Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Buehl Post #1

Ch1: This chapter got me thinking about how and what I read more often than not.  Aside from the texts I read for classes, I tend to read fiction (especially historical fiction) and news articles.  Even when I read academic articles, I find it easiest to read them when they are written as though the author understands he or she is telling a story.  In addition, the zone of proximal development model gave me some ideas for helping my students learn to read advanced science texts.  The two best ideas I had, I think, are: 1) having a journal club once every other week or so, where we go through a journal article relevant to what we are covering in class.  The first few times, we would do it as a class with me leading the process, but eventually, students would start leading the discussions as I take some steps back.  And, 2) having students look up science in the news and having them analyze the news article and compare it to the original study.  Obviously, these ideas are not mutually exclusive.

Ch2: Now that the idea for the journal club was in my head, I couldn’t help but read this chapter through that lens.  Also, I kept thinking back to the history of science assignment and my own experiences beginning reading complex text in biology for labs.  I began to convince myself that this could be a promising way to drill a number of topics and skills into my students’ heads, including the scientific method, making logical arguments, and condensing thoughts, among others.  However, the first few times would take a while because of just how dense the material in the articles tends to be.  I think this, admittedly major, obstacle could be overcome with patience and modeling.

Week 6 Memo/comments

In the reading this week, I honestly was a little thrown off. I hadn’t paid much attention to this book we needed for the class and after reading the first page or so, I honestly didn’t get why this book was so important for us to have. After reading the first chapter, I want to know how. How do we help students become good readers? What is a good reader? Is it okay to not be a good reader in everything? I know I’m not. Give me any form of political piece and I am bored to tears. Give me anything by Hemingway and I will fall asleep. So how do we get our future students to be proficient scientific readers? And even more important, how do we handle the students that don’t care or want to become scientific readers? Every student we get isn’t going to come in at the same level of understanding and reading capacity. I see this as one of the greatest obstacles we will have to face as educators. Being able to gauge how well our students are retaining information and keeping them engaged enough for them to actually learn, is key to being effective teachers. I think now I understand better why this is assigned reading. Students aren’t going to come in with my level of understanding and even though that seems obvious, it may not be in practice. 

The Need for Read(ing)

I was pretty pleased by what Buehl said about the different skills necessary for comprehension across disciplines. In high school, most of my reading came from literature or history classes, so a lot of the habits I formed weren't suited for non-fiction. I would look for plot, symbols, themes, and every other literary device we learned about, so when I got to reading my first scientific paper (in college!) I had no idea what to make of it. However, after some practice, I became a bit more acclimated the the very exact, quantitative language and rigid structure used in scientific papers. I think one important aspect students should know about is that they will not understand the whole paper in one read, or even in many readings. Another key skill would be the ability to glean relevant facts and conclusions from irrelevant parts of the paper. Sometimes in my research experience, I would be looking for a couple small pieces of data in some monster of a review. Obviously reading the whole thing wouldn't make sense, so I had to learn to sift through the mass of information to get what I needed. Another pretty obvious skill (but not nearly so common) is the ability to read and interpret charts and graphs, and being able to differentiate between a good figure and a bad figure. A lot of these skills have to be developed over the course of reading (and writing) scientific papers. I think it might be fun to have a sort of "journal club" type thing for the students, where they find and interpret a scientific paper possibly relevant to the current subject and briefly present it to the class. This discussion and student-led inquiry might lead to a deeper understanding and maybe even increased interest for some of the students.

McMullen Memo 5

As I was reading the section in Buehl on "Reading in Academic Disciplines", I found myself nodding along to what he was saying. He discusses his natural tendency to read from a historian lens due to years of practice, and I have many times caught myself reading papers in other disciplines much as I would read a scientific paper. Buehl addresses the idea that we can learn to read from different lens and the benefits that come from reading with different lenses. In many high school science classes, I don't think we really teach students how to read from a scientific lens. They may need to read their textbooks, but we rarely dive in to actual scientific articles, journals, and books. When I think back on my high school science classes, I distinctly remember the first time I read a scientific journal article in AP Biology. I was overwhelmed and confused, but I also felt like a "real scientist". Once my teacher taught us how to read through a scientific paper, my interest in biology was completely solidified. My teacher told us that doctoral students could be reading the same paper we were, which opened my eyes to the possibility of making biology a career. By teaching our students how to read in a scientific lens and phrasing questions/discussions in a way that suggests an identity, we might change the way our students view science (at least that was my experience!).

