The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

June 30, 2006 at 9:38 pm | Posted in uncategorized | 28 Comments

We feel that there were many “good” aspects to our class time this summer.  However, as educators, we need to constantly reflect on our practice and make changes in order to best meet the needs of our students.  We’d like critical feedback on this class.  Along with the good, also give us the “bad and ugly”. 

  • Indicate ONE good aspect of the class that you would not want to see changed.  Explain.
  • Share ONE suggestion that, if implemented, would benefit the learning experience for future students in GMST 525.  Explain the benefit.

Have a wonderful summer.  Keep reading from your Bloglines and check back on this class blog to see how others in the class have implemented literacy strategies in their classrooms.



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  1. I believe the best aspect of this class was the wealth of practical strategies that can be implemented in the classroom. What I found particularly useful were the many opportunities we had to practice these strategies in class. From the first class on, we had the chance to perform treasure hunts, brainstorming sessions, post reading games, and many other group and individual activities in class. These interactive experiences really helped me realize the advantages of these literary strategies.
    The primary thing I would change with this class is scheduling. I think this class would be better served by the “every other weekend” schedule. The problem I had was the sheer volume of information covered, and I did not always feel that I could take the time to reflect and organize the information as well as I would have liked because there was generally another assignment deadline right around the corner.

  2. I can honestly say that the good out-ways the bad in this course. This class is by far the most beneficial class I haven’t taken in the GMST program. I have new concrete tools that can be easily incorporated into my future classroom. I will take my whole binder and will probably use most of the materials in it. Therefore, I think the best part of this class was making the literacy binder. I was definitely overwhelmed on the first day thinking about making this binder, but after seeing how helpful it can and will be, I am very thankful that we have this assignment.
    On the other hand, I think the one thing that can use some modifications is the resubmissions. I think that it’s fair to be able to resubmit only one assignment, but it was hard to do. Seeing as we only met 8 times the whole semester, it was hard to get grades and feedback back in time to resubmit. I found myself waiting to resubmit assignments, so I can find out my grades on other assignments. Seeing as it was difficult to get our grades before Friday, it was extremely difficult to hand in a resubmission,
    Overall, I loved this class! Thanks to Wendy and Janet for providing us with many useful strategies for the classroom!

  3. I am going to change it up a little and give the bad news first.
    BAD – The bad news is the class is ending. I have learned a tremendous amount of strategies that I can take back to the classroom. The other two comments mentioned that the time was two short but that is what you get in the summer.
    UGLY – The hardest part that I had and I heard from many others, is the assignment being spread out over the week. When I signed up for the class I assumed that things would be due on the days of the class. Especially when school was in it was extremely difficult to turn things in mid-week. The other thing was the e-mail was faulty-I had a difficult time sending assignments in. It was great that I was not marked late for handing in the hard copy but if there was possibly a way to get hard copies to the instructor that may be helpful.
    GOOD – This class has changed the way I THINK. Not that I am terribly old but I have been around the block and am pretty set in my ways. You have total shook me from my foundation-when it comes to literacy. I have changed the way I read, the way I read to my own children and I will definitely implement some of the strategies into my own classroom. I always viewed reading as a none active process, where you read the information and that was it. I never really gave it much thought. With everything that has been taught I now realize there is so much to learn. I love the idea of RAFTS and will definitely implement those! As Greg stated “What I found particularly useful were the many opportunities we had to practice these strategies in class.” I thought that that was a key part to bettering my understanding. You did an excellent job not only giving us the information but demonstrating it to the classroom.
    OVERALL – Nice job and thanks for all the great information!!

  4. The Good – The one thing that I would diffently not change is all the great discussions that we had this summer. I have learned so much from everyone, especially the people that are already teaching. It gives me such confidence and excitment to want to start to teach. I have always been a little worried at how I would be as a teacher but walking away from this class as given me so much. I can’t wait to get into my classroom and start to impliment all of these great strageties that you have taught us. It has been a long 4 weeks, with a lot of information but it has been worth it knowing that I will be that much better at what I will be doing with my life.
    The Bad – I have to agree with John, Greg, and Jessica. The sheer volume of information that we got in these past 4 weeks was termendous. I would have like to had more time to reflect on what was given to us. Also, the amount of time between classes to hand in assignments. It was quite stressful, especially because I was taking another class Tuesday and Thursday nights and I had to do lab write-ups for that class.
    The Great – You did an awesome job teaching this class!!!! I look forward to using his information in my own classroom one day. Thank you for such a great summer session!!!!!!

