Elephants in the Classroom

This week we read an article that is called, “9 Elephants in the (Class)Room That Should ‘Unsettle’ Us” by Will Richardson. Just the title alone of this article really interested me and pulled me into the article itself. This article is pretty clever in the way that Richardson uses these comparisons with “Acknowledging the Elephants” which means realizing drawbacks and faults in some occurrences that happen in our classrooms. The first “elephant” that this article talks about is “We know that most of our students will forget most of the content that they ‘learn’ in school.’” Well as a future teacher, it is pretty difficult to read that. But, also being a previous student myself in the public school system I can definitely agree with this statement. I remember just freaking out over my geography test because we had to know specific regions of a foreign country and where different lakes and rivers were. This knowledge is beyond what I would need in my college educational career. Maybe information like how to read a map would be more beneficial that memorizing information on a map that I wouldn’t need to use at any time. This just makes me reflect on my future lesson plans and incorporate new ways to have students learn things that are meaningful to them that they can use in their future lives.

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Photo by Will Shirley on Unsplash

The next “elephant” that I would like to discuss from this article is “We know that grades, not learning, are the outcomes that students and parents are most interested in.” This can also be a harsh realization as parents inside the classroom community can cause a lot of stress and conflict. It all comes down to the parents thinking they know their child and how they learn better than the teachers. They think that it is the teacher’s job to ensure their child gets an A but in all reality, it is a shared effort between the teacher, the parents, and the child themselves. There can be faults in this community and can cause the student to not do as best as they could be doing inside of the classroom. This article discusses the idea that we should ask the parents what the material is that their child is going over, instead of the grades that are given out each semester. They don’t fully get the difference between the two but they are vastly different. Grades depict effort and listening skills. Learning can depict critical thinking and content knowledge expansion which is hard to fully measure with an assessment. In all, I really enjoyed this article! Very helpful.

Source:

Richardson, W. (2016, April 9). 9 Elephants in the (Class)Room That Should ‘Unsettle? Us. Retrieved from https://medium.com/modern-learning/9-elephants-in-the-class-room-that-should-unsettle-us-8335b2cef9aa

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Penny Kittle’s “Book Love”

This week we read a couple of more chapters from Penny Kittles, “Book Love.” I have honestly really enjoyed reading through this book over this past semester. It has helped me think through things I have wondered about in the classroom and made me conceptualize things a lot more as well. The whole idea itself of approaching reading in a classroom is difficult and this book has helped me work through some of these events through my head before I am confronted with them in the classroom and caught off guard. Mostly this books just gives suggestions about how to keep kids interested and excited about reading which I found really interesting to read about. Chapter 8 in this book is called, “Nurturing Independent Readers in a Classroom Community.” this chapter starts off discussing an activity that Kittle does in her class which is called, “Big Idea Books.” This activity had several different notebooks that had a certain type of theme on the front. These books are handed down from year to year so they have tons of stories in them. The students have to either continue a story that was written in the book before or create their own in accordance to each theme. I thought this was a really creative idea as it is kind of like collaborative journaling which I am always an advocate for.

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Photo by Prasanna Kumar on Unsplash

The next chapter I would like to discuss from Penny Kittle’s “Book Love” is chapter 9 which is called, “Creating a School Community of Readers.” This chapter gave a lot of helpful hints and tricks to apply inside the classroom to create and maintain a community of readers. In this chapter, we read about Kittle’s experience with trying to gain the importance of reading in her school. Some tips that she gives are to, “provide access to books.” (pp. 143, Kittle) This can be implemented in the classroom with some sacrifices in either the schools budget or most likely the teachers budget. Having adolescents being around different choices and types of books can help them expand their reading horizons and hopefully find a genre that is perfect for them that motivates them to read more. Another tip was to “maintain silence.” (pp. 144, Kittle)This can be really crucial in the classroom as the reading times that we will have in the classroom will require absolutely no use of phones, which is most likely what I will do in my classroom as adolescents already spend too much time on them. Without having the use of music or headphones, students will have to try to keep their attention and that will better happen if everyone understands the importance of silence. This would be a time where they could just debrief and focus in on a book that they are interested in. In all, I really enjoyed reading Kittle this semester and I plan on reading many more of her literary contributions.

