I'm not sure if I've ever read any book that I feel so aligned with. Every bit of text from Ayers feels as if it was formed from my own thoughts. I hope I can bring the passion for life that Ayers talks about into the classroom. I see the frustration he illustrates, with contending with meeting standards and expectations.
I understand the practicality of standardization, and that it has benefits, but I have not found how to really evoke passion in my students in my placement yet.
At hawthorne I just feel that this pressure, to meet these standards actually progressively drives students interest away from academics.
I'm going to be completely taking over art classes for the next two weeks, which I'm looking to make as engaging and enjoyable as possible. I'm going to try to relate the contents of my lessons to my students as much as possible. Have them take ownership of what they create, and have them drive the topics covered as well.
With art especially, I'm not sure any standards should need to be met by students.. The only expectations that I feel are important to place upon students within the realm of art, are expectations of effort, and expectations of discovery.
All in all I hope to negotiate this same issue that Ayers is addressing, in my upcoming weeks at Hawthorne, and create a classroom full of engaged students, who feel like they're learning something they can relate to and are a part of.
The absolutely true diary of a part time indian is about a grade 9 student known as Junior. Junior was born on the reserve, with water on the brain, a condition where too much spinal fluid surrounds his brain, he went through corrective surgery as a 6 month old and has been a fighter ever since.
Life on the reserve is plagued by alcoholism, and a legacy of cultural destruction. Alcohol plays a large role in Junior’s life. Junior’s dad is an alcoholic, and a series of alcohol induced events shake Junior’s world.
Junior is deeply disappointed by the schooling provided on the reserve, and make his thoughts know to his teacher, who encourages Junior to leave the reserve and transfer schools. Junior leaves the reserve, and attends Rearden High School, a predominantly white High school where Junior, who goes by Arnold at his new school, couldn’t be more of a black sheep.
At first Arnold is an outcast at Rearden and is then outcasted from the reserve too, his community and best friend take it personally when he decides to leave. Slowly Arnold builds steam at his new school, he stands up to his bully, becomes a pseudo-boyfirned to the girl he likes, does well in his classes, joins the basketball team and beats his frenemy Rowdy.
A series of alcohol related events deflate Junior. They are devastating to say the least. They play a sort of grounding role and by the end of the book Junior makes up with his former best friend Rowdy.
I also watched an interview with the author, Sherman Alexie. He was a very interesting guy, and spoke from a perspective that I am not familiar with. He spoke about writing and art, mental illness and alcohol abuse and the state of native culture today.
I always appreciate hearing new perspectives and from people who experience life different than I. I feel it can be grounding and humbling that our world is so broad.
Chapter 10 speaks about the mechanism of change in the field of Education. Change is an extremely hard thing for some, especially for those who have been behaving in the same manner for many years. Change is a constant, everything is in flux. It is necessary, yes, to improve student learning, but more so in today’s day it is necessary to maintain relevancy, Without relevancy, education cannot be effective.
That is the point we are at. In the past months we have been introduced to a variety of intended and supposedly, already implemented, changes in our education system. This constant struggle is what we will continue to pursue. The positive effects of which are unforeseen, however aspiring to be anything less than vigilant would be an injustice to the next generation.
There are 4 principles behind implementing change, focus, support and accountability, collaboration and staying the course. These principles are in play from the legislative level, to the board, to the school. Without focus, goals can be compromised, and the path needlessly diverted, resulting in a loss of enthusiasm, time and money. Without support and accountability, it would be difficult to recover from setbacks, issues would go unreconciled, could not be traced and understood, and prevented in future. Collaboration is necessary to be freed from the constraints of one’s context, it’s very easy to get lost within one’s own point of view, collaboration is a balance check in these situations, as well as a means of generating fresh content. Staying the course is a common struggle for all humans, hopefully keeping the next generation in mind can help us remain steadfast in our pursuits.
There were a couple points that Cooper brought up, that were especially relevant to my experience. For one, Cooper acknowledges the notion that teachers and students should work collaboratively to generate a positive classroom environment.
When I was a “Mad Scientist”, I tried to implement this dogma, however was some what unsuccessful. I would spend too little of time with my classes. An hour a week for 8 weeks, and the program was run after school, so the attitudes of my students reflected that. I would make it apparent to my students that they were responsible as well for the smooth facilitation of activities.
Chapter 9 speaks about the task of grading, an integral aspect of educational practice. Cooper speaks about the progression of the education systems towards a standard-based curriculum and grading practice, based upon learning goals and performance standards.
Cooper raises the point that grades, do not fully communicate to the student or parents, what the student is excelling in or needs to work on within a particular discipline.
It may be more tedious to surmount but I find feedback given on each piece of work, as a more accurate portrayal of what a student needs to work on, and what they are doing well in.
Some parents and students are very concerned with grades, for many, it’s all that matters. Which can be troubling, if we are to teach our students more than just how to write tests well.
I’m a little undecided about the whole process. I believe some form of grading will always be there, and that for some it will continue to be all that matters. I believe culture needs to change if there is to be less of a fixation on grades.
Everybody’s children was a touching film. It definitely highlights how privileged I am to come out of the birth lottery the way I did, to be born into a loving family who reside in a safe and secure country. What Saileu had gone through is hard to even imagine. I don’t even know what to say about it really. I wonder why areas of the world become like this. It’s extremely upsetting that innocent life is born into such horrible circumstance.
I don’t appreciate the fact that Canada seems to be outputting misleading information regarding the ease of transition into a new life in Canada.
I think that Saileu’s will and tenacity and resourcefulness are truly commendable, I wish him all the best.
It is great that he could find community, however difficult it may have been for him to acclimate to it, but that it’s there for him is incredibly important.
