Monday, November 26, 2012

Blog Post #5: Literacy Reflection

This semester, I have been surprised by the literacy levels of my students. They are able to analyze somewhat complex texts in class. Last week we gave them an excerpt from the Communist Manifesto, and even though it uses an unusual vernacular. the kids were able to understand the main points. However, I am also surprised at how unwilling kids are today to do any reading outside of class. Now it must be said that I am involved with 2 college prep classes, and at the school I am at, college prep students do not really expect to do any homework. However, we will every once in a while give them a simple reading assignment at home, and most of the kids do not do it.

When I start teaching next year, I hope to have more readings that connect to current events. For example, to compliment the reading of the Communist Manifesto, and have them read something on the Occupy movement, and how the that movement is related. I tried to connect the two movements in class, and I started to realize that the kids didn't really know what I was talking about. I think that a mistake that I have made this year is that I assume that the kids have some interest in current events and many of them do not. Another thing that I would like to do in my classroom is to use film and movies to compliment the content. Literacy should not just be reading , but using using other forms of media as well. especially in this era of YouTube and having 500 TV Channels. For example, I could give them a prompt and ask them if they see a connection between The Dark Knight Rises and the French Revolution. I feel like this may engage students that do not like reading by using different mediums.

As the course goes on, the more experience kids haven in reading and analyzing, the deeper I think that could get. I know that the Common Core is all about Primary Sources, which are usually hard to read. What I would like to do is to have my students be able to read those documents,and then relate them to other events on their own. In the example above, I gave them a secondary event to relate it to, but maybe as the kids become more advanced, they could figure out this secondary event on their own. For example, as we talked about the Industrial Revolution and the problems of urbanization, they could maybe do a bit of research and finds that it could relate to the slums in many countries in the global south. Hopefully this would engage them by having them figure out the connections on their own, and they can start taking ownership of their own ideas.

By the end of the year, I hope that the kids are able to put everything together and they are able to write a research paper, where they are coming up with the ideas themselves. In the earlier ideas, the students were given at least one of the topics, but in this instance the kids are totally in control of the project, and will hopefully go deep in to the topic. This will hopefully motivate them to do well on the project and be interested in the content.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

521 Blog Post 4: Project Tomorrow

Prompt 1. I have chosen the report titled "The New Math for Justifying On-line Learning." The article is basically an argument that is stating that in order for districts to be able to go along with shrinking budgets and higher demands, they need to start investing more in online classes. It gives statistics like one-third of secondary students would like to take an online class, and that parents are increasingly demanding online classes. The problem that I see with these statistics is that students of course would like to take an online class because the perception is that they will be easy. They can wake up when they want, never have to take off their pajamas  and do their lessons the same time as they are catching up with their latest TV show. This may not be the case in reality, but I believe that is the perception among high schoolers.

Prompt 2: The video that I watched is titled "Is Anyone Listening? Students speak up about Education Technology." The video includes a panel of secondary students that are talking about the lack of access to technology in schools. The students have well thought out and articulate arguments on why we should have more technology in schools. I agree with them that the schools should have more technology, but the big problem for me is the digital divide that is still evident in our society. I would love it if we could give every kid a laptop or a tablet, and have them do web searches and research online. However, the districts do not have that type of money, making this an unrealistic goal. I think what I would like to do is use the web as a tool that the kids could use, but not make it essential to the learning.

Prompt 3: I would really like it if we started a program at our school for students that were interested in teaching in the future. The benefit of this program is that they could then get involved with groups like academic success and Avid, in which they could act as tutors. They could be role models for some of the younger kids, and help out the substitute when the teacher is out. I would love to start an international club at this school, and have students from different countries come in and discuss their culture so we can celebrate our differences.

Monday, November 5, 2012

21st Century Literacies- 521 Blog Post #3

Although I am teaching in a pretty straight forward world history class, there is some creativity involved. For each unit we try and do some simulation type games where kids re encouraged to act in a role as if they were someone from the specified time period. We also try and have some writing assignment where the kids can take a creative stance on a historical stance. Now when I say we try and do this, it means that if we are running out of time, these are usually the first assignments to get cut. Our class will also have many classroom discussions where kids are asked to interpret pictures and pieces of art from the past, and this often inspires critical thinking.

To be honest at this point in our class we do to teach as much information and media literacy as I would like. We have very little access to computers and technology in the classroom, ans as my CT put it at a meeting recently "How are we supposed to teach 21st century skills with 20th century technology?" Last week as part of my lesson I showed the kids Gapminder.org to show how the medical advances in the 19th century doubled are life expectancy. I wasn't sure if the kids would understand, but they really dug it. They started asking me to see the statistics for the different countries, and they probably got more out of that then anything else in the lesson. I am thinking of trying to have them do an assignment based on the information from that website, but I haven't figured it out quite yet.

A big challenge in our class right now is to teach the kids to work independently. We rarely give them homework, and most in class assignment they can work with a partner. Even the notes now during lecture we pretty much tell them what to write. I feel that this is a problem with kids in general today that they have trouble deciphering what is important and what is not. This is in part due to the CST's, as teachers will tell kids now, THIS IS IMPORTANT, ITS ON THE TEST. On the flip side. I think kids today are very good at working in groups and they get along pretty well. We always assign roles in order to give everyone a taskso that they feel engaged.