Sources:

Kittle, P. (2013). Book love: Developing depth, stamina, and passion in adolescent readers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Summer Reading Plans

All I can say is I am really happy to be able to get a little me time this summer and cross some books off of my reading list! I of course always enjoy reading for my classes as there is obvious meaning behind the cause for reading but during the summers I can just find my own books and read at my own pace. I do tend to read less over the summer but I am happy to have started a book club back home with some of my friends. A couple of friends of mine have decided to take some time off for school and so I have been encouraging them to get back into the reading cycle and they have agreed to do this more with me. It is always nice being in school here at Chadron State College and having so many influential learners and readers around me, makes me want to work harder towards my end goal of graduating! I do have learning supporters back at home but there are some differences since I am there mostly when I am not in school. I can’t wait to spend some time in the hills and just relax and read. I often times read when I am at the Chadron State Park and that area really reminds me of back home. 

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Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

This summer I will be challenging myself with checking off more of the “Book Challenge Bingo” boxes. I thought this was a really clever idea and I can also do this in my future classroom which is really creative for the students as well. I will also be challenging myself with going to the library more and checking out books that I am unfamiliar with and that I wouldn’t expect myself to be reading. I hope to really expand my reading content and this class has definitely helped me learn how to do that. I also hope to build my own classroom library with going to bookstores and second-hand shops. I love a going on a scavenger hunt in stores to find the best books and to find a deal better than the last. Some books that I still have on my young adult literature book list are, “Carry On” by Rainbow Rowell, “Bone Gap” by Laura Ruby. These all caught my eye over the semester and they will all hopefully be good reads. I will find time to read over the summer simply from sheer boredom. I always enjoy going to the lake and sitting and reading a book. I also really enjoy reading on my front porch in the mornings, very quiet and peaceful.

Learning Reflection

I really enjoyed this class over the semester. It made me think of education in a more creative way and helped me expand my knowledge on new websites and tools that I can use in my classroom. I do have to admit that when I find programs that work for me, like “PosterMyWall” and “Animoto” I tend to then stick to these programs and use them without much consideration of other programs. These programs are the ones I use to make posters, flyers, and movies for different classes. This can be a good or a bad thing as sticking to the same platform means for a quicker creating process but it can also cause for a restricted amount of variation to these type of media being created. “PosterMyWall” is a free program which I don’t think contributes to the factor of variation as there are so many different templates, fonts, and color options. But the program “Animoto” is a free movie making website but does have a lot of constrictions as you have to pay for the more stuff that you want to use. After more and more times of using this program, the different end goals will start resembling more as I am out of combinations that work. This class has opened my eyes to other programs that I can use and the amount of new material that I got was really helpful. I found new programs like “Wondershare Filmora” which is another movie making program and that one was very useful. Along with some other websites I downloaded to make comic strips like the apps “Comic Strip” and “Captions.” If it weren’t for this class, I’d probably be trying to do all this work with Google Docs or the Youtube filmmaker which can be used well, but takes longer as they aren’t dignified programs that focus on just one thing like making movies or posters.

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Photo by Angelo Pantazis on Unsplash

This class has also helped me as a learner know what is right and wrong when it comes to finding material online and using it for class or other projects. There are so many awesome websites that have public domain resources that are able to be used without the fear of getting in trouble or messing with somebody’s copyrights. One of my favorite ones that I used consistently over the whole semester is the website “Unsplash.” This website has photographers and different people post their pictures on that website for public use, with the consideration of their names being placed next to the picture as a source of advertisement for themselves. These pictures use really contemporary themes and colors which is always a huge plus when finding media to use for class. This information about being smart about using material found online will really help me for the rest of my life. It will cause me to focus on this aspect of plagiarism so much more in my high school classroom. During this class, I have focused so much on using the appropriate approaches to using online material that it really will be something that sticks with me for the rest of my life. I have been using it so heavily over this past year I don’t think I will be able to forget it, nor would I ever want to! It is almost something that I do naturally and that is a really powerful instinct I have created over this semester.