The purpose of Treaty Education

Why should I bother teaching Treaty Education curriculum, or First Nations, Metis, and Inuit (FNMI) content in schools? There are not any First Nations students in the class, so it is obviously no relevant or important to teach!

No. Nope. That’s not how it works – ever. That’s like saying, “Well, none of my students are aspiring statisticians so I do not think teaching math is relevant to them.” That is not why we have a Math curriculum, or Science or English or anything else.

First: It is government mandated. It is not optional. It is not a request. It is a requirement outlined in the curriculum as content that must be taught in schools – and not just in “Native Studies 10, 20, 30” in high schools, but in all classes in every grade. End of story; no questions asked.

However, allow me to further convince you of the reality and necessity for teaching Treaty Education in the classroom.

It is not for the benefit of the First Nations, Metis, and Inuit students in the class that you decide to teach the historical content of residential schools and the impact is has on today’s society. More likely than not, they know that. Those students likely have family members – or know someone else – who experienced them first hand. We have to face the reality that, living in Saskatchewan with the racism and stereotypes that exist, they are living the impact of that history. The students who should be learning about residential schools and treaties are the ones who do not have opportunities otherwise to learn about that past – whether they are First Nations or  not. If we are to teach students about Canada, and Canadian history, it is a necessity to include FNMI content because FNMI content IS Canadian history. The fact that anyone would brush this off as “unnecessary and irrelevant” because the lack of Indigenous students in the class proves the ignorance and complete need for this information to be a part of education.

We cannot call ourselves Canadians – especially in Saskatchewan – while ignoring, and refusing to learn, something that has such a large impact on the history of this country. Saskatchewan is filled with racism and stereotypes, and it is not the victims of these thought-constructs who need to be told this. They know. If we live in Canada we are affected by this history. We cannot say “It’s in the past, and doesn’t matter anymore.” It does affect us, and the repercussions of the past are still hugely impacting in the lives of First Nations, Metis and Inuit people. We all need to become educated in treaty knowledge and FNMI content. We are all treaty people.

Be a “good” student! – What are we really saying?

The problem of common sense (Kumashiro. (2009). Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice, pp. 19-33.

As previously discussed, “commonsense” is something that we cannot get away from in any classroom. It is the acceptance of what are the norms, without regard to the oppressive nature of these assumptions – that everyone should fit neatly into one mold because “that’s just how it is”. If we approach the idea of who the “good” students are, we can easily see this commonsense clouding the vision of the educational system. Kumashiro notes that being a good student in the eyes of society encompasses: being able to learn in one specific way, having none – or few – behavioural outbursts in class, and proving that the student has learned sufficiently by being able to regurgitate the desired information on command. Unfortunately, this pays no attention to all of the variables that play a part in developing the early understanding of kids. People learn differently. That is a fact. Also, some people have a natural predisposition to certain skills and abilities – this is also known as the theory of Multiple Intelligences. For example, I am an Arts Education student. My areas of “comfort” are dance and music, and maybe even literature. Ask me to create draw or express those same thoughts in visual art – not a chance it will turn out the way I am hoping, or at least a VERY minimal chance. Putting this into Kumashiro’s world of education, I would be a terrible student in an Art class because, frankly, that is just not my best subject. This idea privileges those who are simply more academically inclined and marginalizes – and discourages – those who learn differently. Kumashiro wrote of a story of a young child who struggled to stay focused in lessons and did not follow directions “normally”. At the end of this story it was stated that at the end of every day the child would ask “was I bad today? […] I’ll be better tomorrow.” How heart-breaking is that? This young child already had in their head that they were a “bad” student. When a child only sees the label placed on them by society, they often do not strive for anything greater. Their goals and dreams are placed in the far recesses of their minds while they accept the fate that has been handed to them – that they are not a good student and cannot learn in the conventional way, therefore they are not “smart” enough.

Instead, why can we not break this “commonsense” that tries to fit every student into a neat little box of what they should strive for? Instead, why not celebrate the individuality of each student and allow each student an opportunity to learn differently? I am not saying “don’t teach curriculum, kids can learn whatever they want.” But perhaps there is more to learning than regurgitating information to get the highest grade. Instead, why not encourage passions to grow and develop – allowing students to explore what makes them an individual?

Summary of what?

This is the video I made for my summary of learning in ECMP 355. I am pitifully imaginative and could not think of anything exciting to do, and I am sure my nervousness recording videos does not help. The original video I made was horribly long so I just scratched it and did a whole new one, which is still long though a bit more reasonable in length. It can be found here, if you are unable to see the video below. Enjoy, and I apologize for the sniffles throughout the video – it is that time of year.

Why do they like singing on the ‘and’ of 1 or 4? Why?!

