Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Anti-Education Era (Part 1) response

I have been told I am pretty intelligent, I have had a fair bit of formal education, and I know I have gathered some wisdom from experiences over the years. However, I am also stupid. I have made, and continue to make, stupid decisions in my life. Decisions related to every-day mundane things, to relationships, in the workplace, even that decision to finally use the right lane to zoom past that car that had been slowing me and irritating me. I instantly knew that last one was stupid because I had been warned state troopers often waited in that area for speeders and as I went by one popped out and pulled me over. Maybe you are shaking your head in agreement, or saying, “So what, we’re all stupid.” Well, in a sense, that is what this James Paul Gee book I am reading, The Anti-Education Era, is all about. He discusses how and why humans are often stupid when it comes to dealing with complex issues. In this short reaction paper for my CEP 812 class I discuss some of what he has to say in the first part of his book. Next time around we’ll look at how he thinks we can be smarter, so don’t let it get you too down!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Complex ER Problem (for CEP 812)

I have a problem in my EFL Reading courses at a university in Japan in getting my students to self-select level-appropriate reading material for extensive reading (ER). What I have done to date is give them a general introduction to the concepts in ER, general guidance as to where I think they should start to find the right level of reading materials (including both bringing materials into the classroom and taking them to the library to explore materials), and then monitoring their choices and doing individual consultations until they get zeroed in. However, since the time for checking with them is really limited, this can take several weeks to get all students on track. Also, they may sort out that Level 1 for a specific publisher's graded reader series suits them, but then another publisher's level 1 may be quite a bit more difficult. What I have found, the Extensive Reading Foundation's Online Placement Test, looks to improve and shorten the process of getting my students aware of their own levels and how their individual level corresponds to several graded reader series. Have a look at this screencast for some more information about it. (If video does not display properly, follow this link.)

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