The Heart of the Matter: What I’ve learned from my students about Being the Book and Being the Change A Teacher Research Retrospective, 1991-2011 From the studies: You Gotta BE the Book, Going with the Flow,and Teaching for Love and Wisdom Jeffrey D. Wilhelm
TEACHING WITH A SENSE OF URGENCY: There is nowhere to hide And we are aiming much too low The needs and demands placed on our students are ever growing. The problems we face in the world are growing in complexity. The issues are global. The yardstick for success is both individual and systemic.
The old preacher: The trajectory of my teaching and research over 20 years Engagement and improved reading (You Gotta BE the Book, Imagining to Learn) Engagement, literacy, deeper learning and understanding (Chevys, Flow) Engagement, literacy, and transformative living (Teaching Literacy for Love and Wisdom) When we teach for greater literacy and understanding this can easily be in service of joy, love and wisdom!
A couple of anecdotes from The You Gotta BE the Book study Teaching Engaged and Reflective Reading
Walter “In school, all you do is. . .” My van “I’m making this. . .” The importance of allowing students to stake their identity and to move from their prior interests and strengths to develop new interests and learning As teachers, we must help students to do their own work in a way that speaks or contributes to the culture’s or discipline’s work, not our “schoolish” work. (cf. correspondence concept) Students need to be engaged in collaborative work where they make and do things that stake their identity and are of social use for themselves, others and the community.
Preparing for Entry There are interdependent dimensions of engagement and response: Entering the Story World *Willingness to Enter and Getting Inside the Textual World *Interest in the Action or Ideas of the Text Activating a priori interests and schema
Marvin; Ron and Jon “See? See? I see nothing but . . .” “Holy crap, compared to you I’m . . . like . . .” Modeling, moving from the concrete to abstract, distributed expertise “Reading IS Seeing” and we must assist students in the HOW- to see what they read and to represent what they have learned to others. Kids often learn from each other what they will not learn from us.
Scott Paris: Constrained vs. Unconstrained Skills Constrained – no further benefit after certain level of mastery is attained: letters, sounds, phonemic awareness, names, decoding, fluency, prototypical features of print and text. “These are minimal competencies. . . . Learned best in service of unconstrained skill development. Unconstrained – developed with benefits throughout a lifetime: conceptual knowledge, comprehension, genre knowledge, inferencing capacity, etc.
Evoking the Textual World Imagining the Textual World *Relating to Characters: becoming, empathizing, observing characters - readers created characters and took up relationships with them. The reader often became a presence in the story and made judgments about characters. *Seeing the Story World: Seeing settings, situations and characters - the readers noticed clues for creating mental images and envisioned characters, settings and situations
Fiona and the Pirates! The Power of Drama We need to immerse students in the hands-on experience and joy of experiencing and living through new ideas, story worlds, people and events All the arts, drama, simulations and action strategies are powerful tools to teach reading and to promote deep understanding. They are “transitional objects” for outgrowing ourselves and our capacities
Connecting and Extending Connecting to and Extending the Textual World *Connecting: bringing and relating the text to life - the readers made explicit connections between personal experiences and character experiences, often looking for ideas that could inform how they could solve problems or think about situations in their own life. *Elaborating on the Textual World: filling textual gaps, creating new situations and episodes - the readers built up clues from throughout the story to create meaning. The readers played detective, fleshed out clues and filled in story gaps, often creating meaning that went well beyond that suggested by the text.
“When I’m in trouble – particularly with thinking about how to treat another person – I want Huck Finn in the bullpen ready to pitch.” But I have made stories based on actual dreams that I remember – and they are all based on manga – like Hiko and Taiyo-Jun. I write fanfics based on these dreams and mostly they are about figuring out or rehearsing how to deal with problems that are troubling me. In fanfics you can put people together from different stories. Try things out. It is a way of deciding who would be good for each other, play out the relationships in new ways, explore stuff, see what happens when ideas come together. Haas-Dyson on Superheroes; Newkirk on choice
Reflective Dimensions Reflecting on the Experienced Textual World *Reflecting on the significance of events and behavior *Recognition of literary conventions *Recognizing Reading as a Transaction involving an Author *Understanding and Evaluation of Author, and the Self as Reader. Transforming and applying what has been experienced and learned
Tony and Robbie “We believe even stronger because now we have some doubt . . . We have some respect for the people we disagree with . . . ” The need to see multiple perspectives to achieve deep understanding Throughdrama and other forms of reflection we can safely engage with perspectives that are distant from us in time, space, or understanding Through reflection we can prepare for future interactions and action Powerful teaching and learning are always political and social in various ways
Kevin Answering the questions vs. “You Gotta BE the Book!” “Hey, maybe I could get good at this!” The importance of metacognition and reflection to all learning; the importance of naming what you do as a reader and learner Students must be active participants and spectators on their own learning
What I learned from Nikolai “I think I forgot . . .” The Importance of Competence and developing competence in visible and obvious ways We must highlight and build from student interests and competence when we teach
From Drake “It’s not like she could fix a . . .” The importance of functional value We must teach so that what is learned is functional, exportable and applicable, so that what is learned is personally relevant to students and socially significant in the world.
