Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Week 5

I really liked how they talked about “pseudoreading” and the various ways in which this is seen.  While I do advocate for fully comprehending the material in the readings, this directly contrasts with what is expected of students on the standardized tests and other high stakes testing.  I remember practicing certain techniques for getting the right answer on the standardized tests, whether it was through first skimming the reading then answering the questions or first reading the questions then finding the answers in the passage.  In addition, I was given clues when practicing, about the types of answers the were usually correct, such staying way from extreme statements that included words like “no,” and “only.”  These practices did not improve my ability to comprehend readings or prepare me for college, they only enabled me to obtain a “high score,” falsely indicating to colleges that I was ready for higher level subject material and standards.  Buehl touched upon this in his book, that the greatest complaint of students is not being adequately prepared for college level material and skills.  However, whose fault is this?  The teacher’s?  Schools? Students?    

While I completely agree with Buehl, he does not include the reality of the current situation, save for the hopeful claims of the new standard curriculum and core.  He stated that the student body is incredibly diverse but he did not talk about the implications.  Asking students to analyze and critically think about the readings and their implications opens the doorway to personal interpretation.  Thus, while Buehl indicates that teachers can instruct and foster this academic instruction, it takes time.  Where will this time come from?  Especially for ELL students and students of various cultural backgrounds, how will teachers have the time carefully foster this academic knowledge and way of thinking while at the same time fostering and developing the student’s identification with their native culture?   

Week 5

Week 5

I thought the Buehl reading brought up some good points about students having different reading identities and how important it is to mentor students in reading comprehension in different discourses.  By having students that understand how to approach and comprehend different discourses, we can help address the problem of communication between literacies. He also touched on modeling and scaffolding, which relates to what we have been learning in class.  However, I found myself getting annoyed reading so much about Buehl and what type of reader he is, what books he has read that are challenging, how his wife is a better reader than him, sometimes I felt as if I was reading his memoir.  His writing style seems kind of wordy to me, but that’s just my opinion.  One thing I found interesting was his data from NAEP and ACTP.   He says, “The 2009 NAEP results for 12th graders showed only a 5% scoring at advanced levels, able to read specialized and advanced texts” (Pg. 22).  He goes on to say, “…more students are on track to being ready for college-level reading in eight and tenth grade than are actually ready by the time they reach twelfth grade” (Pg. 23).  I guess I’m curious if the 2009 NAEP test might have been to challenging for the students to begin with.  How do test makers decide what texts are advanced?  He makes it seem like students in 8th and 10th grade are working much more efficiently than 12th grade.  There are a multitude of outside factors that occur between 8th and 12th grade that could influence the test results.

Week 5 Reading Identities and Proficiency

The Buehl chapters gave me more insight into other challenges I will have to face in a science classroom. All of the students will have different backgrounds and therefore different reading identities. As a teacher, I will have to find out which students identify as science readers and who do not. However, as I will be teaching high school biology, many of my students may not identify as a 'science person.' Throughout the year I will have to encourage all of them to become science readers even when they might not want to.

That will be the difficult part. How will, or should, I motivate students to become better science readers? The modeling and argumentation strategies, that we have been reading about, may be good ways to motivate a student to learn a scientific concept, and even how to write scientifically. However, they do not have the students focus on scientific literature, which is how students will have to learn about a science related event after they leave my classroom.

I will have to be, as Buehl discussed in chapter two, a mentor to my students. How can I be an efficient and effective mentor when all of my students will be on different reading levels? Mentoring is usually easier in a one-on-one situation. Should I start teaching at the level that everyone has reached? This could be boring for the more advanced readers. Should I assign harder assignments to the more proficient readers in the classroom? I suppose the more advanced students could help mentor the not as proficient readers.

Buehl's concepts will be interesting to incorporate into my future classes.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Really enjoy the way that Buehl talks about reading, he stresses how much identity and perspective affect the way that readers are able to interpret texts. Reading is a very difficult and intricate process that is essential for learning to take place. Teachers in science must teach skills to interpret the information, so that it can be made accessible to the students.

Scaffolding relies on feedback from experts, both positive and negative. How much scaffolding is required? Are we supposed to give clues or make connections for the students or are we supposed to provide them with resources to discover the information? Or are we designing lessons and an environment that allows the students to scaffold each others' learning?

Buehl Comments

So, my first comment/question has to do with the comparison between what the author calls "visual literacy skills" (p. 56) and what we have talked about as the interpretation of scientific representations. Is there a difference? Is there such a thing as a verbal representation (i.e., do scientific representations have to be visual? My initial thought is that visual literacy skills are somewhat less encompassing than the interpretation of representations, because the author talks about visual literacy skills as a subset of scientific literacy.