I am impeccable at procrastinating typing up my blog posts – though it is not necessarily something I should brag about.

Nevertheless, on my original to-do list from my first learning project post is as follows:

 

  • Pick a genre and style. CHECK
  • Pick a song. CHECK x3
  • Listen to the music. A lot. DOUBLE CHECK
  • Start dancing – see if something works with the music and what I want to work into the flow of the music. YET TO POST
  • Research other dancers, choreographers, and dance moves/steps I want to incorporate. CHECK
  • Break up the music into sections. 
  • Creative moves to go with each section – write them down. YET TO POST/FINISH
  • Put the sections together and PRACTICE! YET TO POST/FINISH
  • Teach it? WILL DO AT A LATER DATE
  • Remember to contrast – angular vs curved, gentle vs strong, slow vs fast, levels of movements…etc.

As you can see, the green is what I have done, the red is what I have either yet to post or am still finishing up, and the blue is what this blog will include.

Breaking the music into sections

For those who might be from a musical background, like myself, it might be easy to think that breaking the music into beats and sections would be simple; for some parts it was. The first song (Madcon – Beggin you) was actually simple enough. Though a few lines started on beat 3, they were fairly precise and reasonably placed beats. No such luck with the other two (Shawn Desman – Dum da dum, and Austin Mahone – Mmm yeah). The full compilations of the songs can be found on my last update, here. For some reason the last two songs decided to hate musicians and their lyrics (in some parts) barely seemed to match up with the beats. There were even parts where they would sing only on the off beats. This almost made it easier, but it was still fairly annoying. I am sure you will see where I mean, as I marked on the page where exactly I thought it was dumb. Here are the pictures of my breaking it up.

Sections 12-17

Sections 12-17

Sections 1-6

Sections 1-6

Sections 7-11

Sections 7-11

Yes, they are fairly messy but I understand them so that’s all that matters right? The green highlighter is where the beats are (or approximately) and the purple is dividing it up into the smaller sections of measures that will make it easier to teach and work through, rather than just having one big, long, go at a 3-minute song all at once.

So there you have it: countless times listening to the songs over and over and over, and numerous attempts to find the actual beat (as seen by my scribbles), this is what I am working with. Oh joy.

In my next post (which I will hopefully get up in the next 12 hours) there will actually be a video of me dancing. Well, I will at least be trying. It is the improv stage of free-styling, working through the music, and seeing what feels good.

I also want to throw in here a few really amazing blog posts I was able to find and read, thanks to Feedly, that have really been helping me along this process.

How Yoga Can Help You Become a Better Dancer

This post is fairly straight forward in showing how beneficial yoga can be. Personally, I am awful at yoga. These are some tips that are actually helping me build motivation to start doing it.

18 Things I’ve Learned About Being A Professional Dancer

Although a few of these tips do not necessarily apply to me, considering I am not a professional dance, I still find them as useful reminders. Actually, some of them are fairly applicable to life in general in my opinion.

How To Improvise Movement When You’ve Never Done It Before

Finally, this is probably one of the most helpful, wonderful, awesome blogs posts that I am basically leaning on with most of my body weight. Not only is this post great, but it also leads to another post that is also helpful.

 

Pictures and stories, two of my favourite things!

 

 

Here is my attempt at a few 6 word stories, as suggested in my ECMP355 class. See if you can caption either of these pictures yourself or try your own 6 word story. Please feel free to leave a compliment and let me know what you think!
Mom with a field mouseA bit of a back story behind this picture – it might explain why my mom is holding, much less pretending to eat, a field mouse. In February 2014, my mom and I, along with some family and friends, took a 2 week trip to Africa. There, we met a young man named Godfrey who we got to know. He shared with us that his favourite snack is boiled field mice and, upon finding this dead mouse outside a church event one evening, she insisted I take this picture and send it to him.

I love my juiceThis photo was taken when I found that juice was on sale for $1 at Wal-Mart. I may or may not have taken it to send to a friend, bragging that I got juice for $1.

I commend anyone who can actually edit audio clips

I am still plugging away at my choreography – I promise! From my last post I had a short to do list of what I would get done for this post. While for the research/inspiration/planning I have actually continued passed just this list, however I was stuck for quite a while on the audio editing and felt it was important to unveil the full compilation of the songs.

Has anyone ever actually successfully used an audio editing application? I found that there were innumerable different websites with different programs that were seemingly all the same. Scanning through the list I would randomly select one and try it out to see if it was easy enough for what I needed. Eventually I became sick of this method and realized that I am simply really bad at using audio editors, so I did what any sane person would do at this point – I called up my good friend and asked (told him in a very polite way) if he could help me cut a couple of songs together. He is one of those guys that, when searching for something it is somehow always the first thing he looks at and makes you seem silly for not trying it. Yeah. In the end we used Audacity, which looked like it was made for Windows 98, but it worked really well nevertheless. Originally I was thinking I would screen cast editing the clips together, until I realized it was taking way longer than my naïve mind had anticipated. Finally, out came the end result with not too bad of transitions, not perfect but they are definitely better than if I had tried to do it on my own. My mashed up version of the songs can be found HERE if you are not able to see the YouTube link below. Also, as said on the video, I feel the need to remind everyone that none of these sounds are actually mine. I am not that talented.

