Issue 3, February 2015
The Global Classroom
THE GLOBAL CLASSROOM THE INTERNET: BRIDGING THE GLOBAL CLASSROOM Nicholas Catania
Issue 3, February 2015 Student Submissions: The Good and The Bad Nadine Wyczolkowski
Tools for Teaching Digitally Michael Gyssels
Students have the opportunity to access information more quickly than they ever have before. As children of the 1990s and early 2000s, computers were just beginning to enter households; thus, canonizing the era of dialup Internet. Fast forwarding to the present day, a tremendous amount of new information has become available for public consumption than what was previously experienced during our childhood and adolescence. As the socio-economic accessibility of using the Internet steadily grows, an ongoing demand for more content and methods of communication actively forward our knowledge of what is happening throughout the world.
We Need to Speak the Same Language Mercy Yulien
Why Tutoring Online is Just as Beneficial Ana-Maria Jerca
Students can access the Internet using computers from school, home, and even at their desks with the epidemic of smartphones and other personal communication devices. When it comes to students and studying, the following data has been proven: • • • •
Only 10% of students report using books from libraries to help them study 99% of students report using Wikipedia to study 80% of students report using social networks to help them study 55% of students report using online services to help them write their papers
Have students become so immersed in the Internet that books no longer provide the necessary knowledge? The statistic stating the overwhelming use of Wikipedia was not surprising at all, despite the fact that students understand the unreliability of this source.
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While Toronto has been established as the most multicultural city in Canada, many smaller areas throughout the country still remain predominately Anglo-American. In bridging the gap between culture and classrooms, the Internet is a highly useful resource. Take for example a global chat room called www.studentsoftheworld.info. Here, students can log on and connect with pen pals from an array of countries. Students can learn from first hand sources about cultural values, geographic surroundings and life overall from a foreign country. The website provides specific details about the different countries which students can use to base questions on, and develop insights from. Although this may seem like a fantastic source, there are still many dangers accompanied with such a source. To create a safe space for students to chat with others from around the world, connect with a specific teacher from another country and establish a private chatroom. It is vital that you remain connected to the parents in establishing an understanding of this source, and that you monitor all activity that takes place. In doing so, students will gain a thoughtful understanding of the world outside their classroom while immersing themselves in culture from within. Another danger that teachers must be aware of is the onslaught of stereotypes. The internet has the power to sever, subvert, or completely uphold the unfortunate and often negative ideas pertaining to a certain group, or groups, of people. To make students increasingly aware, always engage in classroom discussion. Provide answers and understanding to student insights and be prepared to tackle anything that may possibly arise. In the words of R.S. Peters: “To be educated is not to have arrived at a destination; it is to travel with a different point of view.”
The Good and the Bad Nadine Wyczolkowski
I was invited to speak at the faculty eLearning showcase on November 18th, 2014 to share my perspective as a student who participated in an education blended course, and was encouraged to share both the positives and negatives. In the article outlining the event found here:(http://edu.yorku.ca/2014/12/facultyelearning-showcase-demonstrates-innovation-indelivery-methods/), the author failed to include any of the negatives and concerns that I brought up and provided a very biased interpretation of eLearning. The article stated that “Overall they were very
satisfied with their online experience, and viewed it as an opportunity to enhance their learning.” As many faculty members and students were not present I feel that it is imperative that my opinion, akin to others who may not have had the platform to share their experiences, may be heard. While Dean Ron Owston said at the presentation “Technology Enhanced Learning is an institutional priority for the University that was outlined in the University’s Academic Plan (2010-2015) and the Provostial White Paper (2010),” I believe that this may be leading the institution to contradict the founding principles that post-secondary education is built upon. Here is what I presented at the showcase. Please have a read…
