Saturday, April 9, 2011

Teaching Techniques [based on readings from Finn and Oakes]

Connections: Use the reading to make connections to two other readings we have done in class. discuss the texts in relation to one another.

        In Patrick Flin's, Literacy With An Attitude, he makes several observations and points about how being illiterate has a different impact on society today than it did several years ago. He makes a few comments that reminded me of statements made in other works we have read.
        Finn comments on classroom structure. He talks about having different classrooms. There was a school where there were 400 8th graders and they were put into classes based on their reading levels. the "lower" classes got smaller as the year went on because this was filled with many "trouble students who got in trouble and ended up leaving the class or school all together. the classes for the lower students were harder to learn in because they were made up of all the distracted kids who need to much assistance and guidance. this is a factor that contributed to making it hard for a lower student to do well in school and get moved into the higher room. he says "it is a touchy subject to talk about poverty stricken children about the numbers gathered about how poor children are not being educated like they should." this statement made me think of Johnson. this is definitely an issue of privilege, power and difference.
        There was a quote i took from Oakes piece concerning the common result of society's actions, which goes hand in hand with Finns work. " Rich get richer, poor get poorer." "Tracking is a response to significant differences among students and an ongoing contribution to those differences." the schools "fix" to the problems seem to be hurting the issue more.
Also at the end of chapter 2 Finn shows and example from a "executive elite school", the students here have almost no limits. it seems to me that the teachers are more friends and supervisors than instructers and disipline enforcers. the students can run the office, leave class without a pass, they are in charge of their own school day. this to me seems like Johnson because these children are children who have more  money therefore this becomes an issue of class.
        I also found relations to Delpit while reading through these pieces this week. Finn tells the audience about when he was working in a school district that had students with many personal problems and were struggling in the classroom. it went by seniority [for teachers] to decide who would tackle the more challenging students to control. Finn was given a tough classroom, in fact 4 tough classes. He brags about the assistant principle walking by and showing off his classroom because for the most part the students were all quiet and working. this was a big improvement for that school. Finn told us he was very direct with his words and directions. there was no room for discussion. when someone was off task and talking he didn't speak in question form because that can be used as a chance for the student to be further distracted as they would try to out smart the teacher. instead he would say something like get back to work and stop talking, this way the student did not have the oppurtunity to talk back to him. this is a Deplit connection. there can be no communication here. the students always have work to do and the teacher is very direct with them and clearly in charge. he is using a direct style and enforcing the code of power.
        There was also evidence of Kohn's theory in chapter 2 of Finn's work. in the working class schools, teachers in social studies rooms prepare their own notes that the students copy, the teachers then have the students answer questions from the textbook. they do less discussions , especially of controversial topics. these teachers literally teach from the book. According to Kohn it is a bad sign, if the teacher is heard the loudest, there is no hum of discussion and the teacher seems to have total control of a seemingly boring classroom.

i think Oakes piece was very interesting, it kept my attention a little more than the first reading. at my high school we had honors classes which remind me of the "low ability" and "high ability" classes but to a slightly different level. in my high school there were definitely times where some students in my classes were behind on work or way a head and sometimes this did affect the way our teacher was able to conduct class for that section. i also dislike when grades are made public, my physics teacher used to post the grades but instead of your name it would be your date of birth, no one really knew anyones birthday by heart so i feel this is a good strategy if the teachers feel the need to post grades publicly.


  1. Ahhh...I would hate my grades to be posted publicly...I definitely think that a birth date would be a much better way to display a grade rather than a name..maybe even a school ID...I don't know if every school has one for students. I would think they must. After awhile it becomes memory, 210063 was mine. And it means nothing to me other than my number at Toll Gate High School in Warwick, so no one else could figure that it was me unless I told them!

  2. yes my school had those too, that's a good idea, a good way to protect the students privacy.

  3. I like how you incorporated Kohn. When I did my connections I only focused on Delpit and Johnson and kind of forgot about Kohn. However most of these classrooms it is obvious that they have bad written all over them. The teachers have control over the class and should be working to make the environment a better place to learn. It was a good connection that I didn't really think about until I read your blog.

  4. My brother is a freshman in highschool and they post your grades privately on a website that the parents can have a password to. This is a controversy in my home because my Dad and Stepmom do check his progress and talk to him about it all the time. My Mom believes differently, she feels she would be invading his privacy and only he should have the password to check himself and she feels that they have a good enough relationship that she trusts him to do it independently. I think my brother enjoys my Mothers side of the argument better but as soon as my Dad and Stepmom stop checking his grades do go down?