dewey_howethink.jpgJohn Dewey, weighing-in on the relationship between theory and practice stated, "Education that takes as its standard the improvement of the intellectual attitude and method of students demands more serious preparatory training, for it exacts sympathetic and intelligent insight into the workings of individual minds, and a very wide and flexible command of subject-matter--so as to be able to select and apply just what is needed when it is needed" (1910, p.54).

Week 5 | How are learning theories relevant to students and teachers, and to the content and contexts of schooling today?

You will soon be educators working with young people in our schools. You want to understand how they view the world and themselves in it. You want to plan relevant teaching and learning encounters that stimulate their intellectual, social, and emotional development as learners within your content area and in general. Through this week's scholarly tasks you will explore, via YouTube videos, how kids portray themselves and their social context, especially school and learning.

THE BIG PICTURE: Your task is to present at least three data-driven T2P hypotheses relating the subject(s) in your videos to a developmental or learning theory, or key concept we covered during our first four weeks of class. Prior to delving into this week's scholarly tasks, I suggest you skim through the 25 videos and pick a few that stand out to you as interesting. Ultimately, you will need to select three to analyze (you may incorporate additional videos, that's up to you).

"Voices of Youth Today" [a collection of YouTube videos made by and/or for 25 young people (or groups of youth)]

Scholarly Tasks

Once you select a handful of videos its time to collect and record data. Watch the videos and record your observations, including a description of the video's key actors. Jot down brief quotes and/or paraphrases that capture, in their own voices, how youth describe themselves and their context (especially the role of school and formal learning). Look for themes and trends across your data. Are there ways to group kids together? How are kids similar? How are they different? Here are two mostly made-up examples of themes:

  • Adolescent girls are obsessed with make-up, clothes, and other aspects of personal appearance
  • Students of color and LGBTQ youth are similar in their expressions of feeling marginalized or oppressed

2. CONTEMPLATE: Undoubtedly while watching the videos, you were contemplating where the youth reside developmentally across a variety of theories or models, and key concepts we have covered in class. You were already beginning to apply theory to practice. In other words, you were attempting to make some generalizations about the young folks in relation to how Maslow, Vygotsky, Noddings, etc. characterized learning and development. [If you weren't now's the time to do it!]

3. DRAFT: Based on your contemplation of the videos in relation to learning theory, make three speculations. Your speculations should be informed by your data aka the quotes and/or paraphrases, along with your observations from the videos. Think about Duncan-Andrade's approach to collecting data about his students. Jeff used youth voices as "data" to evidence the key concept of "establishing relevance for learners by way of youth popular culture." Your speculations should also reference the key concept or theory you believe most relevant to your data points.

4. (RE)VISIT: Take the time now to (re)visit the Reflective Pedagogical Thinking Taxonomy (Simmons et al., 1989). Although you may not have elected videos depicting an instructional environment, the model is still applicable to your analysis. You are striving for Level 7 in the Taxonomy. Level 7 is explained as an "if...then...because" hypothesis that describes a cause-effect relationship and that includes at least one aspect of contextual data plus reference to the moral/ethical/political issues that have informed the hypothesis. Here is a mostly made-up example:

If students of color, girls, and LGBTQ youth are provided safe learning environments where they feel respected and cared for by their peers and adult role models, then they will be more likely to explore their identities in positive ways. For example, in the video "Video title goes here," Sarita Dragon, an African-American Queer youth stated, "its great to be in the majority for a change, I feel empowered." In the same video, Jorge Tajo, a Chicano teenager, expressed similar sentiments but framed them as an issue of personal safety. "I'm glad to be in this class because I know my teacher and my friends have my back." The same sentiments were also expressed by young women of color in the video "Video title goes here." One of the performers questioned, "Why must I always struggle? I just want a place where I can be me. I finally found that at La Raza Center." About these children, Maslow would contend their needs of safety and belonging are being met, therefore providing them with the capacities to achieve needs higher in the Hierarchy of Needs e.g., agency. As a teacher, I understand my role in the lives of kids as one of teacher, mentor, and "parent." It is imperative to the flourishing of young folks that I accept my responsibility by creating a safe-space for kids to "come as you are." By deciding to engage students as whole-persons, I am contributing to their learning in school and modeling positive, empowering, and healthy ways of engaging with the world beyond our classroom.


5. WRITE: On your own blog, prepare a post with three Level 7 T2P hypotheses. Each of your T2P statements deserves its own section so create a descriptive sub-heading for each one. If you're feeling really fancy, you could even embed the video(s), your own playlist, or a link to the "Voices of Youth Today" playlist. Make this post your best yet! Showcase your grasp of learning theories and key concepts, your ability observe and analyze youth development and learning, your agility with technology, and your ever-improving blogging skills. Godspeed!

in class resources

Case Study Analysis Guidelines (Monday)

Case Study Analysis Guidelines (Tuesday)