Tuesday, March 7, 2017

I am a Columnist!!!

I have to confess that this was a dream of mine for quite some time… even before I started blogging. Of course that by posting my stories on my blog, I got a little “push” to try something new. So I did; and for the first time in my life I am writing for a magazine!!!

I sent a proposal to the AirdrieLife Magazine and I was accepted to be one of their contributors for the portion of the magazine called: “Slice of Life” in the parenting section.

My first article for the AirdrieLife Magazine is called: “How do we teach our children to create their own budget?”
This was an amazing experience that I recommend to all teachers that like me that enjoy writing and reading.

I already received suggestions for the next topics for my column and I am writing a few drafts… The magazine only publishes 4 editions per year, one issue for each season of the year, so, I still have some time to think about my next article until the next publication’s deadline comes around.

So, now I am a teacher, an auto-ethnographer and a columnist!!!

If you would like to read my article, please visit the website below.

Thank you, gracias,


*The magazine is available online and also on paper copy. The paper edition has been already distributed in Airdrie and area.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Capstone Exercise... The End is Near :)

Hello everyone,

As I work on my Capstone Exercise, I get that feeling of accomplishment, but at the same time I feel a little nostalgic...

I made so many good friendships throughout this M.Ed. Program and I will miss them! I will miss the discussions, our E-classes, our Adobe conversations... I am not going to miss the assignments though...LOL.

Working on my Capstone Project is making me reflect over these 2,5 years of studies and engagement through U of A. It is interesting to see how much I changed over this period of time... and I am not only talking about the weight I have gained...LOL. No, I am talking about how much I have learned and how much of this learning I have put in to my daily teaching practice.

I am sure that my students appreciated all the new adventures that we had together... My grade 2 classes from 2015-2016 and from 2016-2017' school years were my mini lab, where I tested all the language research that I was working on.

Just to name a few projects we have worked on:

- Teachers' ethnography;
- Circle of Courage;
- Translanguaging;
- Transliteracy;
- Blogging;
- Language Acquisition;
- Second Language Learning;
- Neuro-Linguistic Approach, and so many other aspects of learning in the Elementary School setting.

I feel that I finished this journey, I have accomplished my goals and I am ready to fly... 
I am ready to take on a new challenge, a new adventure, a new learning opportunity and so much more.

I thank all the people who was part of this journey with me, direct or indirectly, you helped shape who I am today as a teacher and as a person and for that I am thankful!

I will post my Capstone Exercise on this Blog soon... Stay tuned :)
As soon as it is graded, I will make it public, so I can share my learning experience in a Graduate Program with all of you!

Thank you/Gracias,

Claudia Sasse 

      Adios :)

Monday, February 20, 2017

How do we frame “Literacies in New Times?”

                 How do we frame “Literacies in New Times?”

I always believed that in order to effectively teach literacy teachers would need to use more than one approach, tool or program. This week my belief became stronger than ever!  After listening to my classmates’ video-presentations and after reading all of the required articles for this week, I can say for sure that we need to have some type of balance when teaching literacy and never rely solely on one specific method or approach. In his publication on Literacy, Luke (1990) states on pages 7 and 8 that:

 “…But rather that each of these general families of approaches displays and emphasises particular forms of literacy, such that no single one will, of itself, fully enable students to use texts effectively, in their own individual and collective interests, across a range of discourses, texts and tasks.”

Other important piece that needs to be considered when teaching literacy is the cultural aspect that students bring with them to the classroom. I loved what Green (2012) says in his book about the significance that culture ‘brings to the table’ when producing meanings to the subjects we teach. On page 6, he argues that: “Subject-area learning is cultural learning; in learning the subject, one is also learning the culture.” In countries like Canada, USA, and Australia where the influx of immigrants is very high, attending to the cultural differences of students is something that we should expect to see as a norm. Isn’t it? I wonder if that is a common idea amongst educators…(?)

The four approaches to literacy education summarized by Ludwig (2003) were something very thought provoking. Even though these ideas do not sound like new concepts, it was certainly a great reminder of the approaches we will face when teaching Literacy, such as the skills, the personal growth, the cultural heritage, and the critical-cultural approaches.

What I found very interesting were the “frameworks” for learning and teaching literacy that would support the four approaches listed above. Ludwig (2003) presents them in her article: - Four Literacy Resources developed by Peter Freebody and Allan Luke (1990) and - Three Literacy Dimensions developed by Bill Green (1988). I believe that we have used similar taxonomy in our Canadian schools, perhaps in different levels. I like the idea of looking at literacy in a more “holistic” way, as Green (1988) suggests. If we are able to put together the language aspect of literacy with its operational systems, taking in consideration the cultural pieces, we could certainly take students’ learning to a more advanced critical level.

