Monday, August 6, 2012

Post-class Reflection: August 3, 2012

Since code-switching has recently become an area of interest in our discussions in other classes, I started thinking about it in relation to THIS class, and how it relates to technology. Although it was not brought up in class on Friday, our discussion about SmartBoards and the constant debate about technology needfully vs. needlessly replacing certain classroom "things" made me think about code-switching, in this way:

We are now aware of code-switching between cultures and languages (dialects), but what code-switching takes place when we have virtual/digital/online communication, versus in-person communication? I thought of this specifically in regards to our blogs, and the awareness that we are being watched and exposed to a public audience. What does our verbal, non-verbal, and body language look like when we are in class, all together, on Fridays? And how does this change when we take to expressing ourselves, online, on blogs? Do we change our language because our audience is widely public and this allows for some anonymity? Or are we reserved and strive for a different tone, because the audience simultaneously seems very personal because it includes our classmates and professors?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Try, try again

This week I saw just the tip of the iceberg as I reflected upon the most recent thoughts shared on The Open Classroom by edublogger Jo McLeay.

She discussed her third attempt at the 365 Countdown, a version of the 365 day challenge, during which participants take one representative/significant photo each day, for one year. This becomes the pictorial documentation of one year of the unique human experience.

Ms. McLeay mentions persistence as being part of this experience...and I find that this theme can be an important part of the classroom experience as well. I have recently become enamored of the relationship between failure and learning, and how proper acceptance of failure can contribute to the safe environment, and eager attitude, that are vital to facilitating adventurous and persistent learning.

I love the idea of the 365 day challenge. What a beautiful way to document the passing of just one year.   (Is this something I can do in the classroom, each student responsible for his and her own portfolio?)

I also love the idea that a third attempt at something not yet surpassed/succeeded does not somehow disqualify the intention, nor the product of those efforts.

I want to create a culture of acceptable failure in my classroom; failure that always begets learning.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I am paranoid...

After having checked on the folder for this week's EDUC 504 readings, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the folder was labeled (titled) accordingly to indicate that that there were NO READINGS DUE.

Joy of joys!

My natural response was (now being a veteran of our program)... continue to open the folder to make sure

and make sure
and make sure

that this really was the case.

I didn't judge the folder by its label. - Don't tell me teachers don't work in the summer. Real teachers work all summer.... even if it is Pinning classroom ideas on Pinterest. Sounds like prof. development to me!

I hope you like my little poem about my recently discovered paranoia, developed in response to the intensity of a mostly paperless graduate program. Not only am I learning to be observant in secondary ed classrooms, but I am also becoming an interesting case study to myself...

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Post-class Reflection: July 27, 2012

Learning about the various web tools that I didn't yet know how to use...


I had fallen behind in that race, and I'm glad that time in our program has been devoted to helping us keep up. And I know that I am not the only one that is "behind" in this sense. But I have observed (and heard) some dissenting opinions about putting further effort into learning about and integrating certain tech tools in the classroom.

Here is what I think about literacy and technology....

In reflecting about this past session, I have repeatedly returned to what I see as a very important relationship between teachers, ethos, and effective instruction:

Is it not true that a teacher's fluency/literacy in technology (used here in the broadest terms), can influence that teacher's ethos of competence and authority in front of his/her students? And does this not, then, influence the facilitation of effective instruction and learning?

In other words, in a world where the youngest members of our society are usually the most skilled at using technology, shouldn't we also, as teachers, make an effort to keep up with this? I was told by my prospective mentor instructor that if I, as a student teacher, were to reveal any discrepancy of content area knowledge in front of AP English (or upperclassmen level) students, they would "eat me alive."

And so, the English teacher's ethos is dismantled before her eyes. Her lack of literacy in an area where her students surpass her becomes the vehicle for seeing her as incompetent. Furthermore, a teacher's disinterest in learning more about technology seems to be her denial of the validity and importance of those tools. Tools that her students DO value and use.

