Tag Archives: EDU6120

Week9 Reflection: Authentic Applications

While reading about Authentic Applications, a reflective assessment strategy, I was reminded of a science fair in which I participated as a grade school student.  The topic of my report was Solar Eclipses, and the event made such an impact on me at the time that I can remember clearly many minute details around the science fair and other exhibits that were there besides my own.  My own exhibit was comprised of a bright light, a globe, and a small foam ball mounted on a bent coat hanger.  I can remember the written report which I had made as well detailing all the notable total eclipses prior to that date.  In particular,  the 1974 total eclipse for Madagascar stands out in my mind (see table below).


Thus, I believe I am proof that this assessment strategy, in my case a science fair, caused serious learnings and impressions that lasted far beyond the event.

Now to bring this assessment strategy forward and apply it to some of our readings this week, I can’t imagine a more powerful way to teach landmark Supreme Court cases then to re-enact them, in public, in a moot court style.  Students could be selected to portray the sides of the case as well as the justices.  They could be asked to review oral arguments for the case and to present or read them (in an interpretive/dramatic fashion if appropriate).

For instance, this week we were asked to read a couple of historic Supreme Court decisions:

Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) and
Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

One could imagine that a systematic analysis of the Decision and Dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) would be catalyst to a whole host of interesting conversations.  Not the least of which would be germane to current understanding of race relations in this country.  In choosing which parts of the decision to read or set forward in a public portrayal of the trial, a discussion of the merits of the argument would naturally come forth, and a lesson on how to read/write legal decisions would be in order.  This would have immense educational value.  Consider this from Justice Harlan in Dissent (Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896)

The white race deems itself to be the dominant race in this country. And so it is in prestige, in achievements, in education, in wealth and in power. So, I doubt not, it will continue to be for all time if it remains true to its great heritage and holds fast to the principles of constitutional liberty. But in view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful. The law regards man as man, and takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved. It is therefore to be regretted that this high tribunal, the final expositor of the fundamental law of the land, has reached the conclusion that it is competent for a State to regulate the enjoyment by citizens of their civil rights solely upon the basis of race.

What student would not find their hearts stirred upon reading this document, if not to read it publicly and with a fuller understanding and emotion?

Now consider Brown v. Board (1954), reading the court’s opinion written by Chief Justice Warren, where he comments on the extension of Plessy v. Ferguson which involved railroad conveyance to Brown v. Board which handled education thus:

Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society. It is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities, even service in the armed forces. It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment. In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.

Suddenly I could imagine the students in a classroom would realize that their very education is a right and a duty upon which the whole of free society rests.  Equality in that venture is of utmost importance.


Plessy v. Ferguson.  163 U.S. 537. (1896).  CornellLaw

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.  347 U.S. 483 (1954). CornellLaw

Defined: “Authentic Applications”, A Reflective Assessment Strategy

Ellis & Denton (2010, p. 47) maintain that “when ideas are not applied they seem to start nowhere and go nowhere.”  This reflective strategy is powerful in its ability to ground the theoretical in the practical, to bring the lofty down to the pedestrian, to get the latex out of the laboratory to where the rubber meets the road.  In the words of the authors

The purpose of the Authentic Applications strategy is to challenge you and your students to become involved in ways that transform the curriculum from one of potential energy to one of applied, functioning energy.  And the key to doing this is to find as many outlets for student work as possible.  (Ellis & Denton, 2010, p. 48)

The procedure is simple, and involves getting student work out into the public square, where it on display for critique, engagement, explanation.  For the mathematics or science curriculum, Ellis & Denton (2010) cite Gainsburg (2006) that modeling or the application of principles to daily problem-solving “was found to be central to and ubiquitous in the engineers’ work, giving rise to some of their greatest intellectual challenges.”  Facilitating the contact between students and real practitioners of the arts that they are learning is key to this strategy.

Outcomes for this strategy are profound throughout the exercise.  Again Ellis & Denton (2010, p. 49)

Knowing that your work will be displayed in some way changes the stage of preparation…. This foreknowledge enables the learner to … focus the work.  The stage in which the event takes place (e.g., science fair, athletic contents, play, concert) offers further opportunity for reflection, judgment, review, and analysis.  And when the performance is over, this final stage represents a time to reflect, to think about meaning, truthfulness, beauty, and effort, and to take the measure of what went right or wrong toward improvement in the future.

Finally this strategy holds much promise for both engaging the student with the content, and engaging the student in the processes that are involved in real world application of that content.


