Friday, December 12, 2008

Class Reflection

* A summary of what you have learned from the chapter readings.
WE were first introduced to reflective teaching towards the beginning of the class, and it only seems appropriate to revisit after we've learned so much. Reflective teaching to me is more than just a means to an end. It's more than just keeping yourself out of the rut so many teachers fall into. All of us have had that teacher that seems to either hate their job or kids in general, and my thought was always "why do you keep putting yourself through it?" It seems so simple from the outside looking in but I'm sure after years of toil and occasional disrespect it is easy to become bitter and disinterested, especially if you don't get the support and backing of the school. Reflective teaching allows us to constantly evaluate ourselves and see if we are making improvements to our style and not just turning the class into a hour long monolouge
* Describe how this class has changed you, looking at it from the perspective of becoming a teacher.
I Really don't know where to begin except to say that i was quite idealistic coming in, i realized in the beginning that not all kids were going to want to learn the same material i want to, but figured i could turn them because of my enthusiasm for the subject. That still may be the case for some, I certainly hope so it's my best trait, but I'm now constantly trying to come up with alternative avenues of thought for those to whom it is not invigorating and exciting. So I guess the best way to describe how this has changed me is to say, I find myself more open to new ideas.

* Comment on anything new and exciting you have learned from the discussion boards that you feel will help you in becoming a teacher.

I've got to say in trying to come up with something that hadn't already been said in the discussion this week I think i came up with an idea that i will actually use. The idea of the podcast just came out of the blue and while I realize now that I'm not the first person to ever think of it I'm kinda proud to come up with it on my own. Using technology kids are familiar with to help them can only help to show them I am with it and understand them on that level, as well as help them and myself in the classroom.
3. The question for this week is directed at you Ms. Graff. =)
I've looked into several avenues for career choices. I was accepted into the police academy last year and bailed out at the last minute because the Springfield police dept is a train wreck. Budget cuts and retirement cuts have forced so many out I was skeptical it would be stable at all. I always wanted to be a teacher so I choose to follow this path. With reflection being the ending theme I wonder if you would mind explaining your path and how you ended up teaching this and other classes that seem to be outside your area of study? My cousin told me the other day, he has a teaching certificate, that he would sell me his :). He is selling insurance because all of the teaching jobs he interviewed for offered him positions outside of his field of study. In other words he is also a history guy but was offered Algebra classes or P.E classes. I guess I want to know if this is a normal thing or what? I have alot of interests but I can't see myself teaching English or Accounting. Obviously you don't get a degree in Chemistry unless you enjoy it, so my question is not only curiosity but also a concern that this may be a sign of a larger issue I possibly need to be aware of. Thanks so much for your help in the class. Now If i can just keep from bombing the final we'll all be fine. BTW I've made it quite clear my competitive nature, I know my grade thus far. I don't guess you could give me my rank in the class as of now? I'm like this with everything, it's a blessing and a curse. I know I shouldn't even ask but I can't help it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Chapter 15

* A summary of what you have learned from the chapter readings.
It seems standardized tests seem to get a bad name from the word go. I have never really had a problem with them.The problems arise when too much emphasis is place on
them and they are left to be the sole source of assessment and evaluation. I work as a Craftsman Welder/Grinder. I just received a promotion that will begin at the first of the year. I will then be in layout and design. The main reason I got the job was because of my experience. It's not because they have a lack of "Qualified" candidates. The truth is of the last 10 designers they've hired with degrees out of college are clueless. They know what the Auto Cad tells them they need to know. If it tells them they can build a wooden house underwater, they won't blink an eye.
So while I think Standardized tests and curriculum are fine, but they shouldn't be left on an island. Common sense practical ability and ability to use the knowledge you have is more important than the level of knowledge you have.
* Describe how this class has changed you, looking at it from the perspective of becoming a teacher.
This class has opened my eyes to new perspectives on teaching, many of which I would have never considered on the surface, or from just reading the book. I attribute the change more to the discussions and first hand accounts from classmates than from the information in the book.

* Would a blog like this one help you with your teaching?
I can definitely see some aspects of it that could be of use. Just the mention of Google Trends, which I didn't know existed, brings bright flashing lights and all kinds of ideas into my head.
* Would you be able to get ideas for teaching from this blog? How? Why? Explain.
Sure, it seems like a very open area for new ideas, while a lot of it deals with math, much of it can also be applied to other subjects. The trend spotting for one could be used to track any number of things that could affect our economy and hence our governmental practices.
* Did you learn something new from the blogger? What and why did it strike you as memorable?
Yes, what strikes me most is the attitude of "this is supposed to be fun" It seems most teachers miss the boat on that one. Many times it has to be serious and that's OK too, but some of her projects seem like more fun than work, and I just bet the students learn more from the fun stuff.
* Would you want to create a site like this for others? Why or why not?
Absolutely, I have some web design background, but I think I'd like to create something with the students of my class. Let them get involved and possibly even take turns doing posts, or coming up with projects.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Chap 14

It seems to me much of the chapter was more or less common sense: some do's and don'ts for people to go by. For myself, I cannot envision a scenario when I think Grading truly on a curve is beneficial. It drags all but one person down, those at the top are ok but everyone else suffers. I can see certain times when I may use a ugly step child of the system but never on a regular basis and never unless there are circumstances when I feel like the class as a whole did not get what I was teaching. IE... it was my lack of teaching that led to this. i plan to use a mastery approach and help each student strive to pick up as much info as possible, I also believe performance testing is the best method but only when it is applicable and valid. Much of History is by its very nature just facts needed to advance on down the road and understand the later concept so performance evaluations would be hard to justify. that being said, civic responsibilities and such would be easy to judge based on a performance type assessment.

