Friday, April 29, 2016

Sacred Reading Day 3: Creating Stone Soup

Yilmaz, K. (2011). The cognitive perspective on learning: Its theoretical underpinnings and implications for classroom practices. The Clearing House, 84, 204-212. 

What is Sacred:
This article is an introduction to cognitivism, its connection to constructivism and its departure from behaviorism. It is both a definition paper and a source for classroom examples of the educational theories that they are talking about. The purpose of the paper is to take down the invisible wall between teacher practice and educational theory as a way to create a foundation for real educational change. The author argues that as the teacher practitioner, if one does not understand the theory behind the practice, there can be no real change in practice. It is not enough to know content and strategies. 
 They [teachers] also need to understand what philosophical assumptions
and theoretical perspectives characterize a given instructional framework without succumbing to the notion that teachers first and foremost should be concerned
with day-to-day practical issues and problems in the classroom rather than the theoretical ones that are supposed to concern academics or theorists.
Connections to current/future work:
When I think of my own educational theory that is the basis for how I plan my lessons and units, I am more constructivist than anything else. My goals throughout my career have been fairly set in stone:

  • know the students first (their needs, their skills and talents)
  • do not use a textbook as it makes me lazy and unresponsive to bullet 1
  • get to the point where the students own their own learning and I step aside
In order to accomplish these goals, especially without a textbook, I need to constantly read with my students in mind in order to find them resources that (using Vygotsky's ZPD - zone of proximal development) are at their instructional level. Now that I spent one year at UHWO, I am a little better at figuring out who the students are, so I continue to try and gather materials, not in hopes that I get it right, but really purposefully looking at getting it right.

This article is what I consider a stone soup article. It could hold nothing of value on its own (just rocks and water), but depending on how I break it apart and put the onus of learning on the students, it could hold everything necessary to have a dynamic, engaging, students teaching students session on learning theories.

Future (like before next August) - re-read it once I have a better idea of how many students I have - decide where I want to jigsaw, how I want students to present and what the other possibilities are for my stone soup article.

Note to self: Housed in Evernote, EDEF 201 folder

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Sacred Reading Day 2: Reading Blogs

I always start projects in the most inopportune time. I find that I am more successful that way so please excuse the weird reading and catch up posts. I did read, I just did not have a computer to write so I am gathering odd snippets from my notebook and voice recorder.

Day 2 on the road (or plane) headed to Alaska was about reading blog posts that I saved on my Evernote app because I pay to be able to read that offline. Evernote is a note-taking cloud space but when hooked up to my web browser (Chrome) I am able to read web sites, blogs, articles later by just pressing my Evernote or Clearly extension, tagging it to the right folder and holding it there for another day. I also use Evernote to house my abstracts, proposals, conference powerpoints, notes, etc. so it can be original material or material I want to store for later use. 

Merle, A. (2016, April 4). The reading habits of ultra-successful people. [Blog post]. Retrieved     from

What is sacred
This blog article is about how much people like Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg actually read. Buffett spends about 80% of his day reading. These are entrepreneurs, so the book lists that are provided on this blog are more about leadership and business, with an over emphasis on memoirs. 
Successful people tend to choose educational books and publications over novels, tabloids, and magazines. And in particular they obsess over biographies and autobiographies of other successful people for guidance and inspiration.

Connections to current/future work
When I am living in a town with no book store chain, and when I have a very narrow area that I am trying to learn about, then I need lists that give glimpses to other narrow areas as a way to see about possible connections that are not obvious. New ideas are about connecting divergent ideas together in a new perspective. 

More resources:
To read possibles:
The Seasons of Life by Jim Rohn

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Sacred Reading Day 1: Native Planters

This is only day 1 in my year of sacred reading and writing. I have 364 days left so based on my experience with the year of Sunday dinners (that has continued for six years in two different households now), I know there are certain key elements for success:

  1. Blogging makes me accountable, even if no one is reading it but me
  2. Tagging helps me (the main reader) find things easily, whether it's a recipe or an article that I need for a paper.
  3. Figuring out the logistics and format early on helps alleviate the chore of writing. That is why romance novelists can pump out more books than say George R.R. Martin.
  4. Not everything is going to be or has to be profound or totally earth shattering. I just need enough so I remember what I was thinking.
  5. Organization is not a suggestion. I keep my highlighted articles in my Evernote (above) and keep my Adobe Acrobrat Pro subscription current at all times. I am working on organizing my Evernote into folders and tag, tag, tag. Key words are the key to finding my stuff again (#2 hana hou). 
So I am trying out this format. If it doesn't work, tomorrow is another day.

Article (in APA because that's what I need to use right now):
Handy, E.S. & Handy, E. (1991) Native planters in old Hawai'i: Their life, love & environment.  (excerpt)

What is sacred:
The excerpt (pp. vi-viii) is about the influence of the moon on planting and fishing. It argues that although some view this as Hawaiian superstition, their research shows that the Hawaiians practiced "systematic and careful regimentation of planting in accordance with this theory," and therefore they see this as evidence that rather than superstition, this was a way of knowing for Hawaiians. Further, they argue that they used many different source material for their research and all of these scholars/practitioners say similar things which is why the argument is followed by a listing of moon phases and what each phase signifies for the farmer and fisherman.

