Mini-Inquiry: Social Justice and White Privilege

As I was in the field, my teacher focused her English B30 class around the idea of social justice, and she taught several lessons that related to the idea of white privilege. I thought that this was a great place to start when dealing with social justice and racism. Racism – explicit, implicit, or unintentional – is still existent in our society. Moreover, it is a difficult issue to teach because of the denial that exists within much of the population. This inspired me to begin researching some of the literature that surrounds the idea of white privilege and racism and begin developing a lesson that I may teach after beginning a unit on racism and white privilege. I choose to create a lesson that deals with the stereotypes and underlying messages in Disney movies and various cartoons.

Click on the link below to open the lesson plan and view some great resources for teaching white privilege and racism.

ECS 350 Mini-Inquiry Project


Teaching Social Justice

This is the link to one of the resources that my teacher used during my pre-internship and during my high-school experience. Itescribes Jane Elliot’s experiment in which she gives “unearned privilege” to the individuals with brown eyes and overtly discriminates against those with blue eyes to represent the ideas of racism, discrimination, and white privilege.

“A Class Divided” – (Elementary school experiment)

Pre-Internship – Week Four

March 25, 2013 (Monday)

Never underestimate the power of detailed instructions and expectations. I thought I did this with the multimedia presentations, but I know that if I ever do this assignment again, that will be my goal to work on. No, not all presentations were epic failures. There was some parts not done perfectly, but overall, it went pretty well. I am just prepared to make improvements for next time. Plus, now that I have seen presentations and there were things consistently missing from all the presentations, those are ideas that I can point out as I am introducing the assignment in the future!

March 26, 2013 (Tuesday)

I began teaching different classes today than I have for the past two weeks. I am team teaching in an AP 12 class and also teaching an English B30 class. The B30, in particular, are a completely different classroom climate. Although there are many visible minorities and several students that are struggling with the basic English language skills, they are quiet, responsive, and cooperative. I quite enjoyed this new experience and look forward to working with them again over the next couple of days.

Oh! And we had our potluck for our advisory session at lunch hour. It was awesome. Because there are so many diverse students, we had many samples of food from various cultures – as well as some delicious “Canadian” dishes. Mmm-mmm, good!

March 27, 2013 (Wednesday)

Pre-internship is coming to an end! I can barely believe it!

Today I had my students complete a “silent discussion” – an activity in which they all began with a free-write or response to the literature that we read, then passed it to the next person. This person then commented on the first person’s ideas and added on their own ideas to the discussion. Although I did not make the students hand in their discussions, several did so, and it was very interesting to read the connections and comments that the students had about the literature. I would never guess some of the backgrounds that the students have been through – there were amazing stories and were inspiring to read!

Although I thought my life would be slowing down now that we are approaching the last of our experience, today seemed like a pretty crazy day anyway! (… and so will tomorrow, by the looks of it!…). I am really getting the “teacher” feel of things by spending my lunch hours and extra time with students trying to get their homework completed and handed in to me. As much as it is frustrating because they aren’t getting it done – by their own choice – I still don’t like the idea of giving zeros. I know that the students are capable, but I am nearly running out of ideas to motivate them!

March 28, 2013 (Thursday – Last Day!)

Bittersweet. That has been my day. I am looking forward to having the long weekend off to somewhat relax and catch up on everything in my “other” life outside of pre-internship, but I am really going to miss “my” kids, going to school every day, and working with the amazing teachers that I have had the privilege of working with.

I have learned so much – from lesson planning to time management to building relationships to assessment and more! I am feeling confident to tackle my internship and am ready for it to be here already!

This opportunity really has been a learning experience. I have always been relatively good at whatever I attempted, so the first couple days with my grade 12 class of “rowdy” kids was a bit of a shock. I don’t like to be a “mean” person, but classroom management was my main obstacle in that class and sometimes I needed to be strict. The first couple days, I thought, went horrible. The kids didn’t listen much, and they were off task. Nonetheless, by the end of the experience, I had developed classroom management that worked for both me and them, and I had gained their respect – largely due to the fact that I actually got to talk to them and know them rather than just being the nagging teacher that assigns homework!

My planning, another one of my goals prior to pre-internship, also did improve. Not that my lessons were bad to start out with, but as I experienced working with the students and getting to know the class, the resources and teaching strategies I chose to use changed dramatically. My planning became more realistic, and as a result, my teaching improved too!

My final goal, building relationships with my students was kind of a tough one because for most of them, I was only teaching them for a maximum of seven days. Yet, I did manage to get to know pretty much all of their names and something about them – whether it was that they worked a lot, they had baby cousins they lived with, they were going to school to be a welder, or that they were a refugee from another country. Personal connections to them and interest in their lives encouraged them to trust me more. I guess it is true what they always say: “They won’t care until they know you care.” And during this experience, I certainly did care!

I guess I could say that pre-internship was a success!

Pre-Internship – Week Three

Day #8 – March 18, 2013 (Monday)

I am learning so much! I haven’t had a “perfect” lesson yet. On one hand, this is frustrating. I want the students to like me and like the lessons that I present them. On the other hand, though, it has given me the opportunity to reflect and make my lessons, planning, and presentation better!

