Wednesday, December 7, 2016

BlogPost 8: Shutkin High

Based on the readings, reflections, and discussions we have participated in during class, and the lived experiences of the members of our small group, we have created what we believe a good school should look like: Shutkin High.

BlogPost7: Planning for Greatness

Freire, Ohanian, DiGiulio, and Ayers all share their wisdom about the craft and art of teaching. In Freire's discussion of the concept of banking education, the solution is that "the teacher is no longer merely the one-who-teaches, but one who is himself taught in dialogue with the students, who in turn while being taught also teach." Ohanian considers why we must be adaptable as teachers, and learn to grow with our students. She states, "What counts is attitude and endeavor. That's why, even when we try, we often can't pass on a terrific lesson plan to a friend; we probably can't even save it for ourselves to use again next year." My favorite point that DiGiulio makes is when he explains that "great teaching has been great because it placed the learner's needs and interests first;" Ayers only enforces this concept when he says that "greatness in teaching engages students, interacts with them, draws energy and direction from them, and offers reasons to plunge into classroom life."

When planning lessons for future students, I hope to draw from the ideas of these educators. I want to be able to adapt my teaching style and lessons to allow all of my students to succeed and benefit from what they are learning. I want to put the students and their needs first, allowing them to reach their full potentials. I hope to give students the opportunity to be engaged in their learning experience. By interacting with my students, I wish to learn from them and become a better teacher, which will in turn allow them to learn and grow in knowledge. I aspire to continually feed off of the energy present in the classroom and use it to encourage the students to participate and gain a desire to learn more. Lastly, I hope to make a positive difference in the lives of my students.

FieldPost3: In the Heights

How can you be an effective teacher and adapt your lessons to the students you are teaching?

In Chapter 9 of Educational Foundations, Susan Ohanian discusses why it is virtually impossible to teach the same lesson twice. She says, "What counts is attitude and endeavor. That's why, even when we try, we often can't pass on a terrific lesson plan to a friend; we probably can't even save it for ourselves to use again next year."

I really enjoyed my experience at Heights High. I shadowed a 10th grade History class with Mr. Nitzel, who was a wonderful teacher. It was clear that he oversaw a diverse group of students, and that many of them learned in different ways. Mr. Nitzel's class was such a pleasure to observe because of the way he ran his class. He began class with a casual discussion of recent events in his life in order to connect with his students, which helped keep them centered and engaged. He then changed the conversation to a discussion of what each student thought was the biggest technology that impacted World War I. I liked this activity because each student had a different answer and reasons to back up their claims. This was nice because it helped students learn to draw conclusions based off of facts they had learned in class. After their discussion, Mr. Nitzel led the class in a Jeopardy review game for their test later that week. This was a good format for the students in his class because they learned best with interactive activities and discussions where they could bounce ideas off of one another. Towards the end of the class, Mr. Nitzel had the students draw connections between what they had learned from the section they were about to be tested on to what they were going to be learning about next. He ended the class with watching part of the movie Flyboys, and having the students fill out a worksheet and engage in conversation about how it related to the course material. I really liked that Mr. Nitzel had found a way to present and explain information in an interesting manner, while also involving the students in questioning and helping them come up with conclusions on their own. Overall, I think that Mr. Nitzel did a great job incorporating many different learning approaches, to allow each student learn and succeed in a way that best suited each individual.

Saturday, December 3, 2016


Chapter 8 of Educational Foundations discusses Paulo Freire’s concept of banking education. According to Freire, when students are ordered by teachers to receive, memorize, and repeat information, “this is [known as] the “banking” concept of education, in which the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filing, and storing the deposits” of information. This sort of concept treats the students as “receptacles”  that are “filled” with the information the teachers give them.

I have experienced banking education first hand on multiple occasions. In grade school and high school, I was often told to read a textbook and take notes, and then I was given more information that I was later expected to regurgitate for a test. Immediately after taking the test most of the information would leave my head and I would feel as if I had not actually learned anything.

Students should question the information that they are being given and are expected to learn. As Freire states, “tranquility rests on how well people fit the world the oppressors have created and how little they question it.” We should be actively questioning the things we learn, not only to help prevent ourselves from being taken advantage of, but also to continually challenge ourselves to grow in knowledge. By doing this we are allowing “a concept of women and men as conscious beings, and consciousness as consciousness intent upon the world.”

