Saturday, September 25, 2010

Clocks and Cacoons

Ship Chronometer
After reading this weeks chapters I better understood the role the curriculum cog plays in Tomlinson's clock analogy on page 10 and felt that I understood the importance of each cog.  I was reminded of the analogy again this week as I was watching "Pawn Stars" when a customer brought a Ship Chronometer in to sale.  Learning about this type of clock made her analogy much more powerful to me.  A Ship Chronometer or Sea Clock was used as a type of GPS system for sailors.  By setting the clock to Greenwich England mean time and comparing its time to that of sun position time and to a world time map they could do some equations to find their exact location.  But for it to work the Chronometer had to run perfectly.  On page 12 Tomlinson mentions that, "Understanding these elements can provide us with a compass for decision making as a teacher plans to adapt instruction to student needs."  When I first read her introduction to this analogy that phrase escaped me and what I gathered was that teaching had to run like clock work with each thing its place working precisely together.  That might be "good" teaching but it is not "Differentiated" teaching.  When we use these elements as best we can and have all three cogs; teacher, student, and curriculum running as they should,  we will be able to map a course for our selves and each student and then be able to monitor our progress with each part.  All parts are needed and if they are running precisely we will be able to get each student to their destination.

  The butterfly's cocoon has long been a powerful analogy for me and putting it as Tomlinson put it made perfect sense to me.  From page 17, " Important as self-esteem is, the developing person must move from its protective cocoon toward a sense of self-efficacy."  If a butterfly is aided in removing its own cocoon its wings will not have the gained strength from that experience and consequently be unable to fly.  Differentiating Teachers will not only allow students to contribute but they will find ways that will help the students grow on their own and be able to see that they themselves have strength to learn and grow.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

What if the teacher looks past me rather than into me?

The subtitle to my blog is My attempt to fit in.  I have always felt a little outside the crowd and now I kind of try to remain so.  But when I was younger I wanted the teacher and everyone else to see me as a the rest of the kids, with just as much to offer.  I started kindergarten after my sixth birthday, entirely because of my height or lack there of.  So I was easy to overlook from the beginning. I worked hard and did pretty well until third grade.  At that time it felt like I became a fox who was hard to tame.  I felt no respect from my teacher and I think she was unsure of what to do with me.  So I was sent to resource with kids who had speech impediments and were on similar reading and math levels as I was.  I think my teacher was looking at me  but only saw the problems that had to be dealt with, rather than looking into me. I was a fox who looked like a hundred other foxes and she had no need for me.  I could be wrong and it could be that she did see me and thought that resource was the best solution. I do know that I don't want any student to be looked past, over, or taken for just another kid or fox.
My mom read through that first paragraph and reminisced on how shy/ quiet I was and can be.  I reread the chapters in Fulfilling the Promise with that in mind and a few things stood out to me.  After a Teacher invite the student to be a part of the class the student has to accept that invitation.  I don't know that I ever accepted that invitation.  In the beginning of chapter two it talks about this invitation and what the students go through in processing this invitation.  ("Come do what I ask you to do," says the teacher.   "I can't," says the student "at least not until you connect with me.  Oh, I'll go through the motions, of course.  But give myself to this adult thing called school?...")  I have gone through numerous things in my adult life that have showed me that I have been very scared of fully giving myself to anything I always reserve some aspect of myself for my own safety.  I can tell now that I did not feel safe enough to give myself to school. 
To resolve this for my students I will need to do as the book says and make sure that each student is contributing and more than, "each learner needs to come to see that he or she is a nonnegotiable part of a classroom system with interdependent parts."  I felt somewhat invisible as a child, the truth of the matter is that I did not make my self visible nor did I really try to make myself part of the class I always waited for them to bring me in.
Recognizing each student and getting them to feel like part of the class might be an impossible task as the book questioningly implies but as it also says we have to try and as Eseme Raji Codell says, " The goal is not necessarily to succeed but to keep trying, to be the kind of person who has ideas and sees them through."  I want to be that kind of teacher.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Lil' ol' me

1. TUESDAY, by David Wiesner.  Is a book I would love to use in my future classroom.  It is just pictures through out the story, and I would like to get kids reaction to it as just a picture book, and also as a framework for their own story that they would put to the pictures.
2. As of right now my three favorite TV shows are Heroes, American Chopper, and the Dog Whisperer.  These I watch at my mom's if I am there and have the remote in my power, or on My computer at home through Netflix.  We don't currently have a TV hooked up at my place so if I watch something it is something I choose to watch.
3. I collect musical instruments, and fun things to draw, as for instruments I have a tenor banjo, 3 guitars, an electric bass, a broken cavaquinho, harmonicas in the Keys of G, C, and D, an aluminum  djembae, shakers, boom sticks, whistles, and some other stuff.  I love music and love to learn new instruments and styles of music.  I feel like it gives me an intimate access to cultures that are shut off otherwise.  I am also helping my friend Paul Overson with his collection of big professional audio gear this also gives me an in to other musicians and cultures. My other collection consists of toys and light bulbs, bottles, all kinds of knik knaks....  Oh and I also have an international money collection it is still pretty small.
4. I keep an idea journal with drawings and writings of things I want to make or explore.
5. I would sponsor any art and or music appreciation club 1st I'd be all over that.  Then World Peace 2nd, and Ecology/ Tree hugging third ( I am a hippy at heart.)
6.  I have both taken and given art classes out side of school.  Some Sculpture and animation etc.
7.  I took piano lessons when i was 8 until 10 years old, I then pick up guitar and took lessons when I was 15 and 16.  I have had three different rock bands I have played with and two I recorded with.  The first Lyra's Landscape I wrote some of the songs for.  The second The Moon Boots I just played bass for.  I have also played off and on with some folky singer song writers, with hose I have played banjo and slide guitar, and some back up vocals.  I have had song writers block for a while I also call it no time to spare.
8. NO and NOOOO, I can't get past my self criticism long enough to make my two left feet do anything.  But I have done a little Capoeira the brazilian dance fighting.
9. No, I have done sound for some plays and my wife loves doing musicals. She is now a drama specialist at Saratoga Shores Elementary.
10. I have a bachelor's degree in Fine Art Illustration and have done a few small illustration projects here and there.  I am an art teacher going through the back door or maybe it's the front door but I am putting on a Core Teacher Disguise.  I want to become the best integrated arts teacher ever, and then teach others how to do it even better.