Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Teaching Diverse and Digital Youth

Today several staff members from Edina attended a workshop at the Zurah Shrine Center, with Jabari Mahiri, on Teaching Diverse and Digital Youth.
Topics included:
The Culture and Discipline of Achievement
Several clips were shown to demonstrate how teachers can successfully engage cultural differences to increase student achievement.
Teachers need: Disciplinary knowledge, Cultural Knowledge and perspectives, Technological Knowledge and Skills, which funnels in to our Pedagogical Knowledge and Practices.
He said that our traditional sense of what Disciplinary knowledge is, is changing as we explore transformative digital tools.
Dewey was right! In 1938 he talked about using the experiences of our students, which Mahiri noted is changing in our diverse society.
There is a cultural foundation of "being an American" that is the foundation we must start from... He showed images of advertisements with people of color on the periphery of the image, which indicates marginalization.
Mahiri says that there is a Discipline Gap and Achievement Gap, and they are linked. He sited the work titled "The Trouble with Black Boys" by Pedro Noguera.
Multiculturalism is people being able to inhabit many cultural persona's, and educators need to facilitate communication in a variety of genres. He talked about using journalism in a variety of disciplines as a way to engage students using their own cultural perspectives.
Freakonomics talks about how the names of people indicates for others their perception. Jake vs. DeShawn. Also, where people lived had a high correlation regarding student achievement.
Research shows that school discipline is tougher on African American students, despite no difference in behavior. Teacher caring and high expectations for academics and behavior have a higher correlation to student trust of teacher authority. Building relationships is key!
  • Digital Culture and Contemporary Youth

  • New media allows us to explore some of the micro-cultures that exist today that may allow us to connect to students in ways we may not have been able to in the past. Digital media can facilitate collaborative learning and mediate the learning experiences with the learners.
    Students at Berkley Alternative School talked about enjoying research.
    Mahiri used "The Arrival" by Shaun Tan to illustrate how our cultural filter effects how we interpret images. He also talked about the modularity of visual images that become part of the whole. Mahiri described the term "chronotopical space" to describe literal descriptions of time and space that can have different meanings based on individual cultures.
    He used clips from the movie "Across the Universe" to illustrate cultural differences to common situations, and how video and and music have become effective 21st Century teaching tools.
    Hip-Hop music led to the rise in the ability to mash media using the digital tools of today! He refered to it as the "Cut and Paste Culture"
    Students creating podcasts on "Romeo and Juliet" with a hip-hop influence.
    We should not just introduce these tools as writing prompts, but we must also allow students to use the tools to express themselves and their learning.
    When students come to school and "power down", for 6 hours a day, it becomes a "penitentiary" . Students are using the technology to connect and learn about the world, and we need to tap in to that.
    He talked about "The Attention Economy", "The Gift Economy"(Text, Music, Film, Software, Tools, and Services all given away for free!), and the "Economy of Social Networks" New Media enables New Literacies (Blogged about here).

    (Michael Wesch's "The Machine is Us/ing Us" video)

  • New Literacies Need New Learning
  • Literacy- Skill(s) in Construcion(S) of Meaning(s) in Text(s) and Context(s).Mahiri shared James Paul Gee's 36 principles of learning associated with digital media and how they relate to teaching practices. He stated that while the digital tools will change, the key will be incorporating the framework of constructivist pedagogy. We had the opportunity to pick 3 and think about how we might incorporate them into our learning environment to transform our curriculum. Our group had a big discussion about not just the new definitions of "Literacy" but also a new definition of "social skills." Mahiri commented that these new methods of communication afford us limitations, but also create possibilities. Rather than talk about Prensky's "Digital Natives vs. Digital Immigrants", perhaps we need to refer to the different methods as "Digital Visitors vs. Digital Residents."
    Mahiri referenced a book called "The Teaching Gap", which basically says that we teach the way we were taught. As educators we need to look at what is viable and what is not, and different methods of pedagogy.
    He talked about Convergence, where multiple products come together to form one product, with the advantages of each initial component.Mahiri identified methods that have been shown to be effective
  • CREDE Five Standards of Effective Instruction
  • Project-Based Learning-Activity Centers
  • Pedagogy of Collegiality (Youth Radio Strategies)
  • Applying New Principles of Learning: A Second Life for Learning in School
    Mahiri discussed that students are using technology outside of school, almost as a reaction to school. The cell phone is an example of a technology that is being transformed just as it is transforming. People are Students acquire and express "ideas" in "texts" in each academic discipline. He then talked about "Second Life" and "Teen Second Life" where students can become immersed in a virtual environment and role play in worlds that help them learn about life in ancient Rome, or act in a Shakespearian play.

As we look at current pedagogy and look to educating learners in the 21st Century, the implications of Dr. Mahiri's work provide a way to reach learners from different cultures. Click here if you'd like to learn more about adults working with students in Second Life.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Edina Sophomore Bloggers

From Jackie Roehl, Area Leader for Language Arts at Edina High School and author of a GREAT blog on National Urban Alliance Thinking Maps

English 10 is continuing the practice of having each student create a blog. This year English 10 students will use their blogs to write about the various texts that they are reading for pleasure. The English 10 team has entered into a partnership with U of M Professors Richard Beach and Cynthia Lewis who will be assigning nearly 60 graduate students to read and comment on the Edina English 10 student blogs. The English 10 team is also submitting a research grant proposal to David Hyerle, the inventor of Thinking Maps, to analyze the student blog entries to study the impact of Thinking Maps on writing, reading, and relationships.

If American Literature teachers want to have students establish a blog this year, students should still have last year’s English 10 blog online and could simply add entries to that blog. That continued blog could become an informal writing portfolio.

This is an outstanding opportunity for authentic assessment of student writing. The English 10 teachers have set up their own blog here, and you can then link to the individual staff's blogs to see what the students are doing.
I've added a few comments to the student blogs, and I invite you to do the same!