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Celebrating Inquiry Fall 2019

Welcome to the eleventh issue of our online celebration of learning and achievement by University of Lethbridge intern teachers. Below you will find profiles of all projects presented at the Fall 2019 Professional Inquiry Project (PIP) Symposium. These projects were completed by by pre-service teachers in their final twelve-week practicum. Please be aware that external links are supplied by contributors and are not maintained or monitored by the University of Lethbridge.

Conflict vs. Bullying: An Informative Display

How can student perspectives and definitions contribute to an information campaign about bullying in our schools?

The topic of bullying is an important concept that is relevant in schools worldwide. Bullying has evolved in ways that may not be the same as what was experienced by educators themselves growing up, particularly when considering new developments such as social media. In our current practicum placement, we have encountered incidents of bullying between students. At the same time, we have noticed problematic attitudes regarding bullying: some students believe “bullying is not a thing anymore”, and many students joke about bullying or use it sarcastically in conversations.

It is important that students have a resource in the school that they can refer to for information on bullying. The school currently has the H.I.N.T (Harassment is Never Tolerated) policy posted in a few locations. We wanted to expand on this already great idea by providing a working copy of an additional recourse that the school can use and edit as they please. 

The purpose of the PIP was to provide a visual resource for the school, since informational bullying displays around the school were minimal.

An essential point that we wanted to incorporate is the difference between conflict and bullying. We collected definitions of bullying from the school community (students, parents, staff) and compared them to academic/research-based perspectives. We also added visual components in order to better support anti-bullying strategies in the classroom.

Shelby Johnson was born and raised in Lethbridge, Alberta. She believes that the work from this PIP generated a positive and healthy dialogue around what constitutes bullying. She genuinely hopes that the resources she and her colleague created will be utilized fully in the school community. 

Kennedy Gurski grew up in Duchess, Alberta, but has called Lethbridge home for the last couple of years while completing her schooling. She strongly believes that the effects of bullying in schools can impact the social and educational dynamic of a school community. It is important that information about bullying is incorporated into individual classrooms and the school as a whole.

Grace and Catholic Education

Does the shared faith of our Catholic school community cultivate and promote relationship growth and does this have a direct impact on student success?

I attended K-12 in the Calgary Catholic school district and was placed with this district for my final practicum. This experience has been unique compared to my first practicum with the Calgary Board of Education and my second with a charter school in Calgary. I was curious to know how students, parents, and instructors in the Catholic district perceive their experiences in the Catholic school. This project is also timely: Catholic education is currently under scrutiny. My observations highlight the importance of Catholic education in the lives of students across K-12, their parents, and many educators in Calgary. 

I grew up in south Calgary and attended primary and secondary schooling in the Calgary Catholic School District. During my K-12 years in these schools I developed a strong sense of community. During my first year of post-secondary at Mount Royal University, I decided that one day I wanted to join the Calgary Catholic community as an educator. I am now a fifth year Education student at the University of Lethbridge. My major is English/English Language Arts. I have a special interest in literacy, children's literature, oral storytelling, and ELL/ESL support.

Calm Cafe

To what extent do school mental health initiatives increase student learning? 

Poor mental health is a large roadblock to learning for many students. Therefore, providing students with the opportunity to improve their mental health can positively impact their ability to learn. During our whole staff meetings leading up to the first day of school the Principal indicated that she wanted to and was required by the school board to have an initiative towards improving student mental health. We approached our school’s administration team with ideas on how we could contribute as we were both interested in this initiative.  Some great ideas were brainstormed and we now have the administration team on board.

Our main contribution was to establish the “Calm Cafe”. Essentially calm cafe is a club that is focused on providing students and staff with positive mental health strategies, information about what mental health is and why mental health is important.

Thus far students who have attended Calm Cafe have commented on how it positively impacts their time at school: "Mondays suck and now they don't”; “I would never miss calm cafe: it is a really good way to spend lunch instead of sitting down on my phone”"(quotes from Calm Cafe students). From the teacher’s perspective, it was also observed that students tended to have a much better afternoon when they had engaged in a Calm Cafe session. 

