Monday, November 17, 2008

Schultz's Pedagogy in Comparison to the Pedagogy of Poverty

Looking at Schultz's pedagogy in his book Spectacular Things Happen Along the Way: Lesson from an Urban Classroom in comparison to Martin Haberman's description of The Pedagogy of Poverty, we see something very different. Looking at Schultz's pedagogy at Carr Academy, we rarely see the teaching acts that constitute the core functions of urban teaching: giving information, asking questions, reviewing tests, giving tests, and the rest of the menu of urban teaching. What we see is the opposite; we see good teaching: "Whenever students are involved with issues they regard as vital concerns, good teaching is going on." After listed major problems in need of fixing in their school, the students in Schultz' class came to the conclusion that they need a new school--a curriculum was created on students' needs--good teaching was going on.
As Haberman tells us in his list of good of teaching, "Whenever students are actively involved, it is likely that good teaching is going on." To get a new school, the fifth graders created a website, survey, petition, and short-film. These students were actively involved in finding a solution to a problem that needs to be solved. Schultz breaks the mold of the core functions of urban teaching while elicit compliance with the system.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Introducting Spectacular Things

I started reading Schultz's Spectacular Things Happen Along the Way: Lessons form an Urban Classroom a week ago. I wanted to complete the reading assignments as fast as I could, so I can work on my IQ project--I wanted to kill two birds with one stone. That didn't happen--my stone killed no bird. I stopped reading the book after the first two chapters because I had more important things to take care like working on my IQ project which I did not work on. So, yesterday, I started reread Schultz's book.

I must confess, going back a week ago, at first I didn't find the book interesting or "spectacular." I don't know why. Things took a turn for the better, I started getting the "juice" of the book. Clearly, what the students in Room 405 were doing were not solving a textbook problem. They were doing spectacular things; things that haven't done in my decade and a half of education. These fifth graders in Carr Academy were learning math, reading, writing, social studies, and other things on a curriculum based on one thing--getting a new school. I don't know how Schultz did it. Nonetheless, Schultz was able to mold all the above content while these fifth grades in Room 405 fought for what their Board of Education had promised them six years ago--a new school.

The fifth graders in Room 405 went to a school that had no lunchroom or a gym. As the children tell us in their 'pizza thing' that they had to eat in the hallway and they had to use a gym across the street for physical education and extracurricular activities. Furthermore, their classroom which supposes to be a learning environment had no AC or heat. Their restrooms were fiflty and smelly; they had leaky sinks; they were no soap or paper towels;and no bargage cans in the restrooms, as they tell us in their 'pizza thing.' Man, reading their descriptions of their school, I thought those fifth graders were describing inside my good, old, high school. However, looking back and started to think, I realized my school wasn't that better in comparison to Carr Academy. These kids had it worst than me. That's all I have for now. I'll return with more about Spectacular Things Happen Along the Way: Lessons form an Urban Classroom.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Annotated Bibliography

Rodriguez, A.J. (1998, December). Strategies for counter-resistance: Toward sociotransformative constructivism and learning to teach science for diversity and for understanding. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 35(6), 589-622.

The above article is the fifth entry article in my annotated bibliography for my inquiry project. This article looks at how science is taught by science teachers. The author believes, as he tells us in the article, that there need to be “an alternative orientation to teaching and learning science that takes into account how social, historical, and institutional contexts influence learning and access to learning in schools” (Rodriguez, 1998, 590). Basically, the author is arguing that there need to be a transformative instruction to teach diverse students science. Hence, as he explains in his article, we need to “to teach for understanding and diversities that implement more culturally inclusive, socially relevant pedagogical strategies and more intellectually meaningful pedagogical strategies” (ibid.). This article suggests what teaching needs is a progressive instruction that links multicultural and social institutions that are seen in urban schools in science instruction. In an attempt, the author suggests a sociatransformative constructivist as the vehicle to link learning for understanding and diversities in urban schools. By using this orientation, as the author explains, “helps teachers learn to teach for diversities and understanding” (589). One problem with the article, and most studies that I have read, is the article does not provide empirical evidences or guidance about how the proposed changes can be implemented in the classroom. As a matter of fact, the author critiques such flaw in his article. As he explains in the article, “The result of the project reported here address lack of empirical evidence in the multicultural/learning-to-teach literature” (593). Looking ahead at my inquiry project, I believe I will have the same problem the author faces in the article: lack of empirical evidence for the paper because constructivism pedagogy lacks information that systematically gathers and exposes to a variety of methodology checks. As of right now, i don't know how I'll tackle or discuss such issue in my paper.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Transformative Instruction: A Case for Constructivism Pedagogy in Learning Biological Science in Urban Schools

