My Writing

28 11 2010

Why can’t a dragon be PINK?
Why are dragons never pink?
Is it because they stink?
Why do dragons breathe fire?
Is it because a hot mouth indicates a liar?
Why do dragons get a bad rep?
Is it because they lack natural pep?
Why do dragons fly so high?
Is it because it’s more pleasant in the sky?
Why can’t a dragon be my friend?
Is it because all my other friendships will come to an end?
Dragons are friends, have pep, are not liars, and don’t stink.
So why can’t a dragon be pink?

My Protagonist: A secretary
My Villain: a dragon
My setting: a car

Once upon a time, there was a princess/secretary. Because she wanted no one at work to know of her royal status, she would change her royal attire inside her car. One fateful day, she neglected to bring her professional attire. As a consequence, she was afraid to go to work for fear of being discovered. As she wept bitter tears, a sly pink dragon approached. The princess/secretary immediately recognized the pink dragon as the nemesis of her kingdom. The princess/secretary was scared, but when the pink dragon held up a sign that read- I mean you no harm. I swear I can help. The princess/secretary allowed the pink dragon into her car. The princess/secretary explained her predicament to a sympathetic dragon. When the princess/secretary asked for help, the dragon smiled slyly. Suddenly, the princess/secretary’s attire transformed into a pink dragon costume. “There”, said the dragon. “Now you are as beautiful as I am.” With a guffaw, the dragon flew out of the car and into the pink sunset, leaving behind a distressed princess/secretary who had just learned a valuable lesson.

My Favorite Pet
Koalas are cute,
Koalas are cuddly,
Koalas are cute and cuddly,
Koalas are dangerous,
Koalas are not pets.
I wish I had a koala as a pet,
to draw my enemies close;
hypnotize them with the cute and cuddly
yet dangerous koala.
They will never suspect
that my koala,
although cute and cuddly,
will rip them to shreds
while looking cute and cuddly.

My first woke-up-screaming-and-had-to-sleep-with-my-parents nightmare
It stated with a candle. Just like in the movies. It was first just the flame, with its blue, yellow, orange flame. Then it was the wick, charred black with use. Then the dripping candle, wax dripping slowly down into a pool.
Two figures were near the candle, faces shrouded in the shadows that leaped from the flame. Whispering voices, furtive glances they gave each other. All this I could see from the tiny peephole. Whisper aftr whisper was inaudible, until it finally made sense.
“We’re gonna kill that little girl.”
There was only one little girl in the building, me. Without warning, they both looked directly at the peephole. I screamed and ran for my life. I could hear the footsteps of two individuals right behind me. I tried to look for a safe haven but I was suddenly surrounded.
I felt each and every stab wound as they stabbed me inclemently. They left me lying in a pool of blood, blood was dripping from my body the way wax drips from a candle.

Did You Know?

28 11 2010

Leet Speak and Education

28 11 2010

What kind of library do digital natives want?

