Thursday, November 17, 2011

Final Blog Post

All of these models seem to be tailor made for the web. Which is good, but I think they all are kind of poorly suited to the English Language Arts classroom, unfortunately. This is because, especially for the case based learning and case based reasoning, I think the best model has already been developed in the form of writing workshops and multi genre inquiries. Writing workshop presents English Language Arts students multiple ways to approach the problem of writing, and models for students the ways that a writer operates in the real world. Similarly, MGI presents students with the problem of needing to research any topic of their choosing and allows them to produce any number of different creative pieces in order to explore and report the research. It seems to me that learning objects present are very similar to the previous modules we have studied. It just seems like a really web based way to present real world problems to students. As I have previously stated, Writing Workshop and MGI are both great ways to do this in the English classroom. And both can be integrated with modern technology, especially in the case of the multi genre inquiry. For one that I completed this past semester, I created an entire website, and was able to use poetry, journal entries and more to reflect the research that I did. To me, that's the best way to do any sort of real world approximation of English Language Arts, but I'm not sure that either technique fits very well with the idea of a case based model. At least, it wouldn't look entirely like case based models from other subjects.

Cognitive Flexibility on the other hand, is a good way to further alter the traditional research paper. i really enjoyed participating in the modeled Cognitive flexibility project, and I could see using similar techniques to do a class wide research paper. At least using the CF as a jumping off point. That would be an innovative way for the class to do and discuss research, and then I could follow that up with an additional question that students would have to answer in a more formal paper. I think that is the best way I can think of to integrate CF into the English classroom, because while new technology can be a good way to present material and have students conduct research, the common core standards are still going to require the students to make progress as writers primarily.

I'm not sure that I totally understand or see the point of learning objects. It is an economical way for businesses or other institutions that have to educate employees or members occasionally to go about it. But it seems to lack coherence or direction, and perhaps I'm not thinking outside of the box enough, but I think that given the wealth of other types of learning modules that I would never use learning objects intentionally in the classroom. As I look towards student teaching in the Spring, I am really overwhelmed at how I can fit my curriculum into the small amount of time I have as it is, and I think there may be a time when learning objects could work as a way to teach small units like grammar and vocab, or for remediation of a small lesson like grammar or style to a single student, but I'm not sure that it would fit into my overall plan. Mostly because I want to try and encourage a lot of group interaction into the classroom, and learning objects seem to be focused on the individual. Again, I'm not sure that I completely understand them but that is the way it seemed to me.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

3rd Unit Blog

All of these learning modules present some revolutionary modules for learning, and teaching by doing. Much like the problem solving module type we looked at in the last unit, these modules provide real world problem solving opportunities for students.

I like that the MOST model focuses on nontraditional students and seems to be a great model for allowing all students to succeed. But I think the other modules, especially anchored instruction when I envision a high school English classroom, provide an excellent opportunity to effectively educate all students. I have struggled with the sentiments present in all these models when I look at how to organize my classroom. Because, like these modules, I want all of my classroom instruction and assessment to be authentic. And in reality, while employed there are practically no times when one is asked to complete a multiple choice test. Employees are given problems and a finite amount of time in which to solve them. All of these modules seem to try and solve this instructional problem, so this was an enjoyable unit for me.

All of the modules point to a focus on problem solving skills, but do seem to require a lot of input from the teacher, which is not necessarily a bad thing, just something to be award of when implementing. Because it seems like students will need a decent mentor in order to navigate these difficult problems. I do have faith that students can solve complicated problems when challenged, but I also know that there will be a lot of questions, and a lot of need for scaffolding the learning process to make sure that students succeed.

I see myself using the anchored instruction model the most because it is cooperative, and because it opens the door for students to sort of construct the way the project is going to go, with less direction from the instructor. I can see this working very well with thematic units, in which the instructor determines the theme and offers a group of books poems, or short stories that the students can engage with, and can then use modern internet based methods to react to each piece of literature in a unique and "real world way" I could see this being with video, creating a website, designing a game relating to the work, there are plenty of possibilities, and I think the beauty is in that the students direct the work, and can find something that speaks to them as well as the literature.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

ECI 517 2nd Unit Blog

All three of these educational modules focus on groups, and so I think they present a challenge for web integration. It is not a challenge that is insurmountable but I do think that these three are more challenging than the previous, individualized models for instruction. Throughout graduate school, I have been exposed to both the cooperative learning model and Problem-based learning. I especially like problem-based learning, or as it is commonly called in English Language Arts curriculum inquiry based learning. I really like the idea of students directing their own instruction, and addressing real life problems, as problem-based learning allows students to do. I have seen it presented in the past as students discussing issues relating to a novel (in ELA), then from the discussion and listing of different issues, investigating one, and producing a creative product based on it. So, for instance if I were to do a unit on The Crucible, we'd have a fairly traditional unit going through the book, then based on the themes we might discuss, sin, betrayal, accusations, McCarthyism, students would select a topic and conduct an inquiry. I think this could work well in combination with one of the other individualistic type models, if students were guided through a work and then set loose for a week or so to produce a creative product on their own.

