Daily Archives: October 15, 2007

Coalition of Essential Schools Web Site

Good idea to read a bit about the Coalition before tomorrow’s field trip. SWW was configured on and informed by Coalition philosophies/structures. Reading more about this network of schools around the country will add perspective to what we will see and hear.

I’ve had a question about dress for tomorrow and happily tell you that you should dress professionally. I’m sure the faculty at SWW will be casually dressed–or most of them will. I don’t know if the school has a dress code. But we should be dressed as if we are teaching professionals. Thanks! KES

Directions once again here:

School is at 480 Broadway.

Thruway west to VICTOR exit, #45.

490 West to Goodman St Exit (this is a long stretch–c. 15 miles)

Continue straight through the exit (don’t turn onto Goodman here) and go through 3 traffic lights.

Immediately after the 3rd light, School Without Walls will be on the right hand side.

Park in the parking lot.

Office is to the left of the main doors.

If you have any questions about these directions, J, get back to me.

I will meet you in the office at 10.

I know you’re driving alone so I hope you take your cell and the school’s phone number with you just in case:

585) 546-6732

I look forward to seeing you there at 10:00.

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Do Men Have a Place in the Classroom?

The feminization of teaching has gotten way out of control. Women have controlled the profession since the 1890’s but now it’s affecting our youth. If there are no male teachers then how do boys know if it’s okay to be smart? Young males all across the country are falling behind their female counterparts and many are even getting into trouble. All of our school shootings have been carried out by disgruntled male students. Without education, violence is inevitable so the needs of our young men can not continue to be ignored. I talked about the recent Mens Movement that has been going on for a few years now and many people wondered what I was talking about. The article below is about the shortage of male teachers (in primary and secondary education) in our schools.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20657203/site/newsweek/

Ray C.

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On Authenticity and Access

I posted this to my 506 blog, but I thought it had some bearing on the work we’ve been doing in this class. 

I want to focus on Kajder essay to talk about two problems that I haven’t found covered fully in our readings.  One is the assertion that engaging in digital literacy is an authentic (or more authentic) literacy practice.  The other is the often mentioned but rarely treated “problem of access.”

 Why do we consider writing on a blog a more authentic activity than, say, writing in a journal?  Kajder tells us that blogs provide “an opportunity to write in an online space for an authentic audience,” which makes two assumptions: first, that “classroom” literacy is not authentic; second, that class blogs should be generally accessible.  I want to talk about the second issue first.  If we make class blogs accessible beyond the participants in the classroom, we have to walk a tightrope on creating a safe, secure environment.  How do we define this authentic audience beyond the classroom?  Is the class itself not an authentic audience?

Now, let’s discuss “classroom” literacy for a moment.  Isn’t this class blog a kind of “classroom” literacy?  Is it an authentic experience just because we are having it in a digital format?  I’m sure this comes as no surprise to anyone (and to Dr. Stearns least of all) that this isn’t an area of interest for me.  So what separates this experience (and that of any kind of tasked experience) from Max’s is that Max is engaged in his own project.  Will that not change if we give him a task or subject to blog on?  Is his reluctance going to be erased simply because we moved the structure/context of classroom literacy?

My point is that this is not an issue of using or not using technology, but an issue of how we generally structure discourse in our classroom.  If we make classroom literacy a passive experience, where students read texts and answer primarily comprehension-level questions about the text, then we aren’t driving an authentic, critical literacy.  If we encourage an active experience, where comprehension informs critique (a knowledge of what the text says informs an understanding of how the text is encountered), then at least we create an authentic dialogue.  It can take place anywhere…defining that dialogue as occuring in one space irrespective of another (digital space v. classroom space v. personal relationship space) is limiting, not liberating.  Kajder says that “students don’t raise their hands an ask about page requirements…class discussion moves instead to having something to say.”  That needn’t only occur online- it (literate discussion/conversation) should be a portable, empowering skill set rather than something that is deployed only within a certain kind of structure.

That said, I also want to mention the distinct disadvantage of students who lack (or are limited in) access to computer/internet technology.  This may be an increasingly small part of the population, but how can we talk about teaching for social justice if we exclude any portion of the population, especially one that is at risk for economic, cultural, and political marginalization (I think we can agree that most students who lack access are economically disadvantaged).  What can we do to limit that marginalization?  Even if they have access during the school day, they are being excluded from the conversation in ways that other students who have access don’t have to confront.  If we locate increasingly important content online, what are the implications for students who don’t have access?  How will we affect students who are already at-risk if we focus on creating digital spaces of discourses for the sake of “teach[ing] them to use the tools of the truly literate in a rapidly changing world?”  Are literate discoursed not portable?  Who are the “truly literate” and why do students need to behave like them? 

Kajder writes that we need to “provid[e] opportunities for [students] to read deeply, think critcally, and write closely for responsive audiences that span the globe.”  I agree, but we cannot forget also that audiences and communities are still local, and that we need to locate our actions there as well.  I also agree, to a certain extent, that “we’re past the point where we can keep doing old things with old tools, or old things with new tools.” But I would argue that we should be doing new things with all tools.  We need to be careful when we’re prizing one set of “tools” above others; we need to remind ourselves that “the literacy knowledge that htey bring into the classroom is varied and valued, and that we all have a next step that we’re working toward” even if that literacy knowledge doesn’t value what we value.

J. Degan

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School Without Walls Field Trip Info/Where is Raph?

Raph, Li and I have been trying to get in contact with you since last Tuesday so that we can confirm that everything is in order for the Rochester field trip to School Without Walls. This trip happens tomorrow and we haven’t heard from you so naturally we are getting a little concerned. You are suppose to be one of the drivers so we were wondering if we were to still meet with you at the same location and at the same time. (Dr. Stearns’s classroom at 7:30 a.m.) Are you still one of the drivers?

I hope everything is okay, if not we are going to have to try and find another driver or people can’t go. I know we exchanged email addresses (Me, you, and Li) but thus far, no one in the group has heard from you and we are wondering what’s going to happen. If you could please either post a response to this or send one of us an email, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks!

Ray C.

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