Adapting a Lesson Plan

Part of being a teacher is finding innovative ways to teach our students. However, when it comes to creating lessons, it is a valuable skill to find, re-use, and shape the lessons of others to fit your classroom needs. In this assignment, we were challenged to find an innovative lesson plan and adapt it to fit our curriculum and classroom needs. I have added a page to showcase my lesson and a small reflection on the process. View the page here:

Innovative Adapted Lesson

As a pre-service teacher and lifelong learner I am always looking to grow. This project is FAR from perfect. If you have any suggestions please let me know!

– A

Financial Literacy and SS

I believe that financial literacy is one of the most imperative life skills we can impart as teachers on our students. Money is a crucial part of our lives and the management/mismanagement of money can make a difference in our health and happiness. This is not to say that having more money will make you happier, but that mismanaging your money will make your life extremely difficult. As the A Sound Investment – Financial Literacy Education in Ontario Schools says, “citizens who have a solid understanding of financial basics are more likely to navigate safely and surely through today’s complex financial world” (p7). The EduGains videos also highlight that teachers/educators start to become more aware of their own finances and also their students’ socioeconomic situations. This is important for reflecting on biases and ensuring each child can relate and benefit from lessons. Integrating financial literacy is also an excellent way to create relevance and real-world applications across curriculums.

The Scope and Sequence – Financial Literacy is a great starting point for teachers who wish to incorporate financial literacy across the different curriculums. In Social Studies, financial literacy can be a huge benefit to teaching trade and connections to countries around the world. For example, in Grade 6, trade, tourism and economic relations would easily fit in the Canada and World Connections. However, the A Sound Investment – Financial Literacy Education in Ontario Schools document highlights many gaps in our current knowledge about Canadian’s financial literacy and offers several recommendations to improve upon our education in this area. As a former employee of TD Canada Trust, I had many opportunities to meet and talk with people of all ages about their financial literacy. In fact, increase students’ confidence with money and finance is one of my highest priorities as an educator. The majority of people I spoke to had no idea how credit cards worked, how interest rates worked, how bank accounts (saving/chequing) worked and more. I think it’s a great start to introduce budgeting and economic principles in elementary school, but greater attention needs to be given to specific financial instruction in high school. Students will be communicating with banks their whole lives, through bills, credit cards, mortgages, car payments, etc. I believe we need to continue to emphasize financial literacy through the creation of a mandatory half-credit course in high school. This will give students the confidence to approach the more important financial decisions as they age, including loans (such as OSAP or non-secured school credit) and credit cards. As it stands, there is only an optional course available to students in this respect.

I have done some research in the past about the topic of financial literacy as part of a genius hour project. It is by no means a complete piece of work, but I will include a link to it here.

Please let me know any comments and suggestions you have!

– A

Inquiry Approach

For complex instructional methods, challenges will always exist. The inquiry approach is an amazing way to integrate curriculums, teach 21st century learning skills, and develop our students’ critical thinking abilities. This approach does not exist without some challenges. However, these challenges should not dissuade anyone from trying it.

CHALLENGES

“How Can I Start to Plan for Inquiry?”OESSTA

The first and most obvious challenge is time. The videos talk a lot about the process of creating a question and trying to incorporate cross-curricular activities to make it a complete inquiry project. I agree that it does take time to implement this type of approach in the classroom, especially to make it effective, interesting and worthwhile. I would also argue that if an educator plans properly, he/she could have a more effective use of classroom time.

Modeling is a key issue as identified by the educator (Pete) in the video. This aligns with the curriculum in that students must be assessed for readiness to learn. Modeling takes time, but ensuring that all students can complete the processes autonomously allows them to think critically instead on simply the acquisition of knowledge. I experienced this first hand when teaching math… students were scared to explore elements of geometry without me modeling the technique first. After modeling, they felt freer to explore and create connections between my techniques and something they created on their own.

Another challenge may exist for some educators. There needs to be a refocus from teacher-centered learning to student-centered learning that focuses on inquiry and critical thinking.  If a teacher is set in his/her teaching style, this may be a difficult barrier to overcome.

Schools themselves may also create barriers to inquiry-based learning. For example, some schools may lack the technology, finances, or space to really deeply explore a question the way a teacher wants to. This barrier is not impossible to overcome, but is definitely real and will create a hardship for an educator.


BENEFITS

“What Might Teaching and Learning Look Like?”OESSTA

One of the benefits of inquiry is the natural flexibility it allows. If educators use an inquiry-based approach, they can structure lessons to incorporate cross-curricular expectations and also developed a better UDL. Our presenter, Kristie, said that in a classroom if you can establish a trust, you are able to use inquiry-based approached that have UDL and hit every level in the classroom. Inquiry allows for multiple levels of assessment as well – there are variety in the ways students can submit assignments that suit the needs of the learner. Kristie also mentioned that inquiry is natural and current, allows children to feel safe when taking risks and fosters an environment of community learning.

