Friday, December 5, 2008

Cover Sheet for Ethno Paper

Troy Standard
Cover Sheet – Ethnography Research Paper (part 1 of 2)
December 5, 2008

I. Research Question
I decided to investigate the topic of book censorship in two very different schools in order to discover exactly which factors affect the school administrations’ decision to remove a book from a curriculum. My research question was: “how does the topic of book censorship differ between urban and rural schools?” This research is valuable because it examines a topic that is both current – this topic is even now being debated in schools across the country – as well as relevant.

II. Primary Sources
Jeff Schuessler, teacher of English at
Gilpin County Junior and Senior High School
Laura Schachet, library media specialist at
Webber Junior High School

III. Major Findings
What I learned was that even though the schools differed in the political makeup and student body population, book censorship is still a very controversial topic. After reading the three secondary sources and talking with some of my professors, I was surprised that this issue has remained virtually unchanged for a very long time; I say ‘unchanged,’ referring to the point that objections are still being raised, and teachers are still fighting back. Though some topics and issues have been made more lenient with the onset of widespread media pressure, the fact remains that some parents will not allow certain books – and that teachers are advocating the inclusion of these very books into the curriculum in order to teach crucial information to students.

IV. Implications
Parents and teachers must be allies, both striving for the best possible education for the student. In order to achieve this valuable instruction, parents and teachers require good lines of communication. Through open, honest discussion and sympathetic compromise, educators can reach the best level of education for every student. respect is one of the foundations of a successful classroom; respect for the students from the teacher, for the teacher from the students, and respect for the parents’ beliefs. By listening and being sympathetic toward the wishes of a parent, an educator can build a healthy, inclusive classroom that is sure to foster growth in every student.

V. Secondary Sources
Kauer, Suzanne M. “A Battle Reconsidered: Second Thoughts on Book Censorship and Conservative Parents.”
Krogness, Mary Mercer. “Middle Ground: Censorship and Imagination.”
Noll, Elizabeth. “The Ripple Effect of Censorship: Silencing in the Classroom.”

Friday, November 7, 2008

Blog entry Nov. 5

The articles I read discussed the importance of listening to parents and other teachers, and also they stressed that teachers should stand up for books they believe deserve to be in the curriculum. There is still a huge gap of the how we come to a compromise; it is widley accepted that teachers and parents should agree on a book before assigning it, but the process of satisfying teacher and parent is more difficult. My research will ask teachers how they actually relate to the parents who want books restricted, the different methods of cummincation that real teachers actually use. By getting personal beliefs on censorship from teachers currently in the field of high school, I will get eyewitness accounts of how to discuss cenorship with parents and students.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Blog post 10/24

I think a really interesting question to explore would be what is the last step a teacher can do to convince a parent? In other words, after all the options have been exhausted and the parentstill refuses to let their child read a book, where do you draw the line between giving up and being too forceful. In the end, a parent will have the final say about their child's reading content, but it is also important that the student might be missing out on very important and relevant themes. We all want to stand up for those books that we feel absolutely need to be taught. I guarantee that everyone has a book that is at once vital to society (history) and questionable in the face of censorship. But the censored books are the ones that had the biggest impact on the literary world; books that have been banned are often unique, personal insights on a controversial issue. We could persuade and convince all day, but if a parent refuses, what else is there to do? Will you change the entire curriculum because of one parent? If the student gets an alternate book, what if it's shorter and his/her classmates complain? I want to explore where this 'line' is for different teachers (i'm sure it has much to do with personal opinion of the teacher) and when we can cross it; the line between giving up and surrendering to the parent or threatening an F if the student won't read the material.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Blog post on Gee / Delpit

