Morning Pages: Technology in Education

Technology in Education is an incredibly complex topic. It seems that these days most schools are pushing to include technology as much as they can. It’s true that the world students face when they leave the narrow scope of the classroom, they will certainly be bombarded by the presence of technologies in jobs, communication, and many facets of the professional world. For this reason I do believe it is necessary to integrate technology education into the classroom. There must be a balance though.

We cannot rely on technology for certain aspects of professional careers. Social and face-to-face communication skills are incredibly pertinent in the real world, possibly more so than the use of technology. When you apply for a job, you will almost always have to interview for the position. This interaction can outweigh the clout of your credentials if it is exceedingly good or bad. This shows how much of an emphasis is put on social skills. People want to hire someone that will be able to communicate with coworkers and their superiors.

Though they will need digital communication skills and personal communication skills, one should not be valued over the other. They are equally applicable in our world today and go hand-in-hand in the professional world. Students, therefore, should not be dependent on their use of technological education, but should be taught how to use technology in a professional, effective, manner.

Advertisements

Morning Pages: Waiting

The story of how I became an English Education major is quite long-winded. It begins with me, venturing off to college majoring in the only thing I consistently loved throughout my life: English. But what jobs are out there for English majors? That was the question I asked myself my whole first semester of college. There’s teaching……yep that’s about it. And I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a teacher. I had so recently graduated high school. Did I really want to go back so soon?

So I switched to Journalism. It seemed suitable. I would get to write, and be creative, and use the beloved skills of English I had acquired through my years of schooling. When I was in a Newswriting class however, I quickly learned that Journalism entailed much more than writing. It involved interviewing, pestering people, testing your morals against what information was worth exposing someone.  I couldn’t do it.

So I switched to the other extreme: Social Work. This way I’d be helping people and I’d be observing societal problems that I could possibly write about in a novel. But then I realized I just couldn’t do it for the rest of my life. So on the second day of the semester, I scurried away at trying to switch my major before I lost the whole semester to a major I didn’t want.

So now I’m an English Education major. Was it the right decision? Only time will tell. All I have to depend on is my love for English. But I believe it’s enough.

Morning Pages: Letter to the President 2.0

In an earlier post I wrote a letter to the future president outlining my personal beliefs in the future necessities of education. This post was modeled after a project in which students wrote letters to the future president asking for future changes that they would like to see.

I might use this assignment in my classroom during election time to get students involved in politics. I am going to be an English teacher and I believe that one of the responsibilities of English teachers is not just to teach students about poetry and novels, but writing in many different forums and genres. If a student is interested in going into politics, they will need the background knowledge of knowing how to write within the political realm. I think this letter would be a good exercise for that, teaching the students how to persuade in a professional way. It would also give them a sense of control over their futures that might make them feel more empowered regarding their own lives and education.

I would probably introduce the project by showing videos of the presidential candidates detailing their platforms to give examples of issues they might address. I might also give the option for the students to write a letter of criticism towards one of the candidates planned policies if they did not really have ideas about new measures to be taken. I would provide an example letter to the president, possibly one from the distant past to provide perspective and show the students that the political process has been riddled with controversial issues for many years.

I would have them become informed on the election to give them a sense of the political process and how they have the ability to make change in their communities. They will also realize that they are very important stakeholders in the issues being discussed. This would give them a sense of independence and power surrounding their identities as citizens.

Dr. Seuss Lesson cont’d

I recently posted about a lesson on Dr. Seuss that I was going to get to facilitate in one of my education classes. In my last blog post I discussed my fears and my excitement. I had to confront both when giving my lesson last Wednesday.

A great fear of mine was that the students wouldn’t be engaged, since it was a sixth grade class, and I was reading Dr. Seuss (a tad too simple for them). In my education class we were learning about the value of graphic organizers for comparing and contrasting, so for the lesson we had the students compare a Dr. Seuss poem and a Shel Silverstein poem, both about birthdays. After we had read the poems we posed two questions: What was the same? What was different? Two simple questions for two simple poems.

The responses were absolutely terrific.

The students were raising their hands left and right, digging deep into the styles and techniques of both authors. Although they didn’t know they words to describe them, these sixth graders were exploring themes, tone, meaning, without even knowing it. They had incredible insights into the author’s purpose and what the poems actually meant. The students were completing the task so well and with such excitement. They were very responsive and most of them contributed to the conversation.

In this flurry of discussion, I completely forgot my inhibitions. I was discussing with the students, asking critical thinking questions. I was encouraging their deep exploration of these short poems. I was facilitating learning. And it was exhilarating.

UGP: A Tale of Trial and Error

Well, work has continued on my UGP as I uncover what I really want to say through this piece. I have explored the issues plaguing the education system, attempting to create a cohesive opinion column detailing and addressing multiple problems. This, however, has proved to be a rather illogical way of proceeding through a genre that requires a more concise declaration of ideology. I had attempted to respond to the broadness of the prompt with a broad answer, which seemed to befit the task, but the genre I chose has demonstrated a need for closer examination of one topic, rather than many. Opinion columns, as I have come to understand through research of the genre, typically focus on one prominent issue.