EDible News “I found being a student in Professor Winton’s blended summer course of “Education as Communication” (EDUC 2400) to be academically and personally valuable. Here are some of the reasons why: -I found the content to be interesting and applicable to a variety of contexts. -I liked having the flexibility of being able to work ahead on online activities. - I appreciated not having to commute as often to campus. -It was interesting to utilize various forms of communication for the course especially because of its namesake. Professor Winton was open to meeting students face-to-face if they so wished. Her accessibility made the blended course less daunting for students who had not previously taken an online course. I enjoyed the course not because of its hybrid nature, but rather, because of the professor teaching the course. Some things that I find problematic with the widespread encouragement of technological implementation in courses university-wide are: -Time spent looking at a screen causes eyestrain and possible headaches that
February 2015 compound stress. -Deprivation of meaningful face-to-face inter-personal contact with classmates reduces social ties and erodes the possibility of forming new relationships. -Less quality time interacting with the professor in more spontaneous and lively inperson discussions reduces the time being academically challenged with vigorous tasks and in-depth analyses. -Declining quality in favour of so-called “efficiency.” With regards to participation marks, it may be an efficient way of tracking student engagement with a given text, but the quality of the learning experience is cold. Commenting on other participants’ work in an online setting often seems repetitive and confined by what can be said. Filtering what can be said online is not as genuine as what can be conveyed in person through a variety of communication channels, with things easily taken out of context and misunderstood in written formats. The juxtaposition of quality and profitability can be evidenced by the current example of York’s Academic and Administrative Program Review (AAPR) which positions courses on scatter plots based upon quality versus sustainability.
Tools for Teaching Digitally: Donec Elegy for a Dead World Reviewinterdum Michael Gyssels
The modern, interconnected classroom presents a plethora of opportunity for modern teachers, though these opportunities are often masked as challenges—and vice versa. That is, the technological boom that has seen the rise of the Internet, the smartphone, the tablet, the laptop computer, and myriad social media applications over the past 15 years constitutes perhaps the most prominent talking point among established teachers and TCs alike. The question of “what to do about social media” has rapidly evolved and proliferated into a nefarious (and unjust) fear of technology in most schools and educational institutions that I have visited. Rather than harnessing the potential of the Internet, the knee-jerk response is to ban, avoid, ignore, and reprimand. This is unfortunate as there are tools like Elegy for a Dead World that capitalize on the power of technology—in this case helping students engage with one of the most maligned subjects in the Secondary and Elementary curricula: poetry. Elegy for a Dead World is available on the computer platform STEAM, and asks players to explore three distant worlds—Byron’s World,
Shelley’s World, and Keats’ World—based on the eponymous poets and their work. These worlds each contain the remnants of ancient civilizations; where teams of excavators and scientists could not reach the distant worlds, one person—a poet— has. Thus, your job as this poet is to eternalize these dead civilizations in verse and prose, and, in so doing, give them life. Derridean ideas about absencepresence and archivization aside, your Consectetuer: main task is to explore and write down what you see. And trust me, there are some beautiful landscapes to see. The game is small, taking up only 600MB of space on your computer, but the game is still brilliant and vibrant. The oversaturated colours combined with the minimalist art style offer overtly thrilling images that likewise ask the player to submit to his or her imagination and to project from within—to expand the world as much as their minds and words will let them. 5
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That expansion is hypothetically infinite as each poem or short story created within the bounds of the game can be published and be made available globally to other players to read and “Commend” if they like what you have written. Thus the experience is simultaneously solipsistic and isolating, but wholly open and communal as tens of thousands of singular adventurers (i.e. students) explore the same game creating their own worlds, which are all unique. As an educational tool, Elegy for a Dead World allows students to easily visit the worlds their classmates create through writing. While the landscapes and graphics are vivid and encapsulating, the transmission of each student’s experience happens through language, which is the most redeeming quality of the game. While the material produced is globally available, other authors cannot comment or criticize the work of others, which should hopefully staunch some of the wounds that e-education has endured in recent years. Likewise, students in the classroom can still print and share their stories (and their personal experiences both in the game and as players of the game) in the classroom environment.
