Thinking back on the past year, it’s easy to conclude that I am lucky. I work with fascinating people, and I get to share their stories. Experiencing that kind of trust is humbling, and for that I’m grateful.
This year, the stories immersed me into the nitty-gritty details of waste management, introduced me to the concept of “math rappers” and gave me VIP access to a black metal and tattoo festival in Bergen, Norway. Despite this diversity, a few themes emerged: sustainability, pop culture in the classroom and hands-on learning.
Jerine Pegg adamantly believes that for students to learn science, they need to do authentic science. This value resulted in her taking composting worms up to Nunavut for local students to continue learning about waste management, gardening and healthy eating. It also aligns with what the folks at Energy Management and Sustainable Operations did on their waste audit – they have to do real science to know if the university’s sustainable practices have buy-in from the campus community.
“It was amazing because I didn’t know what to do, so I just started doing things.” – Jason Wallin
“I’ve never touched any construction or woodwork, so this is a lot of firsts for me, but I’m having lots of fun and making a lot of cool things.” – Jamie Lambert-Brown
Whether it was future Career and Technology Studies educators constructing projects in a workshop, or faculty member Jason Wallin’s on-the-fly documentary film-making in Bergen, trying your hand at something new and having a great time doing it was incredibly inspiring, and something I need to try more often.
From math raps, Star Wars, Minecraft and more to graphic novels in teacher and librarian education, pop culture has a place in education. David Lewkowich uses graphic novels to help future teachers reflect on their own education experiences, while Elementary Education alumna Jessica Maloughney uses a variety of pop culture touchstones to bridge gaps with her second grade students (Lydia Menna and Jason Wallin provide expert comment).
Two undergraduate Elementary Education students were recipients of the University of Alberta’s undergraduate summer research awards, providing them with chance to work alongside professors in their fields for four months.
Both Marcus DeWitt and Stephanie Shannon received the Roger S. Smith Undergraduate Student Research Award, enabling them to gain valuable experience conducting academic research while working with faculty members on their projects.
Working with math games: Stephanie Shannon
Stephanie Shannon, a second-year Education after-degree student, worked with Janelle McFeetors on a research project that uses games to help teach elementary school students learn math. The project showed Shannon that math learning experiences don’t need to be limited to the classic worksheets that many students dread.
“Kids can learn from hands-on experience or simple games,” says Shannon. “The games approach goes a lot deeper that you think it would. In the future, I would definitely incorporate games into the math-learning experience in my classroom.
Shannon started the summer by going out into a grade 4 and 5 split class, working with the students while they were playing the games. Her insights into the students’ changing mindset caught McFeetor’s attention.
“After we completed a classroom intervention and conducting interviews with grade 4 and 5 students, she pointed out how the students’ productive disposition grew as they were learning,” says McFeetors.
“What was interesting is this coincided with professional articles I had recently read identifying this as an under-developed idea in mathematics education.”
Later in the summer, Shannon moved into data analysis and transcribing notes. In the final month, Shannon tried her hand at a new skill– website design for learnmathwithgames.com. Not only did the project help Shannon develop new skills and ideas for her to use in her own future classrooms, and open her mind to possibility of doing more academic research in the future.
“This experience was much different than what I experienced when doing research in my first degree, she says.
“With this project, I went to the classroom and met students. You get to have that personal connection with them, but you’re still doing research. It’s a great feeling to know that they aren’t just subjects. You actually get to know them and see how they have evolved.”
Constructing timelines: Marcus DeWitt
Fourth-year Education student Marcus DeWitt spent the summer working with Lindsay Gibson on a project that saw grade 11 students creating interactive timelines about Canada’s history using flash cards. DeWitt applied for the research assistantship in hopes the project would give him an idea of what future opportunities in academia might look like.
“I’ve considered going onto do graduate work after I’m done my undergrad and I thought this would be a good introduction while giving me good experience,” says DeWitt.
“I’ve gotten to see data collection first hand– how you’d analyze, interpret and record it. It’s a pretty big part of the research-aspect of graduate work.”
On top of seeing how data collection works in an research project, DeWitt also learned more about students’ perceptions about Canadian history and how that impacts their engagement with the curriculum.
