Contexts of Teaching : Methods for Middle and High School Instruction / Edition 1

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Overview

Designed for use in middle and secondary methods courses, Contexts of Teaching takes an inquiry-based approach that emphasizes reflective practice and culturally sensitive teaching.

This text features:

  • Personal biographies an case studies that model reflective teaching
  • Reader activities ("In the Field," "Theory into Practice," "Consulting Other Sources," and "What Would You Do?") that provide applications for chapter content
  • "Building Your Biography," "Developing Your Personal Practical Philosophy," and "Collecting Artifacts for Your Portfolio" that encourage professional development
  • An emphasis throughout the text on multiculturalism and diversity
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780135981115
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 7/13/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 398
  • Sales rank: 1,226,432
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Read an Excerpt

PREFACE GENERAL DESCRIPTION

Contexts of Teaching: Methods for Middle and High School Instruction represents a break from the majority of general methods books now available for undergraduate and graduate courses in teacher education. In our experiences as teacher educators, we have grown increasingly uncomfortable with texts that describe teaching in abstract terms and in an impersonal voice. We have come to believe that a credible depiction of teaching must include descriptions of the professional daily work of contemporary teachers, and that lists of general principles of teaching followed by recipes on how to implement particular teaching practices are less and less useful in today's diverse middle- and high-school classrooms.

We suspect that the generic, distant style of many educational textbooks contributes to prospective teachers' perceptions of a gulf separating theory from practice and university coursework from the "real life" of schools. As the title suggests, this book provides the reader with a realistic portrayal of public schools, teachers, and learners in context. We address topics traditionally covered in general methods courses (e.g., classroom management, planning for instruction), cover current issues in middle and high schools (e.g., standards, assessment, interdisciplinary teaming), and integrate some topics which, though often dealt with in separate courses in teacher education curricula, are crucial to a discussion of general teaching methods (e.g., cultural diversity, gender, adolescent culture). Whenever possible, we contextualize topics in the experiences of real teachers and students we know and have known.

Contexts of Teaching is also unique because we contextualize ourselves for the reader. Often, textbooks leave readers wondering, "Did a human being actually write this book?" As a team of authors, we agree that it is critical for readers of this book to be able to answer that question. Therefore, throughout this book we tell stories of our own experiences as students, as teachers in public schools, and as teacher educators, and describe how these experiences have shaped our teaching perspectives and philosophies. We begin each chapter with personal narratives that illustrate how our own successes and failures have helped us to grow and become who we are today as teachers and researchers. In sharing our autobiographies, we risk being accused of "tooting our own horns." But that is not our intent. Our goal is to connect with readers on a personal level and to model the process of reflection that is critical to one's development as a teacher.

This book is multicultural, but not in the traditional sense. We do not present a chapter on the disadvantaged or at-risk learner. Rather, we treat human diversity as an intellectual concept—not as a political imperative. We present the reader with an inclusive definition of multicultural education and infuse this concept throughout the text. The examples we use in the text—schools, classrooms, and students—convey to the reader that (1) issues and problems when viewed analytically may be described culturally; (2) learners, teachers, and administrators are culturally diverse; (3) there is a need for instruction that provides students with national and multiple perspectives on issues and problems that impact our lives; and (4) the educational community can better address the needs of minorities and other groups who traditionally have not performed well in schools.

Throughout the book, we fuse theory with practice. We consistently refer to our own experiences: teaching, researching in middle and secondary schools, and working with professional organizations. Our intent is to demonstrate to prospective teachers the value of integrating university learning with field experiences. In reading the chapters and working through the Reader Activities, prospective teachers are introduced to the interrelationship between research and practice and learn to value this partnership. More important, prospective teachers have the opportunity to conduct research themselves and to identify its role in helping teachers become more effective in the classroom.

Finally, we stress the human dimension in teaching. In the first part of the book we describe our teaching perspectives, contemporary teenage life in and out of the classroom, and the lives of teachers. Throughout the text we provide realistic examples that address issues relating to culture, color, gender, and socioeconomic status as essential to understanding human behavior and identity. All too frequently, culture, color, gender, socioeconomic status, and exceptionalities are described as factors that impede student school success—if they are described at all. We examine these characteristics as they play themselves out in schools. We believe strongly that prospective teachers should learn about teaching in context with the players involved in the teaching/learning transaction: teachers, students, administrators, and other members of the educational community.

Rationale

As a team of authors, the three of us have accumulated years of experience with middle- and high-school students and teachers, public schools, and institutions involved in teacher preparation. Each of us has enrolled in and successfully completed one or more methods courses, has been a public school teacher, has taught methods courses, and has reviewed more than a few methods textbooks. Our cultural and educational backgrounds are diverse. Presently, one of us (Jesus) teaches a field-based general methods course; another (Liz) has recently completed a four-year stint at a professional organization creating standards and developing alternative assessments as a means of improving and evaluating student learning; and the third (Richard) is conducting teacher education research in the area of multicultural education. Kevin Leander, the author of Chapter Eight, " Teaching with Technology," is also an experienced classroom teacher who is now an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University.

At Indiana University, where we met, a common topic of discussion was "finding a good methods textbook." Our experiences at Texas A & M, Indiana, Nevada-Las Vegas, Illinois, Kentucky, and Texas Tech Universities suggest that prospective teachers express less interest in their education textbooks when these texts do not contain discussions of real schools or of schools like those they attended. Not surprisingly, they may jump to the conclusion that there is little relationship between book learning and what is occurring in schools or, worse, come to believe that one becomes a teacher by sheer trial and error.

In summary, we wrote Contexts of Teaching because we wished to create a textbook prospective teachers would find engaging, intellectually stimulating, and relevant. At the same time, our intent has been to contextualize and personalize the valuable information presented in many general methods books in order to produce a general methods textbook that equips prospective teachers with the core knowledge they need to succeed in middle and high schools.

Organization

In Part One, "Personal Contexts of Teaching," we begin by describing ourselves to the reader and explaining why we decided to write a methods textbook. We move from our own biographies and teaching perspectives to the more general topic of becoming a teacher in a pluralistic society. We then adopt a wide angle lens to give a broad overview of the movement toward multicultural education that gained momentum in the last half of the twentieth century. Next, we focus on students—the context that matters most to teachers. Most important, in Chapter One we introduce readers to a course-long project of constructing a teaching/learning biography, a personal practical philosophy of teaching, and, ultimately, a portfolio that demonstrates their learning and growth in the class. We conclude this part of the book by suggesting that a working definition of teaching and basic knowledge of the worlds of teachers and adolescents are prerequisites for pursuing a career in middle- and high-school teaching. Part One provides the context for the other topics and issues that follow.

In Part Two, "Classroom Contexts of Teaching," we begin with the topic of classroom management—the overwhelming concern of prospective teachers. After describing traditional models of managing students in middle- and high-school classrooms, we suggest a model that focuses on democratizing learning in multicultural environments. We then address the components of teaching: middle- and high-school curricula, planning, instructional materials, integration of technology in instruction, strategies and methods of implementing instruction, and methods of assessing student learning. Interwoven in each chapter are the authors' own stories of their experiences with the topic(s) and descriptions of the practices of beginning and experienced teachers. Because we believe the manner in which students are instructed and learn in public schools will change in the twenty-first century, we advance the model of democratizing the teaching/learning act. That is, we suggest to prospective teachers that they provide students with opportunities to play a role in what they learn, how they learn, and how they are assessed.

A major theme of this part of the book is that engagement with the content presented in Part One is prerequisite to an explanation of questions relating to curricular materials, the use of technology in the classroom, and evaluation. That is, planning for instruction requires more than a superficial knowledge of students. Moreover, when planning for instruction is described in the context of teaching and learning in a democratic environment, the prospective teacher is able to provide reasoned responses to questions related to the selection of instructional materials and educational assessment/ evaluation. Similarly, issues related to classroom management are best described in this same context. We believe the topics covered in the first two parts of this book represent core knowledge for effective middle- and high-school instruction.

