U1 – Finished

U1.

The first of my four-year B.Ed. Program is complete.

It was a rough journey at times, and to quote The Simpsons‘ Mr. Burns:

It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times.”

While my recount of my First Field Experience back in November-December will be explored in a future post, this one is to simply reflect on my first year as a whole. The friends and peers I’ve worked with these long months may very well be my friends for life. The work has been hard at times, and simple at other times. But overall, this year has been very fulfilling. Much has been learned, and there is still much more knowledge to attain.

Knowing what I know now, I will be more prepared for what is to come in U2.

But for now, I shall take the time to write my book, to get some well-deserved rest, and enjoy this Summer.

 

My “SMART” Goal – May Update

Right.

So a few things to say.

First, I really need to update more often.

Second, I’m nearing the finish line for my first novel!

It truly is a grand adventure, and just a few nights ago I actually had a dream that I was in the same world as my protagonists. Allow me to tell you all this, you haven’t lived until you dream in the world that your heroes live in. To be able to see and interact with the very characters you created is a feeling that transcends bewilderment.

So, on to the update.

At present, I’m writing Chapter Seven of Part Two, which means I’ve passed the halfway point of the latter half of The Hunter and the Horned Serpent. As I previously mentioned, each Part has 13 Chapters. But worry not, when all is said and done, it will all be part of a single novel. I have two reasons on why I chose to divide this one story into two narratives. Firstly, to give readers a definitive “intermission” where they can set the book down, process their thoughts, and then return to see how the heroes finish their journey. And secondly, because the second Part is structured differently than Part One. The former is very episodic, with some chapters telling their own self-contained story; whereas the latter is a single story that is broken into 13 pieces. But fret not, I assure my readers that there will be a self-contained chapter or two peppered into Part Two.

Further, Chapter Seven of Part Two is smack dab in the middle of Act Two. This section of the story really picks up the pace and it becomes a race against time for our protagonists–and antagonists–as they race into Act Three. The final six chapters may very well be my favourite parts of the story; they are fast paced, terrifying, and beautiful. I look forward to one day showing you all this adventure, and hope you enjoy the journey as much as I have.

My “SMART” Goal – March Update

Work on my novel, The Hunter and the Horned Serpent, is slowly coming along. While I haven’t had a lot of time to work on Part Two as I had writing Part One, I am satisfied that there is progress nonetheless. Luckily, Reading Week at McGill just passed by, and I used that time to get a lot of work done for The Age of Antlers; the second part of the greater story of The Hunter and the Horned Serpent. 

Presently, I am in the midst of developing the fourth chapter of The Age of Antlers. Similar to Part One: The Rise, the second half of the story will follow the thirteen chapter formula.

Having begun my writing career as a scriptwriter, the manner in which The Hunter and the Horned Serpent‘s plot unravels is very similar to a season of a cable television series. Each chapter sticks with a specific theme, and while it possesses its own self-contained plot, it adds to the overall arc of the story. I’ve done this for two reasons, the first being that this was how I learned to write stories, and second, that hopefully some day I can put The Hunter and the Horned Serpent to series. The story of Horned Serpent would span two, 13-episode seasons.

And while nothing is set in stone, I intend to continue the stories of my characters in two more novels. The novels would hopefully be divided into two seasons each, resulting in a six season series. That all said, I’m mainly focusing on the writing of this specific novel. However, there’s no harm in having a greater goal for the future!

Field Experience 1 – The First Week

School: Lasalle Community Comprehensive High School

For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.

~Rudyard Kipling

My first week at my host school was exciting and also terrifying, to say the least. However, upon arrival, my cohorts and I were met with a warm welcome by the administration and our supervisor. Prior to being immersed into the classroom climate, we were first debriefed on everything we needed to know about the school itself.

The first week comprised mainly of observation within classrooms that were not part of our focus subject at McGill. This offered a unique opportunity to get a sense of the different methods and dynamics of classes such as Math, Science and Biology.