Quickwrite 1 These terms show that literacy, or more specifically, our language systems, are all intertwined. A synchronization is necessary in order to form literate discourses because we must add on to our primary discourse, what we already know, new information – all the time. He is claiming that we acquire certain knowledge from our home setting, then that knowledge is expanded when we get into school and social situations. All of this learning culminates in our identity kit, the skills and knowledge we use to figure out problems, read difficult texts, and write college essays. The terms are relevant because they allow us as teachers to understand that there is a complex background to the literacy of each of our students. In other words, we must be conscious of the many factors that have influenced out students’ discourses, and the many discourses that will be present, so that our lessons reach a wide variety of language and reading levels. In addition, these discourses will give birth to a type of meta-knowledge, an understanding of theories and beliefs outside of our dominant discourse, but nonetheless reachable by using the learning we have gained thus far.Quickwrite 2These terms show Delpit’s understanding of literacy as a learning experiment; our primary (dominant) discourse can be modified, added to, and even transformed to fit the assignment we are working on. She argues that there are tests which determine if a person is in or out of a discourse. She also addresses the issues of non-learning, when a person’s dominant discourse will not allow him or her to access information that is being read, and non-teaching, in which teachers will neglect to correct grammatical mistakes or language errors in order to stay‘safe.’ Delpit argues that each and every person has the potential to reach an advanced dominant discourse, and that one can change their discourse over time and through learning. Her main argument against Gee is that people can in fact move out of their discourses and change their literary skills/knowledge. Blog Entry for Gee vs. Delpit• Gee says that you are fixed Discourse; that your personal set of literacy skills can be added to, but that you cannot transform into another discourse, and you are either completely in or completely out. Delpit rejects this statement, citing examples of people who came from poor communities with low literacy rates but with perseverance toward learning, they ‘escaped’ that discourse and went on to be successful, educated people. Delpit argues that each and every person has the potential to reach an advanced dominant discourse, and that one can change their discourse over time and through learning. Her main argument against Gee is that people can in fact move out of their discourses and change their literary skills/knowledge. She claims that a discourse can be transformed, that we can temporarily take on or assume another set of skills in order to refute an argument that is using that discourse; i.e., using deconstructionism to critique a literary piece based on this theory… of deconstructionism. Yeah.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Political / Education article

May 28, 2008, 4:50 PM
Obama Urges Education Reform
Posted by Allison O'Keefe 4
From CBS News’ Allison O'Keefe: THORNTON, COLO. – Barack Obama talked about turning around the American educational system today, as he viewed the work of students at a private school here. Obama was greeted by eighth graders at the Mapleton Expeditionary School of the Arts who showed Obama bulletin boards of artwork about their education on Africa, slavery, and the Civil War. He met a group of seniors who told him about their success in getting into college, including their scholarships and financial aid money. He met juniors who told him about their community meetings, and ended his tour visiting a classroom of eighth graders, two of whom gave a public presentation about their interests. Obama told them that he couldn’t give such a presentation in eighth grade. “I probably couldn’t have done it when I started running for President,” he said. Later, Obama met with students in the auditorium for a speech on his education policy. He pledged to change certain parts of No Child Left Behind and encourage innovation in education. “I believe it's time to lead a new era of mutual responsibility in education,” he said. “One where we all come together for the sake of our children's success; an era where each of us does our part to make that success a reality – parents and teachers; leaders in Washington and citizens all across America.” During the question and answer period, Obama was asked about bilingual education, especially given current climate of immigration. Obama believes that everyone should be bilingual or even “trilingual.” “When we as a society do a really bad job teaching foreign languages – it is costing us when it comes to being competitive in a global marketplace,” he said. He was also asked about the federal government’s role in a world of charter schools and the success of private foundations on small school public education, such as the school where he was appearing. Obama immediately expressed his support for charter schools, citing the importance of “innovation at the local level.” But Obama treaded lightly, saying that there are always good schools in every state. Earlier in his speech, Obama referred to the ongoing teacher talks in Denver. Dozens of teachers in two different public schools called in sick in opposition to their ongoing contract negotiations. Despite the fact that Obama did not use McCain’s name once today, a McCain spokesperson was quick to respond to Obama’s speech. “While in the U.S. Senate, Barack Obama has never spearheaded education reforms, which despite his lofty rhetoric, demonstrates his weak leadership on an issue that is critical to the economic strength of our country,” said Tucker Bounds. “It’s no coincidence that a leading education magazine noted that Sen. Obama has made no significant mark on education policy.”

