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EDUC 550

January 14, 2016

Rena Donaldson
Learning Task 1: Reflection on Term 3 Practicum Experience

Before going into Field Experience III, I developed an understanding of

teaching methodologies that were less focused on direct instruction or transmission
based approaches to teaching such as inquiry and discipline-based methods and
was eager to experiment with these new approaches in an effort to avoid text-book
based, compliant learning. I experienced the tension between the content
coverage approach to teaching which would result from the curriculum-as-plan
understanding of curriculum design versus the disciplinary and individualized style
of teaching that results from the curriculum-as-lived-experience approach to design
when I created a project-based unit of study for my Social Studies 20-1 class (Aoki,
2005). The tension most expressively lived in my practice in terms of time
management as with such a large undertaking, it was difficult to manage time,
program requirements, and student engagement. In my Social 20-1 class I designed
an issue-based project for the unit of internationalism which involved designing tshirts to raise money to sponsor the resettlement of a Syrian refugee family to
Canada. Each topic within the internationalism unit was studied through the lens of
the crisis in Syria and guided by the question, based on your new understandings
of internationalism and Canadas role in Syria, how should Canada respond to the
crisis in Syria?. This question was designed with the intention of engaging students
with an international issue that affects them as individuals, while also meeting the
criteria developed in the Program of Study (POS). I hoped to develop within the
students a sense of advocacy as individuals and a deeper understanding of
empathy. I quickly discovered that students were very involved and engaged with
the design process but were more compliant or less engaged with the concept of
the project. For example, students had little interest in the sponsorship of refugees
and were more interested in reasons for non-involvement.
While my intention for the project was not necessarily for it to get off the
ground, but rather to develop empathy, compassion, and create active citizens that
are engaged with global issues, the learning that took place during the unit was less
worthwhile than I imagined it would be (Alberta Education, 2005). I think the
process of designing the t-shirt and the campaign could have been more meaningful
if it had come after the crisis in Syria had been studied. For example, by having
students explore the historical context of the civil war and the ways in which
Canada responded to the crisis, both in terms of military and humanitarianism,
instead of in conjunction with the campaign designing, students could have
developed a greater sense of historical thinking, empathy, and understandings of
international involvement/non-involvement. Students could have then designed a tshirt that was even more representative of the people and the crisis using their
understandings and the deeper sense of empathy they developed. Another element
that could have increased engagement would have been having a representative
from an international organization involved in the immigration process or someone
partaking in a similar campaign come in and discuss business strategies and
humanitarianism with students. An area of my own practice I could improve as a

result of my experimentation with this project is more deliberate and careful

designing. While I avoided the text-book transmission based approach to social
studies learning and teaching, I needed more intentional and focused attention to
curriculum design to increase worthwhile learning for students.

Alberta Education. (2005). 20-level Programs of Study: Social Studies. Edmonton,
AB: Alberta Education.
Retrieved from
Aoki, T. (2005). Teaching as in-dwelling between two curriculum worlds. Mahwah, NJ,
USA: Lawrence