Wednesday, January 25, 2006


My goal for this semester is fairly simple:

1)To continue to learn and question how technology and constructivism will help strengthen my classes and my student's learning. How you ask?

a) I will continue to do my homework, readings, and blogs
b) I will continue dialogue with my colleagues
c) I will continue to use blogs in my American Literature class
d) I will, with baby steps, work to incopoarate a more constructivist setting and learning in my classes
e) I will try to use ideas from other colleagues to strengthen my classes.
f) To be an active learner who works with and experiments with the ideas given to me
g) To challenge myself to ask the difficult questions and struggle with certain ideas to better my knowledge and thinking.

Monday, January 23, 2006


This may be something that we touch more on in our March meeting, but it is amazing to me that when I get a new batch of students for the semetser, it's like information has skipped out of students' brains. I spent three weeks doing literary anaylsis step by step and half my students I had last semester are oblivious going into other papers; and some tell me that they never learned certain concepts when in fact I know they spent time doing it with other teachers. I am so frustrated. Am I not teaching it effectively? I know I did, because most did great work when it was assigned, but why does it just go in one ear and out the other? Why are students "learning" to just finish the end product (i.e. test, project, paper)? Is it something I'm doing or have they been taught that the "moment" matters, not the life-long learning or necessity for the future? I have changed some things in my class to make this seemingly boring process informative and fun; but process with anything is tedious, repetitive, and can be a little dull. Most of these kids have never learned the writing process and I feel like I'm having to cover ground that should have (just in the very basics) been covered prior. It's those essential learnings that these kids lack and yet it's info. that they get "now"-I'm not saying that all students are like this, but some see it as a means to the end, and I have not stopped stressing the importance and setting purpose for everything they do in this process. Any thoughts, any of the same frustrations?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The difficult questions

I had responded on one of the Fischbowl blogs about how I think it is amazing that wer are asking the difficult questions. I think it is courageous and enlightening that we can take on some of these topics and struggle with them individually. I guess, one of my big qualms as of new (and this may contribute to me having a bad day)is that there aren't always answers. To me that's okay. I try to teach my students that actively thinking and enagaing in the thinking process and asking questions is sometimes more beneficial than the final content or product. I tell them that not every question has an answer and that we must struggle with new ideas and various perspectives to increase dialogue. I tell them that it leads to problem solving and further propells their thinking in a whole new light; as hard is this, the answer is not always balck and white. I find my self struggling with sooo much gray since I've been involved with this cohort and I'm finding it hard that there are questions that aren't answered. But, I think it's okay. It makes me better, and i have shared my frustrations with students and teachers alike.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

value of learning and grades

Hey compadres-
Nice to hear and see you all again. I just wanted to throw something out there that absolutely blew my mind today. I had asked my freshman and American Lit. classes to write a one page narrative answering these questions: What is the value of learning? What are the value of grades? and What did they want to learn or take away from my class? Today, I had an amazingly open and candid conversation with the AL kids,and they let the cat out of the bag, so to say. After our conversations about grades and the article we just read,I found these students had many similar takes. They had such honest and perceptive insight into grades and their purpose. For the most part, students felt that grades took away from their overall learning and they were just a system of determining rank and order. For the most part, their feelings weren't too positive, but they understood that they were here and must be given. They want their focus to be more about the learning than the grade. I will share with you all, at the next meeting, my findings, and possibly share their narratives about this topic. I was open with them about my philosophy with it, and I even asked them to give me input as to how I could still give them grades, but have learning be more of the main element, and to allow them some input for me in how to grade certain things. Some were funny, some were serious. I also had a student who came to me after class and said what do you think about pass/ fail? Could we do that? I'll share more later, but I wanted to tell you guys what I found out briefly. I am really struggling with this and I'm seeing more as I teach and try to engage students in their learning how important this may become in the future. If we are going to be the catalysts for change, isn't this an isssue that should be supported from above? Can it be supported-will it ever?