27 11 2010

Phonetics 101- Help for ESL teachers

27 11 2010

Reflections for Borinquen Writing Project

26 11 2010

Reflection #1

Edifying students in the writing process is, in my opinion, an inexact art. The article All Children Can Write by Donald H. Graves is the spark that began the “writer’s workshop” approach that many classrooms implement today. The emphasis on writing to communicate ideas has been lost amid the mortal coil of standardized test preparation and the high expectations of language proficiency. The structuring of a successful program dedicated to the writing process is an idyllic first step that must be modified to both cognitive level and language proficiency of the second language learner. In other words, children in elementary school usually have double periods of language instruction to organize their thoughts and write, but instruction for older students must be adjusted to multiple workloads. In order to assess whether or not I use a writing-process program to teach writing, I must address the Graves’ stipulated four components: time, choice, response, and community.
The idea of allowing sufficient time for writing is good in theory, but unrealistic in the modern classroom. For this to work, I would have five to ten minutes of writing a day and have the continuity from one day spill over into the next. Dedicating four days a week to nothing but writing would make it difficult to include reading, grammar, and cognitive skills. Time is definitely a factor in creating a well-executed and productive writing workshop environment. Choice in topic is the one strategy that I wholeheartedly endorse and implement in my classroom. When students are limited within the confines of assigned content, the result is usually resentment and the oblivion of the writing pieces’ content. As a student, I was sick of two mundane writing topics that plagued my existence for five years in a row: “What did you do in the summer?” and “How was your Christmas vacation?”. They always lacked creativity and most students response with such apathetic and lethargic pieces that the message and essence of writing becomes convoluted. The idea of responding to what the student has written is first-rate, but leads to an array of problems. I usually ask for volunteers to share what they have written of ask students if they would mind if I read their piece aloud. My class consists of 20-25 students and each class period is 45 minutes. A minute and a half for each student response would cause the other students to become distracted and talk about unrelated topics, lose interest in the exercise, or become anxious as they wait for their turn. I can encourage my students and help them to organize their ideas, but not use an entire class period doing so. Establishing a community of writers is exigent, almost near impossible due to the fact that my experience is that every teacher has a different way of instilling and encouraging students to write. One year of intense writing activities followed by a year with little to no writing takes its toll not only on the continuity of teaching, but the continuity of creativity of the students.
Some of the techniques I use implement two of Graves’ ideas strongly. I have an activity that I used to do with a class I no longer have: I incorporated vocabulary with writing. I introduced the students to the word “edify”. The word “edify” means to inform or enlighten intellectually, so the students had to find synonyms for the concept of instruction and selected a topic in which they had to edify an older generation. It was a free topic, but I suggested that they write about how to use technology. I was flooded with a string of interesting topics that not only were the students experts on, they were more than happy to explain something they knew with confidence. I had not known of this systematic “writer’s workshop” approach, but I am grateful for the opportunity to incorporate some of these ideas in my class and plan on modifying some of my techniques to create the first steps towards better time management and the creation of a community of learners.


My reflection is in honor of both Peter Elbow and Regina Richards; it is messy and chaotic. I will purposely deviate from the focus and not edit a single thing. Here it goes:
After watching the video with Peter Elbow and reading Regina Richards’s article, I feel that the one thing they have in common is their messiness. Ideas are presented, and they are brilliant; however, the concepts of logic and common sense have been thrown out the window. Now to say that there is erroneous information, but the standard that Elbow presents is that a messy first draft is meant to be a hodgepodge. I agree that it should look messy, but I agree with Richards in that there should have been a pre-planning step; having students write without any sort of planning or thinking would result in frustration. I have to say, my feelings on Richards’ article are quite paradoxical; I love some of her ideas, but I despise the way she presents her information.
A teacher’s time is precious; spending long periods teaching the writing process and perfecting it so that it becomes an innate skill in every student is something that elementary school has sufficient time allotted for. By the time they reach high school, students should be concentrating on fine-tuning the writing pieces, not going over the tedium of how to organize their thoughts step-by-step in a meticulous manner. I am of course referring to creative or free writing, not to writing pieces such as research essays, research papers, and term papers. The use of Acronyms to help remember the skills required to create a structured piece is exceptionally helpful. POWER (plan, organize, write, edit, revise) is easy, yet powerful. I find that the acronym STOPS is the technique that incorporates my greatest nemesis: verb tense. I can envision creating posters and placing them in the classroom to remind students of the fundamental process when writing.
Elbow and Richards clash in one thing above all: their ideas of proofreading and editing. Elbow is loose, while Richards presents a highly-structured procedure to follow. Elbow would probably encourage Richards’s idea of using voice-recognition software, because it would lead to messy first drafts no matter what. Richards is under the impression that using a voice-recognition program is cool, nut actually it is crap. Second language learners usually shirk away from speaking unless they absolutely have to. This would put unfair pressure and anxiety on the learner, and another thing, what about those people that can’t string together a coherent statement to save their lives? The best comparison between the two is that apparently Richards has followed Elbow’s technique of producing a messy first draft, and Regina Richards needs to help Peter Elbow understand that he needs to STOPS telling people to be messy and unaccountable in their work. I love Elbow’s flexibility of low-stakes writing early in the process, but I hate his approach of unaccountability. I love Richards’ ideas, but hate how she transmitted the concepts. Basically, if these two people were to procreate and engender a progeny, I would not want to be its teacher (“its” is not a grammatical mistake).
Even though my thoughts on these two paradigms seem convoluted, only a trained eye can detect the sarcasm and the carefully laid scheme between the lines. I feel that I can be creative without stunting or intimidating my students with rigid rules and procedures from the get-go. My students always analyze how they are going to transmit their message, but understand that making careless mistakes in the beginning will cost them in the end. Reluctant writers with messy first drafts without focus on some form of grammar and mechanics until the end? I don’t think so.


