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Questions for Teacher Panel:

What books have shaped your pedagogy and professional goals?

How do you include social justice in a science class?

How do you react and respond when students are acting or saying things that are discriminatory towards others?

How do you combat bullying inside and out of the classroom?

How do you balance meeting the common core standards and maintaining a social justice-oriented classroom?

 

Reading, Writing, Rising up Review:

Great resource for language arts teachers with a wide variety of lesson plans. Ideal for middle or high school english teachers. This book not only addressed the social justice issues but also gave great, specific lesson plans and exercises that can be used in the classroom. Not only so, but the ideas it gives are very creative and insightful. Even though it was specific to english class lesson plans, we all saw how we could use some of the ideas mentioned in our own classrooms, whether they are middle/high school english or not.

Reading, Writing, and Rising Up: Immigration

This chapter had a lot of good resources that could be used to teach students about immigration. One that we found particularly interesting involved having students write poems from the perspective of an immigrant. This allowed them to think about how they would feel and respond to they way that they were being treated. We did think that there could be some difficulties/issues with this assignment. It is possible that students would struggle with relating to immigration because they know very little about it and have not experienced it. They may also use stereotypes that we don’t want them to. How would we go about getting students to relate more to different cultures and histories in order to help this assignment run more smoothly. Is it necessary to teach the stereotypes before hand?

She focuses on history of immigration, but in our experience we talk a lot about modern day immigration and how that works in the public school system. Although historical immigration is important to be aware of, it is also important to know what is happening today. We think that this is especially important because she is teaching to an older group of students who will soon be able to vote and should be informed on what is happening so they can make educated decision. How do you go about balancing this when you have limited time to teach both? Also, how would you teach about the current immigration issues without bringing politics into the classroom?

Our next assignment is to read Chapter 7 on Portfolios

Because Aesop Rock, That’s Why

Not only is this awesome, it highlights a huge load of people who use words to rise up…like our PLC text. If you go to the site at the bottom of this page, the rapper map is actually interactive.

Does Wu-Tang Clan really have a bigger vocabulary than SHAKESPEARE? Infographic ranks rappers by their use of English language

  • New York-based data scientist analysed 35,000 lyrics of 85 hip-hop artists to find the number of unique words
  • He compared this to the number of unique words in the first 35,000 words of Shaksepeare’s plays and Moby Dick
  • William Shakespeare used 5,170 unique words putting his vocabulary alongside Beastie Boys and Outkast
  • While Herman Melville scored 6,022 for his novel Moby Dick, only beaten by Kool Keith, GZA and Aesop Rock
  • Aesop Rock came top with 7,392 unique words, while DMX sat at the other end of the scale with 3,214 unique words

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Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2621331/Wu-Tang-Clan-bigger-vocabulary-SHAKESPEARE-Infographic-ranks-rappers-use-English-language.html#ixzz3qaQ3iMNj
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Curriculum Presentations and Our PLC

In our A-Gust-Of-Wind-by-Paul-Cocksedge-Studio-with-DuPont-Corian-photo-credit-Mark-CocksedgeSocial Justice in Education classes this week, the members of this PLC crew watched group presentations for our Re-conceptualizing Curriculum projects as well as presenting in our own groups. Since Group 11 is comprised of members from different 533 classes, when we met in our PLC groups after presentations we began discussing how the curriculum presentations went. We found that several groups we watched discussed content from our PLC text: Reading, Writing and Rising Up by Linda Christensen. For the curriculum project, each group had to detail how they would teach two different texts from a social justice perspective and we were to incorporate our 533 readings as well as propose activities to go along with the text-related lessons. Christensen’s work came up on both fronts. All of the 533 classes were assigned to read Christensen’s essay “Teaching Standard English: Whose Standard?” and the ideas she presents concerning home language versus the language of the elite – standard English. Her assertion is that the academic world is biased toward people whose home language is, in fact, standard English because households steeped in the “standard” are most likely to cropped-piaper-blowing-in-the-wind2 have more highly educated parents in a relatively high socioeconomic status. Christensen also admits that the standard must be taught in order to give all students the chance at the greatest amount of achievement at the same time making students aware that bias based on language does indeed exist. This language disparity and bias turned out to be a concept that appeared several times during our student presentations; it resonated with many of us. Several texts written in dialect or home language were selected by our classmates.

