Saturday, September 28, 2019

National Curriculum

Did you receive an invitation recently to answer a survey regarding a national curriculum? I did and cannot remember where I got it! Perhaps it popped up when I logged into Tutela. Or maybe someone sent me the link. Hmmm.

I would love to hear from anyone who has received this, especially if their memory is better than mine. Lol. Unless someone else says they have seen this survey, I am going to start to think I dreamed it.

How do you feel about the creation of a national curriculum?

My feeling, which is what I responded when asked, is that I like resources to be organized according to settlement theme and then by level because that's how I teach. It makes sense to me that if I need a module package on the flu versus the common cold, I would look under HEALTH and would then go to the level appropriate for my learners.

I also responded in an extra comment box that I liked and used the heck out of the LINC 1-4 and 5-7 Classroom Activities with audio files and all of that, but that they are in dire need of updating. I would love to have a fresh, modernized set like that again.

What say you?

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Fall Equinox

Tomorrow is the fall equinox.
New England Aster
I don't have anything to say this week, so I want to pose a question or conversation prompt.

Would each reader share a favourite classroom activity with other readers?

I'll start.

In my literacy class, I especially like forming small reading circles with one strong reader in each group. I circulate the whole time and am often beckoned to one group or other to clarify the pronunciation of a word. We usually don't attempt such peer-supported reading groups until the class has been reading the same book for two full days. This past week we read Sado Goes to School, a reader from Bow Valley College School of Global Access. I love watching students help each other.

In seniors class, we have a new activity we are trying out for the first time, and it's Show and Tell. Yes, I admitted to them that I stole the idea from my kindergarten teacher, but added that I think it's very transferable to an adult classroom. I started it off by bringing in a sewing project I'd accomplished over the summer: a fanny pack. A student followed suit by passing around photos of the biggest fish he caught over the summer; he reported having pulled a 10-pound channel catfish out of the Detroit River!

I started a new page of our classroom blog called "Show and Tell Gallery." I'll be posting photos there as the students take turns with this new idea.


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Another PBLA Research Project!

Hi, all!

I just saw in a comment on the TESL Ontario blog that Nwara Abdulhamid is looking for teachers to participate in her research into our experience with PBLA.


I'll add it to the PBLA Activism page of the website (

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Everything Old is New Again

Miracle of miracles, my prayers have been answered. I had been dreading returning to work. I was, as any regular reader knows, racking my brain trying to come up with a way to make teaching fun again as I hit the middle of my tenth year at this job, almost all of which have been spent teaching the same two classes. Two students in my seniors class just remarked that they have been with me since 2013!

I am not sure exactly which lifestyle change to credit for this (though I have an idea), but when I stepped back into the classroom on September ninth, it just felt new. I'm feeling a renewed capacity ot be in the moment, be in Flow. I've got my old excitement and energy back.

I've been doing a lot of work on myself in Jungian analysis AND have also begun medically prescribed and monitored treatment of my Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder with CBD oil. That only started September 1, so it's a bit early to know if my new and improved outlook and uncharacteristic ability to let things roll off me is the oil or just the usual summer chill not yet worn off. I'll be sure to let everyone know in a few weeks.

This week was all about the needs assessment. My literacy class is almost FULL right now. I hope it stays that way. There is such wonderful energy with a group of around ten that just isn't there when numbers drop below eight. As they were milling around on Wednesday asking each other, "What do you want to study?" while recording classmates' answers on the peer survey forms, it occurred to me that there is no classroom chaos quite as sweet as peer survey chaos in a literacy class.

The new guy, F, is policing his classmates since I admonished them for trying to "cheat" by simply shoving their papers under each other's noses for names to be copied. I told them they have to ask, "How do you spell your name" and have to listen as a classmate does so. I hear them correcting each other and patiently repeating: No J, G. No E, A. They are negotiating meaning! This is what I live for.

peer survey chaos

Also this week we received a reminder from the PBLA lead to get "About Me" sections in order in all student binders. One of the items on the checklist says: inventory sheet filled out and dated by students, not by teacher. Well, let me tell you about that. When it comes to the four skills sections of the binders, my literacy learners do fill those out in their own hand. Each Tuesday, which is task pass-back day, we all open our binders together to the correct section. I put all the info on the board and everyone copies. It takes a long time, longer for some than for others, but we patiently wait until everyone has it.

But for the About Me section, that would have meant having them copy phrases like "program agreement" and "conference report." They would have had to copy six lines of such words that are not level appropriate. So I just made an executive decision to rebel against that one little aspect of my PBLA lead's directive. Literacy learners in my class do not have to copy those six lines of big words onto the inventory sheet for the About Me section. I pre-printed it onto the sheet for them. I added a note to any future auditor regarding my small act of rebellion.

How about you? How was your week?

Saturday, September 7, 2019

What's the Standard Where You Work?

I received an email this week from a reader who is doing her best to advocate at her place of employment for reasonable PBLA expectations in the face of plummeting morale. She wanted to know if the submission of weekly module plans or lesson plans was required at my service provider organization (SPO). I answered her and asked if she wanted me to pose the question to you readers of this blog since I have no way of knowing what goes on at other agencies. She said she would like to see such answers, and I'll bet we all would like to know what the majority is doing.
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For an example of what is meant by a module plan, see Immigrate Manitoba's samples.

Since we are almost all posting anonymously, I suggest we answer the question after providing some basic minimal (yet still not identifying) info about the employer. For example, you could say which province you're in and/or whether you work for an IRCC-funded program or for a public school board, which would be provincially funded. We could also add whether we are unionized, though I'm not sure that's relevant. I'll start.

I teach at a community agency in a federally funded LINC program in Ontario that is not unionized. At my workplace, teachers spoke up in a unified manner at a team meeting and pointed out that module plans are: tedious, very time-consuming, not of great value to every teacher, and are in fact more of a hindrance to those teachers who like to remain flexible and in tune with student needs through the week. We pointed out that they are NOT one of IRCC's non-negotiables. We stressed the point that in light of how stressful, time-consuming and burdensome PBLA is, our admin should have us do only the bare-bones minimum as required by the funder and NO MORE.

Though it wasn't easy, we eventually won that battle and now do not have to submit module plans. We also do not submit lesson plans in writing at this point in time, though there has been discussion back and forth over the years regarding this. We do, however, submit monthly reports that encompass theme, topics, learning goals for the module(s) as well as objectives for each skill, resources used, methodology, challenges and success stories.