Reflection #3:

I do not teach students how to read; thankfully, my coworkers in the elementary school have assumed this enormous
responsibility, and I am exceptionally grateful to receive my students when they have acquired this skill. When I teach, I
am actually teaching students how to interpret a text on the metacognitive level. I am an intermediate and high school
teacher, but I have truly been blessed to teach at a school where my second language learners are so advanced that they verge on being fully bilingual.
The article “Reading- Spelling Connection by Stephen Krashen has excellent information. The concept of the
“spelling sense” immediately reminded me of Spider-man and his “spider- sense”. I do agree that extensive reading benefits spelling, and I have seen a correlation between the avid readers and the lackadaisical ones in terms of their spelling skills. However, in the early stages of language acquisition, some emphasis must be placed on spelling to ensure the ELL’s progress towards becoming a better reader while avoiding bad spelling habits.

Whole Language or Phonics? Sharon Cromwell shed some light on the debate and this is how I see it. I call the debate the Zebra Dilemma. Is the zebra black with white stripes or is the zebra white with black stripes? What does it matter? You should be addressing the needs of the zebra, not quibbling over an aesthetic idiosyncracy. Maybe one day you will notice that the zebra is more black that white and the other you must attend to the white zebra with its mesmerizing black stripes. What makes the zebra beautiful is the dichotomy and freedom to judge it not by one color or the other, but to see it as a nonpareil.There must be a harmonious acceptance of the zebra, an admiration for the contrast between the stripes and the freedom to see it either way.
Krashen’s summarized article had so much information that it gave me a headache. My students have already acquired the language; they are bombarded with English in almost every aspect of their academic lives. Because all of the textbooks at the school are in English (excluding the Spanish textbook), all of my students know how to read. The issue arises when they need assistance in understanding what they have read and and allowing it to become part of their knowledge bank. I agree with Krashen in that we as educators must employ a myriad of strategies and skills to help students acquire a second language. What is most important to me is not only acquisition; I want my students to enjoy the language, to demonstrate their ability to not only “sense” what is right or wrong, but to demonstrate that they appreciate the language and provide meaningful insight to what they have read.

Reflection #4

Over the years, I have had many issues with reading comprehension in the classroom. I have had students read a paragraph and say, “I did not understand a thing”. I have had students stop reading and say, “I just don’t understand what they are talking about”, or “Why are we reading this? This is boring.” Students seem to pay closer attention to literary selections in which they feel that they have previous knowledge of or that they can identify with. One of the things I value is the building of knowledge, not just the ability to read. All of my students can read, but they only value what becomes a part of their knowledge bank. I, as a teacher, do everything in my power to make sure that the reading is meaningful. The best way to achieve a classroom of proficient readers is to help students develop their understanding and comprehension through careful development of schemata. I am grateful to be in the secondary level, where my students are already proficient readers and have had experiences from which they can draw knowledge.

I always make sure that I know what I am getting myself into and that I am prepared to explain any particular quirk or idiosyncrasy of a character’s motivation or background. When I implement the concept of schemata (background information), I usually ask the students what they know, and at times will implement a KWL diagram or a concept mapping of the given topic. I always make sure to drop little hints or ask for similar situations so that the students will naturally recall past information in order to fully understand. I always make sure to have an introduction to the selection, and our textbooks provide a very structured way of implementing this, including hypothetical questions, Quicknotes, literary terminology, and background information to help build and activate the students’ schemata.

A good example is the article R.M.S. Titanic, by Hanson W. Baldwin. I ask the students, “What do you know about the Titanic?” Usually, I have at least one student tear up and say “I love that movie” or “are we going to see the movie?” Because there is such strong schema associated with the topic, I sometimes have to deprogram students and tell them the horrible truth: Jack and Rose are fictional characters. Students become so obsessed with the possibility of seeing the movie that I must help them to realize the true tragedy of the events, from the departure of the R.M.S. Titanic from England to the painful trial held to attest the egregious mistakes that led to the disaster. Even now, in 2010, there is still information being discovered, even though all of the survivors of the tragedy have passed on.