I also found Buehl's section on "Comprehension Processes of Proficient Readers" interesting. I know for a fact, I have done all of the pseudoreading that he mentioned, but it was really nice to get a concrete definition of what those types are and why they are done. It will make me more mindful as I'm assigning reading for my students of what I want to emphasize in the attempt to get them to read for comprehension instead of pseudoreading. In addition to bringing awareness to pseudoreading, Beuhl also discusses the seven fundamental comprehension processes. Knowing what these processes are allows us, as educators, to try to identify and encourage them in our students, in addition to, building lessons and assignments that help students form these in to habits. Through the way we utilize the texts we assign as reading in class and the questions we ask them to think about while reading, we have the opportunity to engrain these processes in our students. Buehl just made all of that really clear to me in the table on p. 35.

Week 6 readings

In or Week 6 readings I find it very encouraging that someone has echoed how I feel about reading in a professional  setting. Bhuel begins to talk about his wide scope of reading and how that has not only made him a well-rounded person but also a deeper thinker and better scholars. In concordance with the author teachers do have the solemn right to not only develop and push these children to read every day and read a broad range of material. This creates an increased sense of scholastic achievement that can be carried with students beyond the traditional school setting. He then states that students who develop this love for reading and feel a part of the classroom reading community achieve higher. 

I also appreciate Bhuel's recognition of the literacy pyramid. The first tier is often what teachers expect students to operate in   early elementary school. Students learn buzz words ,and early sentence syntax .It is expected that children learn at this stage how to being to  construct their own thoughts not to read for deeper understanding or application. Yet in subjects other than reading and history students seem to be stuck in this stage and develop a hate for  longer word problems or in depth science problems. This prevents students from growing to the intermediate stage where their brains become a melting pot of knowledge. Reading doesn’t just become something you have to do but what to do and enjoy  this translates into a deeper thirst to apply the things that are being learned to ones surroundings. In the final model the students mostly found in middle and high school begin the process of disciplinary reading.  I see this often with my Bailey middle school students I teach for my student teaching and are further shown by my students at the THRUST after school program. Unfortunately students very early will figure out what subject they like and read everything there is to know about it and feel accomplished in their knowledge of it. Yet they  neglect their weaknesses because the subjects aren't very enjoyable to them and they feel uncomfortable showing this weakness in the classroom . 
Bhuel incorporates a model that can be very helpful in this arena. Figure 1.13 provides students with a physical skills diagnostic. Students can use this checklist throughout the year in order to chart where they are, currently and where they want to be. Teachers as Bhuel  states can use this to incorporate fun readings from all different disciplines that can boost the child's confidence in the topics they do not enjoy as much .
This correlates  very well to my interview topic on Thursday 10/01/15. While biology is a great topic for me I don't believe its the highest on the list for a high school junior. Yet through a fun and interactive reading  and deep applicable questions  genetic replication can be reinforced in a way previously not thought off by this student. Once the barrier of interest is peaked the vacuum that is  the I cant I wont I don't like statement becomes an inspiring How does this affect me? How can I further research this topic ? Where can I find more information?  question that students continue to chase and build apron.

Post # 5

According to NAEP data, although literacy in the elementary grades has improved, literacy at the high school level has declined. The reason behind this may be that administrators, middle and high school teachers generally have an “inoculation mentality” – the notion that strong literacy in the earlier grades would translate into disciplinary literacy in the higher grades without direct instruction. However, there is a need for direct disciplinary literacy instruction, as students are often unprepared for the complex texts encountered in college. Disciplinary literacy instruction is different from basic or intermediate literacy instruction in that it involves teaching students how to engage with complex texts and how to decode “disciplinary discourses"; students are essentially taught how to think like “discourse insiders”. Engaging with complex text requires more effort on the part of the student. More effort requires motivation, which in turn is heavily influenced by academic identity. Interestingly, identities can be internally generated or can be the result of external influences. Teachers can influence students’ identities in a way that is positive and productive.

