February 20

Practicum Reflection: Week #2

Monday: Family Day Holiday
Tuesday: Snow Day
Wednesday: Snow Day

Snow Day
This week was a short week, but a good week! My goal going into the second week of practicum was to truly understand each of my students and where they were at academically. Working at Pinecrest Public School has really opened my eyes to the necessity that is differentiation, since one individual classroom could have as many as 7 or 8 students working below grade level, with the other students’ learning being affected because of that. The importance of getting to know my students’ level of learning was so that I could allow each student to experience success, whatever that is for them academically.

The first thing I did was reviewed my students’ Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). In my classroom alone, I have 8 IEPs, 3 of which are modified. Reading through the IEPs allowed me to review what had been documented in the past, such as psychological evaluations, ways in which students’ learning is to be accommodated or modified, and what specific goals each student has outlined for the current term. With this knowledge, I was able to gain a better sense of how student learning could be differentiated in order to be successful.

During this week, I was able to implement various differentiation techniques, such as read-alouds, collaborative learning (pairs or small groups), graphic organizers, visuals (artifacts, PowerPoint presentations, videos), and devices such as chrome books. With this differentiated teaching, I was able to see a shift in the classroom culture, in both the students’ performance and efficiency, since I started my practicum.

This week, we started our novel study of The Giver. Before I started my practicum, my students had done two novel studies, during which the students read independently, answered reflection questions, and submitted them for evaluation. With this novel study, I wanted to change up the process, having it be more like a book club. As a class, we read aloud a chapter, discuss key points, and collectively and orally respond to some reflection questions. Following this process, I write a topic up on the board that relates to the chapters read during that class and each student individually writes a half-page “quickwrite”. I have found that this process allows for each student to gain a deeper understanding of the novel themes, provides an opportunity to reflect on and debate viewpoints presented in the novel and presented by students, while also placing every student on an even playing field, despite their reading ability.

One of the highlight moments for me this week was when I had my students construct the map of Canada using 36 tiles (courtesy of Canadian Geographic). This got the students moving, using manipulatives, and working together as a class. Oh yeah, I guess it helped them with their Geography lesson too…

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After they finished constructing the map, we learned about the natural resources that Canada produces and discovered where each resource is abundant.

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Following the success of this Geography lesson, I’m really looking forward to trying new ways to get the students moving around during their learning!

February 13

Practicum Reflection: Week #1

Here we go… My first week of practicum has arrived!

While getting prepared for this week, I was super nervous. More than anything, I was hoping and praying that after 18 years of telling myself I wanted to be a teacher, that teaching was in fact for me. Luckily, I chose myself the correct career!

My main goal going into my first week of practicum was to establish myself as the classroom teacher, both in a professional and approachable way. The students have seen glimpses of me throughout the community service learning portion of the placement, but once I started full-time teaching, it was going to be an adjustment for the students.

One of the ways that I established myself as the classroom teacher was by including the students in the formation of classroom rules. I handed out sticky notes to each student and asked them to write something that occurs on the classroom that distracts them from learning. The students were very candid and truthful, writing things such as student wandering around the classroom and talking over the teacher or other students. Next, I had the students write an appropriate consequence for that action. With this information, it allowed me to create a poster that was reflective of the students’ expectations for their classroom as it pertains to their ability to learn.

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Since my students have known me since September, there was a base-level of rapport that I had established. They knew that I am approachable and fun, yet I have high expectations. By building on this foundation, I was able to incorporate high-energy activities and lessons into the classroom without running the risk of the students’ being unaware of my expectations of them.

One of the many lessons from this week involved creating a puzzle piece representing what “community” means to each student. Next week, we will be beginning our novel study of “The Giver”, which is based around the good and bad aspects of a community. With the completed puzzle pieces, I created the following bulletin board for everyone in the school to view:

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IMG_6763On Friday, I had the opportunity to go to my first ever Professional Development (PD) day! And what a PD day to have as my first experience… All 3000 educators from the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board were in attendance! The highlight of the day for me was listening to Michael Landsberg (TSN’s Off The Record) give his keynote address. Lansberg spoke publicly about his personal battle with depression in an attempt to help reduce the stigma of mental illness. I’ve always seen him as the Bell Let’s Talk ambassador, but listening to him in person was incredible.