I usually give the students a crash course in nautical terminology and the basics of radio communication. I also go into a bit of architecture and design, so as to accurately explain not only the plot elements of the article, but also the logical questions that occur in hindsight. I show videos, give them vocabulary, play music of the era, and ask them about any tragedies that they have seen on TV or have read about. I also do the very important task of asking about the ethics involved in a tragedy. Most students have a lot to say about this, thus prompting them to not only extensively read about certain situations, but also reflecting on past knowledge in order to substantiate a response.

In conclusion, the strategies to develop schemata in second language learners  has more good effects that bad. At times students will remember the basic plot of a story, essay, or article, but I always enjoy it when the students do not necessarily remember every detail from a selection, but tell me with earnest that they remember the discussion, or went home and taught a family member or friend about something they read about or learned.

Reflection #5

I love, adore, fancy, glorify, idolize, venerate, and exalt vocabulary. If I were to have one superpower, it would be to speak every language known to society with the highest level of vocabulary proficiency possible. I read this article, and I was gobsmacked. I had no idea that there were so many things I could do with vocabulary that are both effective and creative. My school is currently placing a great deal of emphasis on improving vocabulary skills as measure by the PSAT, so this article was a godsend. In order to properly pay homage and express my gratitude to the author, Eileen Simmons, I must divide my praise to address each technique of visualizing vocabulary.
The first technique was to create a vocabulary card. Since I am at the high school level, this is reasonably useful. The division of the words by prefix, root, and suffix will aid students in deciphering difficult words. The use of an illustration to help comprehension is an approach I use for vocabulary development in preparation for the SAT. I call them SAT vocabulary slides. The slides consist of the word, the part of speech, the definition, and an image that represents the word. Since all of my students are good at searching the web, but are not necessarily good artists, that is a good technique that incorporates research, computer skills, and vocabulary skills. The second technique, called Illustrated Vocabulary, may be used for high school, but is oriented for elementary school. Because the vocabulary must be simple to allow time to complete, this would be an excellent continuity activity to have from one level to the next. First graders could create mini-vocabulary books and include entries as they get to sixth grade. Before the students get to middle school, they will feel confident in having a vocabulary base that they have created. The books can be a part of their portfolios.
The third technique, the Word Biography, is stupendous. Word origin based on a person’s name will encourage students to research the person and use their imaginations. The possibilities of expression are endless, but unless we come up with the word “simpsonize”, educators have a finite number of words to research. The fourth technique is called Illustrated Opposites. A basic knowledge of art or the aid from an art teacher is a necessary resource. Teaching antonyms through illustration and enforcing motor skills by having different types of handwriting improve and aid the dreaded “cursive phobia”: fear of writing in cursive. The fifth technique, the BioPoem, is not actually a poem about the student, but rather a reimagining of the concept. The student must take on the persona of the word and structure a poem with specific information about syllables, prefixes, suffixes, uses, and word origin. This is definitely an exercise for high school students: useful, but complex. The sixth technique is the creation of an ABC book. The students find a word that describes them; one word for every letter of the alphabet must be selected. This activity would be used at the beginning of the school year. I would call it “My ABC’s” and would have students do this so that the student could express who they truly are through vocabulary exploration.
Eileen Simmons has given me hope and wonderful ideas. I will incorporate EVERY SINGLE IDEA in my classroom when I teach vocabulary. Even though she dislikes the use of the vocabulary lists, tests, and quizzes, I always try to bring an element of fun or familiarity to my vocabulary quizzes and tests. Vocabulary should not be feared; it should be embraced and appreciated.
The article written by Cathy Puett Miller focuses on the cognitive aspects of mentally visualizing vocabulary. This technique of having students mentally visualize would last approximately 10 seconds in the classroom. Every year, more and more students are being diagnosed with learning disabilities that impede them for maintaining and focusing on a specific task. The new generations of students seem to have shorter attention spans; looking and listening and visualizing will work, but the students will not be visualizing vocabulary. This article was a bit underwhelming, and the only way that I could see this being effective would be in early elementary school.


