Author Archives: ajackson122

Finally! (Last Response to The Dumbest Generation!)

“Finally!”  I finally got to the last chapter of this book, and I finally feel that he is starting to say something a little more worthwhile for people interested in helping the so called “Dumbest Generation.”  Bauerlein took almost the entire book just continuously discussing the shortcomings of a technology driven generation!  Technology is not all bad, and he does say that there are things that technology brings forth, but he never gives any research about how it is helping or improving student’s reading abilities, understanding, and comprehension.  It was extremely frustrating to hear it over and over.  However, in the final chapter after he gets past his anecdote of Rip Van Winkle, he talks about the importance of knowing about the past in order to keep from repeating it.  Basically, what I understood from that was that ignorance is the cause to destruction, which I do agree with, and he also goes on to say, “Web-based intellectuals develop an audience of agreeable minds…”  This is interesting because this is exactly what I felt that I had been doing in my blog posts is simply just agreeing, but I do not agree with Bauerlein, and basically, I get the impression that he does not want me to just agree with him!  However, he gives the example of the New York Intellectuals and then the New Left, and he makes it seem like, unless I am not understanding this, that they (the New Left) did not really know what they were doing:  “A New Left came along and prosecuted a culture war that began the steady deterioration of intellectual life among young Americans.”  And now, I guess I am a little confused about what I read… Okay this seemed to help a little…  This might be better since I am part of the “Dumbest Generation”:  Ali Swank posted a clip from Arguing the World.

He continues to discuss the matters of needing intellectuals, but he does not offer up solutions!! I like solutions, and I know that it stems for teaching.  However, there needs to be more research of what works to help produce the intellectuals he says that we need.  Obviously technology is not going to go away, so how do we use it to improve The Dumbest Generation?  He just states ” It isn’t funny anymore.” Well, obviously, you have provided almost 200 pages of research saying how bad it is… “The Dumbest Generation cares little for history books, civic principles, foreign affairs, comparative religions, and serious media and art, and it knows less.”  It is available so give something useful to help…

“Teachers try to impart knowledge, but students today remember only that which suits their careers or advantages their social lives.”

All he says is “The moral poles need to reverse, with the young no longer setting the pace for right conduct and cool thinking… The Dumbest Generation will only cease being dumb only when it regards adolescence as an inferior realm of petty strivings and adulthood as a realm of civic, historical, and cultural awareness that puts them in touch with the perennial ideals and struggles.”  Okay, so we will get them to change by having them….??? Read your book?  Hear the criticisms that will probably irritate them because all you are doing is basically telling them how stupid they are going to end up being?? That’s a good way to change the thinking of a generation that seems to be over-confident.  Have you ever told a confident person that they suck at what it is they are “good” at?  It does not go over well…


Agreement to Hannah (Response to Peer: Hannah)

In Hannah Stone’s posted response to ‘The Facebook Generation,” I found myself nodding my head in agreement with her.

She states, “While reading Stacy M. Kitsis’s “The Facebook Generation: Homework as Social Networking,” I was thinking about Dr. Levy’s composition class. I definitely think I try harder to write something decent because I know my classmates will be hearing it. If you’re not writing for an audience, what’s the point? (Yeah, yeah, self-expression, self-realization, etc.)”

Writing for an audience gives your work a specific purpose, and I think that it is important to publish/share you work with others because it makes it more meaningful.  It also will help students learn that content and messages will vary depending on the type of audience and the purpose of the piece.  Students often times struggle in understanding this… It would be a great way to teach them… the way you write to your friends on Facebook will not be the same as the way you write to a panel of judges.

I also like that Hannah is hoping to implement the Feather Circle: “In my future classroom, I intend to use the feather circle (under a new name) to have students showcase their writing.”  I have had experience with this, and I must say to her that Hannah you must focus on the workshop part!! You will need to model with your students how a workshop should work because students have a very difficult time understanding how to provide proper feedback!  You will need to teach them this!

Furthermore, Hannah also states, “It’s important to me to create a community, and I think an online response system can be helpful.”  It is important to do this, but you will also need to make sure you create a safe community as Wilber states in I-write.  Students need to feel comfortable, safe, and confident to be able to do this successfully, and you will also need to model this for them, show them examples possibly from your own classes that you have taken.

