Archive for the ‘EDRD 6530’ Category

In chapter 9 of Content- Area Writing, Harvey Daniels, Steven Zemelman, and Nancy Steineke (2007) suggest the ‘Social Action Paper’ as a more ambitious writing project for your students (Pgs. 216 – 223). The idea is that your students could be assigned to research some controversial aspect of society or the environment for the purpose of taking a definitive stance on the issue. Their findings and conclusion would then form the basis of a paper meant to inform or change the perspective of their family, friends, community, or representatives. The quality of their work, therefore, will be of the greatest importance and students will be motivated by the fact that these papers will be read by people outside of the classroom.
This project sounds like a great opportunity and could be a really fun experience for your students. However, social action projects often assume that students will reach a specific conclusion about an issue and materials provided usually encourage students to take that position, offering them little option to come to differing conclusions. If students are to come to their own opinion about an issue, they must be given the freedom to explore an issue for themselves, where they may decide that they don’t agree with the teacher about the issue or what needs to be done about it.
Reference:
Daniels H., Zemelman S., & Steineke N. (2007). Content- Area Writing: Every Teachers Guide. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

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Harvey Daniels, Steven Zemelman, and Nancy Steineke (2007) in their book Content-Area Writing: Every Teacher’s Guide suggest in chapter 7 several activities for engaging your students in a writing community. One of their suggestions they call a “Faction”: a creative writing project that combines imagination with factual research. Students are asked to do research on a specific topic or period of time and then write a creative story integrating their findings. The idea is that students will invent a fictional character who interacts with the events or period that the student researches. In this way, the student has the opportunity to compose a creative writing piece but must include factual details from research.
This project will be incredibly useful in my classroom for inspiring students and encouraging literacy. Not only does the project allow me to assess my student’s writing abilities and interests, but it also gives my students a chance to be creative with a subject matter or period that interests them. Historical novels are compelling and fun to read and I think that the opportunity to create one will be exciting and rewarding for my students. This project is also more challenging than most creative writing assignments as the works must be based on historical fact. This project allows me to integrate an uncommon form of writing for Social Studies into my class so that my students will have the best opportunities to develop literacy in my classroom.

Reference:
Daniels H., Zemelman S., & Steineke N. (2007). Content- Area Writing: Every Teachers Guide. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

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Steven Zemelman in chapter 6 of his book Subjects Matter provides several strategies for using the textbook in the classroom. His second suggestion for making the textbook more accessible for students and for making more time for other more-authentic activities is Jig-sawing. Jig-sawing is an activity where the text for the week is divided into small chunks, the students are organized into groups, and each group is assigned a section of the text. Each group then reads the material together and prepares a summary to give the class of the material that they read. In this way, the student won’t have to read the whole chapter and will get what they need to understand from their peers’ presentations.
I don’t agree with Jig-sawing. I don’t think that it’s beneficial to the student to allow them to skip reading material even if that material is being summarized by a group of their fellow students. Especially in Social Studies where a student’s understanding of an event will be determined on whether or not they understand what came before it (and therefore what caused it), it is not beneficial to the student to plan for them to miss content. It is difficult for any student to learn from their peers’ presentations when the pressure is on them to perform during their own presentation, which may be next. Content is included in a curriculum for a reason and it is important that every student do the extra work that gives them a better understanding of the course content.

Reference:
Zemelman, S. (2004). Subjects Matter. Heinemann. Kindle Edition.

