Rose Couture

Aspiring teacher. “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” ― William Arthur Ward


Curriculum as Narrative Part 2

Working Effectively with English Language Learners – by Rob Peterson and Kelley Dawson Salas

For the second part of Curriculum as Narrative, I chose to analyze more in depth the story about English language learners. But for a moment, let’s pretend this is about “Working Effectively with French Language Learners”. I know the assignment is designed for us to make connections with the short stories, and this is the way I connect with this one. As some of you might already know, I am part of the Bac program for education at elementary level (K-5). Therefore, I am aiming to be teaching in a French Immersion school or a Fransaskois school at the end of my bachelor’s degree. I found the short story to be very interesting, but the whole time I was reading it, I tried to imagine how it applied to me. Why would I be working with English language learners? I am going to be in a francophone environment… VOILA! Having this enlightening moment, I then tried to read the story and apply it to a French context. Why would it be any different from English to French right?

In Saskatchewan, there are multiple French programs for both francophone and anglophone peoples. First off, there are francophone schools, usually called “école fransaskoise” where students, who have parents that attended a francophone school, can be found. In these type of schools, every single subject is taught in French from kindergarten to grade 12, aside from the English class. Then we have French Immersion schools where students who don’t have French as a first language, can go to school and learn in French from kindergarten to grade 3, and then be introduced to English classes in grade 4. It is also possible for some student to partake in the Late French Immersion programs starting in grade 6 through grade 12. In addition, there is a Core French program where, depending on the grade you are in, are taught French as a subject for a certain amount of time every week. For example, kindergartener to 5th graders will be having French lessons for at least 30 minutes four times a week (120 minutes) whereas 6th to 9th graders have to learn French for 150 minutes every week, and so on. For anglophone parents who decide to send their children to a French Immersion school or a Core French program, there are many resources available in order for them to be able to help their children with homework and lessons taught in French, such as Canadian Parents for French.

As a preservice teacher aiming to teach in a French environment, I found the short story by Peterson and Dawson Salas really applied to my situation. Like it is mentioned, I will have to constantly remind myself that my students’ first language might not be French unlike me. Therefore, I will have to be extra cautious to speak very slowly and clearly so that my class can understand what I am saying. There is also a possibility that I will encounter students who just moved to Saskatchewan or Canada and don’t speak English or French. That’s where visual aids such as pictures, posters, videos, books, slide shows will come in handier than verbal instruction. By showing kids something visual, they know what the animal, action, tree, etc. is in their first language and therefore, they are able to make connections and for example, be like “oh chat [in french] is just like gato!” (which is spanish for cat). I will definitely use the idea of introducing vocabulary and concepts to my students before jumping into lessons, which will also allow me to evaluate the levels at which my students are at. I probably would also review vocabulary and concepts related to every week’s lessons before starting to teach so that my students are really comfortable with the terms. The idea of using songs, skits and games to learn is also very appealing to me. I even find myself singing French songs to my anglophone niece sometimes and she thinks its hilarious and she really enjoys trying to sing along with me. I have also discovered that many French songs and rhymes have an English version. That would be a very helpful tool for my anglophone students to use in order to make connections with their first language.

The only aspect of the short story I am “iffy” about is the one that suggests not to use whole-class instruction. I understand that not all the students will be at the same French level, Fransaskois or Immersion school, but I think by reviewing vocabulary and concepts with all the classroom would benefit everyone. When it comes to projects, readings and assignments, then yes, I believe working in smaller groups would be more beneficial and I would probably tend to put together teams containing a diversity of students so that everyone in the group gets the chance to be in the shoes of both a learner and a teacher. Including words and expressions from other cultures in my lessons is also part of my plan, as I find myself easily entertained when finding out the meaning of certain words in languages that are unknown to me. This could be an interesting idea of an activity to do with my students. I could give them a sentence in English and have them translate it to French and two or one other language and have them make connections between the words. What are the similarities and differences? Of course the root of the language and the words can be a little complicated, but there are ways to have this activity adapted to different levels.

