Friday, October 31, 2014

Making Literacy Dangerous!

Students buying and selling stocks on the New York Stock Exchange!  They LOVE it!  I love it because the conversations are impressive!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Where do I begin?

Today started out like a hurricane, I was about 10 minutes late for work (my usual time) I was there for the kids, but I usually like to get there 10 minutes before the bell rings to unwind.

I feel like it was a bright and sunny day for most of the morning.  Kids work working in the 2 o'clock buddies and everyone seemed to be on task.  It started to thunder around 1pm when a parent meeting was called in at the last minute (mind you this meeting meeting was suppose to be scheduled last week, so I felt unprepared).  Around 3pm I was ready to take on the challenge of the best chess player in the world, a sixth grader who has beat me EVERY single game. I left school feeling like a rainy day.  It was dreary.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

"To BE connected.. or NOT TO BE connected"... That is the Question

"Anti-teaching: Confronting the Crisis of Significance" by Michael Wesch argues that classrooms are simply not as conducive to learning in the 21st century and “students are struggling to find meaning and significance in their education” (5). I feel that our students do not find the significance of education because if they want to know something they can find it at their fingertips.  Wesch coins the term “anti-teaching” to suggest that he take a less significant role in the classroom.  This means not focusing on teaching, but focusing on learning. 

I found this article naturally engaging.  I found this engaging because Wesch continues to talk about how to get students engaged without always having the end result of the test in mind.   Wesch continues to make learning the forefront of this classroom.  He quotes that students struggle to find the true meaning of learning.  Wesch creates innovative lessons where students are participating in engaging activities, but he asks us to take a step back from what we are actually doing in the classroom.   We need to look at how students are engaged outside of the classroom and integrate them into our everyday lessons.  Look at the world our students are living in today, they are constantly using media and technology.  Looking at the YouTube videos that Wesch’s students made on their own, I think Wesch wants us to gain insight on the classroom of learners.  He wants us to understand the realities of the technological world and how can help our students learn.   This article reminded me of an article Digital Immigrants- Digital Natives that I read in my undergrad, that I made me first aware of this issue.  Although it is a 2001 article, I think some of it still applies today.

Here is a picture that was taken at my Mom’s house on this past Mother’s Day.  This is a picture of my Uncle, Step-dad, mom enjoying quality time with each other (insert sarcasm here).  I am sure that we all had these memories at some point.

I feel that “The Flight From Conversation” by Sherry Turkle argues that technology is simultaneously keeping us connected and also alienating us.  I think Turkle is suggesting that we became slaves to your devices and have become different people.  “Human relationships are rich; they’re messy and demanding.  We have learned the habit of cleaning them up with technology.  And the move from conversation to connection is part of this.  But it’s a process in which we are shortchanging ourselves.  Worse, it seems that over time we stop caring, we forget that there is a difference” (Turkle).   I feel that we are making a conscious effort to care, but not in the same way.  I think she is saying that we are living in the moments, but not living in a moment.  We are focused on too much at the same time.  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

"Literacy with an Attitude" by Patrick J. Finn

“Literacy with an Attitude” by Patrick J. Finn argues that our current educational systems need change and to reconsider teaching our students how we can use literacy as a power tool.  Finn talks about schools, particularly working-class, middle-class schools, and affluent professional schools, and bridging the gap of how teachers teach and how students learn.  Words that stand out to me for affluent professional schools are rigor, excellence, and creative.  Middle-class words are promise, knowledge, dictate, while working-class words are primarily “mechanical and routine” which Finn defines “developing a relationship to the economy, authority, and work…” (12). Finn emphasized how social class can dictate the type of education you receive.  

I found the Bigelow and Christiansen teachable moment very powerful.  After making personal connections with the Cherokee Indian removal and a fictional novel “Radcliffe”, Bigelow and Christiansen got the students to discuss a time when their rights were violated.  The connection between the content and their personal lives made the curriculum real to them.  However, when faced with a challenge to have dialogue with students from a different social class, they were focused on the in-differencesin school culture and atmosphere.  However, their lesson failed “They had encouraged their students to see themselves as victims.  Although the theory they offered their students gave them an analytical framework with greater power to interpret their school loves than anything they had ever encountered… suggested hopelessness” (183).  They “remind students that they can learn to understand seemingly personal problems as societal problems and act with others to solve them… This demonstrates to students that they believe fundamental change is possible and desirable” (184).  I found this to be a very powerful message.

I also think Delpit would also agree “They [students] must be encouraged to understand the value of the code they already possess as well as to understand the power of realities in this country. Otherwise they will be unable to work to change those realities.” (Delpit 40).  Bigelow and Christiansen used personal connections to help them think critically about a unit of study which I believe to be a powerful and useful tool.  Their ultimate goal was to encourage and bridge the gap through rigor and critical thinking, but privilege and class differences became a focus of their lesson.  I think this added curriculum is important and necessary for all students no matter their race, culture, or social class.  

Saturday, October 4, 2014

"Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change" by Ira Shor

In the article “Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change” by Ira Shor, I felt that this article was “empowering” and also inspiring.  What I got out of this article was that a problem-posing classroom, coupled with a curriculum that is derived from both teacher and student (where the teacher acts as the facilitator) becomes a critical thinking powerhouse subjecting students to a variety of outcomes.  This means that students are responsible for their own learning and are investigating ideas on their own through means of collaboration.  

This breaks away from the traditional schooling model, dumping of knowledge, or the term “banking educators”, where knowledge is forefront to education.  Instead Shor wrote “Their questions provided some wonderful launching pads for our study.  Instead of answering their questions… I posed them one by one, so that students could participate more; answer their own peer’s questions… The syllabus was built up upward from the student responses instead of downward to my comments” (28).  This automatically got me thinking about how the KWL-S charts (Know, Want to know, Learned, and the added, Still want to know) are used when a topic is introduced  I think number 6 and 7 on this website touch base on how students engage in meaningful learning.

Shore also touches upon the term “situated teaching… where it avoids teacher centered syllabi and locates itself in student culture” (44).  I want my instruction to be based on the needs of what students are interested in, not what is prescribed in the curriculum.  This can spark interests among the group and be able to learn within the walls or outside the walls of the classroom.  In my perspective, learning is not one direction where teachers teach students, but a learning process for all involved.

When Shor stated “By posing problems rather than by giving answers, their approach begins in a participatory way.  By including and action phase, they make action a legitimate result of learning” (43).  Shor defined the learning process as problem-posing rather than problem-solving.  As a math teacher problems solving is finding a solution to a problem, but problem-posing offers more. Problems solving is crucial because we need this for meaningful education, but problem-posing has a social and personal connection.  This “encourages students to become curious, critical, and creative” (45).  This made me think of how can I get my students to engage using more personal connections inside or outside of the classroom?  I know that Project-Based Learning is one alternative to get them engaged on their own, but how could I integrate this mindset to all the units I teach.  I can see this being extremely beneficial within my own practice.  Giving students the opportunity to create their own goals and meaningful learning, the better able they will be connected with the content.