All posts by Colin Worthley

Gee’s “An Introduction to Discourse Analysis: Theory and Method”



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     I'm going to agree with Martha and say that I thought the aspirin warning was a great example that got the author's point across. I really enjoyed the anecdote involving "Jane" as well. After that, a lot of the chapter didn't make too much sense to me until the part about Ebonics. I feel like most of it was unnecessary and could be simplified into the ideas of audience and context: the language you use depends largely on who you're talking to and in what situation.

     My students have always struggled with the language they should use in an essay. Slang and curses generally riddle their papers. I tried to correct this by asking them to imagine how they talk to their friends versus how they talk to their parents. Treat the essay like a conversation with your parents. Unfortunately, many of my students are on a first name basis with their parents. They would swear up and down that they speak the same to both groups. Unlike Jane from the chapter, I believe them. (I wanted to substitute a priest for their parents, but I was worried about what I might hear.)

     Ebonics became a big topic when I was in high school, so I never really looked into it too much. The way it's presented in this chapter makes it sound like the children were ELL students from a foreign country that only spoke Ebonics, not kids who had grown up in America going to public schools. At the risk of sounding insensitive, I don't know if I would consider an ELL student and an Ebonic speaking student as equal.

     This chapter does a good job of demonstrating just how frustrating the English language can be. When you have to take into account all the secret hidden meanings each sentence might have, it's amazing that we can communicate effectively with one another at all. Using the number of meanings the sentence about lung cancer may carry, I can determine that this blog post has upwards of 1,425,673 possible interpretations.
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Gee’s “An Introduction to Discourse Analysis: Theory and Method”



www.pinterest.com 
     I'm going to agree with Martha and say that I thought the aspirin warning was a great example that got the author's point across. I really enjoyed the anecdote involving "Jane" as well. After that, a lot of the chapter didn't make too much sense to me until the part about Ebonics. I feel like most of it was unnecessary and could be simplified into the ideas of audience and context: the language you use depends largely on who you're talking to and in what situation.

     My students have always struggled with the language they should use in an essay. Slang and curses generally riddle their papers. I tried to correct this by asking them to imagine how they talk to their friends versus how they talk to their parents. Treat the essay like a conversation with your parents. Unfortunately, many of my students are on a first name basis with their parents. They would swear up and down that they speak the same to both groups. Unlike Jane from the chapter, I believe them. (I wanted to substitute a priest for their parents, but I was worried about what I might hear.)

     Ebonics became a big topic when I was in high school, so I never really looked into it too much. The way it's presented in this chapter makes it sound like the children were ELL students from a foreign country that only spoke Ebonics, not kids who had grown up in America going to public schools. At the risk of sounding insensitive, I don't know if I would consider an ELL student and an Ebonic speaking student as equal.

     This chapter does a good job of demonstrating just how frustrating the English language can be. When you have to take into account all the secret hidden meanings each sentence might have, it's amazing that we can communicate effectively with one another at all. Using the number of meanings the sentence about lung cancer may carry, I can determine that this blog post has upwards of 1,425,673 possible interpretations.
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Teacher Researcher

