As trying to write my conclusion, I can’t help but to think back on previous conversations we had in class and try to tie them back to Grant Wiggins. One time we were posed with a question that do we teach a lesson standards or have our standards to base a lesson off of. Grant Wiggins wants to always keep an end in mind, and I think that is the most important thing when it comes to planning. I think we should sit on the question “What do we want our students to take away from this lesson?” and plan around that, which the ultimate goal should be mastering the standards and objectives, so everything should fall into place if we plan right and follow accordingly. I say all of this because I really didn’t have an answer for Dr. Brocato when this question was first posed to me. I like the idea of planning with an end in mind. I like trying to focus on what I want my students to take from my lesson.
While writing my unit plan, I have struggled thinking about how I can differentiate for my students, especially the lower level students. We know social justice has to do with equality and I have mentioned before that children take different paths to end up at the same end goal of other students. My thinking was what if those students never actually learned the concepts that my high stakes assessment is assessing them on?? How will I handle that? That is why I intend on having a friendly classroom atmosphere that encourages collaborative learning. I think sometimes a peer can clear up a misconception easier than the teacher sometimes. We know that some research has backed this up. I also thought about having some “cheat sheets” on hand to give students who seem to be struggling with the mathematical concepts. These sheets would have the procedures laid out for them to refer to as they needed assistance. Of course, the teacher would always be available, however, we cannot be in 10 places at once. Even if the sheets are never used, they may come in handy for one child who may need the extra review to succeed in your class.
As I sit and think about my curriculum design project, I have a difficult time deciding on a student to focus on for my project. I want give even the lowest achieving student the opportunity to do well with this project. I wouldn’t be abiding by any social justice and equity if I didn’t. As I have discussed in a previous post, that the getting all of the students to an end goal would be looked at as an equal opportunity, but each child may take a different path to get to that end goal. It is important that we help them around all of the bumps and turns that may get in their way. Those students who may experience more bumps and turns than others are probably lower achieving students. This doesn’t mean that they won’t be able to complete the project, but we may have to help them more along the way. It’s my goal that while designing my project, I keep this in mind. I keep making notes to differentiate along the way. I think it is important to keep track of all the different paths that a student may take to reach his or her end goal and how we can get them there.
During this semester, I have had the privilege to go to Starkville High School and sit with Mrs. Myles. In her classroom, she has a wide range of diverse students. The diversity I am referring to isn’t a race thing, but it is learning diversity, She has several special education students, who require a lot of help and attention. Some students are just lower level and slow learners. Some have learning disabilities. One child is blind. It has been an interesting experience watching them accommodate to all of the students’ many needs. Believe me, there are a lot of needs to be met in that classroom. As watching all of this, I began to think about social justice. These students may not ever attain the same level of knowledge, but they are given an equal opportunity to get to that level. It is all about perspective. If the end goal is graduation, you may have to help those students who are slower reach that goal more than the kids who just tend to “get it”. Equity and equality mean the same, but it all depends on the perspective you have to get your students to reach their goals. As educators, we shouldn’t just do the bare minimum. We need to get to the highest point to gain the biggest perspective because all of our students are going to be diverse in their own ways. We would be doing our students an injustice doing otherwise.
Wednesday’s class meeting was interesting to say the least.. Dr. Brocato is very good at keeping us on our toes each and every class meeting. We never know what she has planned for us. This class meeting was no different. We walked in, and she asked us to form a circle and sit on the floor. Of course, we are all confused, but we follow directions anyway. We were having a group chat. This chat was focused on “I see…, I think….., I feel..” This gives students AND the teacher the opportunity to discuss issues openly. These issues could be teacher-to-student, student-to-teacher, or student-to-student. It provides a judgment free environment that we can all discuss our issues without punishment. Dr. Brocato did an awesome job receiving our feedback and responding to it later on in the class meeting. I was really impressed with how just airing out our issues with the “I see, I think, I feel” technique accomplished and answered so many questions. It is a good opportunity to gain many different perspectives from many different views and just clear up confusion in general. I would definitely try iterating this idea in my classroom if the setting was right!
On Wednesday, we first discussed language as an act of design. A design is the making and doing processes that result in an outcome of multiple right answers. Language is the ultimate design tasks because there are multiple different ways to say something in different languages, and all of these different ways essentially say the same thing. Language is the ultimate design because of two reasons: who it is understood by and whether it works or not. If someone doesn’t understand something, try something different. Someone not understanding something is your sign that you need to propose, critique, and reiterate a new proposal. Teaching is also a design task. As teachers, we try to implement strategies to enhance learning in our classrooms. When something doesn’t work, we reiterate a new idea to see if it produces a new outcome. Tying this in with social justice, if we consider social justice as a design, we can think about different ways to implement it into our classrooms. If it doesn’t work, critique it and reiterate a new one or even the same one after you tweak. It is a continuous cycle: propose, critique, iterate, AND REPEAT.
On Monday, November 5th, we had a Hispanic professor come in and talk to us about languages in the classroom. I finally understand what it is like being on the other side of the fence when it comes to a language barrier. Dr. Rosa and Dr. Brocato were talking fluently in Spanish, and I can honestly say “No Espanol!” It was interesting to hear her side of things. We know social justice has equity as part of its foundation. Dr. Rosa talked about the importance of knowing every student’s name and its pronunciation. While tying social justice in with all of this, we know it’s important to give each child an “identity” in your classroom. It’s important to recognize a child by their actual name with the correct pronunciation. If it is a name you are not sure about, pull them aside and have them talk you through it or come up with a special something between you and them. This is also an opportunity to build a relationship with that student. You also don’t want that student to feel like it would disrespect you as the teacher if they corrected you. I would imagine that the student already feels a little like the “different one” due to his or her native name. Make all the students feel comfortable enough and equal enough that they know they can reach out to you and correct you if needed. Make it a fun experience instead of an awkward one. These are just a few thoughts from our talk with Dr. Rosa…