Reflection #6

Literary Instruction- My recommendations
I work at a private school, so the standards that we use are not the standards used by the PRDE (Puerto Rican Department of Education). The standards provided by the PRDE are referenced, but not implemented at the level proposed. Recently, I had to rework the syllabi for my courses and I had to use the standards provided by the PRDE as a framework. I received a copy of the literacy requirements. The skills and competences that were programmed for the 12th grade level were used to create the literacy objectives for the 7th grade. In essence, our school does follow the standards or the PRDE, but we take it to the next level, in more ways than one. Because I am required by my school to be at the vanguard of education, I implement methods to achieve effective literacy instruction.
I am fortunate to say that I have not encountered many issues with my students in literacy instruction. I teach English at a Spanish- language school, but my students are very proficient ELLs. I have no difficulty with phonemic awareness, no issues with fear of speaking or writing in English, and no issues with neophyte learners.
Even though I do not like to admit it, I am proficient in my students’ native language, to a degree. There will be times when it is beneficial to reference cognates in Spanish to improve literacy instruction, especially in learning vocabulary. I always tell my students that they are blessed to know both languages, and I tell them that colloquial words in Spanish are often elevated vocabulary words in English.
I have one foolproof technique which I use for any article, short story, poem, essay, or excerpt mean to instruct. I call it the six elements of literature: setting, point of view, characters, conflict, plot, and theme. Of course, these refer to the comprehension of a text and not the acquisition of new elements of a language. I focus on the strategies to implement Bloom’s taxonomy, and focus on vocabulary to enhance schemata. I love to use pictures, videos, music, and other media to help provide meaningful fun instruction. I adore review games and projects. I always remind students that demonstrating their literacy proficiency can be something as simple as a comic strip; it can actually tell me more about their understanding of a text and their acquisition of the language more proficiently than a bevy of essays.

Reflection #7

I have never used reading as an editing tool. In my classroom, the time provided is for grammar, reading, and vocabulary. There is a course called Writing Skills, which is taught once a cycle. Thus, every other week, the students have 45 minutes dedicated to the writing process. I am not in charge of the writing skills course this year, but in previous years, I have implemented various strategies to help students identify errors in sentence variety, coherence, verb usage, pronoun, usage, clarity, and unity.
A technique I use is to read aloud what a student has written. In your mind, what you have written is clear. When someone else reads your written work, it takes on life of its own. Usually, people are very protective of their writing, taking offense to any critique or comment. If we are to teach students about how to identify errors in their writing, they must become strangers to their own writing. I use a technique in which I use three very distinct voices. The first voice I use is my British accent; I tell the students to listen to see if their writing makes sense as read by a Brit. They usually laugh at my accent, but realize that something is not quite right; Harry Potter would never say something like that. In this way, as I read aloud what they have written, they realize that there are mistakes that must be corrected. They notice that it is very difficult for me to read it as is, and I must confess at times that I unconsciously correct some of the errors automatically.
The second voice I use is my ghetto fabulous voice. I adapt the accent of a ghetto queen, a Latina with a very thick accent, and I read what they have written. Usually, they will say that with the accent, some of the mistakes are forgivable, while others are downright wrong. Students are well aware that I am not mocking them: I am attempting to establish the way in which some mistakes are passed over simply because of an accent while reading aloud. I tell them I am Jennifer Lopez. They laugh and always ask me to say a sentence in the J.Lo voice.
The third voice I use is my Southern voice. I tend to drawl my words. I tell the students I am Britney Spears. They laugh and express how funny I sound, but again, are very forgiving of the mistakes because they are read aloud. I always tell them, if Britney Spears said it, it is probably grammatically incorrect. A good example of a text that has rampant errors in grammar but is colloquial in nature is Of Mice and Men. I plan on selecting several excerpts of the novel and have students correct the mistakes in grammar. I always tell my students that the colloquial qualities are what bring about individual style and voice, but the same applies to their writing. Just because I say it and people understand me does not mean that the exact same words in writing will not be corrected. Students are not fully aware of phonemes and their spelling, but go along with the idea of “If it sounds correct, it is correct.” This is what brings about frustration, and it is not conducive towards the standardized tests in which students will read sentences that sound perfectly sound, but contain errors in grammar.
Next year, I plan to take control of the Writing Skills course and implement all of the strategies I have learned.

Reflection #8
Traditional Writing versus Digital Writing
I am extremely honest; reading an article in Spanish, super-fancy Spanish no less, was not my cup of tea. I concentrated on the chart that Daniel Cassany presented with the simplified findings of his research. I immediately decided to take a satirical tone with his findings and incorporate my love of metaphors in the process. The chart I have created mirrors the points detailed by Cassany, but with a twist. Disclaimer: I do not intend any disrespect.
Traditional Writing is like a beautiful erudite courtesan, a beacon of style, elegance, exclusivity, and class. Digital Writing is like a fast, cheap, licentious hooker, a thing to be used and passed from person to person.

