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Reading Reflections

Hilary Dingman

EDUC 5613 Section 2

Dr. Sharon Murray

February 13th, 2018


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Caring as Classroom Practice


I found this article to be of great significance, since it addresses the importance of creating a
caring classroom of community learners. During times of uncertainty in our world, it is
especially important that as educators we provide consistent moral and ethical standards for our
students. In due time today’s young learners will be tomorrows agencies of change; therefore, it
is paramount that we prepare them to responsibly take on this role. I agree with Johnson &
Thomas’ (2009) thoughtful comment that:
My students could gain valuable knowledge, values, and attitudes to make sense of
their world and grow into thoughtful and humane people. For me, caring stands at
the center of building good citizens. It’s the glue that holds everything else
together (8).
While I have always known the value of a caring classroom, it was not until I read this
article that I fully comprehended a teacher’s responsibility in being both a role model and a
facilitator for their students. A great example would be in conflict resolution. When a conflict
emerges, students need to know how to properly manage their feelings, so that a productive
dialogue can ensue, where in which all students are able to be heard. In order for students to
learn these crucial social skills, teachers must first demonstrate what a respectful conversation
might look like. I agree with the article that it is up to the teacher to model and practice these
values and expectations if students are to learn from them.
Another idea the article offers that I can see myself putting into practice is the building of a
caring and inclusive classroom. It is important that as teachers we celebrate the diverse cultures
that are present within our classroom, since we are constantly setting an example for our
students. In addition to embracing diversity, we must also make a conscious effort to model
empathy within our classrooms, so that students can begin fostering caring relationships of their
own. One activity that the article suggests in building strong empathy skills is called “Put
Yourself in the Picture.” The activity challenges students to consider what life might be like for
the person that they see in the magazine or book. Students will begin to understand what that the
person might be feeling, without ever having shared a similar experience.

I can also see myself utilizing activities that help students to become independent thinkers.
Early on students need to be supported in making important decisions on their own, with the
guidance of their teacher. By creating these opportunities students will start to construct their
own “cognitive, social-emotional, and moral domains.” A great way to facilitate this degree of
responsibility in the classroom is through an activity called “Jobs That Matter.” With this activity
students will play an important role in creating their classroom community.

References

Johnson, C. J., & Thomas, A.T. (2009). Caring as Classroom Practice. Social Studies and the
Young Learner, 22 (1), 8-11. Retrieved October 5, 2017.
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Engaging Diverse Learners with Academic and Social Challenges


I chose this article since it is important that as teachers we know the different ways that
students learn, so that we can adequately address these needs in our classrooms. Sheehan and
Sibit disclosed in their article that “5 percent of all school-aged children 6 to 21 years old” have a
learning disability, and that these student’s diverse learning needs are often not being met. If
teachers could minimize the daily obstacles that these students face with regards to learning,
there would be a noticeable difference in their overall classroom experience.

Within the article Sheehan and Sibit argue that it is the teacher’s job, and not their choice to
deliver a multisensory lesson. Since learning disabilities often present themselves in a “cluster of
characteristics,” they tend to go undiagnosed until major academic delays appear. Therefore, as
educators we should be constantly providing this standard of delivery, regardless if a student has
been identified as having a learning disability. The authors do acknowledge that identifying and
addressing these various modalities can be time consuming, but they reassure the weary teacher
that more learning will take place when all senses are explored.

A valuable piece of information that the article provided, which I had not considered before,
was that all students can benefit when a teacher uses multiple modalities. When a teacher
addresses all of the senses within a lesson, they are optimizing their chances of all students
comprehending what is being taught. While most students can get by with one form of delivery,
teachers should not become complacent in providing the bare minimum.

Another idea that I found enlightening, was that rather than the ‘differentiated’ component
being secondary element, it should we woven throughout the entire lesson. Sheehan and Sibit do
an excellent job explaining that despite all the time and effort you put in your lesson plan, if you
do not consider the different modes of delivery it will be for nothing. After reading this article, I
will ensure that my lesson plans are now all multisensory based, so that every student has an
equal opportunity to learn.

References

McGuire, M., Walker B., & Grant T. (2016). Engaging Diverse Learners with Academic and
Social Challenges. Social Studies and the Young Learner, 28 (4), 5-8. Retrieved October
5, 2017.
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Using the Familiar to Teach World Geography in Kindergarten


I chose this article because even with Geography being an interdisciplinary discipline, it
often gets dismissed until the later grades. While a typical Kindergarten classroom focuses on the
student’s home, family, and classroom, I think it is important that Geography is also integrated
into the social studies curriculum. It is important that young learners are being taught global
awareness early on, so that they can gradually begin to understand the complex world that they
live in.

This particular article centers itself around a Kindergarten teacher named Carlee, who had
the brilliant idea of connecting her Geography lessons with her student’s culture and family.
Carlee found that by personalizing the curriculum, her students were capable of comprehending
concepts far beyond what she had originally anticipated. The students in Carlee’s class were able
to create connections between their own experiences, with the new knowledge that they were
being given in class. The article strongly states that students are capable of tackling complex
concepts in Geography, if the teacher takes the time to properly teach it.

