Is Tradition Always Right?

Hello everyone!

This week in ECS 210, we were assigned to read an article about Curriculum theory and practice. This article went over four ways of approaching curriculum theory and practice, which are:

  1. Curriculum as syllabus to be transmitted
  2. Curriculum as product
  3. Curriculum as process
  4. Curriculum as praxis

In this blog, I will focus mainly on the approach that curriculum as product. This is a very traditionalist approach. This approach was greatly influenced by Ralph Tyler who was a behavioural psychologist. He developed the Tyler’s Rationale which is what the approach curriculum as product follows. There are four steps to Tyler’s Rationale, which are:

  1. Aims and objectives
  2. Content
  3. Organization of teaching and learning
  4. Evaluation and Assessment

The approach of curriculum as a product is one that has been used in schools for many years and it continues to be used in schools today. Often this approach does not give much room for children to be creative and is heavily reliant on testing.

Thinking back to when I was growing up, I can see that the Tyler Rationale effected my own schooling. When I was growing up, there was a heavy influence on the traditional core subjects of Math, Science, English, and Social Studies. There was not a huge push for me to do well on things such as the Arts or Language Classes. I remember that during elementary school, Art class would be pushed back if students were behind in their other subjects such as Math, Science, Social Studies, or English. I also remember there was a heavy push for students to do well on tests. In Science and Math, there was often a written test at the end of each unit and the major goal of each unit was to be able to know how to solve all of the problems that would show up on the test.

Most of my life growing up in schools, my main goal was to learn as much as I could and to do well on the test. I was the child that loved to see my page filled with check marks (I still do love to get questions and problems right, especially in math), but I also was able to teach my peers how I was able to get those right answers. I know that some students knew how to get to the right answers, but they did not know why they were getting the right answer. Tyler’s Rationale influenced those kids quite a lot because they figured out how to work the system; get the right answers on the test and it does not matter if you actually understand why you got to those answers; as long as the answers were correct, you were doing well.

I sometimes notice myself falling into this mindset in university trying to get through many of the classes that grades are determined heavily by (or completely) how well I do on a test. I often start to get into the bad habit of only learning for the test and learning how to get the correct answers for the test, sometimes without fully understanding why I am getting those answers. After I have taken the test, I have a hard time using the skills that were on the test because I did not learn them; instead I memorized them. If I really want to learn and remember a skill or topic, I need to take the time to actually learn it instead of memorizing it.

The Tyler Rationale has been used for many of years and is continued to be used in Canadian schools, but it has some disadvantages. The Tyler Rationale often only works for subjects that can be very test heavy, such as Math, Science, Social Studies, etc. but it does not work as well for subjects such as Art or Drama which require creativity. The Tyler Rationale does not take into consideration the context of a school either. It states that every school should be able to reach the same goals, regardless of the student’s ability, social class, race, English proficiency, etc. This approach limits the students’ voice in what they would like to learn and teachers must often teach students the information that will be on the test, and only that information (especially in the case of standardized testing).

The Tyler Rationale does have some benefits. This approach to curriculum ensure that all students in a province or region should be learning the same thing. This approach ensures that all students regardless of their location, rural or urban, will be learning the same content and should be able to reach the required curricula outcomes that the province outlines if they pass the course. This approach also ensures that students that are doing well in many of the test heavy courses know how they should study for and cope with the stress of taking tests. This approach prepares students to enter universities and other post-secondary institutions that are very exam heavy when it comes to marking.

The Tyler Rationale has influenced many schools and their curriculum for many years. This approach to curriculum will not benefit every student and not every student will be able to learn about a topic through it. This approach will work for some students and some students will thrive with this type of structure, but this is not the case for a vast majority of students. Many students have difficulty taking tests and demonstrating their learning through this approach. Many students will not remember the information that they have learned simply to pass a test. The Tyler Rationale has been used for many years to create curriculum, but is it really the best approach going forward? If not, what should be changed?

Thanks for reading my blog post!

Ashley Osachoff

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A Quick Introduction to Me!

Hello everyone!

My name is Ashley Osachoff. I am currently enrolled in Secondary Education, majoring in Math and minoring in Inclusive Education. I love working with students of all abilities and my true passion lies with working with students that have exceptionalities. I am currently employed by the Saskatchewan Health Authority as an Autism Interventionist. Anyone that knows me knows that I love my job and I love talking about how much fun I have with the kids I have the privilege of working with. Besides being busy with work and school, I love watching shows on TV or on Netflix and going to the gym regularly.In the summer I love to be outside and go camping and hiking. Below is a picture of me in the summer during my trip to Jasper, Alberta.

On a hike in Jasper this summer!

