I am Big and Brown – I make no apologies for this. Because it is relationships that matter.

If you are overly sensitive about the subjects of color, race, gender, culture or struggle to openly discuss these issues, this could be a touchy subject. How do I know… I tweeted this out earlier today and did not receive even one response.

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Like the title says I am BIG, that sometimes can be seen as an understatement. At 5’11”, 290 lbs, I am a very large cropped-7iiu-ecd.jpegpresence in a school setting. To put it mildly, I stick out at school whether it is on the playground during supervision, walking in the hallways or playing games and teaching my little grade ones.To top that it all off, I am brown, wow that was news to me, actually it wasn’t I own a mirror and well have had this 365 day tan for a few years now, 38 to be exact. To be completely honest I am Fijian, and have the stature of a Samoan.

However, this is not how I introduce myself, nor do I believe how I am remembered by my students. I am a strong believer in relationships. Actually I can honestly and truly say that above all the learning that occurs in a school, it is the development, cultivation and maintenance of a relationship that a student remembers the most about their time at school. The quote below by Maya Angelou states it clear as possible, which I know many educators would agree with.

maya angalo

 

Relationships are more than essential, they are fundamental, I am confident in saying this because I know other great educators such as  C. Wejr and A. Couros, to name a few that all have written about the importance of relationships.

Therefore it saddens me that, whether knowingly or unknowingly an adult would effect the relationship a student has with a teacher. It also saddens, but doesn’t surprise me that an adult would state their misconceptions, prejudices, arrogance in the presence of children, who at a young age do not relate things to color, size, race or other physical traits.

So, do I have you wondering why I am writing this post?  It is simply to remind individuals to think. Think about what you say, where you say them and who can hear you, because it effects people and well it confuses them and eventually will hold them back. Still confused, Ok here is some background.

Today, I went to pick up my early years class to take them to Physed Class, same as I do every Monday and Wednesday. However, today one of my little ones had something on their mind, something that was obviously bothering them.  As we were finishing our snacks and lining up my little one said “Mr. Ram, my dad was talking about you”, to which I replied well that is nice. His facial expression changed as he said “no he wasn’t being nice”. Having an idea where this was going I inquired “Oh what did he say”, My poor little one said “he said you were fat and was making fun of your color”.

I felt very heart broken for my little one, not for myself, but for the child. A child who was now conflicted, a child that was confused as to why his dad would say something like he did, and hearing comments that go against everything he is taught about citizenship. A child that now did not now how to react towards his teacher, who gives out hugs regularly and who is always happy to see him. I was even more saddened, because as he was telling me this, three of his classmates came up, yelling my name and getting hugs, and this little guy got brushed out of the way, looking left out, left out because he was confused and struggling.

The question is what do you do? What do you say? This child’s dad is most likely his hero, and if not, he is definitely someone that he looks up to, I can’t go and damage that, so I smiled and said, “I know it is not nice, and we shouldn’t say things that are nice right, but don’t worry I am not upset, I was made me this way and I can’t change that, right” I was treated to one of his great smiles, meaning that he felt better, but I know that it effects him and at 5 or 6 years old he is conflicted with the issues of an adult that has no relationship with me. I am also scared for my little one that what he is hearing is going to effect his relationships both in his current setting and those that he will experience in his future.

Today was a sad day at school.

Understanding World War II and Anne Frank

As a class we have only read up to page 81 and for those of you that are unfamiliar with the story, Anne and her family have moved to the Annex and have been joined by some other individuals. Anne has been stuck indoors and has become more active in writing in her Diary. In the world more is occurring as the Nazi’s have mobilized and war has been declared. IMG_1638
This is however not the interesting or the exciting part. Without my push or suggestion, some of my students have taken the information within the text and have started seeking more information.

Outside of my classroom I have created this board size timeline, one in respect to the fact that I had asked my students to do this personally, but secondly to reveal to others what we are learning and to provide something for the students to compare to and add to.

For those that have read the Diary you will notice that the timeline seems to be flowing at a none ordered pace. This has occurred because students have sought out extra information in relation to the story and have brought these “Did you knows” to me. As we discussed them and mentioned them in class we added them to our timeline. It will be interesting to witness how fast the students move toward the end of the story now that more pieces are being added but that they are being added in different orders. ondergedoken

Using this visual has help my students to see the sequential nature of occurrences, however it has also allowed my students to see the connections between events and to realize that although the relationship between events may not be completely clear, that there is always an element of influence.