Nicole Perl was born and raised in the faraway land of Calgary, Alberta. However, Lethbridge has now become a second home! She is very passionate about mental health and has been focussed on the mental health needs of both university students and the students she teaches throughout her university career. She is so excited to have her own classroom and hopes to teach junior high humanities.

Biblical Allusions: Religion in the ELA Classroom

Does incorporation of religious context in English Language Arts enhance student comprehension?

As I was placed in a Catholic school for PSIII, I was interested in whether the religious context could contribute to how students experience and understand English Language Arts material. Religious and historical context is often quite significant in literature. For example, William Shakespeare alludes to verses, stories, and geographical histories from the Bible throughout his plays. As Catholicism is rooted in the Bible, I saw an interesting opportunity to explore biblical references in literature more deeply. I was curious how discussions related to religion may extend the understanding of the overarching message of literature studied.

My classroom was split 50/50 between those who identify as belonging to the Catholic faith and those who do not, which gave me a good opportunity to experiment with how religion-centered discussion would be perceived by different groups of students. In addition to biblical allusions, we looked at character archetypes and their comparison to worldly religious figures, such as Jesus Christ.

My PIP solely focuses on if using religious context actually assists in student comprehension of material, or rather, if it adds no value at all. After conducting numerous surveys, my conclusion is that both the students who identify as Catholic and those who do not found the material easier to understand and analyze.

More French Please!

To what extent can teacher-created, technology-based assistive tools facilitate and promote French Learning?

As the French Immersion program is entered into by choice, the parents-guardians of my Grade 3 students support the French Immersion program. It is also common for the students to NOT have someone at home who can support them through their French learning journey as the language is often not mastered by the surrounding adults. This consideration brought me to wonder how I could best support my Grade 3 students through meaningful French learning opportunities. I chose to develop learning opportunities through the use of technology as it is readily accessible at any given or chosen time. Initially, I developed the products thinking it could be used as a fun way to learn French at home, but then I soon realized the potential of using these tools in the classroom as purposeful centers.

Brigitte was born and raised in Québec she has been calling Lethbridge home for many years already. She strongly believes in the positive effects of bilingualism on learners and aspires to teach in a French immersion/ French school.

http://brigittepaquettesmith.weebly.com/ps3-pip.html

The Power of a Picture Book

How can picture books/literature be integrated into all subject areas?

After getting my hands on some amazing picture books, I soon became obsessed! My shelves began to fill with rich, engaging, powerful literature that I wanted to share with everyone. When I found out I was going to be teaching grade 5 and 6, I was worried I could not bring picture books into the classroom as much as I could have in a younger grade group. I was encouraged by one of my TM's not to be afraid to read to children: young and old, they all love to be read to. From that encouragement, I began using books to introduce topics, hold conversations, and empower learners. There are endless cross curricular opportunities that stem from literature, allowing students to build more connections and better understand a learning topic. My love for picture books became infectious as my students began asking about picture books, wanting to read my favourites, and were soon on the hunt for the next best one!

Stephanie will graduate in December with a BA/B.Ed. She is completing PS3 in grade 5 and 6 in Calgary, and loving it! Stephanie loves spending time with people, especially children. Children have the power to make you smile and have the best imaginations. She is beyond excited to begin a career spending time with children, helping them to learn and grow, while smiling and having fun daily.

Building Reading Comprehension Confidence

Does the teaching of effective reading comprehension and test-taking strategies help improve student confidence when approaching a reading comprehension exam?

Upon the Government of Alberta's recent announcement that they wish to implement provincial standardized testing at all grade levels, I began reviewing literature related to student confidence levels regarding reading comprehension. I noticed that student fears were similar across the board. Using my ELA 8 classes as a research group, I administered self-reporting surveys related to levels of confidence before, during and after instructional intervention. Throughout my Internship, I taught academically tested and proven reading comprehension/test-taking strategies. I also built in weekly no-pressure practice on reading comprehension exams.