In the last part of the text, "Professional Contexts of Teaching," we call on the reader to reflect further on a career in middle- and high-school teaching. The first two parts of the text equip the reader with the essential knowledge to begin a teaching career, but moving beyond readiness is a life-long process requiring further reflection on previously covered topics and an introduction to others. In Part Three, we ask the reader to consider the community as a context for teaching, and to reflect again on the value of teaching, on methodology, on the nature of adolescence, and, finally, on what it means to embark on a career in education. Prospective teachers who have a basic understanding of the information presented in the first two parts of the text are more likely to view their responses to the questions raised in the final part as the first step to becoming outstanding teachers.

Special Features

Our approach personalizes general methods. In Chapter One, "Exploring Biography and Teaching Perspectives: Personal Narratives," we begin by sharing our teaching/learning biographies and educational philosophies. Each succeeding chapter begins with a short narrative by the author that connects to the chapter topic and invites readers to explore their own life histories. We have personalized the content further by including the experiences of student teachers, novice teachers, and experienced teachers. We include vignettes of a variety of teachers in a variety of settings to highlight particular issues and problems in middle- and high-school teaching.

A second special feature of the book is the Reader Activities interspersed throughout all chapters except Chapters One and Thirteen. We suggest four different kinds of activities: "In the Field" (mini-research projects requiring interviews and observations); "Theory into Practice" (practical applications of topics discussed, such as planning a unit and designing assessments); "Consulting Other Sources" (consulting other written and electronic texts to gain multiple perspectives on topics and issues); and "What Would You Do?" (critical incidents and case studies centering upon important topics and issues). These activities provide multiple entry points for readers to engage with the content. Not all four types of activities are offered in every chapter, but in every chapter there are several activities from which readers can choose. By giving readers a choice of activities, we recognize the diversity among our readers and their learning styles.

A third special feature appears at the end of each chapter, "Building Your Biography, Your Personal Practical Philosophy, and Portfolio." Just as we begin with ourselves, we invite readers to begin with themselves and to construct their own biographies, chapter by chapter. Secondly, we invite readers to draft portions of a personal practical philosophy of teaching as they work through the issues discussed and implied in the book. Third, we ask readers to collect the chapter Reader Activities they complete, reflect on their learning from completing these activities, and select some for possible inclusion in a course portfolio. Finally, we suggest that the biography, personal practical philosophy, and selected artifacts form the foundation of a culminating course portfolio.

The sequencing of the chapters allows readers to build on each succeeding chapter and on the Reader Activities. While each of us writes with a distinctive voice and style, we believe that common themes recur throughout the book. We repeatedly cross-reference one another's narratives, examples, and themes. By maintaining our own identities as we have collaborated on the writing of this book, we hope we have presented a unique but coherent and cohesive portrait of teaching middle- and high-school students today.

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank the many individuals who contributed to the successful completion of this project: our families and friends who have listened to us patiently for several years; our students and colleagues who gave us valuable feedback on drafts; and the classroom teachers who agreed to share their stories with us.

We are grateful to the professionals at Merrill/ Prentice-Hall whose advice and support have been invaluable: Debbie Stollenwerk, our senior editor; Gianna Marsella, our developmental editor; and others who have been involved along the way in the development of this book. We would also like to thank our project director at Carlisle Publishing, Mary Jo Graham, for her efficient processing of the manuscript and our copy editor, Susan M. Dolter, for her insightful and critical reading of the text.

Finally, we owe a great deal to the reviewers who have contributed so much to this book's final shape. They are: Janet E. Boyle, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis; Leigh Chiarelott, Bowling Green State University; James Dick, University of Nebraska at Omaha; Fred H. Groves, Northeast Louisiana University; Janet Handler, Mount Mercy College; Barbara Kacer, Western Kentucky University; Cynthia G. Kruger, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth; and Allen Larson, Indiana Wesleyan University.

