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Summer fun

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So I’ve been enjoying a couple of weeks off since the end of the spring session courses I took. I’ve now met with my cooperating teacher for my internship twice and I’m excited to begin planning. I’m spending time this month in Edmonton visiting friends and family while house sitting for my
parents. So I’ve packed a box with my planing resources and will get started on some unit plans. I’m glad to have some units to plan because it helps my feel more prepared for the fall and gives me an outlet for my excitement and nerves. I’m lucky in that my mom is also a teacher although she specializes in jr/sr high. She actually now has her masters and works as a vice principal of a junior high. She is an excellent person for me to bounce my ideas off of and has great advice for me. She is also working hard on her timetable for her school. Time tabling is a major job I’ve learned and something most teachers don’t have to deal with but I’ve appreciated the glimpse into how schools are organized. Well back to the novel I’m enjoying as I relax for another couple of days, I figure I worked hard all semester so a little down time is deserved.

Last Tech Task-Final Reflection

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A few more thoughts on Inclusive Education

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ImageI didn’t mean to do a series on Inclusive Education but that’s exactly what ended up happening so tonight I’m finishing that series off by sharing my final paper for my educational psychology class with you. Learning from those we label

I based my paper around a great children’s book “The Black Book of Colors” by Menena Cottin & Rosana Farin.  Even if you don’t read my paper this book is worth checking out.  It describes the colours the way a blind child experiences them.  The illustrations are black on black so they can best be felt rather than seen.  It is a feast for the tactile sense and the poetic words provide a brief insight into the way people without sight perceive the world around them.

Where’s Ms.Ginther been?

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Okay it’s the last week of semester and yep I’ve been MIA off my blog for the last few days.  I apologize but it seems no matter how well I try to plan ahead the last week before the end of classes is really busy.  I’ve been writing papers and finalizing projects for what feels like 30 classes (but it’s actually only 3 they tell me).  As well I’ve been longing for my family in Alberta it’s been a long time since I’ve seen my cute nephew.  Tonight I have the first of my projects to share, a complete 40 item booklist of great classroom reads.  Booklist just click this link and you should be able to access the pdf version of my list.  Some of these books I’ve featured already on my weekly lists but there are a more great picks here for you.  Since summer is a great time to search for booksales and do some reading I thought I’d add a few titles to your lists.

Coming up a post on what I’ve learned in my educational computers class (hopefully a fun interactive slideshow), a summary of learning and the final post in my inclusive education series 🙂 whew a busy week!


Tech task 5a

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I’m struggling with this tech task more than any other, mostly because I feel I have nothing much to say on these topics. I never read anything without considering what might be the authors purpose and bias and on the Internet I greatly enjoy hearing from the other side of the issue usually through the comment section. I was impressed that in most of these cases the discussion stayed very civilized and professional for the most part. On the internet that is rare because people feel anonymous, so I often see very hurtful and inflammatory comments left on posts that deal with more controversial topics. I think the purpose of this task was to teach us to not accept things at face value and to dig deeper into an issue. I’m struggling because it seems like a well duh to me…however I realize that it isn’t obvious to everyone.

The beauty of the Internet is that everyone can share their ideas and opinions with others, however this means that everything comes from someone’s perspective. No one ever manages to stay completely neutral. Every web page you visit is there for a reason but often that reason isn’t clearly identified. I used to teach seniors how to surf the Internet at the public library and the hardest thing was teaching then to look at where the information came from. This became crucial when talking about health websites, who publishes that website will have a lot of influence on the type of information you will find. Learning to identify a drug companies website from a government website is crucial. Both will give you information and the information is important but what you do with that information is what matters.

So do I have an opinion about whether 0s should be given to students or whether Facebook/Twitter are good educational tools. Yep but I have no background to base it on its my opinion and not a very well formed opinion I’ll be honest. I’ve read these pieces and formed an opinion but I don’t feel like my sharing my opinion is of great importance to these debates. Sometimes wisdom is knowing when you have nothing to add and keeping your two cents for another issue.

Social Inclusion is Just as Important

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Discuss the strategies teachers are likely to use to help exceptional students be part of the social and academic life of the classroom? 


This chapter really spoke to me because I think it got to the heart of inclusion.  It isn’t enough to just have exceptional students in the classroom, we have to include them in the social network of the classroom.  I think this is an area teachers have held themselves back in because they don’t want to interfere with children’s friendships.  I think it is generally felt that adults can’t and shouldn’t dictate to children who they are friends with.  However, in an age of anti-bullying education and inclusive education it is time to re-evaluate these opinions.  Chapter 9 does a really good job of explaining how a teacher and school community can help exceptional students form friendships.  


The first strategy the chapter demonstrates is probably the simplest strategy but can go along way.  It is the description of the teacher addressing the class and explaining the exceptionality to the class and then stating the student would be a full member of the class.  Right from the start this teacher is establishing an open relationship where it is okay to discuss the exceptionality in a respectful way and an expectation that the student would be included.  I think children are often more accepting than adults because our social fears limit us.  This example resonated so strongly for me because it related to some of the experiences I’ve had with my father.  My dad is a paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair.  My little cousins weren’t born before his accident so they are growing up knowing him in a wheelchair.  They are much less awkward than many adults are with my dad.  When small they would push him around thinking he was the best adult and they loved taking a ride with Uncle Neil.  Where most adults are scared to ask questions and worry about offending these children are open and accepting of my dad. They ask him questions and if he doesn’t want to answer or it may be awkward he addresses this.  I think that the teacher in the text example set a good example for her students by allowing them to address the exceptionality and natural curiosity that happens when someone is different from ourselves.  It’s not rude to ask questions if it allows you to build a relationship.  By having the teacher there to aid the student in this initial encounter they can help address questions that may be too personal. 


