The purpose of this blog is to keep past and current students updated on different resources I present in my courses. I hope you find the entries thought provoking. I intentionally keep my comments brief and often have a visual / graphic / poem to supplement those words.
What Are You Getting Into?
- One of the best jobs in which to influence the direction students take in their lives;
- A career in which your creative powers will be challenged;
- A line of work that makes you a better person;
- A chance to practice over and over again and hope you never get it exactly right;
- An opportunity to self-reflect on your own values and beliefs;
- A network of peers who help each other become better at what they do;
- An exciting job in which no two days are ever alike;
- Working on teams in which people bring their collective wisdom to improve the lives of students;
- A challenging atmosphere to do what's right - - - not what's easiest;
- A profession in which reinforcement might come 10 years later from a student who tells you just how much you have influences his/her life.
When Schools Forgo Grades. I am fascinated with the anecdotal accounts of when schools opt for a non-grade based approach to assessment. I read about one such approach I want to share with students in my courses and the image I am left with is the reciprocity of learning among teachers and students. We are all learning about the topic of focus, but at different levels of understanding. We never stop learning about a topic about which we are interested. [I apologize if you are viewing this blog entry at a time when the link may not be active.]
Thoughts On Teaching My Current Courses
Mastery is an illusion -
We must stop teaching to this delusion.
Connecting with the content matters -
Let’s use our strengths and gifts together
For new insights and ways to grow
That only we can really know
How to live a better life
Amid the joys and amid the strife.
Communitas Est - Spring 2012. In a previous blog entry, I had included an issue of the Communitas Est newsletter in which I had [1/24/17] written some thoughts about the creative process in working with individuals with disabilities. In this blog entry, I also include an issue in which I wrote about some of the values and truths that form the foundation of my courses at CCSU.
Personalizing Reinforcement. One of the main features of reinforcement is to personalize what this means for each student. During one brainstorming session, one team of students identified nine features of reinforcement that could be associated with a student. I used my own last name as an acrostic organizer to demonstrate how a personalized visual might be developed for a student if these features were associated with me.
You Got Me Thinking
You got me thinking about the work I do each day
My role in teaching classes and what I'm about to say.
I love my work at Central - - - the flexibility of my time;
Even the self-expressions contained in my current rhyme.
My creative ability to speak my mind each day - a perk
And the colleagues in my department form my closest friends at work.
There're excellent fringe benefits for when I'm ill and cannot teach
I influence my students who soon one day will reach
Out to other learners in the cities and the towns
After crossing center stage in their graduation gowns.
But - - - my loyalty is not limited to the structure of this entity
The buildings and the administration of this university.
Yes, I have my stage, a classroom - I’m the director of my show,
But I can quickly be replaced; this I surely know.
There are many reasons that people choose to work each day
Amid the chaotic nature of the external forces at play.
I may be short sighted and selfish in my rant
But survivors of certain illnesses have a reason to chant
Each day is a day and each moment is a moment
My reasons to work here are a personal commitment.
Full-time, part-time doesn't really matter
Amid the e-mails and the daily chatter.
Some of us are starting - beginning our careers;
Some of us are in the final stages of our years
And hold many values and attitudes to be true,
Some of which may happen to also belong to you.
Ben and John hold a part of the truth
But so do Jane and Lois and if your name is Ruth.
Thank you, for reading the lines of my poem.
Share your gifts and live your life at both work and home.
Please Raise Your Hand - 2017 Version. As a way of developing connections with my students in next semester’s class, I modified an activity I have used in the past: Please Raise Your Hand If - - - . I recommend that the students work on highlighting the connections they share with their students as a method of developing rapport and community within their future classrooms. [All 20 statements in the example below pertain to their instructor.]
Until I Say Goodbye. I read a book quite some time ago by Susan Spencer Wendel, Until I Say Goodbye. I summarized this book with two different visual organizers. First I extracted key features from the book that resonated with me.
Next I extracted some quotes of notes from the book using the same acrostic organizer of the author's name:
Who Put the Natural in Natural Supports? I developed a series of statements that reflect an adherance to natural supports in the way in which we interact with individuals with disabilities. This practice mirrors the supports that exist in the student's community.
