Monday, April 27, 2009
Positive schooled learning experiences have most significantly come from my recent year at California State University San Bernardino. Professors have a way of instructing so that one's writing can be thought of as a sandwich. Introductions are always necessary, they incorporate what the text will be about. In addition to that, the body should always reflect what the introduction has stated. Most importantly, I have learned that the conclusion should be an analysis of what has been written. Lastly, the conclusion should answer the question so what?
I never thought about posing the inquiry, so what? I always remember reading over different texts that my colleagues wrote. I never thought about asking the question, so what? What would one like me to take from their writing? Typically a paper should encompass different ideas that critics or others have come up with; however, to make something truly eclectic, a writer should add their own insight. For instance, Professor Sanders recently said to think of the following when creating one's own text, "Here's what the critics have said, but here is why I (as the writer) disagree." Also, Sanders gives other suggestions such as, "Here's what scholars have stated, but here's what they have left out." At the same time, Sanders says another example is "Here's what critics have said and, this is why they are right." Prior to Sanders' class I never thought about writing a paper in this way.
In my past year at C.S.U.S.B, I have also come across incorporating quotes so that I react to them. In addition, it is also important to always site what has been written. An example of this is a paper I wrote on the Mexican American War. I did not have any expertise about the war. I learned everything involving the Mexican perspective from different sites. A very valuable lesson I came across dealt with going back and siting all the places in which I derived ideas that were not my own. Thus is why my literacy learning years at C.S.U.S.B have made a significant impact on me.
Moss is doing research on language acquisition learned outside of school. She claims that much of the language that student’s acquire are learned from different community functions that student families are a part of. Moss reflects on her own personal language acquisition as a child, and realized that much influence was taken place at her local Church congregation. Therefore, Moss begins her research, but before she begins she must first gain some knowledge about Ethnography.
According to Moss, “Ethnography is a qualitative research method that allows a researcher to gain comprehensive view of the social interactions, behaviors, and beliefs of a community or social group (Moss 389).” Moss points out certain restraints that may arise when attempting to pursue an ethnographic research project. Since her research would be done at a place that she herself is a part of, then certain approaches must be done. Moss examines the pros and cons when being put in the position of doing research in an environment that is the Ethnographer is a part of. The objective of the Ethnographer is to gather the most righteous information, and Moss points out that sometimes if the people are aware of the research then they are most likely to covet their honest intentions. Therefore, it will tamper with the outcome of the research being made. Moss encourages Ethnographers, who are in the same position as her, to act as a part of the community while doing the study. Therefore, the community feels more comfortable and will start to act like their usual selves. The best results are obtain when the community feels at ease with the Ethnographers.
The reading and publishing of novels is declining and as a result illiteracy is on the rise. Szwed attempts to explain that literacy is not declining but what is declining is what we consider to be literate. For example; most wouldn’t consider magazines, billboards, bills, graffiti, junk mail, cereal boxes or pornography to be a “book” but it is something that requires the same abilities one would need to read a book and be considered literate. Current available statistics “tell us nothing about the variety of function that reading and writing can serve. To consider only the use of books, in addition to providing information and pleasure- they are bought as decorations, as status symbol gifts, investments, and for other reasons yet to be discovered” (425), therefore to consider a person literate only if they read books would be incorrect.
Aside from the influence of school on literacy, family life along with extracurricular activities such as church also has a major influence on children. This leads to the assumption of families thinking that the school is not properly educating their children and vice versa. Scwed also talks about a case where black students using Ebonics were told that the words used in their poetry were misspelled and incorrect. Here the school did not take into account the language varieties the students may have. Similarly is the case with bilingual children where schools must learn to take their background into consideration when evaluating their literacy and competence.
Though I agree with Scwed with his views on literacy. I also feel that old literature (novels) must continue to be enforced on our children. The reading of contemporary literacy structures of today won’t be enough to keep future generations afloat, for novels not only require the ability to read but to critically think as well.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
I grew up in the typical Catholic family. Therefore, when I was a child it was mandatory to go to mass every Sunday, and pray the rosary from time to time. Now, as an adult with a hectic schedule, my parents really can’t force their religious beliefs on me anymore. However, the tradition really stuck with me and I try my best to make it to mass on Sunday and pray the rosary if I have time.