It was interesting to see that through incorporating the student’s cultures into the curriculum,
the teacher also ended up expanding her own knowledge of the world. In the article, Carlee
described how “I began learning more about the students, and they taught me multiple words and
phrases in Arabic so that I could feel more welcomed and included in daily practices.” While this
collaborative lesson plan took a great deal of preparation to create, it was worth it to Carlee,
since her students flourished with this shared opportunity to lead a discussion.

One idea that I enjoyed from the article was that Carlee took the time to get to know each
student’s geographical and cultural background. In order for this personalized lesson to work,
Carlee had to first reach out to the student’s families so that she could make these connections in
the class. Carlee also took the time to talk to the students throughout the day, asking them about
the food that they like to eat and any other topics that led to them discussing their cultures. I can
see myself putting this level of effort into lesson planning, if it meant that each student felt
appreciated and accepted in my class.

I also valued Carlee’s use of Google Earth in her classroom. Carlee explained how she used
the map feature to show the proximity of where the various countries were located in relation to
their classroom. Through the use of technology, the students got the feeling that they were
traveling to these various landmarks on the map.

References

Kenyon, E., Coffey C., & Kroeger, J. (2016). “Hey I’ve been there!” Using the Familiar to Teach
World Geography in Kindergarten. Social Studies and the Young Learner, 29 (2), 4-7.
Retrieved October 5, 2017.
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“I” is for Indian? Dealing with Stereotypes in the Classroom


I have selected this article since I believe addressing stereotypes in the classroom is
imperative. Mark Finchum (2006) says it best, when he stated that:

It is of vital importance that children develop positive attitudes about ethnicity


and race at an early age. Young children are not born with a racial bias, but by the
time they reach high school they have often adopted the prejudices to which they
have been exposed (4).

I agree that as elementary school teachers, it is our job to create a diverse, multicultural, and
inclusive class environment. Mark Finchum explains that as teachers we must become educated
ourselves on the history and culture of minorities, so that we do not perpetuate stereotypes within
our classroom. Most importantly, we cannot allow our students to develop racial biases, as a
result of our own ignorance.

Like this article points out, as educators we often mindlessly choose classroom materials
that fit within our lesson plan, without truly considering if the information it contains unfairly
represents a minority. After reading this article, I am now aware of the long list of questions that
I must be asking myself before introducing any type of learning materials to my students. As
teachers we are trusted with the minds of the next generation, so it is important that we are being
thoughtful in how we are portraying minorities within the classroom.

While this article specifically speaks on America’s past, there are still many valuable lessons
to be learned here. After reading this article I was reminded of how often we whitewash our
social studies curriculum. Just because instances in our past are regrettable, does not mean we
should be teaching our students selected pieces of our nation’s history. For instance, when
discussing thanksgiving with my students I will mention that while it is a joyous day for many
families, for the First Nations people it is a “National Day of Mourning.” I hope to adapt a
teaching framework, where in which the past and present of all Canadian citizens is
acknowledged.

The article also discusses the many things that we can be doing presently to respect the
practices of our current First Nations people. While I disagree with celebrating their successful
integration into mainstream society, I do believe it is important that we acknowledge their unique
cultural practices. One option would be to reach out to our local First Nation communities and
see if they would like to educate our students on their long-standing traditions. By bridging this
gap within the classroom, I trust that our students will grow to appreciate diversity.

References

Finchum, M. (2006). “I” is for Indian? Dealing with Stereotypes in the Classroom. Social Studies
and the Young Learner, 18 (4), 4-6. Retrieved October 5, 2017.
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Writing Our Way to the Post Office


I found this article to be extremely important, as learning centers have proven to be a
powerful force in a students’ earlier years of education. Learning centers, such as the one
discussed in this article, provide students with opportunities to learn in a context in which they
are most receptive. During these highly interactive learning centers students are able to develop
their numeracy, literacy, and fine motor skills. In addition to the many academic benefits,
students also learn to solve problems independently, using the various communicative skills that
they have honed through these play-based learning centers.
From this article, I have learned that before allowing students to interact with the learning
centers, the teacher must first model the desired behaviour themselves. While at first glance, it
may appear that these learning centers have little constraints, it is important that the teacher has
thought through the structure and expectations that they wish to implement. In order for the
students to gain the desired outcome for a particular center, the teacher must always be explicit
in their guidelines. Additionally, the teacher must also provide the students with the necessary
information that they will need, in order to fully make sense of the learning that is to take place.
For instance, when setting up a post office in the classroom, it will be important that the teacher
first introduces the students to the concept of sending and receiving mail. While all of this
information may appear to be innate to us now, at one point in time it was a completely foreign
concept. For this reason, it is important that the teacher considers all opportunities for learning,
when introducing their students to a new learning center.
When considering my own future teaching practices, I can see myself using learning
centers as a way to encourage my students to begin to write. The article points out that the post
office learning center would be great idea leading up to Valentine’s Day, seeing that students
will be motivated to write to their peers. Furthermore, students may also be more willing to learn
how to spell and write new vocabulary words, such as “love,” “friend,” and “happy” when
attempting to send a valentine to a friend. I believe that when teachers can successfully tap into a
student’s intrinsic motivation, the students will be much more willing to engage in the act of
writing. Especially for students who have had a negative experience with writing in the past, this
could be a way that I could provide my students with a new and improved outlook on the task.
Another aspect that I see myself integrating into my future learning centers, is the active
participation of parents. The article noted that when students showed an excitement over a
certain aspect of school, the parents were in turn eager to become involved. By including the
parents in the activities taking place in the classroom, the teacher is taking a much-needed step
towards bridging the gap between school and home. When considering its impact, it is clear that
this integration can only enhance the students’ learning, as the content will be reinforced in both
domains.
References
Davey, L. D., & Elijah, R. (2015). Writing Our Way to the Post Office: Exploring the Roles of
Community Workers with Four-Year Olds. Social Studies and the Young Learner, 28(1),
4-7.
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Planning and Teaching with Multiple Perspectives