I believe my unit plans will help me discover the benefits of inquiry I discussed above. The nature of inquiry seems to unite expectations around a central theme. I think what I will find in my unit plan is that the flow of the unit seems more natural and realistic because it is tied together through a topic and area of inquiry. I also believe that I will find the unit plans will be much more adaptable when inquiry-based. Zoe talked about having a student teacher that had a preplanned unit to deliver to her kids that was well below their level. With an inquiry-based approach, the same topic or question can be explored at various levels according to the readiness and potential of the learners.

– A

 

Integrated Curriculum

Discussions on the benefits and difficulties with an integrated or interdisciplinary approach to teaching in Ontario. 

This week’s readings and videos explored and explained integrated curriculum. Multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches are three commons ways to design. In Meeting Standards Through Integrated Curriculum, by Drake, S and Burns, R. (2004), each of the three approaches are discussed and thoroughly compared. These integrated approaches seem to be very successful. The model of learning hopes to build 21st century learning skills such as collaboration, communication and use of technology. Some other success measures include increased effort by students, better retention of material, fewer discipline problems and lower absenteeism. Academic scores also increased. For example, the article states a study of an interdisciplinary program Learning Through The Arts revealed students showed an increase in math scores. Drake & Burns (2004) also point out that although different, all three approaches exist on a continuum and are usually used by educators who wish to engage all their students in learning in the most authentic way.

All of the evidence of benefits, as real as they are, seem come from notes taken by educators or assessors. This video from Edutopia offers a fresh insight into the benefits of the integrated curriculum.

The students are demonstrating improvements, but also noticing the changes themselves. For example, one girl said, “If you’re in different classes, you might forget because your mind is focused on another class, but when it’s all together you can just focus on one thing…”. Her idea of the boundary between subject areas is blurring, resulting in a peace of mind and increased focus. Assessment as learning indicates students need to be self-aware and metacognitive of their changes in learning. As a future educator, I think it is important to get the researcher’s perspective and insight to the positive benefits of different approaches, but equally as important to hear the student’s perspective as well.

Lastly, these resources suggest integrated approaches are necessary to prepare our students for the real world. If educators have trouble buying into this idea or think it is too difficult, it is quite shocking. I think their is a value in realizing that in order to develop an integrated curriculum for our students, we are using the very skills we wish they would build. As 21st century employees, teachers need to collaborate, self-regulate, problem solve, communicate skillfully and use technology to create integrated curriculums with success.


Integrated learning is an essential part to our classroom planning and organization, especially if we want to engage students with relevant and useful inquiry-based explorations.

This week, explored the cross-curricular integration opportunities in groups. This assignment highlighted two important things for me. First, a group of educators can find connections and create lesson ideas much easier than just one educator alone. This is an important mindset to take to the field of teaching – using collaboration to extend our ideas and save time. Second, there is a multitude of ways to integrate cross-curricular expectations into one assignment – it isn’t that hard to find them. To me, more integration equals less time spent on an individual expectation. After all the other benefits of integration, this one just highlights effective use of class time to explore the necessary expectations.

This is the outline created by our class (used with permission):

One example of an integrated approach that I particularly find interesting and useful is the mix of social studies and math curriculums. In the class example above, we talked about the big idea of an Olympic ceremony to study the grade 6 topic: People and environments – Canada’s interactions with the global community. I think this is an excellent opportunity to introduce mathematical areas of numeracy and data management. Students could explore the proportions of participating athletes or the resources necessary to accommodate the full attendance. They could also find appropriate representations of different data, such as the demographics at the presentation or the environmental impacts of the ceremonies. If the educator was to take this even further, they could accommodate the financial literacy aspect – which is definitely underdeveloped and under-explored. For example, students should be expected to create a budget and set costs for concessions.

A simplified example like this demonstrates how an integrated approach can be used to study and support social studies.

-A

New Content – Social Studies

In the next few month, I will be adding many posts with a social studies focus. This collection of posts about Social Studies (including history and geography) will be set in the Ontario context. This is the Ontario Social Studies, History & Geography curriculum for grades 1-8. I will be posting about discussions and resources accessed or created during my preservice education training. It will also highlight an integrated teaching approach. You will be able to find pieces of math, science, language art, dance, drama, and more.

There are so many levels of social studies.. because human society is so complex. As a future educator, the most important thing to me is to make social studies about inquiry and make social studies relevant to my students lives.

Often times, we think about subjects in school as stand alone subjects to study independently. I believe social studies is the perfect example of a subject that drives all subjects together. Many teachers use the inquiry model when teaching social studies because it creates relevance and interest. Math concepts such as perimeter and area become way more interesting when used for comparing geographical land masses as part of a project. (Compare land masses here!) Language concepts of persuasive writing moves from a traditional report to a courtroom drama defending the rights of indigenous school children. (This is an excellent resource for residential school information)

There are many more integrative ways to teach using social studies expectations as anchors to create relevance. This is exciting and I hope to find many more ways to do so! Please comment and share if you wish!

– A