Erin is a PSIII Intern who will graduate upon completion of this semester. She plans to stay in Lethbridge for the foreseeable future. She will graduate with honours in both her Bachelor of Arts (General Humanities) degree and her Bachelor of Education (English Language Arts Education Major/Music Education Minor) degree. She is currently teaching ELA 6/8.

http://readingcomprehensionconfidence.weebly.com

“I’d Rather Do Anything Than do This Test…” : Looking at Test Anxiety Through a Multidisciplinary Lens

How can we use a multidisciplinary approach to identify indicators, implement strategies of wellness, and alleviate anxiety towards assessment? 

We are both interested in the concept, ideas, and emotions at play concerning “test anxiety”. Students in both of our classes have expressed to us in some capacity that they have test anxiety, while teachers in the school have told us they struggle with students and parents resisting the idea of tests due to test anxiety.

As a result, we wanted to see how we could promote a more positive mental health outlook for students when it comes to writing and preparing for assessments. Working within the framework of our practica, we took a multidisciplinary approach on test anxiety, exploring it within the context of Math 10C and Social Studies 20-1. From this approach we hoped to discern common features and strategies that can be utilized in both subject areas, as well as elements that are unique to each course.

Our project followed this pattern:

  1.  Collect Data 
  2. Try strategies 
  3. Reflect as a class 
  4. Try strategies 
  5. Collect Data 
  6. Reflect as educators

Ben Beland is a 5th year, Social Studies Education Student originally from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. He is currently teaching Social Studies 20-1. Suneet Kharey is an After-Degree Science Education student from Calgary. She is currently in her Professional Semester III teaching Math 10C and Honours Math.

Real-Life STEM: 9 Guest Speakers Share Experiences from the Field

To what extent can guest speaker presentations addressing the realities of STEM careers benefit students' understanding of the nature of science?

Individuals currently working in STEM careers were invited to present as guest speakers to students at Henry Wise Wood High School. Nine guests were hosted, including an Emergency Room Nurse, Pipeline Engineer, Sports Psychologist, and Stem Cell Researcher. The presentations addressed the realities of working in a STEM field and included topics such as:

  • What education or training qualified you for this career (including mishaps, upgrading, rejected applications, etc.)?
  • What challenges do you face in this field, and what excites you?
  • What typical misconceptions are there about your career?
  • What is an interesting project or anecdote from your work?

Following the presentations, students had the opportunity to ask questions. So that all students had equal opportunity to attend, these presentations were held during Wise Time, a school-wide tutorial block where students decide how to spend their study time.

Deanna has a passion for biology and loves diving into real-world applications like disorders and medical technologies! But she also has a soft spot for English and Drama, which she hopes to teach one day.

Travis has a background in engineering and tries to make classroom content approachable for all students by focusing on how subjects like Physics are about storytelling, and how mathematics is a language to be learned rather than a subject to be avoided.

Outdoor Education in Division One Classrooms

What are effective ways to integrate outdoor learning into a typical lower elementary classroom?

There is considerable research showing the positive benefits associated with active outdoor lifestyles in people of all ages. In a world where students spend more time on technology than playing outside after school, there is a disconnect in student’s connection to nature and the positive benefits that are associated with spending more time outside. As educators, we can see these benefits of more time spent outdoors on student attention span, energy level, ability to focus, happiness, and retention of learned concepts. In a traditional classroom environment, students typically only spend 30-60 minutes of the day playing outside during recess time with even less time outdoors during winter months. I believe that it is very important to provide students with more opportunities to both be outside and learn in different environments other than a traditional classroom. This project has aimed to teach students about the value of living an active outdoor lifestyle while also teaching them about the important parts of their required curriculum.

Mallory is a PSIII student who has specialized in early childhood education. She believes in creating authentic learning experiences in a variety of environments. Mallory is interested in developing engaging learning opportunities for students in division one classrooms. where these opportunities are more limited until well into junior high or high school.

http://integratingoutdooreducation.weebly.com

Teaching of Social Norms to Early Elementary Students

Does teaching manners and simple social norms in early elementary help students to feel safe (respected) and included with others at school?