Introduction to a New Learning Community. Below are notes that I wrote for an incoming group of students for one of my courses:
This may not be the best course at CCSU that you have ever taken, but it will be the best course at CCSU that I have ever taught. Why can I say that? Because the last class I taught was the best course I ever taught at CCSU and I still learned some ways to make my instruction even better. Each new, unique community of learners encourages me to present what I know in a slightly different way. About 50% of what I say, I have said before. But, I listen for a different response from those who are hearing it for the first time. Am I presenting an idea or concept in a way that most, if not all, the students grasp the purpose of this content within the general scope of the course? Special Education has an infinite amount of content to cover and I still only know a little about a lot and a lot about a little of this massive amount of information. You are taking this course in a condensed format during the summer when it is probably even more difficult to learn a great deal about a lot of information. I want this course to be one in which you can connect what you already know with the information in special education. This constructivist method of learning has been the most successful in the previous sections I have taught. An even better word than "taught" would be "facilitated". I will facilitate the advancement of your attitudes and skills toward including students of greater diversity in your classroom when you become teachers or other professionals working in today's schools.
I want to know about your skills, competencies, gifts and abilities and how you can include a wider range of learners in that same area of expertise. Accordingly, each of you will choose a theme that will be a touchstone throughout the course. That is, you will connect the strategies and techniques on which we focus to that theme. You may be a competent gardener, have a keen interest in gardening and/or just love gardening. When we discuss materials modifications for students with physical disabilities, you will connect the ideas we cover to how gardening can be more accessible for students with physical disabilities. If you love winter sports or happen to be an avid skier, you will connect much of what we cover to adaptations and modifications for individuals who can participate more fully in winter sporting events.
I will not penalize you for what you do not know. When I don't know something, I go look it up. In fact, even when I think I know something, I still look it up to verify whether I am, indeed, right or not. Instead, I will assess your competence in the areas we cover by how well you complete activities from a matrix of possible choices. The exams I provide are better named exam-ination of content in which you demonstrate your knowledge in short, essay style responses to my writing prompts.
This can be an enjoyable learning experience for everyone. It will be a terrific learning experience for most of us. All of you will contribute something worthwhile that, if you were not a member of this class, we would miss and our understanding of this content would be less complete. Thank you for being a member of this learning community.
I don’t know how you think things went
From your own point of view - - -
I just know I enjoyed my time
Learning and teaching with you.
The summer is a time to reflect now & then
And see how things are going - - -
Thank you for being part of that time and
To keep my learning growing.
Every time I teach this course
It keeps on getting better
Because I meet people like you - - -
The readers of this letter.
We are more alike than we have our differences
We use our strengths and skills
We meet ourselves at different levels
Our hearts, our minds and our wills.
I teach so I can hear myself think -
I once heard a wise man say.
Thank you for being part of that time
As we met along the way . . .
To advance forward
To be better than we were before
That was the purpose of the past five weeks
To build up from a solid core . . .
Of values, strategies and
To meet people of inspiration
So we can find that inner voice
That leads to our celebration . . .
And we move on
Maybe never to meet again - - -
But, your presence
Will not be forgotten – when . . .
I plan the agenda
For each future lesson
I will remember this group
From this past summer session.
Bob Dylan Lyrics and the Game of Thrones. One of the methods of engagement for students is to link lyrics from their musical interests to the content currently under investigation in a subject area. I decided to link various lines from Bob Dylan's lyrics to the Game of Thrones with the following results:
01: Dylan Lyrics: Oh Sister
Oh, sister, when I come to lie in your arms
You should not treat me like a stranger
Our Father would not like the way that you act
And you must realize the danger
Oh, sister, am I not a brother to you
And one deserving of affection
And is our purpose not the same on this earth
To love and follow his direction
Game of Thrones: Relationship of Cersei and Jaime Lannister
02: Dylan Lyrics: Long and Wasted Years
I ain’t seen my family in twenty years
That ain’t easy to understand
They may be dead now
I lost track of them after they lost their land.
Game of Thrones: House Stark
03: Dylan Lyrics: Blowin’ In the Wind
Yes, how many years can a mountain exist
Before it’s washed to the sea?
Yes, how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?
