Comments for Monday’s Class (7/3/06)

This transition class is always a tough one. We switch from one book to another, we start a new focus on strategies – CL through the eyes of CI. And to top it off, we may have been the only class in session at UVM. (Actually, there were a few more.) I wanted to show the secondary example because we often use just elementary examples. The structures work across all grade levels. But without a focus on your own classroom, the “how does this work for me?” question becomes kind of a nagging itch. Anyway, we’ll continue to refine what all this looks like on Wednesday. Same strategies, different kids. Thanks for your energy today!

The simple fact that kids learn more when they can talk and work together on what it is you want them to know causes teachers to have to shift so many strategic moves in order to enale this to happen in an authentic and personalized way. But that’s the vision. What do you think?

29 Responses to “Comments for Monday’s Class (7/3/06)”

  1. Mary Moore says:

    I hope this isn’t too late to comment on Friday’s class and the posters. First, I really enjoyed this course; I got a lot out of it. I know because now I see learning experiences in a ZPD context. I am amazed at how much Meier and Vigotsky have impacted my life. I also appreciated the other students’ points of view and I thought CR did a great job of master-minding the course as a whole. I am just beginning this Post Bac. process, but so far it has been well worth it.

    I loved seeing the different posters. They were pretty creative and it was interesting to watch the other students explain their work. I hope everyone has a great summer!

  2. Charlie says:

    Hello everyone, I wanted this class to have some guts to it . I’m not a big person for the “do a class in a school, do little real work, do three credits” form of coursework. It appears to me that you all were pushing each other intellectually and that the time demands were pushing you physically. The presentations were very powerful; they were where you did your best work. Most of all, I saw connections being made to our content. I’m not a big fan of “coverage” in a course. I prefer to try to find a way for each person to find a way to “go deep” on something and I think that happened. I apologize for not having the comment area prepared each day. But look what happened. You all just went ahead and did it! These are pretty amazing comments, you are processing what occurred in the midst of us, and as much as any place in our eight days together, this comment section shows our shared knowledge. You took it over and did what you had to do. Radical idea. I’ve put a bunch of pictures in the resource section. A few are thumbnails – they’ll get bigger if you click on them. I’ll put emails up tomorrow, as many as I have. All the best to each of you. It is never easy, but it was a blast being with you, individually and as a group. Charlie.

  3. Leah says:

    Just wanted to thank everyone for a great experience. Hearing all of your experiences and stories really helped me put all of the information into context since I really don’t have much experience of my own. I learned a lot from you all. Thanks!

  4. Kevin Cook says:

    Please see the note below to understand my frustration with the web posting stuff, if you are interested, but that is not what this message is about.

    I enjoyed meeting all of you and listening and learning from your comments in class. I especially enjoyed today’s projects and the passion and enthusiasm I heard in them. Thanks to you, I will enter summer vacation enthused and hopeful about the future of public education. I am really impressed with the excitement I saw.

    Those of you who are new, please anticipate frustration, but be aware that you are making a difference and your persistent advocacy is changing the world. Haley, the parents will not always love you, but they do not have to. Have confidence in your knowledge and rely on your heart.

    As a father of two young girls (10 and 8 years old), I am constantly reminded of how much you, their teachers, mean to them. I enjoy my summers with them, but summer cannot help but remind me of how much time I do not spend with them. They are precious, and I am thankful that their teachers really care about them.

    (As I preview this, I realize that I should apologize for the misspelling in my “one-pager;” a writer should know how to spell “writer.”)

    My past summer, two-week course experiences have been in the area of what, I guess, is called “continuing education.” Typically, they have been in-service courses at school, with the rest of the staff, that offer three UVM graduate credits for a week of attendance and a “project” that usually goes along with what we’re already doing. They are not taxing.

    I saw this course and thought it might be similar, but I was wrong. I offer this only as some explanation (and apology) for those of you who worked so hard on your posters. My project was separate from my project, and I finished my reflections at 7:15 this morning. My poster came next. I apologize for its existence. (The hat on Lev was from Che, a revolutionary. I HAD big ideas for it, but they ended up small.)

    Thank you all.

    Finally, my frustration happened again today–I started writing this earlier, and I had writtine quite a bit, when it disappeared. I do not know how or why–I may have inadvertently hit a key that sends all off into the ether. Please clue me in on how to do these web-log/webCT things in an efficient manner, as I am technologically illiterate….

