My name is Jackasha-Janaee Wiley. I have a Masters of Education with a social studies certification from Rutgers University Graduate School of Education. I have a Bachelors of Art in History and Women and Gender Studies. I am currectly teaching two Social Science classes for the Rutgers Upward Bound program. I am looking forward to becoming a social studies teacher in an urban school district that is very warm and friendly with goals of educating their students to become successful professionals through student and educator mentorship to ensure further growth and development.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My 1st Thoughts

Over the last month, I had the opportunity to learn more about incorporating technology into the classroom. In some ways this was definitely something new for me. In some ways it is also very challenging. I didn't realize the importance of incorporating and implementing various forms of technology into my daily teaching curriculum until reading Lynne Schrum and Barbara B. Levin’s book Leading 21st Century Schools: Harnessing Technology for Engagement and Achievement. As I reflect back to previous lessons and unit plans that I created and taught, technology was definitely implemented throughout the entire process but was seen in a different. I strictly incorporated technology into the class to provide the students with different forms of instruction to ensure class participation and engagement. And it definitely worked.
During my student teaching experience, I had the opportunity to implement a three-week unit performance based unit on the American Identity. I originally created unit for 11th and 12th grade United States History II courses; however, I modified it so that it could be used for my 7th and 8th grade Gifted and Talented students. The entire unit was primarily based on group work, projects, class discussion and 80% participation. The unit started with a very simple but broad question “Who is an American?” Many students thought this was an easy question until I “shot” their answers down, as I played devil’s advocate I wanted them to think. This unit was created on the basis of high-order thinking through group and class discussion.  The students did get upset and frustrated because I didn’t take “simple” answers, this only forced them to think harder and explain and articulate themselves thoroughly.
            Some of my favorite activity during this unit was song analysis. Independently, in groups, and class instruction, we analyzed three American songs: America, the Beautiful by Katharine Lee Bates, God Bless America by Lee Greenwood and The Star-Spangled banner by Francis Scot Key, along with Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing (also known as the African-American National Anthem) by James Weldon Johnson and Dreaming by Selena. While analyzing these songs the students were forced to “read between lines” to find the underlying message in the song. For example, “Dreaming” by Selena is considered a love song (even though it never mentions love in the lyrics), I had the students think about this song in terms of success and the “dream” of succeeding.  After we analyzed the songs, to ensure deeper understanding, I then relied on technology and youtube so we could listen to the songs to better understand everything that we talked about.
Overall, the entire unit was a success because I found a way for students to develop skills of historical empathy and perspectives (using their ability to see things from the perspectives of others) by expressing themselves through writing in their reflection journals every night during the twelve-day unit. Also while the students were taking their Language Arts benchmarks they used the vocabulary that I taught them in class (like acculturation and assimilation) to describe people’s ability to adapt or combine cultures.
I think if I had more knowledge and definitely knew a lot of things that I am learning now about online blogging and class participation, instead of keeping journals, providing students to online blogging would give the students the opportunity to talk to other students and myself at home rather than wait until the next class day to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of the class assignments.

            While I think online class blogging is a wonderful idea and a great way to encourage learning all time, I have students who do not have access to computers, let alone the internet; however, I still believe it is a great asset in assuring and promoting education.


  1. Hi Kasha,

    I really like the design you chose for your blog--it looks very scholarly! I really like the way you reflected on that lesson you taught on American identity. It sounds like a wonderful lesson, and so interesting because it incorporates history, music, writing, critical thinking, and technology. It is great that you are looking to improve it even more with some of the new tools you are learning. This might be a great lesson to return to for your Classroom Implementation project! I think you also make an excellent point about students who don't have access to computers at home. This is a huge problem and it needs to be addressed. Any thoughts about how we can resolve this? Many people say, "well students can use the computers in the public library if they don't have a computer." Is this a viable solution?

  2. I also like that you reflected on your unit on American Identity. It is so important as an educator to reflect on your lessons and the fact that you were able to modify it from high school to middle school was excellent! Your desire to incorporate technology in the classroom is awesome and it is great to have that desire because often some teachers fear the use of technology. We need to be open-minded! :) However, I do fully see your point about the availability to technology for your students. Sometimes it is so difficult to do engaging projects that incorporate technology when students are unable to access computers at home.

  3. Hi Kasha,

    When I read at the end of your reflections how your lesson was successful but how you might like to incorporate blogging, I found myself nodding in agreement. It's interesting; even when a lesson goes well, every time I learn something new I ask myself, "How can this new knowledge make my lessons even better?"

    Students not having access at home is definitely an issue. How can that obstacle be overcome? Does your school have a media center? If so, perhaps they can blog during class time. Are there computers at the local library? If so, perhaps students could blog once a month. We have to get really creative when inequities come into play.

  4. I agree with everyone that has already commented here. I think that it is very important that you were able to reflect on the unit that you taught and you were successfully able to modify it to work with younger students. When you were writing about having the students write in journals, the first thing I thought about was having them blog. I do, however, understand the difficulties in regards to the access to technology. I would consider having the class go to the media center/computer lab for a few days during the unit, or even have a portable computer lab brought to your classroom (if the supplies are available). This would give everyone a chance to participate.

    I was also thinking of something else that you could do to get the students more involved with the concepts in this lesson as well as using technology. I wonder what kind of personal videos the students could create to explain "Who an American is." They could use Animoto with small video clips and pictures, or possibly use Windows Movie Maker depending on their abilities. I think it would be really interesting to see the students' representations of the American after this unit was completed.