Monday, May 3, 2010

Cinco de Mayo Project Day!

Hi folks,

Looking forward to our project day at my house on Wednesday night from 4:30-8ish. My address is 146 Tenth Street, at the top of the east side between Hope and North Main.

Google Map

I will be making margaritas (with and without tequila) to drink. Leave a comment here to let us know what food you would like to add to our last night feast.

Looking forward to hearing about all of your projects!

LB :)

Thursday, April 1, 2010


I agree with Rodriguez's argument, bilingualism is important. Schools should not push students to get rid of their culture. Though Rodriguez and his siblings did better in school when they focused strictly on English, their relationships with their parents suffered.

Rodriguez did not really know his father. On page 37, he discussed a moment when he realized his father was not shy, "But my father was not shy, I realized, when I'd watch him speaking Spanish with relatives. Using Spanish, he was quickly effusive. Especially when talking with other men, his voice would spark, flicker, flare alive with sounds. In Spanish, he expressed ideas and feelings he rarely revealed in English."

Learning English is very important, but it should not replace your culture or traditions. Students should be proud of their heritage.

I remember a couple weeks ago I had a student who stayed after school to make-up a test. She called her Mom for a ride home and covered her mouth as she spoke to her in Spanish. When she got off the phone, she laughed and apologized for her Mom only understanding Spanish. I asked her why she was sorry and explained that it is not to apologize for. I went on to explain she should be proud of her culture and proud that she is bilingual.

Both private and public individuality are important.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Still Pregnant!

Page 230 (Collier)
“One kind of code-switch is conversational, which can be a signal ‘that the students feel a common bond among themselves and a teacher’. To allow the child to express himself/herself can motivate the student, which encourages learning.”

I never thought of a student switching their language as code switching, instead I saw it as a student speaking broken English. This made me really think about judgments I have made on ESL speakers. I also thought how unintelligent they may sound but in reality they are really “learning” the language. I have never had the experience where my students code switch in the classroom.

Page 35 (Rodriguez)
“. . . the clash of two worlds, the faces and voices of school intruding upon the familiar setting of home.” (of course I had the same as Jill)

This really made me think about how separate the school life is from their home life. The comfort Richard had when he was home, versus how uncomfortable or silenced he felt in school. This first hand experience was very moving. It was so sad to see how the dynamics of the family changed because they wanted to teach their children English. I understand, in the eyes of the parents, how important it was for their children to learn the dominant language, but to lose their culture was very sad.

This really made me think about the ESL program at our school. I believe it is the pull-out method. Students are in ESL for a maximum of three periods a day. There is one ESL teacher, who does not speak the language of all his students. How much can he be helping them? I have a student from China and I know Mr. P does NOT speak Chinese. So how does he help him?

I got a new student yesterday, directly from Cape Verde. I was called by the Guidance Counselor and was told that he does not speak one word of English, but they needed to put him somewhere. How sad is that. . . there is no way for me to communicate with him. What do I do? (not to mention a sub will be in there on Monday)

"Flooded" with questions about my ESL students

Rodriguez's chapter stood out to me much more than Collier's for a few reasons, but mostly because it related the most to my classroom and experiences this year. I was at first struck by the nuns visiting Richard's home. Not only was school coming into the home, but the dominant religion was also entering by sending nuns who were teachers. I thought Rodriguez's reflection on initially seeing this was profound, especially because he was so young. At an early age, he noted, "From the doorway of another room, spying the visitors, I noted the incongruity - the clash of two worlds, the faces and voices of school intruding up the familiar setting of home" (Santa Ana 35).

