As a member of this Online Book Club, you are expected to post to the book blog at least once per week between now and July 11 -- that's six weeks. You should finish your book before then, and you will meet during the Institute in your groups to extend the discussion and plan how to present the book to the others in the Institute.

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Friday, July 1, 2016

Chapter 2 Teacher as Hacker

Vulnerability is a scary thing but the PWF authors consistently remind readers of its necessity.  Three key things grabbed me in this chapter.  First, the silent discussion used by the authors in a real experience, then, a place to struggle, and lastly, student as maker.

First and foremost, I am in love with the idea of the silent discussion. A silent discussion is a simple activity in which students are able to respond anonymously in writing before having a full class discussion.  I loved this idea for a couple of reasons.  First, it is an opportunity to practice ALL FOUR language domains (reading, writing, listening, speaking), which as an ESL teacher makes it an ideal activity.  More importantly, it allows ALL students to participate.  Ginormous class sizes makes it nearly impossible to allow all students to productively participate in real conversation, ultimately leading to disengagement and frustration all around.  In this model of discussion, all students can have their voice heard.  A silent conversation pushes everyone to contribute and grow.

Next, as the authors of PWF point out, "Everyone needs a place to struggle...You're also going to school to be a better human being, so if the adults around you do not permit you to do that, then that's a problem, right?" (Garcia, O'Donnel-Allen pg. 41). Does anybody enjoy struggling?  I can't think of anyone who does.  But I also don't know of anyone who would disagree that struggling is a crucial part of becoming a successful person.  Teachers (and parents) cannot be afraid of allowing students to fail.  Where better than a controlled and safe environment?  Again, it all goes back to being vulnerable.

Lastly, English teachers have a unique opportunity to get students invested in their own learning and be successful "makers."  Makers are "motivated by internal goals, not extrinsic rewards."  I believe there MUST be a shift from bribing students to learn to raising children who love learning and desire to use their knowledge to create change.  Many schools implement PBIS (Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports) or something similar but what happens when they leave the school building and they don't get a reward every time they do something good?  If English teachers lead the way in creating makes who collaborate, solve problems and have a stake in their own learning, we will begin to solve bigger picture issues.

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