Teaching Towards Social and Ecological Justice Education

As seen in my relationships philosophy as well as my lesson plans throughout my pre-internship block, I have worked hard on forming meaningful relationships with the students I have had the pleasure of learning beside to ensure I create lessons that fit who they are as a person and their learning needs. For week 7, I have created a math lesson that connects well with physical education to support the active learners in the classroom. As a lot of the lessons, especially math the students are often confined to the classroom space, with little movement, I felt if I could create a math lesson that connected to a physical movement activity would support the students in understanding that math can be taught and applied to our daily lives and is not just limited to pen and paper assignments.

After learning and reflecting on multiple intelligences through my student in my pocket assignment, I applied and analyzed these intelligences with other students in the class, and a wide range of them would benefit from kinesthetic learning which is the process of using one’s body to understand and solve problems in areas that go beyond the physical education classroom. This lesson will not only be supporting my student in my pocket but also the other students who often have difficulties staying engaged in the learning, this idea was also seen in lesson 6. By realizing these multiple intelligences and interests in kinesthetic learning from my students, I believe it is important to use them in the classroom to further support their understanding and development of concepts that may be challenging, such as recognizing odd and even numbers.

For this lesson, I have also stemmed further than the instructional strategies that I have become comfortable with over time such as reading for meaning, and class discussion, as discussed in my learning to teach critical reflection. This lesson I decided to go out of my comfort zone and engage the students in instructional strategies that took the learning from static to expressive and exploratory learning. By using instructional strategies that are not seen in the classroom will allow for stronger engagement and understanding of the content. It is also important to use these diverse instructional strategies to support the students who may otherwise not be interested in the common instruction that occurs in the classroom, and show them that learning does not need to take place the same way every day.

Overall, this lesson was created after observing the student’s interests and abilities throughout the past 6 weeks. Through doing field notes and forming strong relationships with my students, I have come to the conclusion that my students want to be involved in their learning and have a say in how they show their learning. Through the creation of this lesson, I worked hard to create adaptations and extensions to ensure that I can create a lesson that reflects the diverse learners that I have been inspired by. Reflecting again on my relationships philosophy the process of social justice education does not always need to be extravagant ideas, it can be simply creating a lesson out of the ordinary that engages the students and shows them that their learning is valued and represented in the classroom.

Adaptive Dimension (ECS 311)

As I always had a lot of trouble understanding what adaptations and extensions I can use in my lessons to support the diverse students, being introduced to the adaptive dimension resource in ECS 311 really opened my eyes to understanding the many ways we can adapt our teaching and lessons to ensure all students had the agency to learn in the classroom. Since being introduced to this resource I continue to reflect back to it when creating new lessons both for my pre-internship as well as my other classes throughout this semester! A very useful resource that I will always have to reflect on!

The Gender-Friendly Classroom (ECS 311)

This article was supplied to the class in ECS 311 and outlines strategies that an educator of both the elementary grades and high school grades can use to create a welcoming environment around creating a gender-friendly classroom. I found this article extremely helpful as I was unsure of how I could appropriately and successfully support students in dismantling these gender binaries and coming to terms that we do not need to conform to certain roles that society has outlined for a specific gender.

I will be sure to use this resource in my future classroom to ensure all students are being introduced to gender diversity before one of my students goes through the transition process.

Running Records

In my fifth week of placement, I had the opportunity to observe my cooperating teacher doing a reading running record with individual students. These were very interesting to see and really reflected what I have been learning in my university classes with the understanding that a student not only needs to be able to read the words but also be able to answer comprehension questions as well. After I observed a couple of these running records, my cooperating teacher handed the sheet over to me and allowed me to participate in one. This was a great experience where I learned that you really need to be observant to ensure you can support the students in their reading development.

Taking this experience home, I was unable to conclude if this assessment was formative (assessment for learning) or summative (assessment of learning). In one way, I was assessing the students reading level to support them in growing their levels by supplying feedback and resources. On the other hand, I was taking where they were in the previous month and assessing their improvement to see if they have been working on their skills, or if they still need more supports to reach that specific reading level. This left me wondering if an assessment tool can both be used as a formative assessment and a summative assessment? This question is something I hope to investigate and learn about through my three-week block as well as my assessment class coming up next semester!

Summative Assessment

As mentioned in my formative assessment post, I have not focused a lot on summative assessment as I am only in the classroom one day a week. As I move into my three-week block I hope to gain a larger base of summative assessment strategies as well as to incorporate them into my unit plan. With that being said, I was able to formulate a summative assessment for one of my lessons thus far. My week 4 lesson focused on the students following a Halloween costume prompt where they were to write descriptive sentences to explain their costume. As the students were very engaged and took their time with this writing activity and have been working on these writing conventions for a while, my cooperating teacher encouraged me to create a rubric marking the students on how they did following the co-created criteria that were listed on the board. I jumped at the challenge and learned a lot from the experience! I ensured I only used the expectations that we laid out as a class as assessment and the details were given to them ahead of time to ensure the students understood their jobs.