I'm thinking of my school days here and it seems not much of what we studied prepared me for life. Most of my tests were multiple choice and none required me to actually be able to apply my knowledge. I hope to have a class that prepares students for life as well as give them practical experience with civic operations (elections, volunteer involvement, court system...ect)

As much as I hate to say it, I've changed my views on alot of things in the time I've been in this class, i can see how a softer approach can sometimes be the right approach and how my natural tendency to say "toughen up, stick it out" may only make things worse. I also recognize many if not most are not like me, i am a very competitive person, telling me I can't do something only makes me work harder to prove you wrong. I'm likely to cut off my leg if you tell me I can't just to prove a point. Now i realize I cannot expect that attidude from my students, I've gotta beat it into them. LoL

Good stuf on the boards this week, i think Katrina made a good point about testing, I always like building up to a test rather than testing each chapter or week. A lot of time I understand things better if I can build on them in subsequent chapters rather than testing the basic principles each time.

3. The question for this week is: Choose one of the following general education blogs to read for the week

I chose this one as a reason ot not choose the other. Sorry but both were a little irrelevant ot me this week. i did like the others use of new and expanding technology but it just didn't really apply, perhaps that is a fault of my own rather than that of the blogger.
* Would a blog like this one help you with your teaching?
No I don't really think so, I can see a couple of points, and that they are very passionate about open source education but for the most part I can't see how it changes anything.
* Would you be able to get ideas for teaching from this blog? How? Why? Explain.
No, I wish their were but it seems for the most part to just be a rant on her favorite subject.
* Did you learn something new from the blogger? What and why did it strike you as memorable?
The only thing I think she really brought up that caught my eye was the licensing question in terms of cut and pasting a pic into a project or paper.
* Would you want to create a site like this for others? Why or why not?
No, unless I had something I beleved very strongly about, to me it comes off like she's just on her high horse about something and in general no one cares, which drives her to blog more for some reason. She has less comments on this bolg than I do on mine, if that says anything, it says No one cares.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Classroom Management

This week we covered Classroom management, i can say without a doubt it is the most important thing a new or old teacher must conquer if he/she is to be successful. I further would like to say to me much of the chapter seemed like a no brainer. Much of it just states what should be common sense to nearly everyone. Kounin's model for a successful classroom mirrors what I would like to get if i were a student in such a classroom. Granted common sense doesn't always win out and many teachers need, if nothing else, a crash course in the finer points of classroom management. I had many teachers throughout high school who had little understanding of what made us tick. WE controlled our classroom, WE decided if anything was going to get done(usually not), and WE decided just how bad the teachers nervous breakdown was going to be.(one actually had one and took time off). I say this not because I'm proud of it, or that i now believe it was the right thing to do. It obviously hurt everyone academically at the time. I say it because I learned what not to do in those classrooms from a teachers perspective. Take charge, know the personalities in the room, and learn what makes them tick as individuals. you don't have to be their friend but you can be a trusted person of authority in their lives. Someone who leads them down the right path.
This class has helped me hone the skills and learn the methods I've described, I already had a decent grasp and understanding of what I wanted my classroom to look like but now i understand more of the how to and why it must be. I must say reading and listening to others in the class who already have some experience with subbing or student teaching really helps. It makes it more real. More inevitable, and sometimes scarier.
I think the boards this week were interesting because so many of us have practical experience in teaching. If not in the classroom than with our own kids. Those of us with kids have an upper hand I believe because we can relate many of the items in the text to rel life experiences with our own. "The look" "the stare" the "i" method. Used em all and they really work.
I chose this one because the other seemed more directly tied to early head start and head start. My wife is a supervisor for head start so I hear as much as I want about that.

* Would a blog like this one help you with your teaching?
She gives many examples of methods that are currently in favor but are failing, also many that work that have been shut down because they don't fit the accepted practice. So i think yes it would, i really think regardless of method, if it works use it. She seems to mirror that approach.

* Would you be able to get ideas for teaching from this blog? How? Why? Explain.

Yes I think so she brings such a broad base of knowledge and such a broad base of topics up that it would be hard to to be influenced by it if read regularly.

* Did you learn something new from the blogger? What and why did it strike you as memorable?

I found it extremely disturbing her %'s given on the topic of the electoral college. Another reason to stress the importance of civil responsibility in the classroom. these are issues that determine who leads the country. everyone should know it.

* Would you want to create a site like this for others? Why or why not?

I may but I'd want to be more experienced. If I found myself doing well and my classes seemed to be succeeding, I think any little help you could give another who may be struggling would only make you feel better about what you were doing. The thing to keep in mind is we are not here for money or fame, we're here because we care, not just about ourselves or our students but about the way our world looks and the way it will look. Helping others just makes sense.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


* A summary of what you have learned from the chapter readings.
It seems to me Motivation is accomplished and maintained through a variety of factors and methods. The text discusses several ways to begin. The simplest and perhaps most effective way to begin is to bring enthusiasm to your subject. While the humanistic view believes kids who don't get their basic needs met are at risk of making poor choices, the cognitive view looks at motivation more from the view that kids are separated into high need and low need performers.

