Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Shor: Quotes

 Empowering Education

I would like to say that Dr. August "lecture" or conversation as she put it, was fantastic!  I went to URI for my under grad and did many observations/lessons at the Child Development Center or CDC on campus.  The educators there have a similar teaching style to Zeke.  They question the students, while giving them plenty of explore time.  The students, for the most part, worked out their problems with classmates and had the freedom and opportunity to help plan the activities for the day.  I took this knowledge with me when I taught in a kindergarten classroom for a private daycare.  I used the techniques that Zeke and the educators used at the CDC.  I feel that the students wanted to learn more because they had ownership of the lessons and activities.  After reading the articles and listening to Dr. August, while relating it to my own experiences, I support August and Shor's articles, Making Room for One Another and Empowering Education. 


"In a curriculum that encourages student questioning, the teacher avoids unilateral transfer of knowledge."

I have stated this over and over again in my blogs about students learning from teachers AND teachers learning from their students.  This give and take setup is fantastic. It shows students how important it is to share their knowledge, while gaining self confidence and respect.  I never have a problem letting my students know I need help or need to look something up.  I encourage questions because that is the only way students are going to learn and understand their what is confusing to them.

"The teacher brings lesson plans, learning methods, personal experience, and academic knowledge to class but negotiates the curriculum with the students and begins with their language, themes and understandings."

Again negotiating gives ownership in which students will be more apt to participate and get involved.  The teacher figures out her base plans and works with the students to make it their (students and teachers) own.  The information will be delivered regardless, but having the students and educators working together will create the most effective and successful lesson. It sounds so easy...So why aren't we ALL doing this!!!!

"A participatory classroom offers chances to hear the largely silent voices of students from which teachers learn how to integrate subject matter into their existing knowledge."

Relating new material to students existing knowledge makes it easier for students to relate and internalize it.  This classroom style is open, interactive and FUN.  Students have the opportunities to share their ideas and opinions, while teachers listen and find ways to incorporate information to enrich students.  Again, I stated in my past blogs, that communication is huge part of learning.  If you don't communicate your questions or concerns, then how are you going to fully understand the material?  

Sunday, June 19, 2011

August: Connections

Gerri August
As I read through August's piece, I wrote down connections to Rodriguez, Collier, Meyer, Kozol and Deplit. 

"Using the stuff of their out-of-school lives, students create oral texts, thus practicing a discourse that is valued in school (Cazden, 2001, p. 20). " This quote reminds me of the Rodriguez/Collier read.  Instead of hiding their home life, it should be embraced.  Students will gain self-worth and show pride in their background, while learning.


"Children whose discourse patterns match those of the dominant culture, for example, seem to enjoy longer turns and more meaningful interaction with the teacher (Cazden, 2001; Michaels, 1981)." This quote I connected to Delpits "power of culture".  The students with the dominant culture or"power of culture" are more comfortable and willing to share.   They are willing to express and confidently share their "culture" to others without feeling they would be judged.

"A child from a non-traditional family might have a somewhat different experience. A child with two moms, i.e., a child of lesbian parents, rarely, if ever, sees her family structure represented in the textbooks, storybooks, or artwork that are the everyday consumption of elementary school (Lindsay et al., 2006)....Her teacher might be inexperienced in critical-democratic pedagogy (Freire, 1970; Shor, 1992) or uncomfortable serving in that role on behalf of a family structure that many see as deviant. Could it be, then, that for a child with lesbian moms circle time (and school discourse in general) is confusing or, worse yet, scary?" This quote connected me to Meyer.  She discusses how teachers are unprepared to discuss or teach issues that they are unfamiliar with.  This is where teachers need to know their students and do whatever it takes to make all students feel comfortable and safe. 