Colin Worthley
ENG 5002
4/4/16

            The UC Davis School of Education defines teacher research as “systematic investigations of how teaching influences student learning over time in a single classroom or learning community.” The teacher in his/her own classroom using his/her own students carries out these investigations. By understanding how certain practices impact student achievement, educators can increase efficiency. From how lessons are prepped out to how they are delivered, students can reap tremendous benefits when teachers turn a researcher’s eye toward themselves.
            In “Developing a Definition of Teacher Research”, Marian M. Mohr outlines six pillars important to understanding what teacher research really is. It must be intentional in that is begins with a focus on a particular aspect of teaching, but can always change depending on the findings. It must be systematic by employing methods and strategies to collect data. It must be publicby being open to students and co-workers in an effort to “add to the body of knowledge about teaching and learning.” It must be voluntary on the part of the teacher due to the vulnerability of public examination. It must be ethicalsince the responsibility is to ensure the students benefit from the work. And it must be contextual by providing the context in which the research was conducted.
            Mohr goes on to relate an experience that led to her being a teacher researcher in “The Teacher as Researcher.” She expressed concern that keeping up with research journals was too difficult and stood in the way of research. However, her daily journaling of her interactions with her students enabled her to make adjustments that she would not have found in a scholarly journal. Reflecting on how her students responded when she misspelled a word, or why they drummed on the desk while writing provided her with the chance to adjust instruction and classroom management to allow for a better chance of success for her students.
            In “A Teacher-Research Group in Action” Sandra R. Schecter and Rafael Ramirez reveal how some teachers turned researchers viewed a two year long seminar. Schecter and Ramirez extoll the benefits of teacher research by indicating “that teachers involved in research become interested in and read the professional research literature, take leadership roles in their schools and influence decisions about school policy, contribute to professional knowledge on their own accord, become better classroom teachers.” They are also quick to point out that little exists in terms of data, so it’s possible one does not cause the other.
The seminar met biweekly for a two-year period, three hours each time. Meetings were broken into five segments with activities and plenty of time for discussion. Those taking part on the seminar represented all walks of life: “The group comprised nineteen kindergarten through college teachers representing a broad spectrum with many working in multi-ethnic classrooms and districts.” The variety of levels and backgrounds allowed for many different viewpoints and feedback on the research.
Response groups during the meetings were teacher-led and assigned, rather than allowing the participants to select on their own. Mike, the group facilitator stated his primary business as “guiding participants to an appreciation of the value of engaging in informed classroom observation and developing their thinking about their teaching practices by sharing their reflections with colleagues both orally and in writing.” It was clear that Mike wanted the participants to guide the meetings based on their interests and reflections, not to have it dictated to them. The sharing out of experiences was the important part. As Mike would remind the group “the process is more important than the product.”
The study found that providing open-ended type questions and not providing a syllabus had an unforeseen outcome: many participants expressed dislike for the “informal” nature of the meetings. They seemed to require more direction than what was provided. One participant even stated, “I have lots of questions and need some direction.” The facilitator’s intent to allow the participants’ experiences guide the discussion was not well received.
Overall, the participants reported positive outcomes of how the research affected both their views of classroom practice and themselves as professionals. One participant reported, “collecting data makes me ask good questions of kids who give me good answers, answers that help me improve as a teacher.” There is no data to support whether or not the participant improved at all based on how he/she altered questioning techniques, but a change did occur. It would be interesting to see a sampling of the questioning technique before and after the seminar.
Participants were unsure as to whether or not they were using rigorous methods to collect data as compared to university-based researchers. The authors point out that both groups conduct research using vastly different methods. University-based researchers must cite literature to prove they are contributing to a body of knowledge. The teacher researchers, on the other hand, use personal experiences to assert their claims. As such, reports generally took the form of a double narrative; one told the story of the research findings while the other told of the participant’s experience.
The three articles reviewed this week provided a clear definition of teacher research and provided examples of it in action. The investigations are important since the primary goal of teacher research is to help the teacher improve so that the needs of the students can be met. Who better to conduct such investigations than the teachers in the room?
Discussion Questions

2.     If the research points to teacher research being effective due to its voluntary nature, why do some districts require it as part of a teacher’s professional obligations?


3.     What is your knowledge of professional development for teachers? If you had to provide an in service for a group of educators that will leave them “professionally developed”, would teacher research be a topic you would choose? Why or why not?