Ellis A.K., & Denton, D.W. (2010) Teaching, learning, and assessment together:  Reflective assessments for middle and high school mathematics and science.  Larchmont, NY:  Eye on Education.  Amazon. Google Books.

Gainsburg, J. (2006). The mathematical modeling of structural engineers.  Mathematical Thinking & Learning. 8(1). 3-36. PDF

bPortfolio Presentation, a Short Video

I made the following video using Powerpoint and Microsoft Lync.  It is 6 minutes instead of the requested 5 minutes, and has some background noise, but it is a pretty cool proof-of-concept.

John Dewey, “My Pedagogic Creed”, I Can Teach

To outline Dewey’s creed and annotate as needed, so that learners are able to differentiate Dewey from other thinkers in education, and find their own affinities to him.

  1. What Education Is
    1. Participation in social consciousness of the race
    2. Stimulation of child’s powers via social situations
    3. A process that has two sides
      1. Psychological
      2. Social
    4. Demands knowledge of current social conditions
    5. Psychological and social sides are organically related
      1. Psychological alone is barren and formal
      2. Social alone is forced and external
      3. Valid objections if the sides are isolated
    6. Equipping an organic union of social individuals for social service.

With the advent of democracy and modern industrial conditions, it is impossible to foretell definitely just what civilization will be twenty years from now.  Hence it is impossible to prepare the the child for any precise set of conditions.

  1. What the School Is
    1. Primarily a social institution
      1. Education is thus a social process
      2. Education is a process of living not preparation for future living
      3. Representation of real, vital, present life.
        1. If not, education cramps and deadens.
    2. A mode of social life, a simplification of existing social life
      1. Without simplifying student is confused or distracted
        1. Student at danger of being unduly specialized or disintegrated
      2. Simplification should grow out of home life
        1. So that child gradually learns meaning
        2. This is a psychological necessity
        3. This is a social necessity
    3. A form of community life, a form of social life
      1. Present education fails in that it neglects school as a form of community life.
      2. Moral education centers on this conception
      3. Child should be stimulated and controlled in work through life of community.
        1. Too much stimulus and control come from teacher
        2. Teacher should not impose certain idea or habits
        3. Teacher (as member of community) selects influences, and helps with proper responses
        4. Discipline should proceed from life of school not teacher
          1. Teacher helps determine how discipline comes to the child
          2. All grading and promotion decisions should reference same standard

…[Home] is the form of social life in which the child has been nurtured and in connection with which he has had his moral training. It is the business of the school to deepen and extend his sense of values bound up in his home life.

  1. The Subject-Matter of Education
    1. Should mark a gradual differentiation out of the primitive unconscious unity of social life
      1. The social life of the child is the basis of concentration or correlation in all training and growth
      2. The social life gives the unconscious unity and the background of all his attainments
    2. Should not be abruptly too many special studies
      1. this violates childs nature
      2. renders difficult the best ethical results
      3. are often out of relation to the social life
    3. Should center on the child’s own social activities
      1. Not science, literature, history, geography
      2. [incomplete]


  1. The Nature of Method
    1. [incomplete]
    2. asdf
      1. asdf
      2. asf
    3. asdf
    4. asd


  1. The School and Social Progress
    1. Education is social progress and reform
      1. following reforms are transitory and futile
        1. those which rest on enactment of law
        2. those which rest on threatening penalties
        3. those which rest on mechanical changes
        4. those which rest on outward arrangements
      2. is adjustment of individual activity on the basis of this social consciousness
      3. this conception recognizes
        1. individualistic ideals
        2. socialistic ideals
        3. The ideal school reconciles individualistic and institutional ideas
    2. The community’s duty to education is its paramount moral duty
      1. through education a society
        1. formulates its own purposes
        2. organizes its own means and resources
        3. shapes itself with definiteness
        4. determines its directions
      2. if society recognizes possibilities and obligations here, time, attention, money will be provided the educator
      3. Everyone interested in education should make school primary and work to get equipment to educators
    3. Education thus conceived is perfect union of science and art
      1. Art that gives shape to human powers and adapts them to social service is supreme 
      2. Growth of psychological service all scientific resources can be utilized for education
      3. When science and art join hands
        1. most commanding motive for human action will be reached
        2. most genuine springs of human conduct aroused
        3. best service that human nature is capable of guaranteed.
    4. Teacher is engaged not only in training individuals, but also formation of proper social life
      1. They have dignity in this calling, set apart for
        1. maintenance of proper social order
        2. security the right social growth
      2. And a prophet of the true God and usher of kingdom of God.