Another thing on p. 33: do these kinds of "pseudoreading" have any proper place in school? Perhaps if only due to time constraints? Because, if we're being honest, I'm sometimes forced to do all of these just because of the need to be doing other things. I mean, I would think that skimming is a legitimate and necessary academic skill. But then again, perhaps the author would suggest that there's a difference between skimming for answers and skimming for comprehension.

Last, I just really liked his woodworking example. I wonder how best to position students as apprentice scientists/engineers in the classroom, especially when there are more than one. I imagine it has a lot to do with student participation in teacher action and teacher participation in student action (e.g., teacher solving problem on board out loud, takes student input for what to do next).

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Week 4 Memo

                Ginsburg’s article titled, “Not a Cookbook: Guidelines for Conducting a Clinical Interview,” suggests general principles for an interviewer while engaging in an interview. All interviews are unique and children should be treated autonomously. The student should be asked how they arrived at their answer and what their thoughts were throughout the process. Preparedness is an important part of the interview process. Multiple questions of varied level of thinking should be proposed to the student. Interaction with the student is also a difficult set of tasks. The interviewer must gain trust and establish reasoning with the student. Recognition by the interviewer that the student is trying is appreciated and can motivate the student to continue. Next, interviews can be difficult to assess students’ knowledge. Students can arrive at either correct answers without the correct processes or conclude an incorrect answer through a small fault in reasoning. These occurrences should not be overlooked; it is more important to ask how and why during an interview than to ask what. Interviewers should not ask leading questions during an interview, nor should they correct a student. An interviews purpose is to find out what the student knows, not what they can be taught. Asking students the same question in varying forms or asking a different question of the same theme are effective techniques to help a struggling student gain confidence and perform at a higher level. Finally, students can be probed about their knowledge by asking basic thinking questions and then building to higher level thinking.
                Greeno and Hall’s article titled, “Practicing Representation,” describes how effective representation in the classroom can increase students’ learning. Students must first engage and participate in representations, then explain their thinking and argue either for or against a representation. Also, representations should be given meaning. A table of data holds much greater value when students can relate their representations and interpret meaning. Students should be able to use a variety of forms of representation when explaining to teachers and other students. Teachers are preparing students for professional work when they are asked to use multiple forms of representation and to explain and argue for them. Representations should be formed of something else, but used to show a different topic or idea; this practice gives representations value.
                Russ and Sherin’s article titled, “Using Interviews to Explore Students’ Ideas in Science,” describes techniques for teachers to attain students’ knowledge in interviews. Teachers should discover student ideas by asking indirectly about a concept. Teachers should ask students to describe how something works rather than what makes something works. By describing ideas, teachers can assess students’ thinking. Then, the teacher should ask questions about the students’ response. Finally, interviews can introduce students to new concepts during an interview to encourage how a student thinks in the future. When conducting an interview, topics should be broad so that students can talk freely about the matter. Interviewers should prepare questions for the students to likely responses. A broad demographic range of students should be selected when conducting interviews. Next, students should feel welcome to the interview process. A student who feels pressured is less likely to be successful in an interview.
                Wu and Puntambekar’s article titled, “Pedagogical Affordances of Multiple External Representations in Scientific Processes,” describes using representations in the science classroom to mimic professional scientific practices. Multiple types of representations are described and the relationship between representation and interpretation are listed. The importance of how models and representations are given to students is expressed. Students can gain knowledge by working with basic models or representations then build to more complex models. Models and Representations should have interpretation built into instructions or the instructor should explain representational relationships so that students may grasp the value of the activity. Finally, instructors should scaffold lessons with models so that students may think creativity and develop relationships between representations and what they mean.

                Between these articles there is a strong emphasis upon explaining and arguing for a representation. Tables and graphs should be given meaning, and this meaning should be interpreted in the classroom. When representations are given meaning, students are able to find patterns or underlying ideas. Students should be able to use representations creativity so that they can explain to the instructor and their peers the interpretation between representation and meaning. This should lead to defense of ideas by students who are either arguing for or against an idea. Instructors should scaffold lessons so that students are able to search for ideas in representations. Also, supportive guidelines are expressed for how to conduct an effective interview. In interviews, students should be asked how they arrived at an answer or solution. This process is more important than the answer; students may have one slight incorrect process that may lead them to a correct answer or an incorrect answer. Interviewers must also establish trust with the student. This can be done by asking simple questions leading to higher level thinking. Once the student has developed a rapport with the interviewer, they may answer open-ended questions. It is important for the interviewer to have a carefully thought plan for the interview. Students who think of the interviewer as unprepared or unprofessional are unlikely to trust or work well with the interviewer.

