Days 4 & 5 Practicum (rough draft)

3/27/13  9:45 to 12:15 p.m.

Today when I arrived, the morning teacher had just started her literacy lesson.  First she read out loud from pieces of paper stuck to the smart board with magnets. Each paper had sentences on it.  They read as follows:

–I can ask questions about a text. I can answer questions about a text.

–I can retell stories I have read.

–I can identify characters, setting, and details in a story.

–I can ask and answer questions about words I do not know when I read.

–I can participate in group reading activities.

–I can ask questions about informational text.  I can answer questions about text.

–I can tell the difference between fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

–I can tell what an author and illustrator do.


She moved back to the chair in front of the rug, and the students were sitting “criss-cross applesauce” in their assigned rectangles on the rug.  First she told them they would be looking for rhyming sounds, then she read them this poem:

Quack, Quack, Quack!

Five little ducks that I once knew,

Big ones, little ones, skinny ones too,

But the one little duck

     with a feather on his back,

He led the others with a

     Quack! Quack! Quack!

After this exercise (that was designed to foster phonemic awareness), she went on to phoneme substitution.  Stretching the words is what she called it.  She made the sounds of b-i-g. then asked what word you’d have if you replaced the b (she made the sounds throughout this part, she didn’t say the letter) with a p (sound).  Then she asked my particular student what would happen if she replaced the p (sound) with the f (sound).  The student was unable to come up with the answer.  She then changed and went on to c-a-t. Giving my student another chance, she asked her what would happen if she replaced the c (sound) with a v (sound).  After contemplating, the student hesitantly guessed “van?”

Then came the story for today’s lesson.  It is called Mouse’s Birthday by Jane Yolen and Bruce Degen.  She talked some about authors and illustrators, and the difference between fiction and nonfiction.  The lesson involved pauses for supporting comprehension points, with the objectives: note important details, identify directionality in print, recognize the use of capitals.  At least, that’s what her lesson book said.  She admitted that she doesn’t follow it precisely, which makes sense.  I am recording these notes as I can’t find the ones I took the day of the event.  Grrr.   Another aspect of the lesson was something called Teacher-Student Modeling.  The concept of cause/effect is built into the story.  The oral language component (according to the book), was the word velise.

The teacher did stop several times to ask the students comprehension questions.  She would ask, for instance, what special day it was for Mouse, who came to his party, what did they bring him, why didn’t they fit, what happened when the candle blew out, will Mouse like his new house, why will Mouse like his new house?

The students were definitely engaged in the story, and paying attention to what was happening.  Nobody that was asked had much trouble answering the questions she posed, though this was obviously a familiar tale.

After the story the kids play the mean Mrs. Thompson game and ask to do the word wall.  In this activity, each student has an opportunity to read all the words on the word wall as Mrs. Thompson points them out, and if they manage to do it they get their clips moved up to the next color. Some of the students get really upset when they get stuck and have to sit down, but all in all it goes fairly well.  My student read all the words with little or no hesitation.

3/28/13 10:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Being the last day before Spring Break, the energy in the room is more relaxed, and other than reading them a story, the kids are doing mostly fine motor activities.  According to the teacher they are not making progress in that area so a day of cutting, pasting, coloring, and painting will not be wasted.

The teacher does read them a story, though, and makes a point of talking to them again about what fiction is, and what usually happens at the library.  The example the teacher gives: she pretends to be a dragon that is going to use the children to make a big vat of soup.  Then she asks if that is something she would really do.  Of course not, as she loves them all too much is the answer.  But it helps her outline the differences between fiction and nonfiction–what she calls the grown up words for make-believe stories and real stories.  She also poses the question: what do you think happens next?  She’s trying to get them to predict the sequence, which relates to an activity they’ll be doing later at one of the centers.  The teacher points out that the dragon’s claws are sharp, which can hurt the library books.  (I am not sure the title, they were already part of the way through this story–at any rate there is a dragon librarian) The teacher takes time to point out the meaning of words or phrases that the kids may not understand, such as “hot under the collar”, “inflammatory”, “singed”.

Week 13 English 516

Harley Farris, Exploring Digital Humanities: “We always apply our ways of thinking about current technology to new technology and this is one of the reasons it can be hard to adopt new media practices, we almost always need a frame of reference or at least a really good metaphor to understand how a tool could be useful. …are we practicing digital humanities, or are we just digitizing the humanities?”

” These events were subsequently discussed in a series of cross-postings and conversations that spilled across Twitter and the blogosphere for several weeks after the convention ended. Many seemed to feel that the connection to wider academic issues was not incidental or accidental and that digital humanities, with a culture that values collaboration, openness, nonhierarchical relations, and agility, might be an instrument for real resistance or reform.” -Matthew Kirschenbaum, What Is Digital Humanities and What’s It Doing in English Departments?

” these debates can be most productive if we understand them as a means of opening ourselves to the kinds of conversations that true interdisciplinarity can support. While disciplinarity is often institutionally useful, after all—allowing for the development of centers, departments, and tenure lines—it can also be turned against its adherents, restricting their movement and disciplining, literally, the knowledge they produce” – The Humanities, Done Digitally by Kathleen Fitzpatrick

“The digital world is replete. It resists any efforts to be colonized by the postcolonialists. We cannot escape it by holing up in Berkeley waiting for the taurus of time to roll around to 1968. It will find us and it will videotape our kittens…It’s not the digital that marks the future of the humanities—it’s what things digital point to: a great outdoors. A real world. A world of humans, things, and ideas. A world of the commonplace. A world that prepares jello salads. A world that litigates, that chews gum, that mixes cement. A world that rusts, that photosynthesizes, that ebbs. The philosophy of tomorrow should not be digital democracy but a democracy of objects” -Ian Bogost, The Turtlenecked Hairshirt

In these quotes, I’ve tried to sort of outline the trajectory of my overall thoughts.  No, I didn’t actually try to do that, but I like the flow they have together.  At any rate, it’s this transition from the beginning of adopting new media to a democracy of objects I found fascinating about these pieces.  Are we relinquishing more control than is advisable to our technological tools in the disciplines related to the humanities, or are our technological tools allowing us to have better global communities?  Two different things, but I think the latter is definitely true.