Blog #6- Religion in School

November 17, 2013

As a teacher, I feel that I might encounter some religious practices and celebrations within my classroom. I think that these occurrences may be amplified during times of crisis such as the aftermath of a school shooting or natural disaster. I feel as though some religious holidays may impact my classroom, as well as religious attire.

One thing that I think will happen in my classroom is prayer time for students. I’m not sure right now where I will be teaching in the future but perhaps if I teach in a region where Islam is practiced, I could have students that are required to pray at specific times during the day. I would respond to this by allowing that particular student, or group of students, to leave class during that time. Perhaps if I were in such a community, there would be a large enough population where a student could leave during this time period and go to a room within the school. Also, some students may practice Christianity and may be expected to pray before lunch. I would allow that student to pray and return to their business. I’m not aware of any other religion that requires specific times for praying during the day but I would excuse any student during a period if they need to pray. If it became a problem where the student was excused for a period of time and they were not praying but rather disturbing the class or other classes, I would contact the parent to make them aware of the behavior problem.

If a student needed to miss a day of school for a religious holiday, I would allow them to make up their work just as if they missed for illness. I would not excuse them from the work that they missed during this time, as everyone would be required to complete the same amount of work. This could potentially be a problem if, for example, parents felt that the schools should be closed on the holiday and therefore the student shouldn’t have to make up the work because the school should have been closed in the first place so that the student wouldn’t have to miss work.

During periods of distress students may be more inclined to express their religious views. As long as it doesn’t impact my classroom in a disruptive manner, I feel as though they should be allowed to pray and celebrate their religion. For example, if there is a death in the community students may want to pray about it. I wouldn’t participate but I wouldn’t discourage the prayer.

Lastly, religious attire might be something I would need to address in my classroom or school. During my primary and secondary year, I didn’t experience any problems with religious attire in the classroom. However, when I went to college, there was a considerable population of Muslim followers who wore hijabs to class. I absolutely agree that students who wear religious attire should be allowed to wear their garments. While in college, I attended a seminar about this issue and found that some professors felt that the hijabs were impacting the student’s work. I feel that as long as the student freely and willingly wears the hijab they should be allowed to do so. This may be a dress code violation in schools where students aren’t allowed to wear any head coverings. In these cases, I think that the dress code should be amended to allow students to wear their religious attire.

Categories: EDCI 506.

Blog #5- Year-round schooling

November 9, 2013

If I were offered a job in a year-round school, I would most likely accept the position. To be fair, at this point I might accept any teaching position because I’m very excited to start teaching on my own full-time. But in all seriousness, I would accept the position if I were still able to work ~190 days throughout the year.

My biggest concern about taking a teaching job is that I would work in a system that has multi-tracking. In such a school, students go to school year-round and are staggered in order to utilize the school to teach more students in a year. This worries me because, I feel like it would be easy for administrators to ask teachers to work an extra shift instead of having the 15 days off with their students. This would be problematic because it might cause me to burnout if I had to work completely year-round without having time to plan and take professional development courses. I am the type of person that would agree to work those extra days and then burnout midway through the year.

Another concern might be that teachers would have to revise lessons to make sure that they all fit into 45-day blocks. It would be really hard to teach a half of a unit then have the students go on break. They would forget some information this would cause the teacher to have to reteach. It might be helpful for projects; teachers could send projects home for students to complete during their break. I wonder if this is a typical practice or if it is something that is frowned upon because school districts want students to have a break without homework. I guess it would depend on the school setting.

With that being said, I think a year-round teaching position is good for many reasons. I think it would help teachers develop deeper lessons and have more time to reflect on struggles they may be having in classes. During a typical school year, teachers don’t have much time to reflect on their teaching strategies. Teachers see the students almost 4 months before they have time to catch a breather and analyze what’s going on in their classrooms. Given 15 days to recharge might allow them time to understand how a particular class perceives the information. For example, the teacher may be used to lecturing with notes on the board for the first 30 minutes of class then giving students a worksheet. However, the classes that they have in different year might prefer or need a more hands on classroom or technologically driven classroom. The teacher could potentially revamp her lessons in 15 days to add hands on lessons.

Another benefit would be that students have less time in between school years to forget information. Students would come into a new grade with only a month of time before one grade and the next. This might provide more accountability between teachers and promote more grade-to-grade communication between teachers.

Year-round schooling might be beneficial in the accountability testing structure too (not that I agree with over testing of students). Schools could schedule SOLs for a time period right before schools lets out for a break then when the scores are received they could review with that class the information that was missed. Then, perhaps, testing could be used as more of a teaching tool. Students could go over the results with the teacher that actually taught them the information. Of course, this would mean that schooling would have to be scheduled around testing in a way that students would be able to take tests before a break and stay with that teacher afterwards for another period of time. I’m not actually sure if this would work because then the content may be squished into a shorter period of time.

There might be some kinks in both the year-round schooling and typical schooling, but I believe that both have positive attributes as well. Also, I think it would be really nice to have 15 days vacation to look forward to every 45 days or so.

Categories: EDCI 506.

Week 10: New Technologies

November 1, 2013

This week in class, we had reading and discussion about new technologies and virtual worlds. I would have to say that I’m slightly apprehensive about using virtual worlds within my classroom. Let me explain, if we are comparing virtual worlds with the real world, there might be inconsistencies. For example, in the video from ImmersiveED (2012) located on Canvas that we watched, the speaker mentions a virtual world in which students can take sample of a lake to determine why certain fish are dying. If this is a virtual world created by humans, how do we know that we didn’t miss something? Perhaps the fish died due to someone dumping some sort of substance into the water that was not something the program would let us test for.

 

I’m probably looking deeper into virtual worlds or examining more closely than I should be. Also, to use Dr. Coffman’s example, what if we give students in a virtual classroom prescribed behaviors and they act as “a person should” in a particular situation. We all know, that life is sometime unpredictable so while Johnny might typically be the boy with emotional disturbance that calls out in class, he might not be like that on one particular day.

 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the world is not predictable and I feel as though virtual worlds might simplify complex issues. These issues might be questions that we don’t yet have the answer to. It’s not that I don’t believe in virtual worlds but I think that we should explain to our students and caution them that the virtual world we are immersing them in is not real. As teachers, we should mention that the world is based on current assumptions about how the world works.

 

With that being said, I really like the idea of virtual worlds. I’ve seen virtual simulation software in use at my school. I’m a teaching assistant in a science classroom. Before the teacher taught her lesson on atoms and atomic particles she had the students explore a website that had the first 10 or so elements in the period table. The students had a proton, neutron, and electron buffet (there were bowls of each subatomic particle) and they were able to add each particle one by one to see what happened to the element. Therefore, they were able to see that protons changed the element from one element such as hydrogen to helium by adding a proton. They could also observe that adding more neutrons than protons would make the element unstable and that adding or subtracting electrons would make the element positively or negatively charged. This really helped students grasp the concept of atoms and subatomic particles before we even started the lesson.

 

So to sum up my feelings about virtual worlds, I believe that we must be careful to explain to students that the virtual worlds are based on the current assumptions that we have about our world.  Creating virtual worlds seem very difficult to me because you have to take into account all the oddities of normal life and attempt to create a world that is realistic as possible. I do believe that it is a substitute for experimentation in the real world but it does not take the place of real world experimentation. However, sometimes it is impossible or very expensive to present every lesson to students in the real world, so virtual worlds can help supplement.

 

Reference

ImmersiveED (2012).  iED 2012 Boston Summit – EcoMUVE. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdsB0EmnEqc&feature=youtu.be

Categories: INDT 501.

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