This stood out to me mostly because of the story I shared last week about the student's mom who wanted to come to school and have a meeting on the spot when I called about her son's deficiency. She had looked up this foreign word and knew it was bad and wanted to fix is so that he could succeed. I remember feeling so panicked as to what to do during this situation. Here I usually am complaining that parent's don't care, because more often than not, they seem not to when I call; but this woman cared deeply, but she also didn't understand the system she so wanted her son to succeed in. What is ironic, is in an assignment we completed during the quarter her son chose a song named "Successful" by a popular rapper as the song that most reflected his life. He spoke of how he wanted to be a doctor, he wanted the expensive car, he wanted money. However, I wonder if this is his goal, or if his parents want these goals. I know he wants to be successful, but what defines success in his household. When I told this particular student I spoke to his mother, he immediately tensed up. We discussed how she wanted to come to school and that she probably didn't understand my message. Only one word can describe this student's body language and demeanor: uncomfortable. I felt bad for him, I felt bad for her, and I even felt a little bad for me. None of us were really communicating with each other, yet we all share a common goal, wanting the student to succeed. The student has learned code-switching, he speaks English fluently, assimilates to the dominant culture; but, at the same time, has come to school wearing Egyptian clothing to showcase his heritage and clearly has a close relationship with his parents. What both articles did for me was point out that it is easier for children to learn a language and to code switch, as teachers, many individuals are unwilling to code-switch, they are unwilling to let student's home culture guide their literacy, and that is not fair or productive to the learning environment. We need more Zeke's in the world, who are willing to use student's culture to guide instruction.

I know that none of these issues were even apparent to me until I really paid attention to my students. I have lived a life with one language and one culture which I am proud of, how can anyone take an other's culture away, not just the culture of their ethnicity, but the culture of their family. I know I would never sacrifice the culture of my family, it is unique and special, and so much a part of how I react to and interpret the world.

The Advantages of Bilingualism

Colliers overarching message reminds me very much of Carters argument, and some of Johnsons. Collier seem to believe that while English language acquisitions is essential, it is both oppressive and counterproductive to ignore the importance of a child’s first culture and language as equally important. In fact, Collier seems to argue, that the more a student’s native language and culture are embraced and validated, the easier it becomes for the student to be successful in a second language. Two examples she cites are with acceptance of language code-switching techniques, ‘bi-dialectism’, and becoming literate in a students native language first. Personally, I have seen the benefits and ‘awesomeness’ of all three strategies. Unfortunately, I feel the atmosphere in this country is not supportive of bilingualism or bi-dialectism over monolingualism and the dominant dialects.
While living in West Africa, I heard people code-switch constantly. In Dakar, Senegal, people would often go back and forth between Wolof (the local language), French (the national language), and other languages like English. Senegalese used ‘sequential switches’ often when in mixed language crowds, and switched to Wolof as an ‘identity marker’. Foreigners used French and Wolof ‘fixed expressions’ to create bonds and show respect. ‘Quotations and paraphrases’, and ‘stylistic switches’ enhanced many conversations for foreigners and locals. The conversational benefits of code switching are endless. In the same way American schools encourage students to learn more English vocabulary to help them communicate more effectively, we could also encourage the acquisition and use of other languages to develop our youth’s means of communication even more and with more people.
Colliers and Carters view on code switching is not just with language, but dialects also. The importance of bi-dialectism was an eye opening theory for me. Why should everyone in such a large country as ours have the same dialect? Who decided which of these dialects needed to be the dominant (acceptable) one? These are questions I had not asked myself before. Reading this made me reflect on a student I have this year (I will call him Joe). Joe does what Collier refers to as ‘first language interference’ were he uses Spanish (his native language) word order and pronunciation with English sometimes. Really this has become a dialect with in English. I have not addressed this with Joe thus far; but as Johnson would say, I should ‘call a fire a fire’ by acknowledging it, and then like Carter would suggest, teach the alternative (dominant culture) way to speak. I feel the need to express to Joe how cool it is that he can use English vocabulary with Spanish word order and pronunciation. The knowledge that it takes to understand as much as he does about two languages is so much more than my knowledge of just one language. I also wonder if it would beneficial to give these accolades among his peers, who might see his language skills as an intellectual deficient. Anyone have thoughts on that?
Finally I would like to cite my husband’s skills in a second language to agree with Collier that becoming literate in one’s native language first, enhances literacy in a second language. My husband grew up in a monoliguist home (even though his mother spoke French as her first language). However, once he started spending his summers in France he quickly acquired the spoken language; then, by the end of high school he was reading the same French language books as his friends in France. I have always admired his knowledge and use of languages, and have thought from the very beginning that his use of the English language would not be nearly be as good, had he not learned a second language.
So why is it that our schools do not see the benefits of mastering two languages? So many studies report the linguistic benefits of bilingualism. In addition, Spanish is widely used in America, and spoken in many different countries. By encouraging native Spanish speakers to master both languages would benefit them immensely in their lives and careers; and encouraging native English speakers to learn Spanish could only benefit their acquisition of their native language and increase their means of communicating in global society.