 

After discussing with my professor Cindy my plan of action, I have decided to switch to a narrower topic so that I can better address the issue and better fit the genre I have chosen. We conferred about including a personal or fictitious anecdote to provide detail as advised by Mike Rose in Why School, possibly some statistics, and a call to action in the conclusion. These revisions will make my opinion column more like an opinion column, and much more detailed and meaningful. By focusing in on one aspect of the multifaceted problem facing the future of education, I will provide a much more impactful approach to the issue. This will also allow me to propose a simpler, more attainable goal in my call to action. The problems facing education today are incredibly complex, so we must focus on what we are able to change with smaller goals that will eventually bring us to an ideal state of public education.

 

The issue I am going to address as a touchstone belief of mine is access to public education. It is an issue that dominates discussion surrounding the aims and purpose of public education. The whole point of public education is that it is just that; public, accessible, equal, education. Although it seems that each child in the United States has access to education because of the availabilities of school, this is a horrendously ignorant assumption. It is true that public education for the most part has become available to all populations. Discrimination, segregation, and disadvantage have been seemingly eradicated from the schools in the last fifty or so years. But the residual impacts still exist, making it a very important issue that educators and administrators alike need to address if they ever want to achieve the goal that public education has set forth. Issues of gender, race, and socioeconomic status are still very relevant in the way educators treat students, and students’ access to resources. It becomes a discussion of equality versus equity in education.

 

This is the issue I will be addressing in my opinion column. Cindy provided me with resources to aid my genre immersion. Here are some links. In reading these columns I was able to glean an understanding of formatting and style within the genre. It seems to be a more detailed process than just jotting down your opinion and calling it good. There are methods of persuasion, argument, and call to action that are very integral in the process. I think what I will struggle with most, now that I’ve gotten past the fear of asserting my opinion in a public forum, and having an authority on the subject, is formatting my words in a way that will honor the genre. I specifically have never ventured too far into journalism because I don’t have the best means of persuasion. Blogging has been a big help with this, learning how to just write down your thoughts, heedless of the responses you will get.

 

Now I plan to work on a revised version of my Unfamiliar Genre Project, where I include elements that I have discussed in this posting. I believe that if I do the job in a way that integrates all that I have learned about the genre, that I will be successful in it. This has really been a journey of trial and error as I have tried my hand at opinion column. The wobbles I have faced have taught me about how difficult it is to try something new in English, and I believe this will give me great understanding with my students as they try new things.

My Trusted Reader

When I write I usually don’t think about an intended audience, hoping that my work will be meaningful regardless of if someone reads it or not. But since people will be reading my work, I should probably consider who my reader is and what I expect them to take away from my writing.

My reader is someone I trust to have an honest reaction to what I write. They will read my work attentively and give me critical feedback when needed. When writing about education topics, I guess I would picture myself writing to my mom. She used to be a teacher and when I talk to her about the issues of education, she is very enthusiastic and responsive. We often have very meaningful discussions about education, so pretending that I’m writing to her will provoke complex analyses about education.

To be the type of person that I want in a reader to others, I will try my best to give helpful feedback and really pay attention to what they are trying to get across. I will look critically at their work and give it a chance to get its point across.

bookworm

Morning Pages: Some Study that I Used to Know

Touchstone moments for teachers and students are not always the same. Sometimes the students learn at different rates than comply with the teachers’ expectations. My touchstone moments as a student have always been when I received encouragement from my teacher about the work I had done. It wasn’t a generic learning experience, but I did learn a great deal about my own abilities.

Teacher touchstone moments, I imagine, are more related to the direct result of their teaching. When a student finally comprehends something that the teacher had helped with, it is a wonderful moment of success and clarity. I believe teachers remember these moments, the ones where they remember why they decided to teach in the first place.

They then hold these memories with them as they teach the next student and venture to become an even better teacher. They base their style and methods on what has worked for them in the past, but with an openness to new ideas as well. A teacher’s own touchstones from when they were students are also very helpful as they can remember what worked for them, and what might work for the students they teach.

#howIflow

Getting into a state of flow in your writing is no simple task. There are certain writers who can just sit down, put pen to paper, and bust out the next great American novel in under twenty-four hours. Unfortunately, this writer is not me. Just mustering up enough motivation to sit down and write takes a lot of struggling with myself. My thought process evolves from what will I even write about? To, am I even a good writer? To, maybe I’ll be better equipped tomorrow to write my world famous novel. 

The only time I really get any writing accomplished, is usually for a school assignment. The deadline forces me to get to work. So to properly flow in my identity as a writer, I need to set deadlines for myself so that I can actually sit down and get things done. Once I have started writing, I remember how much I love it and wonder why I don’t do it more often.