This is my second class about education technology. I took EDTC 300 in the spring last year and I learnt so much. The biggest thing I learnt last year was how to create and use a blog (thanks Katie). I am glad that I learnt how to use a blog because it has been used in many of my other courses. I also learnt the importance of a Personal Learning Network (PLN) and how to use Twitter. This class also exposed me to digital literacy and digital citizenship.

This semester, I know that I will learn a lot about educational technology and digital literacy. I am a bit nervous going into this semester because of some of the assignments. I have not had a lot of actual teaching experience, especially in front of my peers, and I am a bit nervous about the mini lesson assignment. But, I think with some practice, I will be able to become comfortable teaching my peers and students.

Going into EDTC 400, I am seeing it as an opportunity to grow more as a professional. This semester I hope that I will be able to grow my personal learning network even more. I would like to become more active on Twitter this semester and get into more Twitter Chats about education topics with other teachers and educators. I would also like to learn how I can incorporate digital literacy into a high school math classroom. Along with learning about how to incorporate digital literacy into a subject, I would also like to learn how to teach digital literacy and digital citizenship appropriately to students of all ages. I think I will learn most about teaching digital literacy in the mini lesson presentations.

I look forward to learning new things this semester and getting out of my comfort zone! I hope that I will be able to learn a lot from this class and from my fellow classmates!

Thanks for reading my blog post! If you aren’t already, give me a follow on Twitter @MsOsachoff.

Ashley Osachoff

Common Sense – Is it Really that Common?

Hello everyone!

I just started ECS 210 this week and we had our first reading assigned. This week, we were assigned to do a reading about the problem of common sense.

This article was something different for me to read. I have never thought critically about common sense before. Often, without thought, I take common sense for granted since it typically favours me in a positive sense due to my privileges as a white, educated, middle-class person in Canada. This article explored common sense in schools and some of the ways that it is often oppressive.

The author of this article, Kumashiro, defines ‘common sense’ with regards to schooling as something that limits what is considered consistent with the purpose of schooling. Kumashiro also defines ‘common sense’ as something that tells people the exclusive list of things that schools should be doing.

Kumashiro made quite a lot of good points in their article. The biggest statement that they made in their article is that “common sense is not what should shape educational reform or curriculum design; it is what needs to be examined or challenged”. I found this really stood out to me because they also mentioned that common sense can be, and often is, oppressive. I have never thought about common sense as oppressive before, but taking a deeper look at common sense, especially in a schooling sense, it can be extremely oppressive for many different people.

Common sense is not something that people are directly taught in most cases. Common sense are ideas that people pick up throughout their lives. Common sense is not the same in every country, province, city, or region. Common sense is something that teachers must be aware of. Something that could be thought of as common sense can be oppressive to people. For example, the common sense that all children above the age of five or six should be able to write their name with a pencil on paper in English can be oppressive. Students that are new immigrants to Canada that are well older than five or six might not be able to write their name in English and might feel that they are less than their peers if they need extra assistance.

Educators, including myself, must be aware of what things are thought of as ‘common sense’ and how these ideas will affect their students. Educators must understand that common sense is often created by the dominant group of society that have the privilege to create the narrative for the ‘norms’ of society. Teachers must challenge the norms that students are expected to learn and memorize as ‘common sense’. This is not an easy task.

Challenging the norms of a dominant white society will be a challenging task for me. I have never had to think about common sense before because I was never oppressed in ways that really stood out to me as a child. I might have felt the odd frustration due to being pushed into a specific box due to my gender or academic abilities, but this was not something that was at the front of my mind daily.

Common sense is something that many people in the world take for granted. As a future educator, it is important that I look at the influences that common sense has on my students and those around me. Growing up, ‘common sense’ often stated that since I was good academically that I would be terrible at sports. I did not often fit into this box and I was quite frustrated when teachers, my peers, or their parents would put me into this box. I found myself often trying to prove that I could do both. Were there any ‘common sense’ ideas that you did not fit into as a child or even as an adult?

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please respond to my question, if you feel comfortable sharing, in the comments below!

Ashley Osachoff

ECS 100 – Final Reflection

Hello everyone!

For my ECS 100 class I was tasked with creating an E-portfolio. In my EDTC 300 course, I made this blog as a way to ensure that my name is out there on the internet and it is accurately representing who I am as a professional teacher.

In this blog, I have a page that describes who I am. I also have a page that describes what my teaching philosophy is. There is an area that is open for lesson plans and teaching resources. Finally, I have a section that contains the assignments and blog posts for my courses. Feel free to browse around my blog to look at all of these aspects that I have been working on in the past two semesters. I plan on continuing to use this blog in my future classes and add to my teaching philosophy as I gain more knowledge as an educator.

