Thursday, November 17, 2011

Promising Practices

The Workshop:

I was amazed to see so many students on a Saturday morning on campus. I believed we all thought at some point "Ugh, why am I here? It's so early."

I was assigned to workshop A which was my first choice. I did not know what informal education was and so it sparked my interest to find out more about it. My Statistics professor, Mary Sullivan, was one of the presenters for the first session. She asked everyone to introduce ourselves to make use of time since the tech crew was late. It was a great idea even though I did not remember names. I learned that informal education was education outside of the typical classroom. An example would be after school programs such as clubs and summer school. Teachers might want to consider informal education if a traditional classroom is just not their style and if they love to work with young people. It's something new to try with a lot of options that can expand the concept of teaching.

We had another presenter his name was Alex. He gave us information about the organization PASA (click here for web page). They help schools integrate the skills learned during the regular school hours with hands on applications. It gives students the opportunity to explore the world which undoubtedly will lead to career choices with those experiences. It's a chance for students to practice the skills they learned. I liked that Alex showed the video where math was being applied outside the classroom. It allows students to see that math is used everyday and it's all around us. Applying the sills learned to real world situations tells students why they are learning the content in their classrooms. Below is a PASA video of the AfterZone Summer program that shows an example of the applications of classroom skills.

Cooking is one of my favorite things to do and that made the second session fun to listen to. Foodies is an Americorps program that allow students to apply subjects taught in the classroom to food and cooking. Located in the Henry Barnard School, they create three course meals that reflect a very diverse population. It is a great experience for students to connect with each other through something that comforts us such as food. During their activities, differences such as IEP's and behavior issues seemed to go away. Cooking different recipes creates an exposure to culture. At times, they would play music according to the culture while making their recipes. The presenters told us how cooking involves science, language arts, history and math. I cook my meals daily and I've never realized all of those subjects were related to cooking. The connection amazed me.

The Expo, Personal Thought and Teen Empowerment:

I was only interested in getting information for the PASA AfterZone. I found a couple of friends when I looked around the expo and stayed with them throughout the rest of the conference. My friend Bill and I exchanged thoughts of the workshop we attended. It was nice to know that we both had similar goals as a teacher. Although his content major is English and mine is Math, we both had horrible teachers in high school for those subjects. That is why we want to be teachers. We want to make it a better experience for future students and that means making English and Math fun and interesting.

Teen empowerment is a very great organization. I liked the sharing of their stories. It was inspirational and I knew it had an impact because a friend of my friend went up to one of the speakers and shook her hand and told her to keep doing what she is doing. What teen empowerment taught us was skills to use within the classroom. Those skills are used to have some sort of connection in the classroom and to get an individual to feel that they matter in the class and that they do have a voice. I really would like to use the game they played using the chairs (almost like musical chairs except someone has to talk freely about a certain word) in my future classroom. Below is a picture of Teen Empowerments Theory of Change.

The Connections:

I think in general everything I have learned throughout the conference can be sorted into one theme, change. It's kind of like Delpit's rules, codes and conducts of power. When you realize what you posses and what you are capable of in a set of rules and conducts, you can create change just like how Teen Empowerment does. After the first session there was a discussion about our society's education system and how there should be more hands on experience in a typical school day. Our traditional environment of teaching has been the way it is for years and implementing a new system would be difficult. It's like the cycle Johnathan Kozol talked about in his article. People get used to the system and when there comes change, it's like tradition. Language is a part of culture and culture is a part of cooking. Collier says that for success in another language, first language skills should be embraced. I see that being applied to the Foodies program. Students are very diverse and cooking that involves honoring the culture helps embrace that first language diverse students may have.

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