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 8, 2016

Chapter 3 - Teaching for Social Change

If we are not teaching for social change, what, then, are we really teaching for?  If not to inspire students to grow into engaged citizens, what are we doing?  Chapter 3 pushes teachers to strive for actual, productive civic engagement from students.  The authors point out that civics isn't just for social studies teachers and they discuss how English teachers can incorporate civic engagement aligned with state standards in the classroom. Most significantly, it is noted that, "our civic pathways are stifled if we do not know how to articulate our social needs or are silent."  We have a responsibility to prepare our students to function productively in society and that entails the area of civic engagement.

I love this pose and I think it is a crucial stepping stone in the bigger picture of education reform and creating a system that benefits all students instead of a few.  The key here is genuine exchange.  I constantly hear students complaining that their schoolwork is not relevant to their lives. While sometimes they are unable to see the bigger picture of how something will fit, often times, I can't disagree with them.  Teaching literacy as civic action is a win-win-win.  Teachers, students, and the community all benefit when we focus education on the real world and stop treating the classroom as a daycare.  As the text points out teacher must, "foster a classroom environment where students feel challenged, but safe to voice divergent opinions and bring forward new civic topics for consideration and critique.

I wonder if anyone can contribute examples of this pose in their own classroom.  My only concern here is how to foster an engagement in the political topics that come with these assignments.  Many students are seemingly more interested in popular culture than civic engagement and I would love some feedback on how others have overcome this issue.

Additionally, the chapter goes on to discuss social media activism.  Students already have access to a platform of activism and I am also curious if anyone here has used that in the classroom.  My biggest concern is the distraction of social media in large classrooms.  Its impossible for one teacher to monitor 30 students using social media and I fear it is way too distracting and seriously compromises the "safe space" that a classroom should be.

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