    Enjoy summer!

  5. Brooke says:

    I haven’t commented except once so I thought I would try to squeeze in one more comment before class is officially over and graded:) I just wanted to say that I thought everyone did a great job on presentations and posters. It was really interesting to see how everyone had interpreted the books that we all read. No two posters were the same or really even similar. I also took a lot from the presentations. I am excited to use what I have learned from all of you in my student teaching in the fall. Have a great rest of the summer!

  6. Leah says:

    I really enjoyed thursday’s class (7/7). Hearing everyone’s examples of how the ZPD relate to their lives really helped. I also really liked all of the presentations. It was fun to see what people were really interested in and the difference ways they approached it. They left me with so much to think about!

  7. Mary Moore says:

    I really enjoyed Thursday’s class. I loved the presentations because everyone had a different approach and focused on different topics. Some topics overlapped, but I found that to be positive. I also enjoyed listening to everyone’s ZPD experience. I think most of the memorable experiences from our past were ZPD experiences.

  8. Kevin Cook says:

    Hi again,

    my earlier posting appears to reflect a frustration with responses to our entries, but that is not my intenet; I am just trying to figure out where it all goes; should there be a new “entry space” for comments about today’s (Thursday’s) class, or should we continue to post comments where we can and hope that they end up in the right place? Sorry about my confusion.

    I really enjoyed Thursday’s class discussion. In addition to learning something interesting about many of my classmates, I also had the very reassuring experience wherein many of my questions about the terminolgy regarding CI were answered. Thanks, all!

  9. Darcie Jensvold says:

    I have to say- two years ago when I was first introduced to the ideas of Vygotsky I didn’t really get it. After today’s class when everyone shared a time when they were “in the zone” I got it. For me, stories really illuminate the idea. This shouldn’t be that shocking to me as the feedback I get on Huck Finn is the same. Kids tell me they really begin to understand slavery, racism, etc when they read Huck.

  10. Katie Mack says:

    I think I, too, am in Kevin’s ZPD. Despite the label for comments on Monday’s class I just wanted to say how nice it was to hear everyone’s personal stories about being in the Zone of Proximal Development. Listening to everyone’s interpretation of the reading and diagram really helped me to bettwe understand the nuances of Vygotsky’s theory. I think it lends validity to the first Berliner article we read – educational psychology, to be most effective, must be told through both data and stories.

  11. Kevin says:

    honestly, where are we expected to post, and how do we know whether we have posted correctly? If this is the webct thingy, I say “super!” If it’s not, I still say “super!” I have been submitting again and again, but the feedback is inconsistent. I don’t know whether or not my messages get through.

    Maybe I’m just an idiot, but I thought I should record my idiocy for future generations. I do not believe that I am wrong.

    I must be in the zone of proximal development.

  12. Kristen Courcelle says:

    Thursdays class discussions raised some important dialogue surrounding the language and thought connection. Andrea’s story was something our discussion group focused on and I enjoyed the further depth of our conversations back in class as a whole group. I still think that perhaps Andrea’s verbal thought might be the illustrations and/or the drawings served as a stepping stone for her to really process her learning and be able to report it back to the class.

    I’d also like to comment on Jan Marie’s point about Meier’s importance of professional dialogue. I’ve reflected on the importance of having this opportunity in the past because I think it’s something we don’t get enough time to do often enough. I think it really builds the strength of CPE.

  13. Jan Marie says:

    This is more in response to Gavin’s comment. I could not agree more that schools need to be allowing for more teacher interaction and discourse. One thing that struck me in the Meier text was the ability that the school gave its teachers to meet with eachother on a regular basis to discuss students, goings on, and perhaps strategize about ways to help one another in order to raise the effectiveness of the entire school. In my opinion, this is exactly what Vygotsky is talking about when he says that talking through issues and knowledge is a valuable tool in our actual grasping and internalizing that knowledge.

  14. joe says:

    The “milkshake” conversation was a good example of understanding language and context. I thought it illustrated Vigotsky’s point pretty clearly. I am pretty sure that none of us will be able to order a milkshake with out smiling and thinking of Vygotsky.

    Understaning a student’s lexicon is so important into befriending them and teaching. As one of the worksheets pointed out, the amount of indirect instruction leads to better performance in the classroom.

  15. jmonahan says:

    I just have to say that I am still laughing about the “milkshake” discussion from class today. I know this does not “count” as an entry, but just had to get it out.