Teacher Researcher

Colin Worthley
ENG 5002
4/4/16

            The UC Davis School of Education defines teacher research as “systematic investigations of how teaching influences student learning over time in a single classroom or learning community.” The teacher in his/her own classroom using his/her own students carries out these investigations. By understanding how certain practices impact student achievement, educators can increase efficiency. From how lessons are prepped out to how they are delivered, students can reap tremendous benefits when teachers turn a researcher’s eye toward themselves.
            In “Developing a Definition of Teacher Research”, Marian M. Mohr outlines six pillars important to understanding what teacher research really is. It must be intentional in that is begins with a focus on a particular aspect of teaching, but can always change depending on the findings. It must be systematic by employing methods and strategies to collect data. It must be publicby being open to students and co-workers in an effort to “add to the body of knowledge about teaching and learning.” It must be voluntary on the part of the teacher due to the vulnerability of public examination. It must be ethicalsince the responsibility is to ensure the students benefit from the work. And it must be contextual by providing the context in which the research was conducted.
            Mohr goes on to relate an experience that led to her being a teacher researcher in “The Teacher as Researcher.” She expressed concern that keeping up with research journals was too difficult and stood in the way of research. However, her daily journaling of her interactions with her students enabled her to make adjustments that she would not have found in a scholarly journal. Reflecting on how her students responded when she misspelled a word, or why they drummed on the desk while writing provided her with the chance to adjust instruction and classroom management to allow for a better chance of success for her students.
            In “A Teacher-Research Group in Action” Sandra R. Schecter and Rafael Ramirez reveal how some teachers turned researchers viewed a two year long seminar. Schecter and Ramirez extoll the benefits of teacher research by indicating “that teachers involved in research become interested in and read the professional research literature, take leadership roles in their schools and influence decisions about school policy, contribute to professional knowledge on their own accord, become better classroom teachers.” They are also quick to point out that little exists in terms of data, so it’s possible one does not cause the other.
The seminar met biweekly for a two-year period, three hours each time. Meetings were broken into five segments with activities and plenty of time for discussion. Those taking part on the seminar represented all walks of life: “The group comprised nineteen kindergarten through college teachers representing a broad spectrum with many working in multi-ethnic classrooms and districts.” The variety of levels and backgrounds allowed for many different viewpoints and feedback on the research.
Response groups during the meetings were teacher-led and assigned, rather than allowing the participants to select on their own. Mike, the group facilitator stated his primary business as “guiding participants to an appreciation of the value of engaging in informed classroom observation and developing their thinking about their teaching practices by sharing their reflections with colleagues both orally and in writing.” It was clear that Mike wanted the participants to guide the meetings based on their interests and reflections, not to have it dictated to them. The sharing out of experiences was the important part. As Mike would remind the group “the process is more important than the product.”
The study found that providing open-ended type questions and not providing a syllabus had an unforeseen outcome: many participants expressed dislike for the “informal” nature of the meetings. They seemed to require more direction than what was provided. One participant even stated, “I have lots of questions and need some direction.” The facilitator’s intent to allow the participants’ experiences guide the discussion was not well received.
Overall, the participants reported positive outcomes of how the research affected both their views of classroom practice and themselves as professionals. One participant reported, “collecting data makes me ask good questions of kids who give me good answers, answers that help me improve as a teacher.” There is no data to support whether or not the participant improved at all based on how he/she altered questioning techniques, but a change did occur. It would be interesting to see a sampling of the questioning technique before and after the seminar.
Participants were unsure as to whether or not they were using rigorous methods to collect data as compared to university-based researchers. The authors point out that both groups conduct research using vastly different methods. University-based researchers must cite literature to prove they are contributing to a body of knowledge. The teacher researchers, on the other hand, use personal experiences to assert their claims. As such, reports generally took the form of a double narrative; one told the story of the research findings while the other told of the participant’s experience.
The three articles reviewed this week provided a clear definition of teacher research and provided examples of it in action. The investigations are important since the primary goal of teacher research is to help the teacher improve so that the needs of the students can be met. Who better to conduct such investigations than the teachers in the room?
Discussion Questions

2.     If the research points to teacher research being effective due to its voluntary nature, why do some districts require it as part of a teacher’s professional obligations?


3.     What is your knowledge of professional development for teachers? If you had to provide an in service for a group of educators that will leave them “professionally developed”, would teacher research be a topic you would choose? Why or why not?

Farris & Anson’s chapter 16 and Janice Lauer’s chapter 3

     Farris and Anson's chapter 16 by Kathleen Blake Yancey dealt primarily with reflection and how it can improve instruction. When looked at through the lens of a college professor, the amount of reflection Yancey speaks of sounds like it could be doable. But looking at it as a high school teacher who can see well over one hundred students on a daily basis, it seems impossible.