My project is based upon teaching early elementary student basic social norms and manners. I came about this idea when I saw the need for these social skills to be taught in the classrooms that I was placed in. There was a need for some kind of solution to students’ lack of manners and social skills. Many early elementary teachers can attest to a line of student ready to debrief about problems at the recess bell. I thought that I would be able to help with this problem by implementing individual and cross curricular lessons throughout the term. I found specific learning outcome that linked directly to what I wanted to teach, as well as linked in similar topics in order to teach the students all of the skills I felt were needed. I have taught multiple lessons throughout the semester, basing them on simple social skills and manners. When supervising at recess, I have also taught the students how to deal with conflict. This effort has not only impacted the classrooms that I am in, but those students that I have interacted with outside the classroom. As the students have learned manners and social skills, they have been able to feel more comfortable and included with others because they are all better aware of what they should be doing when they interact with one another.

Sierra Hansen is a Kinesiology major with a specialization in Early Childhood Education.

Outdoor Games for PE

What outdoor games/activities correspond with the Physical Education Program of study for grade 10?

As someone who loves being outdoors, I wanted to create a resource that can provide other teachers with some suggestions to bring their class outside. Most teachers go outside to do  typical outdoor sports like soccer, baseball, and track and field. This resource will provide teachers with a variety of different games to add to their repertoire. 

http://sites.google.com/s/1PnXH4M8FDHQiBit5ePtNNl5IHpyBKxIz/p/1_-QHAh1hDmR2WifksfCQnxVxWGHq6bwE/edit

‘The Dorm’: FNMI Design Space Learning in High School

Does design space learning enhance student engagement in the inquiry process?

At the beginning of the semester, I was looking for meaningful opportunities to work with students as part of my Professional Inquiry Project (PIP) at Selkirk Secondary School. The vice-principal approached me with an opportunity to explore a ‘design space’ project that would be completed in coordination with the Aboriginal Education (AbEd) department. I collaborated with the Aboriginal Education worker, vice-principal, and district Aboriginal Education liaisons to create a ‘design space’ room in a wing of the AbEd space to be shared within the district. This design space concept became the catalyst to elicit emotions that students can explore in order to build an understanding of Residential Schools, as well as, consider how creating a space can be impactful in discovering history and the reconciliation process. Throughout the process student engagement for the planning and execution of the room was extremely high, as they were enthusiastic about approaching this project to explore Truth and Reconciliation through a different lens. 'The Dorm’ became a prototype for this design space process that was significant in itself, yet the lessons that were gleaned from it were even more important, both for students and myself.

I am from Grand Forks, BC and moved to Lethbridge to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Bachelor of Education in Social Studies. Outside of school I have many interests including, crafting, biking and snowboarding. Naturally, I am inclined to include these elements into the classroom when possible. Further, my appreciation for the outdoors has drawn me back to British Columbia for my final practicum in Kimberley, BC where I've had incredible opportunities to develop professionally.

http://designedspace.weebly.com

Creating Twenty Minute Numeracy Activities

What resources are most effective in delivering a numeracy enhancement program focused on problem solving and critical thinking?

We were asked by our teacher mentors to teach a numeracy class. To do this, we decided to create a selection of numeracy resources to leave at the school. We came up with our question by looking at the reason for implementing more numeracy in the classroom, which comes from the Wilson Mission Statement. This project is addressing numeracy, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills in a grade 8 classroom. Our teachers are appreciative of the resource that we are leaving behind as the students have demonstrated high engagement in the activities.

Jessica will be graduating from the UofL in December with a B.Ed./BSc degree, majoring in mathematics. Sara will be also be graduating from the UofL with a B.Ed./BSc degree, majoring in general science. They both completed their PSIII in Lethbridge, teaching grade 8 math and science respectively.

http://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1KrTvcXalaKCpwJSZ8gJPoPtefrRPdiOI?usp=sharing

Combined Curriculum Unit Plan Exemplar: Science 24 and Foods 10

To what extent can combined curriculum foster student engagement and teacher unity within schools?

Secondary curriculum is typically divided into distinct subjects, a structure that tends to inhibit interdisciplinary learning. This disconnect may represent a missed opportunity for increased student engagement and teacher creativity. Furthermore, it can cause isolation of teachers if there are distinct divisions between subject areas. As a Foods teacher, I have felt this isolation to some degree, and I am eager to see what I can learn from other educators. During a conversation with a fellow teacher, I learned he was motivated to increase student engagement in his Science 24 class. I began to ponder, “how can making pizza connect to science?”. As a result of this conversation, the Science teacher and I collaborated on a cross curricular project in hopes of foster creativity and generating excitement.