  5. The best thing about this course has been the wealth of information and the literacy strategies that I have been exposed to and developed. I’m extremely proud of the literacy binder that we developed in this class. I feel that I have created strategies that I will implement in my class and I know that they will be useful tools for my students. I have to say that I was a little skeptical in the beginning of this class. I had taken another literacy course that I did not find to be very helpful and I was still left with the question, how does literacy apply to science? After completing this course, I see that literacy is an essential component to every subject. I agree with John that this course has changed the way I think about literacy. By developing skills and tools for learning, the students are prepared for the reading and writing tasks they are assigned. I will definitely use graphic organizers, think-alouds, and many of the other pre, during, and post reading strategies to help my students gain the most out of reading. I will also use RAFTS and journals to encourage students to connect and develop their writing. I loved that this class not only told us what needs to be done, but also provided us with the strategies to do it!
    I agree with Greg that the course schedule should be tweaked. There was a great deal of information covered in this class and I felt like I needed more time to process it all. I think that all of the assignments we completed were useful and meaningful, but I would have liked more time to reflect on them. A little extra time during the course would also provide the opportunity for more feedback on the assignments we turned in. Going in to a summer course, I expected to have to work hard, but I think an every weekend class would provide the extra time for processing and reflection.
    Back to the positive, this is the last class that I have to complete before beginning my research. I truly believe that I’ve learned more practical applications for teaching students then I have in any other class! Thanks to everyone for their thoughtful reflections, suggestions, and comments. It was great having a mixture of in-service and pre-service teachers to gain new perspectives on the teaching practice. Thanks to Wendy and Janet for providing us with so much useful information and creating an enjoyable classroom atmosphere!

  6. I have learned so much from this course it’s hard to tell you what not to change.
    I feel the binder is the most important aspect of the course. One very organized source of so many literacy strategies. I ususally do things like this in my own career but sometimes people may not realize how convenient it can really be and they may not do it on their own. I’m not sure how helpful the charts are (the Reading Strategies and the Vocabulary) because there was very little direction with them, about what activity fell under which category.
    One of the difficulties I had with the course was e-mailing assignments throughout the week. When you sign-up for a weekend course, in my opinion, you’re expecting and planning on work being due on Friday’s and Saturday’s. I was taking 2 if not 3 grad courses at a time and having assignments for this course due on the days of other classes making it very difficult to get everything accomplished.
    Overall I feel the class was very useful and from a stand point of a current teacher the information we got in the course may surely prove to be invaluable.

  7. I am also going to give my bad and ugly first.
    I agree that assigning work due throughout the week can be difficult. Sometimes it is hard to get a little bit of time each night to do one assignment, instead I would rather do all of them in one chunk when the time is convenient. On the other hand, this proved to be a successful way to keep me on track to do a great job by taking the time to work on all activities and not be rushed by time on Friday afternoon with many assignments due.
    The good, and what I would like to see stay is the blogging. I really had not been exposed to it and really had no idea what it was about – no I do not myspace. I can see the uses in the classroom and I think that learning by doing will get us excited to try blogging in our own classrooms instead of just hearing about it and fearing computers and the internet.

  8. I had two teachers… who shared their passion for teaching, modeled best practices, demonstrated a strong background in literacy, continually built on their repertoire of knowledge, provided concrete examples K-12, and shared their expertise with a room full of eager new professionals. I can certainly agree with everyone in saying that this class was well worth taking. Even when I first looked at the course description back in the spring, I knew that this class would be an excellent tool for any teacher. Although I had no idea how in tune my professors would be with the content. Sometimes you take a course (especially in my undergraduate studies) where the professor is out of touch with the classroom and doesn’t give you concrete examples of the application of things you could do in your own class but this time that was drastically different. I personally could relate to both of you easily since you came from an elementary background but even the high school teachers have felt impacted. When I reflect back on last night and we were learning about our brain preferences I found myself identifying with the side that needs thorough directions in order to ensure I have hit the mark. In saying this, although I realize the need for us to hand assignments in electronically, I found this to be challenging. I e-mailed questions a few different times about expectations for different assignments and received absolutely no response from either teacher. This was disappointing for me because I was then left to wonder and try to guess if I had completed an assignment correctly or if I would have to complete the dreaded “redo.” My suggestion is this, if you are requiring electronic assignments then make yourself available to respond to the questions that go along with this scenario. Perhaps a special e-mail account just for this class that would help make feedback more efficient or using blackboard. Overall I can honestly say that there are MANY things that I will be taking back into my classroom! This was a very worthwhile class and I sincerely appreciate all the new ideas that you have given to us all!