Here are the lesson and rubric I followed!

One of the main challenges I saw throughout creating the rubric and marking the student’s papers was seeing their names. As I have created such strong relationships with the students throughout my time in the classroom, I found it hard to mark their work as I wanted them all to succeed in the assignment. This is an area I am going to really need to work on to ensure I am creating the opportunity for students to grow in the classroom!

Formative Assessment

During my eight-week placement, formative assessment was mainly what I focused on to understand how the students understood my lessons as it was hard to know what the student’s knowledge was prior while planning my lesson as well as, how far along they are in the unit. Through the use of formative assessment, my cooperating teacher and I were able to gain an understanding of where the students are in the unit as well as where they need extra support to grow their knowledge. This can be seen as assessment for learning. Here are some strategies I used to formatively assess the students understanding:

  • Questioning: Through the use of questions and answers both in class-wide conversation as well as individual conversations when walking around the classroom while the students were working I was able to gain an understanding of their knowledge base around the topic and their interests in the topic.
  • Conversations: Conversations seem to go hand in hand with questioning. Allowing the students to share ideas with their classmates, as well as discuss what they are learning and making connections to their every day lives allowed me to understand what the students know, and where they may need some growth.
  • KWL Chart: I used a KWL chart for my week 5 lesson. This chart was very new to the students, however, it really allowed me to see what the students understood and new about life cycles and dogs before going into the read-aloud, showed me their interests and wonders when it comes to life cycles of a dog, and lastly, gave me feedback of what they retained from the informative book. This really helped me understand where they are and where they are going!
  • Anchor Charts: I am a big fan of anchor charts and have used them a couple times throughout my placement. Specifically, I used an anchor chart in week 6 when we created class guidelines that we all must follow when using our fidgets. This gave the students agency to have a say in their learning as well as have a visual to be a reminder in the classroom.

Overall, I am still growing my assessment strategies and how to successfully distinguish between formative assessment and summative assessment practices. One thing I am constantly challenged with is creating an assessment tool that shows what each individual student understands without falling back on individual activities and tests. Assessment is one area where I really want to grow my understanding to ensure I create an inclusive classroom that supports the students in learning and showing me what they know in appropriate and meaningful ways.

Diagnostic Assessment

I first was introduced to diagnostic assessment recently in my ELNG 310 class with Lynda Gellner. Diagnostic assessment is used to establish a starting point for programming and teaching. I just learned about diagnostic assessment, however, reflecting off of the pre-internship lessons; I have used a diagnostic assessment for many of my lessons. In almost all of my lessons thus far I have opened with some kind of diagnostic assessment that allowed me to see what the students understand about the topic, and what is still unclear. Specifically, I used diagnostic assessment in my week 4 set where I prompted students to talk about what needs to be included in a sentence through questioning and conversations. This worked really well and allowed me to understand what should be included in the co-created criteria we made later on in the lesson.

As I prepare to enter the classroom for my three-week block as well as internship I believe that diagnostic assessment will become more useful during these times as I will be with the students every day and can constantly be observing what the students know and need more instruction on to plan my lessons accordingly.

Learning to Plan

When first being introduced to the curriculum last year I was quite nervous about how to structure lessons as I felt the outcomes were very broad and the indicators were sometimes unclear. As I investigated specifically the grade 2 curriculum this semester, I have come to the realization that the outcomes and indicators across subject areas in the specific grades have a lot of opportunities for cross-curricular connections to ensure the students are receiving creative and interactive lessons. This can be seen in my week 2 reflection where I adapt my lesson to connect to a Treaty Education outcome.

A lesson where I felt I really understood how to develop an engaging lesson was in week 3 where I connected math and art together to create an activity where the students were asked to form a pattern using a body part to make music. As reflected in my learning to teach post, the students were very engaged in this lesson and I believe it is because I showed the students how math can be in everything we do in our lives, it is not a single learning subject. The creation of the lesson was easy as when reading through many of the indicators one can see that they give clues to different ways to connect to a variety of subjects. For example; the math lesson I created looked at the art indicator (e) “Perform and create various grade-appropriate melodic and rhythmic ostinati (patterns) using repetition and contrast.” This indicator was pulled from outcome CP2.6 and as you notice the language is specifically looking at patterns and creating those rhythmic patterns. Through the formation of this lesson and reflecting afterward, I now understand that cross-curricular lessons are plausible when looking at the curriculum, the educator just needs to use the student’s interests to their advantage to make meaningful lessons.

Another way I have used the curriculum to engage students in a lesson is by relating the lesson to their own lives at the moment. This can be seen in the week 6 lesson plan where we created fidgets. Throughout observing the students during instructional time I have seen the need for fidgets in the classroom, taking this observation and connecting it to an outcome will not only support teaching from the formal curriculum but also an aid to ensure they are able to stay focused during instruction and work time!

The curriculum gives many examples to create engaging and fun lessons, you just need to be willing to create those lessons!