My Professional Inquiry Project entails finding which aspects of the Science 24 Program of Studies correlate with the Foods basics module. I was pleased to discover that there is a significant overlap between the two subject matters. To test the effects and practicality of cross-curricular teaching, we had the Science 24 class conduct a pizza lab experiment using different variables to see how each chemical reaction affected the dough.

The experiment was a great success, and I hope to continue exploring this approach with more classes. Please have a glance at the website I created, which includes a cross-curricular unit plan and insight into cross-curricular instruction.

Hi my name is Natalie Cooley. After receiving my diploma in Baking and Pastry Arts at SAIT, I discovered a great passion for teaching kids’ baking programs. As a result, I have spent the last 5 years completing the combined education program at the U of L, majoring in French Language Arts.

http://crosscurricularc.weebly.com 

Mindful Teaching

How can bringing mindfulness into the daily practice of teaching ready students for learning? 

In August 2019, I began my PSIII internship at a Catholic Elementary School in NE Calgary that serves a culturally and linguistically diverse community. In September I realized a broad need to address student wellness. Many students were affected daily by circumstances that affected their learning. Not only did students frequently report experiencing stress, there were also students dealing with specific mental Health concerns or the effects of trauma or violence. Teachers in the school expressed a need for strategies that would address social-emotional learning, providing students with tools for self-regulation and focus. After doing some research, I decided to conduct my PIP around the question: How can bringing mindfulness into the daily practice of teaching ready students for learning? 

Through my own research and through attending district PD sessions, I incorporated in-school mindfulness activities. I observed students develop strategies for managing stress and anxiety, while improving cognitive health and attention skills. My findings suggest that the implementation of mindfulness practices helped our students develop self-regulating skills, improved mental health and executive functioning skills, and provided strategies for when the children are faced with life’s challenges.

My name is Katrina Szumlas and I am a pre-service teacher. I will be graduating from the University of Lethbridge with a combined degree in Kinesiology and Education in April 2020. I was raised in Calgary, and I have wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember.

http://mindfulvsmindfull.weebly.com

Using Improv to Improve

To what extent does improv (or the dramatic arts) affect students’ academic endeavors?

I have been involved with improvised performance (improv) for the past 6 years. Reflecting upon the skills I have developed and the experiences I have had, I've noticed clear overlap between what I have been doing for fun, and the work I have been doing in school. This project inquires into the intersection between dramatic arts and the broader school experience . To explore this inquiry I formed an improv club at Chinook High School which not only explicitly taught skills related to academic work, but measured student perceptions of what they have gained through this experience. I included an independent response component (scale of 1-10) where students considered how useful/helpful improv has been for them. Please join in on my PIP presentation to see the details of my study and results!

I am near the end of my English education degree (my second degree from the UofL) and I want to get as much as I possibly can from this final practicum. I have always been a risk-taker, and I am excited to share my PIP with anyone who attends!

pip_presentation_alex_slides.pdf

Teaching Science with Science Fiction

Can Educators Increase, And Maintain, Content Engagement By Teaching Science With Science Fiction?

I believe that teachers, first and foremost, should build positive relationships with their students, and I believe that one of the ways to foster that relationship is to incorporate student interests into our daily teaching. Science fiction remains a popular "it" topic in media. I believe that through critical investigations and analyses of the examples that science fiction can provide, the practicalities of those examples can be examined through legitimate scientific methods and analyses.

Through this project, I aimed to address the question of, “Why is this important and relevant?” In a world consumed by a plethora of media, it is of increasing importance to have strong critical thinking skills. Specifically, this analytical-based learning approach had students learn new content while simultaneously addressing preconceived ideas about science and science fiction. This project's secondary goal was to further develop and expand on scientific skill and attitude outcomes through a critical analysis of science fiction.
Throughout this project, we examined over a dozen science fiction films within our biology, geology, chemistry, and physics units. My students found that their comfort with the content increased after critical analyses, and they continually reflected on the importance of a critical-thinking approach to science education.