If we are seeking to establish a safe environment where our students can learn, isn't a teacher's lack of literacy in technology enough of a reason for students to mutiny academically? to overthrow those efforts to establish a learning environment?

To be "eaten alive" by your own students seems like a huge impediment to teaching and learning. And it's worse, if the reason for the mutiny is because of a lack on our part, and our unwillingness to TRY and LEARN (the way we will fully expect our students to do in our content area) more about what we do not know.

I think that just because we are learning to be teachers, this does not mean that we should ever stop being students.

Technology is fast, and we have so many non-tech responsibilities that we must tend to...all the time.

But one of our most important non-tech responsibilities will be our students. And in order to fulfill our responsibilities to them, we must be competent and knowledgeable. Not just in the areas that WE think are important. But also in the areas that we know our STUDENTS value as important.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

i luv linguistics

This is my first, non-required blog post.

Which might be telling of my slow, but certain, teacherly (and reflective) evolution...

I cannot contain my excitement over Prof. Anne Curzan's lecture yesterday. From a pedagogical standpoint, the lively (and evocative) discussion and upbeat attentiveness testified to the learning potential that exists within a classroom full of students.

And I learned a little something, too.

I'm not so skilled at the actual science of linguistics, but because I love puzzles and patterns, I have always been drawn to the art of our language-making, and text in its verbal (non-written) form. And I've never before made the connection that a verbal text (what we SAY) should absolutely be accepted in various styles, just like we accept it in written form.

Jane Austen, Malcolm Gladwell, Vacca & Vacca, that op-ed writer you can't stand...

All very different writing styles, and all published as acceptable, professionally written, literature.

In comparison, our verbal styles ("home languages") transcribed into written form, suddenly become incorrect and unacceptable. In need of remedy to be brought closer to a standard. I believe my blindness to the concept of subtle subjugation (which in its most effective form is ALWAYS subtle) through "correction of slang English" has resulted partly because my home language so closely resembles Standard English. This is my experience.

And now I'm thinking about things like...

...what does it mean when all news anchors, correspondents (and other media representatives) speak the same "standard" dialect on television? Does the media, that informs the people, really represent the people?

Perhaps there's a reason why it reminds me a bit of the skin-toned bandaids we buy at the store. Uh. That's not my skin tone. And I can think of many people whose skin tone is not that color either.

But in order to avoid being overly critical and soapbox-y, I want to just reiterate the power of a teacher to breathe vitality into any subject, and get their (his? her?) students to talk just as passionately as we did yesterday during Prof. Curzan's lecture.

It was great sharing with y'all ("you all", for those whose heads just started spinning). Keep those questions and ideas coming. The more we think critically, the more souls (socially speaking) we can save.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Post-class Reflection: July 20, 2012


That being said, I enjoyed the opening activity from last Friday's class. It quickly got me oriented to my "classroom" mindset, and it was engaging. I decided to enlist some help from Kevin, sitting next to me, so it also encouraged some in-class communication. Very nice.

It was also a good transition into the topic of the day: using games in the classroom. At least...that's how I perceived/experienced it. I was definitely focusing my mental energies into figuring out the puzzle, and for a moment, I can admit that I was in my own little "puzzle world." Isn't that just a glimpse into the mind of a gamer, for just a moment, as well? Getting lost like that means also "losing" the stigma of the discipline required for concentration and commitment to certain activities.

Also, thanks to Mr. Ward for sharing his experiences with us; hearing about some real-life ingenuity and creativity in developing lesson plans, while staying student-centered, served as great inspiration for harnessing our own potential (YES, WE HAVE IT!), when our time comes to be leaders in the classroom.

So. What games can we play to get at that good ol' English Literature?

Cosa facciamo per imparare l'italiano?

And to conclude...isn't designing lesson plans, specifically using backward design, and taking into consideration our students' skills and needs, a puzzle in and of itself?