“We created Elegy so that everyone can write. As you explore the game, the game helps you create the narrative. Perhaps best of all, educators can request up to 25 activation keys for their schools absolutely free via this link (http://www.dejobaan.com/elegyeducators/) as part of the Kickstarter stretch-goal rewards. After losing a few hours in the game myself I’m eager to test it in the classroom. If students are as quick as I was to forget that they’re actually reading and writing poetry and not just playing a game then perhaps we needn’t be so quick to consign verse to the Dead World of the English Curriculum. Elegy for a Dead World is available on Mac, Windows, and Linux via STEAMTM.
Spotlight on: Rebecca Adams Nicholas Catania This month EDible News sat down with Concurrent Education Student, Rebecca Adams to discuss her experience in the practicum program at York thus far. We sat down to discuss everything from her decision to become a teacher, to her goals, pedagogy and insights for those considering taking the practicum program at York University. N: Why did you choose to become a teacher? R: I began teaching as an instructor in Martial Arts at a young age, and I was inspired by the enthusiasm of the community I was teaching in. The most important moment within that experience that made me consider teaching as a
career was when I worked with a student who had Asperger's Syndrome. Their determination and unique way of thinking taught me a lot about teaching, and I realized how interesting and exciting it was to see a student progress and change when encouraged and listened to.
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Issue 3, February 2015 explore this relevance so that it captures their interest and creativity.
N: What do you value most about York's education program? R: The students and staff within the program who have helped me grow personally and as a teacher. N: Describe your own personal pedagogy. What does this mean to you? R: I find that my personal pedagogy is to always be adaptable to the students and their needs, and to always try to provide a safe and effective learning environment in any way I can. This means to give the students a lot of opportunities to become independent and work together to find how they learn best. I feel that it is extremely important to teach in a way that also shows students the relevance of the curriculum they are learning, and give students ways to
N: If you could provide insight into becoming a teacher, what advice would you give based on your experience thus far? R: My advice for anyone considering teaching would be to begin working with students in any way they can, and to take the time to observe how these students are learning as individuals and as a class. If you grow to become passionate about their progress and successes, big and small, then definitely consider teaching. I would also advise them to be in constant reflection as teachers about how they are developing, because I feel that this has really helped me to make this decision myself. Talking to other experienced teachers who have had different experiences can also be a very useful, and this can really broaden your horizons and help you discover all the opportunities to teach outside the classroom.
We Need to Speak the Same Language Mercy Yulien Can we change our existing discourses of spoken and written English? As educators, we have been trusted with a responsibility that is often bigger than us. Our classrooms are communities that exist within the bigger world. This is how I envision this relationship: our little community interacts with other little communities within the bigger community that is the school; then all of these students and all of their teachers exit the school community and interact with their immediate environmental communities, their homes, the supermarkets, and the rest of the world through various social media outlets. All of these communities have a language schemata/ existing knowledge of language, through which language is communicated, thoughts are expressed, ideas, values, and various
EDible News contextual interpretations are made; we then participate in a reciprocal interaction of meaning with each other. In the context of a Global Classroom, as educators, we have the responsibility to teach language and its formal rules. It is no longer sufficient to label something as “correct” or “incorrect” we need to be able to explain and justify our choices. But which theory should we employ? Through which lenses do we see and employ language? Are what we call ‘proficiency expectations’ sufficient to quantify and qualify our language use? There are three main areas: the first is the Prescriptivist, then the Psycholinguistic, and ultimately the Sociolinguistic. Personally, I follow these in this exact order in my schemata of language because I need to first understand the rules, which govern the English language, and then I apply it to my own personal voice, which is also expressed in a social context. This may be because I am not a Native English Speaker and, when I was first introduced to the English Language (both written and spoken), it was through the formal rules, then personal application, and then the social context. Sometimes I think of myself as Virginia Woolf thought of herself, as writing always—even in