Defined: “I Can Teach”, A Reflective Assessment Strategy

Ellis & Denton (2010) describe outcomes for this strategy.

I Can Teach is designed to empower students with the thought that knowledge is something you use, not just something you keep in the storehouse of the mind until examination time.  This strategy asks students to cross a threshold from learning as something only for oneself to learning as something you pass along to others.  Learning is transformed from acquisition to performance.  You know the pleasure of helping people learn.  It is time to share that pleasure with your students.  Use it or lose it. (p. 80)

Practically, the techniques used in this strategy involve getting students as learners to turn around and become teachers to those who do not understand.  Each student can also be asked to share what they have learned in an instructional way with siblings or parents.  The authors even suggest that a broader learning community within the school can develop if I Can Teach is done across grade levels, classrooms, or even outside of normal class times (peer-mentor or mentor-mentee).

Allowing time to reflect on the effectiveness of the “teacher” is a part of this strategy that helps further enhance the impact of this exercise.  Teachers can thus model some of their own openness to improving and refining their own instructional techniques—a virtuous cycle.

Finally the authors warn that getting started on this strategy may be hard, so an exercise brainstorming the similarities and differences for the concepts to be taught may be used.


Ellis A.K., & Denton, D.W. (2010) Teaching, learning, and assessment together:  Reflective assessments for middle and high school mathematics and science.  Larchmont, NY:  Eye on Education.  Amazon. Google Books.

Nouwen on Heidegger on Reflection


Henri Nouwen (1990):”Heidegger [1959] states that the greatest danger of our time is that the calculating way of thinking that is part of the technical revolution will become the dominating and exclusive way of thinking.  Why is this so dangerous?   Heidegger says, ‘Because then we would find, together with the highest and the most successful development of our thinking on the calculating level, an indifference toward reflection and a complete thoughtlessness…then humanity would have renounced and thrown away what is most its own, its ability to reflect.  What is at stake is to save the essence of humanity.  What is at stake is to keep alive our reflective thinking (das Nachdenken).’ “
Heidegger Which begs the question, are we as educators being thoughtless in our metric-centric, calculating, technologically-oriented approaches?  A good dose of reflection might do us and our classes some good.  Or put another way, if education is fundamentally humanizing, and reflection is an essential element of humanity, then education should be reflective.



Heidegger, M. (1959) Gelassenheit.  Pfüllingen: Verlag Günther Neske, 25.

Nouwen, H. (1990) The Road to Daybreak:  A Spiritual Journey.  Image. 133.

All Things Considered, no really ALL

The final paper in EDU6120 is due in 17 days.  Let’s review all that we have learned and read together and look for some common themes.

Week Author Key Themes
1 Lecture  
1 Ellis, “Teaching Decision Schumacher, E. F. () Small is beautiful.
The task of education would be first and foremost the transmission of ideas of value, of what to do with our lives.”

Why teach? 
Who teaches?

1 Whitehead, “Aims” We enunciate two educational commandments, “Do not teach too many subjects,” and again, “What you teach, teach thoroughly”.

Discovery has powerful role in education.

1 Lewis, “Tao” Certain common laws and duties have existed or developed in many separate world cultures.
1 RDS, “Sharing Fire” Storytellers and tribal elders have taught:
1. Pervasive spirituality
2. Environmental knowledge
3. Language and moral literature
4. Ceremony and celebration
5. Artistic expression
6. Cyclical time
7. Balanced innovation
1 Ellis & RDS, “Reflective Self-Assessment” Georghiades:  “metacognitive reflection involves the critical revisiting of the learning process”

Even the best activity, the most challenging lesson, will fall short of the mark if we do not give learners opportunities to personalize and capture what they learned.