Overall, I thought the reading of The New Teacher Book to be very interesting and constructive, and I will definitely be using the book in the future. It is something that I will want to have close to me during my first few years as a teacher as it touches multiple issues one can encounter in different contexts. In addition, I will definitely be taking the time to read the whole volume once time permits!



Little Break

Some of you might wonder why I am not in class this week or why I will be absent next week and for other weeks as the semester goes on. I know I don’t have to share this with anyone, but I want to explain my situation a little bit. This week I received a phone call from my mother and she is very sick. I am not sure of all the details, but she is in the hospital and there is a big team of GREAT doctors looking after her. My father has currently left his work in order to be with my mom and well, I will be leaving shortly to go and join them during this difficult time. It was something I was definitely not expecting, everything was going so well, I am loving all my classes in university (maybe for the first time in my life) and I am just eager to learn. Although I will be making regular trips to Quebec during the rest of the semester, I will be back and participating in class when I am not in Quebec. Family comes first, but I am so in love and interested with everything I am learning. I will try my best to keep up with assignments and blog posts, but if I am away, you might not hear from me until I am back in Saskatchewan. I also want to thank all my teachers from the University of Regina for being understanding and supportive during this time, it really means a lot to me and my family. Things might change as time goes by, but for now all we can do is have a positive attitude and look at the bright aspects of life.

Me and my foster kitty Khaleesi learning about storytelling and doing some blogging in bed this a.m. :)

Me and my foster kitty Khaleesi learning about storytelling and doing some blogging in bed this a.m. 🙂


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Teachers are nerds

Today I read Mr Ken Moore’s post about teachers being intellectual individuals. It inspired me because I found a few things that are related to what I am currently learning in my ECS210 class. My favorite quote in his text is the one took from Edward Said in his book Representations of the intellectual published in 1996.

 “… the intellectual is an individual endowed with a faculty for representing, embodying, articulating a message, a view, an attitude, philosophy or opinion to, as well as for, a public.” The intellectual, in Said’s view, represents a “critical sense” – a willingness to question and challenge the conventional and the accepted; to seek the reality beneath the apparent. The intellectual believes that “to be a thinking and concerned member of society one is entitled to raise moral issues…” “on the basis of universal principles: that all human beings are entitled to expect decent standards of behaviour concerning freedom and justice…”

So are teachers really nerds? Well I would assume that nerds are very intelligent people that we often call intellectuals, but this is an assumption. Being a preservice teacher, I know for a fact that nobody should make assumptions. The Oxford Dictionary defines nerd as follows:



  • a foolish or contemptible person who lacks social skills or is boringly studious:I was a serious nerd until I discovered girls and cars
  •  a single-minded expert in a particular technical field:

Nerd is an informal term, it is a word used by most people to say that a certain person is socially awkward and spending his days studying, reading books or playing video games along with being very good with technology. In certain ways, yes teachers are nerds, but only when it comes to their social awkwardness. And by this I mean that they are not exactly following the ways of society or what others believe to be common sense. Teachers are intelligent beings that are aiming towards social and racial justice. Teachers want to find ways to engage their students in thinking critically about the many issues around the world and coming up with their own solutions and ideas. I think that being a teacher must be one of the greatest jobs in the world. As an educator, you have the power to make a difference, you have to power to have individuals start to think for themselves, to not only judge by what they are taught from the elements surrounding them. Preservice and service teachers are intellectuals and we like it. It gives me the impression that I am important, that I can start making a difference in this world filled with social and racial injustice. What are your thoughts? Are teachers nerds by the Oxford definition or are they partly nerds and intellectuals? How does it make you feel as a preservice or service teacher to have chosen this career?

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En Français?

Philosophie d’enseignement (en construction)

L’enseignement et l’apprentissage sont deux éléments qui vous suivront dans plusieurs aspects de votre vie. Que vous soyez au primaire ou que vous soyez un adulte, en tant qu’individu, vous enseignez et vous apprenez à tous les jours.

