7/25–7/31

The first half of this week we read articles and watched videos about culture and diversity. Woolfolk (2013) discusses gender, race, culture, and socioeconomic status (SES) and their effects on education. This is an extremely important topic in education, and especially in multicultural New York City. I think that we, as teachers, need to be senstive to the differences of our students and take time to learn about where they come from. Asking the parents is a good start, but, as some parents can be non-responsive, it is up to us to do some more research. I also think it’s important to celebrate the different cultures that my students come from. One way I do this is by having a cultural fair during our Social Studies unit on cultures. It is a fun way for students to get to know a little more about each other and it helps students to become aware of the differences in one another and hopefully become more tolerant.

Gutierrez and Rogoff (2003) discuss a cultural-historical approach to teaching, which, “can be used to help move beyond this assumption by focusing researchers’ and practitioners’ attention on variations in individuals’ and groups’ histories of engagement in cultural practices because the variations reside not as traits of individuals or collec- tions of individuals, but as proclivities of people with certain histo- ries of engagement with specific cultural activities.” I think this is an interesting approach and one that I would be willing to try in my classroom. It would take a lot of planning on my part, but it may produce some excellent results with my students. I think this would work best in a classroom of students who all come from a similar background, so that I can approach my teaching in a way that would be culturally engaging to everyone.

The second half of this week was dedicated to learning about behavioral views of learning. Wolpert (2011) has an interesting take on the main function of the brain: movement. Watching this TED talk made me realize how complicated the brain really is and how much thought and planning and can go into each movement we make. As a teacher of 6 young students who have been diagnosed with autism, I was very surprised to hear Wolpert’s take on the brain’s main function. My student’s all have delays and challenges when it comes to their gross and fine motor skills. Their sensory input and outputs are very different than those of a person who has not been diagnosed with autism. Sensory input and output is a huge issue for my students and I know they have to work a lot harder than a typically developing person to make movements that you and I might find simple.

Durston and Casey (2006) discuss how neuroimaging can teach us a lot about the cognitive development of the brain. A discussion question from one of my peers really got me thinking about the behavior of my students. The question was asking us if we think it’s true to study student’s behavior over time rather than in single “snap-shots”. I agree that looking at behavior over time is much more effective in determining the cause of the behavior. For example, you can see that the behavior occurs every day at the same time or that the behavior only occurs in the presence of a certain person or object. When you look at a behavior as a single event, you are not getting the whole picture. I think it’s important that we take the entire picture into account so that we can help our students cease engagement in negative behaviors. If we can understand why the behaviors are happening, we can help them to stop the behaviors we don’t want to see and have them develop new positive behaviors.

References

Durston, S., & Casey, B. J. (2006). What have we learned about cognitive development from neuroimaging?. Neuropsychologia, 44(11), 2149–2157.

Gutierrez, K., & Rogoff, B. (2003). Cultural ways of learning. Educational Researcher, 32, 19–25.

Wolpert, D. (2011). The real reason for brains. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/daniel_wolpert_the_real_reason_for_brains#t-52366

Woolfolk, A. (2013). Educational psychology (12th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

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