Running head: COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATION CAST PROGRAM Abstract Guided by four principles – Respect and Value all Individuals, Educate by Integrating Theory and Practice, Advocate for Access to a Socially Just Education, Lead in Order to Facilitate Transformation, the Loyola Marymount University (LMU) (2009) Education department has developed a structured curriculum by which teachers learn and are able to make an impact in our world today.
The theories and foundational principles of education, as well as how those principles were shared provided me with an incredible perspective on learning and education. This paper discusses the elements of learning and describes ways to apply those elements to instruction to create truly “active” learning. Keywords: theories, education, language acquisition “It is the Journey, not the destination”, a quote attributed mostly to Ralph Waldo Emerson, succinctly expresses the road to achieving my Masters of Education at Loyola Marymount University (LMU).
Fondly, I review each forward step built upon the next and the unexpected challenges faced on a Journey of self-discovery of my chosen profession. The Journey is central to the travels and the circumstances faced, ach making me stronger and better equipped to face the challenges in my future. Holly, Archar and Kasten (2004) utilize Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz (1900) and her Journey down the “yellow brick road” to illustrate the process and Journey of action research, which can also broadly describe the educational “road”.
They described the “human understanding and community’ and also succinctly states, what I feel to be the foundation of the Loyola Marymount education, “We need reach students “where they are,” demands that one find a different way of thinking about education, scholarship and students. The CAST program represents that very thing to me, it is a program designed to meet the Catholic school educator where he/ she is and further develops the educator in theory and practice. As the CAST Cohort attended classes and absorbed the knowledge of the LMIJ professors, we too, found a different way of thinking.
Holly, Archar and Kasten (2004) state, “Fixing what is wrong in the past will never bring us our imagined future… The educational scholar’s life is one of commitment to realizing one’s aspirations, and thus to continual inquiry and growth… -bringing light to darkness and learning from darkness to light” (p. ). Education illuminates the dark areas and shines the light on the sparkling places, which gives insight into what we are doing right. “Catch them doing it right! ” is one of my personal philosophies to education, and should also be part of my own introspective Journey.
My Journey at LMIJ began in the early 2000’s, with the inception of the Masters Program of Catholic Inclusion. I earned a Certificate of Inclusion, but sadly, left the teaching profession before I achieved my master’s degree. Earning a master’s has been a goal of mine, so when I returned to teaching again, I made it a priority to do so. My renewed Journey began again with the CAST Program and Professor McGarry. Professor McGarry introduced Dr. Stephen Krashen’s Monitor Model (Krashen, Theories of Second Language Acquisition Binder, p. 9) with five hypotheses for second language acquisition, which profoundly influenced my classroom (that semester) and for years to come. Krashen theorized, “… we learn a second language in much the same way we learn our first language… ” (Wright, p. 38). He developed five hypotheses, “The acquisition, The natural order, The monitor hypotheses, The input (comprehension) hypotheses, The affective filter” (p. 8-39) to support second language acquisition, based on Noam Chomskys first language acquisition theory.
Further, Krashen’s fourth and fifth hypotheses states, “student learning takes place when there is ‘Comprehensible Input’ and ‘Affective Filter” (Wright p. 38). Simply put, students need understandable information in a low stress environment to learn effectively. This theory extends beyond the ELL student and crosses the classification boundaries for all learners, directly into my own classroom. Through classroom demonstration, Professor McGarry related the theory and the effects of learning a second language felt first hand.
He demonstrated comprehensible input lessons including, imitation writing, the natural approach lesson with the story of El Gato and El Raton, SDAIE strategies, a TPR lesson in the Bahasa language, Just to name a few. Professor McGarry stands out in the cadre of professors as one who continually demonstrated “best practice” lessons for each class. One such “best practice” demonstration in class focused on the Total Physical Response (TPR) while also utilizing the Natural Approach. In this lesson, Professor McGarry demonstrated TPR when he taught the class eight words in Bahasa, the language of Indonesia.