Learning to Teach

As seen in week 2 and week 5 my lessons really focus on the instructional strategy of reading for meaning. After being in the classroom for many weeks and communicating with both the students and my cooperating teacher I have noticed how engaged and interested the students are during storytelling. I have used this knowledge to my advantage to support teaching new concepts such as responsibility and life cycles. When using the instructional strategy of reading for meaning, I am not only hitting outcomes that structure the lesson, but I can also connect to English lessons that focus on the importance of listening and retelling. I have concluded that cross-curricular connections are simple when you take the time to think about what needs to be done to reach an indicator.

In my week 3 lesson plan I really stepped out of my comfort zone and used the instructional strategy of cooperative learning groups to reach an indicator. Going into this lesson I was very nervous as I did not know how the students would react and have never really observed the students working in small groups to reach a common goal. This lesson went very well, and the students seemed to be very engaged and involved in the creation of the pattern sequence. I reflected on the importance of becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable. I think it is important as educators that we are out of the box thinkers and supply students with engaging and creative lessons. I have gained the understanding that I need to not be afraid to try something new, or something that my cooperating teacher may not think will go well because this limits me on what I believe I can do as well as what I believe the students can do. You are never going to know unless you try.

As seen in my Educational philosophy as well as my relationships philosophy I believe my role as a teacher is to provide meaningful lessons that support all of my students in engaging activities. As a facilitator, I want to allow students to have a say in their learning and through co-created expectations that can be seen in my week 6 lesson allows students to have agency in their learning and shows me what they believe their own capabilities are.

Look at my lessons here to see more instructional strategies I have explored!

Connection to Treaty Education

For our first lesson, my partner Sara Mayer-Loutit and I co-created a lesson for our grade 2 class around responsibility. This lesson focused on engaging the students in a conversation that had them critically think about what their personal responsibilities were in the home, school, and community. We then encouraged the students to look further past their personal responsibilities and into how we share responsibilities as well as what happens when we do not uphold these responsibilities. This lesson went well for being the first lesson we taught. However, after critically analyzing our lesson after the fact, we realized we missed out on a perfect moment to connect to Treaty Education.

After this realization I heavily connected to the article “Teachers, aboriginal perspectives and the logic of the fort: We need a new story to guide us” written by Dwayne Donald. In this article Donald connected to the idea of Treaty Education not being incorporated into the lessons but to be naturally taught in many lessons in partnership with other perspectives and viewpoints. After reading this article I gained the understanding of how I view Treaty Education. As I did not grow up with Treaty Education being taught and valued in my classrooms, when I thought about doing it in my own teachings it worried me. I was afraid that I did not have the knowledge background to teach it, and I had the understanding that it just has to be touched on in lessons where you can. But as Donald stated Treaty Education and Aboriginal perspectives could and should be an opportunity “for relational renewal and enhanced understanding.” With that, I need to change my own mindset from I need to incorporate Treaty Education into this lesson to I need to form a partnership with the different perspectives to give my students a braided learning opportunity. This lesson has a very good opportunity to connect responsibility with honesty.

When reflecting on this lesson, both Sara and I recognized that the lesson did not adequately fill the time period, with that we know we have room to embellish the lesson to make strong connections to the Treaty Education outcomes. Here is how I connected the lesson to a Treaty Education outcome:

Grade 2: Creating a Strong Foundation through Treaties:

SI2.2: Recognize the importance of honesty when examining one’s intentions.


  • Share examples of honesty
  • Discuss the role of honesty in written or verbal expressions of intention
  • Explore and express what may happen if honesty is separated from one’s actions (e.g., promising to do something and not doing it).

Using this outcome and the indicators I would then extend my lesson by looking at what responsibility is, and what honesty is and recognize the similarities and differences between the two words. Once the students understand the definitions; the class can go on to reading the book as outlined in the lesson. When the book is completed you can open the discussion period and creation of the anchor chart to the students. Using guiding questions such as:

  • What does it mean to be responsible?
  • Why is it important to be honest?
  • What are some of our responsibilities at home?
  • What are some of our responsibilities in a school?
  • What are some of our responsibilities in the community?
  • How can we share some of these responsibilities?
  • What are some examples of being honest?
  • Why is it important to stay honest?
  • What could happen if we are not honest? (in relation to self, others, and community).
  • How could one be dishonest about their responsibilities? How would this affect the people and environment around them?
  • What happens when we do not do our responsibilities or if we are dishonest about what we have done?

Using these guiding questions, the students will gain an understanding of what responsibility and honesty are along with gain an understanding of how these two concepts are connected with one another. These connections are simple and allow for deeper engagement in the lesson.

Through connecting to this specific Treaty Education outcome, I believe will provide a deeper engagement into the understanding of responsibility and how one must be honest about their actions to be responsible. As our grade two class already had a deep understanding of what responsibility was and how they have their own responsibilities adding honesty into the conversations would have taken the engagement to the next level and would have created an enriched and meaningful lesson.