I used to teach Biology, and I remember every time I asked students to read an article or a passage from the text book, I would receive a lot of resistance from students. If they did read, they often skimmed the text for quick answers. After reading this section, I realize that students need to be taught how to engage with these texts - it is not enough to simply include more reading in the classroom. According to the author, “reading is what we do to make sense, to understand”; the process of making sense is invisible, and to the expert mind it is automatic. However, novice thinkers need to be shown what engaging with text actually looks and sounds like. I also realized that personal identities can heavily influence the extent to which students engage with text. As a teacher, how can I help students create positive academic identities? It might be necessary for students to personally identify with the subject in some way. Perhaps allowing students to choose scientific readings that interest them would give them the motivation to learn how to comprehend disciplinary text. It would be interesting to see how literacy instruction can be tied into modeling so as to make it more relevant to students. 


Week 6

          After reading the first chapter, the question that came to mind was the following: How can I get my students to ignore that voice in their head that says “I am not a science person?” I posed this question because I knew that if I gave them a piece of disciplinary literature to read, if it was from a science journal, it would most likely be boring and would not pique their interest. I wished that the first chapter had some concrete insights on how to bring students into the reading of scientific literature after first removing that negative attitude toward the discipline.

            The second chapter began to answer my first question. In talking about teaching science literacy, it Buehl brought up the fact that the disciplinary texts often include intense and foreign vocabulary, formal tone, and scientific graphics. Much of this is intimidating to students, and they cannot see that the ability to put complex ideas into concise sentences, or to interpret graphic material, is a necessary skill for life. I wonder: is there a way to help students realize that the goal of achieving science literacy is not necessarily to learn to read journal articles, but to learn these valuable life skills?

week 6 readings

I thought this week’s reading was very interesting. Too often we think of reading as just something from school that we are obligated to do, but we neglect the fact that there are things outside out school that we love to read. Different people have different interests and reading abilities depending on the topic. I think as educators we should try to tap that interest to allow students to get better in scholastic reading. I also liked how the author categorizes reading into basic, intermediate, and disciplinary, and shows that it’s an ongoing process to be honed because students have individual strengths and weaknesses reflecting different disciplines. I feel like for scientific reading, there is a lot of background information and facts that students have to make sense of, but at the same time there is less room for open interpretation as compared to history or literature. There are always different representations for the same data, but the conclusions drawn would be similar if they’re close to the truth. Back to reading, my question is that as educators at the secondary level, there is a huge possibility that we will “inherit” students who were passed along without much intervention in earlier grades, never fully attaining even “basic” reading level. I would like to know ways to help more able students develop disciplinary reading while at the same time help others catch up, all in the same classroom.

Week 6 Readings

            In the readings for Week 6, the primary focus was an introduction to the ideal of disciplinary literacy. In the book “Developing Readers in the Academic Disciplines”, Doug Buehl talks about how it is important for educators to ensure their students learn how to read in many academic disciplines.

In Chapter 1, Buehl gives an overview of what it means to be disciplinary literate. He begins the chapter by giving ways to identify what type of reader a person is and how to identify what type of academic identity a person has. It is important to know what type of academic identity a person has because this can allow for teachers to identify this in their students. The chapter gives a model of disciplinary literacy (basic, immediate, and disciplinary literacy) that educators should strive to work together to ensure that all students reach disciplinary literacy, even though some students may have stronger literacy in one particular area of academia than another. I understood this to mean that it is important that students obtain the necessary structure and tools, which Buehl mentions as in the “Gradual Release of Responsibility” in order to be able to take any academic reading and be able to comprehend and interpret it.

In Chapter 2, Buehl begins a more in-depth look at how readers and comprehension in terms of complex texts. In the chapter, he talks about pseudoreading, which I found interesting because I have, and at times still am, guilty of reading some texts with these characteristics. However, I think it was very important to understand the seven comprehension processes of proficient readers. Reading through these processes helped me identify which I do in my everyday academic reading and which I need to improve on. Also, it gives me more of a visual in terms of what educators should look for in students and how to help improve in students. Also, understand the complexity of academic text, including discourse, is important to understand because as educators we should always remember that our students will always look at vocabulary that we see as simple as complex and foreign. This is where scaffolding can be useful in helping students become more literate in science texts.

