Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Javier Martinez is reading Pedagogy of the City by Paulo Freire

Pre-Reading reflection
Part One: Education For Liberation in a Contemporary Urban Area
Ch. 1: The Deficits of Brazilian Education
Ch. 2:To Change the Face of Schools
Ch. 3: A Pedagogical Project
Ch. 4: Educational Workers' Questions
Ch. 5: Challenges of Urban Education
Ch. 6: Youth and Adult Literacy
Ch. 7: History as Possibility

Part Two: Reflections on this Experience with Three Educators
Ch. 8: School Autonomy and Curriculum Reorientation
Ch. 9: Education at the End of the Century
Ch. 10:Lessons from a Fascinating Challenge

Manifesto to Those Who. by Leaving, Stay

Sao Paulo's Education Revisited

Quinton Freeman is reading Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect by Matthew Lieberman

What are three things you know to be important to teaching and learning?  Why are they important? How do you ensure that your students experience them?

The type of learning that often takes place in schools (formal, in a classroom) requires three things I know to be important to teaching and learning:

1.  Having a space where learners can be vulnerable

Not knowing can be uncomfortable.  But, it is in the "yet" space (thanks Katie) found between I did not know/I now know, I could not/Now I can that learning takes place.  Entering this space regularly and comfortably in a place as public as a classroom presents a challenge.  Because I believe this is important, I work hard to establish the type of relationship that says "he cares and he will work hard to challenge us".  A banner I kept in my room encapsulated this for me.  Printed on it was a quote by Louisa May Alcott:  "I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship."  The message I hoped to send (and remind myself of) was that every effort would be made to provide my students with what they needed to make it through the struggle but I would not rob them of stormy experiences.

2.  Creating opportunities for learners to give and receive timely feedback
3.  Mindful eavesdropping

The next two requirements go hand in hand, so I will address them together.  Grant Wiggins says that "it is through the act of learning that we learn".  As a classroom teacher, I came to this realization in a roundabout way.  I entered the profession with the challenge of teaching 7th graders for hour and twenty minute long classes every day. Having something for them to do was part of my survival.  As I matured as a teacher, I began to recognize that the quality of the tasks was more important than the quantity.  Not just because students need to engage in the types of acts required to learn (learning being consequential to thinking) but they present the opportunity for students to receive (and give) good feedback.

Beyond that, high quality tasks (whether teacher or student created) provide the chance to make the invisible (student thinking) visible (through the work produced).  This is where the eavesdropping comes it.  The mindful variety begins with recognizing that what students say and do not say, what students do and do not do gives clues as to where they are in the "yet space".  Because I believe this is important, I challenge myself to say as little and listen/watch as much as I can as students produce work.

Make a prediction regarding what you hope to learn from reading and interacting with your book of choice.

I hope to learn more about the nature of learning's social component and how to apply the author's findings and "now what's" to my home life and work life.

Part 1:  Beginnings

Chapter 1:  Who Are We?

Quote:  That night {1984 Presidential debate}, nearly 70 million Americans watched the debate and came away convinced that the Gipper still had his mojo.  Any fears people had that President Reagan had slipped were assuaged.  But how we as a nation reached this conclusion on that night is surprising.  Reagan himself didn't change our minds about him.  It took a few hundred people in the audience to change our minds.  It was their laughter coming over the airwaves that moved the needle on how we viewed Reagan. (p. 6)

Questions I still have:
  1. Does this explain why some sitcoms opt to film in front of a live studio audience?
  2. Why do I personally dislike laugh tracks?  Is there a part of me that feels manipulated. . .or at least senses an attempt at manipulation?  How do I reconcile this preference with my knowledge that live audiences are often directed to laugh at certain points in the production?
  3. Does this social element explain why some childhood favorites no longer hold the same appeal? Did I enjoy them then because I watched them with my sister and brother?
In this chapter, the author is essentially saying that we have designed organizations based on a false "theory of the world" with regards to the role sociality plays in who we truly are.

Chapter 2:  The Brain's Passion

  • The central argument of the chapter is that the brain's default, or passion, is to think about other's - that is, consider their "thoughts, feelings, and goals".  
          He provides the following illustrations as evidence:

1.  The part of the brain that is most active during studies of social cognition (a way to describe thinking about other people, oneself, and the relation of oneself to other people) is nearly identical to the parts of the brain most active when we stop doing a specific cognitive task.

Thinking about others is the default.

2.  This finding has been verified in babies as young as two-weeks old.  Another research group found the same activity in two-day old babies.

Thinking about others is the default.

3.  We know that the default network quiets down when we perform a specific task.  In studies where participants are given breaks between those tasks (like math problem), a return to default brain activity is seen during breaks.  This is true whether the breaks are a few minutes long or only a few seconds long.

Thinking about others is the default.

Katie Fitch is reading Top Brain, Bottom Brain: Surprising Insights Into How You Think by Stephen Kosslyn and G. Wayne Miller

Here are a collection of my posts as I learn through reading and reflecting about Top Brain, Bottom Brain: Surprising Insights into How You Think by Kosslyn and Miller. 

Pre-Reading Reflection
Ch 1: A New Way of Looking At What Your Brain Says About You
Ch 2: Roots of the Theory
Ch 3: The Duplex Brain
Ch 4: Reasoning Systems
Ch 5: Sweeping Claims
Ch 6: Interacting Systems
Ch 7: Four Cognitive Modes
Ch 8: Origins of the Modes: Nature Versus Nurture
Ch 9: Mover Mode
Ch 10: Perceiver Mode
Ch 11: Stimulator Mode
Ch 12: Adaptor Mode
Ch 13: Test Yourself
Ch 14: Working with Others
Final Reflection

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

After Reading. . .