Week 4!

         This week’s readings focused on building and accessing student’s representations and thought structure in the sciences.  Greeno and Hall’s article reiterated many of the points in Lehrer and Sampson’s discussions of modeling, focusing on the importance of bringing actual science practice into the classroom.  Greeno and Hall hone in on the process of representation, which allows students to actively comprehend potentially abstract concepts and manipulate their representations flexibly to understand relationships on a more whole-system level, using representation more as a means to understanding than an end product itself.  I especially enjoyed their discussion of the context of representation and the integral role of the individual student as interpreter of both historical and creative representations, suggesting the value of representation is not inherent but requires interaction.  
            Because the value of representation is dependent on student interpretation, the question becomes how do we as teachers understand the ways our students are interacting with the subject matter?  In their article on Using Interviews, Russ and Sherin discuss the value of one-on-one conversations to “uncover more about how students make sense of the concepts in their own terms.” (20) Their approach is not meant to teach the student what is right or wrong, but rather to act as a probing interviewer, providing the teacher with thorough pre-assessment of their students prior knowledge in order to better craft lessons around what students do and do not know.  Ginsburg’s chapter from Entering the Child’s Mind delves deeper into this theory, focusing on the value of a child’s constructions and representations regardless of their ‘accuracy’.  Ginsburg provides strategies and advice for optimally uncovering student’s thought processes, highlighting a trusting, respectful relationship, careful preparation, and focused tasks paired with open questions focusing on process over answer, like “How did you solve that problem?” (121)  By being a flexible and probing interviewer, Ginsburg argues that one can uncover Vygotsky’s “Zone of Proximal Development” to better help both the interviewer and the student understand the student’s process and potential. 
            The readings this week raised interesting questions for me on the relative importance of individual versus communal relationships with learning.  Greeno and Hall’s vision of representation revolves around individual interpretation of a representation, which would seemingly produce a class of students with potentially disparate or incorrect understandings of a system.  The supplemental text by Wu and Puntambekar addresses this conundrum by suggesting combinations of representations across domains and categorization and with appropriate scaffolding by instructors.  Even with the guidance of a teacher, by Greeno, Hall, and Ginsberg’s models each student will have a unique relationship with a representation so it would seem difficult to me to interview just a few students in a class as representative of the whole as Russ and Sherin suggest.  Are there generalizations about children’s thought processes that can be gleaned from individual interviews?  Outside of the potential constraints of application as suggested in the article, I can definitely see the value of interview style questions both before and during class, which would gauge comprehension as class progresses, allow students to work through the ‘how’ of a system, and potentially ‘seed’ more correct interpretations.    

week four memo

In Russ & Sherin’s article, “Using Interviews to Explore Student Ideas in Science,” they discuss the use of interviews to gain information about student’s ideas and prior knowledge about a specific topic, what students truly understand and what they find difficult.  Sherin and Russ discuss three ways for carrying out these interview: contextualize the concept being discussed by making to relevant to the student’s life, probing the student’s response through generic or specific questions.  and providing new ways of thinking about concepts, either by questioning the student about similar situations or guiding the student to reach other information.  Finally, Russ and Sherin emphasize that teachers must be well prepared in both content knowledge and for the interview itself, preparing questions and anticipating student responses.
Greeno and Hall focus on the various types of representation within and outside the classroom.  The researchers deem this “practicing” of representation, involving construction and interpretation, to be an active collaboration between peers. This form of learning goes beyond the typical classroom assignments where students are given specific forms of representation as “ends” that they are required to complete.  Instead, Greeno and Hall emphasize that various representations of information must not be taught as ends but instead be used as means to an end to help foster understanding and communication among peers and teachers.  Additionally, they state that these representations can and should be constructed to cater towards the specific topic/subject.  Finally, they claim that students must fully interpret these physical notations in order for them to create meaning and become representations. 
In his article, Ginburg discusses general guidelines for creating successful interviews, where the student is viewed as an active and autonomous “constructor of knowledge” by the interviewer (117).  Ginsburg emphasizes the importance of fostering this “clinical sensitivity” within the interviews through the development of trust between participants, where the child feels safe and secure to share his/her mental processes with the interviewer (129).  He further defines this definition, stating that Ginsburg, throughout his article, continually shows how the aspects of these interviews come in contrast to the current standardized testing methods: while the interviews focus and cater towards the individual and their methods of understanding, standardized testing focuses on evaluation and knowing the correct answer, regardless of if the student actually understands it. 
·      students AND TEACHERS are active agents within the learning process, constantly constructing and interpreting information obtained through various means and representations.
·      Interviews are critical and successful ways for teachers to grasp student’s prior knowledge and understanding about concepts and ideas.
·      Specificity and contextualization is critical for student success.
·      Create a comfortable and safe environment for students