Understanding the words became a simple task through the TPR and Natural Approach strategies. While learning any new skill I feel an excitement and thrill in the acquisition of knowledge. The TPR method, employed by Professor McGarry, struck me significantly, of ELL students. Conversely, my stress at absorbing the foreign language in a short amount of time, revealed an insight into my students’ minds when their eyes glaze over with a blank expression as I speak in math language. The anxiety I felt at the bombardment of foreign vocabulary on my brain, quickly dissipated once l, along with my classmates, pantomimed the words as a group.
In the group setting, I felt less fear of failure and less pressure about making a mistake. As I experienced these lessons, the Monitor Model became a reality for me and therefore will continue to impact my teaching. Understanding first hand, the stress that English language learners face, a stress that all students may feel in the classroom at some time, I have a new understanding of the block to learning that stress can present. According to MasloWs Hierarchy of Needs, a person must first have basic needs met, then safety, belonging, esteem and ultimately, self actualization in that order.
Stress creates insecurity in the classroom, and for that moment places a student on the bottom tier of the pyramid, where he/ she, has not yet achieved security. TPR greatly reduced the stress I felt in the classroom, like learning to crawl before Jalan (walking). Utilizing TPR in the classroom will allow my students to retain a greater amount of information and feel less stress (and hopefully have some fun) while learning. As the Journey continued and my students’ affective filter lowered, Dr. Colin presented Critical Pedagogy, a theory based on the work, philosophy, the teachings and writings of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire.
Freire’s interest in education as a vehicle to confront oppression helped bring about a following of people who promote the philosophy of critical pedagogy. Critical pedagogy, simply defined is a method of teaching (pedagogy) that strives to help students observe and learn using “critical thinking’ approach especially as it concerns oppression of a people (Colin, 2012) . This theory of education and curriculum building adds meaningful input into the classroom instantaneously. Children, by design, are curious beings. When Friere spoke of being curious, later in life, of what death might be like, it struck a cord with me.
I think that we, as teachers, have a responsibility to nurture the curiosity and allow and encourage our students to explore (Smith, 2002). As my educational Journey continued, the Sociocultural Theory, based on the work of Russian social psychologist, Lev Wgotsky, put all the pieces in perspective. He brought the role of culture, language and interpersonal interactions into psychology. He studied children at play and in the classroom. Major tenets of the theory include: Children construct their learning and build on their prior knowledge. Human development cannot be separate from the people we encounter and those who give s examples of how to be in the world, our social environment. Our lived experiences make a difference in our learning. – Language plays a central role in mental development. Meaningful dialogue matters. – Learning is social Language is central to cognition This takes place in the classroom through various SADAIE lessons and having an understanding of … need to teach the student how to learn. – Zone of Proximal Development (ZoPed) o Help from a “more competent other. ” knowledge… Constructivism (constructs meaningful lessons and purposeful activities) o Active Learning (Ugotsky, 1978) Based on this theory, the larger picture is our business as teachers to create conditions for learning. Because, as Dr. Colin said, “Teacher’s cannot transfer their brains into student… ” (Colin, 2012) Teachers must scaffold the material meeting the student where they are and creating a path to discovery. Meeting a student where they are takes an understanding the student’s sociocultural context. First a teacher must know where the student is, in order to meet them there.
I try to get to as many student functions as possible. This year, I have seen my students play football, olleyball, basketball, perform in the talent show and many other functions. I sit with parents and make “small talk,” Just to get to know the student’s frame of reference (Colin, 2012). Along similar lines of the Sociocultural Theory of Lev Wgotsky, one’s definition of the purpose of education will be based on his/her sociocultural upbringing and the context of her own life. For this reason, the purpose of education is the shared viewpoint of all the stakeholders of a school.
When the vision and purpose ofa school is shared and articulated and supported, the success of the school, teachers, tudents and community at large become a shared mission. Historically, education has been a tool to create an educated workforce, loyal patriots, or in the creation of Catholic schools, survival of the species (or more accurately the religion). Provenzo quotes Lawrence Cremin with the definition of education as, “the deliberate, systematic, and sustained effort to transmit, evoke or acquire knowledge, attitudes, values, skills or sensibilities, as well as any outcomes of that effort (Cremin 1976, 158) (p 30).
