Friday, May 18, 2012

Short Story Reflection of My Reaction to Hateful Words

Friday, May 18

On Wednesday May 16, I was the "sub" in the 1st period Geometry class, as I was left alone with the students because the sub for the class had to leave for another class to occupy. There wasn't much for me to do; the lesson plan called for an independent practice/review worksheet to be done by the students. I was mainly prepping for my class coming up and helping students with questions when they had them.

Near the end of the period, maybe around 9:15 AM (class got out at 9:30), I overheard some students gossip about a male peer that they discovered was gay. The most resonating thing I heard was when two girls mentioned that he was a "waste of life." This moment in their conversation was preceded by an acknowledgment that this young man they were speaking of was a good-looking fellow, though they said it with less-attractive vocabulary.

I eavesdropped a bit more as I helped a couple other students. Their gabbing eventually fizzled to another, probably mindless, teenage topic. I felt irked, disturbed and upset about what these girls had said though; so much to the point that I needed to address my concern.

So I did. To the entire class. Before the bell rang. I asked for their attention and received immediate silence; not something I necessarily expected. I was running on adrenaline from here on out, although I had good control of my heartfelt intention to promote civil, intellectual, and respectful discourse among those in our school community, as well as in society as a whole. I said:

"I think it is very distasteful and wrong, and often hurtful, to judge someone based on who they are. If you want to make a good judgement about a person, do it based on what they do; do it based on their actions.

What Martin Luther King Jr. said in the 60's is pertinent today, and it always will..We need to judge people not my the color of their skin, nor by their sex, or ethnicity, nor by their sexual orientation, but rather by the content of their character. Calling someone a waste of a life (I didn't look at any students in particular during this whole time) just because he is gay is something that disturbs me very much, and it should disturb you all as well. You know there is just so much other crap going on in the world, so many more important issues to contemplate and deal with, that talk like that is, just...hateful...and stupid...."

At this point my voice had gotten shaky, emotions showing, eyes watering up (seriously).

I then thanked the students for their time as the bell was close to ringing. I had a completely silent room for those moments before the bell. There was an intense, stale air in the room. The air conditioner attached to this standard, rectangular prism-shaped, portable high school classroom was on the verge of rumbling on for the first time that morning. I was able to compose myself fairly quickly.

The bell rang, the A/C followed suit, and vibes returned to normal frequency.

The past two days, I've felt like this event didn't really happen, that is how surreal it felt. But after prepping in the same classroom this morning (today was the first time this class had reconvened since the "speech"), one of the students approached me after the bell and told me that what I did last class was really cool, and that all the kids were talking about it afterwards. This, along with putting a smile on my face, confirmed the event's validity, and compelled me to write about it before the memory gets foggy (or before my verbal storytelling alters its details).

How have you reacted to similar situations? Any comments, stories, tips, etc., that you have are welcomed:)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My Successes in Parallel Co-Teaching

I have been co-teaching at Carlsbad High School for about 8 weeks now. I have read blogs from my classmates, such as Chris Dolnik's "The Descent of a Man" blog. He wrote in March that "Preparation allows for better fluidity, direction, and purpose in my lessons." And this is no doubt been evident in my student teaching as well. While I still need to learn better preparation and lesson planning, I have had to incorporate co-teaching strategies into the mix. I have done so with encouraging results.

I have found great use and appreciation for parallel co-teaching strategy. From Villa, Thousand, & Nevin (2008) A Guide to co-teachng: Practical tips for facilitating student learning, "Parallel co-teaching is when two or more people work with different groups of students in different sections of the classroom. Co-teachers may rotate among the groups; and, sometimes there may be one group of students that works without a co-teacher for at least part of the time...Key to parallel co-teaching is that each co-teacher eventually works with every student in the class.

In one of my classes, Geometry, there is only one big white board at the front of the room. Instead of having us split up into to groups in the same room, my cooperating teacher and I have one group stay in the class with one of us to go over a topic, while the other half goes outside to do an activity where a white board is not necessary. In my other class I am teaching, Algebra II, I have a white board on the front and back walls of the class. Sometimes we take half the class outside, and other times we make proper use of the back board. When you have classes of 35 or so students, there is a huge difference between working with only half of those students at a time.

To those whom are co-teaching, what has been your experience with this method? Is it your favorite? What has worked best for you?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The "F" Word You like to Hear in your Class

Today in the Algebra II class I am student teaching, I heard one of my students (whom is usually the one spacing out) say "This is fun. Lets do more."

It was a great thing to hear. I hear so much these days from students in the public schools that they hate math. And my class I am speaking of is no exception. This class is an intermediate Algebra class with students whom have struggled with high school math for 2+ years. Its a little tougher to get through to them than other students, but days like these can prove it worthwhile.

And I don't mean to sound like my class has been the antithesis of a "fun" class; I've employed a fair share of strategies to make class engaging. When you hear that "F" word though, you know you're doing okay.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Reflection on my Digital Reflection

This blog post was inspired by Carl Maas' Reflection on the same project, of which I completed late last night.