  9. I think the best part of this class was the fact that we were able to share our own ideas with each other. The binder of strategies was a great idea – a tangible resource and thanks to Larry, Jen, and Jason we now have some of that information on a wiki.

    My only complaint I suppose is that I did find it hard to complete the assignments and the class readings while school was still in session. I have to admit that my first priority was my students and getting them ready for their end of the year tests.

    Overall, I have found the course extremely beneficial and can’t wait to try out some strategies next year. Thanks so much to everyone for everything.

  10. Lots of great learning and discussions took place over the month of June. I knew it would be difficult going in, to wind up the end of my clasroom school year, and take a grad course at the same time, but I’m glad I did (especially cause now it is over!) But I know that so many of the strategies are excellent ones that I will use in my classroom and share with my colleagues.
    Love the binder, love the Wiki, can’t wait to use them.
    I also can’t wait to read more books for pleasure over the summer! Thanks for reminding us of how important reading for pleasure is.

  11. One item that I would not want to see changed, would be the anticipation guide at the beginning of class. That remote controlled opinionated questioning technique was amazing and I fell in love with this course first thing. The blogs should stay also, but I think that there should be a mini course on how to input html quotes and such into our blogs. Not too many of us are savvy on our own with the technology.
    An item that I think should change, would be an addition rather than an alteration to our group projects. I feel that we should have an opportunity to reflect on our presentation and critique ourselves and others. Maybe it could be an additional blog.

  12. Throughout this class I had a wonderful time learning the wealth of strategies that can be implemented in the classroom to enhance literacy. I think that the best part of this class is the binder that we made and are able to take with us as we leave. I will be starting my first year as a full time teacher and I am excited to implement some of the strategies into my classroom and I know that I will always have this binder to look back on.
    One aspect of this class that I would change would be the deadlines during the week. I know many of us are very busy with full time jobs as well as lives outside of school, and yet we still did sign up to take this class knowing that there would be a heavy workload involved. However, at least for me, I was taking this as a weekend class thinking that I would have a week to work on the assignments to turn in the following week. Having the deadlines in the middle of the week made it a little harder to complete everything on time.
    Thanks for everything, I did thoroughly enjoy this class!

  13. I believe that the best aspect of the class were the numerous strategies that we talked about. It was also very helpful to see them play out as they would in a classroom. The group project were very beneficial because of the ideas that everybody came up with and were able to share with the class. I found this very helpful. As far as changes go, I feel that the notebook was kind of confusing as to where the worksheets were supposed to be slotted. There were many handouts that I had trouble classifying. I think that clarification from the instructor would lead to less stress concerning the notebook, and a better resource for future use.

  14. This course has really opened my eyes to literacy in mathematics. I feel that I have gained numerous strategies that will not only help my students learn math, but also help them with reading, writing and comprehending. What I liked most about this class is your sensitivity to the math teachers! It actually made me want to work harder to create lessons that are rich in literacy. It was nice how you both tried to make connections for each of the literacy strategies to all content areas. That really made this course worthwhile for all us math people!
    As for one thing I might change, maybe have a few groups each class present so then we can be more awake and alert for them. It was a lot in one night and one morning. Overall, wonderful course!!!!! I have a lot to take back to my classroom and I am very thankful!

  15. I think that the best part of the class and how it ran was the fact that we could get into groups to discuss topics and have meaningful conversations about different techniques we use in the classroom. I think that everyone contributed and it was really cool to hear other people’s opinions about topics and also see how they approached their classroom. It was great to have a mix of math, science, and elementary teachers, and it was interesting to see the difference between middle and high school.

    The one thing that I noticed was that there were times that we did a few too many partner times and there was too much time for certain activities. However, it gave us time to get to know each other and share stories. So, one little thing but it was still great to have group activities.