When people think about literacy or what means to be literate, many times individuals would think only about the mechanical act of reading and writing. However, as educators, we know that being literate has a much more significant meaning, which would translates to:  - being able to use our critical thinking, comprehension and solving skills when faced with any difficulty in school and in life. I believe that this is my own definition of literacy!


Dyson, A. (2013). Rewriting the Basics – Literacy Learning in Children’s Cultures. New York: Teachers College Press.

Freebody, Peter & Luke, Allan (1990). Literacies programs: Debates and demands in cultural context. Prospect: An Australian Journal of TESOL, 5(3), pp. 7-16. Retrieved from: http://eprints.qut.edu.au/49099/

Green, B. (2012). Subject- Specific Literacy and School Learning: A Revised Account. In B. green and C. Beavis (Eds) Literacy in 3D: An Integrated in Theory and Practice.
Camnerwell, VIC: ACER.

Ludwig, C. (2003). Making Sense of Literacy. In Newsletter of the Australian Literacy Educators' Association.

Luke, A. & Freebody P. (1999). Further Notes on the Four Resources Model. In: Reading Online - Research: Four Resources Model. Retrieved from: http://www.readingonline.org/research/lukefreebody.html

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Winter break :)

For The Loving Of Teaching

Long hours,
Loud voices.
Sometimes I feel like I never left this classroom.
My students think I live at school.
Sometimes I think that too.
Is it summer yet?
When can I rest?
We all long for the summer…
Teachers, staff, students and their parents
We all need to rest!
Tests, exams, activities, field trips, plan, get ready…
Report cards, meetings, conferences.
Learn and forget.
Make plans again.
Some days are fun,
Some days are crazy.
Children running inside the school when they hear the bell…
Teachers walking fast to get to classrooms before the students.
Another day begins…
Students with their priorities, problems and issues,
Teachers with their priorities, problems and issues.
We need a class meeting, let’s talk about our problems.
Is that part of the curriculum?
Yes, indeed!
We feel relieved.
Back to our lesson plan.
Tests, exams, activities, field trips, plan, get ready…
Report cards, meetings, conferences.
Learn and forget.
Make plans again.
Then another year comes around and…
Long hours,
Loud voices…

Monday, October 10, 2016

My Journal

My Journal            

                                                           Claudia Sasse             

           For my first journal entry I wanted to share the results of a student recording experiment similar to the one I have used for the EDEL 505 Assignment on Oral Language.

           I was intrigued by a few thoughts generated after seeing those recording of students working in a particular school task. I wanted to know how much of the students' oral interaction could actually help them to solve a problem and how they use their oral and body language to achieve this goal.

        Therefore, using my classroom I-pad I recorded my students working in a group of four, two boys and two girls. As I teach a grade 2 class, their ages varies between 6 and 7 years old. These students know each other from last year's class and two of them have been together in the same class since kindergarten at the same school.

        I was not able to finish the whole transcript, but I will finish that before the end of this course, so I might share it if you would like to see it.

            The students were asked to solve a math problem, but as we are in a Spanish Bilingual Program; the math problem, of course is in Spanish. During this experiment the students helped each other throughout the whole task within the language itself, trying to identify the meaning of the words, and also by supporting their peers through the reasoning behind the math problem. It was very interesting to see; and I could totally perceive the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) occurring between the children during most of the process through their interactions and oral exchanges.

          This was also a different experiment for me as I was conducting the experiment with "researcher ears” not only as a teacher that wants to know how much they understood the math concept taught or how much vocabulary they have acquired in their second language.

         The body language presented in this activity was amazing, as the students tried to help each other showing with their hands the numbers written in Spanish. Also, the oral exchange that automatically happened in both languages showed me " the consciousness and control” discussed by Bruner (1986, p.2). The students would use the same argument twice sometimes, once in Spanish, and then to make sure that their peers understood what they were saying they would say it again in English.

        It was a very rich experiment that I would recommend to every teacher as a way to listen more carefully to how your students use their oral and body language to solve tasks and to connect with each other. It can also be a great assessment tool for a specific subject, in my case for two subjects for Math and Spanish.

       More language experiments (all research based) yet to come, stay tuned :)


Bruner, J. (1986). The Inspiration of Vygotsky. Actual Minds, Possible worlds. Cambridge: Harvard University Press

Monday, August 8, 2016

Next Steps - What Comes Next?

As Marimoto (2008) argues: “…autoethnography challenges what counts as knowledge, making the case for first person knowledge and life experience as data…”

I will conclude this first initial conversation with a promise that I will be registering a few more of my stories in a near future. I will write about the knowledge that I will still produce and about the culture aspects and issues that I will probably have to go through before retirement.