2 Lecture  
2 Ellis, “Schooling and Education” the phrase “to get an education” is very different from the phrase “to go to school”


2 Plato, ”Breaking Chains” “Whereas our argument shows that the power and capacity of learning exists in the soul already; and that just as the eye was unable to turn from darkness to light without the whole body, so too the instrument of knowledge can only by the movement of the whole soul be turned from the world of becoming into that of being, and learn by degrees to endure the sight of being, and of brightest and best of being, or in other words, of the good.”
2 Aristotle, “Ethics”  
3 Lecture  
3 Ellis, “Nature of Profession” A survey of the teaching profession today:  types of experiences, job availability, salaries, types of schools, public opinion, legal issues, contracts,  professional associations, tenure, etc.
3 Solomon, Proverbs Solomon writes as a father to his son.  His advice is to do righteousness, justice, mercy, to love wisdom and to respect the Lord God.  He describes that as a life worth living.  In Ecclesiastes, he reminds the reader that existence is temporal, and even the noblest of pursuits does not mean that one will escape the final reckoning of God.
3 Jesus, Sermon on the Mount Jesus commends certain virtues in the Beatitudes that have challenged readers for centuries.  His words are revolutionary, but he upholds the spirit of the traditions as well as the letter (jot/tittle)  He proclaims a more excellent way that is counter-intuitive to the extreme, because that is what divine offspring do.
4 Lecture  
4 Ellis, “Educational Reform”  
4 Plutarch, “Education of Children” See Learning Illustrated- Plutarch
Reason, Learning and Nature must be balanced in successful education.  But, study of philosophy is best, especially when combined with politics.  Do not be harsh with children, but mix rebuke with praise.
4 Quintillion, “Institutes”  
5 Lecture  
5 Ellis, Philosophical Perspectives  
5 Luther, “Christian Schools”  
5 Comenius, “Great Didactic”  
6 Lecture  
6 Ellis, “Educational Challenges”  
6 Rousseau, “Emile”  
6 Herbart, “Aim of Instruction”  
7 Lecture RDS cancelled class on Mon 11/8/2010
7 Ellis, “Multicultural Education  
7 Mann, “On Education”  
7 B.T. Washington, “Atlanta Address” “There is no defense or security for any of us except in the highest intelligence and development of all.  If anywhere there are efforts tending to curtail the fullest growth of the Negro, let these efforts be turned into stimulating, encouraging, and making him the most useful and intelligent citizen.  Effort or means so invested will pay a thousand percent interest.  These efforts will be twice blessed—“blessing him that gives and him that takes.”

NOTE:  Washington was later criticized by some for his more moderate approach to reconciliation between the races.  W. E. B. DuBois later started calling this speech the “Atlanta Compromise”.

8 Lecture  
9 Lecture  
10 Lecture  

Defined: “All Things Considered”, A Reflective Assessment Strategy

Arthur Ellis (2001) views effective education as having three parts, teaching learning and assessment.  By assessment he means a technique of self-assessment whereby both student and teacher find meaning.  Through a process of reflective thinking, mere teaching becomes great teaching, since what we are learning must impact who we are becoming.  He describes that pursuit of meaning as being the central idea sometimes missed in all the activity that is modern education:

This is the essence of reflective thinking, a search for meaning.  Reflection involves stepping back from what you’re doing in order to achieve some measure of perspective. It means thinking, talking, and otherwise expressing your feelings, the things you’ve learned, the growth you’ve achieved, and the sense you have of accomplishing something. I am convinced that this is one of the greatest problems we face in classroom life.  The problem is, a failure to reflect.  The remedy is to take the time to do it in spite of the fact that you and your students won’t be able to “cover” as much. No amount of “fun” activities can make up for the loss that accompanies a failure to search for meaning.  (Ellis, 2001, p. 5)

In the intervening years since Teaching, learning and assessment, Ellis has been refining strategies that can help build more effective teachers and students through reflective thinking, what he calls the reflective classroom.  In particular, he has been tailoring the reflective assessment strategies for different grade levels and subject matter.  For example, in Ellis & Denton (2010) he describes 16 strategies for “Middle and High School Mathematics and Science.”

  1. I Learned
  2. Think Aloud
  3. The Week In Review
  4. Post It Up
  5. Jigsaw
  6. Key Area Identification
  7. Authentic Applications
  8. Parents on Board
  9. Search for Meaning
  10. I Can Teach
  11. Write It Down
  12. Learning Illustrated
  13. Clear and Unclear Windows
  14. Letting Questions Percolate
  15. Record Keeping
  16. Pyramid Discussion

As I get to apply some of these strategies in pursuit of the MAT, I would like to post a short description of each technique separately from the application of that technique to some coursework.  I will tag each post that intends to illustrate a given technique with the name of that technique; thus for this post “AllThingsConsidered” is the tag.  In particular, here is how Ellis (2001, pp. 115-117) describes that strategy.

