Monday, April 29, 2013

Final Blog

What aspects of language, literacy, and learning did I come away with from this course? First, comprehension: regardless of whether you're reading a few paragraphs in a beginning French course, or listening to a math lecture, comprehension instruction can include something prior to reading/listening in order to "prime the pump" for students. I think that, for me, as I reflect on how to change the course in future semesters, it will be important for me to make sure that I model "before" reading activities on the course readings.

A second aspect of the semester that stood out to me is related to the affective dimensions of literacy, or ways to get student buy-in and interest into your discipline. I think that teaching is such a humbling profession because even when you work very hard, try to build positive relationships, try to incorporate elements of student choice (e.g., self-selected projects and self-selected readings), differentiate instruction, and otherwise establish a positive classroom environment, there is never a guarantee that people will actually "buy in" or be interested. So I think that affective dimensions of literacy should also include we as teachers attending to our own emotional Voltaire's terms, cultivating our own gardens. I think sometimes it is easy to let others hold us "emotionally hostage"--whether the end-of-year test does it, or our students do it, or our colleagues do it. In other words, we let those things kind of"run us or "hold us hostage" in the sense that negative comments or negative results can make us feel bad about ourselves. I think that emotional health for teachers has to include the skill of letting go, of not letting these things eat up our energy. In turn, I think improved emotional health for teachers will lead to improved interactions in the classroom.

Finally, I think one thing that was important to me this semester was the idea of representational competence, or the ability to produce and evaluate representations. I think that each discipline has its own unique set of representations: For instance, producing a digital narrative in English is very different from producing an explanation of a phenomenon in chemistry. Both require different forms of representation :probably  music, words, and personal photographs in the first, with chemical diagrams and numeric equations in the other. But teaching students how to produce multiple representations within any discipline can increase their understanding of what it is they are trying to communicate.

Thanks for the semester. I enjoyed working with you. :)