Elizabeth Meyer
"Social interaction in general and classroom discourse in particular are implicated in academic achievement, even intellectual development (Vygotsky, 1986)." This quote make me think of Kozol's piece with the SFA program.  The students had selected times to interact socially and had to follow the rules of the social interaction.  Students need to interact to learn.  Most of the social experiences students have at a young age "teach" them and help their minds grow.  This quote from August also follows this: "Because human psychological functions develop historically and derive from social interaction (i.e., these functions are historically and culturally mediated), the appropriate unit of analysis is not the individual acting in isolation but rather object-oriented, practical activity that takes place in a cultural-historical context. "

I really liked reading the scenarios from August's study.  It will now make me think of how I interact with my student and how I respond to their questions/interactions.  I also will use interactions as teaching points to help students feel comfortable, creating a safe learning environment.  I am excited to listen to August tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rodrigueiz/Collier: Extended comments

After reading the articles Aria, by Richard Rodriguez and Teaching Multilingual Children, by Virginia Collier, I got a better understanding of the teaching and learning of native and nonnative languages.  I never realized the struggles when teaching ELL students or the difficulties students face daily with language.

I read Nina's blog to use for my extended comments.  She does an amazing job over viewing the two authors and their pieces.  At the end of reviewing Collier, Nina writes,"Collier states that the reason to use all of these activities in the classroom is to make language learning as relevant as possible, eliminate boredom, and raise awareness.  She wants not only the student to be enriched but also the teachers."  I instantly relate this to Delpit in my past blog , " Delpit says that the teacher cannot be the only expert in the classroom." Teachers learn everyday from their students, I know I do!  Working together will help students self-esteem and make for a safe learning environment to become successful. 

I agree with Nina's connection to Finn's Literacy with an Attitude.  All students need to receive relevant and empowering literacy.  These skills will help the student to become successful in their lives.  It is the teachers part to find out the most effective way to deliver this information to his/her students so that they can gain this success. 

I can relate to the connections Nina draws from Delpits article, Other People’s Children.  I feel you have to understand and follow the rules of the "power of culture" to become successful.  I also agree that one should not "let go" of their personal identity when doing this.  In Aria, I was saddened to hear about his fathers silence.  I think that one needs to find a happy medium to learn the skills to success, while still preserving who they are as an individual.  When it comes to children, that is where teachers can help them to learn, while keeping their identity.  I also think that Delpit would agree and relate to both articles/authors.  Collier describes the ways to teach to success, which Delpit wants and how Rodriguez needed the skills, though difficult, to feel as part of a society.

During my reading of Aria, I related the silenced father to Delpit's title "The Silenced Dialogue."  It does show how the "norm" can take over and "silence" others, as they don't even exist.  

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Meyer: Questions

While I was reading Meyer's article, my best friend Cathy sent me this picture.  She and her fiancee Zoi, are in Boston at the Pride Parade!!!

Meyer's article was a very interesting and an easy read, though I had my computer open on dictionary to decode the many unfamiliar words!!  Again new knowledge is added to my "toolbox".  I didn't realize how much of an issue sexual and homophobic harassment was in schools.  I guess maybe it is the overall demographic, or the age level you teach.  Now that I am more aware of the issue, I want to learn more about it.  I have come up with some questions to help understand this issue better.

1. Do all schools have a program on how to address unkind behaviors like bullying and harassment?
In the article, teachers spoke of not having any training on the matter and I thought about myself.  I have not had any training of the issue either, but i feel I could assess a situation if I had to.   As a teacher, we should be able to ask for the tools we need to educate students and make the day run smoothly.  If not then schools should put a policy together to address the issues.

2. Should all teachers be trained on how to successfully address homophobic harassment and other undesired behaviors? Would you participate in bullying/harassment PD?
I think teachers would want to learn how to diffuse situations on their own.  In the article, one teachers says how he/she does not like to get the administrators involved because it says, "I can't handle my classroom." I feel the same way, I do everything I can before I get the admin involved.  Though if the teachers were trained, then when the issue was brought to the administration, they would know it was serious.  Also, isn't the administration there to help you?????

3. In the article, the interviewed teachers discuss the issue of time and how they need to finish the lesson regardless of what is going on in the classroom.  Why doesn't the teachers use the undesired behaviors as a valuable life skills teaching point? What is more important, the lesson or stopping and educating students on an undesired behavior?
I feel that if the students were educated on the harassment issue, they may think twice before acting out on the issue.  Having a discussion on the issue can help students that are unfamiliar or biased to hear the other side.

