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The Talk…

12 Mar

I just turned 30.  The build up was awful – I had all of these negative thoughts about not living up to my own goals and desires but had a sudden change in thinking when I realized – hey, I’m 30. I am a woman. Stop with the 20 something doubtfulness and be a woman.  Very liberating.

In all of this, I really started thinking about all aspects of my life and one of the many topics that came up was my own identity as a sexual being.  I have been speaking with other females and realized how afraid I was to even have this discussion, not only with them but with myself.  As an educator, this got me thinking about myself a teenager and how little focus I give to sexual health in my own classroom.  When I really allowed myself to consider who I am as a sexual being, I realized that I had some very negative ideas of what sex was and how it related to me as a woman.  My personal beliefs concerning my self-image, how deserving I am as a person and what my personal needs were entangled into my own sexuality.  It was then I realized that something needs to change about the way we address and educate young girls on sexuality.  While it’s all good and well that we are teaching about safe sex practices – what we should first be teaching, no enforcing, is that females deserve to feel good about themselves and they deserve to have their needs and wants respected and listened to.  This conversation, or training, or indoctrination, should then be followed up with very frank and open conversations about sexual health and practices.  What good is teaching girls the purpose of using condoms if they don’t first value themselves enough to enforce using the protection in a vulnerable moment?  The preventative information is important.  We should be teaching all young people about how to stay safe and healthy.  There is so much more though that we don’t talk about that is just as important when it comes to sex and an openness and honesty that we should be fostering concerning our own sexual needs and health.  Just as an example – Masterbation.  It seems a common conversation for teenaged boys to have, even if just in jest, but never did I ever discuss masterbation with friends as a teenager or in my twenties.  Why? For me, it felt inappropriate, it was just not something that you should not talk about ever with anyone.  It’s this kind of closed mindedness that leads to females devaluing their own needs and wants.  As educators, youth workers, social workers, parents and mentors we need to encouraging open and honest conversations (without shame) about everything – including sex.  I am guilty of not including the topic enough over the years in my classroom.  I am not a gym teacher, so naturally I didn’t have a sex health unit in my history or drama classes, but there were ways that I could have introduced the topic and let my students know that as an adult I am someone who they can talk to about anything (including sex) without judgement if they needed to.

On that note – I know that this is old news and that many people are already doing great work in this area. So, I am interested to learn about sexual health programs for girls that are addressing these issues openly and without shame.  I’d love to hear from you about what programs you’ve seen that are most effective and focus on personal self-worth as part of the learning.

In the meantime – Meet Laci Green, she inspired this posting.  If you have a young female in your life that looks up to you why not watch these videos together and let them know – guess what you’re awesome and so am I and this sex stuff is part of life so lets talk about it… like we would talk about any other part of life!

Check out her facebook…

https://www.facebook.com/officiallacigreen

and Tumblr…

http://lacigreen.tumblr.com/

Here are some other great resources to share that I found on upworthy.com (an awesome website if you’ve never been).

Message to our Daughtershttp://www.bodyheart.com/

Banbossy.com

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Quotes for the Classroom

26 Feb

There is nothing that I love more than a good quote.  I often use quotes as a way to introduce a lesson or spark a morning check-in.  Enjoy.

Here are a few of my favourites on the topics under the umbrella of literacy!

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.”
Oscar Wilde

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
Stephen King

“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”
Voltaire

“Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.”
Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.”
Margaret Fuller

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”
Frederick Douglass

“Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting.”

– Edmund Burke

“My bursting heart must find vent at my pen.”
Abigail Adams

“No two persons ever read the same book.”

– Edmund Wilson

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
Philip Pullman

“Writing is a way of talking without being interrupted.”
Jules Renard

“Half of writing history is hiding the truth.”
Joss Whedon

“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”
George Orwell, 1984

“The limits of my language means the limits of my world.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein

“It’s only words… unless they’re true.”
David Mamet

“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”
Albert Einstein

“The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.”
Voltaire

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”
Socrates

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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Resources for Teachers – Restorative Justice in the Classroom

23 Feb

I am always looking for new resources regarding the use of restorative practices in the classroom and it seems over the past year or so there have been some really great guides and readings developed for educators.

Happy Reading –

Restorative Justice Community/Classroom Conferencing: A guide for parents and teachers

Written By Nicole Pakan & The Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communities (Edmonton)
This document is a specific guide for a more traditional use of restorative justice practices (conferences used to address behaviour issues) in a school setting.

Teaching Restorative Practices with Classroom Circles

Written by Amos Clifford and Center for Restorative Process (Developed for the San Francisco Unified School District)
This document is a guide for educators who ant to facilitate circles in their classroom as a way to develop trust, build community and address classroom issues.  The guide includes a circle tool kit and lesson plans.

Restorative Justice Module Classroom Activities, Links, and Resources

Developed by the John Howard Society of Alberta
This document provides handouts that can be used to teach about restorative justice, its purpose and how to facilitate a restorative mediation.  The document also includes a list of other useful resources on the topic.

Professional Development Opportunities – Find New Perspectives

22 Feb

“The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.”

-Albert Einstein

Meet new people, gain new experiences and open your mind to new perspectives by checking out some of these professional development opportunities…

3rd Annual Solutions For Learning Conference: NEURODIVERSITY ROCKS!

