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Hi all -- thanks for being so gracious to me tonight! I so enjoyed our conversations. I've attached a link to my organization of the night, with links to the things we used. Feel free to use any or all of it.

I resonate with Stommel's ideas about reading. It was encouraging to read his article because I engage with texts in a very similar way that he does. I nodded my head when he wrote: "I’ve read surprisingly few books copiously from cover to cover. Reading for me has always been more akin to a series of willful cursory glances. And my not reading has been intensely active. It has included talking, researching, writing, making, teaching, wondering, holding, glancing, flipping, filming, watching, etc." This is exactly how I engage with a text, and this is the sort of thing I'm communicating when I tell people, "I like to read." My reading isn't a way for me to escape the world. Instead, reading for me is a way to engage with the world and to make sense out of my experiences. I don't need to read "copiously from cover to cover," to have an deeply meaningful experience with a text. In fact, now that school is in full motion, most of my reading is less than a page or two a day. I do a lot of thinking and wondering over the texts I read as I walk to and from my classes. Usually, I find that I have amazing insights about the text by the time I go back home.

I like this quote in regards to my goals for students: "As a teacher, I try to encourage students to be honest about how much they read, what that reading looks like, when they stop reading, when they start again, etc. Most importantly, I ask why" (Stommel). At the least, I'd like to foster an honesty policy where students can be honest about their feelings towards reading. Practically, I'm wondering if this reflection can be done as a weekly journal prompt in the beginning of class? That is my only idea so far, I'm open to more ideas! Being honest about our posture towards reading is powerful. Just asking the question, "Why didn't you like reading this book?" can be telling of a student's posture towards reading.

My response for student's stories in my classroom is an unhesitant, "YES!". 100% yes. Stories are powerful, and they are integral to our identities. I'm thinking through some classic "this is me" projects we did in English back when I was in high school, but I still need more ideas. Anyways, yes story tellling will be a thing in my classroom. I also hope to grow in my own storytelling because I am not a natural storyteller.

In a very immersive TED Talk, showcasing Best Selling Children’s Author Mac Barnett we hear about a writer who is attempting to blur the lines between truth and fantasy in order to bring fiction into our non-fiction world. However, is fiction all that Mac Barnett is invoking?
This world that we humans occupy is bursting with experiences. These experiences are subject to whatever stimuli they are tailored to. Each stimulus allows us a different textual relationship to these experiences. Every time someone encounters a new stimulus, their brain literally changes shape as newly formed neural connections are made and unmade through synaptic pruning. These events shape not just our mind but who we are and how we will interact with the world around us in the future. If a book is a stimuli, triggering taste, touch, hearing, sight and sound. Then is the act of not-reading also a stimuli? Having an effect on future brain formation?
In Jesse Stommel’s 2014 article entitled: The Pedagogies of Reading and Not Reading Stommel references the act of not-reading as a pedological tool for self-improvement. He then ends with a great quote by Pierre Bayard who writes, “The key, in the end, is to reveal to students what is truly essential: the world of their own creation.” Ultimately, pedagogy is less about required reading and more about copious piles of half-finished books and the stuff we build around them.” What do not-reading and Bayard’s quote have to do with the art of teaching?
My Grandfather was a civil engineering professor at O.I.T. (Oregon Institute of Technology) for over 30 years. He would tell me to that he never taught a day in his life. We have all heard the old Chinese Proverb “Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime.” This principle does not only pertain to the application of food acquisition. In fact, one could easily argue that the motivation of being hungry already exists. Therefore, one could simply point the starving man towards the ocean and undoubtedly he would teach himself to fish knowing that food lived just beneath the waves. Therefore, does the act of teaching really have to be such a daunting task?
A friend and former classmate of mine is teaching Math right now at a middle school. He tells me his job is so hard because as he puts it “kids are just not interested in mathematics.” Me being a student who has never taught I feel I am in no place to tell him how to do his job. However, if it were me teaching mathematics I would at the beginning of each class show a short 5 to 10-minute video of the inner working of the video gaming industry. Expounding on the principles of gaming engines, game physics, binary code, and other programming languages like java, C++ and a long list of others used in congruence with mathematics as a tool for the production of artistic expression. The video gaming industry is vastly becoming the biggest industry in our modern-day world. What better way to inspire students in the acquisition of mathematics then by showing them what they could one day create with it.
Just like my Grandfather, Mac Barnett, and Jesse Stommel I believe forcing someone to learn anything is really a step backwards. The reason Bayard’s quote is so relevant because the huge stack of half read books he references is a representation of a student finding out what they are truly interested in. Once a student finds out what he or she is inspired to know all one has to do is point them in the right direction and the student, like the staving man will undoubtedly educate themselves. My grandfather would tell me whenever I inquired about his job “I may have pretended to be a professor for many years but really all I ever did was point my students in the direction of inspiration and watched as they found new and inventive ways of educating themselves.”