Like Sand Slipping Through Fingers

Collier argues that when teaching multilingual children, everything comes down to one concept, "the key is the true appreciation of the different linguistic and cultural values that students bring into the classroom." (223) She stresses the need for teachers to be accepting of the different elements students bring with them to the classroom rather than tossing them aside and teaching the rules of the dominant language. If we as educators strictly focus on the dominant language and rules, we will lose the multilingual students' attention and desire to be in the classroom. Therefore we must provide support, encouragement, and various tools of writing and speech in order for the students to develop and become a valuable member of the classroom. Not only will these strategies help the ESL students but they will ultimately benefit the other students as they we work to find ways to integrate elements of various cultures in the classroom.

Richard Rodriguez's piece echoes Collier's ideas from a more personal view point. He describes his upbringing and how he was stripped of his natural language and forced to conform to the rules and guidelines of the dominant culture. He felt saddened and longed for his youth when asked for directions by a Mexican farmworker and on other occasions when he heard the Spanish nuns and family speaking. Rodriguez's most powerful line during his excerpt for me was on page 35 where he writes, "I also needed my teachers to keep my attention from straying in class by calling out, 'Rich-heard' - their English voices slowly prying loose my ties to my other name, its three notes, 'Ri-car-do'." His identity, his culture, and his individuality was taken from him by the dominant culture. He received a full year of "special attention" and his family life was intruded upon. The fact that his perception of his father was altered because of language barriers is heart-breaking. He only saw his father come alive in his speech when he was in his natural language. The role reversals Rodriguez's family members underwent is difficult to swallow and poses the infamous question of "what can we do as educators to further support our students and their families?" By the end of his excerpt his natural language and the feeling of being comfortable at home or in public with his family had slipped through his fingers. He became embarrassed by the broken English or the improper use of words by his parents. His cultural was taken away and exchanged for the dominant ideology.

A Family Divided

In his piece called “Aria,” Rodriguez argues that bilingual children should be allowed to be comfortable with having two linguistic worlds. He argues that neither identity should dictate over the other. Both the public and private identities should be valued by the individual. Too often, our multilingual students lose a sense of themselves, as they assimilate into the dominant culture.

“as we learned more and more English, we shared fewer and fewer words with our parents. Sentences needed to be spoken slowly when a child addressed his mother or father. (Often the parent wouldn’t understand.) The child would need to repeat himself (Still the parent misunderstood.) The young voice, frustrated, would end up saying, “Never mind—the subject was closed. Dinners would be noisy with the clinking of knives and forks against dishes. My mother would smile softly between her remarks; my father at the other end of the table would chew and chew at his food, while he stared over the heads of his children.” (37).
I felt that this family of children learning English was in some ways the breakdown of the family. Communication became frustrating. I am somewhat surprised that how these children, now bilingual, didn’t revert back to Spanish to communicate with their parents once they become comfortable with their public language. I think it is interesting how his mother would still attempt to be a part of the circle, while the father almost distances himself from conversation with his family at all. He stares beyond them, all closeness appearing to be lost. Later in the article, Rodriguez mentions that he even loses the names to call his parents—no name actually fits. :(

The article made me sad. When I finished, I found myself just sitting sitting and thinking about how language effected this family. Language had the power to pull apart a family unit. The article made me see the importance of balance of language in the classroom. As a speaker of only English, I never thought I might be putting my students in a situation where they are being alienated from their families. I appreciate other languages, but I’m not sure I do a good enough job of incorporating it into my classroom and curriculum

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Questioning, Participating, and Problem Posing