I have a question that I am curious for everyone’s perspective. How would you incorporate disciplinary literacy in the classroom? My approach is that it would have to be intertwined in a curriculum that would satisfy the district in which I teach as well as including the different aspects of modeling and critical thinking. Let me know what you think. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Week 6 (Already)? Ray

I really enjoyed what Buehl had to say in this week’s reading. In high school, I really struggled with the notion that the same reading comprehension skills could NOT work across all disciplines. I think my Disciplinary Literacy Profile would have arrows heavily favoring the math and science parts of this spectrum. I would always read material, regardless of the subject, through the lens of applicability and the search for guiding principles that can help me with future school work. This worked well in math and science because that was the intent of the text—explanations and examples of the basic rules, algorithms, equations, theorems, laws, and so forth, could be widely applied to problems that arise concerning that material. Typically I would NOT have to take notes on this since my thematic interpretation of the material was not important. However, I would try to approach history and english text the same way. I think this particularly frustrated me in English because I hated how no objective answer was ever given, and a slight muddling of interpretation here and there can be used to construe any argument; I would always call English my least favorite subject. History was similar—I found the material much more enlightening than English material, but I always settled for quick scans of the text to gather inportant information and guiding principles rather than reading the text as it was presented. I never truly gained appreciation for the cause/effect nature of all of history and although this was a picture my AP US History teacher tried to paint for us, I was subconsciously stubborn and never adopted a more versatile approach to reading in various disciplines.
            The second chapter has me thinking about what skills I may want to foster in my students for chemistry reading. Although I think there is some resonance with the large biology-specific vocobulary and the challenges presented there, I am not positive vocabulary is just as extensive and specific in chemistry as it is in biology. As I read the Chemistry text for the book I am going to use during clinical interviews on Thursday, my thoughts are the biggest reading comprehension challenge that chemistry students may have is recognizing when very heavily quanititative information is expressed in writing. For example, property trends across the periodic table is much more easily expressed in visual form than in writing but ample information on the topic is contained within the text. As we have discussed modeling ad representations the last couple weeks, I come to see that a heavy dose of representations is not only beneficial but NECESSARY for Chemical text, and therefore the comprehension skills needed in Chemistry include not only reading comprehension but representation comprehension, as it pertains specifically to Chemistry.

            Of course, as I postulate this… am I getting too far from the original idea of reading? 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Memo 5, Week 6

 I learned that disciplinary literacy refocuses attention from how well one reads to what one reads well. I really resonated with this point; it reminds me greatly of working from students’ current knowledge rather than trying to force the creation of entirely new knowledge without using current knowledge as a stepping stone. Similarly, asking what one reads well allows instructors to build off of what students already know how to read well; from that point, small steps can be made to improve! Without this method, all knowledge that students previously have is considered meaningless, which is a waste of time for students (why gain knowledge alone if teacher will just reteach later) and for teachers (re-teaching what students already might know partly). Embedding disciplinary literacy everyday into lessons is also paramount to demonstrate the necessity of this skill.

I haven’t previously thought too much about the importance of reading in science, but it is imperative that I emphasize the significance of reading in science as a future teacher. For example, scientific articles contain astounding amounts of information, and since science is perpetually changing its important for all learners to be able to gather information from scientific text easily. In the classroom, I’m excited to use scientific text to help students make connections and see the big picture. At times it can be difficult to piece different scientific facts together into one giant concept, but text will be the vehicle for this aha moment.

Memo #5, Week 6 Readings

This week, we read a lot about the different types of literacies and how they are formed gradually throughout a child's education. One of the striking research findings for me was how American students ranked worldwide in terms of grade level and reading ability. According to the international study, "Fourth-grade U.S. students performed among the best in the world, but eighth graders scored considerably lower, and 10th graders ranked among the lowest of the nations studied" (Buehl, 22). This is pretty disconcerting, since most of us will be teaching high schoolers whose reading skills are potentially at very different levels. How do we address this on a practical level? In a classroom, you will have students who are forming "disciplinary literacy" and others who may have intermediate or even basic levels of literacy. How can we a) maintain a cohesive class with all of these various levels of readers and b) what activities could help all student thrive in terms of literacy, regardless of their starting point?

