Hope the end of the semeter went well for you and that you are enjoying a New England snow day. I am re-reading all of your blogs and Promising Practices posts today and finishing up grading for class. I hope to have final grades posted in the next couple days!
I have been meaning to write you back — collectively — in response to your thoughtful midterm letters. I am glad to hear that this course has been a generally positive experience for almost all of you. While you have individual issues, concerns and suggestions, for the most part, you are all finding FNED 346 to be a meaningful experience. You feel valued by me and by your peers; you feel comfortable speaking out (even though you don't like the "requirement" to talk once every class period!); and you feel like you are invested in our course. I am so glad.
Here are a few highlights from your letters:
COMMUNITY: There was a resounding sentiment of community that permeated your letters. "I feel like our class is a little family." Many of you mention the large circle and our frequent small group work as a factor in building that sense of comfort. "I have friends in this class" because we have had a chance to get to know each other. As one of you noted that we have learned this lesson in theory -- through reading and through my constant preaching (!) -- and through the example we practice together in the classroom.
SERVICE LEARNING: Overwhelmingly, you report that your SL experience is the "best part" of this course. Our lengthy discussions "make class not boring" and "relieve tension" that comes with your work in the schools. Some of you wish we talked more about SL each week, to make sure everyone has a chance to share. "It is when I am working with the kids at my school when I realize just how much I have learned in this class".
BLOGS: Many of you say that you really love the blogs. They provide a "foundations for our discussions" and they offer you a "technology teaching tool for (your) future classroom." One person even said, "I realize that not only does the blog hold us accountable for actually reading, but it really helps me understand better." Several of you said that "reading peers' responses helps a great deal" when you are stuck. It is time consuming though -- "I like blogging but it can be distracting because I will then go on other sites and find myself sitting longer than I have to."
However, at least as many of you really dislike the blogging. You find them "annoying" and particularly burdensome if you don't have a computer at home. "Why do we spend the whole class talking about it if we have to blog, too?" One of you suggested that I move to a policy where you can choose 7 of the 10 blogs to complete or that I drop the comments requirement which seems to stress many of you out. While you seem to feel annoyed at having to comment on other people's blogs, many of you also say you love getting comments -- "I get all excited when classmates comment on my blog!"
I was interested to hear 4 of you say that the syllabus for this class really helps you stay organized. And also that many of you report that taking notes in this class is a rarity -- you say that you get enough out of listening and absorbing out discussions which takes the memorization pressure off of you.
Finally, here are the general comments that show me what is working in this course:
"I find what we learn is memorable and useful"
"I would like to be the teacher that reads King and King and has an age-appropriate discussion about it"
"I want my students to feel like I 'have their backs'"
"I want to help in the fight to change the world"
"I can't believe how much I have changed as a person in the last month"
"I feel like I will definitely be a better teacher because of this class"
"This class is making me a more perceptive and generally understanding human being"
Keep up the good work. I am grateful for your honesty and your dedication to your own learning!
Hope you enjoyed the conference on Saturday. I am looking forward to hearing about your experiences on Tuesday! I thought that Tricia Rose really resonated with so many things we have talked about in class... I hope you got something out of the whole experience.
In all the conference rush, I forgot to post the Anyone piece for this week. Here it is. You are reading this and the short piece by Oakes posted in the electronic reserves called "Tracking: Why Schools Need to take Another Route"
This weekend, you are attending the Promising Practices Conference at RIC. Registration opens at 7:45am in Donovan Dining Center. If you have registered ahead of time, you will have a folder waiting for you in Donovan when you arrive — you will likely have your first or second choice for the workshops. If you have not registered, you will have to find the Walk-In Registration table to register, pay $20, and select your workshops from the available spaces.
Take notes throughout the conference. At each workshop and at the keynote, jot down any thoughts you have about how the speaker's points connect to the issues we have been covering in class.
The Assignment: In order to process and make sense of the things you learned at the conference, you need to write a reflection about the day. Post that reflection on your blog by 8am on Thursday, November 12. The reflection needs to include the following:
1) Narrative description of what the day was like for you, including your experience in the 2 workshops, the Curriculum Resource Fair, and the keynote address.
2) A deeper analysis of what you learned at one of the sessions (workshops or keynote) including two connections to authors we have read in class.
3) Use the blog technology to include at least three links in your post to help illustrate what you learned.
The readings for this week are not exactly readings, but things to check out online. This week marks a shift in the syllabus. Up until this point, we have been reading about broad theories about diversity and difference:
Now we are going to start to look at historical moments where these topics came into view in our schools. Our topic this week is about Brown vs. Board of Education (1954). You have THREE tasks for this week:
1) I want you to explore this website to give you some background on Brown v. Board of Education.