So after cringing at that first transition, the second one was not too bad, right? Maybe? Okay so that is that. Also, aside from watching all of the Step Up movies, here are a few videos that also led to a bit of my inspiration. Remember, please feel free to send me any videos or choreographers you think are good. I will take all of the resources I can get my hands on. Please post the link into the comments or tag me on twitter @SaraBeth1008.

This clip includes various scenes from the movie, in which I first heard this song. Street Dance is basically a European Step Up.

YouTube does wonderful things. This is simply a video I found when searching for the song. Some of it I like and some of it I don’t, but it definitely shows some possibility for this rhythm.

Now, I am in love with this choreography by Dustin Pym. I am seriously hoping to incorporate some aspects of these steps into my dance. This is all assuming I am ever able to successfully do them.

As far as the Austin Mahone song goes, I could not find any particularly good choreography that I really liked, however here are a few more videos of other inspiration I have found (not to mention watching So You Think You Can Dance).

While you’re at it go ahead and check out all the Continual Surrender stuff, it is all amazing.

I really struggled which video to actually share here, however I would highly recommend checking out this choreographer’s whole channel HERE because he is incredibly talented and is always releasing new routines.

These guys are crazy.

I suppose I should end with the highly anticipated (by me) announcement of my extra song. Hopefully, if not by the end of this semester, over Christmas break I will find the time to put something together for this song because it is so fun. As you will be able to tell by listening to it, however, it does not exactly fit into the other songs I had chosen – I will likely make it a lot rougher in the movements and dancing style. This song was featured in the first Step Up movie, I believe, and it is just one of those songs I can not get out of my head. So here it is:

I do not have the attention span for this

Despite my impeccable ability to procrastinate, I have finally built up the motivation to post a couple more ‘substantial’ blog posts – aside from my fact-of-the-day posts. I have also realized how easily I can get distracted and my inability to multitask very well in these last couple of weeks. A lot of learning has occurred.

Just over a week ago now I decided to participate in the weekly (Thursday nights) Saskatchewan educators chat on Twitter (check out their ongoing conversation HERE). Going into this event I had very little idea about what to expect. It is also important to note that, while I am realizing the potential of Twitter used in a professional way, I would not consider myself an avid Twitter user and I am still learning the ropes. Now in my ECMP 355 course one of the instructors, maybe both I am not sure, mentioned using Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to be able to watch the conversation more easily. I got started with Tweetdeck because, as I believe, it is actually created by Twitter and I figured that would make it safer, or rather I just felt more comfortable with the idea. Finally, I got my Tweetdeck all set up with the hashtags I wanted to follow and was prepared for this thing to start, with about 5 mins to spare.

Screenshot of my Tweetdeck set up. Really high-tech, I know.

Screenshot of my Tweetdeck set up. Really high-tech, I know.

Originally, I had seen that the genius hour conversation was also fairly active and was thinking I would go ahead and participate in both, however once people began trickling into the Saskedchat I quickly realized I am highly unsuccessful at multitasking. The topic for Saskedchat was student lead conferences. A lot of the conversation was a bit lost to me, however I did learn some interesting techniques to shift into this, rather than taking up the majority of the time talking in a more teacher lead conference. This was a rather interesting conversation as well because as I was in school I do not really remember anything other than me, as a student, leading the parent-teacher conferences. The others in the chat were incredible helpful and answered all of my (seemingly) stupid questions and even gave some advice, which was greatly appreciated. All-in-all I learned a lot about a lot of different things, and had a good first experience with Twitter chats. I also got a few more followers and was able to follow other educators/knowledgeable people as well – I am basically popular. Just kidding.

I will also go on to say that I enjoyed it so much that I went on to participate in it again this week, and was able to discuss student learning spaces and how to make your classroom work well for the students and be interactive. There were definitely a lot of good ideas I will have to write down and keep for later, in case I ever get a classroom of my own. I  have to say, the idea of a loft in a classroom is really sticking with me.

It is definitely a cool experience to participate in a Twitter chat, even if it is not Saskedchat. There are a ton of other chats going on, both educational and not I would imagine, that can really get you thinking.

If anyone has any other chats they have participated in or that they recommend please leave a comment and I will try to check them out, as well as some other ones based on my interests as and we will see how those go.

A quick snip-it of the conversation last week!