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In Chapter five of Subjects Matter, Steven Zemelman describes an activity called the “Read Aloud” which teachers can use to help their students develop literacy. In the activity, a teacher reads aloud a passage from a book or other literary form and stops after every two or three sentences to explain their thinking. Students are provided with a copy of the text so that they can read the passage while the teacher is talking and work to develop their own cognitive strategies in reading. The teacher also uses a subtle change of voice to indicate when they have stopped reading and when they are explaining their thought processes. By explaining their own cognitive reading strategies the teacher allows their students to understand correct reading strategies so that can correct whatever errors exist in their understanding.
This activity will be very useful for anyone teaching elementary school and middle school, where students haven’t developed reading strategies. However, I think that this strategy will also be useful for someone at the high school level who might need to teach their students how to read passages from a specific subject language like history. Misunderstandings and undeveloped reading strategies may be difficult to pinpoint at the high school level, where the majority of individual reading activities may be at home away from the eye of the teacher, making the source of further difficulties in a subject more difficult to pinpoint. Using an exercise like the Read Aloud may seem tedious to some students, but may be helpful for helping struggling students develop the understanding that they lack. It seems most reasonable at the high school level to have a passage be the center of a discussion about a topic, where the questions that are asked after every couple of sentences are about the content rather than the mechanics of the passage. In this way, the discussion will keep the attention of most of the students in the classroom while allowing struggling students to fill in the holes in their understanding along the way.

References:
Zemelman, Steven (2004). Subjects Matter (Kindle Location 1034). Heinemann. Kindle Edition.

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Steven Zemelman (2004) in chapter 3 of his book Subjects Matter addresses several negative aspects of the use of textbooks in the classroom. He points out that textbooks are usually superficial, that they are difficult to read, that they often are badly designed, that they take an Authoritarian tone but are often inaccurate and out of date, that they try to appeal to many different groups of people for business reasons, and that they cost too much. He also points out the enormous weight that is put on students to carry around these textbooks back and forth from class to home. Zemelman is making the argument that textbooks should be substituted with other sources so that students will be given the opportunity to become engaged in the material. I agree that teachers must use diverse materials to encourage student interest, but I don’t think that textbook reading should be abandoned. Zemelman makes the point that often textbooks are little more than resource books which skim content to cover as much as possible, which I think is a hint to how textbooks should be used. Especially in Social Studies or History, it is important for students to develop a broader understanding of historical chronology so that they will understand the importance of a specific event. Without wading through a general description of historical events, how will students gain an understanding of the larger historical picture? And with textbooks becoming increasingly available in electronic form, our students won’t need to carry their textbooks back and forth.
References:
Zemelman, Steven (2004). Subjects Matter (Kindle Location 1034). Heinemann. Kindle Edition.