Shor argues that questioning, participation, and problem posing are the missing elements to a democratic education. At one point he reminds us that this acutally would not mirror our current society, in which banks, hospitals, and most importantly our media, is not run in a democratic way. However, I couldn't help but wonder; if we did teach in a more democratic way, perhaps this trend would transfer up as the generation we teach grows up.
On page 18 Shor states "rote learning and skill drills in traditional classrooms do more than bore and miseducate students; they also inhibit their civic and emotional development". I absolutely agree with this. However, unfortunately I believe my school is moving in the opposite direction. When I first stated teaching Science at ASFMS I was in love with the methodology in place. Students were asked to be thinkers, and regularly come up with questions to test, formulate their own hypotheses, procedures, means of data collection, and analysis. These skills are so important. Even students who will not have jobs that relate to Science, the thinking process they learn from this is usful in any job, and in life. However, now with stardized tests, we are expected to 'pour-in' all the rote knowledge needed to pass the tests, and do much less questioning an experimenting. How/why are we moving backwards?
One critique I have of the piece Shor wrote is that it lacks examples, of where to start and what it looks like. I was sold on the idea early in the piece, and just kept waiting for something more tangible to help me embrace this more in my class: example of prompts, dialogues, activities, processes.....
Thinking about this on my own, I reflected back again on Coventry's previous Science curriculum. I also thought about accountable talk, which Coventry still uses, and also 'where' to best start/practice a democratic class. Accountable talk is an excellent tool for encouraging participation. I love using it in my classroom, and the kids love participating in it. I often give them the prompt, then stay out of the conversation, except for the occasional question. Without anyone raising a hand students REALLY converse with each other in order to make meaning, learn, and challenge each other. To encourage participation, the night before they are asked to reflect on the topic/question on paper, so they all have something they could share. Also, to encourage ALL students, I occasionally give grades for their participation. They all have a rubric in their notebook that explains how their conversation will be graded.
As far as 'where' I would start/practice having a democratic classroom, I thought homeroom and advisory would be best. Since homeroom and advisory are less structured times, there is less pressure of 'leaving something else out'. In homeroom I had actually had been planning on having a conversation with my students about creating a weekly schedule of events/activities to take place during homeroom. Since the beginning of the year, I have created the schedule, changing it here and there. I am hoping this works and what students suggest is reasonable, and not just arguing for more 'free time'. Advisory is also a great time for the 'problem posing' part, especially thought service learning.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What does Shor want us to know?

Shor explores the idea that traditional education turns students off of learning and discusses how it is important that we as teachers can attempt to rebuild our students’ visions of education. He explains at great length about how a teacher- oriented classroom stifles students and creates many negative thoughts among students within such a classroom. He states that “Many students do not like the knowledge, process, or roles set out for them in class. In reaction, they drop out or withdraw into passivity or silence in the classroom. Some become self educated; some sabotage the curriculum by misbehaving” (14). I can agree with Shor from my experiences in the classroom- it seems as thought students who are used to a more traditional form of education, tend to be very negative about school in general, and it is a very difficult pattern to break. (A negative educational ideology.) Shor takes this idea and shows us the importance of student involvement for the greatest success. He talks about how if students have more involvement and voice in their classrooms, they learn more and tend to have better attitudes about school. The dialogue between students, their peers, and their teachers essential in creating a classroom community where they can begin to discuss and become part of what they are learning. This in turn allows students to make meaning of their experiences.

Post-Snow Day

Great use of the blog, folks!! Let's keep this conversation rolling this week, and we can decide next week in class if we want to continue using the blog throughout the semester!

I see you picked out lots of details -- specific quotes -- from Shor. What would you say his overall ARGUMENT is? What is his take-away point in the whole selection?

Have a good week!

LB :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I finally found my way out of my igloo...

Page 15... 
 "Empowering education, as I define it here, is a critical - democratic pedagogy for self and social change. It is a student-centered program for multicultural democracy in school and society. It approaches individual growth as an active, cooperative, and social process, because the self and society create each other. Human beings do not invent themselves in  a vacuum, and society cannot be made unless people create it together. The goals of this pedagogy are to relate personal growth to public life, by developing strong skills, academic knowledge, habits of inquiry, and critical curiosity about society, power, inequality, and change." 

