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allisonletts's blog

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When we read, the Learning
curve is really Important; after all,
Access works both ways, the text as
A veil
We touch and manipulate, we
Turn a page of the
Stars of a constellation.
To be of use, here, we are
Building and
Learning. Leaning on
Generational differences, our own Urban dictionaries.
There are
endless opportunities, but
the supplies are not
endless. Access to resources,
Different resources for different tasks,
Cultural capital, these
are the problems we face.
It’s the Danger of a single story:
reading and co-creating and becoming


By Emily, Julia, Manya, and Allison

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Continuous reflection, and other goals

I have a few goals for the end of the semester:

  • I've been reading a lot of teachers' blogs lately, and I really want to get to the point where I blog about my experience as a personal reflective tool. I assume that most of the teachers whose blogs I read were not told that they had to blog, and it seems like a great way of processing your experience whenever you have time. I've seen similar things happen on twitter with #edchat, #ntchat, and #1stchat, but blogging can just be a record. For the rest of the year, I'm going to try to do a few shorter blog posts when I have things to say instead of gathering them all up at the end of the week.
  • I want to continue working through my narratives in Literacies of music, tech, and linguistics.
  • I want to engage more with the class community in Literacies--on twitter, here, and in person. I know that I've been spending a lot of my time looking out to the world through social media for this class, but I think more intra-class communication would help me grow more.

I'm thinking about using Storify to tell my thrice-told tale once. What storytelling method are you excited about?

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Language Diversity Reflection

I was in the group that presented on language diversity in Ghana. I was talking specifically about language within the school system, and how English is currently the accepted language of Ghanaian education. It isn't until Senior Secondary School that Ghanaian students are explicitly taught Ghanaian language. This policy makes me feel sad and a little angry, the same way that it does in American schools. Last semester in Empowering Learners, I defined agency as "the learner’s decision to take ownership of the world in which he/she lives and to apply his/her skills to shape that world." This definition was very much attached to language. I see literacy as a crucial skill for shaping the world. When a school system denies a student access to literacy in their native language, the system is taking away some of that student's agency. Waiting to provide this fundamental access to students who make it into schools that have stringent academic requirements is completely in opposition to what I think needs to happen. Language skils should be built upon, not limited. It's sad that this can be influenced by politics or ideology. 

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Literacy in Classroom Vocabulary

Having A come in this week was a great “reality check” for me. It also made me think harder about all of the literacies I have gained this semester and year in my field placement. My placement is in a very vocabulary-y school--there are catchphrases for everything, from “catch a bubble” for not talking to “X is off the team, but working hard to turn it around.” When I first started there last semester, I was constantly overwhelmed by the vocabulary. I could usually understand it in context, but I was unable to apply most of it independently. Now, I’ve led a small group lesson, I regularly work with individuals, and I’m preparing to teach a writing lesson to the whole class on Friday. I’m also going to get a pull-out small group for word study.

When I started thinking about this post, word study was really the connection. I recognized so much of what A was talking about--digraphs, blends, welded sounds, the idea of a picture representing every sound. I also learned that my school uses a balanced literacy program. It fits with my experience in the classroom, and it was great to hear a different teacher talk about the same curriculum. I really have developed an understanding of what’s going on in the classroom, and I no longer need (although obviously I still appreciate) my mentor teacher’s input on vocabulary when I’m moving throughout the classroom and working with individuals.

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What is a writer in first grade?

I had an amazing experience in my field placement on Friday. I'm in a charter school where the special ed program is primarily inclusive. I frequently work with a student named "Jeremy" who often struggles to stay with the lesson, especially in large group instruction. One specific behavior that can be disruptive is when he calls out in the middle of the lecture--it is frequent enough that his classmates are distracted and that it interrupts the flow of the lesson. Throughout my time at this school, the teacher and administrators have been working on various interventions for him, including a paycheck for good behavior, check-ins with the teacher after every subject, and "choice time" when he makes it through a lesson. On Friday during the Writing mini-lesson, when he started to interrupt, the teacher told him to get a piece of paper and write it down. He did! He makes so many connections to the material, and he wants to share it with everyone, but in the middle of the lecture is not the most appropriate time. By writing it down, he got to express himself without requiring anyone's immediate attention. He made it through the rest of the mini-lesson and worked productively and independently throughout Writer's Workshop, specifically answering the prompt from the mini-lesson using appropriate vocabulary and responding to the feedback I gave him.