One thing that stood out to me in these readings was when Ginsburg stated that the interviewer must be actively engaged in the process.  While this seems like common sense, stating it explicitly seemed to hit home for me.  We often have discussed how students must be active agents, but oftentimes neglect the teacher.  However, as we have read about interviewing students and have discussed modeling, teachers must also be learning, building upon and revising their own concepts as they participate in the teaching process.  In a sense, the label of “teacher” disappears and they become partners in the learning process, not completely separate from the actions of a student.  Russ and Sherin also incorporate this active nature through their emphasis on probing students and their understanding.  The author stated that simply saying that ice in water floats because it is less dense is not enough to determine that a student actually knows what he/she is talking about.  This directly related to the case study we watched, where the student in the green shirt stated that the farther you stretch the lizard, the farther it will go and the teacher took that explanation as complete understanding between the concept of kinetic and potential energy.  The teacher should have asked questions like Can you expand upon this relationship? How is stretching the lizard related to kinetic and or potential energy?  When does the lizard have potential and/or kinetic energy?   
While I do deem interviews to be critical for teachers to gain a sense of where students are coming from, researchers did state that these conversations do occur outside the teaching block, raising slight practical questions.  As Ginsburg stated, teachers are often pressed for time to complete the curriculum material within the class.   When placed outside the classroom instruction time, how available are the students and how often/how long are these interviews?  There are limited availabilities within the school day (lunch, study hall), so is it fair to take away time from the student?  Russ and Sherin talked about group interviews, however how practical would this be if students have all different schedules?

Week 4 Memo!

The Greeno and Hall article is about the importance of scientific and mathematic representations.  Using representations/forms as tools helps students understand what could be an abstract problem.  Greeno and Hall say that nonstandard forms are better for understanding while standard forms are better for representation.  They lament about teachers not having enough time to teach what a lot of technical representations are for and why they are useful and effective.  They also emphasize that students need to be able to know how to use multiple forms of representations in order to communicate their ideas with others as well as to achieve a deeper understanding of a topic.  Understanding the meaning of representations is vital, in that the representation has to be for something and not just of something.
The Russ and Sherin article discusses the importance of a teacher gauging where his/her students’ knowledge levels are on a given subject before attempting to teach it.  This is important because teaching that builds on students’ existing ideas is more likely to produce robust and meaningful learning.  In order to gauge this level, teachers should perform an interview of sorts either individually with students or in a small group of students.  The three key steps to this interview process are to contextualize the concept, probe student responses, and seed new ways of thinking.
In Ginsburg’s Chapter 4, he claims that the “clinical interview” is not something so easily done; one needs to practice in order to interview most effectively.  He gives these guidelines as a starting point: preparing for the interview, recording the interview, establishing and monitoring motivation, assessing thinking, establishing competence, and determining learning potential.  This is not a linear process to him, a lot of these steps are occurring at all times when you interact with a student in class, not just in the interview process.  Ginsburg goes into great detail for all of these steps in the clinical interview, and to summarize, one definitely needs to prepare, prepare, prepare, and prepare before one’s interview takes place.

Overall theme with these essays is that teachers need to always be asking why or how a student is thinking about an answer or got to an answer to any problem or concept.  We need to really think about how a student got to their answer before we dismiss it as wrong or inaccurate because the student’s thinking process is it’s own special thing.  While I enjoyed the briefness of Russ and Sherin’s article, the thoroughness of Ginsburg’s article will help me more as a novice teacher because Ginsburg has literally thought of everything I will need to consider or think about before I begin that process.  Working interviews into classroom time is a potential issue, but gauging the students’ knowledge is so essential that it should be worked into any teacher’s lesson plan.
Although I definitely see the merit in Greeno and Hall’s article, I thought most of it was very repetitive.  I feel like a teacher would need to explain how a form or representation works in order to get students to be able to read said form.  Also that it would be inherent that in order to represent change over time best, a pie chart would be a poor choice.  A data table could work to show change over time, but a student would notice that if those points were plotted on a graph, one could “see” that change a lot easier.  But perhaps that is not easy for some students to understand who are less scientifically or mathematically inclined.  I think I just realized why I might be considered a “visual learner.”