Thought Experiment Think of something you really love to do - something you would be doing right now (instead of this!) if you possibly could be . . . What are the characteristics of that activity that make you love it?
Two points: Essentialization of students, cf. context-dependency and the Pygmalion effect. Motivation is situational, not personal, depending on the conditions of the context. I.e. motivation is context dependent and under our control to promote!
Functionality and the Correspondence Concept Inquiry strategies ARE comprehension strategies Reading and writing are tools, not goals; they must be in service of larger purposes We learn the WHAT through the WHY and the HOW Taking Action: How can we make what we do in school match the correspondence concept?
Flow and the conditions of motivating situations Purpose, Goals, Immediate Feedback Assistance as needed to be successful Developing Competence and Control Immersion in the Immediate Experience The Importance of the Social
Rev and Jason “English is about nothing!” “It’s a bitter pill and you just have to swallow it!” The importance of purpose and of context to all learning: situated cognition Motivation is largely situational; the power of FLOW (Czikszentmihalyi, 1990)
The power of purpose Fiona and Algebra 2: “in school!” vs. the correspondence concept (text and disciplinary specific strategies) Fiona and History: “Why do I have to do this stuff?” vs. making it matter, e.g. The textile industry in the Middle Ages as What causes civilizations to rise and fall? The grammar test: “I would have learned more about [grammar] by writing a paper!” What do you want your students to say about your class at their dinner table?
Wolf; Bam “Why don’t teachers get hip to the here and the now?” “I don’t want to be taught for who I’m going to be tomorrow; I want to be taught for who I am today!” Teach for the immediate moment – for today and for who kids are today – for immediate functional value, exportability and use!! (If you are not teaching for understanding and use, then . . .
The Power of Inquiry Motivating Modeling Mentoring Monitoring Multiple Modalities Multiple Measures Leading to deep understanding and use INQUIRY MEETS ALL THE CONDITIONS OF FLOW!
Thought Experiment #2 Think of something challenging and significant that you have learned to do . . . How were other people implicated in your learning to do this activity . . . Both distant teachers (authors, practitioners/models in the world) and close teachers, fellow learners, supporters, et al . . . ?
The chevy and flow boys: The contract to care in schools The importance of relationship: A teacher shouldtry to get to know me personally care about me and recognize me as an individual attend to my interests in some way (in or outside of class) help me learn, and work to make sure I have learned be passionate, committed, work hard, and know your stuff INQUIRY MEETS ALL THE CONDITIONS FO THE SOCIAL CONTRACT!
“Young people who thrive have encountered deep connection. They feel they belong – that people know them. Suffering and violence trail the lives of those who are without such connections…Students who thrive have had parents or teachers who have provided a wealth of opportunities for deep connection.” (Kessler, 2000, p. 19)
“You Gotta BE the Book” = literacy response as a path towards wisdom Evoke experience: the present made present (and the past made present); Art as “making special”, as a “transitional object” paving the way to new possibilities for thinking, believing, being and becoming. Connect: the present made past- self to text, text to text, self to other, text to the world and environment David Perkins: Knowledge is not a line, but a network Reflect: the present made future – “imaginative rehearsal for living”, critiquing, applying, transforming, acting, serving, becoming and being something different; outgrowing our current selves
Existential Questions What is a true friend? What makes and breaks relationships? Others that are compelling to your students?
The Forgotten Friend On my tenth birthday – double digits!- I would have my biggest party ever. In my notebook, I kept a list of friends I would invite and it grew from 7 to 17. Nearly every girl in my 5th grade class was invited. The family room was a flurry of laughter when the doorbell rang. I rounded the corner and my face turned red: How had I forgotten to invite Sarah, the quiet girl who sat beside me in music? She gave me a small package and when I invited her to stay, she told me she could not. “Not even for a little while?” The gift was a handmade ceramic cat resembling my own pet Seymour, and a note told me it was a symbol of good fortune. And it was, because though I regretted my oversight, I came to value Sarah. She became my truest friend, who has stood by me through adolescence and now into adulthood.
Think- Pair- Share Write or tell about a story about someone who was excluded. Respond to the story you are told. What can we learn from such stories? What can we learn from such stories about the concept of friendship?
CCSS Anchor Standards Read closely to determine explicit meanings and to draw logical inferences; cite specific evidence to support conclusions Analyze how and why individuals, events and ideas interact over the course of a text Compose narratives to develop real or imagined experiences and events using well chosen details and well structured events Draw evidence from texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
How did this work towards Evocation? The present made fully present – living through and embodying the textual experience (neuroscience) Connection? The present made past – connecting to prior experiences Reflection? The present made future, and the future made present – imaginative rehearsals for living
Clare’s 4th graders “I have stood up for people and invited people to play with us. That is the effect that Maniac Magee has had on me.” Lily Number the Stars made me feel closer to people who are different from me because of religion or customs or looks.” Jace Anne-Marie was risking her life to help others. It made me think that if she could do that then I can help my family and classmates with little things like chores and homework.” Katelyn
Name it! Teaching for JOY and WISDOM – despite the constraints What IS Wisdom? Wisdom is becoming increasingly more conscious of interconnectedness (between people, between groups, and between people and creation); developing a profound respect for others and other perspectives; cultivating compassion; being guided by a greater good than materialism, status and image; valuing stillness and reflection - and seeking guidance from an inner versus outer locus of control; developing inner awareness of one’s own identity, perceptions, motivation and possibilities; and a commitment to agency: to service and social action for a communitarian good.