I wonder what the future of our world will look like. Hopefully instances such as the one that Saileu came from can be avoided, and occur as little as possible. I hope for a world with less injustice, pain and suffering, and that Canada can continue to be apart of negating these crimes and remain capable of rehabilitating and giving opportunity to those who can escape these dangerous, unhealthy and unjust circumstances.
Cooper Chap 7
Chapter 7 spoke of differentiated learning and how to accommodate learners with special needs. I think it is extremely important to refrain from creating a “one size fits all” classroom. That means that not only is it of paramount importance to differentiate learning practices for those with special needs but to also use a variety instructional strategies and activities.
Cooper makes the point that students with special needs often have more difficulty with written work as opposed to physical or oral activities, and I find this notion applies to not only student’s with special needs but to a significant portion of student’s in general. Obviously writing is an important skill to develop, but I do find that traditional education puts such emphasis on the skill when I feel like the majority of occupations do not require employees to write at length.
I feel like this feeling of arbitrariness is a constant struggle to deal with for the education system, that is why I am strongly for inquiry learning and making use of student’s curiosities as much as possible. The negotiation of making use of student’s curiosity and passion for learning with meeting standards, requirements and logistical constraints is at the crux of the education system.
It highlights the 3 big ideas of: using diagnostic assessment and assessment for learning; using balanced methods of assessment (written, oral, etc.); and using professional judgment when grading and reporting student achievement. Cooper touches on three types of learners with special needs; those with learning disabilities, those with behavioural exceptionalities and English/French language learners. Several myths regarding students with special needs are addressed, such as “These students can handle only simple concepts and will only produce simple work” and “These students cannot be expected to work with others”.
Chapter 8 + Andrade
I understand and appreciate the idea that rubric’s should be qualitative, and can be applied to variety of disciplines and levels, however I do find that qualitative requirements can be rather misleading. It is especially concerning because the subjective assessment teachers make through the use of their rubrics are then used as a measure against school of other school boards. I mean, I guess if all schools are implementing a similar rubric style (moving towards qualitative assessment) then with a large enough sample, data still can be useful, but I would be weary of seemingly objective data coming out of school boards and schools and so on, when the data is based upon subjective findings.
I think that for rubric’s to be qualitative outlines used to assess for learning that instructions as to what is required is even more important to provide. Through out my academic career I can identify many instances were deciphering what was required of me was quite the challenge and hinder my performance. This risk is only greater with qualitative rubrics.
All in all qualitative rubrics are great because they can be applied broadly, and can eliminate arbitrary specifications of what makes a work good.
Chapter 3 of Ayers is a pretty awesome one. I want all of these things too!!!
A couple quotes stuck out to me.
“Life in classrooms, after all, is life itself”.
Through out my academic career the lack of translation between classroom to sidewalk, has been a soul-sucking constant. Why is school separate from life?
“learn FROM the world, not just about it”.
Couldn’t agree more. Personally, I identify as a very tangible, experiential learner. I find learning FROM things is not only more engaging and exciting, but the amount of information from an experience, far exceeds the I could gather reading about it.
“learning is active not passive”.
Once again, completely agree. The idea that you can just listen to me talk, and soak up every nugget of wisdom is ludacris, what other instances in life are like this. Only in academics. Why are children, people with more energy, more zest and curiosity for life expected to sit and listen to someone speak for hours, when I don’t expect my peers to listen to me rant for more than 5 minutes.
“you can learn everything in anything, we can discover worlds within worlds"
I think quotes like this is what schools should strive to embody, a sense of wonder! Life is amazing, yet we drone on, and restrict genuine behaviour, and curiosity in the classroom. There is so much information in everything!!! From the language I'm typing in, to the lightbox I'm using, to the shapes of this text.. We could trace back the roots of each for millennia, It's endless..
I feel as though Entre Les Murs portrayed an accurate representation of what an urban Paris school would be like.. Complete with outdated methods, foreign students and cultural conflict.
I think education is a discipline in a state of perpetual flux, more so than others, and for good reason. New generations perceive human culture and understanding, from a vantage point unseen. Their stories are dependent on this vantage point and to fully see through their eyes is impossible. Legislators and teachers can only move so fast in order to keep schooling relevant, and I believe that there will always be a certain tension in the classroom, between teacher, curriculum and student, because of this.
When I think about the major points of Entre les murs, several instances come to mind. The first being the meet and greet, from what I can gather, is pretty standard. Whether school is a chore or not, I can only imagine someone would say something along the lines of "buckle up guys".
Then comes the class list review. Where students were identified as good, bad and so on. This is not appropriate practice.. But I'm assuming it does happen, at least to some degree, whether it's genuine or for levity's sake. Students have more detailed profiles regarding their histories that can be accessed by teachers if necessary.
Next is sort of the intro to Mr. Marin's class.. The characters are interesting, the majority have a sort of bravado to them, and we develop the demographic and cultural profile of his class. Mr. Marin doesn't speak to his class in the most professional manner through out the film.. However I do feel that part of his reasoning for that behaviour is to level with his students. The "bitch" comment shouldn't have been said, his emotions just got away from him. Staying level-headed is especially paramount, when dealing with the children of others, and exemplifying oneself as a model citizen.
I think Suliman's final verdict was tragic. It's a shame that he was expelled and may have been forced to leave France, however I don't think the expulsion was made without appropriate grounds, not that I agree with expulsions and suspensions, but in this situation those are the rules in place.
I know education systems are constantly working on developing better practices whether that be with regards to discipline, assessment, delivery, organization, or collecting money for pizza day, and that gives me hope that students of the future will continue to be educated more effectively.