Promising Practices Reflection
I attended the Idea to Implementation workshop and the Using Technology in Early Childhood Classrooms workshop. In the idea to Implementation workshop, they discussed a new classroom concept, and as a group we discussed the possibilities for it's use. The classroom is a beekeeping faciliy and outdoor class. We were asked to think outside the box and come up with creative ways to use the classroom besides just for lessons in beekeeping. The goal was a cross disciplinary approach, for example studying hybernation and how other species adapt to survive the winter (bees cluster by the way) or using the honey comb in the hive to study geometry in nature. It was fascinating to see how everyone came at the question with different ideas, and I was shocked by how many different ways the space could be utilized that I wouldn't necessarily have thought of. Within our discussion on creative teaching, we also dicussed culturally relevent STEM teaching. We basically learned about the guidelines to what culturally responsive teaching looked like, and established that it isn't going out of your way and doing extra, but rather is just good teaching- it's something that should play out naturally anyway. This related to all of our Delpit discussions about cultural aweness, and the culture of power- how to teach it.
The other workshop I attended was exactly what it sounded like- they gave us examples on how to integrate technology into the class, and a lot of resources also. There were websites where we can make games to have the students play on the smart board, these cool digital microscopes, interactive atlas's and so many reading resources. What was cool is that with the math and reading, it allowed the kids to go on, and be assessed as to what level they were at, and gave them work that was on their level. So for kids who are behind grade level, it provided them with work that is specially picked for them, they won't be inclined to become disenchanted with school if they feel smart and empowered. It also provides the teacher with a resource to know exactly where the students are, and how to best serve them in the future. Another thing was with the online reading- most of them could be read aloud by the program, so for ESL students, it could be a huge resource in helping them pick up the language away from the pressures in the classroom. It is a more Rodriguez-esque approach, with children being taught in English however, rather than a Collier approach of learning in the home language, or integrating both.
Dr. Christopher Emdin. He discussed his work in Hip Hop Ed, and a lot of what he was saying resonnated with our class. He advises to not make assumptions about a student's culture, but instead to allow a student to tell you about it, and to really understand your students culture. He explains that the education system hasn't really changed since 1890- sure we've integrated technology, but the footwork of the teaching pedagogy is the same. He used the analogy that education is a crumbling house, but people still just want to paint it. And that the people wielding those paintbrushes are the ones who call themselves progressives and claim to make changes. I found that this resonnated with our conversation about Kozol with bandaids on broken legs, that we are just fixing the symptoms rather than solving the problem. Emdin also said that the highest success rates of black students in school was pre Brown v. Board of Ed, this was because even though the segregated 'black' schools had fewer resources, what they did have was a way of teaching that worked for the students. When those students were put into white schools, the teaching methods there didn't resonate with them, they became disenchanted with schools, and the dropout rate soared. He also says that schools today are being re-segregated today, but now based on socio-economics, which in turn reflect race. This connected with the Oakes article on tracking which states that students are being separated by economic status, and that this is damaging the educational experience for all students. Another point he made was that you can't give assessments without taking cultural differences into account (he used the example of rapping vs. written assessments and how they would have different success rates accross different cultures). This is where his Hip Hop Ed comes in, he believes that integrating music into schools would decrease the success gaps. He want's students to be taught the information perhaps in a rap format in school, because that is how the students would learn it, but explain to them that you can say it that way here, but out there, you need to say it 'like you're at Harvard'. I found this to resonnate with Colliers idea on teaching second language without destroying first, and allowing a student to learn it how they now, and then build off that using skills established previously.
I really enjoyed the information and experiences I recieved by attending Promising Practices. I would definitely like to attend again. My only complaint is really that it was at seven A.M. on a rainy saturday, other than that it was a very enriching, fun experience.