Friday, September 19, 2008

Language Investigation #3

I honestly cannot recall much of my early writing processes; until I was a junior in high school, I was completely determined to be a marine biologist. Therefore, I was always fascinated by science. I read a lot, starting novels when I was in third or fourth grade, and I can remember a great deal about the reading tasks we were assigned. For me, writing didn’t become a passion until well into my high school years, and when it did, it was an explosion. I had a change of heart, virtually overnight, to wanting to be an author rather than a research scientist.
I can recall two instances from elementary school in which we specifically dealt with language, at least on a superficial level. When I was in third grade I wrote my first story. I don’t know if I watched Homeward Bound all the time or what, but I must have written ten short stories about animals going on adventures. I would always have the animals talk and go on these elaborate journeys. Our teacher encouraged us simply to write. There was only one stipulation: it had to make sense. In other words, our focus for that class was completely on plot progression. We had to set up a background, then tell a few events that made everything relevant. Language was not very important; of course, we were required to use new vocabulary words that we were learning at the time, but honestly I have no idea what those words were. Each week, we would get three of four new words on the blackboard (pre-whiteboard era) and in our story we had to include those three words somehow. So, it was good to be enlarging our vocabulary, but I didn’t learn anything at all about syntax and subject / verb agreement until sixth grade. If I did learn these basic skills, I was too young to remember.
Another thing I remember is being absolutely awful at handwriting (penmanship). I could never hold my pencil correctly, and to this day my handwriting looks like a second-grader. It was the only class I got a C in from Kindergarten through 9th grade. This mark kind of discouraged me from writing, at least by hand, because my teacher really made a big deal about it. She kept physically twisting my hand into the correct writing position, and I got pretty annoyed after a while.
In junior high school we learned sentence structure. All I can remember about this period of my life was being bored out of my mind. I loved the books; The Hobbit, Tom Sawyer, and Huckleberry Finn I thoroughly enjoyed. I didn’t care how the sentences were put together, what the past participles were, I just enjoyed the stories. However, I survived the writing exercises well enough, despite having an awful teacher. Mrs. Moore: picture a fifty-five year old woman, very thin hair, and a hoarse voice caused by smoking twice an hour. “Diagram these two sentences, everybody,” while she stepped outside for a smoke break, then came back in, her eyes bloodshot and smelling like an ashtray in a dress.
Anyway, I digress. High school was the turning point, the place where I found a passion for literature and writing. Like I said, I wanted to be a marine biologist; until I discovered the advanced math necessary to be a research scientist. So, my high school English teacher, Mr. Schuessler told me once that I was a very good writer. I don’t know exactly what assignment I turned in to make him believe this, but nonetheless, I received the compliment and began writing furiously, all the time. First in journals, then I progressed to argumentative essays. My junior year I was placed into AP English, with about seven other students. I took this class both of my remaining years. And that’s when my writing skills were sharpened. Our school went to seventy-minute classes that year, which allowed for fewer classes in the day but with more time in each class. The first twenty-five minutes of every single class, we were given a writing prompt and we would write a five-page essay. I wrote fifteen essays a month, all with support and feedback from my teacher, and all of us in the class prepared for the AP essays.
Language played a huge role in my development as a writer. My teacher would remind us who we were writing to, so as to avoid that ‘collegy’ language, the pretentious words that made us sound like we had a Master’s in language when we were sixteen. So, we wrote in a language that our classmates could understand. More important than the diction was the sentence style, though. We spend an entire unit on rewriting sentences to give them voice and create our unique writing methods. I probably wrote one hundred college-level essays by the time I graduated from high school, each one sharper and clearer than the last. I got a four on my AP exam, tested out of English I, and jumped into ‘beginning creative writing.’
Every college essay I write for this university reflects the teaching of Mr. Schuessler. From structuring the entire essay so that arguments are supported by textual evidence, to writing stylistic sentences, his keen attention to detail allowed me to develop my skills. Of course, my education on writing continued into college, but the framework was established years ago and now, it’s a matter of handing in the paper, then getting it back with a grade. There is not as much personal attention, which is okay because I never have problems with the grades I’m given. I believe writing is a fundamental and essential tool, which leads to success in all subject areas.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

warm up for 9-17

1. I noticed from chapter six that Rose used many different writing activities that combined several types of media. For example, he would bring paintings of the human figure to class and have students categorize them based on similarities, in order to get them thinking about classification. This assignment was given so that the veterans in the Extension building would learn to describe how classifying ether takes away or adds to the overall theme of a piece of art. This was one example of engaging his learners beyond just the literal text.
3. I noticed that ‘remedial’ was used very often to describe the veterans, a word that implies a lack of cognitive skills and learning abilities. This word creates a kind of ‘outsider’ label, because it forces the student to look at what kind of people are not remedial, and then they assume since they don’t belong in this ‘normal’ category, they are less important. Rose was able to turn this around by giving his students complex topics, such as the comparison between the big bang theory and the aboriginal mythology; normally, this would be a very difficult task. However, Rose shows his students that he has confidence in them, and his confidence in turn boosts their own courage in regards to writing about complicated issues. He first empowered his students, simply by giving them the assignment he showed them that he believed they could do it. At first, it was difficult, but with patience and group work, the class was able to bring together individual knowledge about the subject and these so-called ‘remedial’ learners were engaging in a fascinating task.