As of right, until I'm told that I need to make change on the title, this will be the title of my inquiry project. The thesis, as of right now, of the paper: there need to be a transformative instruction in teaching biological science in urban high schools. Science teachers might need to shift their practices of biological science instruction to better meet the needs of their ethnically diverse students in urban schools. Science contents, in urban schools, like biological science are taught by science teachers in two types of resistances: resistance to ideological change and resistance to pedagogical change (Rodriguez, 1998, 589). Follow the leader, classrooms have diversified, science instruction needs to follow suit. Second, since science contents will become part of high-stake testings, as a result, it is important to find ways to teach science contents like biological science to urban students. Third, the paper asserts that there is an achievement gap in science in urban schools and the standard that is placed on urban students will do no good because, as Gale Seiler (2001) explains in her article Reversing the “standard” direction: Science emerging from the lives of African American students, "such approach fails to address the roles of cultural and social [institutions] play in the lives of urban students" (1000). As a result, we need to find ways to tailor biological science curriculum to the needs and interests of urban students. Furthermore, we need to find mechanisms to diminish the disparities that are seen in biological science curriculum in urban schools. I suggest the use of constructivism pedagogy as an approach to teach biological science in urban schools because: (1) this form of pedagody, as Patchen & Cox-Perton (2008) explains, "provides a means of increacing marginalized students' access to science and technological fields" (994); (2) it, as Lee et. al (2008) puts it, "contributes the emerging knowledge base on science and English language and literacy with English Language Learner (ELL) students" (733). Oh yeah, I will need to do a case study of a classroom teacher to investigate whether and how constructivism pedagody can be used as a tool to teach meaningful biological science to urban high school students.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Community Inquiry Project: The Level of Science Literacy in Newark

One of our major assignments for our urban class is to design a community inquiry project. For this week, we are to brainstorm a topic that we would like to examine for our community inquiry project. For the last few days I have been thinking about my community inquiry project. What topic(s) that I would like to examine for my community inquiry project? For the last few days I could not answer that question. For inspiration, I decided to check out the topics that my fellow classmates had decided to examine for their inquiry project. Man, to say the least, there are some great topics that are posted on my classmates' blogs. Although my classmates came up with great topics to examine for their community project; however, I believe their ideas are to grand: these ideas require in depth analyses and a great amount of research--my classmates' topics need to be in the sugular level.

As a result, I have decided that my topic needs to be a simple one, not superb. Something that we can examine in depth without going aboard with ideals like how we can fix urban schools. So, for my community project, I would like to know how the Office of Science of Education plans to raise the level of science literacy in Newark, specifically biology. In order to do, I will examine one of the high schools in Newark and what they are doing to raise the level of science literacy of their students. What types of programs they are providing students? The kind of biology classes students are taking; their scores in high stakes tests; and other things that I haven't think of yet. Next, I will do an evaluation of the school's plan to raise students' level of science literacy. Are they succeeding or failing? If they are failing, what needs to be done to create a better plan to raise students' level of science literacy? That's all I have for know.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Culture Collage: Why?

Last week in my urban class I prepared a culture collage "that visually depicts my individual and 'teachers' identities, as well as the 'source(s)' of these identities, particularly as it relates to me as 'being with and of culture.'" The culture collage was a dreadful experience; something I hope I never experience in my life. Why? Why you say such a thing, many of you are thinking. 'The culture collage gave me an opportunity to examine what experiences, people, things, etc. that are important to me" as one student happily explains in his/her blog. The student is absolutely correct. Nonetheless, an opportunity that I wished I had refused. Seeing these pictures that I chose in my culture collage send chill through my veins and brought feelings and old memories that I had bottle tightly inside my heart. It must be known, I'm not a touchy or emotional person. I don't like to huge people except beautiful women. I don't like to share my feelings--not even to those I consider dear to my heart. I'm not a cold hearted person--I like to keep things to myself. I'm somewhat of a loner--there's nothing more fun being alone in my room by myself listen to music.

The culture collage caused me to remove myself out my comfort zone. I didn't like. Looking at old pictures of myself and people that are important in my life and had shaped my life brought a feeling of sorrow. I'm not going to explain in details about how I felt looking at these pictures because I don't have the balls to do so. I know it would have being great if I write them down. However, i don't have the guts to do so. As I always do, I will keep those touchy feelings to myself. And don't even ask to elaborate my feelings in my blog or in class. I will not do it. The only thing that I wanted you guys to know, unlike most people in the class, the culture collage was a dreadful experience. I did it out of necessity and it's worth 12.5% of my grade.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


This is the last post concerning the NJRCL report and the book Unequal Childhoods. This post will focus on what ways these information from the NJRCL report and Unequal Childhoods is useful (or not) for me. As a future teacher, I believe I can use these information as tools to learn about my students and structure a learning environment. Next year, I will be teaching in an environment that is part of Essex County and resembles the poor communities in Unequal Childhoods. I will have students that are struggling to obtain basic needs; students that live in foster homes; students that are poor; and other problems that are not mention in the report or the book. For theses students, school will not be one of their top priorities; finding a job to help mom pays the rent or putting food on the table will have priority over school. It will be hard as a teacher to convince these students that school is important for getting ahead in life when they are facing these social problems. I will have my hands full as a teacher.

However, reading the report and the book provided me with information concerning the challenges and concerns that urban students face in their daily life. I, myself, is a product of urban schooling. Even though, I never faced these problems that poor children in the book faced while living in an urban community. I knew a few students that faced these challenges and concerns like coming to school early for breakfast because there's no food at home. Teaching in an urban community will be a challenge. I will need all the skills and dispositions in my hands to face these problems. I will need to know how to deal with unrulling students because I will have a few. I know class will consist mostly of dealing with behavioral problems. Teaching will sometimes be frustrated because most of my students will be in lower grade level. As a future urban teacher, I believe I will need to be somewhat compassion, and don't jump to conclusion about my students. I believe the latter one is very important for teachers teaching in an urban school because knowing where your students come from provide you with a view of their struggles and what they have to go through day to day. We seldom forget about our students' live outside the classroom and jump to conclusion about our students. I think reading the report and the book provide teachers like me a view of our students' live outside the classroom. My friend, for most urban students' live outside the classroom is groosome and harsh. Let us take these things into account when we teacher urban students.