I am excited to, go beyond the text in the story and walk through students with the lives and influences of their parents and families so that they may gain insight and understanding that decisions made are not done without the influence of things that may not be evident or clear.

One resource to initiate engagement in multiple areas.

ondergedokenAs Christmas break ended and we returned to school, our class finished reading and working with the novel “Raven Quest”. Although this novel looked at over coming adversity, thinking over others and understanding aspects of writing such as setting and sequencing, there was only engagement from all of my students when I was reading the text (Story Time). I wanted a text that would engage my grade six students in multiple areas and in multiple ways – simply put I wanted do do something that was as inclusive as possible.

After some lengthy conversations with my colleagues that I would consider literacy Guru’s, i decided to choose “The Diary of Anne Frank”. There are variety of ideas, concepts and activities you could do in relation to the story. For the students in 6C we will be beginning with the following and hope to hear of some other great ideas which we may try.

To incorporate numeracy we will be looking at the two time lines that exist within the span of the story. The time line of Anne Frank and the time line of World War II. We are then going to examine how the two relate to each other and therefore determine how one timeline effected and influenced the other. This will then be combined with students looking, with their parents help at their parents time line and overlapping that with the events that occurred both nationally and internationally, which may have effected their lives.

In respect to citizenship and community, the students are going to examine the issues between Nazi Germany and the Jewish community and how the role of Nazi Germany effected surrounding communities and countries. This will also relate to Social Studies, looking through the lens of government, national identity and relationships. nazi_flag_581 - Copy

Although we are only in the first forty pages of the story, I am really looking forward to working through this story with my students. We have already had some great conversations about equality, integrity, social justice and right & responsibilities, but I am sure that this is just the tip of the ice berg.

If you have some ideas or have previously tried, please share I would love to make this an expereince my 6’s will never forget. Also please stayed tuned as we progress through the story and display our learning and our adventures.

New Year, New Assignment ohhhh the possibilities.

What an amazing summer.  After three years being in charge of the reins and making sure that everything was always ready to go and that everything was set for the first day,  I was able to and took full advantage of the so called “two months off” during the summer. I must say that it was fabulous. I enjoyed every part of it especially the five days of fishing, twenty feet from my back door.

This however is not the reason for this post, first I would like to apologize to all of my friends and colleagues for my absence, but would also like to pass on the assurance that you will be hearing a lot from me both from this location and others that I will connect you with shortly.

 

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This year, I am excited to teach grade six and while teaching my #youngpadawans (Star Wars is my class theme) I will be actively using what I have learned about over the past three years and encouraged other educators to use. I will be working with my kids to tweet out questions and to make global connections to learn and connect using our classroom twitter account.

I am thrilled that I have the privileged to walk my students through their initial trials and discoveries using Google Classroom 

In addition to keep my students parents connected to the classroom and aware of what is being covered, what is expected and the experiences of the students. I will be using Remind, our Rams Class Facebook account and our PSDBlogs class blog.

Please come and join our adventure as we navigate the universe and make memories and connections that will change how we work, influence how we learn and fuel our need to be challenged.

 

Creating #KidEdchat for Sharing, Comparing and Collaborating

Like many Twiducators, I have participated in many #Edchats and have found the topics,images (3) conversations and discussions engaging and very insightful, not to mention the ideas and resources that are shared.

However, I have found that there are times when, as an educator I am seeking, not only information but ideas or suggestions. Ideas relating to a specific grade level or grade focus area, such as:

How to integrate technology

Current Pedagogy

Professional Development

Classroom Ideas

Literacy ideas and innovations

. . . to bulletin board examples

For this reason and thanks to the help of amazing mentors and colleagues @shellterrel @shannonmmiller @courosa and @gcouros I have arrived at the hashtag #KidEdchat

It is my hope that #KidEdchat will facilitate all the areas that I have mentioned as well as conversations specifically directed to teachers from grades 3-6, which will occur every Thursday at 8 pm Easter and 5 pm on the West coast.

By no means is this a new concept or idea, thanks to @shellterrell (Shelly Terrell ), @web20classroom (Steven Anderson) and @tomwhitby (Tom Whitby), the creators of #Edchat, educators around the globe have been given a forum to discuss and focus on topics that are affecting educators. Topics such as current teaching trends, transforming teaching practice, as well as education policy and education reform.

#KidEdchat is not something to replace #Edchat, that is not the intent, nor would it be possible. It is simply a sharing, collaborating and learning location for teachers that work with students from grades 3-6. For the first #KidEdchat, on July 12th There will not be a specific topic.  I will leave it as an open format Meet and Tweet where educators can connect and share some ideas. Following #KidEdchats will be determine by polling all that have participated and shown interested.

Please pass this on to all the educators that you know would be interested and that could benefit from the connecting. It would be greatly appreciated.

I look forward to connecting with numerous educators. Remember to share with #KidEdchat and we shall tweet with you on Thursday evening.

 

Collaborative Changes that increased student engagement.

Many junior high schools in rural areas are limited by factors such as staff, resources, space, time, money and experience when it comes to providing optional classes to students. Seba Beach is also in this predicament, being a school of less than 150 students ECS through grade 9. To increase the opportunities for the students for students at Seba as well as the three schools (TomahawkWabamunEntwistle) which are all eighteen minutes away. The schools in the far western portion of Parkland School Division run collaborative WEST end options. Ironically WEST stands for the four schools that are involved:

Wabamun  – W

Entwistle    – E

Seba Beach – S

Tomahawk – T

By joining the schools for options we almost double the number of optional classes that the students can choose from, which is amazing for the students.

However, at the end of the last school year, while planning for the next school years scheduling. I noticed that there is a sufficient amount of time during the week that Seba Beach could run some of these same options as in-house options. Now, I know that some teachers and administrators out there are thinking two things :

This is going to be more work for the teachers?

Are teachers going to be taking away time from the core subjects to allocate for this additional option time?

The truth of it, is the answers for the questions are yes and no, respectively. Yeah there many be some more time that the teachers have to plan for and some more work in relation to keeping students motivated, but what it the outcome.

Students that are participating and enjoying their learning experience

That is a more than acceptable trade off. Remember it is all about the kids. Aside from this there is another benefit and it is not solely to that of my students. With the students in my school having the other options earlier in the week. It leaves additional spaces for the other schools students to participate in those options instead of competing for spots. I will be honest, it does mean that my students do got two options per term instead of one, but that only means that they have a better rounded year.

I do however have one request, if you have an idea for an option that you believe would be feasible in a small rural school please share. It will be greatly appreciated.

Data, what does one do with all that Data?

To say that the world of education has data, is to put it mildly. I would not say that education is data driven, but I would say that it, combined with 20140516_144322reflections, Data is highly important. Data can be used to determine best practice, it tells people what is working and what is not working.

Nancy Love writes:

“Without a systemic process for using the data effectively and collaboratively, many school, particularly those” serving low economic “student will languish in chronic low performance in mathematics, science and other content areas – no matter what the pressures for accountability”. (Using Data to Improve Learning for All)

I am sure we can all agree that data has many positives, these positives can guide practice, facilitate change and all one has to do is openly and honestly read the data. During my short time as administrator of a school, I noticed that there was a significant issue in the area of literacy for my school. The question is how do I improve literacy, not what is wrong, or who is not doing what they are supposed, or even why can’t the students learn.

After significant conversation and communication with other administrators and colleagues that I knew that had a back ground in literacy. I decided to create some change in how Literacy was rolled out, delivered and practiced with the students at Seba Beach school.

As we looked at constantly using the data and ensuring that everyone had access to the data to drive educational decisions, a need for a tracking and intervention model became apparent. We needed a system or method that would not only allow for the data to be used, we needed a system that would represent all of the data. A special thanks needs to be given to George Couros. George, in his work came across an idea that he thought I should look into as it would fit my need. George presented me with “Putting Data to Faces“. After having read the book, I made a connection that combining “Response to Intervention” and the data wall from “Putting Data to Faces” would be the most successful and beneficial to my students.

The results were more positive than were expected. The data collected after only five months of the program being implemented showed growth in students in the majority of areas. Going through and comparing other data that was collected throughout the year , it was decided that the program should be implemented in the next school year and that it should be integrated as part of the daily routine of the students and that it would be implemented for all grade levels. After some detailed and tough conversations with teachers and educational staff it was determined that a similar concept but related to Numeracy would also be very beneficial to our students.

images (2)Staff and I worked through combining the two systems and came up with a great system

co1180that uses student data tchanging quarterly with the interventions that are needed whether they are universal or targeted. I am glad to say to ensure the best programming for each individual student it was amazing. I look forward to consistently using the system and watching it evolve and change for each individual student. .

If you would like some information in terms of the process and the implementation, please feel free to contact me or if you have ideas that could be used to modify and improve the concept.