    A suggestion that would benefit the learning experience for students would be to create an on-line binder for students that way it is electronic – the wave of the future – and they can go back and change it with ease any time they want. I was Larry and Jen’s group that came up with the fantastic idea and I think it should be piggy backed on.

  16. I’ll start with the good. I know have a binder full of strategies to help my students learn better, along with the knowledge of how to implement them. The sheer variety of the strategies caters not only to the students, but to us as educators and our abilities to create and help others. I know that I had an easier time finding alternate text sources than I did devising a post-reading game. I’m not sure why, maybe it has to do with my own learning methods, or maybe I just need to start playing more games.
    As for the bad, as many others said, the work was overwhelming. Yes, the class was done over a few weeks, but many of us work full time and have other commitments going on as well, and meeting the deadlines for assignments often required some very late nights. Right now, I am so tired that I’ve lost my appetite, which very very very rarely happens. If this class had been over 8 weeks at night, twice a week, like some classes, I think I might have enjoyed it more.
    Overall, I’m glad I had the opportunity to take this class. Wendy, you really know your stuff, and are fun and interesting to listen to. Janet, you said this was your first time teaching at the college level. I would never have guessed, in fact the first class, I figured that given your background as a literacy teacher, I assumed you were a long-time teacher in this course.
    One last thing… Thank you so much for having us start at 9am on Saturdays. That extra half hour made such a huge wonerful difference!

  17. One aspect of the class that I would not like changed is the activity level. It is most important for us to try out various strategies if we are to “buy into” them. To read about them and preview handouts is hardly enough to trigger visions of using them in our classroom. Thank you for the many opportunities we had to participate in activities.
    Looking ahead, I think it would be more helpful to hear of more specific examples of integration of literacy strategies in the high school level mathematics classroom. It is sometimes hard to imagine implementing some of the literacy strategies described when working with complex topics such as Calculus or AP Statistics.

  18. GOOD:
    At first I wasn’t sure about the binder, but it clearly works because otherwise I would have a stack of loose-leaf papers, handouts, and assignments. We received so many different things that forcing a structure on us turned out to be very valuable. BUT…stay tuned for the electronic version!!!

    This is more of a suggestion – now that we are all wiki / blog experts, we should have the means to easily communicate and discuss within the entire class. Perhaps a class blog where everyone can directly contribute as a poster rather than just a commenter. The electronic versions of all handouts and assignments could be kept there also.

    Thanks to both of you for a fun and valuable class!

  19. I loved all the strategies we were taught. Now I have a little time I am going to try them on my kids, while we do our summer reading that we got behind on this week.
    Class projects need to be spread out this week it got crazy. Thank goodness for soccer camp and my oldest being patient and coming to school with me.
    Both of you have a wonderful summer.

  20. Of all of the good things that I will take away from this course, I think that I love all of the strategies that you shared with us. I can take them and readily adapt them in my science classroom.

    If I could change anything, I would like to change the length of the course so that I would have time to complete things with out feeling so overwhelmed.

  21. Link to Brain Based Learning PowerPoint

  22. As an independent study this course was extremely difficult, but manageable. Even though I was not able to participate in the class discussions, the blogging was invaluable to me. This served as my discussion forum. Not only was it an eye-opener as far as its uses and capabilities, it also provided me with a wealth of information and counter viewpoints. Without classroom time it forces you to delve deep into many different venues to retrieve, process and internalize the principles and concepts. I also took away fantastic strategies to implement in the classroom and the class tied content literacy to all subjects. Like John, I have “been around the block” and this course rattled my cage and enlightened me as to the importance of literacy in all contents and the many techniques to improve understanding. I have take away of wealth of knowledge and am truly grateful for Wendy’s patience, guidance and willingness to take on this extra responsibility.
    The only thing I would change concerning the independent study would be at least a 2 hour initial session to organize and clarify the different aspects of the course. I think Rich, Lynzee and myself were able to sort it out, but it might have been a tad easier with a longer initial session.
    Thank you Wendy for a great class with invaluable material!

  23. I am so happy to have taken this course this semester! I learned so much and am looking forward to taking my binder with me to use in my classroom in the fall!

    The GOOD–The wealth of information shared in a big giant binder! The class input and discussions, the 2 veteran teachers who co-taught the course wonderfully..Janet, it was great to hear from a reading specialists point of view!

