Thursday, December 11, 2014

Promising Practices

The last thing I wanted to do on a Saturday was spend my day going to a conference that seemed extremely dull. However once the sessions began I realized that I couldn't have been more wrong. My first session was spent with a RIC student in the education program STEM to STEAM. My second session was Engaging Girls in Stem presented by staff from RI After School Programs Alliance.
and she talked about moving from

My first session was definitely my favorite because it included a hands on portion which is the best way I learn. She talked about how in science art was needed to help collect data and display the data and that is why art should be included in STEM. When she went to the fifth grade classroom she had her students make roller coasters with foam, tape and a marble and it helped convey the ideas of gravity and inertia. In the journals they kept they had to draw the model of their roller coaster and talk about how it worked. To help us learn more about it we got to do the project ourselves. Mike and I were in the same presentation so we worked together to build a roller coaster. We went through the thought process of how to make the marble go through a loop, and Mike suggested that we tape the foam to the wall which would create a steep first drop. After many trials we got the marble to go through one loop curve off of the table and finish by going through another loop.
This is exactly what learning should look like, doing the experiment first hand and being able to witness objects in motion.

The second session wasn't as active but while the speakers were talking they said something that automatically made me say SAFE SPACES! I learned that although both boys and girls perform at comparable levels in math and science, men are still dominating STEM jobs even though more women are graduation. One quote that really stood out to me was "If they [a woman] went into a job career, they'd have to work harder than a man just to be considered." It is insane that even if a girl is much smarter, she will have work much harder than a man would have to. The part that connected to Safe Spaces was "What can educators do?" We need to bring in STEM role models for students and build confidence in the students. "Girls and all children need to see the classroom as a safe space for learning." This is Safe Spaces. If the students don't feel comfortable or safe they may back out of a potential future job in STEM because they didn't feel confident in the classroom. There were young girls who had thought about going into the STEM field but backed out because they did feel comfortable in past classrooms. As a student they need to recognize mistakes and learn from them, but as teachers it is all about being the cheerleaders. We need to praise them for doing things right, and praise them for their effort even if they are wrong. The best way to help students feel more comfortable is to allow them to work in small groups. By achieving all of this, it can help include more girls into the STEM field.

The promising practices event really helped me learn about the kind of teacher I want to be, especially one in the STEM field. In this link is a video about how to encourage girls to work in the STEM field.

Theory Connection #3 Shor

Quote and Explanation:
"The participatory classroom is a 'free speech' classroom in the best sense, because it invites all expressions from all the students. An empowering class thrives on a lively exchange of thoughts and feelings" (Shor 22).

"The difference between empowering and traditional pedagogy has to do with the positive and negative feelings students can develop for the
learning process. In traditional classrooms, negative emotions are provoked in students by teacher-centered politics. Unilateral teacher authority in a passive curriculum arouses in many students a variety of negative emotions: self-doubt, hostility, resentment, boredom, indignation, cynicism, disrespect, frustration, the desire to escape" (23).

Students are more likely to thrive in "free speech" classrooms because they get to share their thoughts and learn from other students (not just from the teacher). This lets students take control of their own learning and it then creates a safe space for them to grow academically. Students need this "free speech type classroom because if they are being lectured or given worksheets all the time, they get bored, the lose focus and they no longer want to try. When students reach this point of learning they no longer have a safe space for growth and they don't want to try any more. Students' voices need to be heard throughout most of the class time.

Practice Example:
In my classroom I have seen both positive and negative learning happening. While they are on the rug, they students are asked to share their ideas quite frequently. The teacher has asked them what they were thankful for, what they did over break and she even had them exchange ideas about the history of Thanksgiving. The students loved sharing their ideas and they would build off of what their peers had said.

In this class they also do a lot of worksheets. While I'm there I watch over their work and help them when they get stuck. They don't like doing the worksheet and I
can see the look of boredom on most of their faces. They are not getting anything out of these lessons. I heard one girl keep saying "I quit" and I went over to her table. I tried to make the activity seem a little more fun than it really was, but she was still saying "I quit." She was bored and wanted to stop doing the activity.