Hannah also brings up the point: “both present the problem of *technology.* Some students may not have computers or internet access at home, but Kitsis says students can use the media center before or after school. This is true, but some students may not be able to control how early they get to school or how late they can stay. In addition, they may not have ample time anyway to really focus on their writing.”  This is also true, but without the online platform, I do not think students will be as willing to respond to each other’s work or question each other’s work in an appropriate way.  I do not know that having students respond on paper to each other on each other’s work is exactly the way to journal properly because students can be extremely hateful to one another, and they can do this very discreetly without you knowing who wrote it, where as online, their name or their pseudo name will be tagged to it!  And,  whatever they write on the computer will never fully disappear!

Really? That’s Enough Now! (Dumbest Generation: Response 2)

Okay, right now, The Dumbest Generation is really irritating… I cannot help but to think that Bauerlein cannot find one thing good to say about the Millenials!! It’s quite annoying to read over and over again that you are a part of a generation that does not read, is not performing academically because they are not reading, and the severe consequences that will come if it does not change.  I’m about halfway through the book, and he has not yet given one suggestion on what needs to happen to help fix it.  He says that “Of all sports and leisure activities measured, reading came in last.  Moreover, in the Bureau of Labor Statistics design, ‘reading’ signified just about any pursuit with a text: Harry Potter on the bus, a story on last night’s basketball game on, or the back of the cereal box during breakfast” (49).  I’m wondering if he is questioning the reading of these texts.  Because in this class, we have been discussing the importance of reading, understanding, and analyzing other models of texts.  Why is that a problem?  Is he also saying that these kids read them but don’t understand them and what they are really seeing?  I think that reading and examining those texts will help students to improve intellectually because although not “print” texts, they do have value!

He also continuously gives research articles and surveys, one after the other, and they are all saying the same thing, which I understand, but why not bring in other research other than just surveys where they are asking questions and just standardized test scores…  Do test scores necessarily measure understanding and intelligence in every aspect?

I mean I think he does have a point, and I agree that students are reading less and less and choosing to do other activities instead of reading for leisure, or they are simply reading novels like Harry Potter.  And the fact that “46.9% of entering students graduate within five years” is kind of ridiculous, but how many of those students don’t finish in that time frame because of other reasons?  What about the students that have to limit the number of classes because they are putting themselves through school or because of other personal reasons?

So, I did a little bit of research, and I found an articlethat states other reasons of why students cannot seem to graduate.  In the article “Time Is the Enemy,” it states, “seventy-five percent of today’s students are juggling some combination of families, jobs, and school while commuting to class; Part-time students rarely graduate; Poor students and students of color struggle the most to graduate; Students are taking too many credits and too much time to complete ; and Remediation is broken, producing few students who ultimately graduate.”  The article goes more into detail discussing why these are the cases.  So, it is interesting to note that there are other reasons, other than the fact that students are not reading as much and therefore can’t handle college.

So, if Bauerlein is right, and the reason students are not as successful is because of the lack of reading, then how do we fix this?  Where does the answer lie?

How Do I Implement This in the Classroom? (Response to Chapter 4 I-Write)

Wilber states, “It is possible to use free online resources to blog, create a wiki, and present digital stories, and there are many more inexpensive options.”  This is true; however, I do not think this is the reason why teachers do not utilize these tools in the classroom.  It is because it takes time and learning experience to understand and use these tools to be able to help students when implementing them into the classroom.  I know that most students know more and can learn more about these tools faster than their “old teachers,” but it is the fact that the teacher does not know or is not comfortable with the tools that deters them; they are simply afraid to look like they have no clue how to do it in front of their students.  With that being said, I know that there are teachers that are using or attempting to use these tools in constructive ways in the classroom, but it still takes time, and time is of the essence in the classroom when you are trying to “prepare” students for tests!

I am interested in the number of ways that a teacher can blog with students that Wilber states.  I have only tried one way in the classroom, but I hope to try other ways this coming school year.  Once, I get my class blog started, I will be adding it to this post and/or my personal blog.  However, I am going to keep a class blog in which I will post information for parents and students because I think the blog will be more user friendly and more interesting than the class website that I used last year to try and keep people informed.  I also like the concept of the collaborative blog.  I feel this will be a great way to get students started into blogging without them having to manage their own blogs.  I can also keep a closer eye on the content that students post when there is only one blog.  However, if someone knows a way to manage student blogs easily, please let me know.  I also think that having the collaborative blog would be better because I think some students are going to lack in motivation trying to keep up and post on their own blogs.  But, the only way to know is to have them try…

Another interesting part of the chapter was with the Digital Story.  I think this would be great to implement when teaching the narrative, or even for use of persuasion or informative writing.  I think that creating a digital story will really help students to understand how important that writing process stages are to creating a cohesive and well polished piece.  Often times students love to just skip over writing rough drafts and/or editing and proofreading.  However, this will visually show them the importance of creating a good piece.  I have seen great examples of this at work!  My media center specialist sent me a link to a teacher’s blog where she posted a whole unit about Human Trafficking/Slavery, and her students created a digital story with it, which was extremely interesting and compelling.


Teaching Writing to the Test – A Response to Evolving Technologies and Standardized Assessments!

As I was reading this article, I felt that what it says about evolving technology and how it is being used for standardized assessment is exactly what is happening with it.

First of all, the article states, “Teachers, schools, and colleges find themselves challenged to respond to this rapidly changing environment in responsible and constructive ways.”  I agree with this.  In the last five years, I have found it difficult to try to adapt and bring in technology in “responsible and constructive ways.”  Each year it gets better, but it is hard to keep up with everything that is offered.  The other issue at hand is that although politics and policymakers are trying to implement and encourage technology it is difficult to do that when technology breaks down or is too expensive to replace to keep it in the classroom.  I am trying to embrace the technology, and I believe that this course has offered multiple ways to implement technology in creative, engaging, and meaningful ways for the students.  I am currently preparing to incorporate more use of blogs and wikis in my classroom, and when I get it set up to the point of publication, I will be happy to share it.

I also believe that with this incorporation of technology that students will be writing, composing, and producing more work.  I also think that it will help them boost their confidence in the work that they complete as long as I do my best to create a safe environment for them.  I know that this type of writing may not necessarily fit to the “standardized assessment” for writing persuasively, but I think that it will help the students to create and polish a voice and style particular to them as writers.  This will help the students on those tests, maybe not in the way that the “standardized programs” believe is adequate, but when they get out into the real world, they will not be noticed if they do not have their own sense of voice or style.  If every student wrote exactly the same, or every person spoke in exactly the same way, how would they be able to sell themselves in an interview for a job?

And the article is right, because there is a huge overwhelming push for schools to meet the standards or exceed the standards on the writing assessment tests, the teachers are teaching writing to the test.  The formula!! Ever heard of the Schaffer method?  I used to think that this was the answer… I don’t think that anymore, and I hate to say that I did teach the Schaffer method to students.  However, I did this mainly because my school adapted it and made it a requirement to do it.  At our school, it has proven to “work.”  Administration wanted perfect test scores on the GHSWT! And that’s just about what we have gotten… First year: 98%, next  year: 99%, next year 99%.  And, we have always attested that the 1% was the 1% that can’t write even on a 3rd grade level… The teachers say, “How do you get those gets to write with style and voice, let alone write a cohesive, thoughtful sentence… ”  I think that through this type of formulaic writing and practicing this type of writing is doing students a disservice!  However, we have had senior teachers receive emails from college professors asking us what we have done to get our kids to write so “well.”  Well?  With no voice or style?  Now, I’m not saying every student has lost voice or style, but the “average” kids have…  I’m not sure I have the answers to fix this, but I think that incorporating other types of writing into the classroom will help.

Blogs, Wikis, and Digital Stories: “Oh, My!” – Response to Chapter 3 I-Write

Okay, so I have to say that I am not leery of Wikis and digital stories as I am to Blogs.  I have been having a hard time myself trying to get on and actually post my responses to the readings online.  I read the assigned chapters, I highlight and take notes as I read, but I just can’t seem to get the confidence up to want to post about it online in a public space.  I know that with blogs you can adjust the settings and you can use it for different functions in the classroom, which I am sure the book I-Write will get to, but right now, I have just seemed to have a hard time getting on to do it.  I think blogs are more user friendly than the wikis and that they seem to offer more in terms of style, and I know that blogging is not just about putting up your own thoughts because you can post other things in a blog as well, such as podcasts, videos, links, and this can be a great resource for students.

Wilber actually states, “In deciding what sources, modes, and links to incorporate, our students can learn to discern what should or should not be incorporated into the texts they create – a skill that is incredibly important in a world becoming rapidly overwhelmed with information” (46).  I agree, but it is also difficult to teach this to students when teachers, themselves, have not really been in this multimodal world.  I also think that blogs can be a great resource for teachers; Buffy Hamilton is always sharing new literacies through blogs that she happens to come across or blogs that she follows.  For instance last year when I was working with my students on their research projects, she suggested a new way of helping students organize and present the information through something called infographics.  Some of the blogs she sent me to were great resources for this type of assignment. Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano maintains a blog called Langwitches Blog, and this is where we discovered the infographics.  There was another teacher who actually tried this in the classroom, and the outcome and range of choice for the students was simply amazing, which can be viewed on the class blog.  I did not actually try this, but I believe I will try something like this, this year.  Students could even do this with a short story or novel in which they are reading with some modifications.

Furthermore, Wilber also states in this chapter, “Perhaps the most powerful use of a blog is in developing a student’s voice as a writer and a thinker” (49).  I am not sure how this is going to work in the classroom yet.  I have actually tried using a blog to have students respond to journal prompts for Tuesdays with Morrie.  I think it did help in the sense that students were able to feel safe enough, using a pseudo, to post their true feelings and experiences.  I am not sure I gave it enough time because we had limited access to computers.  I think my worry was that if I did not give them time in class to respond to the prompts that they would not respond at all.  However, I think the only way to find out if students will find a way to do it at home or in their own time is to test it.  I think I am going to give the responding on a blog another try, but maybe I should leave it open to free response for them as they read.  I think the blog is going to be a good tool for the students to make their work public and receive feedback from others.

Wikis… Initially, when we started this class, I did not really like the format of the wikis.  I just don’t think they are as visually appealing, but if you are someone who likes a clean, slick look, then this will work.  What I do like about the Wiki is that it is easy to add multiple groups to the same space for multiple projects, if that is what you wish to do.  I used a Wiki space last year with a Presidential Candidate Project.  My students were required to do research on specific candidates for the 2012 Presidential Elections.  With this research, they had to create a graphic organizer of information that people would find useful about the policies and beliefs of the candidate, a campaign advertisement for TV using photostory for the candidate, and a “propaganda” poster for their candidate.  With the compiled information, students then had to go and view each of the candidates profiles and then vote on who they thought would make the best president.  We actually help in class elections as well, where the groups campaigned for their candidate.  It was quite interesting, and there are definitely some things that I would do differently if I do this project again.  You can view examples on one of the wikis for the project.

Even though I have used some of these tools in my classroom, I do not think I gave students enough time to work with the blog or wikis themselves.  It was just faster to do all the creating myself.  However, I know I will be surprised if I allow my students to do it themselves.

Hoping to Have Some Success with Non-Traditional Texts: A Response to Kacee’s “Success with Non-Traditional Texts”

As I was reading Kacee’s posts, I realized that I believe Kacee will make an excellent teacher in the classroom.  She is extremely innovative and is willing to do research to verify the activities she plans to implement in the classroom.  I wish I had this drive that she has 100% of the time.  I hate to say it, but I think over the last five years of teaching I have gotten lazy.  I started off just like Kacee, and slowly, with all the extra curricular activities I take part in, in and out of teaching at school, I must have lost my way.  MAT students like Kacee and Hannah make me push myself to be a more innovative and invested teacher.

Kacee references several interesting articles in her post, and I took the time to visit each of the articles as well as the other links that she tagged as helpful and interesting sources.

Kacee writes , “I came across this pretty cool blog that breaks down apps by subject. A fairly practical list, it includes a variety of categories and price points. If we all know that kids are using their phones, can’t we use it for their benefit (and ours)? If Reading Rainbow has an app, shouldn’t we just accept technology as part of the curriculum? I think successful educators embrace the tools available. And apps are available. This blog, Apps in Education (linked above), offers twenty applicable apps for the English classroom. These twenty have been reviewed for usefulness and list the cost associated with each. Half of the apps reviewed are free, and the remaining ones range from $0.99 to $3.99. Additionally, a list of nearly 80 unreviewed apps are listed. WOW! And that is just for English!”