This semester has been a whirlwind of ups and downs. I have had some good days and some bad, but overall I have grown a lot as a professional. I did not think I could easily state everything that I have learnt this semester so I decided to highlight some of my most important things that I have learnt and moments in this semester.

The link to my prezi is right here. I hope you enjoy looking through it.

Thank you for taking the time looking my blog, going through my prezi and reading this post!

Ashley Osachoff

Grade Five Science Lesson Plan – Solar Systems

Hello everyone!

Below is a lesson plan that I created for an EPSY 322 class that was originally a journal posting. This post includes the lesson plan but I also included some adaptations that can be made to this lesson plan to suit students of different abilities. I hope you enjoy!

Lesson Plan

Grade level – Grade 5

Subject Area – Science

Outcome that this will contribute to – Research and represent the physical characteristics of the major components of the solar system, including the sun, planets, moons, asteroids, and comets.

Topic – Planets in our Solar System

This is the first day that students will be formally learning about Space and Planets. This will be an introductory lesson for the unit about the Solar System.

Objective – Students will be able to correctly list at least five things (planets, sun, asteroid, moons, etc.)  in the solar system with reference to their notes.

Length of Lesson – 45 minutes

At the beginning of the lesson, I will engage students in a class discussion about what they already know about the solar system to identify what their knowledge is. I will write down everything that students mention on the online notes. This should take no more than ten minutes.

Students will then receive a hand out that includes all of the notes from the PowerPoint presentation that I have created about the Solar System with blanks on each of the slides. On the PowerPoint, I will underline and change the colour of the blanks that I want students to fill in so it is easy to know what they have to do. There will also be small facts on some of the slides for students to engage in. When I am presenting the PowerPoint, I will verbally lecture everything written on the slides and will allow for student question time. I will also verbally state and physically point to the underlined words to let students know those are what they need to fill in the blanks for. I will also include a video that describes the components of the Solar System and some information about the planets.

After going through the PowerPoint, I will give students an assignment that they can complete either individually or in pairs. Students will research a component of the Solar System that they are most interested in. The students will have to research some of the physical characteristics of the component that they choose (size, place in the solar system, temperature, orbit time, and type of planet). Students can present the information in a mode of their choosing from either the list that I have given (PowerPoint, Essay, Video, Class Presentation, Poster, Orally to me in Private, etc.) or another way they think would be interesting. Students can also include any interesting facts that they find about their topic in their presentation. Students will have time in class for completing the project.

At the end of the lesson, students will have time to play a game that is about the planets and the Solar System. This game will assist students in understanding some of the visual characteristics of the planets and other components of the Solar System.

PowerPoint Preview

Hand Out Preview

Differentiated Instruction

When I created this lesson plan, I had Universal Design in Mind. I used multiple ways of representing the information (visual in the PowerPoint, verbal through oral lecture, and hands-on through the game component). I also thought of flexible options for students to express their learnings in the assignment. Engaging students at the beginning of the lesson in what they already know about the Solar System will ensure students are interested in the topic at the beginning.

I included some accommodations in the lesson plan for the entire classroom that will benefit students that are not at grade level. If students are having difficulty reading and writing quickly, allowing all students to fill in the blanks will ensure students are engaged in the verbal lecture and can have all of the necessary notes that they need later in the course. By giving all of the students time to fill in the blank notes, students that are below level will not feel that they are being singled out for not being able to write quickly enough. The assignment can also be differentiated for students that are below grade level. I will give the entire class a list of websites that they can use to find information about their component to ensure that students find accurate information that is easy to understand. Students that are below grade level, like every other student in the class, have the opportunity to choose the way that they present their learnings. Students can present the learnings orally if they are having difficulty writing. Students can also present the information in an artistic way if they choose or even create a video if that is their forte. A modification that I can make for students that are below grade level is that they do not have to add in any extra information in their presentation; they only have to present the basic information that I required.

This lesson plan can also easily be differentiated for students that are gifted. I included interesting facts that are not on the notes to ensure that gifted students do not get bored during instruction. Gifted students can write down these interesting facts and can research them further if they so wish. I also ensured that there will be two games that students can play on the website; an easier game that requires students to complete puzzles and a more difficult game that requires students to name the constellations after they complete the first game. When I created the assignment, I left the mode of presentation fairly open ended. Gifted students can create a presentation that challenges them. I can also encourage gifted students to look at websites that are geared more towards adult readers to find information. Gifted students can also research their topic more than the basic information that I require. They can research about the scientific knowledge about the component, such as how long scientists have known about the component, pictures of the components, when people can observe the component, how scientists view the component, and so forth. Gifted students can include the extra information in their presentation and can present their learnings in any mode that challenges them that they choose.