I am currently an after-degree education student, majoring in general sciences, and interning at Chinook High School in Lethbridge, AB. I will be graduating February 2020, and I cannot wait to begin teaching!

Lexicon Booster: A Web-Based Tool for Vocabulary Building

How can high school teachers and students improve vocabulary acquisition? 

Many students arrive at high school ill-prepared for the standards of language and interpretation that are demanded of them. Whether they come from an English language learner background, or just struggle with the English Language Arts, students and their teachers need more tools to address gaps in student understanding. The demands of reading comprehension exams, PRT's, and CRT's, require a high level of diction and decoding skills that students must develop rapidly upon arrival at high school.

I chose to create a web-based literacy tool that develops skills students can use to increase their vocabulary, while enhancing their overall understanding of the English language. Throughout the development of this resource, I gathered research, strategies, activities, videos, and online resources that were relevant to ELA teachers and high school students. I also created activities and lessons that students could access, or a teacher could assign, to address gaps in student knowledge. I arranged the resources in an accessible and visually appealing manner to increase student engagement. This web-based resource is publicly accessible and teachers may expand upon it so that it can continue to suit the diverse needs of a wide range of learners.

Mark is an after-degree student currently residing in Calgary. He has a Bachelor of Arts Honours Degree in English, with a minor in History from Tyndale University College in Toronto. Mark has lived in five provinces and two countries. He is currently teaching two ELA courses: 20-1/Pre-AP and 30-1.

Assessment > Everything

Is exam-based assessment restricting learning?

“Is there a make-up exam?”. Teachers in any discipline or grade level undoubtedly hear this question after exams, even before they are graded. “I’m just really bad at taking tests” frequently follows the first statement. When I was students if they would prefer an alternative to testing the answer was overwhelmingly “yes”. Yet when given the choice between being evaluated by an exam or by a comprehensive project, students almost unanimously chose the exam.

Current research in learning and education emphasizes a need to change from “teaching-to-the test” and move toward concept based mastery learning. Additionally, educators strive towards allowing students to demonstrate their knowledge in a variety of modalities. The issue however is that students are conditioned towards test taking and are reluctant to explore outside the comfort of familiarity. There is a disconnect between modern education theories and traditional education practices. What then is the goal of education? As educators, what do we want our students to learn and how do we assess their growth and development? Can assessment of learning provide valid and reliable measures of learning (Marynowski, et al., 2017), when the learning context removes fair representation?

General Science After Degree, Lethbridge Local, Cat Enthusiast. 

Supporting Student Mental Health Through Wellness Rooms

How can wellness rooms be integrated into schools to support student mental health, and how will such initiatives be impacted by provincial budget cuts?

The implications of mental health on a student’s ability to be successful cannot be overstated. Schools must work to establish environments that are warm and welcoming for students and staff, and also have programs in place to specifically support the wellbeing of students. The school I was placed at during my final teaching internship boasted a wellness room which was used to support mental health not only for students who were coded with social-emotional exceptionalities, but all students.

Throughout the 4-month internship, I spent some substantial time in the wellness room in order to observe the overall atmosphere of the space and to identify a variety of strategies used when students came in. I also interviewed a number staff and students of the school to find out more about the specific strategies utilized in the room, how successful the wellness room has been in regard to supporting student mental health, and what the future may be for this program, especially with looming budget cuts by the Alberta government. I have compiled this data into a website, which can be shared with pre-service and practicing teachers who wish to implement wellness rooms and strategies alike in their learning environments.

Anna is a fifth-year Sociology and Social Studies Education student with a passion for experiential learning and a mission to inspire students to think outside the walls of a traditional classroom. A background in freestyle ski coaching has led Anna to pursue the profession of teaching. She is from Calgary, Alberta.

http://supportingstudentmentalhealth.weebly.com/impacts-of-mental-health.html

Multi-Age Classrooms and the Student Experience

In what ways are relationships affected by the presence of siblings and being in a multi-age classroom?