I think that the next step that needs to happen after this first encounter is to help students to find activities that they can share and participate in.  The example with the blind girl is a case where this step wasn’t applied.  The more chances you can give the students to have meaningful exchanges the more likely they are to build a relationship.  This is true of all people that friendship grows out of shared common experience.  As a teacher I was glad to see that the IIP has a space for friendship goals and also areas for outside activities and organizations.  I was glad because I think that for a friendship to grow there needs to be contact between the students outside of school.  The more involvement the student has with peers and activities the more shared common ground will be created. 


I also liked that cooperation was stressed over competition.  In traditional schooling competition is an important element.  However as an educator I have tried to stress cooperation because I have found that it has created healthier relationships between my students.  Even with my efforts there are elements of competition I can’t completely erase such as ranked grading.  However, by stressing that by working together we all achieve better results we can make it more of a team effort.  I think especially for exceptional students competition can be difficult because rarely is the playing field even for them.  My dad would play basketball with my sisters and I but rarely did he win when playing one on one because the net was that much higher for him and he didn’t have much of a jump shot.  However, when he worked on a team with one of us he was amazing at defense and his teammate could take the shot.  Together his team often won our matches.  Putting students with exceptionalities on our classroom team means we all can succeed in ways we might not have even imagined.  


I think the last part of mediating social relationships is helping students learn how to handle difficulties.  I think teachers are getting better at this skill because of the rise in anti-bullying education but there is always room to grow.  Giving students chances to practice social skills in structured settings is an important part of this education especially for students who might not have had much interaction with peers in the past.  Through social stories and role plays examine student responses both positive and negative to situations.  Developing empathy for each other is important to so give students a chance to see what it is like in another students shoes through these type of activities.  


As apart of the wider school community I look for ways I can build anti-bullying programs into the school culture.  I’ve seen several examples of this but the most common one I’ve seen here in Regina is the Circle of Courage that a lot of public schools are using.  Sometimes teachers can have a lot of say in the school culture just by their behaviour in the staff rooms and staff meetings.  I have found that it is most important for me to be an advocate for my students in these spaces especially students that are perceived as challenging.  Often teachers can become negative in these spaces and it can undermine the efforts of the school to be a welcoming space.  That’s one of the biggest traps I’ve noticed teachers falling into and that negativity has trickled into their classroom and interactions with students.  This can undermine all the best efforts they’ve put in.  Negativity can be even more contagious than chicken pox I’ve noticed in my work history.  So I want to be a positive role model for my students and bring that positive energy into the staff areas to help create a healthy staff climate that hopefully ensures that positive results for students.  

Tech Task 5b part 2

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This is a design assignment called Lyric Typography Poster from Mission: DS106 website.  The task was to take the lyrics from a favourite song and turn them into a visual design.  I love this song when sung by Ella Fitzgerald it can make you cry it’s titled “Someone to Watch Over Me”  It speaks to me on many levels and has for a long time.

Tech Task 5b part 1

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This is a visual assignment called Draw It from Mission: DS106 website.  The task was to take a photo and convert it to a sketch.  I used a free website called to do this with and it was easy peasy.  The handsome model is my nephew.  


This weeks book picks

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It’s a little late and I apologize it’s getting busy with my courses.  However, here are this weeks books and this week I have three early reading chapter books to share.  These are great for those students who are just starting to read chapter books or would work for a first teacher led novel study.  

ImageGooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowery.  Gooney Bird isn’t just any second grader and when she arrives at her new school she teaches her whole class a lesson about being yourself and what makes a great story.  This short book is laugh out loud funny and very relatable for students.  It also would be a great book to introduce creative writing and help students learn some of the early steps in the writing process.  As an added bonus this is the first book in a series so there is plenty of fun ahead for readers.  



ImageWord after Word after Word by Patricia MacLachlan.  The author of Sarah, Plain and Tall writes this beautiful and lyrical book about the writing process. Through a series of author visits the grade 4 students are inspired to express their secret fears, sadness and thoughts through expressive poetry.  This book is all about the power of words and especially the written word.  A much gentler and quieter read about writing it moved me to tears at points and inspired me to write my own poem.  I think it would also be good for an introduction to a writing unit, especially a poetry unit.  


ImageThe Giggler Treatment by Roddy Doyle.  Moving away from writing books and into something that is just plain fun.  Rover the dog has a secret business working for the gigglers.  Gigglers are tiny creatures that look after children by making sure that adults who treat children meanly are punished.  In this fun rollicking read we learn how adults are punished and how Rover saves the day when the gigglers target the wrong adult.  Caution if the word poo offends you don’t read this book.  This is the type of book boys will like, potty humour, quick short chapters and a faced paced funny plot.  Is it deep? Not really but it’ll hook reluctant readers and the good news is there are more books in the series to keep them reading.  

A Little Rainy Day Interlude

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I didn’t make this a man called John D. Boswell did but I wanted to share it because it made my day. It also includes a lot of thoughts I have about why I want to work with young children and what I want them to learn.