  Shor's piece brings to light the importance of the participatory classroom and the need for students to feel comfortable to challenge the material that is being taught in the classroom. The reading enforces the idea that if students are unable to relate or connect to the material at hand, then they are not actively engaged and instead, actively resist the material. The passage above forced me to reflect on my own classroom and why I feel so strongly about encouraging students to participate and creating multiple ways for them to engage in a lesson. I find truth in the idea that "Human beings do not invent themselves in a vacuum, and society cannot be made unless people create it together." If a whole class were to be silent and answer questions when only presented by the teacher, nothing would be accomplished. By enabling and encouraging students to discuss and bounce ideas off of one another, they as a class, are learning from each other and strengthening their own ideas and opinions about readings, characters, etc., creating an open forum room. 
  What I personally struggle with is that students still resist the freedom that is given within the classroom. When they enter the classroom at the beginning of the year and are used to a traditionally ran class, it will sometimes take a few students the whole year before they are willing to open up and question the material at hand. I feel as though they undergo a culture shock and while some students latch onto the concept right away, they remain stragglers and have to be roped into the conversations. This issue does not only pertain to the students, it also pertains to the faculty members who will look sideways at the idea of allowing the students to truly question the work they are doing in the classroom, as they, the teachers, stand in front of the class and lecture with the students texting, sleeping, or doing another class' homework. 
  How do we as educators who are passionate about the students fully grasping the context and content of the lessons, encourage the students who are resisting the work completely? Even by creating an openness and comfortable environment, how do we truly enable them to come out of their shells? I feel like this is a never ending problem in my room. 


Competition in the classroon, is it right?

Page 24

'They conclude that 'this competitive orientation leads to isolation and alienation' among students, encouraging a handful of "winners" while depressing the performance of the many, especially female students and minorities, who withdraw from the aggressive affect of the classroom."

I have very mixed feelings on the idea of competition in the classroom. I really feel as though competition can bring out the best in students. When they compete I find that scores rise and there is a happy morale in the classroom. I find that even my reluctant learners compete with each other. They may not be competing with the "winner" of the class but competing within their comfort level. Which also results in a rise in scores and abilities.

Shor talks about the star charts which I remember from elementary school. My work was always neat and hung on the wall for others to view. I always had lots of stars next to my name on the star chart. So is that why it did not make a negative impact in my mind? The students who did not have the stars or their work up on the wall, how did they feel? Did they strive harder so they could have stars? Or did they just shut down?

I disagree with how Shor singles out women and minorities. I do NOT believe women and minorities withdraw from the aggressive classroom. I find in my classroom women and minorities are very vocal and participate a lot.

Speaking about participation, Shor talks a lot about participation. I find that when my students participate and/ or make a personal connection they are REALLY learning and grasping the material. How can we get more of the reluctant students to participate without discouraging the ones who already do?


Is anyone else having trouble seeing the earlier posts? I can only see Kate's and Jill's and one that looks cut off at the end. It says thought there are 7 posts.


:) Hope you all enjoyed the snowday. Did it stick anywhere in the state? Providence was clean up until about 20 mins ago. Enjoy the vacation from the kids next week!

Bringing out the little kids

I like how Shor draws the connection to little kids and how we all started out as very inquisitive and curious children. On page 17 he says:

People begin life as motivated learners, not as passive beings. Children naturally join the world around them. They learn by interacting, by experimenting, and by using play to internalize the meaning of words and experience. Language intrigues children; they have needs they want met; they busy the older people in their lives with questions and requests for show me, tell me. But year by year their dynamic learning erodes in passive classrooms not organized around their cultural backgrounds, conditions, or interests. Their curiosity and social instincts decline, until many become nonparticipants…participatory classes respect and rescue the curiosity of students.

I guess as a Spanish teacher I see the reemergence of the young and curios kids in my classroom. They are not allowed to use English so they have to use what they can to get a point across or ask questions. A lot of times it’s like listening to toddlers talk and I have to figure out what they are trying to say. I love how Shor said that participatory classes ‘rescue’ the students’ curiosity because the desire to question and interact with us and each other in our classes is vital. In my class it is imperative that they participate…so much so that they get two participation grades a week. But I also know that you all also need students to participate to develop discussions and debates in your subjects.