I taught grades 7-9 in one classroom for PS III, in a small rural school. I began thinking about this topic when I had a student express distress over losing her social group, since they were a year older and had moved on to new schools. I started to wonder if this experience was something that multiple students had encountered, and how they felt about sharing a classroom with such a large age span.

According to a questionnaire I provided students, my classroom also presents a unique situation in which 53% of respondents have a sibling in the same class as them (either currently or in the past). I have 6 sets of siblings and one set of cousins in my class.

These types of multi-age classrooms are commonly used in smaller and rural schools. Yet it became clear very quickly that the unique variables present in this situation (wide age range and the exaggerated presence of siblings) are largely under-researched. Further research needs to be done and needs to be approached from teacher, parent and student perspectives.

I was raised in southern Alberta, outside of Calgary. My husband and I moved our family to Lethbridge when we decided to go to the university. At that time, teaching wasn't even on my radar. Now it has become something I am passionate about!

http://multigradeclassrooms.weebly.com

Strengthening Practice Through a Process of Observation, Discussion, Collaboration, Research and Reflection

To what extent do professional observations and discussions with colleagues inform my practice?

In the Professional Semester III course description and objectives (2019), a quote from Joseph Dunne challenges us to make more explicit the knowledge that is implicit in good practice. I saw an opportunity to form an inquiry around my natural inclination toward discussion and observation. In her book Getting Teacher Evaluation Right: What Really Matters for Effectiveness and Improvement, Linda Darling-Hammond (2013) states that professional development opportunities should build strong working relationships among teachers, are most effective when they address the concrete, everyday challenges involved in teaching, and should be tied to real classroom practice. I was interested in how professional development can be supported through maximizing collaborative time for experienced teachers and Practicum students.

Through daily observation, discussion, reflection, and research, common themes began to emerge. This project is a summary of those commonalities.

The Benefit of an Online Practicum for PS III

Is there value in an online placement for a practicum student?

This project was born of being asked by my principal if I would like to present at the BlendEd Conference in Edmonton this semester. My immediate response was, No! My wiser response was yes, I will do that. My presentation was about my experience as a practicum student in an online setting. This has led to the idea for my pip being about the value of this type of practicum for a PS3 student. This project is addressing many of the questions that were raised by friends, family members and fellow students about the validity of an online practicum. My findings are not suggesting that it is only positive with no drawbacks, rather that it is overwhelmingly positive despite the drawbacks and has given me a perspective which has been hard won and is unique as I head into my career.

My name is Shane Johnson, I was born in Cardston Alberta, raised in Lethbridge Alberta. I graduated from the UofL in 2018 with a Bachelor of arts majoring in English and have since pursued a degree in English Education.

“Brain Breaks" for Students in High School!

Can the creation and implementation of a comprehensive collection of “Brain Breaks” maximize engagement and academic success in the classroom?

Our group came up with the idea after noticing that our classes lasted an hour and a half and students were getting restless during classes. You see Brain Breaks used in Primary schools during class but why not in Secondary? Because we all had different subject matters, we thought we would create a resource that can be used within any subject area in school and it would only take a few minutes out of class time to engage in. By incorporating these small activities into a student's day, we have noticed how much it can refocus the students and keep them engaged during classes. A lot of our students were actually doing way better in their classes after incorporating some of the "Brain Breaks" we started using.

We are all practicum teachers who will graduate after December. We met working at the same High School this practicum and brought our different subject majors: Science, Math, and Dramatic Arts together for our PIP!

http://samanthaebeyak.wixsite.com/brainbreaksforkids

Inii (Bison) Inquiry Project

How can we implement Blackfoot knowledge of the bison into teaching students about ecosystems?