“At first it catches you off-guard, but after hearing 30 grade 11 students say the same type of thing, you realize the misconceptions they might have on certain aspects and topics,” explains DeWitt.
“You can definitely tell if the kids were on that day when you listen to the audio recordings. If it’s an issue that hits close to home, it’ll spark a ten minute conversation.”
Throughout the project DeWitt put his keen attention to detail to work, impressing Gibson.
“He identified key deductive codes from the interviews which has been very helpful in the data analysis process,” said Gibson. “His insights into the progression of students’ thinking as the study developed were very beneficial and have helped me develop next steps for this pilot project.”
Seeing the project’s gamification of Canadian history and how students engaged with it has influenced how DeWitt plans to engage his students.
“I’ve been thinking about Dr. Gibson’s approach to this project and I think it’s a great idea how he took a topic that a lot of kids might think is boring and made it into a challenge of sorts and make it fun,” says DeWitt. “It’s definitely something I’d look into doing in my classroom in the future.”
The Roger S. Smith Award is open to continuing undergraduate students. Information on how to apply can be found through the Registrar’s Office.
Originally posted in Illuminate – June 2016. A special thank you to the workshop facilitators and organizers: Nicole Schutz, Laurel Nikolai, Jeremy Albert, Holly Yuzicapi and Dr. Kathy Robinson. All photos by k.barnes.
A two-part professional development workshop focused on integrating First Nations, Métis and Inuit music and culture into elementary music education had a successful launch at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Education this June and is expected to return to campus in the fall 2016 term.
At the recent workshop, current Education graduate student Nicole Schutz and alumna Laurel Nikolai (MEd ‘09) showed more than 20 local music teachers and 10 current students in the elementary education program different ways to weave Indigenous music and culture into their kindergarten to Grade 6 classrooms by making flutes and teaching them how to play songs.
Learning by doing
The hands-on workshop encouraged participants to decorate and play their flutes, much like they would with their students. Schutz, who is Métis herself, said that making the workshop as interactive as possible was a deliberate choice.
“We move, sing and dance all the time with our students,” said Schutz. “Why not do it with the First music of Canada? We want them to feel it and know it through the way it is supposed to be done.”
Both Schutz and Nikolai’s personal experiences teaching music in schools with large First Nations, Métis and Inuit populations provided a frame of reference when designing the workshop. It also illustrated the need to educate teachers on how to integrate First Nations, Métis and Inuit content and perspectives into the curriculum.
“As music teachers and elementary teachers, we learn through doing it and experiencing the songs and dance. We really want to connect to this through stories and [enable students to] have their own stories of making the instruments that they are putting love and time into, then pass these stories on,” said Nikolai.
“It is our job as educators to do as much as we can, share as much as we can, find accessible resources and people who can pass teachings and experience onto us so we can be comfortably educated to share this with our students,” she adds.
Responding to the Calls to Action
Workshop participants point to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’sfinal report, released last year, as well as the provincial government’s promise to focus more on including Indigenous culture and history into Alberta’s curriculum as two reasons—among many—why professional development like this is needed.
“With the release of the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, this workshop is a response to some of those calls by learning more about Indigenous ways of knowing and being which will translate to their students,” explained event collaborator Jeremy Albert, who is a First Nations, Métis and Inuit consultant with Edmonton Public Schools (EPSB).
“We’re looking to build from here and get these teachings into our schools so our First Nations, Métis and Inuit and non-Indigenous students can be exposed to this education.”
The importance of good materials
As well as receiving a lesson in making, painting and playing Indigenous flutes, workshop participants also received a walk-through of an Edukit for music teachers, developed by EPSB. The kit consists of detailed lesson plans including songs, dances, picture books, poems, and stories that can be used throughout the school year.
“We’re crying out for materials and understanding to bring this music to our students,” said Kathy Robinson, associate professor of elementary education and workshop facilitator.
All of the workshop facilitators expressed a desire for the workshop’s positive impact to spread to classrooms across Edmonton. Event collaborator and EPSB First Nations, Métis and Inuit consultant Holly Yuzicapi explained that learning about First Nations, Métis and Inuit art and culture could teach students another way to express themselves.
