Response for July 21
7/17/2014 03:56:18 am
The writing by Sherman Alexie “The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me” was particularly interesting. I have read a couple of Alexie’s books and enjoyed reading about how he became a reader and later a writer. Alexie connects with the reader when he explains that when we are younger, we don’t necessarily need to read to understand the text; rather, we can look at the pictures and infer what is happening. I feel most children do this before beginning to read. However, what bothers me in this writing is how much he struggled in school with teachers and peers because he did not fit the stereotype of the time that he was supposed to play. He was considered to be a “smart Indian” which “is a dangerous person, widely feared by Indians and non-Indians alike.” Alexie explains how most people upheld the perceived stereotype that he refused to submit to; his classmates and others were expected to be stupid, yet once outside the classroom, their attitude changed. It was Alexie’s refusal to fail that set him apart and this is what is powerful. I am making a bit of a stretched connection here, but I see a somewhat similar case with my level 2 students. Currently, we have AP, honors, level 1 and level 2 classes. My first year at this school I struggled because I did not know how to differentiate between the levels. What I quickly found out though is that these level 2 students are capable of doing the same work, many just choose not to. Yes, there are some who truly cannot do more than the basic skills required, but isn’t it our job as teachers to push those who can? What bothers me most is at the end of my first year teaching at this school, I assigned an essay that required my level 2 students to have 2 quotes for each of their 3 body paragraphs for support—not unreasonable at all, and I knew they were more than capable of doing it. However, the students moaned and groaned and one said, “Don’t you realize we are level 2?” This has stuck with me. Students in level 2 classes expect to do less because they are classified as such. This is where I believe levelling is doing a disservice to students. Coming from a school where there were no levels besides honors and AP classes, you had a classroom of students of all different abilities. While some students needed more of a challenge, I was able to tier my instruction to provide them with that. On the other hand, some students could not reach the same challenge and I would slightly adapt the lesson for them. The biggest difference that I saw between levelling and non-levelling is students who were considered to be of “lower ability” rose up to the challenge when not grouped according to ability level. They participated more in class and challenged themselves more as well. At my school now, I feel that teachers also play into the levels and require less from their students, not because the students can’t do the more challenging work, but because these students are considered to be “less smart” (not the wording I was looking for) than level 1 students and above. Back to Sherman Alexie’s point, he explains how “As Indian children, we were expected to fail in the non-Indian world.” A bit different, but is this similar with the grouping of students by ability level?
7/17/2014 09:08:26 am
Emily VanLeuvan-Reflections on Readings for July 21, 2014
7/19/2014 09:19:07 am
What comes to mind first when you hear the word “hypertext”? I instantly think of computers, writing code, and the World Wide Web. I have never learned a different definition of hypertext, therefore, I was rather intrigued by Angela M. Haas’ claim that Wampum is a form of hypertext. After acknowledging her claim, I immediately began to wonder how Haas would relate Wampum to hypertext. What exactly would the connection be? When she finally stated it, my mind was blown!
7/20/2014 10:41:52 pm
In “The Joys of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me,” Sherman Alexie tells of his precocious childhood reading habits and the challenges of being a driven student on the reservation. What I loved most about Alexie’s essay was the urgency with which he urged other students, students who reminded him of who he once was, to read. By reading, “I was trying to save my life” he recalled. Education was his way out of his circumstances, and way to reclaim his right to control his own destiny.
7/21/2014 01:28:30 am
No individual exists who is a clean slate, an empty vessel on which or into which knowledge can be written on or poured into without the new knowledge connecting to or interacting with the pre-existing knowledge. The mere discussion and research of fetal memory suggests that memories are made within the womb, including memories of sound, smell, and basic life-sustaining or survival instincts that includes, ‘remembering to breath.’ In the movie, “Sleepless in Seattle,” Sam Baldwin, Tom Hank’s character, when speaking with the radio talk show hosts speaks of moving on after his wife’s death as a process, at the beginning of which he had to remember to breath, when he woke in the mornings immediately following her death. The idea of ‘remembering to breath’ seems ludicrous when taken out of context; after all, who needs to remember to breath? Nevertheless, memory and memories can be and are interrupted, disturbed, lost, and forgotten.
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