* Compare what you have learned from the reading with what you have experienced in life so far.

I try remembering from my own experience some of hte things we are talking about now in regards to this chapter but I seem to have a better time looking at it with regards to my own kids. I see alot of these being used and it seems she is using a mixed bag of techniques to get the kids kids involved. She uses a weekly and monthly reward system to induce good behavior. Charts and the posting of who has accomplished what skills in the hall outside of class.
* Describe how keeping this journal has helped you organize ideas for teaching; come up with new ideas; etc.
I'm using this for notetaking

* Comment on anything new and exciting you have learned from the discussion boards that you feel will help you in becoming a teacher.

Ashley expanded on an idea I had about a lounge space, maybe able to work in a lounge day to read or otherwise learn through something other than class work.

* Why would you want to teach in this particular school district?
They seem like they make it easier to succeed as a student, and as a teacher. They just moved into a new middle school this year and with it have access to more resources and room.

* What makes this school district stand out from others that you found on the Internet?
The website is up to date. They even have the calender precise to the point that debate practice is listed and the time it is to be held.
* Are there specific features that this school district has to offer that you hadn't thought of before? What are they? If not, what would you like?
They have a thing on the website called the learning Express library. In it I found practice tests for students so they can see where they are in a given subject. Also practice college entrance exams and a variety of skill improvement resources that cover all subjects. Seems very interesting and almost like preventative maintenance for the student.
* Would you ever consider applying for a job at this school district? Why or why not?
Absolutely, they seem to have everything, I cannot however find their pay structure.

* Based on what we've learned so far in this class, how does this school district measure up?

Excellent, probably the second best I've found academically, and thats becasue my last was a charter school. Blair Oaks however won State in football last year. So I'll call that a wash.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


  • A summary of what you have learned from the chapter readings.
  • Compare what you have learned from the reading with what you have experienced in life so far
The Chapter outlined several key points and strategies for the different teaching perspectives. To me it all boils down to one thing. Nothing is, or should be, off the table. Once again I don't think labeling yourself as any one type is beneficial. What we have to do as educators is be able to adapt to the kids we have at the time. It's a good thing to keep in mind but we're always going to go back to the way we learned best. Only when we see the class not getting it are we going to make a change. WE should be able to do that, and I think thats where this chapter is useful because it gives us those different perspectives we may not otherwise come up with on our own.

  • Describe how keeping this journal has helped you organize ideas for teaching; come up with new ideas; etc.
This is my note taking place, I may end up copy and pasting some of the discussion board to this toward the end of the semester

  • Comment on anything new and exciting you have learned from the discussion boards that you feel will help you in becoming a teacher.
It think in general the discussion board really helped me this week because it showed me how to prepare a lesson plan of for a specific time within a larger topic. It was interesting to look back into the Women's Suffrage time period and try to come up with questions and activities that would relate that period in time to today.

3. The question for this week is: Find another school district's website (this will be your third) outside of your hometown and/or Springfield (or the city you live in). Make sure that this school district is in a different state. Copy and paste (or type) the link into your blog. Answer the following questions about the school district in your blog:

  • Would you want to teach in this particular school district?
    Absolutely, best I've seen, of course it is a charter school so thats probably why.
  • What makes this school district stand out from others that you found on the Internet?
Of 21 reviews none I have seen are negative. Everyone seems to take pride in the academic and social programs that truly prepare kids for college and life beyond.
  • Are there specific features that this school district has to offer that you hadn't thought of before? What are they? If not, what would you like?
Honestly I hadn't thought about private or charter schools before because I had never been exposed to them. I like the push the kids get academically and socially that puts them on track to succeed regardless of their personal aspirations.
  • Would you ever consider applying for a job at this school district? Why or why not?
Yes but probably not until I had some significant experience, These schools seem to only choose the best, which is great but I cannot honestly believe you can pretend to be that until you've lived it.
  • Based on what we've learned so far in this class, how does this school district measure up?
Best I have seen in terms of performance and standards, I love New Orleans, and being as I have been there and seen some of the poor neighborhoods ( before Katrina) and what seems to be a lack of possibilities for kids in those areas. This schools seems like a beacon of hope, and being that it is based on performance rather than on income. Granted the admissions standards are high, but it gives kids, and parents who want more an opportunity.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Being Constructive

  • A summary of what you have learned from the chapter readings.
This weeks Chapter was on Constructivism. I've made a few revelations this week in my approach to teaching. I'm finding more and more it looks as though i'm going to need to step outside my comfort level and teach in ways that pushes kids to take more responsibility for thier own education. Constructivist believe
meaningful learning is the active creation of knowledge structures from personal experience. Construction of ideas is strongly influenced by student's prior knowledge. By taking a constructivist approach I can encourage students to seek out not only knowledge but new ways of getting it.
  • Compare what you have learned from the reading with what you have experienced in life so far.
My kids give me the buld of the experience I have so far, my own education did not mirror much of what we are learning now, i had a few odd ball teachers who thought a little outside the box but most just stood in the front of hte room and lectured while we pretended to care. The odd balls by the way got my attention and made me care.
  • Describe how keeping this journal has helped you organize ideas for teaching; come up with new ideas; etc.
Again i hate to sound like a broken record but I'm relly using this as a place to store ideas an hope someday it will be a valuable resource when i am at a loss for ideas.