The classroom teacher must be so much more than simply one who imparts knowledge to be digested and regurgitated. The role of the classroom teacher today has evolved to become part teacher, part therapist, peacemaker and mediator, technology coordinator, online communicator, curriculum planner, and ultimately a participant in the learning process of the student. When viewed in that manner, the role we fill as educators looms daunting when compared to the content students must know in order to make “Adequate Yearly Progress” and “be at or proficient” by grade level standards (Provenzo, 2010).
The most pressing challenge to education today in the public school setting is, as my mother would say, “to many cooks in the kitchen. Those who make the decisions that effect funding for public schools are not the same people who are doing the research in the field, nor are they “on the ground or in the field” to see the effects first hand. The “growth numbers” in the “Accountability Progress Report” set up by NCLB and those who decide these numbers, are simply a way to cheer for our failing schools. Schools celebrate the achievement when they obtain a “growth number” of 9, when its “target number” was 5.
But, when the hard numbers are crunched, almost half of the students in the school may fall below the level of proficiency (California Department of Education). The reports and acronyms seem purposefully confusing so the real data of how many students fail is obscured. At the end of the day, schools important to speak to parents and community members in a language that they can understand. That students are the most important clients we have and it is their success or failure we are ultimately measured.
The social agenda of lawmakers is a disadvantage to English Language Learners. Wright references, “Bilingual education has been referred to as a ’30 year experiment’ . ” (p. 53). Diverse languages have existed throughout the evolution of America as a ountry, yet the federal structure for the education of language learners has only subsisted for the past 30 years. Social complications have also existed throughout this evolution of our country with color (ethnic background) and language the most prominent of the impediments to unification and education.
Sadly, language restrictions (education) were imposed most often for social control and not to help immigrants learn English (Wright, p. 55). Examples of such atrocities, cited by Wright, include, the establishment of English-only speaking Indian boarding schools, English roficiency as a requirement for naturalization and citizenship, and restrictions on the German language and Japanese language after World War I and II. When the social climate of the time influences language laws, the entire country losses a valuable resource.
This resource, if cultivated, adds to the richness of our country as a whole, and exterminating the language by demanding “English only’ detracts from an individual’s human rights. The Funds of Knowledge Theory emerged in the early 1990’s in education and derived from the sociocultural theory and constructivism based on the theories and teachings of Lev Wgotsky. Original Scholars from University of Arizona developed an approach to curriculum reform that was termed Funds of Knowledge. Funds of Knowledge states that it is important for teachers to know their students, their backgrounds, communities and the things they bring to the classrooms.
This theory is the opposite of the banking model, children are not empty vessels to be filled, but already come with a wealth of knowledge to bring to the class (Gonz?¤lez & Amanti, 1992). There are many ways to implement Funds of Knowledge: coach at the school, home visits (time involved, consent), be part of community events, invite parents to he classroom, history of school, sit or play with them at lunch, create social environment, class socials, listening and dialogue, Go to church at the parish church (for Catholic educators) (Colin, 2012).
Similar to the Sociocultural Theory, a teacher must know where the student “is,” in order to meet him/her “there. ” So similar to the statement above, having this knowledge gives teachers the power to have a connection with their students, which allows the teacher to have a greater impact in teaching a student how to learn, instead of Just teaching content (Colin, 2012). Being part of a community comes more naturally in the Catholic School setting. Most Catholic schools are built around a parish and the community part comes naturally. This may be the reason for the incredibly high graduation rates and college acceptance and matriculation.
Often, I reflect on the incredible luck, or the hand of God, as my mother would say, at guiding my life towards the positive enriching environment of Catholic school. Creating a community, or more accurately, a family in my classroom begins before the students ever set foot in the fifth grade. and call them by name. Over the summer, students create a Powerpoint resentation that includes a very simple recap of their summer. Students get up and present their summer activities to the class and through this I get a Jump on connecting with my students by learning about things that are important to them.
Also, on Back to School Night, I combine all the slides and rotate them in a loop on the Active Board in the classroom. Parents come in and stand in awe of all the great pictures! Thus, another connection is made. Father Greg Boyle says, “We create a kinship” (Boyle, 2011). Creating kinship in the classroom brings about a connection and an understanding, instead of the division hat comes from thinking only of oneself. Although, as Catholic educators we teach respect and to love as Jesus loved, often many in our community remain ignored.