I remember a few years ago, I think I was a freshman in college, when I really contemplated on my faith. I remember sitting in a pew at Church listening to the Priest preach about the day’s gospel, and really trying to understand the message the Priest was trying to convey. I realized that I must have read/listened to these gospels a billion times over and over again, but I never really analyzed the text thoroughly on my own. Strangely enough, Orange Coast College, the school I was attending at the time, had a religious studies class that focused on analyzing the gospels, so I registered.
When I started the class, I thought there were going to be a bunch of Crazy Christians who were going to try to prove how their faith was stronger than the others. I was totally wrong. Actually, I think everyone there was just as curious as I was. The class was a complete success for me. I learned so much about the Bible, and the history of it. The instructor was great too. I think before the class, I was never really able to defend my beliefs, and now I was.
Besides the epiphany I had with the class, the learning process was great and important as well. I think a person will only have a good learning experience if the interest is there. Also, the environment is important as well. The other students were as interested as I was, so it was a shared learning experience. I think it’s difficult to learn if you are the only one who wants it.
After high school I attended a Rio Hondo College in Whittier where I had to take a math placement test, which would decide whether or not I had to take a college math course. I tried studying a few nights before, but I knew I had no chance. About a week after the test my results arrived in the mail, I had scored so low that I would have to take three math courses before I could transfer to a university. My fist day of college “elementary math” came and being in a class full students all in the same math plane made me feel more optimistic about math. The instructor, whose name I don’t recall, was very nice and approachable. She had a very interesting way of making us learn mathematical formulas; she sang the formulas to "Pop! goes the weasel" or most commonly known as the “Jack in the Box” song. One of the formulas I could never seem to forget is the quadratic formula as she used to sing it:
“X is equal to negative B
Plus or minus the square root
Of B squared minus 4 (a)(c)
All over two A”
As I sit here and write the “lyrics” to the quadratic formula, I picture her clapping and singing to the beat of the song as if it was yesterday. Some of the students thought she was ridiculous, and initially I did too, but I grew to like her approach to those dreadful formulas. It was then where I started to see math differently. I then began to use this very same beat when it came to learning anything in all my other courses. Even today I find myself trying to implement the same approach to the kids I work with. If found that you can sing the process of meiosis to this beat or even when it comes to memorizing prepositions. I might look or sound crazy to them, but as long as one student can benefit from it then I consider my work well done.
Monday, April 20, 2009
The first book that ever really affected me in some way was The Giver by Lois Lowry. I was in 8th grade and it was one of the books that our class was assigned to read. It was the first book I couldn’t put down, and even though my teacher gave us a span of almost a month to read the novel, I read the whole thing in just three days. I have always loved books that portray a unique pseudo reality. Lowry created a unique world where the people experienced no pain, and the role of the giver was to sacrifice him/herself and indulge all of the communities pain and true reality. Jonah and the Giver’s role in Lowry’s society was take on the real world and cope with a range of emotions and reality. I guess it mattered to me so much because I realized that in reality all people are like Jonah and the Giver, we all feel pain and the affects of the world that surrounds us. It made me realize how we should be thankful for being given the choice to decide on our actions, and understand that sometimes that attribute may be painful at times.
Like I said in the autobiography before, reading books gained a reward in my family, and I was always the little bookworm. Although, my parents were non native English speakers, they knew that books were important for education, so they tried very hard to persuade all of us to read. Since my family is very religious, most of the books read to us when we were children were Bible stories. I enjoyed those stories very much too. I have a big family of seven children including myself, so distractions were always in effect. Those times still remain as a positive memory in my life because we were all together having fun.
The last book that really mattered to me was Ishmael, written by Daniel Quinn. It’s funny thinking about it now because in some way it relates both to The Giver, and the bible stories my mom use to read to us as children. Ishmael reveals another truth about society and the book incorporates many religious aspects. I liked the book because it made me realize it distinguishes two separate types of people in the world, which are the Takers and the Leavers. The takers like to use up all the resources given and feel that they rule over all of the rest of the world. The leavers, who are more primitive feel that they are connected or as equal the world/environment. The problem is that the Takers are persuading the bulk of society, so they use up all of the earth’s resources for their own wellbeing. The book made me realize that the American society as a whole carries the Taker attitude because we feel that we must have control over everything over the world. I guess I really like books that reveal the differences in culture and people.
Books were prevalent in my childhood home. My mother stressed the importance of reading and playing outside. Rarely, were my sister and I able to watch television, for long periods of time. My mother, as a teacher had a significant amount of access to many pieces of literature. Having said that, she would bring home all sorts of books for me to read. My family has always spoken about literature at the dining room table. Furthermore, we all exchange our latest reads.