I have to admit that I didn’t even think about this.  Apps are obviously going to be the way of the future.  Soon, students will have their textbooks on Apps.  I mean I already get mine through the Kindle App or Itunes Library, who is to say that there will not be an App for 9th grade textbooks or 10th grade textbooks…  That would seem to be a fairly cheap textbook, and I wonder where the schools would get the money for such things…

Another interesting thing that Kacee posted was in regards to the MLV project.  Kacee states, “One of the projects I was part of during this semester analyzed product packaging and its intended message. I ran across “Empowering Children as Critics and Composers of Multimodal Texts” after we completed the project bookmarked it as a site for reference. It is a study of cereal in the classroom. Basically, fifth grade students analyzed packaging and advertising of a product and created skits, ads, and PowerPoints to market the product themselves. I mention this article because the study was with FIFTH GRADERS. If they can critically engage with cereal, high schoolers should be able to do even more. I think that introducing students to multimodal texts earlier in the academic lives could encourage them to engage more critically in the future. The take away for me is that students need to be consumer AND producers of their language: multimodal texts.”

I think that this interesting because the article and Kacee state that the students analyze and engage with cereal boxes, but they were only “FIFTH GRADERS!”  I agree with Kacee! There is absolutely no reason that high school students  should not be able to do more than this.  I mean when I think about the fact that I am a graduate student analyzing something like this for the first time… What does that say?  I think it says that teachers are not doing their jobs, as a whole that is.  We need to quit focusing so much on getting students to simply “pass the test” and move to something where they can learn the skills and have fun doing it at the same time.  I am not saying that we will not meet resistance…

There will always be people who are skeptical and unwilling to change, but I agree with Kacee, “… technology isn’t going away. The Internet is a great resource for teachers AND students if we teach everyone to use it responsibly.”  This is important! Technology is only increasing and the amount of information and ease of access to that information is only improving.  We need to teach students and other teachers how to use it.

The Dumbest Generation: My Initial Response Finally Making a Public Debut!

Okay, so I am not quite sure I realized this until about halfway through the first chapter, but according to this book.  I am one of those that which Mr. Mark Bauerlein considers to be in the Youth of the “Dumbest Generation.”  At first I was reading through thinking to myself, “Oh, this describes my students in almost every way possible…”  Then after reading through most of the resources and research that Bauerlein refers to, I realized, “Oh My Gosh, I was 22 in 2007!” This falls right into the categories of most of the surveys and research studies that he discusses.  The particular survey that made me realize this was the 2007 Pew survey on “What Americans Know: 1989-2007.”

So, now I’m wondering, “What does that make me at this point?”  My initial reaction is to take offense to this now that I realize I am a youth of this generation.  However, I do not think that I can take offense… I mean I am reading his book, right?  And looking at some of the things that he discusses about how this generation has so much easy access to the information and to become better informed citizens, I do not know if technology can be the blame for all of it.  As a teacher, I find myself wondering if there is more that I should be doing to help them understand these texts that the youth, including myself, bypass every day without giving any thought to it.  Bauerlein says, “I’m speaking of intellectual habits and repositories of knowledge, not anything else.”  So, he is not criticizing the fact that they are stupid and do not have any intellect or knowledge, but he is saying that their habits  and their ability to keep knowledge should be questioned.  This I can agree with… for myself, I mean I feel that I do read quite a bit, but maybe not enough.  I never actually timed out how much time a spend reading versus messing around on the computer on Facebook or playing Words with Friends or watching TV.  It would be interesting to gauge this, and it might even be worth seeing what students would say about this…

I just hope that in the next chapters he will give ideas about how to actually help solve this problem…

Response to Allyson’s I-Write Chapter 2

As I was reading Allyson’s post, she commented on some things from I-Write that I find myself in agreement with and also grappling with like she does in her post.

First of all, Allyson states, “Each student has their own strengths and weaknesses and even though we know a student has talent in a certain area, they may seriously be lacking the skills or even motivation to learn more about a different subject.”

