teacher knows, one lesson that works wonders in first first period can flop in third period because the dynamics of each group of students is so different.  It’s more important to be flexible and creative then it is to have totally organized and detailed lesson plans – because at any moment something could happen that will through the entire plan off track.  Now what? Improvise!

Please feel free to share your own ideas and how you used or twisted any other ideas (whether from here or somewhere else) to make a lesson plan that worked!

LESSON IDEA #1 – Impressionist Movement – Self Portraits and Impressions of the Past

Overview:

As an alternative teacher I wanted to develop an integrated curriculum where one assignment would meet the curricular expectations of two (or more) different courses.  As a drama and history teacher I find it easiest to find curriculum links between the arts, English and Canadian history courses.   I will focus on the arts aspects of my curriculum in this Lesson Share.  In the first unit we explored the Impressionist Movement.  It was a great way to introduce and set the stage for the first unit of the Canadian history course which explores the beginnings of Canada’s industrial age and gives context to the fundamental changes in thinking about how the world functioned at the turn of the century.  We began by learning about the history of the Impressionist Movement and how it changed the purpose and style of art.  We then learned how to paint as an impressionist artist using the touche technique – dry brushing and mixing acrylic colours on the canvas.  Once students had practiced the technique they were give two assignments to complete. One, an impressionist style self-portrait painting and an impressionist style painting depicting how different groups of Canadians viewed Canada between 1900 and 1919.

Purpose:

Integrated Arts – (ALC 20)

B3.1 describe how creating, presenting, and analysing a variety of art works has affected their personal values and their awareness of the values of their community and culture and those of other cultures
B4.1 identify skills, character traits, and work habits that are developed through the processes of creating, analysing, presenting, and/or promoting art works, including integrated art works/productions
C1.1  use appropriate terminology related to elements, principles, and other key concepts when creating, analysing, or presenting various types of art works
C1.2 demonstrate an understanding of elements, principles, and other key concepts associated with the various arts disciplines
C2.1 demonstrate an understanding of common symbols and themes in past and present art works from a variety of cultures
Knowledge –
My students watched a video and had a short reading to complete to gain an understanding of the Impressionist  Movement.
Skills –
Students needed to learn how to paint using the techniques of the impressionist painters.  As a group we watched a video and broke down the steps.  Students were given the opportunity to practice the technique until they felt comfortable.
Application –
Students were given the task of creating a self-portrait in the impressionist style practiced in class.  They were asked to use colours that best suited their personality based on symbolic representations of colours (as provided to them).
Throughout the creative process students worked in groups and with me, discussing their choices along the way.  Which picture will I use that best captures who I am?  Who am I? What do I value? What defines who I am?  Which colours best represent that?  Does it matter that this painting doesn’t really look like me at all?  What does this painting represent about me?
Here is the finished result…
Outcomes:
  • We learned a new skill (touche painting technique)
  • We learned about the industrial revolution and gained different perspectives on its cultural impact
  • We explored self-identity and personal expression
  • We created artwork that became the center point of our classroom for the rest of the semester.
  • The skills developed during this unit were later used in by students in different units as a new tools for creating integrated art projects.
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Professional Development workshops for educators & Restorative Practices Consulting

5 Aug

If you are a principal or organization director looking for meaningful and relevant professional development opportunities, please contact me.  Here is what I have to offer..

Bringing Restorative &

Social Justice Practices to Schools

The Idealistic Educator Workshops and Consulting Focus on…

  • Communication Skills
  • Community Building
  • Group Problem Solving
  • Cross Curricular Learning
  • As and For Learning Ideas
  • Drama for Elementary Teachers
  • Classroom Management
  • Supporting Resilient Youth

“…Engage & Empower…”

Workshops

Professional Development Training

Schools

  • Cross Curricular Social Justice In the Classroom
    • Elementary
    • Secondary
  • Restorative Practices – For and As Learning
  • Restorative Practices – Classroom Management and Community Building
  • Restorative Practices – Problem Solving with Youth (Bullying in our Schools)
  • As, for and of Learning – Elementary and Junior Drama

 Organizations

  • Restorative Practices – Problem Solving with Youth
  • Management Training – Facilitating Open Communication

Consulting

Schools

  • Support organizing and addressing bullying and other negative behaviours in the school
    • Develop a plan of action to address specific situations.
    • Facilitate restorative circles with victims and aggressors.
    • Following through with the results of the circle.

Organizations

  • Support organizing and addressing communication issues within the organization.
    • Developing a plan of action to address specific situations.
    • Facilitate restorative circles with staff.
    • Following through with the results of the circle.

Ken Robinson has got it right…

3 Dec

I am an avid Stumbler and was fortunate enough to stumble upon Ken Robinson’s talk at a TED conference in 2006 titled, “Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity“.   His particular talk is one of the most popular talks on TED.com with 7,775,295 views.  He is fantastically witty and his ideas on our current school systems are ones that I share (along with 7 million other viewers).

I enjoyed his talk so much I looked Ken Robinson up online and discovered he is the author of The Element: How Finding Our Passion Changes Everything and Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative.  This summer I had the pleasure of reading The Element.

The book is full of anecdotal examples of wildly successful people who were, at one point in their lives, on a path that would have led them astray from their ‘element’.  Like his Ted talk, he links problematic structures within our school systems to the hindrances faced by the men and women discussed throughout the book.

The most powerful idea for me was in the final chapter when Ken Robinson discusses how our changed economy and relationship with technology both have radical implications for our education systems.  Are the past structures of the industrial era really preparing the next generations to be successful in their personal and working lives? Did it ever really best serve the youth who graduated the system?  Ken Robinson would argue no, which is something which resonates me.

I look forward to reading Out of Our Minds in the near future.  Have you read his books or heard his talk on TED.com?  What are your thoughts?

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson