Mapping the ICT Landscape

In reading the ISTE Standards for teachers (International Society for Technology in Education) I was struck by the first standard, “Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity”. I learned that teachers are supposed to use their knowledge of technology and subject matter to aid students in having experiences that inspire their own creativity. I feel this is important because the use of technology in the classroom can be incredibly inspiring to students or it can destroy them. If students are not shown how to properly use a technology, they can become frustrated and disillusioned with that technology. It creates a barrier to learning and will cause a distrust between students and teachers. If on the other hand, a teacher is able to show students how to use a particular technology in a way that makes it interesting and inspiring, students will be more interested in using the technology in other projects, they will become more creative with their work and will likely continue to find new and innovative uses for that technology.

For example, in class we were asked to create a quick video that could be used in teaching such as a public service announcement. We got into small groups and my group decided to go into the cafeteria to show different types of food. We used an iPhone and took video of us talking about food and showing the different healthy options that were available. After we had completed our task we edited the video using iMovie. For some reason, iMovie was not working for me on my computer and I became incredibly frustrated with the technology. (Which is why I am only writing about this project NOW.) I gave up on the idea of using that technology as a result of becoming frustrated with it. I am lucky however that I have a fiancé who is a computer software developer and he encouraged me to get familiar with iMovie. I have since used it to create other video projects and appreciate it’s purpose. I am glad that though my first experience with video was not a good one, I was given other chances by my professor to use this technology because it is good and does inspire creativity. All this to say, teachers need to ensure that they facilitate these creative projects and give students many chances to get familiar with a technology so that they can become inspired and integrate it in their lives for the good of learning.

Universal Design for Learning

This is a link to the website of the National Center on Universal Design for Learning:

I feel it is important to include the UDL in my philosophy for teaching because not all students learn the same way. There are three principles in UDL the first of which is to provide students with multiple means of learning. This principle demonstrates that in the way students learn differently, as teachers we must provide multiple ways for students to get to a common goal in learning. It is essential to provide students with options. This is described by the National Center on UDL as the “what” of learning. I see this every day with my music students. I adjust my teaching method for each student I teach, depending on what that student needs from me that day.

The second principle is to provide students with multiple means of action and expression. The “how” of learning. In this principle, students may differ in the way that they express what they have learned. Some students may be comfortable with speaking, while others need to use actions and some may need to write what they learn. Students will have different ways of showing us as teachers what they have learned and it is important to provide them with options in demonstration of what they have learned. For example, in music it is customary to give playing tests. As a teacher I can give my students a choice whether they prefer to play alone, in a group, in a recording or in front of me. There are many ways to see how a student has learned and what they have learned as well as many ways to assess this.

Finally principle three states to provide multiple means of engagement. The “why” of learning. Students will always be interested in what learning something will give them and they often need to know “why” they are doing something. While some students may love composing and improvising on their instruments, others may simply want to play what is on the page. It is important to know as a teacher, when to be spontaneous and when to play safe with certain students, while at the same time engaging all students equally and providing a means to an end.

Video Lesson: Putting the Flute together, playing first notes and Cleaning the Flute

This is a link to a video I filmed to remind flute students how to put together a flute and play their first notes. It does not replace individual attention or music lessons but will really help when a teacher does not have the time to give individual attention. I think that a video such as this for every instrument would be incredibly helpful in starting a band in a school. In using this video it can help students who need a little extra help which coincides with MELS Teaching Competency 7:To adapt his or her teaching to the needs and characteristics of students with learning disabilities, social maladjustments or handicaps. It also uses media in the deliverance of lessons which is Competency 8: To integrate information and communication technologies (ICT) in the preparation and delivery of teaching/learning activities and for instructional management and professional development purposes. As well it integrates Competency 1: To act as a professional inheritor, critic and interpreter of knowledge when teaching students.

The Function of Music

The lesson on entitled “The Function of Music” looks like a wonderful lesson for high school students to teach them how music influences societies and acts as a “mirror” or a symbol. I believe this lesson would be appropriate for students taking supplementary music classes or could used in a class on media literacy as all students are affected by music to some extent. The lesson would not be appropriate for elementary students due to the advanced nature of how the material is presented however I believe it is possible to adapt for younger students without too much modification as long as the students are old enough to understand what advertising is. (Grade 5-6 students). Instead of using the examples in the lesson plan, the teacher would find music in the media that children are familiar with for example, the music from “Frozen”, McDonald’s advertising music or music from nursery rhymes. I would remove the student presentations on a musical collage and instead ask students to get into groups find a recording of a song they enjoy, make a poster with images that the song represents and present their posters to the class, along with the recording of their chosen song. The class would then have a teacher facilitated discussion on the song and what it represents or says about what our society likes at this point in time.