Traditional Writing

Pragmatic implications
1. Giving a speech to an audience of people who are not taking notes; they are just admiring the beauty and elegance of the courtesan.
2. Encyclopedias look elegant, but are heavy and bulky. You would have to spend a fortune just to admire something that is obsolete even before the ink on the printing press has dried.
3. Face-to-Face, Heart-to-Heart, Mind-to-Mind
4. Monkey see, monkey do, monkey reflect
5. Sensual poetry reading with perplexed interpreters
6. Show me the money! You pay a lot.
Discursive aspects
7. Like a virgin, unique and costly
8. Heartfelt love letter, invitation to the ball, tattered novels, expense reports
9. Can sell ice to an Eskimo
Composition process
10. Slow Process; it takes time to look this good.
11. Information overload: slow drivers to the right.
12. I feel pretty, oh so pretty, I feel pretty and witty and gay!

Digital Writing
Pragmatics implications
1. Recording a video of a speech that will reach many on YouTube, SchoolTube, TeacherTube, and Ted; the hooker will be seen by over one million people in 24 hours.
2. Online encyclopedias are good for general ideas, but steer away from Wikipedia with its unreliable sources and easy editing. Stick to the good stuff.
3. Check out how many people read and commented on my vapid thoughts
4. Monkey see, monkey hear, monkey record, monkey create, monkey posts
5. Instant gratification
6. Chump change or free, it depends.
Discursive aspects
7. She’s a Superfreak with a bag of digital tricks
8. Texting, sexting, tweeting, googling, surfing, IMing
9. L33T Sp3@ker
Composition process
10. Fast process: Check me out now!
11. Information highway: caution, fast driver
12. I am strong, I am invincible, I am independent, I am woman!

Traditional writing will always exist, but to a lesser extent as the older generation moves on and the newer generation takes precedence. Digital writing allows for more freedom, yet lacks refinement. Both are necessary, for now. A year from now, how will this question be answered?

Digital Natives and how to deal

Someone pinch me. I woke up this morning to realize that by the year 2015, we will be living in the say-no-to-books world created by Ray Bradbury in Fahrenheit 451, and live in the Orwellian dystopia as from the novel 1984. Mark Prensky, in a slightly insulting way, was able to address the great issue that education is currently going through; the education system does not have enough time, money, or desire to keep up with the times. The ugly truth is that the current system of education is not moving fast enough to accommodate and integrate technology in a seamless fashion. It is just not possible for schools to have the latest cutting edge technology when ever six months a new model of a computer comes out, and when schools still insist on keeping those moldy VHS because they invested money on them. Sorry digital natives. You will have to be patient.
I am a Digital Native. I have no problems incorporating technology, creating interactive assignments, interactive games, online projects, creating art using Corel or Adobe software. I wholeheartedly believe that this generation is suffering from a lack of progress in adapting to the ever-changing needs of the youth. I am cognizant to the army of digital immigrants that are teachers and their utter resistance to finding new strategies to interest the younger generation of digital natives. There has to be a balance. Natives cannot expect for the knowledge to just magically appear in their heads, they must also play a part in their own education. No matter how fun a class might be, the student still needs to put forth the effort to make it meaningful. Case in point, I took two lessons from my vocabulary workbook and found a way to use it within a fun and entertaining context, the movie Shrek. Most students just heard Shrek, and immediately watched the movie without having the vocabulary words at hand. Almost all of the students did poorly on the quiz; because they were having so much fun, they forgot to actually learn the words in the context. This particular technique was useful in that I captured their attention using “edutainment”, but the students assumed that just watching the movie was sufficient preparation for the quiz. How wrong they were. Change needs to happen now. Teachers must relearn and rethink practices that have been ingrained on them for many years and practices and activities in the classroom that at one time were successful, but have now become obsolete. One of the computer teachers at our school is a good example of this. You would think that this person would be at the vanguard of technology, but the truth is the students do most of the work for her; she cannot even properly send an e-mail or connect a computer to a projector. This is the reality.
Teachers need to hurry and start changing their ideologies and strategies; the digital natives are getting restless.