Differentiating a lesson plan that is created with Universal Design in mind is easier than trying to differentiate a lesson plan that only benefits a small amount of students. Differing my mode of teaching; verbal, visual, and tactile, can benefit many different students of different abilities. Allowing students to have choice in their mode of presentation also allows students to challenge themselves. Students can also present the information in a way that allows them to succeed and feel comfortable in finishing the assignment. Overall, Universal Design and differentiating instruction and assignments benefits all students of all abilities.

Thank you for reading this post!

Ashley Osachoff

Teachers as a Profession

Hello everyone!

This week in ECS 200, we were tasked with reading a chapter from Jon Young’s book about “Teachers and the Teaching Profession”. This chapter discussed a lot about teaching as a profession and teachers as professionals and some of the things that come with it.

One of the first things that I noticed this chapter discussed was that teachers should work collaboratively with parents, students and other staff. This collaboration was part of teacher professionalism. In my ECS 100 class and my ECS 100 placement, we have talked a lot about the importance of teachers collaborating with others. In my placement, the school has a flex math program for the older students. This flex math is only possible because the teachers are being collaborative and it benefits all of the students.

The main thing that jumped out to me about this article was its focus on the code of ethics that teachers must follow. I have heard about the code of ethics before in my ECS 100 class and I knew the general idea of what teachers must do. I looked over the Saskatchewan Code of Ethics for teachers to follow and it is much different from the rules teachers had to follow in the early 1900s that Pam showed us in class. Teachers are no longer responsible for creating fires in the morning, sweeping the classroom, or forbidden from going out after certain hours. The Code of Professions now focuses on commitments to the profession, to teaching and learning, and to the community. Teachers are required to “treat each student justly, considerately and appropriately in accordance with the beliefs of the profession”.

I know that following the Code of Professions is important for teachers to follow inside of the classroom, but it is also important for teachers to follow it during their daily private life because they are still teachers.

Teachers are part of unions in Saskatchewan and I knew about collective agreements in the past but I did not realize how much they affected me when I was in school. When I was in elementary school, the teachers were doing a “work to rule” where they withdrew from coaching and other extracurricular activities. I also remember the teachers taking part in a strike to fight for better salaries when I was ending my elementary years. I always thought collective bargaining only focused on salaries and benefits, but from reading this chapter I learnt that collective agreements can also be about the working conditions for teachers, such as the maximum class size and the amount of preparation time is given to a teacher.

Collective bargaining and agreements are part of the teaching profession and it is unlikely that strikes and lockouts will go away. I am concerned with what I can do as a future teacher during strikes to ensure that they have the lowest negative influence on my student’s learning.

Thank you for reading my blog post!

Ashley Osachoff

References

Young, J. C. (2007). In Levin B., Wallin D. C. (. C. and Levin B. R. (Eds.), Understanding canadian schools : An introduction to educational administration (4th ed.. ed.). Toronto: Toronto : Thomson/Nelson

Leadership Within Schools

Hello everyone!

This week in ECS 200, we were tasked with reading some articles that discussed leadership within schools.

When I think about leadership within schools, I think about the principal and vice principal first as the leaders of a school. The article by Charlotte Danielson discussed leadership within schools and ‘regular’ classroom teachers being leaders. Prior to reading this article, I did not realize that classroom teachers could be leaders in their schools; I thought that role of leadership was left to administrators. I think it is important for teachers to become leaders in the schools they are working in.

Even though I am not currently working full-time in a school, I can begin to think about how I can become a leader in my future schools.  Simple things such as creating a reading buddies program for the older students in a school to read to younger students can be an act of leadership in the schools that I will be working in.

In my ECS 100 placement, I have seen my co-operative teacher be a huge leader in their school. I have seen my co-op teacher assist other classroom teachers with finding ways of differentiating their teaching and working with students with Personalized Program Plans. This teacher is a person that many of the other staff members turn to when they need assistance with a child’s needs or when they need help learning how to teach in a new way that benefits a student.

Luckily, the school that I have my ECS 100 placement in seems to have a good environment for teachers to become leaders, but I know that not all schools are that way. I worry that later in my life as a teacher I will encounter a school that does not have a great environment for teacher leadership and I am wondering what I should do if I feel passionate about something; yet there is not room for teacher leadership in the school?

The other online document discussed leadership in schools, but it also discussed hiring and the need for teachers in specific areas such as mathematics, science and French immersion. This need for teachers in these specific areas gives me some hope that I will be able to find a job in the near future. In my ECS 100 class, I have heard that it can be difficult for teachers to get their foot in the door and get a contract in the city. Hopefully, with my major and minor I will be able to secure a job.

Thanks for reading my blog!

Ashley Osachoff