Je crois qu’il est important que mes étudiants apprennent de leurs propres expériences. Je préfère que mes étudiants travaillent en équipe, car il est plus facile pour eux de retenir de l’information de cette manière. Il est aussi plus intéressant pour eux d’apprendre de cette manière que d’avoir à écouter une leçon longue, sans vie et remplie d’informations. En encourageant le travail d’équipe, je permets à mes étudiants de développer leurs aptitudes sociales et je leur permets d’avoir leur propre opinion sur différents sujets. De cette façon, ils construisent leur représentation du monde extérieur et, en même temps, ils enseignent de nouvelles connaissances à leurs coéquipiers et apprennent de ces derniers. Je veux que mes élèves aient la chance de jouer le rôle du professeur et de l’élève qui apprend. Le socioconstructivisme promeut la construction de l’élève et le développement de leurs interactions sociales.

En tant qu’enseignante, j’aurai le pouvoir d’influencer l’apprentissage et les expériences de vie d’un nombre indéfini d’étudiants et cette opportunité devrait être la plus agréable possible. Il est important de fournir le plus de ressources possibles dont l’étudiant aura de besoin afin de contribuer au développement de sa perception de l’environnement dans lequel il vit. À l’école, l’enfant possède plusieurs ressources tels que des enseignants, du matériel de construction, des livres, mais sa ressource la plus précieuse sera ses compagnons de classe. Pour moi, l’enseignement est l’élément clé du développement de l’enfant. En tant qu’enseignante, je donnerais donc des défis à mes élèves, au quotidien, afin de les stimuler mentalement. De cette manière, ils retiendront l’information plus facilement. Enseigner au primaire sera un défi pour moi, car je devrais constamment avoir l’attention de mes étudiants et trouver des façons d’y parvenir.

Lorsque j’aurais l’occasion d’enseigner au niveau primaire, je toucherais plusieurs sujets avec un même groupe d’étudiants. Je suis particulièrement intéressée à enseigner de façon collaborative avec les élèves de la classe pour rendre cette expérience agréable. En formant des groupes composés d’élèves «forts» et d’élèves plus «faibles», les étudiants auront l’occasion de s’enseigner entre eux et d’avoir différentes perspectives sur plusieurs sujets, ce qui rend le travail d’équipe intéressant et enrichissant. Après les travaux, les étudiants partagerons leurs opinions avec le reste de la classe et nous pourrons comparez les réponses et les opinions ensemble afin de contempler la diversité dans une même classe.


A History of Education by Painter (1886)

Reading the first 21 pages of Painter’s History of Education just blew my mind. And the fact that this textbook was used by Saskatchewan teachers in the early 1900’s is even crazier. Our teacher specified not to be scandalized in our lecture today, but I just could not help myself. Painter uses many racial terms in his work, “good” words about “his kind” and some other non-pretty words for anybody else that is underneath him in the racial hierarchy. Just so we are clear, I do not believe in racial hierarchy. He leaves us the impression that to him, being an anglo-saxon is just the best thing you can be. You are viewed as a noble man, you are the ideal of the human race, you are built to be the ideal of Christ. He then goes on comparing civilized people (like the anglo-saxon) to the barbarous people such as the Mongolians, the Chinese, giving us the impression that their ways are wrong compared to the western ways and that they cannot be smart/intelligent/knowledgable like the “child of the West”. The term “race” in the textbook highlights the negative differences between Westerners and Occidentals.

Why were teachers taught to think in racial terms? Mainly for assimilation. It was the government’s way of making sure that teachers would emphasize the importance of the Western ways in public schools and residential schools. Through “mandatory” texts about teaching/education that were written in racial ways, teachers believed it was “common sense” and “normal” to be teaching those views to the students in their classroom. I really hope that teachers nowadays do not unconsciously impose those biased values to the kids sitting in front of them in the class. What do you think? Are we still imposing white racialization unconsciously to our students in 2013? In what ways should we explore different cultures in class without it being seen as “racism” from the anglo-saxon?