ED 100 Introduction to Education


Dr. Mark Girod

Office: ED 203
Email: girodm@wou.edu
Office Phone: 503-838-8518

Course Catalogue Description:

Introduction to the historical, cultural, and philosophical foundations of our system of American public education. Students will reflect upon and critique their own educational experiences and articulate their own beliefs and values about teaching, learning, and schooling. Students will also examine current and historical roles, expectations, stereotypes, and characterizations that define teaching as a profession.

Course introduction:

This course is organized around several questions - or sets of questions - about teaching, learning, and schooling. Together, these sets of questions will lead us through an analysis of what's going on in schools and classrooms today and how teachers should behave to maximize student learning. As you may guess, these are not simple questions or issues and... what makes it more difficult... is that there is enormous disagreement about the answers to these questions! Our course has six units and the units and their corresponding question sets include:

Course Structure:

There are six units in the course so the idea is to complete one unit each week of the 6-week summer session. Each unit is fully accessible from the first day of class so please do not fall behind as the work will stack up quickly! If you complete a unit a week... you'll be fine and will find that your assignment due dates and content covered match. In other words, if you don't progress through the units you will find yourself ill-prepared to complete your assignments - not having read the necessary material and wrestled with the appropriate ideas. Due dates and a suggested pacing guide showing when you should have each of the units completed can be found at the calendar page.

Units are made up of readings, mainly educational articles, along with other resources, including websites, presentations, and videos. Students should take the time to read or watch all of the resources of a unit, using the guiding questions to shape but not limit their study. The entire course is located at the website... and you only need to link to Moodle for discussions. In fact, I have stripped down all the Moodle bells and whistles so it is just discussion forums.

Unit Discussions:

One of the major activities for our course will be to read, study, and investigate independently using the resources I have provided. To assist you, I also provide two question sets for each of the 6 units. So as you read and explore the resources, be thinking about the ideas and issues in the question sets. You need to respond with one thoughtful, extended answer (about 200 words) to each of the two question sets... in each of the unit forums. And... then you need to respond to at least two of your classmates in each question set as well. So... follow me now... for unit 1 there will be two question sets. You need to respond with a 200 word answer to each question set... then probably come back a couple days later and respond to at least two of your classmates 200-word posts... got it? So for each unit you could get away with only posting 6 times... but you can certainly post more! So the bare minimum acceptable level of online participation is to post 6 times in each of the 6 unit forums... for a total of 36 posts... not bad.

Now... if you've never taken an online course before... there are plenty of ways to cut corners. Don't do it though... you want to teach my children... and I want you to be the very best teacher you can be! I've given you lots of great materials here and I'm counting on you to read thoroughly, think deeply, ask good questions, challenge your classmates and your own thinking... and learn as much as you can!

A word about online interactions... be careful in how you talk to each other in Moodle forums. You can offend somebody easily when you are talking online so though it is ok to push your classmates' thinking... always do so politely and respectfully!

In addition to weekly Moodle forums, I also like to send out weekly emails to the whole class... to check in, to point out new ideas or resources, and to otherwise make sure things are moving along ok. If you are not getting these weekly emails - including an opening email that will be sent on Monday, June 25th - then send me an email right away to make sure you are on my email list! Send to: girodm@wou.edu

Major Course Assignments:

There are three major assignments in this course. Each are described below - due dates are in red!

Education in the News assignment

Part of becoming a professional educator is reading and seeking out new information in an effort to get smarter and become more aware of what's going on in the field of education. To facilitate this, you will locate three news articles that have to do with teaching, learning, schooling, kids, adolescents... anything relevant to the field of education. Your job is to read the article, offer some thoughts on the major issues being discussed, and suggest why this content is important to your classmates. You should be writing about 1-page here... 200-250 words... and... include a link to the article! This is a non-negotiable - you must have a link so others can learn what you learned!

So... to structure this a bit... you will be asked to post one Education in the News article in weeks 1-2, one article in weeks 3-4, and one article in weeks 5-6. In addition, you are required to make comments on at least two others' articles for each of the three posts. So... during weeks 1-2... you would post your article with a nice 200 word commentary. Then you would post comments - thoughtful responses - to at least two of your classmates posts. So for the full Education in the News assignment... you need to make 9 total posts and include your reviews of three articles. Before you send me questions about this... go see how the Moodle forum is structured and I think you'll get it!

*Due dates for these are: 1st article posted by Tuesday, July 10th, 2nd article posted by Tuesday, July 24th, and 3rd article posted by Sunday, August 5th.

Optional assignment (not optional in that you can choose not to do it... optionally in that you get to pick which one you want to do!)