As far as both the Burke article and Kim's article, I might say that I enjoyed Kim's article the most (not biased, I promise!). I really enjoyed reading the idea of "I have to let students remix, mashup, and throw out our plans: their questions must drive the course even if we meander at times." In a classroom setting, the students are the ones who are doing the learning, so why not let them take the reins for a bit?
 
I also like the concept that was mentioned about there being no shortcuts for responding to student writing. Taking shortcuts tends to show less effort and not as much care for what your shortcut is for. Naturally, if a student realizes that you have taken some quality time to leave a plethora of helpful comments on their writing assignments, they're much more likely to respect and appreciate you than they would if they realized you were taking shortcuts commenting on writing assignments.

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After taking a class last semester where we were instructed to carry out a "self-directed research project" in which we constructed a syllabus with a fleshed-out unit, I definitely questioned how in the world I plan to do this in the near future. Now that I've read Jim Burke's chapter on how to develop and plan a unit, there's light once again. Future teachers need tools like this. I like the step-by-step guidelines he offers, in particular the questions that prompt us to establish our goals first, think through our justifications for them, and determine our needs to be successful. Burke's question on how to best assess a particular unit reminds me of grading rubrics. I still haven't made up my mind on these controversial things. Do teachers go through periods where they utilize them and then don't? This chapter also makes me think of situations where I might have a unit planned and then move to another school for whatever reason; a new location with new students, experiences, and resources will most likely, and probably should, lead to my re-thinking of my unit plans. I'm already thinking of a list of questions I would want to bring to interviews or meetings to determine what resources, tools, and funding a school has so that I know how to start planning if I accept a job there.

I'm also recalling my interview with Monica Brown, a Transitional Kindergarten teacher, when she told me about a year that she had a classroom of all boys except for one or two girls and how that impacted her teaching style and needs. (It may have had something to do with yoga balls replacing chairs.) While I plan to teach probably juniors in high school, still I know that I will return to the sorts of questions that Burke offers as I constantly refine my curriculum and pedagogy. When it comes to the issue of "balance between the formal or structured curriculum and the one that emerges as our course unfolds daily" (160), how do new teachers achieve this? I know one answer is that it will just take time. I kind of despise that answer. What about the first few years? How do I make sure I'm not bombing things and failing my students? I'm sure I'll have many moments of stepping back and consulting a myriad of resources. In Burke’s sample unit, I like how he ties his example of The Dictionary of the American Mind with his student’s history class and builds in flexibility depending on class climate. How many back up plans do teachers tend to have in any given semester or year?

Kim Jaxon’s “No Shortcuts in Course Design” replies to my last question in a way; “I have to let students remix, mashup, and throw out our plans: their questions must drive the course even if we meander at times.” I like meandering. I appreciate flexibility. And I want my students to meander, because this means they are engaged, asking their own questions, and will probably learn a whole lot more. On another note, I don’t want to get caught up in the idealistic “failure is okay” thinking. This reminds me of an article about how this phrase does not consider less-privileged students who can’t afford to fail. In his article, “When ‘Failure is OK’ Is Not OK,” published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Tyler Hallmark, a doctoral student at Ohio State University, writes about his and others’ college experiences. He argues for inclusivity and direct support in the form of affirmative statements and encouraging the use of resources, particularly for low-income students starting at the high school level. I’m especially mindful of this as I’m submitting my scholarship application in which I’m delving into my background as a first-generation, low-income, former foster youth. If I didn’t have my GPA going for me… ummm.
https://www.chronicle.com/article/When-Failure-Is-OK-Is/242489