Something worth noting was the encouragement of cellphone and technology use in the classrooms. Each student is assigned their own email to Google Drive at the beginning of the school year. From here, students may access resources such as class notes, homework assignments and schedules. Parents also have access to the Drive so as to keep up to date with what their children need to be submitting.

One example would be the math game, “Kahoot!”. The game, which is shown on the SMART Board (which are featured in all classrooms), allows students to use their cellphones to submit their answers to mathematical questions. The one who answers correctly in the shortest amount of time earns more points. This appeared to be a unique and fun way to get students to not only strengthen their mental math skills, but to also boost their enthusiasm of the subject.

Another main point to this is how responsible the students act when they are allowed to have their cellular devices. It shows a shift in the tradition power dynamic typically seen in schools. Now, both teacher and student are on the same level, having access to the same information and therefore learning together.

This was a pleasant surprise, and definitely affected me as a pre-service teacher. Initially, I would have disallowed the use of mobile devices in my classroom. But now, seeing how technology now has a strong foothold in our society, I have changed my view on it.

In closing, I would like to also touch on the great sense of community within the school environment. Over the week, I saw several murals and messages on the walls of the hallways that promoted peace and unity. The school’s slogan also promoted the same sentiment: “For the strength of the pack is the wolf; the strength of the wolf is the pack.” While a quote from The Jungle Book, what I took away from the slogan was that students, teachers and administration are all part of a single pack. The thought promotes an idea of inclusion and family, which certainly may boost the esteem and moral of students and administration alike. It certainly made myself feel better, as right away the school community treated my cohorts and myself as part of the pack.

 

 

My Learning Network & Community

When I first started developing my ePortfolio, I had never taken into account all the people in my life that have contributed to my learning and growth. With the use of the FreeMind application, I was able to design a visual map of sorts and link all of those who have had an influence in my life onto one page.

While there are dozens of individuals on the map, I will only go in depth to those who truly made an impact on my life.

Gwendoline Johnston: My Grade 9 teacher, and perhaps the one who served as a catalyst to my pursuit of a creative and imaginative life. In her class, she would provide piping hot tea and cookies while she instructed the class to write about their personal lives in their journals. However, I found that I was expressing myself more with narratives as opposed to explicitly talking about my personal life. Gwen took note of this, and instead of pacifying this habit of storytelling, she encouraged it. She told me that she thought my stories were great, and that instead of writing a report at the end of the Term, I should write a short story. This had a great effect on me, as it was one of the first times a teacher showed high expectations. She believed in me. She was a fan of my work, and that was a great feeling.

Going forward, I will follow Gwen’s example and perpetuate her legacy of believing that students can achieve great things. All they need is encouragement and constructive critique. You have to believe in your students. Identify their strengths and weaknesses, and alter your teaching approach to accommodate this; give them equal opportunity.

The Communications Team: The people at the Public Relations branch of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake were my first coworkers. My first job was as a temporary production assistant back in the Summer of 2012. Today, I’m still working with them. There is a sense of camaraderie, and we pool our skills together to achieve various large projects. I feel that this experience would serve as excellent preparation for the collaborative environment of a school, where team spirit is paramount.

The McGill Squad: Erin Waxman, Joe Inhaber, Emma Hayes. These three have been an excellent trio of peers and together we’ve devised lesson plans and poster presentations for our classes. We are all pre-service Secondary English teachers, and are learning together; developing the 12 Competencies every step of the way. It is an exciting thought to imagine that someday soon, we will go from being classmates to coworkers in a high school.

Lylee Horn

 

 

my-map_media-tech-ed-revised

My “SMART” Goal – November Update

SMART Goal UPDATE:

My Goal: Write a book.

Title: The Hunter & the Horned Serpent

Chapters: 26.

What I’ve completed so far: 14 chapters.