Option 1: Interview a Teacher

Interview a teacher and write a 3-page review of what you learned. The way to proceed is to come up with a list of about 6-8 open-ended questions that will get the teacher to talk about the kinds of things you want to know about. For example, you might consider learning about curriculum by asking your teacher: "So... Mr. or Mrs So-and-so, how do you decide what to teach in your class?" This will get them talking about all sorts of things and then you can just take good notes - or even record the interview! When you are done, write a 3-page analysis talking about what you learned about the processes of teaching, learning, and schooling in general. Don't tell me what your teacher does or says... telll me what you learned about these things! That's what I care about... your learning!

Ask important questions and follow-up with additional questions that dig at an essential issue or two. Avoid asking a series of disconnected questions that don't lead anywhere or give you important insight. In your paper, try to make connections between what your teacher is saying and what you are learning in this class.

Option 2: Movie Review

There are many great movies out there that deal with issues of teaching, learning, and schooling. Pick one and write a 3-page essay that highlihgts one or two critical issues. For example, you could watch the movie Dead Poet Society and discuss how Mr. Keating encouraged his students to think and live differently and the consequences of these actions on both students and teacher were enormous. Your essay should include discussion of important ideas as well as what you think about these issues - don't neglect to say how the ideas help you think differently about teaching, learning, and schooling. In other words, discuss some ideas from the movie but then discuss how these ideas affected you and your future as a teacher. Consider one of these movies or many others out there. If you're going to do this assignment, please let Mark know which movie you will be watching by sending him an email at: girodm@wou.edu

Option 3: Oral History

Current rhetoric in the media suggests that schools are in dire need of repair - that kids are lazy and unintelligent, teachers and unprofessional and poorly education, and that a return to "the good old days" would be beneficial. I'm not convinced. Your task for this assignment is to interview somebody that's at least 70 years old about their schooling experiences. Ask them all the appropriate nuts and bolts kinds of questions - where they went to school, what they liked or disliked about school... and so on. But then ask them some hard questions that relate to the kinds of questions that this class is focused on. Consider: What did great teaching look like when you were in school? What did good teachers do? What did bad teachers do? Ask them if there were differences in how rich kids and poor kids were educated? Ask them if there were differences in how white kids and non-white kids were educated? How about kids with disabilities? What kids of supports existed for kids who didn't learn as quickly as others? What kinds of discipline existed in schools? What messages were sent to kids about success, working hard, and getting a job? What do they believe school prepared them for? And do they think all kids in school would have answered that question the same? Dig at their experiences a bit.

Then, your job is to write a 3-page paper summarizing what you learned and how you think differently as a result of this conversation. Don't tell me where they went to school and stuff like that... that's giving a report. Tell me what you learned about schooling, teaching, and the history of education... that's what I care about... your learning as a result of this conversation.

*Your optional assignment is due to Mark via email by midnight on Sunday, July 22nd.

Big Ideas assignment

This assignment is really rooted in the ideas of units 5 and 6. Don't try to do anything with this assignment until you work through these units. The hope is that through our study of motivation, engagement, John Dewey, and powerful experiences you'll be ready to challenge yourself to design a lesson to help teach big ideas through transformative, aesthetic experiences. Your first task will be to identify a big idea in some content that you might teach in the future. Make no mistake, this is the hardest part of this assignment and you should spend considerable time and energy working on this first step. If nothing comes to you right away, have a conversation with Mark via email.

Then your job is to write a 3-page narrative describing each of the following components:

Part I: Idea - what's your big idea?

Select content that is fundamentally powerful. This is one of the hardest things to do in teaching a big ideas lesson. Mull over carefully what are the important and powerful content ideas that exist in your area. Remember to make a distinction between ideas (causes re-seeing) and concepts (bold-faced words). Also, keep in mind that ideas will lead to bold-faced words and conceptual understandings... but that isn't where inspirational teachers begin.

Part II: Metaphor/analogy/story - how will you help people get their heads around it?

One of the best ways to introduce a big idea is to use a metaphor. Metaphors seem to allow us to make connections between disparate things in ways that few other tools allow. Design a metaphor (simile, analogy, or even a story) that connect learners with your powerful idea and illustrates its power in ways that blow minds. If a metaphor doesn't work for you... consider some of these other suggestions:

Part III: World - what do you want people to see differently?

Model how the idea changes your world and encourage and reward your learners for acting and being different in the world - on fire with the idea you've shared. In the process, model the transformative power of the idea for your students. Help your students to see through your eyes - eyes that see differently through your big idea! Set the bar high for yourself and your learners. Yes, your students should learn something important about the world... but they should also learn something about themselves and be more alive (aware, interested, happy, sad, mad...) because of your idea! The hope is that you will literally play with these ideas and see if they might buy you anything useful as a teacher.

Think of this assignment as a thought experiment... encouraging you to think differently about teaching and learning. I want you to think about how to blow students' minds by engaging them intellectually and emotionally... by teaching them new ways to see the world... through powerful ideas... that was John Dewey's vision. See if you can do it!

*Your big ideas assignment is due to Mark via email by midnight on Sunday, August 5th.

Assignment Weights:

I will assign grades based on the following formula - but again, keep the emphasis on learning!