When it is time to drop your lesson and talk about world events….

What is your lens?

Maureen Wilson, from Hamilton, Ontario shares her experiences at the Women’s March of Washington

We had to be ready to change our pre-planned lesson…Students wanted to talk about what was happening in the world. The following posts describes why we altered our plan and shares the alternate lesson!

Critical literacies involve people using language to exercise power, to enhance everyday life in schools and communities, and to question practices of privilege and injustice. (Comber, 2017)

Flag at Dr. Davey school is half mast to pay respect to victims at Mosque shooting

Huge events unfolded across the world over the past two weeks which prompted our teaching team to change a “pre-planned lesson” to focus on current issues of Social Activism – locally and globally.  On January 20th, Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration took place. The next day, January 21st, together, over 60 countries – men, women, and children, joined in solidarity to March for human rights – “The Women’s March on Washington” was declared the largest global protest – ever. Then, on January 28th a Mosque in Quebec, Canada was brutally attacked and many innocent people were killed. January 30th – Thousands join together to show support and to honour the victims of the Mosque shooting.

 


Knowledge Circle at Enrichment Centre

It is difficult for the most well-rounded, emotionally and socially strong of people to handle the immense mix of emotions resulting from these events. Regardless of your point of view of Trump (or the platform), or if you are a woman or Muslim – we are all impacted – not just by injustice, hate and fear – but also by the joy, and relief that comes with solidarity and community actions. We are affected by the conflicting and confusing media.

 

Our young people are especially affected.

People in positions of respect and power have made accusations about journalists not being truthful and Journalists have made accusations of people in power not being truthful to the people. The idea of “fake news” has been spread across the inter-webs like wildfire. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook feeds are overwhelmed with political posts and emotions are high.


After watching the powerful poem by Royce Mann, we started our INQUIRY through a discussion of “Privilege and Power”. 


The following lesson is an overview of how we approached these topics as an Inquiry:

We started with the “Big Idea/Inquiry Question”:

  • How can global events impact local/community action and local/community events impact Global action?
  • What is my lens when approaching these issues?
  • How am I privileged?
  • What does it mean to be “in Solidarity?”

We shared the “Culminating task” what  will students do by end of lesson?:

  • Complete a Blog post that focuses on an idea or concept that uses the Women’s March on Washington as a prompt. Write through an optimistic lens, utilize a variety of media and provide questions for further thinking/discussion
  • Create a short podcast that focuses on one aspect of Social Justice and  Solidarity and the impact of positive activism.
  • Create a video that uses a specific lens/perspective showcasing the positive aspects of humanity, people, and social activism.

We used the Curriculum Standards as a guide:

  • Critical Literacy: Opportunities to relate knowledge and skills in language learning to wider contexts, both across the curriculum and in the world beyond the school, motivate students to learn and to become lifelong learners. (The Ontario Curriculum, Language, p. 12)
  • Students must be able to differentiate between fact and opinion; evaluate the credibility of sources; recognize bias; be attuned to discriminatory portrayals of individuals and groups, including women and minorities; and question depictions of violence and crime. (The Ontario Curriculum, Language, p.13)
  • Reading – Point of View identify the point of view presented in texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts; give evidence of any biases they may contain; and suggest other possible perspectives (e.g., determine whether an author’s choice of voices to include seems justified and suggest how the meaning would change if different voices were chosen) (The Ontario Curriculum, Language, Grade Seven,  p.128)
  • Point of View – Demonstrate understanding that different media texts reflect different points of view
  • Making Inferences/ Interpreting Messages -Interpret increasingly complex or difficult media texts, using overt and implied messages as evidence for their interpretations

We made connection to UN Sustainable Development Goals:

  • Goal 5 – Reduced Inequalities
  • Goal 10 – Gender Equality
  • Goal 16 – Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

We made connections to ISTE Standards and 21st Century Learning: https://www.iste.org/standards/standards/for-students-2016

  • Knowledge Constructor: Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.
  • Digital Citizen: Students recognize the rights, responsibilities and opportunities of living, learning and working in an interconnected digital world, and they act and model in ways that are safe, legal and ethical.
  • Creative Communicator: Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.  

We invited community members to join our class and share their experiences:

Mary-Louise Pigott shares her experience attending the March on Washington


For the lesson…. Read on!!   Continue reading

Educon changed my Monday morning lesson

It is Monday morning and as I drive to work, my mind is racing trying to make sense of the key themes and ideas from Educon2.3. How will this conference change my thinking? Where do I go next? How will this impact my students? How has this network educators from not only my own province, but across the globe changed my own ideas about teaching?

On the radio, I listen to CBC updating the world about Egyptian protesters who are holding huge rallies in Cairo and other cities as they step up their efforts to force President Hosni Mubarak from power.
Simlutaneous Face-to-Face AND Offsite
(This pictures is @Roddlucier communicating with our online learners during our session)

I reflect my key learning from #educon2.3 – that there was clearly a common theme of networking and sharing in every session, table conversation, social gathering and hallway talk. Over and over we referred to students as “our learners” and our colleagues as “our PLN”. We talk of learning as though it has no boundaries and we model this through our vast network of expertise that allows us to customize our own learning.

Again, my mind focuses back to the radio.

“One demonstrator, Tarek Shalabi, told the BBC that groups were camped out in tents or sleeping out in the square, and described the atmosphere as “overwhelming”.
“We’re here because we want to make a statement. We’re not going until Mubarak steps down,” he said.


I think about Educon, and boundaries – that the boundaries of Schools, Districts (public/private), Cities, Provinces, States, Countries were becoming irrelevant. That there was a common language of learning that revolved around themes of inquiry, of problem solving, connectivity, critical thinking, experiential learning, engagement and of course, FUN.
My mind shifts back to the CBC reporter who quotes Jack Layton (an NDP leader),

“Ultimately of course these things are up to the Egyptian people, but it seems quite clear that significant change is what is being sought by people in Egypt right now, and so let’s make sure that that process is democratic as much as that can possibly be achieved

Read more
As I drive to work, with my lessons ready to go, I feel a strong connection to my experience at #educon2.3 with the current news story that I hear on the radio. Our boundaries, our borders are concepts. Distance and time are now irrelevant. As world citizens, teachers, learners, it is our obligation to be aware, to advocate, to speak out for human rights and to listen closely to the people of Egypt.
I can’t teach my planned lesson.

As a classroom teacher, I would not let this go. I would want my students to engage in conversation, to analyze and synthesis the news stories, to compare perspective and opinions. I would want them to understand why the front of the newspapers show burning buildings, why they hear words like “revolution”, “dictatorship”, “democracy” and “human rights” on the radio. I would want them to connect this to their own lives and why it matters.

This is what we talk about at Educon2.3 – Making learning authentic and meaningful. Providing learning that uses current tools and methods. Connecting students and teachers to the world around them.

My pre-service students and I spent the next four hours discussing authenticity in learning which resulted in some inspiring conversation.

As there contribution to this issue in education, these students worked together to create a series of lessons relating to these current news events.

LESSONS HERE (and more to come)