Turning to the meat of this article, shortcuts, I LOVE the lines, “If we worry less about students ‘taking shortcuts’ or ‘not doing the reading,’ will we stop building courses with an emphasis on surveillance? What if we design for community and participation?” I think of classes I’ve been in and am even currently in that do emphasize surveillance and how it affects me and the class as a whole. They’re typically the “quiet” classes, which, of course, prompts those teachers to assume students failed to do the reading, and the cycle continues. On the other hand, I think of classes where teachers purposefully focused on community and participation, and how they might have even been more work, but in the end it doesn’t feel like it because it’s interesting and you’re building connections. I think one reason educators fall back on the former, surveillance-minded practices is absolutely that they offer shortcuts for the teacher. But isn't that a disservice to students? Leading into the matter of Turnitin, I want to know if similar but somehow improved programs like it will be offered in the future because, let’s face it, Turnitin is terrible. Then again, if you're not familiar with your student's writing, then students aren't writing enough.
Would Chris Fosen agree?

Essentially, Burke gives readers a road map to how to design a unit plan. These include asking ourselves questions like why are we teaching a specific novel or what do I hope students gain from this activity. One aspect that really stood out to me was Burkes remark about “How we should teach versus how they [students] will best learn” (159). Similar to what Morgan described, this immediately made me think about my EDTE 530 class, in which we have been talking about the differences regarding schooling and education. Education works on the side of liberation, working in order to break down social barriers and provide equity, not equality, until all students are given the tools needed to succeed. Schooling, as it currently stands (though it is getting better in some areas), works to maintain the status quo; a lecturer who gives a test about basic information that doesn’t require reading and discussion.

When coming up with a daily lesson plan, I wonder how to effectively use all of the time allotted to me? I would like to discover more examples of how to end class (exit tickets is really all I’ve been exposed to) without just having my students pack up early and line up at the door. I also worry about backlash regarding multicultural texts that I want to incorporate in my class and how I can substitute traditional texts with more contemporary writers.

“How to Plan a Unit” works to ask educators to reflect on how and why we teach. It was beautifully written and inspiring for young English educators (Good job Kim!). That being said, I respected the honesty when explaining that responding to student writing is time consuming and should be rushed or made more “efficient” (Jaxson). It definitely should be (time consuming that is)! As a writer, I personally cannot stand when I receive little to no feedback on important drafts of assignments. Writing is hard and coming up with ideas is often harder. Thus, I want as much feedback and correction as possible. I also liked that failure should be valued in a sense. I have learned and retained more from the things I’ve fucked up on than the stuff that I have aced.

Questions I considered while reading Jaxson’s article include how to incorporate specific examples of community/relationship building in my future classroom and how to incorporate peer review into a general classroom (meaning not everyone will like writing and reading) in a manner that is both fun and helpful.

In “No Shortcuts in Course Design”, I absolutely loved the line, “Where failure is valued, not because ‘anything goes’, but because we are thinking through such complicated ideas we could not possibly solve all of them” because I’ve seen so many students with a great fear of failure which stops them from thinking about the complicated ideas behind what the course is trying to help them understand. I have seen students try to give up on a writing assignment before even writing a word down because of that idea that nothing they write will be “good enough” the first time around. This concept that failure should be avoided at all costs is a danger to students’ creativity and their connection to learning. I also agree with the idea that you cannot truly create the perfect learning environment before you even meet your students. Even then, students’ lives and attitudes can change drastically which affects how they contribute to their courses. The important thing for a course to provide in order to encourage participation and contribution is, like you said, “a place to try on identities, to make, play and fail in educational spaces”.

Burke’s article gave a much more structured plan in terms of planning a unit like “Begin with the end in mind” and “Make a roadmap”. I think the questions he presents in the sections to consider are great for new and veteran teachers alike who want to think deeply about their units or assignments. In high school, when someone inevitably complained about “why we’re reading this”, my teachers would often reply with an equally cliché, “because I said so”. In reality, the answer to that question should already have been thought of months in advance. I also appreciated that Burke included a sample unit with “The Dictionary of the American Mind”. However, since I haven’t seen many other units, I’d like to know how many other formats that other teachers may have and what they consider a successful unit to look like at the end of a semester.