 

When I first wrote my SMART goal, I was on a roll in terms of churning out new chapters for my novel, The Hunter & the Horned Serpent. However, as the workload of McGill University piled on, I found myself with less time to dedicate to writing further chapters. In these past weeks, I’ve managed to complete the 14th Chapter, “The Secret”. This chapter in particular is unique, as it is set several years prior to the events of the novel itself, and acts as a character development chapter. The chapter also provides a key plot point and reveals a secret that one of the characters has been keeping. The reveal is a pivotal moment, and sets the tone for the second half of the novel.

 

The first 13 Chapters have a very specific objective based plot arc, whereas the latter 13 Chapters focus on the emotional and psychological toll of this journey. It is a much darker half of the story.

 

Roadblock: Time. I do not have as much time as I did in the start of the semester. When I wrote my goal, there weren’t many assignments due, and so I had plenty of time to myself to work on my novel. Now, there are assignments and projects due every week and so my focus is dedicated to them instead of my novel.

I need to construct a new strategy, perhaps set aside some time specifically for writing the novel.

Learning Statement Vol.2 – Speaking at Kahnawake Survival School

I was one of them. 

So a few weeks ago, my old French teacher from Kahnawake Survival School, Mark Polson, had approached me with a unique proposition. He wanted me to return to my old high school and speak with the Grade 9, 10, and 11 classes on the importance of French both in CÉGEP and in daily life.

For context, Kahnawake Survival School (KSS) was founded in 1978, in protest to the controversial Bill 101, which required that students attend school en français. The students from Kahnawake, who were attending H.S. Billings in Chateauguay, decided to walk out. They felt that learning Kanien’keha, the Mohawk language, should be more important than learning French. Thus, Kahnawake Survival School was born.

Today, in addition to Social Studies, Math, Chemistry and Language Arts; KSS has one Mohawk class and one French class in its schedule. Social Studies focuses mainly on historical events from the perspective of the Indigenous population, as well as the Indian Act. The Mohawk class aims provide a foundation for the students to base their identity on. Students learn, or rather are reminded (because it’s common belief that the language resides within all Mohawk people), of Mohawk legends and vocabulary.

The French class aims to prepare students for the outside world, and more importantly, for CÉGEP’s French Placement Test. However, students tend to be opposed to the concept of taking on French. This may stem from the numerous negative encounters with Non-Indigenous people in the past, from Contact to the recent Oka Crisis. The motivation to learn this language is simply not there, and so Mark Polson (and the other members of the French Faculty) asked me to try and help the students.

So for two days, October 17th & 26th, I got up extra early to make the trip to my high school, and present to the students my story. I struggled in CÉGEP, and actually spent two extra years at Vanier College to finish up my French. The reason may be because I did not take my French classes seriously in KSS, and when I reached Vanier, I was met with students who had the advantage of Bill 101. However, I now had the opportunity to encourage high school students to be prepared for what’s ahead. Because I’m an alumni of KSS, there was an instant connection with the students, I was one of them.

This experience was perfect for honing Competency 1:

“To act as a professional who is inheritor, critic and interpreter of knowledge or culture when teaching students.”

Not only was this an opportunity to help the students, but it was also a chance to know what it feels like to be a teacher. The French Faculty welcomed me, and treated me with utmost respect; I was one of them. In the class, my background in theatre gave me an edge on having a large presence that held the attention of the students. Given that I had two days, I was able to learn from the first set of presentations and improve for the second set. I took note of the strategies I used; which was a mixture of both PowerPoint Presentation and an oral recollection. I noticed that my PowerPoint was not totally engaging, and that students tuned out when I was presenting. By the second set of presentations, I ditched the PowerPoint altogether and focused primarily on my oral presentation.

Along with the first Competency, it was also a chance to hone Competency 2: 

“To communicate clearly in the language of instruction, both orally and in writing, using correct grammar, in various contexts related to teaching.”