Cooperative Learning, I guess would work much like our unit projects have worked in this class, in that I would assign students to a group, and have them work together to produce a project. I personally do not like jigsawing because sometimes I think everyone should be involved in everything and slowly gravitate to what is best for them. Of course this would assume a lot of responsibility on the part of the student, so I think in a high school class I might be required to define roles within the group more. I think cooperative learning goes on in the classroom all the time, so honestly there wasn't much new here.

Situated Learning and Cognitive Apprenticeship, also has some good correlation with an accepted Language Arts curriculum, and I think it could work pretty well over the web, so long as there is consistent contact with the mentor. Writing workshops, of course, are what I'm talking about. I think that they are a great example of apprenticeship, because the teacher models how to be a writer, how to think like a writer, and how to consider things as a writer. Students explore their abilities, get feedback and go back and explore some more. This really does make a lot of sense when you think about it in an historical context, because that is how people learned their trades before modern schooling. I think the best way to do this on the internet would be to set it up as a writing workshop, provide some prompts and discussion about prewriting and revision techniques, and then constantly stay in contact with the students via skype to discuss their progress and process. To me, it is the most promising of these three activities for developing young writers.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

ECI 517 1st Unit Blog

I felt that these two types of web modules were very similar. Though personalized system of instruction is more, well, personalized, it seemed to use much of the same principles of the audio-tutorial model. I guess what I mean is that both of these theories involve a student guiding themselves through prerecorded lectures about a particular topic. While the idea that the student is guiding himself at his own pace is good, I think both models rely too heavily on a lecture based, assign and tell model. As we have learned in other classes, this requires a motivated student. So, I could see these types of modules working very well for a professional environment where there is a monetary and authority based incentive. However, in the classroom, I think I would limit using this module type. The benefit, if used correctly, for this module type could be large though. Because in one recording session, you are effectively giving personalized instruction to many, many students. The audio-tutorial model did rely on an additional facilitator, which I think will definitely strengthen the experience for the student, but it would require more individualized instruction, so it isn't quite as much bang for the buck on the time side.

I think that the audio-tutorial approach could make it into my classroom. Perhaps as a way of teaching grammar and style within a writing workshop class. So, if I were to notice during a writing conference that a student was struggling with a particular element, I could have audio-tutorials posted on a website that I could direct the student to. I would be using some basic web tools like google sites, and I could use voicethread or something similar to create the individual lessons, with the pictures on the slides acting as the lessons, but a screen casting program would probably be best, or a video to guide the student through the lesson. Then, after they completed the module in question, I could have a tutorial with the student during which I could confirm that they understood the material. That's really the best usage I can think of for either of these approaches, and only because grammar is kind of dry (of course the audio lesson would include in text examples, teaching it within the proper context). Otherwise, I think I would elect for more interactive types of tutorials.

Monday, July 25, 2011

ECI 520 Action Learning Project

Below is the video for my action learning project. It was a really informative and encouraging experience, and I look forward to implementing what I learned from it in my own classroom.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


My Post FOKI follows, new comments and reflections are in bold.

Professional Self:
One of the main things I want students to do in my class is react and respond to the works in ways that are meaningful to them. Too often I was told there was a right or wrong way to interpret something. There isn't. I want to foster a community like I experienced in college where students feel that they can say anything so long as it is meaningful to them. I also think it is really important to integrate technology in the classroom. But I wish to dispel the myth of the digital native. I am a digital native in that I can pick up something digital and quickly start working it. But, as I often find with similar kids in the mid-twenties, I don't have a deep understanding of everything that is out there. I want to continue to learn about new tools, such as SecondLife that can further engage students. One thing that has really been looming over me has been the fact that everything we put on the internet is available to anyone (this also borders on Virtual Self). I think it is really important to stress this to students from a social justice standpoint. With cable news and instant reaction, there is a really inflammatory nature to our culture, and it is most prominent on the internet. I think easing kids into online groups and societies using book clubs and other constructive ventures will help them remember that there is always an audience even if you are just sitting at your computer screen. In the same vein, I think that great literature makes us feel like we aren't alone. It let's us know that others have had similar experiences and dealt with similar hardships, and hopefully my classroom will allow students to explore the bridge between literature and their own experience with society.