February 2015 her private diaries and journals—as writing for a reader who both critiqued and appreciated her work. There is always a listener or a reader judging our use of language, and as a result placing us in a social class. We need to have a deeper understanding of the rules of the English language, which are demanded of us every day; this is especially because we are educators. The bar is set high because we set the standards of others’ language use. We model our lessons inside the classroom, and we need to model language every day, to the point at which it becomes natural to us. This is why the study of English grammar at the University level is so important. As we get ready to teach and influence the minds of young people we need to feel that we have done our best to understand what we teach; and no matter our discipline – language is the primary vehicle through which we present knowledge, and the knowledge of others is presented to us. Have you ever thought about the grammar of the language you teach, you speak, you interpret and make meaning out of, or how your existing knowledge evolved your schemata within your discipline? Are you able to justify your commas, semicolons, ellipses, articles, verb conjugations, your independent and dependent clauses, and all their variables? Do you know what an Octothorpe is without Googling it? We have to regress before we can progress; if you haven’t taken a good grammar course lately, I highly recommend that you do. If you can’t understand your own language well,
I recommend you take a grammar course. Furthermore, I recommend Professor’ Kim Michasiw’s Grammar Course. I had the privilege to take it this fall – and it changed the way I look at and use language – for the better. He also agreed to an interview on this
EDible News subject in which he added, “Correct English became a class marker during the Industrial Revolution in the 19th Century in England; instruction in correct grammatical expression became a way of aligning with the usage of the dominant class the speech patterns of those people that had risen economically but still had their class markers attached to them in how they spoke or wrote.” This suggests “correct” usage as marker of a dominant class, and grammar as nothing more than purging “ain’t” from your vernacular. But it is much more. I would like to understand the study of Grammar as, in Prof. Michasiw’s words, “the study of how we put words in arrangements that make sense.” We need to know why and how “the subject of the Gerund is always in the possessive...how restrictive and non-restrictive clauses are introduced”. I call us all to stop treating Grammar Study “with benign neglect”. Have you ever completed a Reed- Kellogg Diagram of your favorite poem or long sentence? Prof. Michasiw produced a complex and detailed diagram of Wallace’s Stevens “The Snow Man”, which I am eager to see, as he excitedly and proudly detailed that so much was revealed about the poem’s sixteen lines through the diagramming exercise that is not evident even in a careful reading. That is powerful. We have the potential to have that level of expertise and continuously take and use the abstract concepts of language to bring forth discoveries and new applications of the everyday written and spoken
February 2015 language. Although the Grammar Course has migrated from the English Dept. at York U into the Professional Writing Dept., I am recommending that the current course be split into two parts: Part A to introduce grammar for all disciplines and degrees, and Part B to serve those students who are more engaged with the study of grammar allowing them a dedicated space to investigate language, as well as, a study set forth on improving their written and spoken English. “There are people who are perfectly competent and never need a Grammar Course,” as Prof. Michasiw told me during our interview, but would not be able to justify or explain their habitually correct choice. Isn’t that a tad hypocritical of us to go into our classrooms, or the workplace, feeling confident in our word choices, expecting people to understand us and yet not be able to justify our choices if challenged? The main criticism of this approach to writing was presented to me by Professor John Spencer in our interview, in which he excited me about an upcoming lecture of our course together, Writ1300, in which meta-level research will be presented in the study of grammar; yet also created a sense of dismay when Professor Spencer brought my attention to evidence that “the learning of formal grammar has no effect on improving sentencelevel writing, it actually causes problems.” I leave it up to you to decide that for yourself upon immersion in the study of Grammar, preferably taught by Professor Michasiw, who
shared, “the Professional Writing Program originated because of complaints by employers that many English graduates’ grasp of correct writing at the level of the sentence was too weak for them to be employable as writers”. Isn’t that interesting? “The Snow Man” poem becomes the perfect metaphor, we must listen to the sound of Grammar, as we speak it and as we write it – rules must be as innate to the writer as pen is to paper, as part of the whole that is the snow to the snowman. We need more voices to make the case for Grammar in our Education- at the University, in the classrooms in which we teach, and in the workplace. I want to continue this conversation with you; please answer this poll via Twitter @mercy_yulien #GrammarGlobalClassroom ... Have you taken a grammar course in the past? If so, please let me know about your learning experience and how it shaped your world. If not, please let me know why you think a Grammar Course is or isn’t essential to a holistic education of spoken and written English.