In this way, it can be identified as null or hidden curriculum. This subject presents a sensitive topic in the Catholic school setting. Currently, teaching “human development” or “sex ed” is sensitive for all involved. Parents must sign a permission form to allow their children to participate in the class. When I teach this portion of the religion curriculum, I always take the time to discuss this part of sexuality and the tolerance of all human beings. Christianity is a unifying factor in my classroom, although it can also be classified as part of the diversity as well.
Not all the students in my class are Catholic, and many belong to different Orthodox sects and/or various Christian churches. There are many ethnicities present in my classroom, although at first glance, the casual observer might mistake the racial make up of my class as predominantly African American. Students in my class have rich cultural backgrounds from Mexico, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Japan and different parts of America. I have coached multiple sports (but mostly volleyball and basketball) for many years. Recently, I began to coach for a private all girls’ middle school and high school in Brentwood.
Over the past three years at this school, players I coached introduced me to their parents, sometimes their “two dads” or “two moms,” which also represents diversity beyond ethnic culture. Father Gregory Boyle’s call to “kinship” has made the focus of my classroom more about how we are alike and remain in each other’s “Jurisdictions,” rather than focusing on how we are different. In that same reference, kinship also arises from the understanding and acceptance of our differences. In this way, Freire’s definition f tolerance equals Boyle’s definition of kinship in my classroom, or at least as I aspire my classroom to be (Boyle, 2011).
Technology can also represent an “economic divide,” which creates division once defined by train tracks in a town (Washington, 2011). Creating kinship, while meeting a student where she is, mandates we, as educators must find the common ground in which to begin. Print media is still around, but already obsolete. Newspapers, encyclopedias, magazines and books can all be accessed online. The super computer that occupied an entire floor of building is now held in the palm of a student’s hand, he cell phone. Technology in education is not the future. It is the now.
If teachers are to meet students “where they are,” one will find them in front of a computer, a gaming system, texting on the phone or watching T. V. Meet the student there. The technology is no different. Earnest Hemingway is quoted as saying, “It is good to have an end to Journey toward; but it is the Journey that matters, in the end. ” My Journey continues and the LMIJ CAST Program has been a significant part of that Journey. The theorists, professors, colleagues/classmates and textbooks have accompanied me on my journey. Although I leave the university, all the knowledge, compassion and kinship come with me.
References Boyle, F. G. (2011). Tattoos on the heart: The power of boundless compassion. New York: Free Press. Colin, Dr. E. (2012, March 3, March 24, April ). Interview by C. ] Lennon. Class lecture. Chomsky, N. (2011). The noam chomsky website. Retrieved from http://www. chomsky. info/ Gonzalez, N. , Moll, L. , & Amanti, C. (2005). Funds of knowledge: Theorizing practices in households, communities and classrooms. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. Holly, M. L. , Arhar, J. , & Kasten, W. C. (2004). Action research for teachers: Traveling the yellow brick road. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Krashen, S. (n. d. ). Monitor model. In M. Paul (Ed. ),Theories and Policies 2nd Language Acquisition Binder Oxnard: Unknown. McGarry, P. (2012, April 28). Interview by C. J. Lennon. Class lecture notes. Provenzo, E. F. J. (2010). The social frontier: A critical reader (history of schools & schooling) . (Vol. 55). New York: Peter Lang Publishing Inc. Smith, M. K. (1997, 2002) ‘Paulo Freire and informal education’, the encyclopedia of informal education. [http://infed. org/mobi/paulo- freire-dialogue-praxis-and- education’. Retrieved: March 30, 2012] Wgotsky, L. S. (1978).
Interaction between learning and development. Mind in Society, Harvard University Press, 79-91. Retrieved from L. S. , V. (1978). Interaction between learning and development. Mind in Society, Harvard University Press, 79-91. Retrieved from http:// www. psy. cmu. edu/??”siegler/vygotsky78. pdf Washington, J. (2011, January 1). For minorities, new ‘digital divide’ seen. USA Today. Retrieved from http:// usatoday30. usatoday. com/tech/news/2011-01-10-minorities- online_n. htm Wright, W. (2010). Foundations for teaching english language learners: Research, theory, policy, and practice. Philadelphia: Caslon.