On Friday we had a professional development day and a curriculum expert, Heidi Hayes Jacobs, came in and did a full day workshop with us. She was amazing, if any of you ever have the opportunity to go to anything of hers I would recommend it! Anyway, she mentioned almost the same idea. I think most of us would agree that the literacy skills are something that all of our kids need to improve. She emphasized participation and active classrooms to also promote literacy. She promoted participatory classrooms in all subject areas to get all kids used to the terminology and 'languages' that each of our subjects use.

It was interesting to see Shor promote participation to promote independence, creative thinking and social change. To connect the two, when students don't understand what is expected of them because they don't understand the language/terminology we (or our textbooks, tests, etc.) use, how they be expected to participate? The level of anxiety they feel is already high and they have up to 6 different teachers in one day that expect/allow 6 different things. Maybe in my class they can participate and are allowed to speak out, but in math they are expected to sit and be quiet, and in English something else. On top of all that they also have the social intimidation of being wrong or 'stupid' in front of their peers. With all of that already against them, we have to do everything we can to promote participation, curiosity and independence in our classrooms.

Student led classroom?

“In participatory, cooperative classrooms, the walls between teacher and students have a chance to become lower. Freire referred to the separation of teacher and students as the first obstacle to learning. To bring them together, teachers can identify themes and words important to students and ask them to be co-investigators of that material with the teacher.. . . the class hour itself is structured so that students reflect on meaningful questions and influence the direction of the syllabus” (29).

Shor discusses a class where he worked hard to create a “mutual learning community.” I feel strongly that students teach each other, almost as much as I have to offer them. By giving students a voice, they can help to drive the learning process in their classrooms, and as a result often make meaning of their work. As a result, I am trying something new with my honors class this quarter. We are reading October Sky. A requirement for the memoir is for the students to choose a significant quote and to write an explanation to go along with it. These quotes serve as the springboards for conversation in class the next day. By allowing students to discuss an work with the material that they feel is interesting or important to them, gives my students a chance to show each other what is ‘worthy’ of noting within the chapters. I have found myself putting aside my traditional lesson plans, and letting them really take the reigns of the class. I’m still struggling on how to assess them with this!

Wondering where this big snow is and about Shor too...

There were many interesting points in the Shor piece, but one that really made me start thinking was how participatory classrooms can be uncomfortable because of what we are used to in the classroom and what we expect from a classroom. Shor says:

"In a particapatory class where authority is mutual, some of the positive effects which support students learning include cooperativeness, curiousity, humor, hope, responsibility, respect, attentiveness, openness, and comcern about society...In addition, the participatory class can also provoke anxiety and defensiveness in some students because it is an unfamilar program for collaborative learning and for the critique of received values and taken-for-granted knowledge" (24).

This got me thinking about the question, "what makes a good teacher?" Often students define a good teacher as someone who is hard, gives lots of tests, and inudates students with notes. This is the traditional teacher, and why does being a hard teacher makes someone a good teacher? I believe my classroom is very much the first part of Shor's quote and I am proud of that. However, I even question myself sometimes, asking if I need more structure, am I challenging them enough? But, I do not think I am truely worried about this, but worried about how administration might perceive my approach to teaching. Don't get me wrong, our administration is very focused on student-centered learning approach. But, when you look into a classroom you almost expect to see traditional teaching. Take for example, the set-up of Lindsay and I's room. We have the classroom set up so much different than a traditional classroom and the students love it, but there have been several comments. I teach in another room which I share with three other teachers. I do not want rows, they insist on it; and are highly uncomftable when I change it. However, the students like the different set-up. Also, many parents complain if you are non-traditional because they expect school to be like school was for them. I find that teaching Early American Literature I have to be non-traditional and take a participatory and problem-posing approach in order to keep students engaged. I have utilized socratic seminars, reflective journals, sountracks, etc. to make the content apply to their lives. Yet, sometimes students are uncomfortable when things are put on them. It seems like they expect us to tell them what to do, what to think, what to say. How is this learning? As children parents let us explore and wonder, does traditional classrooms hinder this wonder? How do we balance it all? We need to make them respectful, responsible, critical thinkers and problem solvers. But, often how we feel is different from what the state mandates or from what parents or even students expect.