2. Your blog should include the following so that you will have something to remember the discussions:

  • Comment on anything new and exciting you have learned from the discussion boards that you feel will help you in becoming a teacher.
The discussions this week got me thinking about some of my own experiences with Math. I brought up a problem i had had in the past wwith my unorthodox problem solving and she seemed very receptive to accepting new learning strategies that kids like me used when in school. i hope it helps her understand guys like me aren't trying to skirt the rules but we just do it better another way.

3. The question for this week is: Find another school district's website (this will be your second one) outside of your hometown and/or Springfield (or the city you live in). Make sure that this school district is in a different town and/or state. Copy and paste (or type) the link into your blog. Answer the following questions about the school district in your blog:
  • Would you want to teach in this particular school district?
Yes, i'd heard about their competitive pay and low taxes and reasonable cost of living and so I thought I'd look into it.
  • What makes this school district stand out from others that you found on the Internet?
Currently is one of the fastest growing communities in the country but from people I know it still has a small town feel. Kinda like Springfield in a way I guess.
  • Are there specific features that this school district has to offer that you hadn't thought of before? What are they? If not, what would you like?
They have an Accelerated reader program which I find to be very important and useful for students and teachers alike. The more prepared tehse kids are with reading the easier my job will be.
  • Would you ever consider applying for a job at this school district? Why or why not?
yes all in all seems like a very nice community and the pay and cost of living are both resonable, unlike my last district which had competitive pay but the cheapest house my familiy of 5 could fit in was $795,000
  • Based on what we've learned so far in this class, how does this school district measure up?
Seems to be on top of everything even their website is first class.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The chapter reading provided alot of information this time around, most in the form of Self control, self-efficacy and self regulation. Each of these feed off each other and all are influenced by a variety of factors. Our parents and peers probably have the most effect on us growing up, encouraging words and family involvement in our everyday lives increase our chances of having a higher self efficacy and in turn increases the likelihood of having higher self regulating skills and self control. My own story mirrors this pretty well, and unfortunately so does my two younger brothers. i had the benefit of having my parents together and involved until late into my teens. Whereas my brothers both had to deal with the divorce and subsequent lack of involvement after and it is quite obvious what the consequence was for them. Low self control, self regulatory systems and low self efficacy. Sad really, but we must overcome what is laid for us. Easy for me to say i know but I'm hopeful for them.
Again the journals are giving me a good place to put all this down for later reference, but honestly i think this one is a bit overboard with everything else we have due this week.
In the discussion this week I thought Jen came up with some great ideas for class and implementing a devils advocate approach to help students reinforce their opinions. i think if you make them defend their position, you solidify it or you break it down, either way they leave with a better understanding of what you are teaching and they are better for the experience.

My school for the week
Would you want to teach in this particular school district?
Yes I think so, I love the area, it's maybe my favorite place on earth, the School system is great and even won some awards last year for excellence.

What makes this school district stand out from others that you found on the Internet?
The area cannot be topped, I've always loved it and if you are happy where you are as well as with what you are doing that's what matters.

  • Are there specific features that this school district has to offer that you hadn't thought of before? What are they? If not, what would you like?

  • I like that the day starts and ends early for middle school 7:40 to 2:35.

  • Would you ever consider applying for a job at this school district? Why or why not?
  • Yes, the pay is outstanding for a teachers salary. Gonna have to check on the cost of living out there.
  • Based on what we've learned so far in this class, how does this school district measure up?
  • Seems to do well, won an award last year for excellence in meeting the requirements set by No Child left behind which is great considering all the money to implement it was left behind.

    Saturday, October 18, 2008

    Information Processing

    When I think of using specific techniques to teach kids in middle school my immediate reaction is to ask what kind of kids are we talking about? What are their interests? Where do they come from? So much of the answer is determined by these question I hesitate to leave anything off the table, I think you have to connect every task or topic to their immediate surroundings. If they can see the effects of what you are teaching on their own lives it almost guarantees they will remember it and hence be able to put it into long term memory.
    Combined with that Storytelling and the use of mnemonic aids are also great ways to improve the recall of students of history.

    The main points I can immediately recall from the chapter involve the memory process, Information is stored short term into the sensory, it is then either stored when attached to another stimulus or it is disposed of... if processed it moves to short term memory where it is either attached to another stimuli and eventually moved to long term memory or is eventually lost.

    In my own life I can honestly say I'm a sucker for a great story, if a teacher could ever tell a great story and keep my interest I not only enjoyed it but I also retained the information. I also remember teachers who used mnemonic devices to spur recall, I still remember some of those and use them regularly. I would never be able to remember musical scales without them.

    Again this blog is giving me a great place to take notes and store the information we are learning, it will be even more useful in the future when I am actually looking back and trying to find ideas for class.