4. As teachers we know how important consistency is within our classrooms and schools.  Do your schools show consistency in regards to harassment? Are all areas of bullying/harassment treated the same?
In the article, one teacher says how they "let stuff slide" or ignore it sometimes for various reasons.  I am still baffled that math or any subject is more important than the safety of their students.  The article states: "other studies have found that antisocial behavior in students increases when the administrative support is inconsistent and when there is an absence of follow-up from school leadership." This is when students can become depressed and make undesired decisions.

5. How can we raise awareness to educators who have not personally felt the impacts of discrimination or exclusion from dominant culture?
This question was raised within in the article and it made me think of ways to educate.  There has to be a way to get all educators on the same page and squash this unfortunate issue.  Educators teach, therefore we should teach whats necessary to minimize problems.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Stan Karp gave a presentation at a high school in Portland, Oregon in regards to "bad teachers" and charter schools.  He used the movie Waiting for "Superman" as a talking point within his presentation, "Who's Bashing Teachers and Public Schools, and What Can We Do About It?" 

In the presentation he discusses how the "documentary", Waiting for "Superman", it suggests that the reason students are not performing up to standard is because of the "bad" teachers.  It suggests that creating more charter schools and having more standardized testing could help students to perform better. Karp in disagreement decided to start a NOT waiting for "Superman" movement to voice his opinions and ideas of this raised issue. 

In the article, it states that most charter school teachers gain education through Teach for America, and lack certifications.  How can that be beneficial to students?  Also, is the curriculum aligned with the public schools or are they teaching to the test to achieve decent tests scores? Yet they do state that only 17% of charter schools had better scores that public schools.

I discussed " standardized testing" with my colleagues today.  We were taking about ways these tests do not prove teachers to be "bad".  What if a student was unfocused and just created a picture while filling in the answers? What if a pet or family member passed away the week, days before?  Maybe one is feeling sick or the room is too hot?  What about if they did not sleep or did not have breakfast? We discussed how we, as teachers, cannot make a student take these long tests seriously if they choose not to.   I looked up pros and cons of standardized testing and found some interesting information.  It really makes one think if they are effective.

So should teachers be responsible for student test scores? Should teachers be paid by their performance?  Should teachers be assessed using the scores of their students? .......Why don't teachers just teach to the test?  Other common questions are answered by FairTest, a National Center for Fair and Open Testing.

It was very interesting to hear what Stan Karp had to say regarding the film, Waiting for "Superman".  Now I am excited to see what touched Karp so deeply that he had to create a retaliation.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Kozol: Quotes

Another great read!!  As I was reading I highlighted some quotes that made me think. 
“There is something deeply hypocritical about a society…………..robbing her of what they gave their own kids six or seven years earlier.”
This shows that each child, regardless of their ethnicity or demographic, should have the same access towards education.  This quote was discussing how children from different backgrounds have different opportunities when it comes to education.  Families that are wealthy can pay to have their kids enrolled in schooling before kindergarten.  The children that are less fortunate are robbed of these opportunities and will struggle for the rest of their school years, playing catch up.  There needs to be equal opportunities for all children so that they each can be successful throughout their years of learning. 

“It is one of the few classrooms I had visited……..at spontaneous emotion in the children or the teacher surfaced while I was there.”
This just makes me think of robots.  Children learn in various ways and learn from interaction.  This “teaching to the test” approach will help students to achieve on tests, but will deprive them of learning social and every day skills.  Students need to explore and discover things on their own and how to solve problems.  I understand the direct approach, but not being able to share feelings and ideas freely is just ridiculous.  I’m glad that this SFA approach was discontinued……all I could think of was Hitler when they were describing the “hand signal”.  Absurd!!

“I know that my teaching SFA is a charade…..if I don’t do it I won’t be permitted to teach these children.”
This shows a teachers love for his job.  He knows that teaching the “drill based program” is a joke, yet he follows the program to keep his job.  I feel the developers of this SFA had the right idea of direct instruction to help increase the scores within the schools, yet having not times for conversation and exploration is just depriving the students.  Each school/teacher needs to find what approach works best for them.  Maybe they need to have more conversation and explore so they can come up with successful ways to deliver important information.
Overall I learned some interesting facts from this article.  It was an easy read with good information.  I wonder if Mr. Endicott ever figured out his “professional ethics” on his problem………