When I had to play a word game with a few of the students, one boy understood all the words and one girl was frustrated because she didn't know what the words say. She didn't want to keep playing and she was extremely frustrated. She wasn't
learning, she was trying but she didn't understand what was going on.

So What?
Every student learns differently but sometimes the activities my teacher has them working on frustrates them and they automatically give up. Some are bored and start drawing pictures on the back of their papers. For the students who understand the assignment, it's an easy task for them to complete, but for those who struggle it creates a distance for the students' desire to learn more. These are not safe spaces that allow students to question things and want to learn more. The students should have an input as to the way they want to learn so that they can benefit and be an active part of learning. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Theory Connection #2 Delpit

Quote and Explanation:
"Words invite or exclude, recognize or erase, empower or intimidate, examine or assume" (August 95)

"The power of the teacher over the students; the power of the publishers of textbooks and of the developers of the curriculum to determine
the view of the world presented; the power of the state in enforcing compulsory schooling; and the power of an individual or group to determine another's intelligence or 'normalcy'" (Delpit 24).

This quote is what Delpit is explaining for her first code of power: "Issues of power are enacted in classrooms." There is a hierarchy of who has power within the classroom and the teacher is usually the one in power. The curriculum that the students are told they must master before they move onto the next grade also holds a certain power over them. In my classroom I saw the teacher as the person in power and I also saw a student "gain" power by putting another student down by "determining her intelligence." August says that words can hurt a person, they have consequences and cannot be taken back.

Practice Example:
Every day while I am there I work with a small group and they are the students from the lowest reading group. While they were working on the worksheet, I was helping one student out and I heard a boy tell a girl that the reason she isn't doing well in class is because she doesn't pay attention to the teacher so she gets everything wrong. The little girl started tearing up and came over to me to tell me that all her friends didn't like her. The next second everyone in the group told her that they were her friends and that they liked her. I went over to the boy and I told him that if he doesn't have anything nice to say to people then don't say anything. I also told him that words can hurt people and make them feel unwanted.

So What?
This boy determined her value in society and her intelligence and by doing so she felt powerless and helpless while he felt like he was smarter which increased his power over her. By determining her intelligence he made her feel ostracized and he did not create a safe space for her. In a classroom where every one is still learning, it is not right for other people to feel like they have more power because they are smarter but unfortunately it seems to be this way. The smarter students feel more comfortable in their classes than the students who aren't as smart and they need to feel comfortable just as much. This is like MacIntosh's idea of privilege. Although this is different from white privilege it is very similar. Those who know and understand the material are more likely to succeed and feel comfortable than those who don't understand or take longer to understand the material.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Shor Revisited

After discussing Shor in class I decided to go back and see if I could connect this reading to another reading we have done in class. I found
a quote that connected Safe Spaces and Empowering Education and it is something that I have seen in my Service Learning classroom. "The difference between empowering and traditional pedagogy has to do with the positive or negative feelings students can develop for the learning process. In traditional classrooms, negative emotions are provoked in students by teacher - centered politics. Unilateral teacher authority in a passive curriculum arouses in many students a variety or negative emotions: self - doubt, hostility, resentment, boredom, indignation, cynicism, disrespect, frustration, the desire to escape" (23). I have students that do not understand what they are doing and they automatically want to give up. A lot of them give up while they are doing worksheets and when I really looked at them it didn't look like they were learning anything. This type of learning environment was not healthy for them.

One girl kept saying, "I quit" during one of the assignments that my teacher wanted me to oversee. She didn't want to be there and she was just writing random stuff. I sat down with the group and I tried to help make it more fun and tried to have her put more effort into the assignment. She kept repeating the same thing and I told her that I don't want her to have that negative attitude. I said that you can't give up when things get hard you have to push through and keep going
and the outcome will be worthwhile. What I said didn't help that much because she said it a few more times but she soon stopped.

The students in the lower reading level seem to be the most bored and frustrated. I think part of it is because the material is a little hard for them, but I also think that they don't want to be learning from worksheets and that's what frustrates them the most. If students are feeling this way, it isn't creating a safe space for them. Students should feel engaged in learning and should be active participants, but these students do not seem to be comfortable in their classroom setting.