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Table of Contents

I. PERSONAL CONTEXTS OF TEACHING.

1. Exploring Biography and Teaching Perspectives: Personal Narratives.

2. Understanding Multiculturalism.

3. Knowing Middle and High School Students.

II. CLASSROOM CONTEXTS OF TEACHING.

4. Rethinking Classroom Management.

5. Considering Curriculum for Middle and High School Students.

6. Planning for Middle and High School Instruction.

7. Selecting Instructional Materials.

8. Teaching with Technology.

9. Implementing Instruction: Strategies and Methods.

10. Assessing Student Learning.

III. PROFESSIONAL CONTEXTS OF TEACHING.

11. Understanding the Role of Community.

12. Making a Difference in Today's Classrooms.

13. Reflecting for Professional Renewal.

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Preface

PREFACE

GENERAL DESCRIPTION

Contexts of Teaching: Methods for Middle and High School Instruction represents a break from the majority of general methods books now available for undergraduate and graduate courses in teacher education. In our experiences as teacher educators, we have grown increasingly uncomfortable with texts that describe teaching in abstract terms and in an impersonal voice. We have come to believe that a credible depiction of teaching must include descriptions of the professional daily work of contemporary teachers, and that lists of general principles of teaching followed by recipes on how to implement particular teaching practices are less and less useful in today's diverse middle- and high-school classrooms.

We suspect that the generic, distant style of many educational textbooks contributes to prospective teachers' perceptions of a gulf separating theory from practice and university coursework from the "real life" of schools. As the title suggests, this book provides the reader with a realistic portrayal of public schools, teachers, and learners in context. We address topics traditionally covered in general methods courses (e.g., classroom management, planning for instruction), cover current issues in middle and high schools (e.g., standards, assessment, interdisciplinary teaming), and integrate some topics which, though often dealt with in separate courses in teacher education curricula, are crucial to a discussion of general teaching methods (e.g., cultural diversity, gender, adolescent culture). Whenever possible, we contextualize topics in the experiences of real teachers and students we know and have known.

Contexts of Teaching is also unique because we contextualize ourselves for the reader. Often, textbooks leave readers wondering, "Did a human being actually write this book?" As a team of authors, we agree that it is critical for readers of this book to be able to answer that question. Therefore, throughout this book we tell stories of our own experiences as students, as teachers in public schools, and as teacher educators, and describe how these experiences have shaped our teaching perspectives and philosophies. We begin each chapter with personal narratives that illustrate how our own successes and failures have helped us to grow and become who we are today as teachers and researchers. In sharing our autobiographies, we risk being accused of "tooting our own horns." But that is not our intent. Our goal is to connect with readers on a personal level and to model the process of reflection that is critical to one's development as a teacher.

This book is multicultural, but not in the traditional sense. We do not present a chapter on the disadvantaged or at-risk learner. Rather, we treat human diversity as an intellectual concept—not as a political imperative. We present the reader with an inclusive definition of multicultural education and infuse this concept throughout the text. The examples we use in the text—schools, classrooms, and students—convey to the reader that (1) issues and problems when viewed analytically may be described culturally; (2) learners, teachers, and administrators are culturally diverse; (3) there is a need for instruction that provides students with national and multiple perspectives on issues and problems that impact our lives; and (4) the educational community can better address the needs of minorities and other groups who traditionally have not performed well in schools.

Throughout the book, we fuse theory with practice. We consistently refer to our own experiences: teaching, researching in middle and secondary schools, and working with professional organizations. Our intent is to demonstrate to prospective teachers the value of integrating university learning with field experiences. In reading the chapters and working through the Reader Activities, prospective teachers are introduced to the interrelationship between research and practice and learn to value this partnership. More important, prospective teachers have the opportunity to conduct research themselves and to identify its role in helping teachers become more effective in the classroom.