The most recent book that I read, with most appeal is Anne Lamott's book, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith. I enjoyed reading this book because it explains a significant amount of life's lessons, which are learned. One of my favorite quotes from this book is, "...loving your enemies is non-negotiable. It meant trying to respect them, it meant identifying with their humanity and weaknesses. It didn't mean unconditional acceptance of their crazy behavior. They were still accountable for the atrocities they'd perpetrated, as you were accountable for yours But you worked at doing better, at loving them, for their profoundest spiritual reason: You were trying not to make things worse"(Lamott, 225). Lamott enables her reader to get a grip of their life; indeed, she relates to issues her reader may be encountering. For a long while, I had this expectation that people were always going to be there; in addition, that people would fulfill all my expectations. Fact is, we are all human and we make mistakes. I finally grasped this concept after I looked at the expectations and commitments I had made to people and sought out if I fulfilled those expectations. Lamott enables her reader to let go of resentments and regrets; to enable one to really start living one's life.
In this article Dyson elaborates on the media’s influence on the development of literacy among children. Here Dyson explains literacy and its media-saturated nature among children in both official and unofficial writing circumstances and how they are combined. The “official” field is guided by the literacy curriculum (in school) and the “unofficial” by the popular media, in this case sports. She also talks about how language usage reflects our social role and status. Furthermore how speaking and writing are subject to issues of identity and belonging mainly between children. Dyson’s article generally focuses on a study she conducted on a group of six first-grade African American students in which she explained how learning to write involves work of the imagination on the part of both children and teachers, and the major role which the media plays in doing so. The main subject of her study was Marcel, a student whose school work usually displayed the influence of media through his love and knowledge of football.
We often hear warnings about the effects of television on young people’s abilities to read and write. What is important, when it comes to considering how our writing pedagogies can respond to students’ experiences with television is to recognize the complexity of the articulations between the media and print literacy. In her writing, Dyson described the five major types of media appropriations, all of which were illustrated in Marcel’s case, that manipulate the student’s writing composition. These appropriations go against what is commonly believed about the media being a negative influence on children. Instead these appropriations display the positive influence the media can have on the development of literacy. The first of the five was content in which children utilize things such as the name of teams or even the knowledge of a sport itself in to incorporate in “school- modeled writing practices” (Dyson pg.337), as was the case when Rita (the teacher) gave the class a writing task where children were to make a list. For example: Marcel’s first list was a name of teams followed by a list of states, all of which had affiliations with football teams. Second, children could appropriate communicative forms such as the use of location adjectives before team names, “Dallas Cowboys”, or the use of dramatic action verbs, “The 49ers got whipped on Sunday”. Third was the appropriation of graphic conventions, for example: the use of graphic arrangement of game results. The fourth appropriation was the use of voiced utterances where children are able to recall and use specific lines spoken by characters or in this case athletes or reporters. The last was the appropriated ideologies of gender and power, where children learn gender roles like when Marcel tells Wenona that she can’t play hockey because girls don’t play hockey.
As Dyson explains in this article, media plays a major role in the development of children’s literacy as well as their introduction to society as individuals. Students not only write about mass media, but write through mass media. If we believe that the mass media can have an effect on students as viewers, consumers, and citizens, then we must also realize that the mass popular culture students have so much experience with and can read so well is an important influence on their perceptions and responses to print literacy. In a world where the most dominant and pervasive form of mass popular culture is television it is vital teachers consider the influence of television on students as writers. The media’s influence on the development of children does not necessarily have to be harmful. The media serves as a starting point from which to withdraw information and as a place to gain knowledge.
Initially, children ask that their parents read to them. Children inquire for their parents to engage in reading with them by using the word “say.” Parents aid in child literacy through simplistic means such as, playing games where children must identify letters on billboard signs. There are three criterions for documented words. Encompassing relational or semiotic principals, functional principals and linguistic principals, one identifies this criterion for documented words. Relational principals deal with the meaning conveyed in regards to a verbal or documented discourse. Linguistic criterion deals with organization; for instance, using shapes, sizes of letters, and numbers. By using this linguistic criterion, children are able to relay information and conceptualize the alphabet. Regardless of instruction on how to incorporate spelling, children attempt to spell. Punctuation is another aspect of written discourse that children utilize. Children restrain and or adjust their sentence structure when they read orally. Yetta Goodman feels that since children come from different backgrounds, they should be grouped with children that are on similar competency levels. Goodman contends that more time should be allotted to each aspect of obtaining concepts, in regards to a child’s ability to read and write.