    My edu blog, well he's a little done right now. It's apparently the end of the unit exam time and this is what the did this week.
    • 1,560 short answer test questions which included a lot of detailed math problems
    • 585 pages of lab reports (130 reports which had on the average 4.5 pages)
    This is not to mention it's parent/teacher conference week for him. Good lord, the title for this week was : Definitely not an 8-5 job. Guess not

    Saturday, October 11, 2008

    Conditioning applied to the hormonally challenged

    It seems there are limitless ways according to the book to condition students and children to behave and act like human beings. Positive reinforcement, Negative reinforcement, Various types of punishment, and Extinction. Also a few techniques that go hand in hand with these and help ensure the effects are long standing and permanent, such as Spontaneous Recovery, Generalization Discrimination and Shaping.
    For me Most of these weren't used, it seems to me Positive and negative reinforcement, and outright punishment were more likely to be used than any of the rest. Extinction certainly never occurred I guess because I was able to push my parents buttons so well, and something that rational was nearly always out of reach. I feel like sports really kept me going and my love for it and the rules about eligibility kept me in my shoes most of the time. This would basically mean the school used negative reinforcement to keep me in line. My positive reinforcement came from parents, teachers and coaches who encouraged me by pointing out the positive things I was able to accomplish through hard work.
    I'm using this blog to basically keep track of the things we are covering, since we don't have an actually classroom this helps me "take notes" in an easy way so I can review later on in the semester.
    My Edu blog is slacking this week so I read back over some of the things he has put up in the past. Fact is I got part of the headline for this blog from his site. He refers to the middle school kids in his class as "Hormonally Challenged" which I think is very apt and telling.

    It was interesting this week in the blogs to see the examples of conditioning people came up with. Because my own conditioning was rather limited in scope, and some of the concepts are confusing, it was great to read the examples and be able to put them in context because I feel like the text was rather lacking in examples this week.

    I think I showed how PR and NR were used in my own life already so I'll say this about my own classroom. I plan to coach, hopefully baseball and football. In the event that these things don't happen I hope to have a good relationship with the coaches and other extra-curricular activity coaches/teachers, so that instead of referring to the principal or sending kids to detention, which I feel rarely works, at least it didn't for me. I'll refer behavioral problems or academic problems to these coaches. Most kids have at least one thing they love "outside" of school, For me there was nothing more motivating than having a coach come to me and say we need to talk about your grades. Or for them come to me and say Mr. ****** said you were acting up, we'll make sure you don't have the energy for that tomorrow. I also plan to encourage and reward good behavior and effort, not just grades. Many kids don't get the support they need to reach their full potential, I know it is Utopian to think I can reach every child, but I can hope to help them believe in themselves and encourage them to put in the time and effort, which breeds my my own modus operandi "Personal Responsibility". If I can't teach anything else, this will be the major life lesson I hope to pass on.

    Sunday, October 5, 2008

    Chapter 7: Special needs

    In reading this week we covered alot of material regarding behavioral disorders, mental retardation and learning disabilities. We learned about IEP's, the good and bad regarding ability grouping and other ways to mainstream children who otherwise would be left out into our classrooms. My own experience with mainstreaming is rather weak. I may not get to say it for a while so here it goes: Back in my day ........ we didn't do alot of mainstreaming I remember a few students who I saw only during P.E or lunch who had such problems as we have discussed. I cannot say for certain but I can never remember a time when I actually had one of them in a "real" class.

    This week in my educational blog " a view from the middle" he had some interesting observations about teenagers and non-verbal communication. How quickly they are willing to turn on one another, and how funny it all is. He made a great statement in that "if you can't laugh in this job you have no business being here." I thought it was quite apt as my oldest mouthed off the other day, something she rarely does and after sending her off to her room my wife looked at me and said" she's gonna make a FINE teenager."

    Alot of good stuff on the boards this week, most seemed in lockstep but a few jumped out. Our group project was great and I learned quite a bit in researching material for it. I hate to use my own as an example but a couple of things that didn't make the final post really are going to stay with me and help out I think. This site had some great info about using technology for dealing with children with emotional and behavioral disorders.

    Ability grouping I feel like has it's place in teaching, but as i have said many times and I'm sure I'll say again, it depends on the kids as a whole and individually. I leave nothing off of the table, I've always been a proponent of try anything, a view that could have lead to trouble in my younger, less mature, days, but didn't. It's a fine line between segregation and ability grouping and kids know, they know what you are doing when you group them. They may have LD's or Disorders or even Retardation but one thing they almost always are is perceptive of their place within their peer group. You just need to be careful when doing this type of teaching so as to not alienate children who may and probably do have a skewed view of their place in life. As far as modifying the idea, well I would say it depends on the kids again but that's a cop out. I would say use it but be aware of the way you mix the children. I would be more apt to use it in class rather than grouping in a separate class, and use an offshoot of scaffolding to do it rather than grouping all kids with problems together.

    Sunday, September 28, 2008

    In the time I have been keeping this blog my basic ideas have not changed, I still believe "Personal Responsibility" is the order of the day. I think it stands true fro every aspect of our society from the homeowner who borrowed to much to the loan officer who approved the homeowner for more than they could afford. From our leaders, teachers and police officers to the men, women and Children who spend their nights huddled together in shelters across America. The one thing we are missing in this great nation is personal responsibility.

    Cultural and ethnic differences are a part of American society and have been since we gave the first small pox blanket to the Indians. We didn't start out on a good foot there but I believe for the most part we've made great strides in making a place for people to come here and live out their dreams. Is it harder for someone of a different background to come here and succeed? I don't think so, if we are truly rising above prejudices and teaching in a manner that asks a child to look within themselves to achieve what they want from life. Lead them and encourage them to reach levels never before thought possible, they will. If on the other hand we make excuses and exceptions for a child, force them to point out all the ways they are different, many of them will leave with a reduced sense of themselves. Let's be clear I am not saying a child shouldn't be proud of where they come from or that a child should shrug off their heritage for the sake of the accepted Anglo-Saxon traditions. I'm saying the choices to do so should be theirs, not part of some show in class so that the teacher can feel good about promoting differences. I truly think in a lot of cases this will do more harm than good, especially if a teacher is unfamiliar with the accepted practices of other ethnicity's. I think we as teachers should learn about other cultures if for no other reason to find out what drives them, what makes them tick. But we should do it to help lead those children in class, not to point out to the others in class how they are "Not like us".