     There is always a level of reflection after a class and it is never the same for each class. The students in each class create variety in instruction and game planning. The one element that can't be prepped for is how the students will be on a given day. I have a colleague who prays that she gets observed during 5th period because that is her "good" class and not during her "bad" 8th period. A student who likes to cause trouble will view a supervisor observing his teacher as a challenge to be difficult.

     I turn to talk of observations because I want to discuss how reflection has become part of teacher evaluations, and not something a teacher does to improve. In my district, we have Charlotte Danielson to thank for this. Her Framework for Teaching has been adopted by many districts in New Jersey, and has really turned how teachers reflect on their lessons into a chore.
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     As you can see above, Danielson has created four domains that teachers must focus on. Reflection is a big part of each domain, and requires artifacts (the term for evidence) in order to be properly evaluated. When a teacher gets observed, there are forms that have to be filled out on a website that tracks everything. One form is all about what you plan on teaching and accommodations you've made. Another form is where you reflect after the lesson. It's nice in theory, but the fact that it is part of the evaluation has driven teachers to see it as a chore. This, in turn, makes reflection a chore and teachers then dislike doing it.

     Educators have to be willing to reflect on their experiences in an attempt to become better. Think about why most students don't enjoy doing homework. They don't see it as beneficial practice that improves skills. Instead, it's a punishment and something to be avoided whenever possible, even though it's necessary.

Teachers line up to provide artifacts.
xpressivecafe.com


Farris & Anson’s chapter 16 and Janice Lauer’s chapter 3

     Farris and Anson's chapter 16 by Kathleen Blake Yancey dealt primarily with reflection and how it can improve instruction. When looked at through the lens of a college professor, the amount of reflection Yancey speaks of sounds like it could be doable. But looking at it as a high school teacher who can see well over one hundred students on a daily basis, it seems impossible.

     There is always a level of reflection after a class and it is never the same for each class. The students in each class create variety in instruction and game planning. The one element that can't be prepped for is how the students will be on a given day. I have a colleague who prays that she gets observed during 5th period because that is her "good" class and not during her "bad" 8th period. A student who likes to cause trouble will view a supervisor observing his teacher as a challenge to be difficult.

     I turn to talk of observations because I want to discuss how reflection has become part of teacher evaluations, and not something a teacher does to improve. In my district, we have Charlotte Danielson to thank for this. Her Framework for Teaching has been adopted by many districts in New Jersey, and has really turned how teachers reflect on their lessons into a chore.
blogs.puyallup.k12.wa.us
     As you can see above, Danielson has created four domains that teachers must focus on. Reflection is a big part of each domain, and requires artifacts (the term for evidence) in order to be properly evaluated. When a teacher gets observed, there are forms that have to be filled out on a website that tracks everything. One form is all about what you plan on teaching and accommodations you've made. Another form is where you reflect after the lesson. It's nice in theory, but the fact that it is part of the evaluation has driven teachers to see it as a chore. This, in turn, makes reflection a chore and teachers then dislike doing it.

     Educators have to be willing to reflect on their experiences in an attempt to become better. Think about why most students don't enjoy doing homework. They don't see it as beneficial practice that improves skills. Instead, it's a punishment and something to be avoided whenever possible, even though it's necessary.

Teachers line up to provide artifacts.
xpressivecafe.com


Farris and Anson’s Chapters 1 & 2: Ferry and Vandenberg

     I've always had a relatively good sense of self-worth. My self-esteem is pretty good and I feel like I'm at a point in my life where I'm comfortable with who I am. Then I read this week's readings. I thought Chris Christie had done a good job of bad mouthing teachers, turns out he doesn't have anything on what we can say about each other.

     Maybe it's how I read the chapters, but it came off really snooty (I don't think I've ever written that word before). It's like when you watch With Honors or Good Will Hunting and the professors are so high on themselves and their brains, there can be no equal. The word hierarchy was used often in the reading and that idea overshadows what I always thought we were in school for- knowledge.