For our PIP project we designed a unit plan for teaching students about the bison and ecosystems and how the bison play a vital role the Northern Great Plains tribes and ecosystem. The bison play many roles in their ecosystem, from; teaching about habitat, diet, niche, symbiotic relationships, adaptations, etc., The bison is a great species to use for teaching about ecosystems, especially students who have ties to the species. This year for my PSIII I was given the opportunity to teach grade 7 science. While I was preparing my units, I found that bison knowledge ties into many topics of the first Unit of the grade 7 science curriculum. So, for our unit project I decided to have the students do a research project on the bison, where at the end of this unit, my students have become experts on the bison. The purpose of this project was to help educate students on how the bison played an important role in the survival of the Blackfoot people and also understand the importance of how bison is keystone species and their role in their ecosystems. We have named the project Inii Inquiry, using the Blackfoot term for Buffalo (Inii) students will both be learning from the Blackfoot perspective in understanding the science behind bison and their ecosystem.

Through this project our students have become educated on bison and the importance they play in their environment, I was very pleased that we had outside community support for our project, through community collaboration students are sharing and learning knowledge of the bison and the bison restoration project that is happening on our reserve.

Physical Activity for Community Growth and Belonging

How can an intramural program be modelled/adapted in a small-town community to further build community and promote health and wellness?

Being physically active has many benefits, both physiologically and psychologically. Especially in a small town community, sports and physical activity are often a prevalent part of many students' lives. I realized this shortly after arriving in the town of Taber, and WR Myers specifically, as it is a highly regarded basketball school with many zone championships. Upon arriving, I did also quickly see a disconnect in the student community. This was for many reasons, including that students have come from Barnwell's K to 9 school. The primary objective of my PIP was to use the power of sport and physical activity to help create a consistent space for students where they felt connected to their school community and culture. Various programs including drop in gym, organized intramurals, and a "Teacher Thursdays" (where students would compete weekly against the teachers) quickly became an impactful part of the school identity and culture.

Arron is completing the final year of his education after-degree program and will graduate in April 2020. He has an undergraduate degree in Kinesiology from the University of Calgary, and strives to learn new things everyday that helps him become a better educator, pedagogue, and coach.

Growth Mindset and Art Therapy

How can principles of art therapies encourage a growth mindset in students?

I have always had an interest in musical theatre and in the arts, and combining my interest in growth mindset with musical theatre seemed like the perfect combination! When given the opportunity to design and teach my own musical theatre class, I realized I had the perfect chance to explore art therapies and its effect on student growth mindset in the classroom. Encouraging students to try new things and improve their confidence is a need I wanted to see met, and although my class has not yet come to an end, I am already seeing the impact that it has had on my students as they have all grown in confidence, are enjoying the class, and are all engaged to an extent I didn't originally expect. My students all voted to turn the class into a club to continue exploring musical theatre and to continue rehearsing the songs, with not a single student dropping out and leaving the class. I also had students who were originally too scared to do a solo asking to do a solo later on in the class, which was a clear indicator of success for my project.

Erika is completing her PS3 at Assumption School in Grade 1. She is a Dramatic Arts Education major specializing in Early Childhood Education with a passion for children, dinosaurs, and drama.

Fostering Growth Mindset

How can we use Growth Mindset to create meaningful and effective learning experiences for all (excelling & underperforming) students, while being considerate of their individual contexts, in order to encourage these students to become life long learners?

When starting my final professional semester of teaching, I knew I wanted my final project to be something other teachers would actually be able to implement in their classrooms. As I became acquainted with the school, and through talking with colleagues I began to see that there was an increasing amount of students who were not willing to participate for fear of embarrassment, failure, being made fun of, etc. I knew then I wanted to research the power of ones mindset, leading me to my question of; How can we use Growth Mindset to create meaningful and effective learning experiences for all (excelling & underperforming) students, while being considerate of their individual contexts, in order to encourage these students to become life long learners?

Through researching more on the topic, attending district PD sessions, and reading Carol Dewck's research on mindsets, I came to realize that students were stuck, believing that success is impossible, regardless of their efforts. I knew I wanted to be able to influence their experiences while at school, making them more positive even in the slightest. I found that communicating with the students the power of having a growth mindset, and them starting to use it greatly influenced attendance and their willingness to participate and take on new challenges.

My name is Myken Carew, and I was born and raised in Medicine Hat. I am proud to be graduating from the University of Lethbridge with a combined degree in Kinesiology and Physical Education in December 2020. I have always had a strong passion for teaching and can not wait to get started.

http://branchingminds.weebly.com