I originally chose this article, since I thought it was important now more than ever, that
our students learn to look at information they are given with a critical eye. In today’s society, our
students are often bombarded with information that is both inaccurate and misleading; yet,
without ever being taught these essential skills, they will learn to believe whatever they hear and
see in the media. I believe that by being able to view a particular event through multiple
perspectives, students will learn to see the importance of accepting things that may appear to be
different. Furthermore, with our schools becoming more culturally and ethnically diverse,
students also need to broaden their minds, and become more understanding individuals. My hope
is that by helping them to become critical thinkers, students will learn to be more tolerant and
empathetic human beings, who will choose to make sound decisions with all of the facts in mind.
Our goal as teachers should be to provide our students with the appropriate learning
opportunities and tools, so that they can “make sense of their world,” which is every changing.

The first step that I intend on taking in order to produce these critical thinkers, is to
incorporate source materials that reflect a range of views on any given historical event. Too often
in the textbooks that we provide our students, a singular historical narrative is presented.
Therefore, rather than focusing solely on the dominant voice, I hope to employ multiple
perspectives in my teaching, which will include the use of both primary and secondary sources.

Another aspect that I must take into consideration, is that when providing my students
with this diverse material, they will need assistance in making sense of it all. I agree with the
article, that beginning with multicultural picture books would be a great way to introduce
students to this concept. When learning to view an event from a new perspective, students need
to be exposed to characters they can easily empathize with. The article articulates that these types
of literature help to make the event that they are studying “more personal and powerful.” Like
the article suggests, I will take the time to develop these skills and by providing multiple sources
will help them with this process.

References

Burstein, J. H., & Hutton, L. (n.d.). Planning and Teaching with Multiple Perspectives. Social
Studies and the Young Learner, 18(1), 15-17.
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Aloha, Hoosier! A Pen-Pal Activity in the Third Grade


I chose this article, since I thought pen pals was an innovative way to approach teaching
culture and community within the classroom. I thought that the opportunities that these students
had to connect with someone unlike themselves was extremely valuable, especially for urban
students who have had limited exposure to international topics. Through this pen pal project, not
only were students learning about the multicultural world that they live in, but they also
overcame racial stereotypes that they have been exposed to.
One aspect of the article that I was surprised by, was how effortlessly the teachers were
able to link the pen pal exchange unit to state and NCSS standards. I suppose this type of
unconventional activity reminded me that there are creative and innovate ways that teachers can
meet these standards. Learning does not have to be boring or repetitive, and it can expand outside
the classroom walls if the teacher is willing to put in the work. With a little extra energy, we can
see how can see how the lead teacher Ray was able to create a memorable learning experience
for his students.
One idea from this article that I will definitely consider putting into practice is the use of
“culture box exchange,” as a way in which to teach my students about different cultures. From
this simple exchange of items, students were given a hands-on opportunity explore the Hawaiian
culture. Additionally, the students were also required to reflect on what types of items best
represented their own culture, so that they could send back a collection of items to their friends
in Hawaii to enjoy. After examining both cultures, students were then given an important
opportunity to draw comparisons between their communities, and to those of their Hawaiian pen
pals. From this engaging experience, students not only discovered a new culture, but they also
learned how to appreciate similarities and differences amongst places and people.
When using a similar activity in my classroom, I will keep in mind the many
opportunities to include cross-curricular activities. Ray, for example, was able to integrate both
his math and literacy lessons into this engaging learning experience. On top of that, the teachers
in this article also found that the learning was more concrete, when it was personal, real, and
rewarding. For instance, the article notes that “Because of their interest in learning more about
the item selected and sent by their pen pals, students were motivated to formulate questions and
to collect data that helped them learn more about a Hawaiian community” (p.2). This is a prime
example of the amount of quality learning that can take place, when students are at the forefront
of their own education. Having said that, it will be important for me to tap into my students’
interests and curiosities, if I hope to achieve this degree of higher-order thinking in my own
classroom.
References
Callahan, R., & Chi Chan, K. (2007). Aloha, Hoosier! A Pen-Pal Activity in the Third
Grade. Social Studies and the Young Learner, 19(3), 12-14.