A challenge to us as teachers Damaged Learner Identities Continually name the students as readers, writers, learners, mathematicians, as people with great current and potential value, cf. think alouds, drama/action strategies, reading manipulatives Focus on growth, reward risks and mistakes Be the Lorax: Speak for the trees – advocacy for students; policy issues Current opportunity of the CCSS!
The Tragedy of Education Is how easily it could be different Even under current constraints With just a few changes to what we already do . . . With some simple reframings . . . We could meet our students’ basic human needs for motivation, accomplishment, community . . . Promise of new CCSS – but how will they be implemented?
Engaged Immersive Reading Is what transpires between a text and a reader: The Reader – The Text – The Poem; The Me – Not Me – We Is a pleasure and a fundamental, even essential way of becoming more fully human and more of our best possible selves The text as a “transitional object” propelling us into newly possible self and future Identify with the author’s thoughts, emotions and life so you can recast your own
Inquiry and Wisdom as Transactional It strikes me that all of these aspects of wisdom involve the interpenetration of “I” and “you” into the “us” of a new and new kind of community- wisdom, that is, involves creating “third spaces” of possibility. And of course, one of our most powerful tools for inquiring, for understanding each other, building and deepening conceptual and procedural understandings, and becoming a community, is the process of respectful dialogic conversation, the essence of inquiry. We cannot be transformed without such transactions. Why would we not teach in such a way?
Classrooms as Third Spaces integration of home and school funds of knowledge Third spaces as democratic spaces Places of Co-generative dialogue children’s out-of-school interests can be fused with schooled literacy in classroom practice in ways that are transformative and grounded in the real world beyond the school or the home
Tony P. “I fixed it!” Provide the “mantle of the expert” Multiple pathways to success. . . Try, try again Reward risks; mistakes as the path to success Students must be accountable in actual accomplishment Help students stake their identity through their evolving competence
“The only thing worth learning is learning how to learn.” -Seymour Papert
The measure of a country’s greatness should be based on how well it cares for its most vulnerable populations. Ghandi
PROFESSIONS Set their own agendas, Create their own knowledge, Articulate and apply their own standards Control entry into and assistance through the profession Develop and continually refine their own methods Commit to common goals Converse, network and communicate with the profession and those outside the profession
Stepping Up to the Plate(or Cricket Wicket?) Overcoming the Salience of the Traditional Overcoming Phantom Curriculum Proactively Setting and Working for a Progressive Agenda
Teaching is a transitive verb Teaching takes both a direct and an indirect object, English teachers! You teach something to somebody, or teach somebody something! All teaching and learning are relational All teaching and learning occur in relationship Good teaching is collaborating with students in creating culture and knowledge
Conclusion We must learn from our students how to teach them Teach in the context of inquiry and as co-inquirers Teach for understanding, personal and social use: concept vs. content, knowledge vs. information, procedures/tools vs. skills; standards vs. standardization If we do, then we become responsive, reflective teachers who assist students to engagement and understanding If we do, then we become the authorities on student learning in our classroom, who can offer proof positive of student learning and growth, who can advocate for students, teachers, and education If we do, then we reach towards wisdom with our students, towards a healthier community, world and natural environment.
Bumper Stickers Don’t send a test to do a curriculum’s work EASY TRUMPS GOOD IN TESTING Good teaching overcomes bad testing
Mathematics in PISA The real world The mathematical World Making the problem amenable to mathematical treatment A model of reality A mathematical model Understanding, structuring and simplifying the situation Using relevant mathematical tools to solve the problem A real situation Validating the results Real results Mathematical results Interpreting the mathematical results
PISA defines science performancein terms of a student’s: For example When reading about a health issue, can students separate scientific from non-scientific aspects of the text, apply knowledge and justify personal decisions ? Scientific knowledge and use/extrapolation of that knowledge to… … identify scientific issues, … explain scientific phenomena, and … draw evidence-based conclusions about science-related issues Understanding of the characteristic features of science as a form of human knowledge and enquiry Awareness of how science and technology shape our material, intellectual and cultural environments Willingness to engage with science-related issues
These students can consistently identify, explain and apply scientific knowledge, link different information sources and explanations and use evidence from these to justify decisions, demonstrate advanced scientific thinking in unfamiliar situations… Top and bottom performers in science Large prop. of poor perf. Large proportion of top performers 20
We all have multiple roles to play Teaching as Reflective practice Experimenting with methods Research/Teacher inquiry Meta-teaching: Inducting and mentoring new teachers Sharing to create a professional knowledge base Focus on literacy across the curriculum, PD over time Advocacy on school, district and legislative levels: write op-eds, testify (Literacy can be the driving force of reform because every one can understand its importance)