Another time I get into the flow of writing, is consequentially when I am avoiding other assignments. Sometimes I will feel so trapped by what I’m working on that I will just have to stop, open a blank word document, and write the most random combination of words I can, then create a story around them. I’ve actually written some pretty interesting pieces from these fits of procrastination.

So in the two extremes, I flow when I absolutely have to write, and apparently when I absolutely should not be writing.

Stage Fright

Well, it’s official. My first in-classroom teaching experience is around the corner. The teacher I shadow for one of my education classes has told my fellow CSU student and I that we will be running a lesson next class, a lesson on Dr. Seuss of all people. March 2nd is apparently his birthday. “Oh the places you’ll go,” he might have said in this instance. I am both incredibly excited and incredibly nervous.

I am nervous about silly things; the volume of voice I should take, the level of sarcasm the class will understand, and how I should speak to a room full of eleven-year-olds. I am nervous about serious things; whether or not I can do this, if the students will pay attention, and how I will fare at classroom teaching.

unnamedI have always had a bit of stage fright, ever since I was a kid. I used to be in plays because even though I got so nervous that my cheeks were glowing red with anxiety, I loved being able to anticipate the laughter at every joke, or the gasps of surprise. I loved to see the audience enthralled by the story. I loved to entertain.

I imagine teaching is a similar engagement, just throw a little knowledge into the mix. I want to be engaging, but stern, respected, but liked, knowledgeable, but relatable, their friend, but their teacher. I’m not sure if this is asking too much of a lesson on Dr. Seuss, but I’ve got to start somewhere. It’ll probably be easy to be fun with this lesson, because of the content, but I wonder what lies ahead when it’s Chaucer instead of Seuss.

I wonder how to balance the fun with the business. One of my most ambitious goals for being a teacher, aside from learning objectives and content instruction, is for my classroom to be fun. I want my students to love coming to my class to learn. I want my students to love to learn. I think this is most likely the goal of most teachers. So how do I stand out? How do I make a genuinely entertaining environment for my students while also teaching them what they need to know?

I guess I’ll only know once I’ve tried, and I’ve got to start somewhere. Happy birthday Dr. Seuss.

UGP Progress and Prognosis

 

I am toiling away at the gargantuan task of the Unfamiliar Genre Project, a project of self-inflicting pain, for which I am supposed to write in a genre that I am not familiar with. As a writer, this task is quite daunting to me. You wouldn’t think so since, as I just declared I am a writer, and I should be thrilled to accept the challenge. In reality, however, I am a writer of the less confident distinction. I stick to my strengths. That is the only way I have known to be a good writer. I’m thinking that maybe the point is, not to be a typical good writer in the mindset of ,“if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but to be a diverse one that can adapt to new genres and bring new ideas to foreign ways of writing.

 

Another facet of this challenge is the content. I am writing about education as if I suddenly wield some authority on the matter, when I’m still a lowly undergraduate student. So I’ve read a few books and taken a few classes, but that doesn’t make me special. I suppose the authority I wield is a fresh take on an ancient subject. It was just yesterday I sat in the place of my soon-to-be students, and I remember quite clearly what worked and what didn’t. That might be my most challenging obstacle, overcoming my own bias on research proven methods of teaching, when they didn’t work for me. When I am a teacher I will make sure to focus on the needs of the students to tailor my lesson to a diverse audience of learners.

 

I have been reading up on the opinion columns of education, attempting to assimilate myself into the culture. It seems the hot topics of today are: standardized testing, the cost of higher education, the education of the teachers who are teaching students, and diversity. These issues now seem like age-old dilemmas of education that we’ve been discussing for years, even before No Child Left Behind, which begs the question, why hasn’t anything changed? Standardized testing still dominates curriculum, higher education still costs an arm and a leg, less than adequate teachers are still slipping through the cracks and dragging their students down with them, and diverse populations are still being omitted from course content. The discourse on these subjects is prevalent but to no effect. A lot of the problems seem like they could be solved with more funding. Money can’t buy happiness, but it could improve the school system, which would make me happy. Since funding is scarce, though, we have to make do with what we’ve got.

 

Since my project is supposed to be based upon my touchstone beliefs about education in the past, present, and idealistic future, I will focus on these issues which seem to keep reappearing no matter the time. They stem from the fundamental questions of: How do we assess knowledge without restricting curriculum? How do we accurately assess the performance of teachers? How do we extend equal opportunity to those of lower income? And, how do we create an equal learning environment with equal representation in the content for diverse students? Some of the solutions seem simple while others incredibly complex. The reoccurrence of these problems is a testament to the complications surrounding their resolution. For my Unfamiliar Genre Project in my opinion column, I will address my take on the issues of the past, present, and future of education. In order for change to occur, as an educator, I must share my opinion, however uncomfortable that makes me. The authority I hold in this subject is my tremendous belief in the power and equity of knowledge, and my ardent hope to defend it.