The All Things Considered strategy asks students and teachers to take a few minutes at the end of the day, when the time comes in the afternoon that the day is a history that began that morning, to think back over the things that happened, and to see whether some of them might in some ways be related or connected, and if so, how they might be connected. This search for connections should cause students to focus on the essence of the activities and lessons in which they were engaged. It should bring about some sort of inquiry into what  the day at school was "all about.”

Initially, I am prone to think that there are a lot of similarities between the strategies, but that may be simply because they all have a metacognitive aspect, namely “what are you thinking about what you are thinking about”.  I am looking forward to trying out many of these techniques in the course of my study.


Ellis, A.K. (2001) Teaching learning and assessment together:  the reflective classroom.  Larchmont, NY:  Eye on Education.  Amazon. Google Books.

Ellis A.K., & Denton, D.W. (2010) Teaching, learning, and assessment together:  Reflective assessments for middle and high school mathematics and science.  Larchmont, NY:  Eye on Education.  Amazon. Google Books.

Ellis: Educational Challenges

Ellis (n.d.) describes the high calling in which educators find themselves .  I was intrigued to think about the contrast of education in a tribal, non-technological, knowledge-is-static society versus our current modern, fast-paced society.  Ultimately both societies ground their meaning from their shared past and traditions.  The challenge for the teacher in modern society is the increasing and sometimes conflicting demands being put on teachers.

From day-to-day, the teacher has information to impart, against a somewhat ominous background of standardized testing, or cynicism of colleagues.  However, the part that makes it the best use of my time, is the privilege and responsibility that educators have to shape society, one pupil at a time.  Ellis (n.d.) puts it this way:

The purpose of education, the role of the teacher, and society’s challenges all go hand in hand.  To be a teacher is to be a very important person in the process of human and social development.

That shaping of society is a common thread for educators between the tribal culture, and the modern age.  Both had to enculturate youth, both had to socialize youth.  This also means that the measure of success has been virtually the same from that age to this one, namely, do the pupils thus taught become engaged and productive partakers in their community life.

Ellis lists the functions of social education discussing the tensions that may arise between them.

  • transferring skills
  • transmitting values
  • preparation for vocation
  • caretaking of youth
  • peer group interactions

And finally, he discusses briefly the American Experiment, namely the duties and responsibilities of the teacher to relate founding principles of this country, and a notion of its exceptionalism.  That’s a loaded term, of course, but accurately encapsulates what it means to be American, out of the many cultures of the world that make us up, one, unique and different body.  That concept has given meaning to many before, and continues to inspire.


Ellis (n.d.) Educational Challenges.  retrieved from http://mountainlightschool.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/session-6-ellis-educational-challenges.pd

Defined: “Search For Meaning”, A Reflective Assessment Strategy

Ellis and Denton (2010, p. 67) describe a strategy for classroom reflection, entitled “Search for Meaning”.  They continue:

Meaning, when applied to school experience, especially academic experience, is an elusive quality.  The search for meaning in classroom experience represents one of the most purposeful but difficult quests for teachers and students.  Few pursuits have greater metacognitive potential.  Like most reflective strategies, the Search for Meaning must begin with oneself.  What meaning does the subject matter you are teaching have for you?  Is it required?  Something you mastered long ago and now are bored with?  Just a job to do?  Or do you truly believe that what you are teaching is vitally needed by your students?  You can’t wait to share it with them?  Do you believe that your own learning is extended through your teaching?  No school subject has meaning apart from a desire to teach and learn it.  It is the human connection that makes the difference.  This is exactly why we need you in the classroom and not someone who sees teaching as just a job, one that provides indoor work with no heavy lifting.  (Ellis & Denton, 2010, pp. 67-68)

Procedures and outcomes are then discussed that help students and teachers uncover deeper meaning in the topics being covered.  Some points for differentiating Search for Meaning for learners in science and mathematics are suggested, and a sample experiment is described with a mechanism for getting feedback on what meaning students may have extracted from the activity.

Finally, Bruner’s (1966) learning modes are detailed and contrasted with Gardner’s (2006)  theory of multiple intelligences.  The conclusion of which is that teachers should consider alternate approaches to presentation so as to maximize the meaning a learner takes from the material.


Bruner, J. (1966). Toward a theory of instruction. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Ellis, A.K., & Denton, D.W. (2010) Teaching, learning, and assessment together:  Reflective assessments for middle and high school mathematics and science.  Larchmont, NY:  Eye on Education.

Gardner, H. (2006). Multiple intelligences:  New horizons. New York, NY: Basic Books.

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