Reflection #9

Discourse analysis (DA) is examining the spoken and written aspects of a language and identifying social and cultural to facilitate understanding and interpretation. Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is a deeper branch of DA; it trains to see all political, social, and historical aspects that are associated with a language, thus taking it from abstract to concrete.
Both are exceptionally time-consuming activities that are useful in theory, put impractical for my classroom. There are elements of the discourse analysis that I would implement to an extent, but others that I would eliminate completely. I would never record my students to see how I question them. That is a quagmire I would not deal with, from getting permission from the parents to record their children, to dealing with students unwilling to participate in the activity. I have twisted the truth about a text to make it more appealing or have divulged elements that can only be discerned after careful analysis to “trick” the students into reading a text in order to discover what I have told them.
I recall one incident that I had my first year as a teacher that briefly caused me to consider the DA and CDA’s tedious and time-consuming theory. The students had a unit of literature that dealt with biographical writing, and the story was “Where Have You Gone, Charming Billy?” The short story by Tim O’Brien dealt with a particularly traumatic incident he experienced in the Vietnam War. The main character, obviously suffering from a form of mental disease, recalled with humor the death of another soldier. The soldier had stepped on a land mine and had not died of the wound; rather, he had a heart attack from the scare he received. As his body was being transported back to base, the movement of the helicopter caused the body to plummet down and fall into a rice paddy. The main character was recalling the incident and peals of hysterical laughter escaped his lips. The purpose of the text was to help illustrate how soldiers are traumatized by the horrible things they see in war, but I was surprised that many students also thought that the death of the soldier, Charming Billy, was humorous. I hastily chastised them for their behavior, but then I realized that because they did not know the full story, in isolation, they would see it as humorous. Of course, I quickly learner that I must be cautious in selecting a text. After the class was over, I had a student come up to me and say that one of the girls had recently lost her father to a heart attack, and she thought it offensive that I selected this story. My immediate response was that I was not privy to the student’s loss and I would never have selected the story had I known. Considering that I had known the students for only two weeks did not help matters much. Knowing the students and what they need is really what guides me to what they can and cannot understand within a social, political, historical, and moral context.
The selection of novels is not up to me. If students are in the 12th grade, all of their supplementary reading novels will be by British authors to match the focus of the class, British literature. Texts are selected for their importance to what the students will achieve with the knowledge. Texts like Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice are relevant to my students because they deal with female protagonists that overcome hardships and achieve their desired goals. I did not sit down to contemplate the pros and cons of the hidden meanings in the text, nor did I hesitate to select them due to possible controversial elements. In fact, most of the novels at the school are banned novels, due to their political, sexual, social, or historical context. I am fully aware that some aspects will require a little more explanation, but nothing is selected that is so far from the knowledge of the students as to cause difficulty in the understanding and interpretation of a text.
The selection of a literature book is easy. I go with the flow. A group of intellectuals has already taken the time to select pieces that are appropriate for the group and go as far as to prepare for ELL learners and for advanced students. If I were to focus on every detail of a piece that could be considered controversial or unethical, I would be enforcing the realities predicted by Ray Bradbury in his novel Fahrenheit 451. Our selection of a textbook takes into consideration the wide plethora of written pieces that we may pick and choose from with the freedom to address the students needs, and to ensure that all facets of the language, both oral and written, are taken into account.