    Question : How will you become an effective multicultural teacher? What teaching methods will you use to guarantee you are effective with your students?

    I think I've already covered this, but I plan to teach students, not cultures. I believe every student just wants to be treated the same, regardless of differences in background. People from all over the world come here to enjoy our freedoms and learn from us. While we have much to learn from them I think we do it without placing the onus on them to explain their views, beliefs or customs. Children are sometimes awful and pointing out additional differences will sometimes only make it harder on a student who may already be experiencing alienation from peers because of the obvious differences. My teaching method will be to expect greatness from each child. By setting the bar high, but making goals achievable, you set them up for success rather than failure. The most important thing to a middle school child I believe is self-confidence. And by giving them goals they may think are out of reach but encouraging them to try harder and do more and ensuring success you will build a foundation of success they will take with them throughout life.

    My educational blog,, seems to cover a lot of topics about real world teaching. It is mostly observations she has made in teaching. From the need to adjust practices and teaching styles for a given class. She talks about her struggles to find time to go into deeper discussion with the class because of her need to stay on the basic vocabulary for the classes sake. It seems to me a real eye opener, in that, regardless of plans, regardless of want to, the kids in the class, and their abilities are going to dictate how much or how far a class delves into any one subject. Her solution to this one problem was to look outside herself and turn to technology. She found Quizlet,, which was created by a kid who had a hard time with his own vocab. It is now the most fun part of the day for the kids and they actually learn the material. This is an example of teachers thinking outside the box, realizing they may not have all the tools necessary and finding them for the sake of those she teaches. I hope to be able to admit I may not have all the answers and be willing to look outside for help, for my own sake and that of the kids.

    Saturday, September 20, 2008

    My classroom

    I'm now looking at my classroom and I'm seeing information everywhere. Not just the typical, map or globe on the wall, but also bookshelves with Newsweek, Time, and perhaps other periodicals students can draw information from, so they can compare and contrast some of the information their getting from me and the book with that of the world. We may have weekly assignments from these to force this exploration, and I include myself as I think I'll start each week with my own. I think I'll allow them to choose their subject or article for the week and do some in-class summaries. A couple of times we may do these as a group but mostly it will be a individual exercise. It seems to me the present is just as important as history and should be treated so. These after all are kids who are going to inherit the world in just a few years, they should know what is going on. In reality I feel fairly confident in my abilities so far, my only insecurity is in forming a syllabus.
    My thoughts on this chapter are perhaps a bit skewed, while I think different learning styles are great, as well as teaching styles, it remains to be seen if they actually have an impact. I think the best teachers don't consciously do it. It just comes from experience and knowledge of how they learned it. I'm not saying it doesn't help certain students, but i think if you look at kids while talking with them and read the ques as to whether they get it or not, you should be able to adjust on the fly without having to determine which is going to help the most, or who learns which way or the other. Really I compare the styles test to the IQ tests as they have a place, but only as a guide, I don't think they'll ever replace experience or ability to read students emotions and actions.
    There was alot of information on the boards this week, but it seems nearly everyone came to the same conclusion I did. The learning styles and teaching styles are great guides but unless you can make your class enjoyable and engaging you're just spinning your wheels and making alot of noise. We all know which "styles" we enjoyed as students its just a matter of being capable of duplicating it, and reaching as many as possible.

    Saturday, September 13, 2008

    Chapter 4: Age level characteristics

    I had an Idea going in about the age level characteristics of middle school/ Jr. school students as I remember it so well myself and I also have a very good friend who has a set of twins in eighth grade. I've been talking a lot to him about the significant change in behaviors in the last couple years and specifically this year with his two thirteen year old girls. I've actually been somewhat of a help to him lately because of what i have been learning in this class, in fact just the other day they had an argument and one of them used the "you just don't know what it's like". Repeatedly she had used that one and my friend has tried to tell her he did and had been there. He said he could see her eyes unfocus and knew every time he sounded like Charlie Brown's mom to her. "Wah Wah Wah" and didn't know what to do. So I sent him a few of the links I had found for the student handbooks and told him to get her alone show her the links and explain he was trying to understand and also show her so she could understand that she's not the only one in the world who has ever felt this way. What do you know it worked. The communications they have enjoyed throughout their lives have been reopened and while she is still stressed and having somewhat of a hard time transitioning she understands that what she feels is normal and is trying to deal with it accordingly. My thoughts are they are going to have to stay on top of it and constantly encourage her to keep her from slipping back into the "Woh is me " attitude but I couldn't be more happy about the outcome because it seems I helped and I feel real good about that. It only makes me wish I could get done quicker so I can start helping other student, the whole experience will really help later on I believe.
    As far as the text goes I was able to match up the behavior of my own kids with that of the text when it came to the early stages. This is why at least with the younger ones I think Piaget was on to something. Later on i really think that it's one of the "it depends on each child" type things. But as my children grow I'm open to changing that opinion. It remains to be seen. I'm really excited to see schools with the commitment to excellence in not only student performance academically but also with respect to society like the one Derik outlined in his handbook posting. Those are the types of schools who truly produce kids who are ready to succeed at the next level and make a difference. Regardless of whether that next level is work of college. What it's all about is producing and preparing students to making a difference.