Why Tutoring Online is Just as Beneficial as Tutoring in Person (If Not More So) Ana-Maria Jerca
I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I remember telling my parents so in the first grade. Since then, numerous other career options were explored by my young mind - in the second grade, I wanted to be an astronaut; in the tenth, a screenwriter - but I always came back to teaching. I felt happy envisioning myself in the role of an educator, specifically, a language teacher. I watched my French and Spanish teachers make learning fun in such a way that we didn't even realize we were in class and I wanted to be just like them. Looking back, it was for this reason, because teaching as a career was always somewhere on my mind, that during high school and university, I was subconsciously only pursuing part-time jobs that had an educational aspect. I never thought of working at a coffee shop or as a waitress - I simply just tutored. It was where I felt most comfortable. Tutoring, of course, has many benefits, for teacher candidates and students alike. It provides the student with the one-on-one
attention that they need in order to learn better and succeed (but that perhaps cannot obtain from their teacher), while simultaneously encouraging a more personal relationship between them and the tutor. Thus, we may have a tendency to question anything that could separate tutor and tutee, such as thousands of kilometres. Despite rapid technological advancements, many people are still reluctant to accept that the closeness of certain relationships is almost at the point of being replicated via technology. For instance, Skype has replaced the long-distance phone call, but we are still not at the point of saying it has replaced seeing our loved one face-toface. In the case of tutoring, however, I will beg to differ. In addition to in-home tutoring, I also work for a company called Telelingo. Telelingo uses an online meeting room called Zoom to connect students and tutors from across the world for the purposes of language and music lessons. The tutors are required to have native-like fluency in the languages they teach, so I've been tutoring English as a second language. At first, the experience seemed daunting, but soon I came to realize the many benefits of online tutoring that in-home tutoring simply overlooks. Here's why: (In order to protect the privacy of my student, I will change her name for the remainder of the article.)
EDible News My first session with Emma was on a summer morning. For me, at least. Emma lives in Poland. She had just gotten home from camp. This is the first benefit of online tutoring: the time difference can actually be convenient for both tutor and tutee, which provides a whole new dimension to scheduling that I wasn't used to, and that in-home tutoring cannot offer. Not only was our particular time difference convenient, it was ideal. I work better in the mornings than later in the day, and Emma could only have her lessons after camp, but didn't want to wait till the evening, either. In other words, if it weren't for the time difference, I wouldn't normally have been able to take on this student. The online medium made something that would have been impossible happen. Of course, another obstacle overcome by the easpect of our tutoring is the immense distance between Toronto and where Emma lives in Poland. However, e-learning solves this problem to such a great extent that it is actually easier to tutor Emma in Poland than it is to tutor someone in the GTA sometimes. No matter what the weather or traffic, I can still tutor Emma because when I wake up in the morning, I'm already at work. Likewise, when I go on vacation or to visit my family, our lessons continue uninterrupted. Online tutoring has made commuting a stress of the past, and this, combined with the possible benefit of the time difference are what really set e-learning apart from in-home tutoring. You might be wondering what the catch is, given these immense benefits. "Surely she's got to miss the personal aspect of face-to-face tutoring", you might be telling yourself. Ironically, I spend more time face-to-face with Emma as we both look at a camera than I do with my in-home students, whom I sit next to. And in addition to video chatting, Zoom allows me to share and give Emma control of my computer screen so that we can read stories together, watch videos, and even interactively give each other directions on Google maps. Using Zoom, Emma has shown me her computer programming homework, and we've even made origami cows together by watching a tutorial on YouTube. I feel like I know Emma just as well as I do my other students. It's almost as if the miles don't exist.