I am sure we will learn more in class but I would like to find out how long it takes to create units and lesson plans as well as what you should do once those don’t turn out exactly how you planned? I’d especially like to know what teachers from schools in areas that may be low-income or suffer from other negative outside influences do when their students aren’t motivated or interested in their course and what they might do in order to create a successful unit. I think we often create the best case scenario in our heads for where we might end up teaching and it is a reality that not everywhere is perfect or has all the resources or support necessary for their students to feel like they can succeed.

I found a lot of wonderful techniques within Jim Burke’s “Composing a Curriculum: How to Plan a Unit.” In particularly enjoyed the section entitled What Music Does Your Curriculum Make? because I feel as though his saying that our lesson plans should be more than linear and less stagnant really brings forward the idea of our lesson plans coming to life, and creating them with the intention of inserting multiple moving parts, excitement and heavy student participation. Creating a vibrant and active lesson plan (and in turn classroom) challenges students to be involved and gets them excited to be in said classroom: a successful classroom carries an up-beat rhythm. Jaxon’s (“No Shortcuts in Course Design”) statement, “We should be able to design a space where people are seen and heard and where they contribute to the meaning making of our fields” really fits well within the creating of music with our lesson plan. When students begin to find success, new knowledge, and make connections during our lesson they begin to contribute to the classroom’s music achieving/reaching “a symphony score” (164). Another note that really struck me was, “What flies in third period too often flops and fails in fourth period” (165) because I felt that this really spoke to how, each class, each student requires something different (no two students or classes are the same) so as educators we must be ready to adjust and prepared to alter our lesson to better fit the needs of whichever students are in our classroom in that moment.

Kim! Your article has inspired me. You have persuaded me to purposely mess up every lesson plan you have for the rest of the semester. I'll do my best to divert your plans this Thursday.

I am kidding (mostly), but for real, I loved this idea of, "designing a course where it is safe to fail." I've never worked through that thought before and it did a couple things for me. One, it took the pressure off my shoulders. It is burdening, and just unrealistic to think that I need to create the perfect classroom and perfect curriculum. There is a lot of freedom in just accepting my future classroom as a place where my students will definitely mess it up -- in good ways. Two, I love how you model big picture thinking in our classroom. Maybe the idea of messing up a classroom's lesson plan is a preparation for us to mess up the status quo of the world outside the classroom. I put that together when you wrote this, "And I know — and hope — that students will take the world as it’s designed and mess it up. They’ll mess it up in all the best possible ways." Isn't that the main reason why we are in education? We are about transformation, not regurgitating information.

In my EDTE 530 class we talked about the differences between "schooling" and "education." We came to the conclusion that schooling perpetuates the broken status quo of our modern American society. Education, however, disrupts the status quo and brings into being new ideas and new ways of thinking. I fall on the side of education because there are status quo norms that I want to disrupt, and I'd like to see my students do the same one day. With all of these thoughts flowing from the concept, "failure is valued," it shows how important it is to take the time to design a well thought out lesson plan for our future classroom.

With all that being said, I found Burke's article to be practically helpful. To the people who know me best, I can get sucked into my dreamer stage pretty quick. I like Burke's article because he reminds me of my dad. My dad, the man who taught me all of my bad jokes, is an important guy because he knows that I need someone to sit me down and help me think through the more practical steps of my diabolical plan. Burke is kind of like that. He gives good ideas like, "Begin with the end in mind," and "Make a roadmap," and other things like it. When I eventually take over the galaxy with my students, you can rest assured that it was Burke's fault for making it happen. And if you didn't laugh at that last joke, you can blame my dad for my sense of humor.

I just want to open up this response with a quote from No Shortcuts in Design. “Prep is so much more than putting due dates on the calendar”. That line is just so emblematic of how people misinterpret what teachers are actually doing with their time. I really like the idea of not being able to just “copy and paste” a rubric to better fit with time constraints because “there are no shortcuts”. This Kim Jaxon person has the right idea. Burke has an interesting approach and a step-by-step method of creating a course outline. I think this is a good way to step into the field of course creation. This is an article I’m definitely going to save for future use.
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