Coming to terms with Yetta Goodman’s written discourse, one will conceive that child language acquisition depends on parents. Parents seemingly determine how one will do concerning instructional learning. A parent that does not actively play a role in a child’s reading and writing, prior to a child’s entrance into the gates of pre-kindergarten, inhibits child literacy acquisition. Furthermore, a reader identifies the parent in Goodman’s writing to not solely be a biological figure but, it could be a guardian, or simply someone who has fulfilled higher education requirements than the one they are trying to teach. Growing up, my mother obtained her Bachelor’s Degree. While spending ample amounts of time reading, my mother also wrote papers. Not only did my mom devote all this time to college, she encouraged me. Furthermore, she implemented tools for me to utilize so that I could be a good student. Literacy is significant among children at an early age, because it determines how they will do later in life.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Growing up in a bilingual home, books played a very interesting role. Books to my parents weren’t necessarily important for their educational purpose but for the purpose of enriching my Spanish skills. My parents would make me read books in Spanish so that I wouldn’t forget my native language. They even requested that I be placed in the bilingual program at school. As I grew older and equally fluent in both languages my parents did encourage me to read anything I’d like as long as I was reading. For my 13th birthday my parents even bought me the World Book Encyclopedia collection, a little extreme some would think but I was really excited. For about a month after I would just pick up a random letter from the set and open it to any page and read whatever topic was on the page. Eventually it became boring so I was forced to move on to other forms of reading.
Finding time to read a book for leisure is extremely difficult particularly when you’re a college student taking 3 English courses each with about 80 pages worth of reading every night. However, this past summer I was able to squeeze a book I had hear about through the Oprah’s book club, The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. It is a fiction novel of Medieval England. When I first opened the 900 page book I wasn’t sure what to expect but the book was so rich in detail that I rarely wanted to close it. The protagonist of the book is Tom, a man who loves gothic cathedrals and how they are constructed. It takes place against the backdrop of actual historical events of the Middle Ages as Tom leads us through his domestic life and journey of finding a place to settle with his family. We follow Tom as he plans out the structure, and see how it's the kind of structure that a builder lives to create. This book is a wonderful way to absorb history and enjoy a multilayered story in the process. I became a big fan of the book because it was unlike any book I’ve read and the plot was very unique. Not only is Tom looking for employment he is also looking for love. This story was so vividly detailed that it almost felt as if I was living in Medieval England. Since then Ken Follett has become one of my favorite authors.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Tell about your early language and literacy development. How did you come to reading and writing? What role did school play? Did family play? Other community affiliations?
I remember the first book I ever read. Actually, I didn’t really read the book I just memorized the story. Although, I don’t remember the title of the book, I still remember the illustrations and if I saw it somewhere I would recognize it. My sister, Julie, would read that story to me every night, and eventually I tied the sentences with the pictures on each of the pages. I use to show off to my parents and read the book to them, and I’d give credit to Julie and say that she taught me how to read. I think I was about three or four years old at that time.
My Aunt Celia took care of me when I was still too young to be in school, and she would always take me to the public library. I remember loving to go to the library. I thought it was so beautiful, and they had a section dedicated to little girls like me. I remember the little chairs and desk that looked almost identical to the grown-ups chairs and desks. I remember loving the pop-up books, and I would be so angry if any of them were torn or tattered in any way. I was also mad because the pop-up books weren’t available for check out, so I could never take them home with me. I spent a lot of time in that library growing up. Actually, I still love going to my public library, and sometimes it saves me so much money because some of the books for my current classes are available.
From grade school to middle school, I was a so-called outstanding student. I remember my Dad use to give me a dollar for every substantial book I read. I guess it’s sad to think that my Dad bribed me into reading, and I’ll admit that part of the reason why I read so much was to make more money, but it definitely motivated me to read more, which I guess is good. In middle school, I was definitely a book worm. I remember being into all kinds of books. I loved the Goosebumps collection, The Boxcar Children mystery stories by Gertrude Chandler Warner, all the books by Judy Blume, and even the Amelia Bedelia series. It’s kind of funny thinking about all those books I had read before. I remember that in my middle school if a student had read a certain amount of books they would then get the opportunity to dunk the Principal in a dunk tank at the end of the school year. I was one of those people who got that chance.