Current Events

I think Shor's main focus was using learning as part of the socialization process. Schools have started to socialize students into believing that they should, "answer questions, not ask them". Participation is discouraged. Once I started reading this article it made me think of the problems going on at Central Falls High School. The teachers are being blamed for these chronic low test scores and I don't think firing all the high school teachers is the answers. Schools and states are imposing specific curricula on teachers, telling them what to teach and when to have it completed by. On page 13 Shor wrote,
"The teacher is the person who mediates the relationship between outside authorities, formal knowledge, and individual students in the classroom. Through day-to-day lessons, teaching links the students' development to the values, powers, and debates in society."

Projo Article (If you're interested)

Later on in the chapter he discussed how he allowed and promoted participation in class. He allowed students to provide daily feedback, help plan the syllabus, etc. All of these promoted participation. Shor explained how this participation in schools leads to participation in society. For a democratic society, we are not very involved. Most people do not vote and even less participate in town meetings. I really agreed with Shor's breakdown starting in schools. He stated, "While a participatory classroom cannot transform society by itself, it can offer students critical education of high quality, an experience of democratic learning and positive feelings towards intellectual life". Participation is democratic and even if it does not lead to participatory adults it does promote important behavior of good citizens.
I teach a Sociology class, and I am think of using this article when we get to the Socialization chapter. I am curious to hear their opinions on if the breakdown of democracy starts in the classroom.

A quote that made me wonder......

Hi everyone! I cut and pasted a chunk of my quote section below from my talking points. This section of the test focused on how education can hurt rather than help students if taught in the more "traditional" manner. I vent a bit about how we are still focused on standardized tests below.....grr!


“…education is experienced by students as something done to them, not something they do. They see it as alien and controlling….Mass education has become notorious for the low motivation of many students (and the burnout of many teachers). Large numbers of students are refusing to perform at high levels, demoralizing the teachers who work with them” (21).

* I found this passage confusing because if traditional ways of teaching are “bad”, then why are we STILL teaching to the test!? I couldn’t help but think of the NECAP testing when I read this quote. My department head focuses on reviewing so much for the test that I spent most of first quarter literally teaching to the test. The week of the test my school had drawings, prizes, and motivational announcements to almost “wake the slumbering effort” that is supposedly hidden within the students. We literally bribed them to do well after stuffing them full of traditional teaching-drills, constant repetition, crap. I was happy to see that our scores increased, however, really got to wondering after I read these "Shor-isms": What did they really learn? If given the NECAP tomorrow would they be able to reproduce the same results? Then I got to thinking how much discussion and connecting content on a personal level that we do daily and was saddened to realize just how much learning and “breakthrough moments” were lost because of this.


Hi SED 552 folks,

Welcome to our class blog! And if you haven't blogged before, then welcome to the blogisphere!

We will use this space (today and beyond) to have some conversation about the work we are doing in SED 552. I have invited each of you to be a co-author on this blog, so we can all post and leave comments here. (Usually a blog only has one author, but we are using it as a communal space.)

Here are a few things you need to know to get started:

1) In order to post anything on this blog, you must respond to the invitation I sent you this morning. This will walk you through the steps of creating a google account (if you don't have one already).

2) In order to post anything on this blog, you must be SIGNED IN. Click the "Sign In" link at the top right corner of this page to get started.

3) To create a NEW POST (on which people can then comment), just click the "New Post" link at the top right corner of this page.

4) To leave a comment on someone else's post, read to the bottom of their text and click on the tiny words that say "# Comments." This will allow you to have some dialogue with one another. (You can comment on your own post as well.)

Assignment: Let's just start by everyone putting up one post on the Ira Shor article (from your Talking Points) and 7 comments (on other people's posts) for today. More if you start having fun with it.

6) Don't be stressed! Just do the best you can as you learn the technology. Feel free to post links to external sources, youtube videos, etc as you get used to playing with this.

Enjoy your snow day!!!!

See you on here later!!

LB :)