“Every culture has forms of expression—art, music, singing, dance—it’s really people having the ability to share feelings and stories,” said Yuzicapi.
“You hear people say ‘I’m dancing for healing’, or there is history and significance behind certain songs or stories. When we turn to those things, we are acknowledging expression,” she explained. “When we deal with traumatic things in our life, we can turn to art to help us express feelings, but we don’t teach it that way. When you think about all of our cultural songs, the songwriter is sharing their feelings. So, technically everyone is a songwriter, a dancer and an artist.”
The EPSB Edukit will be available for loan at the H.T. Coutts Education Library. Part two of the workshop, to be led by Elder Francis Whiskeyjack, is expected to take place at UAlberta in the fall term and will focus on drumming and drum-making. To learn more about the course, contact Laurel Nikolai or Nicole Schutz.
You’ve probably heard about the big climate change meeting that is currently happening in Paris. There have been countless news stories about heightened security or which world leaders are attending, but what does it mean for us who aren’t going to France?
In this cold weather, all I want to snuggle up in a blanket with a book and a warm beverage. This apple cider recipe was shared with me by a fine lady who sold tea at Detroit’s Eastern Market, and every time I make it, I’m taken back to one of my favourite trips ever (go visit Detroit!).
Motor City Cider
• 4 cups of apple juice
• 4 tsp of chai tea leaves (I like the African rooibois from The Tea Girl on 124 Street)
• A dram of maple or whiskey (optional)
Put tea leaves into a tea strainer or bag. Add apple juice and tea (and optional additions) to a pot. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Let it cool off a wee bit so you don’t burn your tongue. Pour into four mugs and enjoy!
Music while you cook
One of Motown’s greatest, Marvin Gaye expressing a pain still happening today:
It’s been super hectic since leaving Edmonton on April 6th. In a week, my partner and I have packed up a large portion of our apartment, worked, gone to school, visited with some friends and have tried to tie up as many lose ends as we can before we leave next Monday.
It was a busy three days back at Humber News, getting into the swing of things, seeing classmates and re-learning iNews.
A few big stories broke this week: HSF removing Tim Brilhante from the office of president, Jim Flaherty dying, the accused murderers of Tim Bosma being charged with other murders… OY!
On Thursday, I wrote the York lawsuit story, Flaherty’s death and HSF. I also ran Kiah’s studio cam– the first time!
On Friday, I was part of the report team that covered HSF fallout. I was mainly research help, but I also interviewed Tim Brilhante (for 20 minutes– yikes!), filmed Josh’s stand-up and assisted with editing and writing. It was super busy, but exciting!
This week, with only two days on the schedule, I’ll be the Sports and Entertainment Editor and Production Assistant! Should be nice and busy in the newsroom, if last week was any indication.
Afterwards, next Monday I’ll be driving back to Edmonton. Driving through the States this time should be a lot better than when we drove through Canada on the move out here. 🙂
This morning I was notified by my program coordinator that I was the recipient of two Digital Media Gold Circle Awards with the Colombia Scholastic Press Association: one in the breaking news category, and another with the secondary news category!
I’m super proud of both pieces, especially since I worked with fantastic people for each piece.
“I tip my hat and it’s good to be back on mountain standard time”
I’ve been back in Alberta for the past three weeks, working at Global Edmonton as part of my course credit for school. Six weeks at 40 hours a week = 240 hours. Tagging along with reporters and helping out on their stories. Getting interviews for VO clips and writing the stories. Pitching, researching and chasing. Helping cover the assignment desk.
In the past three weeks, I’ve learned how to use ENPS (we use iNews/Burli at school) and a bit of Aurora Browse/Edit. I helped out with grabbing interviews and research on “AB Budget Day” at the Legislature and was embargoed– what a day! I was also in the newsroom during the multiple stabbings on the West End. Watching our chopper coverage of the police chase was incredible!
Still three weeks to go: I’ll be spending more time with the producers, the online team and working on the morning show (overnights!). I can’t wait. 🙂