This week was definitely a transition for me and my students, but I can only expect next week to be even better!

December 18

1 Year and Counting…

Happy 1 year of blogging to SpencerBurton.ca!

A lot has happened since I started up this website: I got accepted to uOttawa for a Bachelor of Education, I graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with a Bachelor of Arts in Honours Psychology, and I officially began my journey of becoming a teacher. With all of those milestones comes many moments of learning, and since this website is focused on “learning about learning”, I figured I would share some things that I learned with you all.

1 Year

  1. Teaching is a lifestyle; it must be something that is in the back of your mind at all times. I can’t even go to the dollar store anymore without thinking of a teachable moment for everything I pick up.
  2. There’s a lot more to the field of education that I could have ever imagined. Students, the system, curriculum, and teaching methods are topics that only scratch the surface of the magnitude of education.
  3. First Nations, Inuit, and Metis communities are an important aspect of Canada’s education system. These cultures must be represented and emphasized in our lessons.
  4. It’s not always easy keeping up with blogging. Thankfully, some of my classes have me writing blog posts which keeps me up to date on reviewing and commenting on education-related topics.
  5. It’s a challenge going from a lecture-oriented education system (university) back into a student-centered learning environment (elementary school).
  6. Making students want to learn is just as important, if not more, than what they are learning.
  7. Classroom management is a huge part of teaching, more than I ever expected.
  8. The more you can make learning fun for the students, the more they will be engaged and retain what is being taught.
  9. Learning about teaching allows me to reflect on my previous teachers and what they did that was either extraordinary or lackluster.
  10. Teaching is most definitely still my dream job!

Thank you for following me on this journey for the past year. Here’s to many more years of learning about learning!

November 10

Lessons Learned from LOCUS

I wanted to speak a little more about my experience through the LOCUS program, with hopes that you might be able to see yourself in many of the lesson’s I’ve learned.

The first thing I’ve learned through the LOCUS program and how to step out of my comfort zone. Believe it or not, facepaint and teal rainsuits wasn’t always my regular attire. This program provided me with an opportunity to get involved on campus, making Laurier feel more like a home than a school. Through the committee events, I was exposed to so many different opportunities, including outreach initiatives, which most students our age fail to fill their time with. But the most important thing stepping out of my comfort zone taught me is that it feels natural when you have a supportive, accepting, and passionate group of people surrounding you.

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The second lesson I learned was how to ask for help. Through the academic support this program offers and the willingness of its staff to help, I’ve become more comfortable with talking to professors and asking for academic help. I’ve also been provided with an amazing group of friends that I could not thank enough for the advice and support they’ve given me throughout the years. They’ve all kept me motivated and positive during the wild times of university. Lastly, I’ve become comfortable seeking help for personal matters as well. Whether it was acknowledging that I needed help or the fact that I actually followed through and received the help I needed, I owe it all to the confidence and support that the LOCUS program has provided me with.

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Lastly, I’ve learned how to love. In the past, I was always the type of person to take friendships for granted, but I’ve honestly come to love each and every person I’ve encountered through the LOCUS program. As a LOCUS student, I’ve lived at home the last 4 years with my parents. I am so grateful for all of their support and guidance, and I love them more and more each day. Funny enough, I’ve meet my life partner through the LOCUS program. We share the same passion for the program and I couldn’t thank her enough for the LOCUS love and legit love that we share. Lastly, I’ve experienced the true feeling of LOCUS love. Whether it’s a smile between two LOCUS students as they walk past each other on campus, a group of students going full out doing a cheer during Hawk Weekend, or a new lifelong friendship being formed, we’ve all felt how amazing LOCUS love truly is.

LOCUS LOVE!

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