Thursday, June 19, 2008

Roberta Foizey in the teacher scholar role

I think the first step toward incorporating technology into my scholarship is to recognize all of the research I've never read and how available it is through electronic databases. I'm not proposing that I should exclude the printed word from my future endeavors, but I'm realizing I can inform my research through what feels like exponential avenues. My established practices of doing superficial searches in Academic Search Elite (at my home university) and ultimately sifting through page after page in the stacks has shifted (not a paradigm shift, mind you). Although at first overwhelming, the volume of research that can influence where I step is almost too exciting.

Beyond the influence others' research will have on me, I am looking forward to my voice in the mix. Obviously, I can't deny that every move I make in my own work will occur with the understanding that I'm standing on the shoulders of many. What I value in that is the idea that they, too, were being born by others, and their research was, in part, intended for a new rider.

In terms of how my role as teacher scholar will impact my coursework, even as early as this fall, is exciting, too. The first mini effort I'll undertake is finding a way to incorporate some piece of technology that the students already use for personal reasons, and ask them to use it for the coursework. Obviously this isn't defined fully yet, but I can imagine a different classroom that was up to this point "technology free," and finding ways to help students use a variety of new (to me) methods to support their work.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dissertation (Pre-Thoughts...)

Of some things I'm sure (or fairly so): I want to follow through with an idea that speaks to formal writing (traditions) coupled with new media writing methods (blogs, text-messaging, email, wikis, etc.) and discovering ways to make the new reinforce the old. My reality is that traditional-aged students must learn the conventions (we haven't moved that far from the prescriptive product just yet) and that I, as an educator, must find ways to help them do that. Well, why not tap into tools that they already know how to use to make that happen?

More later...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Roberta's Idea's About Literacy

Having a more expansive view of literacy is where I find myself after reading Smith, Ohm, etc. Expansive in the sense that literacy is still "reading and writing," but now, like with any examination of literature, my ability to read and write well depends on context. That is, in order for me to be "literate," it makes sense for me to consider, like Gee's thoughts on primary and secondary discourses, where I am, what context my reading and writing occurs, and how best to read and write within those constraints.

An example of this comes from an experience I had last term with one of my students. This was a second semester, adult freshman who was a productive member of her world: she had a job; she had children; she drove a car. These are not intended to be the only criteria for being productive, but I think you get the picture. She landed in my English class, and we discovered immediately that she had major reading comprehension issues and, as for writing, she lacked even the most basic mechanical skills. It was clear when she spoke, however, that she understood and could analyze the material if it was presented to her orally. As a result of this revelation, she dropped my class and enrolled in some community "literacy" courses. At that time, I was sure she would be seeking help with reading (first) and writing (second). After reconsidering how I define literacy, I've come to think that this student was illiterate by Gee's definition; that is, she was unable to control secondary discourses (the college classroom), but she was fully capable of managing her primary and dominant secondary discourses.

After working on my doctorate for a little under two weeks, the previous paragraphs remind me of an experience I had as an undergrad: I audited a Theories of Personality class at another university. The professor constructed the course in a curious way: he presented Freud's theories first and, as a group, we were convinced that we all were Freudians at the end of the unit. Soon after, we finished a unit on Jung, and we were all Jungians. This leads me to believe that I might have an even more expansive view of literacy when I study more theories and sort them. Perhaps, too, I'll develop my own original theories on literacy (which is my goal, right?).

Monday, June 9, 2008

IUP Student Experience

Coming to IUP from a small liberal arts university has been a bit of an adjustment. Finding buildings, for example, is a skill I lived without until June 1. The Co-Op, too, is an actual retail establishment, compared to the small, four-walled cubby where two types of t-shirts and a mug constitute the "merchandise" section of the store.

Beyond the spacial experiences, I'm developing a deep, however affectionate, resentment for my fellow students who stay near IUP. The idea that they can walk home after a day of "isms" and has created such an enormous level of envy in me that I nearly sobbed when Jessica offered to let me study at her place during the week. I'm being extra nice to Jessica so that she won't rescind the offer ;-). Aside from the overall resentment/envy thing, I like this group of students and faculty. I like the ideas that seem to flow easily from these rooms.

The other major impact being a student at IUP is having on me surrounds the issue of my family. My husband, three sons and I are still working out the kinks related to this level of commitment; that is, it's been a while since I had to bar the door of my room (part time bedroom, part time office) from the natural noises of an autistic household. For us, unpredictable screaming or loud echoing of Disney film dialogue is the norm. My youngest son is the one with the neurological disorder, but we've all been so deeply shaped by this that it's a fair statement to call us an "autistic" family. And although disability reigns over the house, a close second on the insanity scale is teenage life (including smells that are often unidentifiable). Since last Monday, all of our heads are reeling from the major adjustment of having a member of our world in a doctoral program while laundry still needs to be done (remember the smells?), kids still need to go wherever kids go (by car, these days) and so on. Bret (my husband) and I will work it out (we've managed worse).