Manipulation in the Media

Newspapers have historically manipulated stories to the advantage of the dominant side. The article entitled “Historical representations of aboriginal people in the Canadian news media” by Robert Harding places emphasis on this issue in the context of Indigenous people in Canada. Harding writes about how newspaper articles from the 1800’s manipulate the settler’s point of view against the Indigenous people in favor of the “white man”, the dominant race. He mentions that the Indigenous people were portrayed as “primitive and child like”. This is one of the senses of entitlement of a patriarchic society. It shows a paternalistic dominant culture “taking care” of minority groups. Those who are being taken care of are in turn, disempowered. In Samantha Nock’s article, “Being a Witness, the Importance of Protecting Indigenous Women’s Stories” she mentions that these women’s are often “homogenized”. That sex, drug addiction and poverty are the underlying factor in all cases of missing Indigenous women. While this may be true to an extent, every missing Indigenous woman is painted with the same paintbrush. Nock mentions in her article, “There is no room for Indigenous women’s stories to be told, to be honored, to be witnessed.”

In addition to portraying minority groups as “primitive and child like”, it is also common to portray the minority group as emotional. This gives us the excuse to treat them “savages” and suggests that if you are going to be “good” in society then you are only “good” if you fit into our language, our culture and our emotions. While growing up I was fascinated by Indigenous people. Looking back on it, I realize that actually self-educated by reading books about Indigenous people, watching movies and attending many cultural events. I am fortunate to have attended school with the Chief of the Blackfoot tribe’s sons and was exposed to their culture and arts. I feel that because of my experience I can read stories such as the ones mentioned in the articles with a point of view different from those who have not had my experience.

In accordance with the MELS competency “To act as a professional who is an inheritor, critic and interpreter of knowledge or culture when teaching students” I have learned that I will need to understand certain aspects of culture in order to teach it to my students professionally. It is my responsibility as a teacher to understand and interpret the media in such a way that I am not influenced by it’s manipulation and that I can in turn teach my students how to be aware of potential issues in news and media. I also feel that MELS competency “To plan, organize and supervise a class in such a way as to promote students’ learning and social development” applies in this situation as well. It is important to discuss these issues as a class, to supervise the discussion so that all viewpoints are heard and promote the students’ learning about these important issues of our time.

I believe that this information is a very good reminder of the way that we must interpret the media in our time. Though one article deals with news written in the 1800’s, there are many current events such as the crisis in the Middle East that is often misrepresented in the media today. If we think that racism is being abolished and that everyone is accepting now, that is simply not true. It is important to educate our students on this fact and make them aware of potential manipulation in media and in life.

Race in the Classroom

In reading the article by Jane Bolgatz, “Talking Race in the Classroom”, she lists a number of ways students will deflect school discussions from talking about the subject of race. For example, students will often backpedal on their statements or use diversions such as humour and avoidance. Teachers have been known to also use deflection strategies as ways of avoiding awkward subjects in the classroom whether the issue personally affects us or whether we do not want to come off as “politically incorrect”. It is fundamentally important to talk about these difficult subjects in the classroom because if we do not talk about them, no change will be affected.

We might think that race is not such a big issue today as it once was however in the day of technology and our overall connectedness, it is even more important to be aware of such issues. A person might inadvertently write something controversial on their Facebook page and this can turn into a major racial issue. Politicians say things and instead of being heard by one person, that conversation is recorded and placed on YouTube for the world to see. It is extremely important that students are made aware of their actions and cognisant of the change that can happen by talking about issues or the consequences of staying silent.

Growing up I went to catholic school, where most students were caucasian and catholic. There was not a lot of racism that occurred in the school, or that I was witness to. I also do not remember having open discussions about racism in our classrooms. This could have been due to the fact that our teachers had a very good handle on the situation and dealt with the problems at the source. I do however realize that this is not the case in many schools and that students are often subjected to the issue of racism at school. This is where we must have discussion about such incidents.

There are a number of strategies that teachers can use to let students know that it is ok to talk about difficult subjects without either party using deflection tactics. Teachers can vary the size of the discussion and vary the pace of the discussion. These two aspects can inhibit participation in discussions and allow for students diversion tactics. Instead of discussing issues in large groups, students can discuss in smaller groups with the teacher supervising each group. Bolgatz mentions that when discussions get heated, students should be asked to pause to reflect through writing or visual arts. This can be a great strategy for pace variance as well because students with shorter attention spans will be able to work on various projects. The concentration may move to another project but the subject will stay the same.

According to the MELS Professional Competencies for teachers, competency number one is: “to act as a professional who is inheritor, critic and interpreter of knowledge or culture when teaching students.” Teachers must be able to articulate in the culture of the students and be able to mitigate a discussion of racism in the classroom and while it may cause some uncomfortability or distress, it is the teachers responsibility to ensure that they are knowledgeable about the issues at hand and how to guide a discussion. A sub-point of competency number one is that teachers will “transform the classroom into a cultural base open to a range of different viewpoints within a common space”. Students should be allowed to have an opinion on the matter of race and be allowed to share their point of view. This will allow everyone to share their feelings and allow open discussion to be generated.

I feel that it is highly important to discuss these issues with our students. They cannot be issues that are swept under the rug and ignored but rather should be brought forth. If a student is struggling with the issue of racism, it should be dealt with right away. The only way that we can address issues like this is to talk about them. In open classroom discussions, when students feel safe, all points of view can be accepted and this is where change can begin to occur.