With Emma, I don't have a textbook or homework to work from. But thankfully, the Internet has such a wide variety of resources we can use with our students. In fact, we often overlook these in favour of textbooks and homework from their teachers. Therefore, if we start thinking of bringing the Internet to our in-home tutoring sessions as beneficial, then really, online tutoring with Telelingo is just a step away. Furthermore, it's a step in the right direction, as it allows more convenience for tutor and tutee alike without sacrificing the profound relationship every teacher wishes to have with their students. This is not to say that in-home tutoring is a thing of the past. Rather, it's something we can expand on not only for the benefit of convenience but also for knowing that we're bringing millions more students the possibility to learn and have fun doing it, which is an endeavour I have been dedicating myself to for years.
Education= (E)MOTION Nadine Wyczolkowski
Learning involves a great deal of movement, whether it is the reciprocal exchange of ideas and feedback from person to person through the intangible, to the physical kinesthetic learning that takes place through various learning modalities, to more literal interpretations of motion including extra curricular activities of athletics, dance, drama, and music. Motion implies a certain change. An elicited transformation not only affects who or what is being changed but also the environment in which it is situated. While many assume learning involves an implied forward direction, some fail to realize that learning also involves revisiting the past and looking back; this is a necessity in order to appreciate the present and have some context for positioning of the future. As teachers we should attempt to expand students’ horizons and let them envision their dreams and beyond. Robert Collier astutely said that, “All motion is cyclic. It circulates to the limits of its possibilities and then returns to its starting point.” Once we have stretched students’ academic potential, it is up to them to evaluate their starting points and see if they will return to the same point, or if they have chosen a new embarking platform, eager to learn new things. My hope is that students experience education beyond going through the motions of copying down notes, and actually experience motion for themselves on their academic journey, being moved by what interests them. In order for there to be sustainable motion there has to be something that energizes, fuels, and inspires… that is emotion. A feeling, a drive, something that motivates and encourages students to challenge a teacher’s idea, to demonstrate a project in front of the class, to shoot the winning basket. These all involve a myriad of motions and exhilarating emotions. 13
A Reflection on the Global Classroom Michael Gyssels As so-called “Digital Natives” (a myth that deserves dissection in its own write), the modern Teacher-Candidate both manipulates and heels to the Global Classroom- or rather, Globalization both in and of the classroom. That is, our students increasingly study and interact with global trends rather than local or national ones. The modern capitalist agenda suggests that students must expose themselves to foreign cultures—which can (and certainly should be) a positive, educational interaction. Likewise, Canada frames itself as wondrously diverse: the 2011 Toronto Census marks 49.1% of residents as nonnative English speakers, meaning that the mother tongue of roughly half of the Toronto population is some language other than English. The classroom potentiality of this cultural diversity is often touted as a proverbial feather-in-the-cap of Canadian life. Still, the larger political structures that motivate these cross-cultural interactions can, and do, stifle cultural vibrancy in the classroom. In the most recently conducted survey of Toronto teacher demographics, over 84% of teachers were white; in 2014, high school enrolment in Toronto suggested that less than 50% of students identify as white. Thus responsibility falls on the teacher to note one’s own biases and encourage a classroom that acknowledges and celebrates ethnic diversity, and explores those histories of racial and cultural groups often victimized, vilified, or otherwise only partially investigated by white Canadian textbooks and teaching practices.
This issue’s theme, “The Global Classroom,” also opens up questions of economic and environmental stability. The latest Issue of Rethinking Schools, quotes Naomi Klein, who writes that for educators, climate change must be “a catalyzing force for positive change […] the best argument progressives have ever had to demand the rebuilding and reviving of local economies; to reclaim our democracies from corrosive corporate influence; to block harmful new free trade deals and rewrite old ones; […] to open borders to migrants whose displacement is linked to climate impacts; to finally respect Indigenous land rights—all of which would help to end grotesque levels of inequality within [all] nations and between them.” Climate change, then, represents a social injustice and therefore a social project. As educators, we are responsible for developing Global citizens—we must stimulate global curiosity and a passion for justice within the minds of all our young students. This, and the many other responsibilities that come with teaching globally, must be a constant goal for which we all strive towards.
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