Game of Thrones: Gregor Clegane
04: Dylan Lyrics: Love Minus Zero No Limit
My love, she’s like some raven
At my window with a broken wing
Dylan Lyrics: Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?
If he needs a third eye he just grows it
Game of Thrones: Bran Stark – Three Eyed Raven
05: Dylan Lyrics: The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar
West of the Jordan, east of the Rock of Gibraltar
I see the turning of the page
Curtain rising on a new age
See the groom still waiting at the altar.
Game of Thrones: Cersei Lannister / Daenerys Targaryen
06: Dylan Lyrics: Cold Irons Bound
Looking at you and I’m on my bended knee
You have no idea what you do to me.
Dylan Lyrics: I Feel a Change Comin’ On
We got so much in common
We strive for the same old ends
And I just can't wait
Wait for us to become friends
I feel a change comin' on
And the fourth part of the day's already gone
Game of Thrones: Jon Snow / Daenerys Targaryen
07: Dylan Lyrics: Shelter From the Storm
Now there’s a wall between us, somethin’ there’s been lost
I took too much for granted, got my signals crossed.
Game of Thrones: The Wall
08: Dylan Lyrics: Pay in Blood
Someone must of slipped a drug in your wine
You gulped it down and you’ve crossed the line
Man can’t live by bread alone
I pay in blood, but not my own.
Game of Thrones: Arya Stark / revenge of the Red Wedding
09: Dylan Lyrics: If Not For You
If not for you
The winter would hold no spring
Couldn’t hear a robin sing
I just wouldn’t have a clue, If not for you.
Game of Thrones: Winter is Coming
10: Dylan Lyrics: Positively Fourth Street
You got a lotta nerve
To say you got a hand to lend
You just wanna be
On the side that’s winning.
Game of Thrones: House Allegiances
11: Dylan Lyrics: Changing of the Guard
Peace will come
With tranquility and splendor on the wheels of fire
But will bring us no reward when her false idols fall
And cruel death surrenders with its pale ghost retreating
Between the King and the Queen of Swords
Game of Thrones: Battle for the Seven Kingdoms
12: Dylan Lyrics: Beyond the Horizon
I’m touched with desire
What don’t I do?
I’ll throw logs on the fire
I’ll build my world around you.
Beyond the horizon, at the end of the game
Every step that you take, I’m walking the same.
Game of Thrones: General Comment
13: Dylan Lyrics: Abandoned Love
Everybody's wearing a disguise
To hide what they've got left behind their eyes
So one more time at midnight, near the wall
Take off your heavy make-up and your shawl
Won't you descend from the throne, from where you sit?
Let me feel your love one more time before I abandon it
Game of Thrones: Arya Stark learning her craft with the faceless men / Jon Snow leaving the wall / throne
Why Can’t School Be More Like Camp? During the summer months many school-age students are attending summer camps throughout the country. Memories from these summer traditions remain many years later often with fond positive feelings. Activities include swimming, crafts, horseback riding, various sports, theater, camp fire stories / singing, among many other experiences. I often wonder, “Why can’t school be more like camp?” There are some – certainly not enough – schools with an arts enhanced curriculum. STEM has evolved into STEAM with positive feedback from many articles that cross my desk. “Learning should be fun!” to quote from Albert Cullum, a teacher whose philosophy and life work was captured in the documentary, A Touch of Greatness, one of the most memorable such films I have viewed. How one engages in the learning process is equally important, in my opinion, than what one actually learns. What one learns is subject to change over time and our “learning years” never end. Developing a love of learning supersedes an accumulation of minutia of information / facts.
Overheard Conversation. I was eating breakfast at a hotel recently and overheard a dad telling his 5-year old son about the choices for breakfast. He named the wide array of choices including Fruit Loops cereal. At the very end, the boy said, "I want Fruit Loops!" His dad rsponded, "You can only have Fruit Loops on Saturday!" The boy thought for a second and then realized, "Today's Saturday!" "You're in luck," his dad said. I don't know why, but I enjoyed this interchange as I ate my own breakfast - - - not Fruit Loops, by the way.
DUKE ROBILLARD. During one stage of Dylan's Never Ending Tour, Duke Robillard was a fill-in guitarist. I looked up some information about this highly talented musician and develped an acrostic organizer as my summary of a show I saw on April 6, 2013.