Day #9 – March 19, 2013 (Tuesday)

Lessons, teaching, and planning are definitely improving. And I have learned to expect the unexpected and understand that teachers must be “flexible but firm.” Let me explain.

Over the last two days, especially, I am feeling much more confident as a teacher. I am developing classroom management strategies and developing lessons that engage the students more. I am feeling more prepared and organized for my classes – not that I wasn’t before, but as I pick up more classes and have more papers to sort out, I’m feeling kind of messy!

I have learned the need to be flexible both with the timing aspects of class as well as with the students’ attitudes and behaviours. Several aspects of my lessons are taking longer than I expect them to. For example, the Canadian landscape lesson I had planned to span 1-1 ½ classes is taking 3 class periods. The students are learning, are engaged, and are preparing for the major assignment coming up, but it seems to take so long! Nonetheless, giving them the extra class time is allowing them to get more in-depth into the material. I have also come to respect that I must be flexible with my students. Not all of them want to be in school, nor do they enjoy school or English class. Moreover, allowing the 30 seconds of being off task and asking students about themselves and their lives has given me a chance to really get to know them. Not everything needs to be on a ridiculously strict schedule!

Last, but not least, I am learning that I need to be firm. Deadlines are deadlines, and expectations are expectations. At the end of the day, what needs to be done should be done. I want to be flexible, but I also want to hold my students accountable – this benefits both them and myself!

Day #10 – March 20, 2013 (Wednesday)

Another full and busy day, but definitely enjoying the experience and learning a lot!

My first-period Pre-AP 10 class is working on performing poetry. It is interesting to see them dissect their lyrics to look for meaning, tone, and imagery to focus on in their presentations that will help them and their class better understand the poem. I think they are really enjoying this assignment!

My second-period English A30 class did some mini-presentations today, so it was interesting to see them present for the first time and begin preparing for their major multi-media presentation on Monday!

And my highlight (or not so highlightish thing) of the day was teaching my first math lesson ever. This was interesting, to say the least. I began a two day lesson on completing the square – a lesson that I thought was fairly easy to understand and that I understood quite easily when I was in high school. One “problem” that I ran into was the fact that I did not know what they knew for pre-requisite knowledge, and I made the assumption that because the textbook did not review any of the prior skills and knowledge, the students must have covered them fairly recently. I was wrong. It took longer to explain some of these skills, plus I almost confused and flustered myself because I was not entirely prepared to have to teach them. Overall, my math cooperating teacher is pretty supportive, and now I have a new plan of attack for tomorrow!

Day #11 – March 21, 2013 (Thursday)

Pre-internship has been a great opportunity to try out things and to learn what kind of teacher we are and what kinds of things we will – and won’t – do when we become teachers. I feel as though there has been a lot of both – learning both what I will and won’t do doing internship and my time teaching.

My first two classes today were work periods, so there is not a lot to say about them. It is interesting moving about the classroom/ hallway to talk to students and observe as they work. Young minds focusing and engaged in the assignment that I have given them is a nice feeling. Both the poetry performance assignments and the multimedia assignments are going really well. It is difficult to get specific students on task. There are a couple students in the class who don’t participate or stay on task. I think, though, for at least a couple of them, the reason they get off task is because they do not understand and they don’t want to appear incapable in front of their classmates. It’s an unfortunate reality, and although these students are frustrating at times, my heart goes out to them.

Day #12 – March 22, 2013 (Friday)

It’s almost difficult to NOT say the same things that I have been saying every day. I am learning so much. This is a great experience. I am having a great time. I am so busy. I am so tired. It’s so hard not to say these same things every single day because every one of them is true. I’m happier than I’ve ever been, and I know that this is what I want to be doing.

I finished off my first math lesson ever today. It went alright, and I definitely learned a lot that I can use in the future for planning and teaching my math lessons. Math is A LOT different than English, so I am glad that I have had the chance to experience that opportunity.

The poetry performances went fairly well, but my cooperating teaching and I are planning a follow up lesson to develop skills that students will use for their next speaking assignment. The multimedia presentations start on Monday. I look forward to seeing what the students come up with . . . and I hope that the students are prepared!

I’m looking forward to planning some more lessons for next week! For the last three days, I have been teaching three classes, so it will be nice to “slow down” a little bit next week!

Pre-Internship – Week Two

Day #3 – March 11, 2013

I am feeling a little bit overwhelmed tonight. I am only planning for two classes right now, but it seems like so much work! Nonetheless, the biggest difference between this experience and “actual” teaching is that (a) I won’t be coming into the room in the middle of a semester and feel as though I should read all the resources and watch all the movies that they have been taking, and (b) I would have time in advance to know what I am teaching and have resources and lesson plans picked out ahead of time. Jumping in is a great experience. It is just a lot of work!

One of the things that I am really enjoying about this experience is the amount and variety of resources I am gathering. I have gotten several resources from both the teachers I am teaching with – both literature to teach and ways to teach it … my poor, poor printer.

