Describes the activity she will use insteada sink or

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describes the activity she will use instead—a “sink or float” activity that teaches the same concepts as the pre-packaged lesson and uses the same materials but provides active engagement for students. Unlike the pre-packaged lesson, Maria’s re-design engages students in both the recording of data and in the generation and testing of hypotheses based on the data. The other teachers laugh and ask if she “woke with this one.” “No,” she responds “It was in the shower this time.” On the way back to the classroom, she explains that the packaged curriculum, like many others, dumbs down the content and “leaves out kids entirely.” In order to introduce higher order skills and strategies that can engage her students, Maria explains how she has replaced the language arts program; tweaked the math program, and created a new science program. (211-212) Linda Darling-Hammond, The Flat World and Education, Teachers College Press, 2010 The quotes from Emerson and Dewey describe self-reliance as an idea, as a concept applicable to life and teaching. The quote from Linda Darling-Hammond’s
167 recent book on school reform, taken from a section on teacher preparation programs, is an anecdote about self-reliance, a mini-story about how teacher education programs that cultivate intelligent and responsible self-reliance in their graduates produce better teachers. Between Emerson’s and Dewey’s ideas about self-reliance and Linda Darling-Hammond’s anecdote about self-reliance, are the memoirs of teaching from the sixties and seventies. The sixties and seventies memoirists turned ideas about self-reliance, particularly Emerson’s and Dewey’s, into narratives about self-reliance. In moving self-reliance from practice to plot, in creating a compelling storyof self-reliant teaching, the sixties and seventies memoirists enabled Emerson’s and Dewey’s beliefs about the connection between self-reliance and democratic education to take root in our culture, for better and for worse. The stories of self-reliant teaching told by the sixties and seventies memoirists may have paved the way for a lot of awful movies and some irresponsible teaching, but they have also enabled us to see that a teacher’s ability to inspire students and deal with the complexity inherent in teaching and learning often hinges on their capacity for self-reliance. I watched a group of second graders in an urban elementary school perform, with great enthusiasm and pleasure, a play they wrote about the first ten books of the Odyssey. Odysseus’s small crew tied themselves to the legs of a desk as they sailed past the sirens. Polyphemus held aloft her single cardboard eye as she called out to Nobody. The play was aligned to state standards in so far as the standards encourage exposing students to the literature of the past, but nowhere in the school’s, district’s, or state’s curriculum
168 were there any directions about teaching the Odyssey, and nowhere in the students’ reading textbook was their a retelling of the Odyssey. The teacher had designed the unit

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