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?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Good video games, good learning, good idea

Using video games to create a new paradigm for learning sounds like a great use of technology with teaching...

Why not let students take advantage of their imaginations and their investments into their "own little worlds"? As mentioned in Bronson and Merriman's Nurture Shock, students can harness the power of their imaginations to accomplish tasks that under the circumstances of "reality" wouldn't normally be accomplished.

Gee's outlining of the various skills involved in playing video games (in relation to pedagogy) was extremely clear and enlightening...probably because I'm not really a gamer, and so this information was relatively new to me. However, I could relate to the idea of using a metacognitive approach to identify my thinking processes and the skills that I develop/employ when participating in an activity that I truly enjoy--and then apply these processes and skills to school-related activities (or other learning activities).

In other words...Gee's article got me thinking about how my hobbies are related to pedagogy, and my process of learning.

Furthermore, what should we as teachers DO with this information while making lesson plans? When teachers have asked us about our hobbies, why did they do this?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Post-class Reflection: July 13, 2012

As usual, class was FUN.

It was great and eye-opening to work in a group to come up with a lesson plan - it was also very helpful to have the advice and guidance of experienced librarians (like our group's librarian, Julie!). I noticed that making lesson plans recalled for me the experience of making a business model, or even a marketing pitch! (This is thanks to my overly extensive experience working in retail and marketing...yay...) However, it's a great testament to the power of activating prior knowledge, in the sense that, even as adults, our previous experiences in other industries will very likely end up shaping (and positively influencing) our teaching careers and practices.

So all of that time spent "building character" at many minimum wage jobs, and some seemingly useless full time positions, may actually come in handy after all...

I also loved making the podcasts.

1) It helped to MAKE one in class to just learn about making one. Period.

2) It was fun to listen to everyone's podcasts; you can just see a little bit of each students' personality coming through, and it was fun to have the freedom to interpret this in-class assignment any way we wanted.

Furthermore, the structure of class and the activities we did were a great MODEL for how I would like to structure my future class and its activities!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Transforming Soda into Pop into Persuasion

The intrigue of a good debate...appetizing as the creak, crack, and sizzle of a freshly opened can of pop (soda, coke, soda pop).

The debate of the soda ban seems to point to a different and equally exigent question of the relationship between education, regulation, and consumer choice (also indicative of the larger theme of choice, in general, and perhaps even the exercise free will).

But instead of focusing so much on the deeper meaning and implication of these themes, it may be prudent to view the debate of the soda ban as an opportunity to explore the concepts of rhetoric and persuasion as they relate to composition in the English/Language Arts classroom.

In other words, this debate has didactic value for students intending to study the art of persuasive writing.

This is what the Renaissance Humanist educators and students may have strived for--a distancing from the emotional investment (and personal support) of either side, and the embrace of the in utramque partem--the many-eyed perspective of the arguments involved in the debate.

(What would supporters of the ban argue? Of what would the argument against the ban consist? Who is negatively affected? Who would benefit? What are the possible implications? What are the most extreme implications? Is there a possible world in which these extremes might exist or occur?)

Can you argue from any or all sides?

How would you effectively communicate with, and listen to and understand, those whose perspectives directly oppose yours?

A good exercise and practice, nonetheless.

And delicious with a hot cup of coffee (java, joe, caffeine, addictive substance, lifeblood).

Monday, July 2, 2012

Post-class Reflection: June 29, 2012

I thoroughly enjoyed attending class on Friday, and discussing more about what to expect in a class about Teaching with Technology.

I left my blogging days behind (back in high school), and hadn't really given much thought to returning to maintaining an online journal. However, the positive energy from the buzzing and lively discussion we had in class has encouraged me to look forward to the renewed experience of being a blogger.

Furthermore, I am looking forward to learning more about technology, and harnessing its potential as a personal and classroom tool that will empower me to do my job creatively and efficiently, help my future students experience the multi-modality of their modern education, and otherwise assist me in my other endeavors that involve the use of technology.

My current computer is a dinosaur, in laptop years, which indicates just how "behind" I've fallen in regards to keeping up with the technological resources available to me. However, I have learned to appreciate the skills I've acquired over the years and am quite fond of my old computer! But I am also ready for a rebirth of sorts, and am now very ready to learn more about technology. It brings me comfort to know that I am not the only student experiencing some trepidation over approaching "things" like setting up blogs.Questions and concerns raised by my classmates makes me feel quite comfortable that, while I am a student learning to be a teacher, I am allowed to spend much of my time in ED 504 just being a student of technology.

I am ready for a technological renaissance!

A Renaissance

Welcome to the first of my blog adventures, having spent many years away from the blogging scene.

Here's to a rebirth of writing without paper and pen. A reintroduction to technology as a window to literacy. And the pearls of my thoughts, musings, and mistakes as the gems of my world.

It begins!