2) Then I want you to watch these two videos that highlight the work of Tim Wise, author of "Between Barack and a Hard Place"
3) Now blog about it. What is the relationship between the historical issues you see in the website on Brown v. Board of Education and the contemporary issues of race that Tim Wise raises here.
We will bring in some words from Dr. Tricia Rose in class when we meet on Tuesday!
Hope you had a good weekend. I read all of your blogs this weekend -- at least every post that was up by noon today. I am happy to see you all writing, and many of you responding to one another's posts. As we move on in the semester, there will be more to say, so keep reading, writing and commenting!!
Jonathan Kozol will be speaking at RIC on October 22 @ 4:00pm. I highly, highly, highly recommend that you take advantage of this opportunity to see one of our nation's most prominent researcher/activists on the issue of schooling in America. I will remind you as it gets closer, but put it in your calendar now!!
I am glad to hear that class went well on Thursday with Dr. August. She was very impressed with you and said you worked really hard to get some ideas about Johnson on the table... nicely done.
For next week, we will be meeting with Sue Greenfield and the VIPS team on Tuesday. You will be getting your placements and participating in a training for your Service Learning experience during class on Tuesday.
You are also reading Lisa Delpit's Piece on the Silenced Dialogue. Be patient with her. Read carefully and remember the lessons Johnson taught us about how to take responsibility for the "problem" of power and difference without getting defensive. You have a Think Piece (like the one you turned in last week on Johnson) due on the Delpit chapter on Tuesday, 9/15.
See you on Tuesday. Thanks for keeping the ball rolling in out class even without me there!
Welcome to this FNED 346 blogging adventure! On Tuesday, September 8, you will set up your own blog to use this semester for all of your Talking Points assignments, and to keep track of your thoughts about any of the issues we cover.
A blog is your very own, personal online journal. It is public, in that I and your classmates can read it and comment on it, but it is your space and you can control most everything about it. (If you want to make it private so that *only* members of this class can read it, I can show you how to do so).
In the context of this course, your blog has two purposes:
1) Your blog will provide a space for you to keep all of your Talking Points assignments over the course of our semester together. You will not hand in written assignments to me each week; rather you will post them on your blog. In this sense, your blog is merely your assignment notebook that you will use as you read and prepare for class each week. You will also be posting any additional thoughts you have: responses to class discussion, after thoughts, things you forgot to say in class, relevant experiences you have, etc.
2) Creating your own blog will also introduce you to the blogisphere if you don't know this place already. I hope that you will discover creative educational uses for this online medium. You will see how easy it is to use blogger.com, and perhaps it will inspire you to bring blogs into your own classroom someday.
The big orange box at the top right of the page will direct you to creating your own blog on a site called blogspot.com. Follow the instructions to open up a free account. Don't forget your Username and Password!! You will need them to login everytime.
As you fill in the info, you will be asked to name your blog. This title will appear at the top of your blog. (Mine is called "FNED 346 — Fall 2009")
Then, you need to choose an address:
This will be the web address associated with your site. you can call it anything you like. Be clever or simple (or both) -- it is up to you.
You will also need tochoose a design template for your blog. Look through the options listed and see what appeals to you. You can change this later and can even find fun, creative templates at sites like PYZAM.
Once you have the account set up, you can start posting. A “posting” is an entry on your blog. (For clarification, you have one blog, but many postings). Give the post a title and then compose as you would any journal entry. When you are finished, hit the button at the bottom that says Publish Post. It will not appear on your blog until you publish it. You can always go back and edit old posts and create new ones.
Your First Post: Your first post should be a short introduction to you: who are you, how your semester is going so far, what do you do when you are not in class, etc. (Just a short paragraph — no big deal). You will post the rest of the entries as they are due (see course syllabus for dates), or whenever you have something to say!
When you are done creating your site and posting your first entry, please come back to this blog and post a comment at the end of my first posting (scroll down) that includes your blog address so that I can post it in the link list to the right.
Some Tips and Helpful Hints:
Once you are in your blog, look at the top right corner of the screen. If you click on the word CUSTOMIZE, you will be able to make design changes, create new posts, edit old posts, etc.
Once you are in the CUSTOMIZE screen, you can do all kinds of things to make your blog a bit more interesting. Change your fonts and colors, edit a post, change your settings. See the tabs at the top of the screen for all kinds of options.
Poke around online and make a list of websites related to education, diversity, social justice or anything else relevant and post them on your blog. You can add all kinds of things by ADDING A GADGET from your LAYOUT tab.
Just do the best you can with this. If you get stuck, don't fret... I am happy to help you anytime as you work on getting this started. Send me an email, come see me in office hours, or grab me after class. And remember: you can't break it. It is just a blog. Everything can be changed if need be!