Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What My Secondary Resources have to say about my RQ

All of my secondary sources deal with individuals that have experienced censorship inside private education. Much of their focus is opinions on how teachers should respond to parental involvement in censorship. Some take a more aggressive stance, indicating that it is the teacher's responsibility to choose texts, not the parents, while a few of the articles deal with issues about parent/teacher communication and a level of respect each and every teacher must employ towards families. The gap in the secondary research is that much of the information is still fairly vague on what 'private schools' they are speaking of because there are a number of private schools that differe greatly from one another. A second gap is none of the articles take a close look at parental rationale for censorship from a religious standpoint, which in some private schools is the driving force behind book censorship. What I hope to do with my research is give a perspective on what teachers have done, in regards to book censorship, at religious private schools, particularly Christian private schools. Much, if not all, of the censorship issues that arise in Christian schools deal directly with religous and theological beliefs that parents hold and the conflict that those beliefs have with literature.

Friday, October 24, 2008

What's a justifiable reason for assigning a book? What should be your rationale?

I'd think the book, first and formost, must promote a healthy and constructive perspective on life. That is it promotes a positive attitude. If a book deals with constroversial topics, but presents them in a way that glorifies the controversial or promotes an unhealthy lifestyle then that should not be assigned in class. But if a book deals with issues in a way that makes them less than attractive, or if the issues contribute to the conflicts within the book, then it might be worth assigning to simply be able to talk about the issues in class. I think any book that deals with a controversial issue and promotes it as positive should be used with caution. And beyond any personal feelings about a book a teacher may have, it is the teacher's responsiblility to have active communication with the parents to ensure no one has any glaring issues with the text assigned, and if there are concerned parents to speak with them about your rationale for choosing the text. Parents have the responsibility in reering children, and teachers/schools are given permission to partake in the reering of children, but we do this with the parents in mind first. We are partnering with the home as teachers, or at least that's the perspective I take on the issue.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Response to Gee and Delpit

Gee and Delpit both are dealing with the topics of Discourses, teaching literacy in the classroom, and how those things relate to students and their different experiences with language. Gee uses a lot of complex language, but I got the feeling he never really offered any solutions to the problems/opinions he presented. To me, that seemed like someone who offers insight, but ultimately thinks there is no solution. As a future teacher, I felt his article had some interesting things to say about Primary/Secondary Discourses, but had nothing that I could take to my classroom. Delpit seemed to offer a more critical analysis of language acquisition and discourse acquisition, and she seemed to give more applicable opinions to actual teachers.

Gee sets up his entire article on understanding the terms Primary and Secondary Discourses. He spends a great deal of the article breaking down these terms, and by the end of the article has come full circle in relating them to the classroom and teaching. The relevance of Gee’s terminology to literacy teaching and learning deals with understanding that each student comes from a different background and an effective teacher will begin analyzing there before jumping to any conclusions about the student’s behavior or ability to succeed. Gee builds a case that suggests students that come from various backgrounds all have a difficult time acquiring certain Secondary Discourses and teachers need to be fully aware of students backgrounds and how they relate to the challenges those students will face in the classroom.

Delpit models much of her language after Gee, especially in regards to Primary and Secondary discourses, but she takes the terminology in a different direction. Delpit’s language seems much more accessible, as well as applicable, to the classroom environment, which is in large part a comment on how she feels towards Gee. Delpit seems to feel Gee presents some information, maybe some opinions, but never gives any applicable solutions for English teachers. Instead, Delpit plays off Gee’s language and uses it in a way that offers solutions to the problems teachers encounter in the classroom, like bridging the gap between Standard English and the home discourse. The problem Delpit has with Gee is that most of his comments offer no real solutions for teachers to practice, and because of that seems to be a bit of a copout for teachers to ‘give up’ in teaching students dominant discourses.

I'd like to explore how home discourses affect student learning. For example, say a student never has had a communicative relationship with their parents. How might that impact their ability to communicate in a classroom setting?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Language Investigation 3

My entire elementary and secondary education experience was spent in either private Christian or charter schools, which I believe gave me a very different experience than those students who grew up in the public school system. Most of the reading and writing I did in elementary, which was at Heritage Christian School here in town, was focalized in the Bible. I remember I had a verse, or number of verses, to memorize from kindergarten up until 6th grade, the year I moved from private Christian education to Liberty Commons School (a charter junior high in town). I enjoyed my time at Heritage, but I did encounter the occassional lunatic teacher, who in a young kids mind was completely unreasonable. I'm sure these teachers really weren't as bad as I remember though. The writing I was required to do at Heritage was next to none in elementary, mostly consisting of spelling tests and basic grammar worksheets. It wasn't until I came to Liberty that my writing skills began to be challenged. I remember in my German class at Liberty having to write a 5-7page report on a German monarch during the conquest years of the country. I also remember having to write a 5 paragraph essay for every text we read in my literature course. My finals always consisted of essays and big papers. Mind you, this was 7th and 8th grade, and it seemed like this Core-Knowledge curriculum-based charter school was in the business of challenging their students academically. The reading we did varied from Gilgamesh, the Declaration of Independence, and The Diary of Anne Frank. Liberty was a challenge for me, but helped prepare me for college-level writing probably in more ways than my high school did.