    Wednesday, September 3, 2008

    Psychosocial and Cognitive Development

    I personally think it is a mistake to stake too much on any one theory, (and a child's education qualifies as too much) because they are all just that: Theories. Any one outlined in the text could serve given the right situation, but none will help every child. This is where the judgment and close observation of the teacher becomes paramount. If a teacher given the knowledge they have attained over many years of schooling can make a qualified judgment on what will serve an individual child best, then regardless of source it is a success.

    I think Vygotsky more so than the other theorists highlights the need for social interaction as a part of learning, if not the source of learning. I know from my experience that Middle school was my toughest challenge. So many things changed and without the safety net of social interactions to keep some sort of stability in my own life I think its quite possible i could have just given up. With my plans to teach this level, and to also teach a subject many find to be boring and without life, that being History, Vygotsky seems the logical choice. He correctly describes the teaching style that so many have a problem with when it comes to History. That being that it is just a bunch of facts and each year more facts are just added like pennies in a piggy bank. Vygotsky prescribes a solution to this in that a classroom should be set up to provide cognitive development using psychological tools that provide direction and Que the student to ask the next question rather than the teacher just giving more answers. Vygotsky just makes sense to me, in reading the text I realized I've been using some of the techniques described with my own children. In the case of math problems I use the (ZPD) with my six year old all the time and just give the hints as needed to boost her along.

    I have two younger brothers who i spent many years trying to impart knowledge on, most of which consisted of what stuff of mine they could not touch. Although there were many disagreements and fights on this and anything else you can think of that brothers fight about. I almost think my brothers had a head start on life once i started school. They became familiar with concepts I was learning by osmosis. So much so that once they started school they had an easier time grasping it. I see much the same in my own kids, My three year old, Ava, idolizes her older sister, Ellie, and wants to do everything she does. Ava at two, knew the alphabet and could identify nearly all of the letters. She can also recognize some words when written out, such as the names of her siblings and parents. Perhaps I have an advantage here as my wife works in the social services field and is familiar with the Denver screening and tests the kids on a semi regular basis so we know exactly where they are most of the time and what we need to work on. In talking with her about it she uses Piaget and Erikson more in her work but she works with pre-k children and rarely has to go beyond the "Autonomy vs Shame and Doubt" stage of development.
    In finding ways to use Vygotsky's theories in technology two distinct ways jump out. The first would be in using the computer itself as an expert peer. That is with the wealth of information available on the Internet nearly any subject is limitless in its depth and breadth of knowledge. Secondly it can be used to link students with more knowledgeable students and experts in their field of study. This would be more accurately described as scaffolding.
    With my unwillingness to settle on any one view for every student I was particularly struck by Norah's post on the Montessori school, i haven't done a lot of research on the subject but feel if we as educators are willing to look outside the realm of accepted theories to ones that have been proven to work in practice it can only make us all better.

    Friday, August 29, 2008

    Reflective Teaching

    Well I've had this blog for a while and no one seems to be reading it anyway, including myself, so i decided to just use it for the class rather than setting up another. It has been pretty slow around here lately anyway.

    My thoughts on blogging and journal keeping are, well, not much. I've never really had one of any kind. I started this just as a way to get a couple ideas off my chest, and after doing so I was pretty much done. I love philosophy, psych, and sociology. Thinking about the reasons why the world is in the state it is in and once in a while, I start thinking about something and just have to get it out. I can see however, how keeping a journal and tracking progress could help the teaching process. That's assuming you stick to it and add to your journal on a regular basis. As for the class I plan to use it to remind myself of the concepts that really stick out in each chapter to me as ideas that would work well for me as a teacher.

    One of those things in Chapter one that really stuck out was the idea of using several different teaching strategies and rotating them on a regular basis. I know from my own High school experience that always worked best for me, as I bore easily from doing the same thing every day. Whether it's taking notes or playing thinking games, anything in overabundance becomes redundant. I like to think of it like a workout. If you do the same exercises all the time the muscles will adapt and growth will slow. You have to switch it up and trick the muscles into breaking themselves down in order to build new muscle. In this case you're doing the same in stimulating the brain to accept more material.
    The second concept that really struck me in the chapter was the effect and even use of research in teaching. I am guilty of thinking of teaching as compiling facts and helping students learn those facts in various ways. The fact that certain methods have been shown to be ineffective while others have shown the opposite only reinforces the idea that teaching is more than just the level of your formal education. In fact formal education without the practical experience of dealing with children and young adults may lead you down the wrong path entirely and make your job harder in the long run. No research or concept is a fix all for the problems that arise in the classroom but they will prepare you a lot of these. As for the situations that arise that have no distinct answer, well, the great ones will find a way and learn from it.

