Monday, October 23, 2006

Home Codes

"Critical Inquiries into Language in an Urban Classroom" by Bob Fecho, talks about students home codes and the effect on their learning of Standard English. When students come to school and are told that the way they talk at home with their families is wrong and they must change, is the start of many problems. I had never thought that it would be difficult for students to go to school and learn Standard English. I went to school and did what I was told but it had no effect on my home life or where I had come from. I don't know if I could have abandoned everything I knew like some students are expected to.

In the first part of Fecho's article he tells us a story of a senior who gives a presentation with a "naturalness" in her speech. Her grammar and vocabulary choices "matched the expectations of the audience" and they were more receptive to her because of this. We as teachers have to know where students are coming from to know how to teach them correctly. Students have to be critical inquirers of their language and know themselves where they come from. As Delpit said educators must veiw their classrooms as sites where inquiry into culture takes place. Teachers can't ignore culture, and must let students "celebrate their home-codes."

Friday, October 20, 2006

Working Questions

I started with two topics that I believed were unrelated, banning of books/censorship and school violence. Traci and Brittany B both brought up a great point of how to relate these two. Does the banning of certain material cut down on violence? What are we really trying to do with banning materials? After reading these comments, ideas flooded my mind and my once vague separate questions became more clearly connected and defined into one central question. Are schools banning materials to prevent school violence and if so, is it working?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Paper topic

I happened to read the wrong article for today but it may have been a blessing in disguise! The article I read was about filters in schools and the banning of books. While I was thinking of doinf research on school violence I am now torn on which topic to focus on. I think it is really interesting on how much information is taken away from kids, at the very expense of their learning, to protect them. I also think it is interesting that school violence is happening more and more. What are the causes and what can be done to stop it? We are about to enter into this environment of teaching in schools and both topics seem to be of great importance. The hard part is to decide which one I want to research and be involved in!!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Real Reading

While I was in school there was little time devoted to reading your own book of choice. Of course we still made weekly trips to the library but we were expected to read these books on our own. I rarely checked books out that did not have pictures in them and had it not been for my parents I would have never read at home either. My mom was a strong advocate of reading each night before bed, I wasn't.

Eileen Bularzik in "Obstacles in Authentic Reading" writes about how to get students to feel that reading is a worth while activity. She gives great ideas for the classroom, that if I had seen these maybe a spark for pleasure reading would have come a lot earlier in my life. The "Real Reading" she writes about is offering a great environment for kids to read in a real one. Let the kids curl up on the floor move around and talk to other students about what they read. If they are talking they are connecting and connecting is what we want! We have to move away from testing on what is the characters name or what did the character do on Tuesday. Make the kids connect the text to their life or ask larger questions about the text. That is where they learn and that is what they remember. So many students memorize what is asked of them for test and immediatly drop the information upon completion of the test. That is what most of my schooling experience is about and that is exactly what I don't want for my students. I want them to read "How to Kill a Mockingbird" and never forget that text. (I guess my schooling experiences are shaping my teaching goals!)

I know when I step into my classroom I will want all students to love reading, tell me what book is their favorite, and what book they are reading now. Some kids may be like me when I was in school where they don't read unless they have to. My mission is to break this habit by the time they leave my classroom. I missed out so many years of not reading for pleasure, getting lost in a great book, that I don't want any other students to miss out on this. I want to create a great reading environment and creat reading time in my classroom. And as Bularzik said "there is always time for reading in the class."

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

How I talk back to the texts

Both of the articles "Responding to Students Who Disclose the Violence in Their Lives"by Douglas Fisher and "Warriors with Words: Toward a Post-Columbine Writing Curriculum"by G. Lynn Nelson, offered great insights on how to deal with children who are violent or have been involved in violence.

I found myself agreeing more with Nelsons piece. The article was very passionate explaining why writing personal stories can be a great outlet for kids. People do want their personal experiences or thoughts heard and we as teachers have to be the listeners. Fisher brings up a good point that there are many different ways to respond to violence but the best way is the "Professional Approach" offering help to the writer. Fishers article seems to focus a lot on helping the students while Nelson wants the child to write a personal story that will change the writer and reader just in the telling of it. I think this is a strong comment but I think it works. We are all affected by what we read and the things we express on paper. Reading these stories together can help people be closer and move away from the ever present violence. We can try and help kids in the way Fisher describes but maybe the extent of the help is allowing the students to vent and then listening to their frustrations.

Sometimes, when I am upset with someone I write them a letter. Whether or not I give it to them, my frustrations have been let out on paper and I am left with a sense of relief. Students need this outlet and as English teachers we can provide this in our classrooms

Monday, October 09, 2006


This blogosphere is all new to me but I am excited to learn from it and find ways to teach kids using it. I have never been that great with computers so here's hoping all goes well!!!!