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Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence theory is helpful for identifying the strengths and weaknesses of an individual’s learning tendencies. He identifies several ways of knowing and claims that every individual varies in their strength in each particular intelligence. If used as a guide, Howard Gardner’s theories can be helpful for reaching students and for engaging them in the classroom. If over-used, however, his theories can become an obstacle to intellectual development.
Gardner has proposed eight intelligences or central motivations affecting learning. They include: Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Spatial, Musical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, and Naturalist intelligences. Every individual has these intelligences, but the strength of each is dependent on the motivations and character of the individual.
The person who is strong in Interpersonal intelligence is the individual who is motivated by interaction and understanding with others. As Mark Smith (2008) writes, “Interpersonal intelligence is concerned with the capacity to understand the intentions, motivations and desires of other people.” It is important for all types of interactions between human beings and a weakness in this area usually results in disconnection from society. Individuals with strong interpersonal intelligence usually pursue opportunities to work with others in groups or leadership opportunities that require lots of interaction with others
An individual strong in Intrapersonal intelligence is a person who pursues understanding of themselves through personal reflection. As Mark Smith (2008) writes, “Intrapersonal intelligence entails the capacity to understand oneself, to appreciate one’s feelings, fears and motivations.” This intelligence is essential for self-regulation and self-esteem. Someone who is highly motivated by their Intrapersonal Intelligence will often prefer to keep to themselves and may have difficulty with Interpersonal Intelligence. It is important to remind such individuals that it is important to develop both intelligences and related abilities.
A tendency towards Linguistic Intelligence is the motivation of the written and spoken word. As Mark Smith (2008) writes, “Linguistic intelligence involves sensitivity to spoken and written language, the ability to learn languages, and the capacity to use language to accomplish certain goals.” This intelligence is essential for communication and for the appreciation of creative word use. Individuals with this tendency will most likely be motivated by opportunities to explore creative word use, like poetry, lyrics in music, texts written in old or different languages, etc.
The Logical-Mathematical intelligence leaning individuals usually gravitate toward concrete understandings and the sciences. As Mark Smith (2008) writes, “Logical-mathematical intelligence consists of the capacity to analyze problems logically, carry out mathematical operations, and investigate issues scientifically.” This intelligence is essential to any of the processes carried out in science or math, where logical reasoning is important. Individuals with this leaning will most likely become engaged in activities that involve problems or puzzles with solvable, logical conclusions or arguments and/or reasoning that you have to analyze logically for understanding.
Individuals with strong Spatial Intelligence have the ability to creatively analyze usable space for creative expression. As Mark Smith (2008) writes, “Spatial intelligence involves the potential to recognize and use the patterns of wide space and more confined areas.” It is essential for any kind of design or art form, where space and materials are finite and limited. Spatial Intelligence individuals are artists and have the ability to plan and create works of art from undefined usable space.
The individuals who have strong Musical intelligence are inclined to interpret their surroundings in the context of music and musical theory. As Mark Smith (2008) writes, “Musical intelligence involves skill in the performance, composition, and appreciation of musical patterns. It encompasses the capacity to recognize and compose musical pitches, tones, and rhythms.” According to Howard Gardner, musical intelligence is often very closely linked to Linguistic intelligence. It is easy to see how these two intelligences work hand in hand. Music composition often requires proficiency in both areas for the music composition and for connecting lyrics with a musical medley. Anyone desiring to pursue music must have a strong musical intelligence.
Individuals with a strong Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence will often be motivated by opportunities to move or express themselves through physical action. As Mark Smith (2008) writes, “Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence entails the potential of using one’s whole body or parts of the body to solve problems. It is the ability to use mental abilities to coordinate bodily movements.” This intelligence is important for any physical or construction work, where the ability to create something with physical force requires knowledge of your own capabilities and how to use them. Individuals with strong Bodily-Kinesthetic will often be motivated to move around the classroom and may have difficulty staying in one place for too long. It is often beneficial to allow these students time to get their energy out so that they can focus in the classroom.
Finally, the individual who has a strong Naturalist intelligence enjoys learning in natural settings, where they can interact and observe things in an environment. As Mark Smith writes, “Naturalist intelligence enables human beings to recognize, categorize and draw upon certain features of the environment.” It is important for interacting with any environment: understanding aspects of your environment and using those clues to draw conclusions. Individuals with strong Naturalist Intelligence may be successful interacting with the environment of a classroom but may struggle with the inability to be outdoors.
The recent tendency in school districts is to require teachers to address each of these intelligences in a particular lesson for the benefit of students with different strengths in different intelligences. This tendency is unfortunate because it doesn’t require growth from students when they are given the means to assimilate all new information, relying almost entirely on their strongest intelligence. One sign of growth in an individual is overcoming obstacles to understanding that stand in their way. How will students ever develop the ability to be proficient in multiple intelligences if we only ever require them to use the intelligence that is their natural tendency? A better plan would be to require that teachers integrate development of the intelligences into their entire curriculum, where one lesson could be dedicated to the development of a specific intelligence. In that way, a teacher could encourage the development of multiple intelligences in their students without having to create eight lesson plans for each lesson.
In conclusion, Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence theories are useful for understanding the motivations and learning styles of students in a classroom. When the integration of these Multiple Intelligences into every lesson is required for every teacher, school districts run the risk of stunting student growth in their development of intelligences to which they aren’t naturally inclined. A better use of Gardner’s theories in the classroom would be the integration of different intelligences into the curriculum as a whole, where teachers would be able to address a specific intelligence on a particular day leaving other intelligences for other lessons.

Reference:
Smith, M. (2008) Howard Gardner and Multiple Intelligences. The encyclopedia of informal education. Retrieved November 2, 2011, from http://www.infed.org/thinkers/gardner.htm.

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This is an Academic Memoir and reflection that I created for EDRD 6530. I reflected on my experience as a student and on important moments that have encouraged me to be successful in my education.

EDRD 6530- Academic Memoir2

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