    The BAD-The due dates in the middle of the week made things stressful at times on top of emailing that sometimes did not work, The lack of communication and expectations on components of the binder (Matrix),

    Suggestion–Maybe next semester you can have course documents all electronically, and sessions bi-weekly instead of in a row.

    Thanks for a great class!

  24. I will also start with the bad, which I have to say in all honesty, there is not much of. The only “bad” that comes to mind is the fact that due to a schedule conflict, I had to take this course as an independent study, and sadly, I suspect that I missed out on a lot of great in-class experiences, not to mention the bonding amongst weekend classmates.
    There is a lot of “good” to mention. I did like the binder, even though I felt a bit of apprehension about it at first. The various strategies that we each had to prepare certainly helped me gain a deeper understanding of the strategy. I am of course excited that I can use many of them in a future classroom. Also, I must admit that I liked the “Subjects Matter” textbook. I know, I know, “textbooks = bad.” However, in this case I felt that the text was very readable and had a lot of useful information in it.
    Lastly, as Michael stated, the Blogging was wonderful, ESPECIALLY for those of us who took this course as an Independent Study! Not only did I have my first exposure to blogging, but I also got at least a small flavor for what was happening in the weekend classes that we were missing. Granted that blogging instead of class-time was kind of like having a low-fat yogurt instead of an ice-cream Sunday. However, low-fat yogurt is much better than nothing at all!
    Thank you Wendy (and classmates) for a great course. I really did get a lot out of it that I can use in the future, and today as well. Have a Wonderful Summer!!!

  25. From the perspective of an independent study student, I would not recommend anyone to take this class (I know Wendy and Janet got tired of me asking so many strange questions, but thanks for being so helpful).
    The Good–With the small amount of time we had for this class, I felt that the textbook was an easy read. In addition, I loved the final project presentations because I got so much more helpful handouts and information for future use.
    The Bad—As others state before, there wasn’t enough time to absorb and reflect on the information. Maybe the course’s schedule should be spread out more.

  26. My response is going to be somewhat different seeing as though I took this course as an independent study. I agree with Mike in that the most difficult part in taking this as an independent study was sorting all the information out initially. If we would have had a longer initial day and more organization to that day it may have helped a little bit, I was defiantly feeling overwhelmed after our meeting. The blogging however has been extremely helpful in getting a flavor for what’s going on in class and really getting some insight into literacy. I would have to say the best thing from this class would be the vas number of resources we are walking away from this class with. I have a brand new tool box to bring into my classroom and use, I can honestly say this class was a very useful one and I learned a lot of very new things I had no idea about!
    Thank you so much Wendy for all your outside work!!!!!!!!

  27. Jennifer B.
    Would you not recommend this class to anyone, or would you not recommend the course as an independent study?

  28. I have to say that this was probably the most useful and on target course that I’ve taken in MST. It is so important for us to know about infusing literacy into all of the content areas, and how about vocabulary? Those statistics you gave us were crazy.
    The good – I thought the text that we used was awesome. It was an easy and interesting read. I have already lent it out to some of my colleagues, and my current reading specialist has already bought a copy for our school. It had valuable, and helpful information in it.
    More good – Can’t wait to bring my binder with me to school in the fall and implement so many great tools – love the graphic organizers, especially the Frayer Model. I love that kids can see what it is, and what it isn’t. I have been reminded how important it is to brainstorm with your students, the think aloud – a great tool. I will use the Inside Outside Circle for a fun way to review material, and I think my favorite is the RAFT. Kids have to learn to write. Why not give them a choice in how to write so that they can have fun and creativity while they do it?
    The bad – I didn’t mind that assignments were due during the week. You just had to stay on top of them. I guess one thing that I would change would be the amount of time we spent in groups. Sometimes it seemed like too much time. Altho I thoroughly enjoy learning from my colleagues, we would often get off task and start talking about other things. Maybe more of a time limit could be given to us. after all, we’re teachers andn we like to talk!
    Overall, I’m serious when I say this was the best class I’ve taken so far. In the beginning, I thought it would be a pain to have to put together a binder and then be graded on it. But I could use a little help in my organizational skills, and thanks to you two, I now have a great binder full of many fabulous ideas.
    I look forward to sharing these ideas with my students in the fall.
    Have a great summer!

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