Reflection #10

From a very early age, students know that their words have meaning, from the first moment that they realize that they can get others in trouble with a few well-selected words to the pain they feel when they say something inappropriate and are punished for it without understanding why. Communication is a building block in the lives of our students, but communication today has undergone some serious changes.
Nowadays, there are ways in which students can write messages, discuss, and insult, without the teacher being any the wiser. This is due in large part to the expansion of the language through the internet. I feel that as educators, we must be aware of how our students now communicate with one another and not shy away from these elements. In my Communication Skills course, I address that issue when I go over my Etiquette unit. I discuss with the students how to properly communicate, and go over such issues as e-mail etiquette and texting etiquette. Even though it is a different form of communication, it still requires guidelines and rules.
I have heard some people using the abbreviated texting words in their conversations. Not good. The written changes experienced because of our internet dependency should stay as such. We should not speak the same way we SMS, and vice versa. Teachers must respect the different types of spoken and written communication and become students once again, and learn how to communicate with the upcoming digital natives effectively.
I wholeheartedly endorse Netspeak. It refers to the abbreviated communication through text messages and e- mails. If society is insisting that we change with the times, why are so many people resistant to changes in the language as well? If you know a language both oral and written, learning how to use abbreviated language will not affect how people see you and it does not dumb down the language. I am excited to see how the language will evolve and take into consideration brevity and efficiency. Maybe we will soon be implementing the ideas of the novel 1984, with a Newspeak language that is brief and concise. Only 10% of what is in the new texting language is different; the other 90% of words are still employing use of proper grammar and spelling. I want to incorporate the concept of the text poetry. I see it as a future genre of poetry. It does require skill and time to make it meaningful.
I am A L33tSpe@ker. I can use symbols to mimic the English alphabet. This not a bad thing. It is actually something so complex that only the erudite mind can accomplish, or a really good £337$p3@|{ translator. One must know a language in order to break it and mold it to the reality of new technological slang.
As long as we instill the importance of knowing a language properly before using slang, it should be seen as an asset, not as a corrupter of language. The last sentence is in leetspeak. See if you can decipher what comment I placed below.
£337$p3@|{ 1$ 4 n3w 4nÐ 1n73r3$71n9 ƒ0rm 0ƒ wr1773n (0mmµn1(4710n.

Reflection #11

When I first learned about the free courses provided by The Borinquen Writing Project hosted by Universidad Del Sagrado Corazon, I was ecstatic. I am the only member of the English department to not have a Master’s degree and I have the least amount of experience. Pedagogy of Writing and Literacy Development promised the first step towards improving my knowledge; the six credits conducive towards a master’s degree also helped motivate me. I was happy to discover that three other colleagues were interested in the course. I must say, the experience has been truly enriching.
I must admit, I felt extremely dumb at times. Some days I left the class feeling sorry for myself, thinking that I was just not as good as my BWP colleagues and instructors, with their years of experience and knowledge. I was astonished at how some people were just bored with the class, or felt that they already knew all about writing. Sometimes we don’t realize that we must allow the learning process to occur, but also be accepting of differences of opinion and respect each other’s unique teaching environments. We, in essence, are modeling and attempting to learn strategies to instill and perfect language acquisition through writing. After many hours on the subject, I can say with certainty that I will be implementing what I have learned in my classroom. I appreciate the fact that the presentations were placed on the BWP blog for my edification. I will make the presentations a part of my review repertoire, and intend on sharing the information with my colleagues at the elementary level.
Elbow taught me to not worry about the little things until the end; Graves helped me understand that a community of writers is ideal; Atwell taught me that I should be systematic in keeping track of my students’ progress; Cassany taught me that soon, digital writing will eclipse traditional writing. All of these ideas led me to believe that in the future (maybe six months from now) we will be having another discussion, debate, workshop, or seminar on how we must address literacy instruction in our schools or revise, discard, or reassess pedagogical strategies for our ELLs. For my part, I will try very hard to implement the more plausible, practical elements of these four people, keeping in mind my responsibilities as a teacher, an employee, and as a person.
I not only learned about new techniques to teach writing, but also learned that I was a humorous writer. I was very flattered when Prof. Monllor suggested that I write and attempt to publish what I had written. I believe that it is very easy to motivate others, but very difficult to motivate yourself. Prof. Aviles was witty and helped me be more at ease with my surroundings. Both of these women are the ideals that I wish to live up to. Perhaps in ten or fifteen years, I will be at their level of expertise. Jann inspired me with her video, Juana’s sorrow, so much that I proposed to covet that knowledge. Pilar inspired me with her love of oral expression as a facilitator in the writing process; I have purchased a speech recognition software, Dragon Naturally Speaking, to see if some students are better storytellers that writers. Harry inspired me with his love of technology, and his desire to bring technology to his students in any way possible. Annette reminded me that the first moment in which you connect with your students is magical, especially when pancakes are involved. Sheri inspired me to be more humorous; I see her as my humorous writing rival. Gloria inspired me to keep searching for the next best thing, and to always bookmark, tweet, post, send, copy, hyperlink, facebook, diigo, or e-mail the information. Marisa inspired me to my surroundings for inspiration. I was saddened to discover that three of the participants, Judith, Brenda, and the mysterious man from St. Thomas, could not partake in the learning experience with us. Learning is better amongst people who make you feel wanted, and I am happy to say that that was the thing I most enjoyed and learned from this project.

Wordle Vocabulary clouds

24 11 2010