1.  Choose one of the following prompts.  Construct an extended and complete response (as defined by you) to the prompt.  Each prompt will ask you to "connect your response to your text".  The spirit of this instruction is that you should construct your response in such a way that it is clear that the author is someone who read your book of choice.

A.  After reading this book, how has your definition of success (with regards to student learning) changed?  What goals for your students do you now have that did not occur to you before?  How do you plan on reaching those goals?  Connect your responses to your text.

B.  How do you know when you are successful in the classroom?  How do you know when your students are successful?  What concrete behaviors are needed on both you and your student's parts to achieve success?  What are the things you do that get in the way of your success?  What are the things students do that get in the way of their success?  Connect your responses to your text.

C.  Create a checklist for lesson planning or instruction based on your text.  Highlight two or three components of your checklist and connect them to your text.

D.  Recount an experience you had in your classroom that you now see differently or that you would respond to differently as a result of reading your book of choice.  Include in your account how your thinking has changed.  What difference will this change in thinking make going forward? Connect your responses to your text.

E.  Not every book meets our expectations.  If your book did not, then what was missing?  What questions do you have that the author did not address.  Connect your responses to your text.

F.   Use a site like SoundCloud to record yourself reading and reflecting on a few key passages from your text.  Include in your reflection why you have chosen that particular passage and describe the impact it had on you and/or your understanding of thinking and learning.

G.   Find an artifact (pictures, clips, quotes, etc.)  that represent four different ideas presented in your book of choice (you will have four artifacts total).  Describe how your artifact connects to the idea presented in the text.  Include why you think this idea is important in your description.    

2.  Everyone should complete two of the following stems.  Center your responses around your beliefs and values regarding teaching and/or thinking and/or learning.

A.  "When I consider how I was taught (as a student), the text challenges me to __________________.  This differs from my original conception of teaching in that __________."

B.  "When I consider how I learn, the text challenges me to __________________.  This differs from my original conception of teaching in that _________."

C.  "When I consider my views on teaching and learning, the text supports my position that ____________.  Based on reading this text I will ______.  This is important because ________."

D.  "I disagreed with the author's position on ______ because ______.  Something the author might consider is that ______."

Action Steps:
1.  Respond to one prompt from the first group.
2.  Complete two stems from the second group.
3.  Post

Monday, January 13, 2014

During Reading Activities

After reading each chapter of your book, choose two things to do from the list provided below.   Record your work in your blog post.
Use the title and number of the chapter you are responding to as labels for each pair.


Chapter 1:  The Most Natural Act in the World
"Things to Do" choice #1
"Things to Do" choice #2

You should not use any one "Things to Do" more than three (3) times.

Example:  You should only use "Things to Do" #1:  Complete the stem "My favorite part of this chapter was _____!" for a maximum of three chapters.

When you have completed responding to all of your chapters, move on to the "After Reading" post.

Things to Do  

  1. Complete the stem:  "My favorite part of this chapter was ______________!
  2. Complete the stem:  "If we as a campus applied what I read about _____ then ______."* 
  3. Complete the stem:  "I would like to ask the author ____.  This is important to me because ___."
  4. Complete the stem:  "Because I now know or was reminded of _____ I will commit to ______. This is important because ________."
  5. Complete the stem:  "Reading about ____ makes me uncertain of my thinking about ______."*
  6. Complete the stem:  "Reading about _____ makes me more confident of my thinking about ___."
  7. Complete the stem:  "I had to re-read when ___________.  Doing so helped me to learn _____."
  8. Complete the stem:  "I am still unclear about ___________."
  9. Complete the stem:  "What I learned about ____ helps me to understand _____."
  10. Complete the stem:  "The author is essentially saying. . ."*
  11. Complete the stem:  "The author uses the concrete idea of ____ to describe/explain the abstract   concept of _____."*
  12. Complete the stem:  "_______ teaches us that __________"*
  13. Complete the stem:  "If the author(s) of the text had his or her/their way, then _________."
  14. Complete the stem:  "Something that concerns me in this chapter is ____because ______.
  15. Write a text to self connection you made while reading this chapter.  
  16. Write a text to text (from you book of choice or another text) connection you made while reading this chapter.
  17. Pull and post a passage from this chapter that you have questions about.  What are your questions?
  18. Find an article or blog post that connects (which is not a synonym for supports) to what you are reading.  Post the article or blog post.
  19. Consider an argument made in this chapter, identify it and provide a counterargument that could   be made?
  20. Identify a non-education idea presented in the chapter that could be applied to education.  What difference do you think this idea would make?
  21. Identify something you thought in earlier chapters that you have now changed your position on.   What led you to change your position?
  22. Find a quote from GoodReads that connects to this chapter.  Why did you choose this particular   quote?  How does it connect with the ideas in the chapter?
  23. Pull and post a passage from your chapter, include your annotations or briefly state why you chose this particular passage.
  24. How has your understanding of thinking and learning increased after reading this chapter?
  25. The idea presented in the chapter most applicable to me now is _____________.  The idea presented in the chapter least applicable to me now is _____________.
  26. Pull three terms or concepts from the text that you were previously unfamiliar with (whether in terms of usage or definition).  Define them and provide the context they were used in.
  27. Identify your favorite illustration, anecdote, or story from the chapter.  Why did you chose this particular one?  What role did it play in supporting the author's premise?  
  28. Reader's choice. . .respond to your chapter in any way you choose.   

* From Developing Academic Thinking Skills in Grades 6-12 by Jeff Zwiers

Action Steps:
1.  Complete two different "Things to Do" per chapter.
2.  Check to make sure that you have not used any individual "Things to Do" more than three times.
3.  Post your work as you go.  The intent is for you to respond to the text.