First of all, I still find that I want to inspire students through literature; however, I think I have learned to be a little more open to reading for pleasure. Not every book has to be a mental exercise. I still really believe in a collegiate, open, workshop type approach to the LA classroom. One thing I have come to terms with, though I still like to use digital native sometimes is digital visitors and residents, and I think the thing that separates my generation and more recent is that we can go from visitor to resident more quickly, but there still has to be that transformation, and it does take some time. I've learned that modeling and encouraging proper student use of technologies is the best way to curb the inflammatory or inappropriate behavior. And yes, I think my beliefs about the powerful ability of literature to give students something to relate to, something to inspire them and something to really befriend holds true.

Literate Self
This is the area where I feel most unprepared. I simply have not read much young adult literature. I feel like most of what I read is mature and dense. Not very well suited for the classroom. However, from the beginning of Revolver, (which I chose because Revolver is also my favorite Beatles album) I realized that Young Adult literature can do much more than I initially thought. There may be a place for the Boxcar Children and Goosebumps, but they do not represent the whole of the young adult genre, and I look forward to continue to read meaningful and high quality young adult books.

Goal begun! I will not say that this is nearly accomplished, but I feel well on my way. Before I would have scoffed at the idea of reading YAL not only for substance, but even for pleasure. Now I find YAL to be a genre that brings a great mix of both, and is much more accessible in a lot of ways that "adult" literature. I want to keep this trend going, and hope to have read most of the Printz books by the end of the year.

Virtual Self
As I touched on before, my virtual self scares me a little. I think humor is really difficult to convey in the current online climate, and I feel like I am often too cynical not to make a tongue in cheek remark. I have blogged before, but it was a lot of comedic, creative nonfiction. The challenge is deciding whether or not that image goes well with the image of a teacher. One would think that creative writing should be okay, but I don't know that I trust Principals or others who are hiring to overlook some vulgarity to see that writing shouldn't be censored, even for a high school teacher. That's kind of a tangent, but it has shaped the way I think about my virtual identity. I try not to have a large facebook presence, and try and make sure that all the comments I leave on blogs, or posts I write are in line with the image of a person preparing to shape young minds. That being said, I think that I need to get a better grasp of all online tools so that I can help students with new technologies. I think they can be extremely useful if used with caution.

I feel much more comfortable with this now. Maybe it is maturity, maybe it is just accepting the fact that not everyone is going to appreciate your opinion on everything, but I feel much more comfortable with my presence on twitter, facebook and the web (here!). I also feel that I have had a new revelation about using these technologies in the classroom. Before I would have thought of them as a distraction, but now it seems like they are the best way to get students involved, and really it is a great opportunity to teach students how to use the tech wisely (not as I did while in college).


Professional Self:
I want to be able to provide the tools for students and I to interact with young adult literature in a way that inspires creativity and deep thought. I want to gain the tools to engage the students who feel disconnected as well as the tools to propel already interested students to new heights. Just as writing workshop and multi-genre projects were new and exciting this previous semester, I hope to learn how to properly implement new ways of reading. I think that book clubs will be really interesting (I've never been in one before), and I want to learn the most effective ways to facilitate new media interactions with literature. As a white, middle class, heterosexual male, I want to learn new effective and prudent ways to explore and discuss diversity and social justice as it relates to my students.

I really enjoyed second life as a way to have class. I thought it was brilliant, and my previous experience in a non-live class online setting have been frustrating and- frankly- terrible. The book clubs will make an appearance in my classroom throughout the year. It is a great way to have a second wave of instruction that occurs in a more pleasureful situation. Students don't need to write essays, but can show how they relate to a text, and I'm really excited to implement them. I think the multicultural discussions should also continue in my class room, considering that we as a group of graduate students couldn't come to a conclussion, I think it will foster a lot of conversation for my students.

Literate Self:
I am going to make it a goal of mine to join a book club that regularly reads high quality young adult novels after this class is over. I think this will be good not only for my teaching career, but for making my reading choices easier. I hope to increase my library of wonderful young adult novels that foster growth in my students.

Goal not accomplished! But I do really want to join such a book club, and I look forward to seeing how the Eva Perry Club is run, maybe the Chapel Hill library needs a similar group.

Virtual Self:
I want to learn responsible ways to increase my online identity. I want to be able to connect with other teachers of young adult literature (likely through the English Companion Ning and this is also a professional and literate self goal) and get ideas for lessons and new books to explore. I also want to shore up my knowledge of web 2.0 programs so that I can help my students interact with and respond to texts in new ways.

I think I've learned to be more responsible, because now I know that my online self really is my professional self, and it is really a matter of keeping those two identities in line. I plan on posting my ALP to the english companion ning, and we will see what kind of discussion it promotes. I think there are so many unique ways to use the web to interact with literature, it really is a great medium for our subject, and I look forward to integrating and creating a lot of great web based projects in the future.