The other way Christensen was brought up during presentations was in groups who selected one of her many writing activities included in Reading, Writing and Rising Up. Our PLC group found it really interesting that we have been discussing these activities for weeks in a vacuum just because we chose to read Christensen’s book but then here are other students not reading this PLC who discovered Christensen’s lessons from the internet at large or from having done some of the activities themselves in school. Some of the writing exercises mentioned by our peers are:

“The Tea Party” – an activity in which students are given index cards related to characters from a novel including riveting passages from the novel and, as their assigned characters, students walk around the room answering questions about “themselves” and asking questions of other characters.

Praise Poems and Forgiveness Poems

“I Am From” Poems in which students follow an existing poem template and fill in blanks with objects, names, ideas etc. to demonstrate that “home” is more than a structure and that it extends far beyond geographic location. For example, one student poem provided by Christensen is entitled “I am from Soul Food and Harriet Tubman.”

All of us in Group 11 were pleased that our PLC text was having an impact on our fellow students.

Literacy/Language Diversity

Though we already discussed Chapter 4, in Reading, Writing, and Rising Up, this is what we read for this week’s class lecture. One of the articles was even by Linda Christensen.  It was interesting to be able to discuss these concepts with a larger group. For example, the student who knew what he wanted to say, but he would write minimal amounts, knowing he would mess up and not wanting to suffer humiliation.  We discussed in class how teachers may incorporate different ways to support students like these, like resisting “fixing” their writing or speech in embarrassing ways or situations.  Also, providing opportunities for writing that aren’t restricted to Standard English, rather supportive of mother languages is a good way to show that students are supported and their cultures are appreciated.

We watched videos in class that go along with this too.  There was a Jeopardy video where the teacher would have students “translate” or “correct” sentences with Ebonics. Using “correct” implies that one way is wrong and the other is right.  This negates the culture that is tied to “Ebonics” as well as risks belittling students who speak this way or have family members who speak this way.  There must be a way to introduce “proper” grammar without making other dialects come off as inferior. In this regard, however, is there a need for consistent “proper” grammar?  If the idea is being conveyed, shouldn’t quality be valued over style?  It is difficult for people who have to code-switch to keep up with who they’re talking to and who they’re trying to impress, but they have to to be accepted in the professional world.

We discussed how we usually code-switch in formal essay writing and when talking to professors or other authority figures, but otherwise we usually speak the same way despite different situations.

What are some ways teachers can incorporate and celebrate language diversity?  It seems easier to do in English classes, but are there other ways like in Science, History, and Math? Do educators see an end to “Standard English” in the future since students have such different ways of communicating thoughts?

Something to Tame Your Inner-Artbeast

In Social Justice in Education we read about students on the LGBT spectrum along with their allies, classmates, environments, teachers and grades. In our PLC group we read about Reading, Writing and Rising up.

Meanwhile….

These two local transgender comic artists are really rising up, holding nothing back and creating amazing work:  M.R. Trower and Morgan Boecher.

REM

M.R. Trower

http://www.mrtrower.com/ ↔ art of the way cool variety

http://inkmaggot.tumblr.com/ ↔ more insight into the artist

WNA

Morgan Boechher

http://whatsnormalanyway.net/ ↔ great comic all about being trans male! So much good stuff on this site…there are also links to other awesome artists along with Morgan promoting ACTIVISM

http://www.behance.net/mboecher ↔ more of Morgan’s work

Chapter 4: Reading Writing and Rising Up

Chapter 4 of Reading, Writing, and Rising Up opens with a discussion of “Standard English” which reminds us of talking about racism and classism in education. Many students in this classroom have trouble reading and writing based on what language is spoken in their home and what resources were available during formative years.  Instead of celebrating different cultures, schools immediately shut down any presence of “non standard English.”

The teacher allows students to use words and phrases from their home language to make them feel more comfortable while writing, and we understand that part of this is bringing up the open-ended question of who chose/decided what we use as standard English, however this brought up some questions.  How can bilingual work be graded if the teacher doesn’t speak one of the languages or doesn’t understand the culture?  Also, when students take standardized tests, they will not receive a “good” scores if the essay is not in proper English, so isn’t it a disservice to not drill this “standard” in the classroom?  How can teachers allow students to feel free to be themselves while preparing them for a world that requires identical use of the language in academic and professional writing?

“Their experience with language helps us understand how society creates hierarchies that rank some languages as ‘standard’ and others as ‘substandard’; some as ‘educated,’ others as ‘ignorant.'”