Finally, we stress the human dimension in teaching. In the first part of the book we describe our teaching perspectives, contemporary teenage life in and out of the classroom, and the lives of teachers. Throughout the text we provide realistic examples that address issues relating to culture, color, gender, and socioeconomic status as essential to understanding human behavior and identity. All too frequently, culture, color, gender, socioeconomic status, and exceptionalities are described as factors that impede student school success—if they are described at all. We examine these characteristics as they play themselves out in schools. We believe strongly that prospective teachers should learn about teaching in context with the players involved in the teaching/learning transaction: teachers, students, administrators, and other members of the educational community.

Rationale

As a team of authors, the three of us have accumulated years of experience with middle- and high-school students and teachers, public schools, and institutions involved in teacher preparation. Each of us has enrolled in and successfully completed one or more methods courses, has been a public school teacher, has taught methods courses, and has reviewed more than a few methods textbooks. Our cultural and educational backgrounds are diverse. Presently, one of us (Jesus) teaches a field-based general methods course; another (Liz) has recently completed a four-year stint at a professional organization creating standards and developing alternative assessments as a means of improving and evaluating student learning; and the third (Richard) is conducting teacher education research in the area of multicultural education. Kevin Leander, the author of Chapter Eight, " Teaching with Technology," is also an experienced classroom teacher who is now an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University.

At Indiana University, where we met, a common topic of discussion was "finding a good methods textbook." Our experiences at Texas A & M, Indiana, Nevada-Las Vegas, Illinois, Kentucky, and Texas Tech Universities suggest that prospective teachers express less interest in their education textbooks when these texts do not contain discussions of real schools or of schools like those they attended. Not surprisingly, they may jump to the conclusion that there is little relationship between book learning and what is occurring in schools or, worse, come to believe that one becomes a teacher by sheer trial and error.

In summary, we wrote Contexts of Teaching because we wished to create a textbook prospective teachers would find engaging, intellectually stimulating, and relevant. At the same time, our intent has been to contextualize and personalize the valuable information presented in many general methods books in order to produce a general methods textbook that equips prospective teachers with the core knowledge they need to succeed in middle and high schools.

Organization

In Part One, "Personal Contexts of Teaching," we begin by describing ourselves to the reader and explaining why we decided to write a methods textbook. We move from our own biographies and teaching perspectives to the more general topic of becoming a teacher in a pluralistic society. We then adopt a wide angle lens to give a broad overview of the movement toward multicultural education that gained momentum in the last half of the twentieth century. Next, we focus on students—the context that matters most to teachers. Most important, in Chapter One we introduce readers to a course-long project of constructing a teaching/learning biography, a personal practical philosophy of teaching, and, ultimately, a portfolio that demonstrates their learning and growth in the class. We conclude this part of the book by suggesting that a working definition of teaching and basic knowledge of the worlds of teachers and adolescents are prerequisites for pursuing a career in middle- and high-school teaching. Part One provides the context for the other topics and issues that follow.

In Part Two, "Classroom Contexts of Teaching," we begin with the topic of classroom management—the overwhelming concern of prospective teachers. After describing traditional models of managing students in middle- and high-school classrooms, we suggest a model that focuses on democratizing learning in multicultural environments. We then address the components of teaching: middle- and high-school curricula, planning, instructional materials, integration of technology in instruction, strategies and methods of implementing instruction, and methods of assessing student learning. Interwoven in each chapter are the authors' own stories of their experiences with the topic(s) and descriptions of the practices of beginning and experienced teachers. Because we believe the manner in which students are instructed and learn in public schools will change in the twenty-first century, we advance the model of democratizing the teaching/learning act. That is, we suggest to prospective teachers that they provide students with opportunities to play a role in what they learn, how they learn, and how they are assessed.

A major theme of this part of the book is that engagement with the content presented in Part One is prerequisite to an explanation of questions relating to curricular materials, the use of technology in the classroom, and evaluation. That is, planning for instruction requires more than a superficial knowledge of students. Moreover, when planning for instruction is described in the context of teaching and learning in a democratic environment, the prospective teacher is able to provide reasoned responses to questions related to the selection of instructional materials and educational assessment/ evaluation. Similarly, issues related to classroom management are best described in this same context. We believe the topics covered in the first two parts of this book represent core knowledge for effective middle- and high-school instruction.