BlogPost5: The Rainbow Connection

As a famous alumni from my high school once said, “in Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have." This quote applies not only to a national basketball championship, but also to the experiences of students who were members of the LGBTQ community that attended St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. These students had to work for the respect that they should have deserved, and yet, many students never were able to fully attain this respect. This became incredibly obvious to me at my graduation ceremony. A good friend of mine who is transgender was prevented from walking across the stage at graduation, solely because he wanted to wear the color cap and gown that properly conveyed the gender he identified with rather than his sex. The fact that he was top of our class, an excellent student, National Merit Scholar, and served on executive boards of multiple extracurricular clubs was completely ignored.

This was not the only instance of homophobia and heterosexism at my high school. There were several other instances where students of the LGBTQ community were not treated with the respect that they deserved. Students would make rude, offensive comments. Teachers and faculty would ignore preferred names if they weren’t your given name. Efforts were made by students to combat this negative environment, but it is difficult to effect change when the faculty is working against you.

Rofes wrote about distinctions between liberal and radical conceptualizations of addressing homophobia and heterosexism in k-12 schools. Rofes discusses his childhood experiences with discovering he was gay. He states that he “believe[s] [his] moral development and the values [he] embraced may have been tightly linked to [his] refusal to conform to the proper image and behavior assigned to boys.” Children begin to discover who they are and develop their own self-identity and personality at a young age.

I believe that children should be allowed to express themselves how they want and develop into the person that they wish to be. In the next four years, I hope to be teaching at a school that is all inclusive. I want to work somewhere that promotes the growth of each person and encourages students to be themselves.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

FieldPost2: Shaker Heights Middle School

When we visited Shaker Heights Middle School I had the opportunity to observe two different history classes. Both classes were run in very similar ways, the main differences being the content of the courses. I really enjoyed what was happening in both classroom settings. The teachers both encouraged students to not only actively participate, but also actively listen. Each class watched a video on the smart board and the teacher would give them a worksheet. They were to take notes on the material that they were watching and draw conclusions based on the information that they had already learned. The teachers would periodically pause the video and start a discussion with the class. They would ask the students how they thought the new material related to previous concepts learned, how it related to what was happening in today's society, and explain what their thought process is about the new material. The teachers also asked the students to make predictions, give their opinions, and provide real life examples. I was surprised to see how well the students responded to this approach. Most of the students seemed very excited to participate and were either trying to shout out their opinions or raise their hands to answer a question and give feedback.

In Chapter 4 of To Teach the Journey, in Comics, Ayers discusses the concept of building bridges both literally and figuratively. On the literal side, Bill helps his students solve the problem of how to get Bingo up the stairs by building a physical bridge or a ramp. An example of a figurative bridge being built is Sal providing a bridge for the powerless by giving the adults in her literacy class the skills and the tools they need to succeed in life. Both the literal and figurative bridges that are being built are helping their respective groups learn, grow, and make connections. The example with Bingo applies more with how to build bridges to solve physical problems. The example with Sal is more applicable towards problems that are less tangible.

Building bridges is important in a school setting because it allows students to make connections. The bridge that is being constructed at Shaker Heights Middle School is one that allows students to take the knowledge they have, make connections, and use critical thinking to draw new conclusions and opinions. Building upon this concept further, I can connect a bridge from my experience observing Shaker Heights to help me in the future in my own classroom.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

BlogPost 4: A Letter to the Senator

Dear Senator Tom Sawyer,

It has come to my attention that the Ohio Supreme Court has found Ohio's system of school finance to be unconstitutional not once, but five times. If the Court ordered a complete systematic overhaul in order to remedy the unconstitutional education system, then why is the current system still in place? According to School Funding Facts and Principles, "The first order of business for the [Blue Ribbon Commission on Financing Student Success] is to determine what educational opportunities must be available in the classrooms and school buildings of Ohio and what is expected of students upon graduation." Students are expected to graduate as well educated, competent individuals, with the hope of finding success in the workplace and in life. Therefore, it would make sense to give students the resources they need to be successful: mainly, decent and efficient systems of public education. In order to produce affluent individuals from the Ohio Education System, we must provide students with an adequate education; Students should be given quality work environments and current educational resources.

By giving children the proper education and work environments that they deserve, we are helping to foster a better future for everyone. How can we expect students to become successful individuals and flourish in the work environment if they are given a less than adequate education and learning space? The unconstitutionality of Ohio's current system of school finance largely influences the lives of children today. We must address this problem if we wish to be prosperous in society.

Thank You,
Ashley Cantor