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Practicing Tech

This post was written on an iPad. I tried to correct all typos, but some of them might still remain... My fingers aren't quite as sure about here they go without physical keys.

I'm pretty sure I referenced this article for Alice's Ed Tech class, but it's a good one, so I'm going to pull it out again: 

I've been thinking a lot about how we're using tech in this class, both with iPads and with twitter. I've seen quite a few comments on twitter especially, but also here on Serendip, that the tech is in some ways lowering the depth of connection we have with each other as we engage with the material. That has looked like playing with the iPads instead of listening to the entire iPad introduction, as well as occasionally forced conversations or overwhelming conversations on twitter. I can write this blog post on my iPad, but I can't yet use it seamlessly when I'm interacting with someone. At this point, I really don't know enough about the iPad for it to work quite as well for me as my computer. I've been using it in as many different situations as possible--passing it around to sign up for snacks for my a cappella group, bringing it along any time I might want to use Internet, and trying to push past some of the initial slowness of learning the tech. To be fair, I have an iPhone, so I'm already familiar with multitouch gestures and the way I-devices work.

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One of the most interesting parts of learning new literacies is defining all of the terms. I love that sometimes, when I’m introducing a new concept to someone, I have to dig deep into my understanding of that concept to find the most fundamental vocabulary. I love the necessity for analogy--for us to figure out how to relate new terms to those we already know. And then there are the terms that take on new meanings in different contexts.

For my Music Ed class, I am learning how to tango. I know pretty much nothing right now, and my assignment for the week is to practice walking everywhere. The tango walk has so many components that I don’t have to think about in “normal” walking--lean forward; connect with yourself, the space, the floor, the music, and your partner; extend; cover more distance; be a broom. But still, when I think about it, I am just adding to a specific definition of walking.

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Music Literacy and Connection

I want to expand on a definition of literacy that I’ve been working on through this class and my Music Education class. @jrbacch tweeted “Music a form of literacy? Music notes themselves, crescendos, learning how to read music, etc? #BMCed250” and I responded “thinking of literacy as access to a way of connecting w/ppl, ex cultural literacy, tech literacy makes music fit” [into a definition of literacy].

I spend a lot of my free time working on music for my a cappella group--I teach songs to the group and arrange music for the group to learn. When I’m deciding who will sing which voice part on any particular song, as well as while I’m leading rehearsal, I think a lot about who can read music. In auditions for my group, we ask if the auditioner can read music, because it’s a valuable skill. Within the context of a cappella, if I ask “can she read?” I’m asking about whether a singer can read music. And it does feel that fundamental to me. It is possible to be in the group and succeed without being able to read music, but it requires that I take a different approach in my teaching. I have to refer to notes’ position within the measure rather than their duration and name (e.g., “the altos need to watch the second-to-last note in measure 85--it should be longer and higher” instead of “altos: in measure 85, you’re jumping up a third, and it’s a half note, so be sure to hold it out”).

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[360] Learning and Narrating Childhoods: About This 360

Learning and Narrating Childhoods – A 360 taught by Pim Higginson (French and Francophone Studies), Alice Lesnick (Education), and Rob Wozniak (Psychology). Professor Higginson's course is "Teaching (in) the Postcolony: Schooling in African Fiction." Professor Wozniak's course is "Culture and Development."  Professor Lesnick's course is "Literacies and Education."

360° is a new interdisciplinary experience that engages several aspects of a topic or theme, giving students an opportunity to investigate thoroughly and thoughtfully a multitude of perspectives. A cohort of students takes a cluster of classes over the course of a semester, focusing on the history, economic concerns, cultural intersections and political impact of an era, decision, event, policy, or important scientific innovation. 360° participants hone their arguments and insights through writing and research, develop strategies for teamwork that push the limits of their talents and creativity, and work with professors and scholars to promote big-picture thinking.

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[ED250] Resources about Titagya Schools and Ghana

Here are some resources to inform you about Titagya Schools, education in Ghana, and Ghanaian history.
Dagbani video (Note, we will practice these introductory phrases in the language of Dalun, though the pronunciation varies slightly in some respects from the video, made in a different locale. This video by a Volunteer for Sight volunteer also contains basic introductory material about the North.)

Titagya Web site
See video
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