Reading for me was always easy because I enjoyed it, but writing was different story. I like to think that I have all these great ideas, but I found it difficult to put them on paper. In middle school, I was a part of the Academic Pentathlon team. I remember being so surprised when I won 5th place in the essay part of the competition. I always thought I was terrible at writing. I think I won because I inputted a bunch of perspectives on the novel we had to read for the English section of the competition. In High School, I remember struggling so much just to put together a paragraph that I felt worked. I think it was because I had never been that great with grammar. Actually, I don’t recall ever learning how to properly use grammar in grade school. Now, as an English major in college, grammar is still my weakness.
Nothing in this world gives me greater satisfaction than hearing that “Muchas Gracias” followed by a smile at the end of every parent meeting that I have the great privilege of translating. You see, I’m a bilingual Instructional assistant at Colton Middle School and as part of my job requirements I must translate parent meetings for Spanish-only speaking parents. However, translating parent meetings didn’t always make me feel as great, especially when you’re only seven years old translating for your parents a language that you barely even know yourself, not only was it inconvenient it was also humiliating. I usually tried to make my parents forget that it was parent conference day or I tried to behave my very best in school so that there would be no need for a conference. It wasn’t that I was embarrassed of my parents; it was simply that fear of not knowing how to translate a certain word or its correct pronunciation. Today I look back and laugh as I think of its irony; I get paid to do something that I once so deeply feared.
School for me started in Tijuana, Mexico, at the age of four, where I just about learned to read and write in Spanish. Then at the age of seven my parents decided that it would probably be best if my sister and I would continue or education here in California since we were both U.S citizens. They figured that since the Mexican school system hadn’t done much for them it probably wouldn’t do much for us either. So we said goodbye to my friends and family and moved to a Los Angeles neighborhood that wasn’t much different from the one we had just left. Here everyone spoke Spanish and customs were just about the same. However, school was a different story. I didn’t understand my teachers and the books were in a language that I knew very little of. Like many other Spanish speaking children, I was placed in classes for low performers most of my elementary years for my low scores in State tests. I was fortunate to have an after school tutor who gladly helped me with my school work and homework. Since after school tutoring took place in the school library, the tutors would encourage us to check out and read books. Though I cannot recall the name of any book in particular, books were the bridge to my educational success, since they helped increase my vocabulary while practicing the language. At home I didn’t receive much help with schoolwork since neither of my parents spoke the language, so I was forced to teach myself. My parents did however encourage my sister and I to read both books in English and Spanish in order not to forget our native tongue. By the time high school came I was at grade level and felt much more comfortable in my shoes. My high school counselor, now that I think of it, wasn’t very supportive she told me that I’d be better off going to a community college instead of a university even though I had respectable grades. Nevertheless that choice turned out to be the best since it brought me to the place where I am today.
Through the course of my early second language and literacy development the school system wasn’t much help since most of my literacy development was gained through practice. However bilingual children today are very fortunate to have the No Child Left Behind Act on their side because aside from receiving state testing accommodations, they also receive individualized in-class assistance from instructional aides like myself, something children like myself could have benefited from. Because of my early education background, I have chosen a career path that would allow me to be of assistance of to children of similar backgrounds and circumstances as myself. Every day I try to convince my ESL students of how lucky they are to be learning a second language and of the value of education, because as long as I can convince one student to take advantage of the education they are receiving and to pursue a further education then I have fulfilled my purpose.
Tell about your early language and literacy development. How did you come to reading and writing? What role did school play? Did family play? Other community affiliations?
Coming from a family in which my parents have owned and currently own restaurant, literacy has always had a huge effect on me. When I was five, my parents got divorced at which time, my mother made the decision to go back to school. My mother worked diligently to attain her bachelor’s degree, with the dream of entering into the teaching program. I feel my mother has had the biggest impact on me when it comes to going to college and obtaining a diploma. Patricia, my mom has not only earned her degree but, she has also had experience with working at high risk schools.
Many students at high risk schools are pregnant or, those that have had a child while in high school. Indeed, many students at high risk schools have simply receieved their third strike. These students hope to be able to earn their high school diploma. Patricia has told me that often she will catch her students feeding their children Red-Bull and Flaming Hot Cheetos.