". . .these [the planting by moon phase theory] were practices adhered to by a whole population intent upon maximum productivity for the sake of livelihood -- a people who in other practical matters affecting physical growth of their plants showed amazing powers of discrimination and observation..."

Connections to current/future work:
How might teachers use this theory to plan their units? For example, my initial thinking and I need to read more and talk to more people - but kū kahi, kū lua, kū kolu nights seem to be a time for scaffolded lessons where one day builds on the next and the next ("Taros planted on the first  night will have but one shoot (kū kahi), second night will have two (kū lua), and the third night will have three (kū kolu).

Granted these are just initial thoughts and it is dangerous to think too literally. For example ʻole nights are not good for planting, they are good for weeding, which may not mean that it is harmful to give assessments on ʻole nights (the moon night is for the next day), however if instead you provide time for practice, tweaking of what was learned, finding gaps in understanding as well as misunderstandings and taking care of those in class (they recommend weeding) during this time, will student achievement look different than if you did not plan purposefully?

There is more to learn.

Resources suggested  by this article for further reading:

  • David Malo - Hawaiian Antiquities
  • Kepelino
  • Mrs. Paʻahana Wiggins of Kaʻu
  • Mr. Joseph Marciel and Mrs Mahalo of Kaupo, Maui 
  • Mawai of Nahiku, Maui 
  • The Reverend Mr. Kauaulalena of Keoneoʻio (woot - Maui no ka ʻoi)
  • an anonymous article in the Hawaiian newspaper Naʻi Aupuni, November 10-19, 1906
  • Mr. George Roberts of Kualoa, Oahu

Daily Sacred Reading

I was a super shy, cling on to my mama kid living in the shadows of a very young mother who was set on standing on her own after a horrible marriage and divorce and finding her barbaric roar. I think she used to go to Aikido back in Lahaina and at 25 (I was 6 or 7), I watched her take her black belt test at the Waialae Dojo. People came at her and she had to block them, submit them, throw them. It was the most badass show ever. I always wanted to go to Aikido, but the one time I tried, it was so scary I never went back, but I admire that kind of discipline and tenacity and wish that I intrinsically had that in me. 

I think what I learned from her was a tenacity for self preservation and independence, but the discipline part still eludes me. I am hoping that by writing it down and saying it out loud through this medium, I hold myself accountable so here is why I want to do it and what I am trying to do.

I had my chancellor for our university, Dr. Doris Ching, come and talk to my students about her journey as an educator and one thing that she said really made me think of my own mom. It was about discipline. My chancellor shared that when she was getting her doctorate, she left her husband and sons behind in Hawaii so was determined to finish and get her degree within the year that she was gone. In order to do this, she would read a textbook a day, highlight and just keep reading. She sometimes didn't understand what she was reading, but she read anyway. She said when it was time to do her comprehensive exams, suddenly at the test everything that she had been doing to prepare, the hours and months of her reading discipline just started clicking into place. She says she still tries to read a professional article everyday and now she can understand and make connections to the pieces much more quickly. 

I always feel like I am the anti-intellectual. I am not as well read or as widely read as all of my colleagues. I always thought I was a writer, but to get writing done is a major chore for me. I take forever to edit in my head and I am always more interested in how it's read, the aesthetics of the experience, than in the logic in which I format my argument so my husband always is taken aback when I say I am writing a paper and he reads it like an article (because he is analytical so he actually has an idea of how these two genres are really different).  In my quest for self preservation and preservation of my own voice and my own philosophy, I tend to forge my own path, but I feel like in the process, I am not giving enough respect to the Indigenous women and men, philosophers and academics who have already forged the path. I want to stop fighting the invisible borderlands and start tuning in to the vibrations around me. I want to make connections to my own thinking as well as understand those who challenge my own thinking through these professional readings. I see them as "sacred" readings because I need to have faith that this piece, whatever it is, was meant for me to read in this time and in this place; there is more at work in the universe than my random choosing of articles that caught my eye.  I want to fine tune my ear to superhighway of mana'o flowing in cyberspace. 

In other words, I want to discipline myself to read every day in order to honor the sacred in these readings and write about those connections to my own living work whenever possible. 

I said it, I am aware, eyes open, and now I have to do it. Conscientization. It's not enough to know. Now, what you going do girl? Taking action. I will be 49 in half a year which means if I do this for one year, I will almost be 50. I want to make this practice of reading and writing both sacred and routine (like brushing my teeth) before I hit that landmark.

If you have articles I should read, please pass them on. Day 1. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

How to live a life

Here is the truth: I stole this pic from Austin Kleon's tumblr (he of Steal Like an Artist), 

It is from a Mary Oliver poem "Sometimes" from Red Bird.

Here's the thing. I like to read Mary Oliver (and Sandra Cisneros, Naomi Shihab Nye, Maya Angelou, Cathy Song, Juliet Kono) when I need a little inspiration. So at this time, in this place, this is what I needed, so I stole it.  

My husband is caring for his mom and my aunt is in the early stages of Alzheimers. On that side of the family, they all got Alzheimers and my aunt is the oldest sibling of my father, so I think there is a good chance that I will eventually get it too. Because of that, I have been thinking about how to live the life I have now, and then this came and I realize that this is how I want to live for as long as I can. I don't need to be able to drive, to be mobile, to even remember. I can still pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.