  16. kevin says:

    I’m just trying to post a comment on today’s class, but I seem to be stuck on Monday’s class.

    Vygotsky talks about taking what we know to learn what we want or need to know. The conversation in today’s class gets to the bottom of that, I think. I’m glad to see that there is research that will give us tools to help us around becoming caught up in discussions semantics and philosophy, as compelling as I might find them. The recognition that we are all speaking a different “language,” even if all of us are speaking English, can help us work toward developing starting point regarding language.

  17. Gavin Wallace says:

    OK, let me try this again…I was thinking about what Charlie said in leading up to his focusing question. He stated: “kids learn more when they can talk and work together…” The majority of our discussions have focused on how different teaching styles (DI, CI, etc.) can be employed to help students learn. I am in no way disaggreeing with this I would add an “and” thought that says that both students AND teachers can learn most effectively when given the opportunity to talk and work together. Vygotsky proposes that growth and learning comes from the exchange of ideas through language. If we are endeavoring to provide stduents with classroom models that engage them in meaningful ways should’nt we also be creating opportunities for professional development that allow teachers to do the same?

  18. Gavin Wallace says:

    I was thinking about what CR said leading up to his question. CR wrote: “The simple fact that kids learn more when they can talk and work together.” So much of what we have been talking about in class (DI, CI, etc.) focuses on the belief that students can learn more (better?) when given to opportunity to engage with each other in the process. As Vygotsky proposes learning comes from constant discourse, the exchange of ideas through language. I am in no way dissagreeing with this, I would just like to put out that the same can be said for teachers as for students. If we believe that students can learn better from group work, from discussion, should’nt the same be true for teachers as well? Would we be able to advance our own practice and improve student learning if we were given opportunities to “talk and work together”? Teaching can be a very isolated practice. It is not often that we allowed or encouraged to make our practice public.

  19. Gavin Wallace says:

    I was thinking about what CR said leading up to his question. CR wrote: “The simple fact that kids learn more when they can talk and work together.” So much of what we have been talking about in class (DI, CI, etc.) focuses on the belief that students can learn more (better?) when given to opportunity to engage with each other in the process. As Vygotsky proposes learning comes from constant discourse, the exchange of ideas through language. I am in no way dissagreeing with this, I would just like to put out that the same can be said for teachers as for students. If we believe that students can learn better from group work, from discussion, should’nt the same be true for teachers as well? Would we be able to advance our own practice and improve student learning if we were given opportunities to “talk and work together”? Teaching can be a very isolated practice. It is not often that we allowed or encouraged to make our practice public. Could we improve student learning by applying the same approaches of effective teaching to professional development?

  20. jim monahan says:

    I enjoyed looking at the video and agree with Katie, I wonder about content getting lost in the confusion of the activity. Although it is not always possible, I try and have students write after an activity where they may have been confusion. Reading a refection really is a good indicator of what the student took away from the activity. It also looks at group dynamics, it that if a group ‘seemed’ successful, yet only 1 student “got it” then I did not do my job. Another aspect of the chemistry video that I thought about was how messy things did look. It was helpful that it was not just my classroom.

  21. Katie Mack says:

    The CI video was simultaneously daunting and inspiring to me. To address the last first, it was wonderful to see foootage of a real classroom where an intructional method was being utilized to a degree of success. Additionally, the “zaps” were also inspiring to me as a first year teacher – even veterans, employing a highly effective method of instruction don’t get everything right 100% of the time. While these facets served to bolster my perception of classroom realities I was also intimidated by the large amount of work and oorganization that went into preparing a CI assignment. It raised the question for me – does content get lost in students grappling and attempting to understand an intricate and complex process?

  22. Kevin Cook says:

    The CI lesson was thought-provoking. In my own classroom, I use groups for specific activities that groupwork seems to be able to address with as little inefficiency as possible. Charlie’s comment that CI is NOT efficient, and can be messy at times, is my experience. At the same time, I have not familiarized myself with research in this area, which seems to speak for itself. I’ll have to keep looking into this.

    My ninth graders tend to roll their eyes at the idea of groupwork. Sure, they like it, but they do not see it as beneficial. Some go so far as to brag about their experience of feeling they “got good grades in teams” during seventh and eighth grades without doing any work at all. I’m sure they learned something, but they do not seem to respect what they learned or their role in their learning.

