Sunday, December 5, 2010

December 5 Hike

I often find when I need to work out what I'm going to teach in the next week1, a hike in Portland's Forest Park typically puts some grease on the cogs and get my wheels turning.

Today's is going to be a doosey.  I just posted the paper I wrote this week on teaching reading from a constructivist method for my Theory of Instruction class at PSU.  I'm a pretty sick2 individual to post a graduate paper on my blog, but you are sicker if you take the time to read it.  Basically, here's the problem: at secondary schools, students are often forced into a one-size-fits-all remedial reading class if they don't meet benchmark.  They lose an elective and are not happy about it.  They take their anger out on the class and teacher by totally blowing both off.  The teacher notices they have little control of the classroom and plan their lessons around a direct instruction model because it gives them more control over the class.

Constructivist lessons would be more fun for teacher and student and might do a better job of teaching the skills. Constructivist lessons increase motivation, but require a certain critical mass of motivation to get off the ground; otherwise, students take the time to "socially create meaning" about the top ten list on Z100 rather than the reading strategies the teacher is asking them to practice.

How do I get my students to that critical mass?

On top of that, I have a colleague who gets her students to work by making their lives uncomfortable and unpleasant if they deviate from the assigned activity.  I used to be of the same mind until an administrator asked me to only punish students who disrupted class; student who choose not to learn have that right.  But my colleagues students all have "As" and know their reading strategies.  My students are receiving zeros.

Is my job to make them do the work3?  In the long run, what will be the greater benefit to the student?

1. Read "day."  [Go back.]
2. I mean sick in the conventional rather than the contemporary meaning.  [Go back.]
3. Can I really make them do anything?  It would seem my colleague does by making the alternative less desirable.  [Go back.]

1 comment:

  1. I've always wondered if it's a teachers job to make the students want to learn. I would say that the best teachers make there students want to learn not by making the alternative worse, but by showing how great and important learning can be. That being said, there are gonna be some students who won't buy into that no matter what you do.

    On top of that, if giving someone encouragement in class, and giving failing grades doesn't cause them to want to learn, they probably are in a lot of trouble, so what difference does it make if the teacher further punishes them in class. Sometimes I think what could be best is for them to get a wake up call when they realize they are failing all there classes. Granted, I think the teacher needs to make very clear the path that they are headed down, put I think thats what's best.

    Just my opinion.