In the making of my digital reflection presentation, I was able to add new aspects to my PLN. For example, my presentation was created on Prezi, the first such time I used this software. I feel like the extent to which I took advantages of Prezi's features was much less than its potential. I used Sangit to record my presentation and upload it to YouTube. I discovered this software in my perusing of digital reflections of semesters past, and am definitely grateful for that.

I also love reflection projects because it makes me reflect. Its really as simple as that. One of the things we learn in our credential program is the value of reflection. I have come to realize its potential over the past year, and this project did its job in allowing me to look back on and absorb all that I have accomplished in this semester-long course.

There was a struggle to get going at first, but I have crossed the line of being a complete "visitor" of the Internet world into at least a part-time "resident." My question to the #csusmedu peeps: should we give up the csusmedu hashtag to the next group of cohorters? If so, what should our new hashtag be so that we can continue to network in the future?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Visit to El Camino HS - March 12 - Reflection

On Monday March 12, I, along with other Single Subject Teacher Candidates, attended a visit to El Camino High School in Oceanside, CA, in order to see how iPads have been implemented into the general classroom. Although I was excited to learn about how iPads could enhance the learning process, I got home that day with many questions still unanswered.

  1. How was technology integrated into the curriculum?  Do you feel that it promoted student learning?
    - In Dr. Nank's classroom at ECHS, each student had an iPad that they could use individually. The iPads were attached to the desks so that they wouldn't get "lost." That day, all math classes were preparing for the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE), so I was unable to witness them being used to teach new material, which I was more interested in learning about. The students were working on an assessment through Moodle on their iPads, and most of the students had a pen and paper out to work the problems by hand.
    If I were to make a hypothesis, I would say that iPads have a tremendous opportunity to promote student learning (if used properly)
  2. Is there anything you saw that makes this classroom/school unique?
    - The school had a great feel to it, a great sense of community. The classroom I observed in was part of a new-looking math and science building. The layout of the school was open and welcoming. I was very impressed. If you were to ask me about the students in the classroom I observed, I would say they seemed to be used to, and comfortable with, the use of iPads in the classroom. they were not off task (eg playing Angry Birds, or checking FB).

  3. What did you learn and how does it relate to the class questions?
    -I learned that the use of iPads to assess students is awesome. Dr. Nank showed us how he is able to randomize the questions he asks on the tests, so that he is comfortable with letting a student who fails a test relearn the content and retake it, without worrying that all he/she did was memorize what questions were on the test previous. I still have questions about how you can teach students new content effectively using iPads. I have many ideas, but I would like to witness it first hand. Thus, I would be more than willing to visit El Camino high School again sometime when they are not practicing for a bloody standardized test!!

EDSS 530 Digital Reflection

Attached to this post is my Digital Reflection Presentation created on Prezi. I had a fun time making it; being able to reflect on all that I have learned, and to realize of how much I have yet to learn. Cheers!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

EDSS 531 Reflection

              My experience in this class, The Reflective Professional, has been one that allowed me to realize the importance of reflection upon events and individual students as a means to meet students’ needs and continually grow at a teacher. What I learned throughout the course this semester, in addition to the significance of reflection, is that it is important to understand my own beliefs and biases and to increase student creativity and right-brained thinking through different teaching models such as synectics.
              We started this course with a journal which allowed me to reflect on my first clinical practice experience, in which I put myself in the shoes of my students. In this journal, I described what it is like for them to be students in my class and to move through classes in a day at my school site. It was a great way to start this course and remind myself that it is my duty as a 21st century educator to try to eliminate the “shuffling” that goes on in public high schools these days.
              In the 3rd week of the course, both the night and day cohorts participated in an online dialogue in which we responded to the following prompt: “What are your biases and how do you mitigate your behavior when working with students?” This was one of the highlights of the course for me, because it synthesized an in-class activity with an online-based assignment. Many of the assignments I had this semester were open to interpretation because there wasn’t much class-time for discussion. This particular assignment had an entire class devoted to this topic and it resulted in a very rich experience for all involved.
              I also had a great time with my model presentation assignment. My group had a lot of good preparation on the assignment, and got help from Jannis well before our assignment was due. I thought synectics was the coolest of the different models presented and thought we did a good job of explaining its aspects and benefits. I have yet to try this model out in my clinical practice yet, but I will keep it in my back pocket until I have the right need for it.
              I know I might be going over the one-page requirement , but I wanted to note the appreciation I have for you reminding us that writing down our thoughts and being creative through writing poetry  or participating in games such as Two Truths and a Lie are fun ways to create experiences that will endure in my memory. In addition, I realize that this was semester with an experiment, and the cohorters were “guinea pigs;” but I appreciate all you guys did to understand our situation. Being a teacher means being flexible, and you all emulated that fact. I hope you don’t take it personally when some students attack the way this semester went. To me, to be that upset shows a lack of flexibility.