    Finally, the “retard” comment really hit me. We strive to create a safe and encouraging classroom atmosphere for all our students. If that is missing, we have lost the war, not just the battle. If even one kid is being put down and the class structure has allowed it to happen without my awareness, that is one kid too many. Sure, they behave that way. So did I. So DO I, at times. The classroom is not the place for it. I think that’s what bothered me so much about Miguel’s story on day one: the teacher had let the groupwork continue even though she could plainly see that Miguel was not thriving. The excuse that such things happen, and we should be preparing students for such meanness in the “real world” by leaving the victims of such inequities in our schools to “work through it” on their own is a slippery slope. At what point do we draw the line? What, exactly, should no student have to “work through” on his own? What should every student be resilient enough to “work through” on his own?

  23. Jessica Schechter says:

    I found the video very interesting. I really liked how organized the teacher was, and how clearly she outlined the assignment, and the students roles. It was very structured and clear so that the students each knew what they were responsible for.

  24. Terrence Landberg says:

    Our discussion on Complex Instruction got me thinking about issues of classroom conduct and climate, and I was wondering where this might fit on the CI organization chart. The maintenance of a safe, non-threatening classroom atmosphere seems like it would be a significant component of attempting to create equal status interactions among all students, but it isn’t mentioned on the chart. When using group work, I always state – even if I’ve said it a thousand times before – that students must maintain their decorum and keep their comments constructive. Not that this eliminates all negative behavior, but I do think it’s worthwhile to remind students that mutual respect is a key element of your classroom.

  25. Jan Marie says:

    This was my first experience with complex instruction, at least in the formal sense. I had a difficult time understanding the dialogue in the video during class, but I did feel like overall the group work seemed to be successfull in acheiving the teacher’s goal to have her students acheive deeper meaning with the period chart of elements. I think this type of instruction would work wonderfully in an elementary classroom, and I find it interesting that this type of instruction has success not only academically, but also socially, in terms of changing the ways in which students view themselves and others. Although this particular “snapshot” of CI in a the high school classroom illustrated the harshness of students toward one another, I feel that over time, they may soften to those they must work with in the long term.

  26. Ellen says:

    I thought the complex instruction video was interesting. It gave me insights as to how I can better make DI work in my first grade. I’m the type that tends to use bits and pices of strategies that work, but I can see that really using the whole CI structure, from pre-teaching to wrap-up could produce some good results. I was interested to read the example of reaching the “one” student by using CI in the Dottie’s Story reading.I thought the class status ranking activity was very interesting as well. I would like to try it.

  27. Kristen Courcelle says:

    I found the information, video and discussions on complex instruction today to be very helpful. I am familar with complex instruction from my undergrad course work, workshops (Charlies’s from VT Teacher’s Convention in 2001–I think) and from usage in my own classroom. I’ve used CI in the past for reading and science activities. It’s something that I like to try to use in other areas and more often now that I have been reinspired. I am curious to know what my students (and others-such as those in the video) think about CI work. I haven’t had my students process or reflect on the CI itself and I think it would be interesting to know that. I also think that it would be interesting to give a status survey in the beginning of the year and again in the end of the year after doing CI rotations to see if there is any impact. Not sure if that would be enough to see a change over a year, but the status survey seems like it would provide some interesting data.

  28. Mary (Polly) Moore says:

    I thought the video was very helpful. The teacher obviously put a lot of time into organizing this classroom structure. At first, there were so many lists she was reading from that I found it confusing, but if she used this same format for a while, I’m sure the students became comfortable with it.

    I also was interested in the depth the students went to in their journals where they probably felt “safe” enough to truly express their knowledge of chemistry. That also says something about the teacher. High school is different from elementary school. I think in elementary school, students are less inhibited about showing enthusiasm for a project or an experiment.

  29. brooke says:

    I learned about CI and CL with you some in 178. It was really interesting to see what it actually looked like, rather than just reading about it. I also know that for my student teaching in the fall, I will be using CI during my solo teaching, so its great to be focusing on it again. One of the things that I found really interesting was something that Alex talked about. When I first saw how the students were working in groups I honestly wasn’t that impressed. They weren’t talking all that much, and they didn’t seem that excited. HOwever, I forgot that this is how highschool students act. It actually was really impressive that they did work in groups, and got the work done. I am guessing that CI ‘looks’ a lot different in elementary school classrooms, where students tend to show more emotion.

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