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couldntthinkofanoriginalname's picture

Last week's keyword for me was, "Disconnect." Although I appreciated the guest lecturers, I found myself either not paying attention at all or zoning in and out. When the first woman, I forgot her name, came in to speak, initially I was intrigued by the handouts -- I liked that they had practical teaching methods for reading. I also payed attention when she explained how the iPad was used in the classroom as a tool for gathering data and as a tool for visual communication between parents and teachers. However, I'm not going to lie, I barely listened to her speaking for most of the lecture and the same thing happened when Mary came in to speak about the Zimbabwean (?) women and their role in the trade markets.

The fact that I paid very little attention to the guest lectures bothered me. So, I began to wonder, is it me or is it what was being said? I think it was a combination of both. 

The more we talk about literacy, the more I realize about myself as a learner. I know now that I get completely lost when a connection between what is being taught and the overall "picture" is not made. Take for instance Mary's lecture, it would have never occurred to me that the women of Zimbabwe had become literate in a different setting, the market, if Mia had not made that connection for me. And I find myself experiencing similar disconnects in Pim's and Rob's class during discussions.

Of course, when I "disconnect" from the material, I don't just sit there in confusion, I ask questions. But I am not so sure if all students, in all grade levels, who may not get what is being learned actually ask for the instructor to make the connection to the class. Therefore, I think it is detrimental to student's learning, better yet, the objective of the course becomes less relevant, when instructors assume that students will be able to make connections. 

Establishing "big picture" connections in the classroom is no easy task to do but I don't want to feel the way that I do when I learn things online. I find that with social media and technology, we only know bits and pieces but never whole pictures of issues. I understand and I have seen that technology can be a great contribution in the classroom but the way info is delivered should not be the same where it is just info info info info....more info and no, "So how does this connect to what we are learning? Or have been learning?"

I think my experience in the past week speaks to a larger concern with Ed Lit and, maybe, the 360: How do we maintain the same level of social media and tech lit interaction and make space for processing and, ultimately, connections? Is that space more appropriate/ effective for  the classroom or one of  our online tools? I think this would be a good conversation to have but then, at the same time, I worry it would take away from the time needed to make solid connections between the readings, the classes in the 360, etc. 


alesnick's picture

connecting to the whole picture

I appreciate this honest reflection and the exchange it prompted.  A question for me is how to build a sense of "whole picture" -- I don't as a teacher want to hand out a whole picture, pre-fab, and already "cooked."  I want to co-create that whole picture with my students and our course materials, and I want it to evolve/change . . . and I want students to treat the course as a resource to link to their own "whole pictures" that pre- and post-date the classroom moment(s).  That said, I think it is easier to make and share "whole picture" when we feel a degree of experience and confidence with a subject/field.  Maybe the "student"/neophyte identity undemines such confidence?

nmofokeng's picture

Making the connections

Esteniolla, I appreciate your reflection because it has me wondering about what "I think I know" in these classes too. To speak more specifically to our Literacies class. I feel that the overarching task of the first couple weeks of class has been to expand our understanding of literacy beyond it's literal meaning and use it in other realms. With this much broader theme, all the other components are covered. But I like you am struggling to link the different streams, can I say discourses?, in a way that is ordered and feels like a stable foundation.

As we discuss literacy in all of its various incarnations and we try to build a literacy around Ghana, I am uncertain about what are the actual parameters of our discourse. It may indeed be necessary to revisit the theoretical texts that were intended to provide the foundation for us as we go forward. Especially because we have become somewhat centered on the fact that every type of literacy is embedded with a power dynamic and we need to avoid the trap of generalized disapproval or frustration to make sure that we really tease out the implications of those power dynamics.

I think for my part, I'll be turning back to Gee for his definition so that I can recalibrate my thinking about literacy because I feel as though I've gotten comfortable with simply extrapolating literacy to every situation without a real point of reference.

couldntthinkofanoriginalname's picture


You are right. I think it would be very useful if we took the time to revisit the texts that framed literacy. I remember we discussed them briefly but now that we have explored as a class the many components of literacy, it would be interesting to see how our initial reactions to the texts have changed.