Going into my 9th grade year, my family and I moved to Littelton, CO and I attended a small Christian school called Front Range Christian. My mom, who was a music teacher, had gotten a job here, and I had a bunch of family connections to the school (my aunt was a teacher and my uncle the president). I loved my time at Front Range, but not because of the teaching or schooling. In fact, most of my motivation for becoming a teacher was to work in a Christian school like Front Range someday and actually do an effective job of teaching, unlike what I commonly came in contact with at Front Range. The reading we did in high school included the Bible, The Scarlet Letter, the Crucible (which came under hot protestation from parents claiming the piece supported/encouraged witchcraft!!!), Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Shakespeare. The problem wasn't the reading itself, but how it was instructed. Most of the time, the teacher would simply have us read the text, then we'd talk about it, memorize some facts about the author, and take a test or write an essay. There was not much application or crossover to the realworld us kids lived in. It made it very hrd to become interested in the subjects. The writing the students were given was, in my mind, far behind what I saw at Liberty. At my junior high, we were writing 5-7 page papers, but my 9th grade year my class was just learning how to write 5 paragraph essays. By my senior year, the longest paper I had written was a 3 page essay on Lord Byron. Only one teacher really took time oout of her schedule to encourage me to practice writing and gave me personal critique of my writing in her class. As far as rules and regulations go, every paper had to be proper grammar and spelling, even a simple handwritten journal. It was fairly strict as to that college-level writing was constently required of all stuff handed in as well. How these experiences at Front Range effected my college writing... I definitely learned what my own voice was because despite the strictness of proper grammar/spelling, there was no regulations on a particular voice the paper must be in. All the teachers encouraged students to find their own ways to write within the Standard system, which out of all the faults of Front Range, this part they got right. In many ways, Front Range encouraged me to teach myself how to learn, but in writing my high school helped me get very comfortable in my writing.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Warm up 9/17

4. What larger generalizations/questions do these patterns raise? Make a list of 2-3 of these generalizations/questions. Beside each item, also note the writerly moves Rose took to arrive at these generalizations and/or to prompt these questions in you as a reader. List page numbers of passages you want to refer to when you share your findings with the rest of the class.

One quote that really stood out to me in chapter 5 was at the beginning when Rose is speaking with a younger male student. Rose questions him about his schooling and the boy responds with this statement: "I used to be in the dumb math group, but then, um, my teacher found out it was too easy for me. So now I'm in with the smart kids."--page 91. One generalization that I found in these chapters is that placement testing doesn't work all the time, like in the case with this boy. The thing that gets under my skin isn't so much the placement testing that is still taking place in schools today, but the segregation that ultimately comes with these kinds of tests. Just like the boy Rose talked with, who's to say that this boy isn't capable of being in the so-called 'smart kids' class, or even have the capacity to take an AP or Honors course? Because of testing, some kids never even get the opportunity to take upper-division courses, which I think is ridiculous. Shouldn't ever student have the opportunity to take advanced courses, or to take whatever course they want to take, within the guidelines of required courses to graduate?

Another piece to these chapters that I found Rose making a point with is the relationships between teachers and parents, and how important those relationships are for the developing student. On page 132, Rose writes, "Whether or not we had any small and indirect influence on these lives, I'll never know. But I can't help but wonder what desires for education blossomed as the parents of those children came to feel part of the schools." The home life of students, and getting parents excited and on board with their child's learning is a vital role teachers must engage in.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Language Investigation 2

"I can't stand the power I scheme. It doesn't make any sense when the hogs in the middle are undersized, and your primary back can run a 4.4. What we need to do is utilize a West Coast scheme, not be afraid to play off the option, and with our quick guards log those DEs until they're flat on their backs." This little paragraph might be heard among coaches of football. I have played the sport since 6th grade and have coached for 3 years. Terminology within the sport is essential in communicating, but even that may not be enough. Depending on the offensive/defensive schemes, and the coaching staff, even terminology may vary. In one scheme, a backside guard pull may be called a 'log,' but in another it may be called a 'pull.' The runningbck position might be called anything from a halfback, slotback, Z-back, B-back, or powerback. The fullback may be called the 2-back, J-back, or may not even be in the scheme. The basic concepts behind each position and philosophy are the same, but the way coaches and players communicate about them will vary from team to team. That's why, say a player who has played in the NFL for 15 years may take some time to adapt to a new scheme. They may know football better than most, but the terminology is tough to adapt to. For a newcomer to the game, the language used can sometime seem like gibberish, but once acclamated to the way football works, the language can seem fairly simple. So, when a coach calls the play 'Power Right Blue 32 3-4-7 J-Curl,' you just might be able to decipher the play. The best way to start understanding football is to watch the game, and shockingly, listen to the announcers analyze the game and plays. After doing so, phrases like a naked bootleg may not sound so strange.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

9/3/08 Warm-up

1. Many of the posts dealt directly with specific examples of language used within the household, words used, and phrases. There were quite a few that dealt with pet's names and special locations. The language seemed formal, but had a storytelling nature to it. I felt like I was reading a book, or short story.

2. Language is very inclusive, based on the posts. If you do not have prior knowledge or experience with the language used, you are at an extreme disadvantage in understanding what's going on, or subtle jokes that may be said. Also, almost in every post I read there was an understanding that some language used is only for family. There are certain ways of speaking, or words/phrases used, that one would only imagine using within the safety of family. It plays more into the idea of inclusion.

3. Based on Rose, I'd say that an insider is someone that has previous exposure or knowledge of a particular community's language. Rose describes his experience as a Voc Ed student, but then all of a sudden he's thrust into the advanced program. He seems to have the capacity to handle the change in workload, but must of the assumed expereince with the language used at that level he does not have. He specifically mentions math. Much of what was being taught was building on previous lessons, so Rose didn't have that language background and he began to fall behind.