Another thought that crossed my mind as I read about disciplinary literacy was how the techniques its stresses are often at odds with the goals of standardized tests. Disciplinary literacy stresses a student's ability to engage deeply with the texts that they are presented-- students should be able to make connections across text, synthesize knowledge, and infer the author's message and tone. However, this pretty much exactly contradicts what students are asked to do on the ACT and other standardized tests-- skim the reading, look directly for answers, and oftentimes ignore the meanings of texts for the sake of finishing an exam. Since I feel like both reading strategies are something that the students will have to apply at some point in their high school careers, how can we as educators allow the two to coexist while stressing deeper reading comprehension?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Memo 4 week 5 readings

      All of our readings for this week really led into each other. They in sequence  reflect the importance of adding the personal an group interview to a teachers  repertoire. Russ  and Sherin speak on  them importance of  using research work to help not only bolster their own  knowledge on teaching the subject but knowing what there students know and helping them. This method  allows seasoned  teachers to  see what students know or don't know.  Interviewing  occurs in three stages first the contextualization piece  second the probing of student responses and third to seed new ways of thinking.
        The best way to begin an interview is to pose a question to students about the subject matter. If a student can explain a context  or situation rather than an just a specific problem they  show an aptitude for the concept and can also serve to help struggling get to the position they are in.  The next portion is to   probe students responses. This like an athlete  participating in film study can help teachers become better at what they do. Teachers  can use this face to face film study to see by the participation and reactions of the students how the lesson was received and what can  be improved.  

      The  final portion of the interview process addressed was the  follow up .  One of the most important things during this portion of the interview process is that teachers can actively with their students test scores critique themselves and seek to improve for a better teaching environment. Teachers can engage students poignantly and  pre plan for the next year.

    The next reading  by  Greeno and Hall  out  of Stanford in the    late 90's   focused on the presentation representation methods quite applicable to math and science teachers today.   This at the time was a new method although considered a standard in todays terms as a sort of interactive component in the learning process. Often presentation representation can be grouped as anything from a lab to a PowerPoint or visual aid. These  allow students the opportunity  to present a topic and solidify how much of the material they have really gained and internalized by being able to teach it . Through the use of tables such as a sine and cosine function graph or a web chart of  rain fall in a particular area and plant growth of a native species students are able to also exercise hidden talents such as web design and public speaking during their representational models that will serve them later on in life.

The final reading was of an interview conducted by Ginsburg. I found this interview very in-depth and helpful. Some major points that  I will use as I conduct my interviews are to create and conduct a fun  interview. Students should see this time as something new and fun not another assignment of something that they will receive a grade for. I also will as we look to interview the children from the school of math and science that interviewers take the time to understand the "meaningful norms " of the children. This allows for a age appropriate bubble to be drawn around the children. I think that unfortunately we as educators can be caught up in the need for such a good product on the screen that it is so easy to forget that these future movers and shakers are barely into their teenage years.  Therefore should be treated as such not as small adults.

This weeks readings I feel like were harder to blog about because so much information had to be acted on first. Due to the fact  that we  have not conducted our interviews yet but will soon do so. These readings were simple but powerful and I am more than excited to enlist the ideas learned to conduct a one of a kind amazing interview.


Clinical Interviews and the like

Greeno and Hall's article did a good job connecting last week's reading with this weeks. The authors talk about teaching students how to use their own representations of various topics in order to remember, understand, and use as a launching pad from which to explore further. In my experience, drawing analogies and making connections really cements an idea in my brain. I think this may have been what many of my teachers were getting at when they asked me to come up with examples for such and such a topic. Who knows. One aspect of this that I had not thought of was the importance of many different representations. I've always thought of problem solving as sort of a multi-directional sort of process. Basically I cycle through four or five different possible methods I can use to solve a particular problem then pick one and run with it. I suppose this is sort of the same tune. By being able to see a topic from multiple angles, a student will probably have a deeper understanding of said topic and have a more mature thought process when it comes to solving new problems.