     I admire anyone who has knowledge of something I don't. I have no problem asking for an explanation from someone, anyone, who might know what I need to know. That's why I think the classroom should be respected, not looked down on by scholars. Without lowly teachers, where would we get the eventual scholars? Are they all self-made? And what would be the point of a university then?

     Ferry states that practitioner knowledge is referred to as "lore".  Why not "data"? Why not "evidence"? Lore makes it sound like mythology. Maybe we should stop using the term "theory" and start calling it "suspicion" or "guess"?

     Of course, I write all of this with a bit of anger at being looked down upon, but I'm guilty of the same thing. I look at my school and I have a hierarchy formed in my mind. At the top are the brass, obviously. Even though many of them aren't leadership material, their positions require that. A colleague was sitting for the Praxis for administration and supervision this past week and he was quite nervous. The only advice I had for him was to look at some of the people in our administration and know peace.

     A group of workers that I place high on the hierarchy is the maintenance staff, security, and technical support. I had an undergraduate professor who told us to keep them in mind because they "do all the dirty work". I always do my best to make their job easier- push in all the chairs, throw out all the garbage, keep classroom management tight so that security doesn't get tired of coming to my room for every little thing. Some teachers will call security over the smallest thing. A student keeps putting his head down? Call security. It's laughable and those teachers are not respected by their support staff.

     I would then put all the teachers at the lowest level. Maybe that makes me as bad as what I was railing against before. I don't think of the profession as lowly as the chapters did, but someone has to be on the bottom, it doesn't mean we're garbage.

     The bottom belongs to the gym teachers. Out of sheer jealousy, all other teachers despise them. I've thought about the amount of grading and work I'll do by the time I retire, and compare it to the grading and work a gym teacher will do over the same time span. It's enough to make you cry.
   

Farris and Anson’s Chapters 1 & 2: Ferry and Vandenberg

     I've always had a relatively good sense of self-worth. My self-esteem is pretty good and I feel like I'm at a point in my life where I'm comfortable with who I am. Then I read this week's readings. I thought Chris Christie had done a good job of bad mouthing teachers, turns out he doesn't have anything on what we can say about each other.

     Maybe it's how I read the chapters, but it came off really snooty (I don't think I've ever written that word before). It's like when you watch With Honors or Good Will Hunting and the professors are so high on themselves and their brains, there can be no equal. The word hierarchy was used often in the reading and that idea overshadows what I always thought we were in school for- knowledge.

     I admire anyone who has knowledge of something I don't. I have no problem asking for an explanation from someone, anyone, who might know what I need to know. That's why I think the classroom should be respected, not looked down on by scholars. Without lowly teachers, where would we get the eventual scholars? Are they all self-made? And what would be the point of a university then?

     Ferry states that practitioner knowledge is referred to as "lore".  Why not "data"? Why not "evidence"? Lore makes it sound like mythology. Maybe we should stop using the term "theory" and start calling it "suspicion" or "guess"?

     Of course, I write all of this with a bit of anger at being looked down upon, but I'm guilty of the same thing. I look at my school and I have a hierarchy formed in my mind. At the top are the brass, obviously. Even though many of them aren't leadership material, their positions require that. A colleague was sitting for the Praxis for administration and supervision this past week and he was quite nervous. The only advice I had for him was to look at some of the people in our administration and know peace.

     A group of workers that I place high on the hierarchy is the maintenance staff, security, and technical support. I had an undergraduate professor who told us to keep them in mind because they "do all the dirty work". I always do my best to make their job easier- push in all the chairs, throw out all the garbage, keep classroom management tight so that security doesn't get tired of coming to my room for every little thing. Some teachers will call security over the smallest thing. A student keeps putting his head down? Call security. It's laughable and those teachers are not respected by their support staff.

     I would then put all the teachers at the lowest level. Maybe that makes me as bad as what I was railing against before. I don't think of the profession as lowly as the chapters did, but someone has to be on the bottom, it doesn't mean we're garbage.

     The bottom belongs to the gym teachers. Out of sheer jealousy, all other teachers despise them. I've thought about the amount of grading and work I'll do by the time I retire, and compare it to the grading and work a gym teacher will do over the same time span. It's enough to make you cry.