Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Hello fellow classmates:
I hope everyone is relaxing this week. I definitely am! Lesley: thank you for providing us with a light, straightforward article to read during vacation week. Here are some thoughts that I had while reading it:

  • I agree with what Jen said about the tone of this article. The tone was matter-of-fact, calm and unemotional… the antithesis of the tones emanating from the articles written by Johnson, Bartolome, and Delpit. Interestingly enough, I was not alienated by this article; however, I wasn’t moved to think like I was by the other authors. I was not pushed out of my comfort zone, a “place” I need to be in order to enact change.

  • Positive Perspectives on Parents and Families:
    This segment of the article reinforced many of the things that my team has implemented this year. We have made multiple attempts to contact the families of our students (the “1 million words or less” essay asks the parents to show us their children from their perspectives, open house, quarterly newsletters, phone calls, emails and numerous conferences). I do agree with Dave’s point about visiting a parent’s home (sounds like an invasion of privacy) or even sending a newsletter in the parent’s first language (our first newsletter will hopefully go out early to mid-August when our knowledge of first languages will be nil). I do like the idea of family night; it is feasible at the junior high age. Researching the cultural backgrounds of my students was probably the most valuable thing I did because I realized why some of my students were not responding to my teaching.

  • Communications of High Expectations:
    Intrinsic motivation is so elusive; I always wondered how people come by it. I like the author’s take on it though… “Effective and consistent communication of high expectations… provides the structure for intrinsic motivation…” Johnson, Bartolome, and Delpit don’t necessarily focus on intrinsic motivation; they seem to concentrate on the extrinsic “rewards” a student will receive (being successful in mainstream society). Being explicit about one’s expectations echoes what Delpit stresses in her article.

  • Learning Within the Context of Culture:
    Sounds like differentiated instruction that takes into account the culture of the children and not just their ability to learn. Metaphorically speaking,

Branches represent the different ways to teach the children
Trunk represents the children
Roots represent the cultures of the

I tried to add a picture of a tree...hopefully I was successful. I will finish writing later. I have to make supper!



Cynthia Navarro said...

I can see the tree! Great analogy Mindy!

Cynthia Navarro said...

Mindy, I share your opinion on the importance of being aware of your student's background. I experienced the advantages of having "Culturally aware" teachers with my own children and I have witnessed the change in their attitude towards their classes. There is a "motivational" piece that comes into place once the student feels that the teachers understands where they come from. It helps make the student's learning a more meaningful, but also in a personal level, the class atmosphere reflects acceptance when you know what it is that you are accepting!

Dr. Lesley Bogad said...

Nice tree... and great connections to our other authors. I feel that resonance as well

LB :)