When: March 21st, 2014

Where:  International Union of Operating Engineers Banquet Hall and Conference Centre
2245 Speers Road Oakville, Ontario L6L 2X9

What:  A conference for educators working with students who have learning disabilities. (So, this conference is useful for every educator).

More Information…

The Psychology Foundation of Canada’s 40th Anniversary Conference

When: April 2nd, 2014

Where: Hilton Toronto, 145 Richmond St West, Toronto, ON, M5H 2L2

What: Explore issues related to mental health and well-being for children and families.  Every teacher needs to have a strong understanding of mental health issues as it relates directly or indirectly to our students.  An important aspect of the conference will include a morning discussion concerning resiliency and the importance of social and emotional intelligence – the perfect topic for teachers working with at-risk students!

More Information…

2014 Summit on Children & Youth Mental Health

When: April 3rd and 4th 2014

Where: Allstream Centre, 105 Princes’ Boulevard, Toronto

What: A conference for educators, health professionals, and children service professionals addressing a whole community approach to serving youth and child struggling with mental health.  Again, an educator cannot have enough information and resources on this topic!

More Information…

Ontario Healthy Schools Coalition
National Healthy Schools Conference

When: April 9th and 10th 2014

Where: Hilton Hotel and Conference Center, London, Ontario

What:  This conference addresses the resources and practices needed for a whole child approach to our students needs.  The speakers and workshops cover a broad range of topics such as mental health, literacy, violence, healthy eating, leadership skills, and physical fitness.

More Information…

Conference Information PDF

Using Manipulatives to Encourage Literacy and Numeracy Learning for Children

13 Nov

It is no surprise that parents with primary aged children want to participate in their schooling.  Most parents I have spoken to tend to use workbooks because that is what is available, and they do have good exercises for children to practice the skills they learn at school.

The thing is, parents can be using items around the house to support their child’s literacy and numeracy development in a more meaningful way that simply using work books.  Here is my suggestion:

At Home Lesson Plan for Parents
Supplies needed:

  • a variety of items that are a solid colour (balls, toys, cups, socks, boxes, paper clips, crayons, ect.)
  • Pencil and Paper
  • Graph Paper and Crayons

*NOTE:  Only focus on one s

Steps-

Sorting:

  1. Place all of the items on a table, make sure all of the items are mixed up.
  2. Engage in a number of sorting activities:
  • Sort the items by colour
  • Sort the items by size
  • Sort the items by shape
  • Sort the items by texture
  • Sort the items by weight

Counting and Graphing:

  1. After sorting the items into a category (for example colours) ask the child to count each of the categorized items.
    Questions to ask: How many items are red? How many items are blue?  Can you tell me which colour has the most items?  Can you tell me which colour has the least items.
  2. Using the graph paper and stickers, create a simple graph using the squares to represent each of the items in the sorted categories.

Writing:

  1. Choose one of the categories and work together to create a list naming each of the sorted groups and practice writing the words on lined paper.
  • Colours:  Red, Blue, Orange, Green, Yellow, Pink, ect.
  • Shape:  Circle, Square, Triangle, Rectangle, Diamond, ect.
  • Texture: Soft, Rough, Smooth, Bumpy, Fluffy, ect.

Reading:

  1. Using a variety of texts (books, newspapers, magazines, packaging, ect) ask your child look through the texts and find the words on the list created in the writing step.
  2. When they find a word, read the sentence together and make personal connections to the context of the sentence.
    (For Example: In The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown, one section reads,  “It is yellow in the middle, it has long white petals…”  When your child spots the word Yellow, read the sentence out loud together.  Ask your child what they think the sentence is about? Ask them to look at pictures and take a guess.  Read the sentences before to clarify and ask your child what they know or understand about, in this case, daisies, or flowers.  What other colours can a  flower be?)

Once you get into this activity you will experience a number of authentic teachable moments where you can engage your child’s curiosity and discover they’re strengths and challenges!

Try it out!  Let me know how everything went by commenting below!

Supporting Literacy and Numeracy at Home…

27 Oct

You don’t need expensive educational toys to engage and educate children.  Making opportunities for purposeful conversation and learning through everyday tasks is more meaningful and fun!  Remember; monkey see, monkey do.

Try these activities with children to support their continuing development of reading, writing, and math skills…

  • Find objects around the house that start with any chose letter of the alphabet (Ex: “C” – couch, cat, car, chair, clock) Discuss the phonetic sounds that the chosen letter can make).
  • Find objects around the house that rhyme (Ex: Cat, Hat or Lamp, Stamp or Bed, Red)
  • Identify a few sight words (the, is, are) and have your child circle the words in the newspaper.
  • After grocery shopping, sort foods by colour, size, weight, food group.
  • Sort, count and roll coins.
  • While washing dishes, fill a cup with water and have them guess whether or not the next cup or bowl to be washed will hold the same amount of water.
  • Measure how long a piece of furniture is by counting their “feet” (toe to heel), have them guess if a table is longer or short by their “feet”. (Do the same with perimeter)
  • Cut out sticks and half circles from construction paper and ask your child to create different letters using the shapes (EX: one stick and two half circles make a “B”, or three sticks make an “H”.
  • Read with your child everyday.  Ask questions such as, “How would you feel if you were this character? Is it fair that ‘this’ is happening the character? Why or why not? What is your favourite part of the book and why?)
  • Count the days on the calendar. Ask questions like, “How many days until the end of the month?”