I am teaching my first lesson tomorrow! Made the final changes tonight and super excited for tomorrow!

Day #4 – March 12, 2013

It always seems like there is so much to talk about!

I have begun observing and planning in an AP 10 class as well as in my cooperating teachers’ A30 English class. I am enjoying the planning … and the resources … and working with the students … and being in school … and all those things that teachers do.

Today, I taught my first lesson – the first of several that surround the idea of Canadian landscape and identity. I felt that it went well, but there are a lot of things that I would change if I were to do it again. Nonetheless, the lesson today gave me an opportunity to work with the students so that I can make adjustments to my teaching style, classroom management, planning, and targets.

I am extremely lucky to be working with two dedicated and cooperative teachers. Both have been and continue to be helpful in helping me plan and organize myself and my lessons. Long night of planning tonight …

Day #5 – March 13, 2013

Today was dedicated to “3-Way Conferences” – a sort of parent-teacher interview in which the advisory teachers meet with their students and their students’ parents to discuss grades, registration, and comments and/or concerns. It was interesting to listen in on some of the conversations and to hear my teacher’s commentary after the students and parents left. I have come to understand the importance of communicating with and supporting parents. There must be a balance of interaction between parents and teachers. Even though we were not teaching, I still felt like I learned a lot about teaching!

Nonetheless, today was a great day for planning and having conversations with my cooperating teachers. I have begun developing overviews for the “mini-units” that I am teaching and had great conversations about directions I could take with resources, assignments, and assessment.

… and somehow, yet again, my plan to have an early night has not happened. Maybe tomorrow night!

Day #6 – March 14, 2013

If nothing else, at least I’m impressed with how well my body is handling lack of sleep. Ok, ok. I am really enjoying this component of my education degree. Planning – especially looking for resources to teach in my English classes – is a lot of work!

I taught my second lesson in my A30 class today. It went alright, but there are many things I plan to work on improving in that class in terms of my teaching and planning including classroom management and – hopefully – engaging literature and lessons.
Today I also taught my first lesson in the Pre-AP 10 class – and I thought that went very well. I introduced a unit on poetry and we listened to a couple examples of slam poetry. The students seemed very engaged and we had some very interesting and thoughtful discussion. I was very impressed!

Looking forward to teaching again tomorrow and having some extra time for assessment, planning, and sleep on the weekend!

Day #7 – March 15, 2013 (Friday)

Super busy day. No. Super busy week!

Today we helped our cooperating teacher mark exams and talked about some of the results. It is interesting to see what happens in reality. Hypothetically, all the students will show up and do well. Unfortunately, many students were missing today and some students did very poorly on the exam. For example, test results for the multiple choice and short answer ranged from 2/17 to 17/17. This experience is really giving me the reality of the school world – and making me challenge myself to think about what my rules, ideals, and initiatives for success are going to be.

Pre-Internship – Week One

Day #1 – March 5, 2013

First day of Pre-Internship was a success! I feel like I have learned so much already. And I have so. much. homework … But I’m loving it!

We spent the morning in three English classes: an English B30, English A30, and an advanced placement English class. The afternoon consisted of a Performing Arts class and a prep time for our teacher and us. During this time we discussed what, when, and who we wanted to teach.

Since this is my first high-school teaching experience, it is a completely new and different experience. I already feel it is harder to get to know your students because you are only with them for one hour a day. With a class of 20 students, it is hard to get to know them one-on-one, especially in less than a month time period, but I am looking forward to trying!

Tonight, my homework consisted of becoming familiar with the curriculum, the Regina Public School documents, and several suggested resources. Now, I am beginning the process of planning out my next couple weeks!

Day #2 – March 6, 2013

Even by the second day, I am starting to feel more comfortable within this school. I admit, I did have many stereotypes and worries about coming to this school. It is much bigger, much more diverse, and because of the wide range of “things” available in the city, I believed it would be much more difficult to control student behaviour, motivation, and success. Of course, these stereotypes were based on the beliefs and attitudes held about city schools and my ignorance because I have never experienced a large school. Their graduating class alone is larger than my entire grade 5-12 school! Nonetheless, the students are quite cooperative and I am beginning to feel much more comfortable in the school and beginning to know more faces. And I am finally beginning to get to know my way around the school!

I believe I have a direction to go with the first lessons that I am going to teach. I spent the period with “my” class today getting to know the students names and having small discussions with them. I guess we’ll see how many I remember by Monday! I’m looking forward to getting started on my lesson planning! Yay!

Treaty Lesson Plan – Michelle Schepp and Tamara Baumuller – Connecting English, Wellness, and First Nations Education

We have created a cross-curricular treaty lesson plan that incorporates the Wellness 10 and English A10 curriculum. We explored the First Nations “Medicine Wheel,” a major component of the First Nations worldview, and compared and contrasted it to the “Wellness Wheel” as described in the Wellness 10 curriculum. Through a jigsaw activity, students will understand the Medicine Wheel and Wellness Wheel and make connections to their own life. They will finish with a reflection about what they learned, what connections they made, and how they will apply this knowledge to their own lives.