    My experience with teaching so far has been on the student side of things, but I think each of us has something to teach. Even as we are students today we make our teachers better tomorrow. I plan to try and remember that as I progress forward toward my career as a teaching professional. It seems most of the teachers I have had in high school and college that were great were always open to learning from further education and what we as student brought to the class. In contrast those I did not like typically were the ones who were tenured and nearing retirement and felt as though they knew all of the answers and were unwilling to see another side. It is only natural for kids of any school age to have ideas that clash with the ideals of a teacher who is near the end of their career. I am in no way saying that older teachers cannot teach, but I am saying a person older or otherwise who has forgotten how to accept new ideas and learn themselves has lost some of what it takes to teach. Teaching without learning is much like writing without reading in my opinion. It can be done but rarely is it done effectively.

    Reflective teaching is a necessity to anyone who wants to enter the profession. As a teacher your teaching style will necessarily reflect the teaching style of the teachers you enjoyed in school. At times however, if the student is being honest, it means it is not only taking the learning activities you enjoyed in class and using them in a classroom, but also the ones you may not have enjoyed, but despite this were effective.

    I have a myriad of lessons from the group at large in terms of the discussion forum, the one that sticks out most to me is Norah's reply to Rebecca on the subject of favoritism . Her personal account of dealing with students that had already been labeled as outcasts by the teacher she was there to shadow shows some of the effects favoritism, communication failure and perhaps an unwillingness on the part of a teacher to make an effort to help a student channel their efforts toward a productive cause. Namely their education. It should always be our goal as educators to keep this as our top priority. We are not only teachers, but in many cases, mentors, role models, and sadly enough, with some, the only person who can make a difference.

    Saturday, April 26, 2008


    Ever wonder why we have to classify ourselves to feel like we belong?

    I took my wife and kids to Community Wide Play Day today in Springfield Missouri, there were tons of games and activities for the kids, free food, free books and overall it was a really good time. It got me thinking though, each of the booths, and/or activities were provided by an agency, whether it was Oacac (ozark's area community action corporation) or B.A.C.A (Bikers Against Child Abuse), C.P.O (community partnership of the Ozarks), DCO (Developmental Center of The Ozarks) and I'm just grazing the tip of the iceberg. I'm really not complaining I think it's great these groups put this thing together. Like I said it was alot of fun, and their members support it and volunteer to work it. Alot of people put in alot of time on their own dime today and they should be commended for their work.

    The question bouncing around in my head is this: Why do we need these groups? AS a whole I like to think were all good people, and we choose to do the right thing. But why then do we need to have groups outline the right way to raise our children, or groups to point out that child abuse is wrong? These are common sense questions, the answers are simple, we shouldn't need them but unfortunately without them alot of people (mostly kids) would be hurt, neglected, or otherwise put in harms way. At one time we didn't need groups or acronyms to define us and what we stand for. Back then the only acronym we had was U.S.A and we were just defined as Americans. If we all can somehow come together and choose to do the right thing together perhaps we can get back to that.

    Thursday, April 24, 2008

    Are you fed up yet?

    I've never been much on the whole grass roots activist bandwagon, but then for my generation, we never really had much to scream about. Most of us have been docile good little followers, because we have been lead to believe the world is ours to harvest of it's riches and pillage as needed to fuel our constant need for more stuff.
    I include myself in every argument I'm about to make because, I too have been lead by the nose and have been quite content to just take what was offered as the best we can do.
    I'm not really clear about when things began going downhill, it just seemed a matter of course. Things get better they get worse and life goes on. It seems however, for several years running now everything about our way of life seems to be steadily sliding into the gutter. Its a sad state really that the only way we notice is when we are hit in the pocketbook. In that case perhaps it is a blessing that the economy has taken such a downturn. I realize that may seem heartless to some of you struggling to get by and making it from paycheck to paycheck, but maybe as a whole this is what we need. I look at it this way, i work as a welder/grinder for an international stainless steel company and I probably have one of the best paying labor type jobs in my area, I have been frugal and made good choices on money matters. I have a mortgage and a car payment but other than that were talking, cable, utilities, phone, stuff like that. I should be able to get along pretty well, but I was better off a few years ago when I was making $5 an hour less. Now I'm sliding by and hoping my entire industry doesn't go down the tubes. Our union votes tomorrow to determine which of the three options our company is going to use to cut costs:
    a: we shut down for two weeks and 1200 employees don't get a check for two weeks , or
    b: We lay off 280 employees
    c: we all get cut back to 32 hours a week

    The point is this, I'm not doing this just to gripe and complain,that's the easy way out. I'm hoping perhaps as a collective group we can discuss the pertinent issues, agree/disagree and bounce around ideas the average guy can use to keep his house in order. It may seem overly optimistic in these pessimistic days but i still believe the voice of the people can invoke change in our leadership, our personal habits and our quality of life. Isn't that why we cam over here from England in the first place, because we had hope of a better future. Tell me, what does your future look like right now the way we are going? There are no other unoccupied continents for us to run to this time, we must fix this system or pay dearly the consequences later.

    Every time an election comes around i find myself asking the same question "seriously is this the best we can come up with." I voted for Bush so i know all about disappointment, but I'm still unconvinced the alternative would have been any better, of course it couldn't have been much worse but still it begs the question " can't we do better?" If you told your friends you were in the running for a promotion at work that would mean you would be paid $400,000 a year and all you had to do was spend a hundred million dollars to get it what would your friends say to you? Think about that next time someone tells you about checks and balances. The presidency garners too much power, the federal government garners too much power. It's time to stop putting up with the unfair taxation of our wages, the the trampling of our rights under the guise of national security and the constant lies we are fed while the government mortgages not only our future but the future of our children.