Saturday, March 19, 2011

Buck cites in APA style

We just finished The Call of the Wild, and all through the book I kept asking about the difference between the order of life in the wild and in civilization--who is in charge, the creation and maintenance of authority, the status of the self, relationships to others, etc. So, after we finished, I asked everybody to think about some real cases of order that were a lot "wilder" than that to which we are accustomed.

For instance, we talked about the E. German secret police, and how they got so many people to spy on others. We also talked about the Chinese mobile execution vans, Pol Pot, and the Milgram experiment. A strange list, I guess, but the work of figuring out the connection, by evaluating the differences in what constitutes general order and individual behavior, makes for the much-desired "higher level" thinking about the reading.

In some ways, a tough day. Not everybody "gets it," some students disconnect almost immediately, and, most important in today's climate, it's tough to assess whether everybody "learned" that day.

Oh, plenty of students seemed interested, asked questions, wanted to know more about the details of the cases, but I don't know how measure what anybody learned at that higher level.

The next day we worked on writing in-text citations (Smith, 2011, 234) for when you need to credit someone for the work of theirs that you borrowed. It's a small technical detail of writing up a report, a finding, a study, etc. in essay form. Not very high-level. Would be about like me giving a multiple choice quiz on that other material.

The Stasi were secret police in which one of the following countries?
A. E. Germany B. The United States C. Stanley Milgram D. Cambodia

Not very high level, that.

But the in-text citation activity is easily measured, scored, analyzed. And that's the problem. They were all busily working away on the practice problems I gave them. If my superintendent had walked in right then, he would have been most pleased. I shudder to think of him walking in on us demonstrating Milgram. How would I explain one student in the role of the shocker and one the shockee, me telling the shocker to keep going?

I think the "wild" material is ever so much more important. But the citation material is a nice and easy one to see students 'engaged' in, and to score, and therefore to show 'learning' in.


Anonymous said...

Yes, easy to score and to look good at. That's what it is all about. An administrator wants to see immediately what objective you are teaching to. If they see you practicing a state test, let's say, well that's a slam dunk. They're happy and you're happy.

Anonymous said...

I have programmed a 'panic button' on my students' computers. In the first week of the school year, I train them to use the Ctrl-S (for 'superintendent') key combination whenever the classroom door opens during a lesson. Irrespective of who enters the room.

By pressing that key, all computer screens suddenly show a fake page from the 'state test training' programme. Superintendent happy, students happy that he's happy, me happy that everybody's happy.

In between the superintendent's visits, I teach. And my student's learn. We all hope that he doesn't find out about our illegal activities, or he will ruthlessly put an end to them forever.