My intention with this blog is to share some of the differences and similarities I have found between being a teacher in Brazil for over 15 years and being a teacher in Canada for almost 12 years. 

Cultural aspects, language, climate, work conditions, education, friendships and family are just a few of the themes I would love to talk about in my future posts.
Ellis et al (2010) argue that: “writing personal stories can also be therapeutic for participants and readers.” I certainly find writing my stories very satisfying, it makes me reflect on my practice, and if I can also help other people through my writing that would be a fantastic bonus! As my students always say: “You got your brownie points today, Sra. Sasse!”

Thank you, Gracias, Merci :)


Ellis, Carolyn; Adams, Tony E. & Bochner, Arthur P. (2010). Autoethnography: An Overview [40 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research12(1), Art. 10, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs1101108.

Morimoto, L. (2008). Teaching as transgression: The autoethnography of a fat physical education instructor. Proteus, 25 (2), 29-36. Retrieved from https://drive.google.com/drive/u/1/folders/0B2Oop6sNUy2HU0pPN2RILXhkS2c

Cultural Shock?

Merriam-Webster defines cultural shock as: “a feeling of confusion, doubt, or nervousness caused by being in a place (such as a foreign country) that is very different from what you are used to.”

Before leaving Brazil to move to Canada I read a lot about cultural shock, and the more I read, the more I was certain that I was not going to go through a cultural shock myself.
I had several reasons in my mind to believe that I would not have to fear that obstacle.

·      Canada and Brazil are located in the same continent! I know…they are far apart from each other, like north and south? But still, they are located in the same continent, so I don’t have to fear!
·      We have similar types of food… and clothing. (So, I thought).
·      I knew a little bit of English…
·      The lexical roots of Portuguese and English are from Latin…I know English has a great influence from the German language, but because the alphabet is pretty much the same I thought that learning English would be an easy task.
·      I was a teacher in Brazil, I knew how to speak Portuguese and l learned Spanish as my second language. How can learning another language be difficult for me?
·      I come from a state located in the deep South of Brazil, where it is cold and it snows in the mountains during the winter! (Believe me it does!!!)

So what can go wrong?

Part 1 - Everything!

When I first moved from Brazil to Canada, I moved to London, Ontario, which was not my first choice, but due to my husband’s job, that was our assigned place to go.
As soon as we arrived I already noticed the difference in climate, it was October, and it was only +10C!!! I had just left a warm whether with temperatures ranging from 20C to 25C plus.
After landing, a group of friends picked us up from Pearson’s Airport. We stopped at a restaurant, and my second shock occurred… What do I order? What type of food is that? The waitress tried to explain to me, but I could not understand what she was saying. My English was not good enough for so many details about food. So, I guess that the similarities between Portuguese and English lexical roots did not help me that much after all.
That was just the beginning of my cultural shock; little did I know how much more I was going to go through with clothes, school, grocery stores, doctor’s office and with my first home…that was a shocking experience itself.

Part 2 - The First House

Before moving to Canada, I had seen pictures of a few places in different Canadian provinces. I saw quite a few parks, schools and houses online. I used to imagine myself living and working in those places. I created an image in my mind of what my home in Canada would look like. When we finally moved to Canada, the place where we moved to, a small ugly townhouse in London, Ontario, did not match the image I had in my head. The ‘funny’ thing is that I started to develop great feelings for that small townhouse; it was my first place in Canada.  I learned how to love the little house and it did not look that small or ugly anymore. I started to make connections with that place; I started to get to know my neighbors and the community; that connection brought a new meaning to my place. In my mind that was the place I should be in. (At least at that time!)
That was just a few of my anxious moments in Canada… there were quite a few more after that…
I can completely relate with the ideas shared by Juffer (1985) on her article called: “RESEARCHING CULTURE SHOCK: 
I love the beginning of Juffer (1985)’s article, which describes really well what I went through during my first months (years) in Canada…
“When a person goes abroad and enters a new environment, cultural cues that have been taken for granted as simply part of the "fabric of life" no longer are assessed accurately. Life becomes unpredictable and people have problems coping with even routine aspects of living. The simplest, semi-automatic tasks such as listening to the radio, getting a drink of water, going to the grocery store, driving a car, or chatting with neighbors require full concentration and attention to complete successfully. Since every detail, large and small, in the new environment demands the full attention of the expatriate, mental fatigue soon occurs which further frustrates the coping mechanisms.” (Juffer, 1985, p.2)


Cultural Shock - definition (n.d.). In Merriam Webster. Retrieved August 7, 2016 from  http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/culture%20shock

Juffer, K. (1985). Researching Culture Shock: 
The Culture Shock Adaptation Inventory. In Action Research & Associates, Inc. Washington: DC. Retrieved from http://actionresearchinc.com/docs/researching-culture-shock.pdf