A quick snip-it of the conversation last week!

Over 100 million songs, I picked 4

OKAY! So, to keep going with this learning project of mine – learning how to choreograph – I left you last that I had yet to decide pretty much all of the details, except how I was going to go about doing it. Here is the big surprise (to those who know me, it is not likely to be that surprising at all), I am going to choreograph (or attempt) a hip hop routine! I have chosen this genre for a number of reasons:

  1. It is significantly easier than trying to do a solo ballroom dance routine
  2. I have 0 idea how to do contemporary or ballet, much less am I flexible enough for that
  3. There is a huge amount of resources
  4. I know a good number of people who are able and willing to help me, whom are extremely talented
  5. It is more fun

That is that.

Second, I will explain the songs I have chosen. It was an internal debate as to how exactly I would go about this, whether I should just pick one song and choreograph the whole thing or mix 3-4 different songs together to make one. I decided to do a mix-up because I have a sneaking suspicion that adding the changes to the music will make it easier for me to also keep the changes in my choreography going and to not get repetitive in the movements. Here’s hoping. I picked 3 songs because I figured 2 would be too few and 4 would be getting on the excessive end of it. The tentative order of songs are as follows:

Beggin’ you – I chose this song because, ever since hearing it in the movie Street Dance back in 2010, I have wanted to choreograph this song myself. Unfortunately I never had the time or ability to put something amazing together for it. I also am starting with this song because the intro is so fascinating and leaves so much room for starting however I would like.

Dum da dum – Now, I am not exactly sure when thought to include this song. It may have been when I heard it on the radio, though I also found an amazing set (piece of choreography) on YouTube as I was browsing for some inspiration. Which of these came first, I am not entirely sure, but either way I decided this song has a nice strong bouncy beat that would be easier to listen to (meaning the beats of each movement would be easier to hear) when feeling out the movements in the choreographing stage.

Mmm yeah – Originally I had another song (Here comes the hotstepper) picked, but as I was listening to music randomly one day I stumbled upon this song and decided it would fit better with the other two. It is also more modern.

Next on my to-do/to-blog-about list includes:

  • Download the songs.
  • Find and use a good, but simple, audio editing tool to mash the songs together (if anyone knows of any please let me know).
  • Browse the Interweb for ideas of choreography, moves, and inspiration. Also, probably have a Step Up marathon.
  • Start breaking down the songs into sections, measures, and beats.

BONUS INFO:

As you may have noticed the title of this blog says that I have chosen 4 songs when in fact, so far, I have only mentioned 3. This is because this last song I found while getting-my-inspiration-on and listening to some ‘heavier’ music, which does not mix well with the songs I had already chose. I DO, however, still want to choreograph something for it, but it will be in a different style of hip hop than the other songs. I will release the song and style of this last song in my next blog. The suspense is unbearable!

Does Skype really have a downside?

So upon discussion with Nicole Climenhaga, from my ECMP 355 class, we decided to compile a list of pros and cons associated with the use of Skype in the classroom. We were both hoping to get a big more creative than that, however due to circumstantial reasons (did I even use that in context properly? Oh well) *cough* other University classes *cough* we quickly ran out of time and ideas to make it any more interesting than the following table.

The lovely pros vs cons list Nicole and I created.

The lovely pros vs cons list Nicole and I created.

I also thought of a few other negatives after Nicole made the table, and I have no idea how she did it or how to edit it.

  • Students may get distracted by other conversations on Skype, if it is being used individually.
  • It opens up one other way for cyber-bullying to occur, with the teacher being unable to monitor how each student is communicating with each other.
  • There are sometimes spammers who add random people on Skype, claiming to know them. Students would need to understand not to add strangers or to give out important information.

 

 

Much of the information was found here, though I found many of the reasons included to be fairly repetitive – they said the same sort of thing, but used it in different context. While, according to the look of the table the negative side looks a bit longer, they are a lot less worrisome than the positive column is beneficial. There are a few concerns of whether or not the users of Skype will have access to internet, though being used in a classroom there should be a guaranteed connection for the teachers, and the hardware required to have a successful call (ie. webcam and microphone). Though there are a few others mentioned on the list I would not consider them to be a high-concern issue, whereas on the positive side of the table it has more beneficial aspects. Aside from the typical voice and video calls that are able to be made, there is also the option to send files and video or audio messages to a specific contact or group conversation. Also, Skype gives the teachers the ability to collaborate between each other, with the student’s parent(s), or even with the students themselves. Even just these few benefits greatly outweigh the disadvantages to using Skype in a classroom.

If anyone knows of or finds any glaring disadvantages (or other advantages as well) to using Skype in a school setting please let either Nicole or I know. We would love to hear everyone’s personal take on other advantages or disadvantages.