In the last part of the text, "Professional Contexts of Teaching," we call on the reader to reflect further on a career in middle- and high-school teaching. The first two parts of the text equip the reader with the essential knowledge to begin a teaching career, but moving beyond readiness is a life-long process requiring further reflection on previously covered topics and an introduction to others. In Part Three, we ask the reader to consider the community as a context for teaching, and to reflect again on the value of teaching, on methodology, on the nature of adolescence, and, finally, on what it means to embark on a career in education. Prospective teachers who have a basic understanding of the information presented in the first two parts of the text are more likely to view their responses to the questions raised in the final part as the first step to becoming outstanding teachers.

Special Features

Our approach personalizes general methods. In Chapter One, "Exploring Biography and Teaching Perspectives: Personal Narratives," we begin by sharing our teaching/learning biographies and educational philosophies. Each succeeding chapter begins with a short narrative by the author that connects to the chapter topic and invites readers to explore their own life histories. We have personalized the content further by including the experiences of student teachers, novice teachers, and experienced teachers. We include vignettes of a variety of teachers in a variety of settings to highlight particular issues and problems in middle- and high-school teaching.

A second special feature of the book is the Reader Activities interspersed throughout all chapters except Chapters One and Thirteen. We suggest four different kinds of activities: "In the Field" (mini-research projects requiring interviews and observations); "Theory into Practice" (practical applications of topics discussed, such as planning a unit and designing assessments); "Consulting Other Sources" (consulting other written and electronic texts to gain multiple perspectives on topics and issues); and "What Would You Do?" (critical incidents and case studies centering upon important topics and issues). These activities provide multiple entry points for readers to engage with the content. Not all four types of activities are offered in every chapter, but in every chapter there are several activities from which readers can choose. By giving readers a choice of activities, we recognize the diversity among our readers and their learning styles.

A third special feature appears at the end of each chapter, "Building Your Biography, Your Personal Practical Philosophy, and Portfolio." Just as we begin with ourselves, we invite readers to begin with themselves and to construct their own biographies, chapter by chapter. Secondly, we invite readers to draft portions of a personal practical philosophy of teaching as they work through the issues discussed and implied in the book. Third, we ask readers to collect the chapter Reader Activities they complete, reflect on their learning from completing these activities, and select some for possible inclusion in a course portfolio. Finally, we suggest that the biography, personal practical philosophy, and selected artifacts form the foundation of a culminating course portfolio.

The sequencing of the chapters allows readers to build on each succeeding chapter and on the Reader Activities. While each of us writes with a distinctive voice and style, we believe that common themes recur throughout the book. We repeatedly cross-reference one another's narratives, examples, and themes. By maintaining our own identities as we have collaborated on the writing of this book, we hope we have presented a unique but coherent and cohesive portrait of teaching middle- and high-school students today.

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank the many individuals who contributed to the successful completion of this project: our families and friends who have listened to us patiently for several years; our students and colleagues who gave us valuable feedback on drafts; and the classroom teachers who agreed to share their stories with us.

We are grateful to the professionals at Merrill/ Prentice-Hall whose advice and support have been invaluable: Debbie Stollenwerk, our senior editor; Gianna Marsella, our developmental editor; and others who have been involved along the way in the development of this book. We would also like to thank our project director at Carlisle Publishing, Mary Jo Graham, for her efficient processing of the manuscript and our copy editor, Susan M. Dolter, for her insightful and critical reading of the text.

Finally, we owe a great deal to the reviewers who have contributed so much to this book's final shape. They are: Janet E. Boyle, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis; Leigh Chiarelott, Bowling Green State University; James Dick, University of Nebraska at Omaha; Fred H. Groves, Northeast Louisiana University; Janet Handler, Mount Mercy College; Barbara Kacer, Western Kentucky University; Cynthia G. Kruger, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth; and Allen Larson, Indiana Wesleyan University.

Read More Show Less

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