Friday, October 08, 2004

Session 4 reading: comments

This is a close call to the at-a-distance session. The comment about the sentence on p. 81 was written over breakfast this morning on my PDA. I've just synchronized it with my laptop, have downloaded the new files and have copy-pasted that content here. It's a great gadget! I've done a lot of work on it away from home. I got it in San Francisco in March of this year while on a mini vacation with my husband before the TESOL Conference in Long Beach.

My first and main commitment after this reading: I'm definitely going to make a map with the names of students in each class and the eight multiple intelligences, and observe them more carefully in order to try and fill in relevant info and see the final product. I'll also try do do very specific activities in class to try and get a clearer picture. It's going to be fun and, hopefully, elluminating! :-)

The most relevant idea: "MI theory suggests that intelligences can develop and be developed over time" (p. 74, parag. 3) and "intelligence gets stronger when students practice and work at it". The art of teaching is helping people use their already well-developed abilities to build other strengths, so that they can master important learning in a variety of ways" (p. 74, last parag).

Other relevant ideas:

  • "an effective education builds a bridge between the content being taught and the students in the classroom (p. 75, top). Such a simple way of saying such a profound idea!
  • "be careful to avoid the 'pigeon-holing effect' - labeling students... All individuals possess certain combinations of the various intelligences... We all have potential in all of the intelligences" (p. 77, halfway)
  • "The more authentic the tasks, th more intelligences are drawn on" (p. 78, parag. 1)
  • the idea of the "processfolio... to include both finished and unfinished work and to reflect on the many different skills and abilities they used to complete certain products" (p. 78, parag. 2)
  • "teachers can reach each diverse group of students by introducing and presenting rich topics in different ways": points of entry or approaches, analogies or connections or bridges between the known and the unknown material, and multiple representations of the main ideas or thinking of an idea in different ways" (p. 78, ahlfway down)
  • "there is no formula for using a maximum number of intelligences"
  • "there is no point in assuming that every topic can be effectively approached in at least seven ways" (p. 79, bottom).

The idea that "teachers at a school might also collaborate by planning and teaching in teams using their own intelligence strengths for some aspects of the unit and having students rotate from classroom to classroom" (p. 80, parag. 2) is as much fascinating as it is daring in the old-fashioned school system we still have in the 21st century! I'd love to be a part of such a system!

The first thought that came to mind was: Isn't this the way we function within the Webheads in Action community of practice? Isn't it similar to the flow of expertise to the foreground/front, when needed, and then to the background when the task is finished? It's a sort of ebb and flow of the tide of expertise.

Isn't it an intelligent way of tapping into each individual's best potential and taking the best advantage possible of it? Isn't it an intelligent way of rationalizing human resources for the benefit of the students? Above all, isn't it an intelligent way of providing our students with the best possible learning? I believe so.

The Conclusion draws our attention to many core ideas that we should bear in mind, but what really grabbed my attention was that MI theory "urges teachers to extend the boundaries of traditional curriculum, consider the many talents and abilities students bring to a school setting, and put greater emphasis on the variety of skills necessary to succeed in today's world" (p. 80).

I wonder how many teachers go beyond the boundaries of the curriculum! Very few at my school. How many take into consideration the different talents and abilities? And how many put regulate their teaching today thinking of their students' tomorrow? Those of us who are using these new technologies in our classrooms are certainly better preparing our students for their tomorrow. There are other ways in which we are also contriuting to that, but this is already a very significant contribution to their future... today!

On Getting Started (p. 81), we are asked to finis the sentence "I am intelligent because I can...". Well, I don't like the sentence because it sounds boastful, high-profile type, and I appreciate modesty: I'm low profile. I'd rather say that "I try to excel in what I do", because my students are my top piority and deserve my best. So, I give all the care and attention to my work. I am considerate, friendly, demanding and strict. "Facilitism" gets us nowhere. I try to prepare them for the world out there, or should I say the "jungle" we live in? I try to motivate them by showing enthusiasm in everything I do, by acting out a lot in a playful way, and exaggerating things in order to capture/grab/get their attention and have them retain ideas through fun (or is it F.U.N.?). I give attention to one and all. I try to raise trust in their abilities, get them to think positive and say "I am capable of doing...". In fact, yesterday I started talking about this in a class that doesn't know me - I wasn't their teacher last year. However, I've been told that there are several low achievers and I wanted to show them from the beginning that I don't give up on any student!

Enough! It's already a long post.


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