Monday, December 30, 2013

Winter and writing

It is a frigid night tonight in NW Wisconsin, -9 degrees Fahrenheit!  We are once again in a stubborn arctic air high pressure system. For me this means being very productive with indoor activities... 
We have over 25 inches of snow!
My writing desk at our cabin.

I am finally making some headway in getting published, which is very exciting. One article will appear in Science and Children sometime in the near future. This is an article I wrote about pollinators, specifically bees,  with a couple of teachers and an entomologist. I was the main writer and editor, but I gave first author rights to the two teachers who designed a unit about bees that was the inspiration for the article. With pollinators increasingly in the news, this is a timely article. I am guessing it will be out in late spring.

The second article is one that was part of my original dissertation research. It is a case study about a 7th grade student who chose the name of Wizard as his pseudonym. Wizard was identified with learning and behavioral challenges at a young age. In elementary school he was enrolled mainly in special education classes, so a 7th grade inclusive science classroom was a great place to understand his experiences in learning. The paper that is now in “production” had many iterations over the years. Last summer, I finally landed on an appropriate and relevant theoretical lens of disability studies in education to analyze and synthesize the data. I rewatched all the video tapes last summer, too. This time I used a Classroom Observation Protocol called CETP-COP to help me understand the learning environment across 5 minute intervals. This paper represents such a huge chunk of my life, professionally. Here is the abstract:

This case study reports on a special education student in an inclusive seventh grade life science classroom using a framework of disability studies in education. Classroom data collected over 13 weeks consisted of both qualitative (student and classroom observations, interviews, student work samples) and quantitative methods (video-taped classroom teaching and learning record using CETP-COP). Three key findings emerged in the analysis and synthesis of the data: 1) the experiences in learning science for Wizard are in a position of disability or service 2) the outcomes of learning are fragmented as a result of vulnerable and weak disciplinary literacy, 3) the nature of the inclusion is fragile and functional. Implications for classroom practices that support students with learning disabilities include focusing on student strengths, intentional use of disciplinary literacy strategies, and opportunities for eliciting student voice in decision making. 

It sounds trite to say that I learned  a great deal from Wizard, but I did. Each semester I bring him (figuratively speaking) into my teaching with my teacher candidates. I use his voice to push my students to think more about inclusion with the hardest to reach students. What I learned from Wizard has contributed to my own growth as a teacher educator in ways that I could never have imagined. His story is one that should be shared. I am very excited that it will finally get the press it deserves.

January Term is just about upon me. I have a few more hours of grading to do, and then all of my responsibilities for Fall semester will be complete. I am looking forward to the next 5 weeks of respite from my teaching so that I can more fully concentrate on my scholarship. I have another 4 articles that I am working on. One more for Science and Children, one on disciplinary literacy, a resubmit of  research of my summer work at the U of MN about a professional development program using scientific inquiry and a resubmit of a descriptive inquiry paper that I wrote with some of my students.

Besides all of the Writing, I am also hoping to catch up on at least 15 weeks of the New Yorker and read two books and see a bunch of movies. Love January term! TTFN, Michele