This article describes an English language arts teacher preparation perspective that considers middle school students as part of the teacher educator team. Based on a recognized gap in the literature about students as powerful partners, the authors undertook a 3-year study to explore the question, “What do preservice middle school teachers learn when middle school students assume the role of pedagogical experts?” Using the ever-popular young adult novel, The Outsiders, as a nexus of literature study and an integration of technology and music, the authors created The Outsiders Project. They collected extensive qualitative data, including detailed field notes, preservice teachers’ reflections, and digital videos, across the 3 years to analyze preservice teachers’ views about the power of middle school students as teacher educators.
English/Language Arts Education
This paper focused on whether the use of online discussion boards can enhance the quality of interaction in the middle and high school English classroom, covering both the characteristics of online discussion boards and potential negative effects of their features. The features of online discussion boards, their effects, and how these boards relate to the forms of communication facilitated by Web 2.0 technologies are discussed, and recommendations are provided for using online discussion boards in the English classroom.
This study highlights ways in which generative activities may be coupled with network-based technologies in the context of teacher preparation to enhance preservice teachers’ cognizance of how their own experience as students provides a blueprint for the learning environments they may need to generate in their future classrooms. In this study, the design of generative learning environments is used as a framework for developing an activity for students to explore modeling by interpolation and function approximation in the classroom. The research question explored whether the implementation of a generative activity on function interpolation can lead to a qualitatively different mathematical space of solutions when used in a calculus class when compared to its use in the context of a class on learning theories in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Participating students included preservice STEM teachers and students in a first-year calculus course. In order to determine possible qualitative differences in mathematical activity between the two classroom contexts (calculus class or learning theories in STEM education class), the authors focused on the evidence of student individual and collective thinking from three different groups, as documented in their corresponding generated public spaces and explored and characterized each group by its respective generated mathematical spaces of solutions.
Social Studies Education
New social technologies offer new opportunities for creating online communities of praxis in the preparation of preservice teachers. In this design research study, 22 preservice teachers in a social studies methods class conducted online class discussions inside the National Council of the Social Studies Network Ning, a social network for social studies educators. These preservice teachers engaged in series of reflective dialogues blending theory and practice—the hallmark of praxis—with their classmates, with other preservice teachers from around the country, and with practicing social studies educators from around the world. They also expressed a strong intent to engage in professional learning networks and communities of praxis in the future, although the Ning was ancillary to these intentions. These findings both hold promise and offer crucial guidance for other teacher educators. When implemented with attention and intention, online social networks provide promising opportunities for students in teacher education programs to engage in networked communities of praxis that can provide opportunities for colearning throughout a teacher’s career.
This qualitative research study is an exploration of the merit and shortcomings of using a combination of the music software GarageBand™ and an electronic bulletin board to facilitate musical and peer learning in a 3-month elementary music methods curriculum and instruction course. A pedagogical objective of this assignment was to increase the interaction among preservice teachers for the purpose of improving the following: (a) their understanding of musical vernacular, genres, and cultures; (b) their appreciation of the relationships among personal, social, and cultural identities; and (c) an introduction to digital learning technologies as a platform for community building. Specifically, sharing their playlists online (as well as their thoughts, feelings, and images about these musical selections) encouraged reflective practice and a process of peer learning, providing opportunities for students to learn about their peers and broaden their participation in a community of inquiry.
The use of portfolios in teacher education has grown in popularity over the last decade. Attempts to harness the potential of portfolios as a means to enhance learning and reflection have sometimes led to a complex or document-driven process that appears several steps removed from the act of teaching. In response this paper describes the development of a portfolio process based upon digital photographs taken to document the first teaching practicum of student teachers. Central to students’ initial experiences of learning portfolios is a process that is based upon team discussion and reflection, which leads to the successful completion of a group-based portfolio product.