Author Archives: rayhedrick

Seminar on Reading Strategies

For those of you who are in my seminar, here is the link to the supplemental information that I showed in class tonight.

For those of you who were not in my seminar–and would like to find out about sociograms, collaborative annotation and Inspiration–I still encourage you to check it out.  This is a post on my blog in which gives a brief overview of my seminar and some useful links.

See some of you folks tonight.  Cheers.

Ray H.

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One Strategy

I’ve decided to use sociograms as one of my reading strategies for my seminar; this is also the one that I will talk about tonight.  I’m really just writing this post to give you this link.  This is a very comprehensive site on the topic, and it is great for learning about reading strategies in general.

I also wanted to post this example of two sociograms that I think are done well.  I’m not going to do too much explaining here, as I want to save this information for tonight, but I did want to post the example and the link for further information.

See you folks tonight.

Ray H.

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NYSEC Conference Pictures

Here are the pictures of us in action.

That’s me… and this is Mandy:

If you would like to check out the rest of the pictures from the NYSEC Conference, then click here.

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Blog Woes

I wasn’t going to say anything, but I think I should. One of the reasons why it is hard for me to consistently post on this blog is because of the comments, or lack thereof. We are all very busy, but when we do post, there isn’t much feed back for us to contend with. Maybe I, personally, am not writing anything worthwhile… I don’t know. Maybe I should spend more time creating better content. What I do know, however, is that this is the main reason that I have a hard time posting here. I think, though, that all of the readings that we’re doing allow for much response, no matter how drag the post may be.

On my personal blog, in which I post–for some reason–everyday, I get comments regularly but not religiously. These comments are usually the impetus for me to keep writing. It gives my writing a purpose (just like we’re trying to do with our students). Sometimes people are just too busy to comment; I definitely understand that. Maybe this is the problem with this blog. I know for a fact that we are all just intensely busy. I find it hard to locate the time to blog, let alone comment. I do think that this is a problem, a bit of hypocrisy–for me at least.

It seems that we are all just writing to fill a quota and not to create a learning community. Maybe we need to start writing about stuff that interests us more. Maybe, at times, this will be the readings, but I think that I, personally, will need to start referencing things outside of 541, expanding our learning community. We all could do this. I’m sure that this information can and will be useful too.

This is sort of a vent, and I will try to be conscious of this. I just wanted to write this post because I think that this is important for us to understand as we get ready to use a blog, or similar medium, in our classrooms. I would expect my students to try to respond a lot, and I would definitely want them to try to expand their learning community outside of my classroom. So, that’s what I will try to do here.

I’m not writing this to scorn becuase really I’m an integral part of the problem. I just figured that this was some interesting insight that I had, which, apparently, is a rare occurrence!  It also doesn’t help that I always blog the afternoon before class…

Ray H.

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NYSEC Notes

I was hoping that we would have some time in class tonight to talk about Mandy’s and my experience at the Conferences in NYC. However, I do understand that we are always pressed for time during class. Nevertheless, I’ve been doing some writing about the NYSEC Conference on my blog. Since I don’t really feel the need to write about it twice, I figured that I could just give you all the link; you can look at it as or if you please.

I just want to add, that attending such an event had an astounding impact on me. I can’t describe what it was like there. Anyone who shows up is guaranteed to leave as an eager teacher. The enthusiasm shown by all was breathtaking. I got to pick up so much free stuff too! I don’t know about you all, but I love free stuff. I can’t begin to tell you how awesome Kozol was. He was so very animated. Not to mention there was a freak moment when the lights went out during his speech; I know, another story for another time. Freaky stuff, though.

Seeing Nancie Atwell was a treat in itself. It wasn’t the content that motivated me–it wasn’t exactly new, she was really just giving another example like she talks about in her book–it was her aura. I can’t explain it… when she walked in the room, 30 minutes late, it was like the President had entered. It was good stuff.

That’s all I’ll talk about on this blog, but, like I said, if you’re curious, I wrote more about the experience–and my session–on the blog.

Ray H.

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Eureka

I finally got the time to sit down and read most of the much-anticipated book, Retracing the Journey.  Leila Christenbury’s account of going back to high school after being a college professor was the one book this year that put things into perspective for me.  A lot of what I have been learning in the past two years has been great in theory; this book, however, really allows me a confident view into what works and what doesn’t.

After I read the first three chapters last week, I thought I was about to read a feel-good book–maybe like another we have read this semester that didn’t go over well–about teaching disinterested students.  Although I felt the book starts off almost a little to Utopian for me, I found that this was not the case whatsoever.  Christenbury provides a real-life view of her experience of going back into the classroom; her classes at Trailer 11 are not unlike the class that I am observing right now (minus the trailer, of course).

The note cards that she gives the kids to write their opinions of the upcoming semester are mostly positive and show excitement on their behalf.  When it comes down to the work, however, the students aren’t exactly “making good” on their so-called excitement.  This reminded me of the survey assignment in ENG 505.  Dr. Kennedy had us give the students that we are observing in our respective placements.  The surveys were, at most points (in my experience), surprisingly positive; however, when it comes down to doing the work and handing in assignments at the deadline, the students fall short.  A lot of the students in my host teacher’s class are having a hard time receiving grades above a ‘C’.

I was also really interested in the way that Dr. Christenbury has exposed the troubles of relying on student choice.  A lot of the techniques and practices that we have been learning about rely heavily on the students being able to make their own choices on what to read, and et cetera.  In Retracing the Journey, however, we find that giving students full reign becomes hard to deal with.We see in this text that long-term planning becomes almost impossible when the class is run like this.  Still, it seems that this is a worthwhile challenge.

The book does reiterate the problems and pressures that come along with high-stakes testing.  I felt that Christenbury exposes a very important point that is important for us to understand.  She writes:

In the middle of all my concern about my relationship to my students and about student response to deadlines and work ethic and how the class was going, came time for part one of the state standardized test.  […]  For students, passing all of these tests also had a bearing on graduation and, in some districts, on whether students would be required to take year-end exams. (53)

The tricky part here is figuring out how to create these intimate learning environments, that we have found are so beneficial, and managing the Regents exam.  How are we supposed to create a learning community and administer the regents?  There is also the fact, as Dr. Christenbury mentions, that the students want to stop working after the second part of the test is over.  So let me get this straight, no learning goes on after the Regents?  This just leads me to another group of questions:  How am I supposed to create an Atwell-like environment, or something of the sort, if I have to stop what I am doing to teach to the test?  I know that we’ve discussed this: specifically how the students will pass without doing “the review” if we are doing our jobs, but what if our school makes us do review?  Is there a way to, for lack of a better word, disguise it?  Are we not disguising it just by teaching them in general?  If they learn what I want them to, then won’t they be able to pass the tests on their own?  Oh, the problems with high-stakes testing…

This post is getting long, however, I want to point out the importance of YA titles in this book.  This was another important facet for me to read about because I am a firm believer in using YA texts in the high-school classroom.  It seems that all of the assignments that Christenbury did with YA books went over quite well. I’m not surprised.

That’s it for now.  More to come on this book, I’m sure.

Ray H.

Does anyone else feel that they were reading Dr. Stearns’ unwritten book?  I sure did.

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Critical Theory Live

Dr. Stearns asked me to post this video. I’d love to take the credit for it, though. I think it’s great.

Ray H.

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