This is something that unfortunately I see every day in the classroom.  It kind of reminds me of the saying “You can’t please everybody.”  However, I’m not trying to simple please my students.  I feel like a repeatedly run into brick walls that students seem to build around themselves because they CANNOT or WILL NOT do something because they simply DO NOT WANT to…  Where does the motivation come from in some students?  Why is that certain students lack motivation in everything?  How can a teacher with 35 students in the classroom motivate every single student with the assignment?  I know that these students thrive and revolve around technology, but I do not feel that incorporating technology is the exact answer; I don’t think it will fix everything 100%.  If a student just lacks the skills but is interested in learning, then I feel that as a teacher I can do my job and help them to learn.  However, if there is no motivation, what then?

Furthermore, Allyson goes on to state, “It’s interesting to me that the Westernized method of teaching students is all about independence. We are encouraged to be go getters, learn on our own, expand our knowledge because we WANT to.”  She seems to be right here as well.  The push is for classrooms to be more student-centered, meaning the teacher becomes more as just a facilitator.  This is going to be interesting because many teachers are going to have to learn to “back off.”  Teachers have been so concerned about test scores and making sure students have the “right answers.”  However, as we have been discussing not only in 7741 but in 7721, literacy is more open for interpretation; however, for this interpretation, you must be able to prove from within the text how you derived at that “answer.”  Teachers so often find it easier to simply just teach canonized texts and other readings with “their” interpretation as the answer.  However, where did these teachers get these “answers?” From their teachers.  However, I feel that by adding in other literacies other than canonized texts, students will begin to feel more comfortable with viewing, reading, analyzing, and evaluating the texts for themselves.

And finally, Allyson states, “However, it seems important that because of all of the information this new generation has being thrown at them, we have to find interesting things to grab their attention. One minute, it’s an email, the next, a text is pulling them away from their studies. It is constant.”  She is also right here.  This may be a solution to try to grab interesting things to students.  However, I do not think that all students will be motivated by this… They may be motivated by one thing, but then the next, they simply do not care once again.

“Scrutinizing the Cybersell: Teen-Targeted Web Sites as Texts” by Darren Crovitz Response

Okay, I know this seems horrible that I have not put my initial responses on the blog.  I think there is just something about blogging that turns me off… I’m not really sure what it is, but I will talk about it later with the I-write chapter…

I found this article extremely interesting that I eventually found myself checking out the websites that Dr. Crovitz discusses in the article.  Dr. Crovitz states in the article, “As online environments become more sophisticated, however, we might consider expanding students’ critical-thinking opportunities beyond the concerns of traditional research. While media literacy has been a part of our field for several decades, the explosion in Webbased content and communication in the last few years combined with youth culture’s embrace of these developments make it vital that we consider the academic potential of these new texts.”  I know that in my own classroom I have used advertisements as texts, but we have only studied and analyzed those that come from magazines.  Although this might be a good starting place for viewing such texts, I need to branch out into online platforms of advertisement as well.  Dr. Crovitz makes an excellent point in this.  Students are exposed to more online texts than we realize.  Even when they venture through Facebook and Myspace, students are being exposed to a culture that they willingly embrace without even thinking twice about it.  The potential of using these types of text is unlimited, in a sense.

In the article, Dr. Crovitz goes on to look at few specific websites that offer such opportunities.  The one that I found the most interesting was the Slim Jim.  He talks about how Slim Jim’s audience is geared toward the rough and tough young adolescent male.  The article states, “Slim Jims are presented as part of a hypermasculine philosophy characterized by the concept of “snap moments” (derived from the shouted catchphrase “Snap into a Slim Jim!”) during which boys overcome fear to accomplish “extreme feats” (“Snap!”).”  This was the slogan/campaign for the Slim Jim at the time, and it made me wonder what it was at this point.  So, I took a deeper look into Slim Jim on my own, and this is what I found…

It is interesting because this one commercial says about 1.000 different things.  The main message is that if you are a male and you do yoga, recumbant biking, take care of children you are not “A REAL MAN”  because you have suffered from Male Spice Loss.  Therefore, you need to Spice up your life with a SlimJim!  Although at first somewhat funny, it sends the message to teenage males if you do anything that is not “Manly” enough that you are not a “Man.”  I find it slightly insulting, even though that is the intent.  Our culture identifies with particular characteristics that are stereotypical, and we buy into them.  Why?