Say, that sounds familiar, eh? If only there were a way for us as teachers to gain a deeper insight into a student's thought process. hm.

Alright so clinical interviews. Lucky we're talking about them here because I'm about to do them in my practicum and I have no idea how I'm supposed to do them. Thankfully this week's readings were chock full of tips and ideas. I personally love the idea of a clinical interview. I think truly knowing one's own thought process is essential to improving it. Know thyself and all that. Ginssberg talks a good deal about trust between the student and teacher. This  makes sense because for the kid's entire academic career there've been right and wrong answers, etc. Not saying it's a bad thing necessarily, but it's just what's so. So putting a student in a situation where not only do they have very little concrete knowledge about the topic you're asking them about, they also have to think hard about their own thought process. Which frankly, can be pretty embarrassing, especially in front of an authority figure. Good thing I will have zero authority over the student when I give a clinical interview later this month. As far as in a real teaching situation, Russ and Gamoran suggested approaching this interview in a more casual, banterish kind of way more than an oral exam kind of way, which is way more fun for both teacher and student. Hopefully.

Alright so now comes time for the biggest question of our time: why? (of course, this question becomes significantly smaller when you qualify it with: why clinical interviews? But it's still an important question). I touched on this briefly before, thinking about why you think what you think does give you a lot more understanding when it comes to topics you do know and a lot more confidence when attacking concepts you don't know. As a teacher, it might benefit you by letting you know what the student knows and what they don't (pre-test, I think was used more than once). Furthermore, it helps you understand how the student thinks, and by extension, how the student learns. Finally, a clinical interview might have the potential to pique a student's curiosity, encouraging them to read and do research on their own time. Wouldn't that be something.

McMullen Memo 4

These readings provided plenty of ideas in preparation for the clinical interview we have this semester. In the Russ and Sherin paper and the Ginsberg chapter, the authors outlined how to actually go about conducting a clinical interview. Russ and Sherin talked about providing context (by asking questions about the phenomena you want them to discuss), probing for understanding (by asking questions to encourage deeper thinking or further explanation of their ideas), and posing new ideas (by offering additional information or presenting a new perspective for them to consider). Ginsberg focused on a blow-by-blow of the clinical interview but heavily emphasized the need for the interviewer to be open to student ideas and to be actively involved in the interview (thinking of new questions, processing what students are saying, etc.). The third paper by Greeno and Hall had less of a clear-cut connection to the other two, but outlined the importance of students creating their own representations of information and providing necessary interpretation.
I found the Greeno and Hall paper very interesting and applicable. In many of my biology labs in high school, we always graphed the results of any labs. However, we were always told exactly what to do in regards to the graph (down to the intervals of the x and y axis). Greeno and Hall focused on the benefits of students creating their own representations. This is something that would be easy to implement in your classroom. Instead of providing step-by-step instructions for creating a graph, encourage students to find a way to represent the data that makes sense to them. At that point, the interpretation of the representation comes in to play. Because students are determining individual ways to represent data, it is necessary for them to interpret that representation and explain what it means, as well as, why they represented the data in that way. Implementing this in the classroom could stimulate some good discussion about why different students represented their data the way they did (good learning opportunity for other students), and it challenges the students to know more about their representation and what it really means (discourages pure memorization as the sole learning experience).

One of the questions I was left with concerned the cost-benefit of clinical interviews. For the first couple of years of teaching, I understand the benefit of clinical interviews. They provide you with the opportunity to see what your students are coming in understanding and where misconceptions may arise. However, after those first few years of teaching, I’m thinking the cost-benefit of clinical interviews may not weigh out in favor of the interviews. At that point, you’ve been exposed to a large number of students and ought to be well aware of where common misconceptions occur, in addition to, what background knowledge they should be coming in to class with. Considering that, does it really make sense to continue doing clinical interviews when they require a large amount of time that may be better used elsewhere? My thought is no unless you have a group of students that don’t seem to align to trends of your previous students, but I’m interested to hear what some of your thoughts are.