"All humans are members of the same body Created from one essence"

"Human beings are members of a whole in creation of one essence and soul. If one member is afflicted with pain, other members uneasy will remain."

Thursday, 31 March 2011

We want Freedom! not Civil War!

We have to save Libya! we have to save Libyans! We do not want Qaddafi and his sons to regain power!But we do not want civil war!

The freedom fighters are seeking to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. They need help and guidance in order to follow forever the path of democracy! They want a Libya which will diversify its economy and encourage the private sector.

The freedom fighters are a little bit disorganised but they are determined to fight for democracy in Libya. The rebels did not even know how to operate rocket-propelled grenades when the fighting started but they did not get discouraged! 

Who are the rebels? They consist of defectors from the army as well as thousands of civilian volunteers. Moussa Koussa's defection represents a serious blow to Gaddafi's regime. The Libyan Foreign minister had decided to defect to UK today. 

I just hope that the risk of retaliatory massacres or even genocide will not happen in Libya. Let us not forget Bosnia's conflict! 3 years of war and 100,000dead!

Gaddafi once was a sponsor of terrorism. Nobody tried to stop him! After 2003, he converted to a U.S. ally, surrendering weapons of mass destruction, paying compensation for past attacks, and providing intelligence against radicals Islamists. 

I am really worried about Libyans. What began as a peaceful uprisings is set to degenerate into a civil war. For several weeks pro-democracy fighters and forces loyal to Gaddafi have been fighting across a strip of land between Ajdabiya and Bin Jawad.

And what about the fact that France and England are arming the Libyan pro-democracy fighters? I hope that these weapons would not fall on the hands of terrorists. 

Does NATO's plans for Libya means only one of two: Afghanistan's Karzai or Iraq's Chalabi???

What do you think?

Simon Lee, The Old Huntsman

In the sweet shire of Cardigan,
Not far from pleasant Ivor-hall,
An old man dwells, a little man, -
'Tis said he once was tall.
Full five-and-thirty years he lived
A running huntsman merry;
And still the centre of his cheek
Is red as a ripe cherry.

No man like him the horn could sound,
And hill and valley rang with glee
When Echo bandied, round and round,
The halloo of Simon Lee.
In those proud days, he little cared
For husbandry or tillage;
To blither tasks did Simon rouse
The sleepers of the village.

He all the country could outrun,
Could leave both man and horse behind;
And often, ere the chase was done,
He reeled, and was stone-blind.

And still there's something in the world
At which his heart rejoices;
For when the chiming hounds are out,
He dearly loves their voices!

But, Oh the heavy change! -bereft
Of health, strength, friends, and kindred, see!
Old Simon to the world is left
In liveried poverty.
His Master's dead, and no one now
Dwells in the Hall of Ivor;
Men, dogs, and horses, all are dead;
He is the sole survivor.

And he is lean and he is sick;
His body, dwindled and awry,
Rests upon ankles swoll'n and thick;
His legs are thin and dry.
One prop he has, and only one,
His wife, an aged woman,
Lives with him, near the waterfall,
Upon the village Common.

Beside their moss-grown hut of clay,
Not twenty paces from the door,
A scrap of land they have, but they
Are poorest of the poor.
This scrap of land he from the heath
Enclosed when he was stronger;
But what to them avails the land
Which he can till no longer?

Oft, working by her Husband's side,
Ruth does what Simon cannot do;
For she, with scanty cause for pride,
Is stouter of the two.
And, though you with your utmost skill
From labour could not wean them,
'Tis little, very little -all
That they can do between them.

Few months of life has he in store
As he to you will tell,
For still, the more he works, the more
Do his weak ankles swell.
My gentle Reader, I perceive
How patiently you've waited,
And now I fear that you expect
Some tale will be related.

O Reader! had you in your mind
Such stores as silent thought can bring,
O gentle Reader! you would find
A tale in every thing.
What more I have to say is short,
And you must kindly take it:
It is no tale; but, should you think,
Perhaps a tale you'll make it.

One summer-day I chanced to see
This old Man doing all he could
To unearth the root of an old tree,
A stump of rotten wood.
The mattock tottered in his hand;
So vain was his endeavour,
That at the root of the old tree
He might have worked for ever.

"You're overtasked, good Simon Lee,
Give me your tool," to him I said;
And at the word right gladly he
Received my proffered aid.
I struck, and with a single blow
The tangled root I severed,
At which the poor old Man so long
And vainly had endeavoured.

The tears into his eyes were brought,
And thanks and praises seemed to run
So fast out of his heart, I thought
They never would have done.
- I've heard of hearts unkind, kind deeds
With coldness still returning;
Alas! the gratitude of men
Hath oftener left me mourning.

In the Preface to “Lyrical Ballads”, Wordsworth explains the revolutionary and experimental nature of the poetry within the volume, highlighting his philosophy of what poetry is (“the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings that come from emotion recollected in tranquility”) and who the poet (“a man speaking to men”) is. Wordsworth’s manifesto of Romantic poetry is reflected in his poetry.

Wordsworth wanted to use a diction which represents the simple healthy life of the farmers and peasants and he totally rejected the poetic diction of the neoclassicism. For example, in the poem “We Are Seven”, Wordsworth lets “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings that come from emotion recollected in tranquility” rise to the surface. In a simple language, disrobed of poetical terms, Wordsworth uses the “real language of men” to move his readers. Indeed, the poem, “We Are Seven” is a simple story between a narrator and an eight-year old girl who tells him about her family. Through this poem, the poet uses a simple story with uncomplicated characters and a simple, repetitious speech to confront the important topic of death. The poet wrote, “But they are dead; those two are dead! / Their spirits are in heaven! / ‘Twas throwing words away; for still / The little Maid would have her will, / And said, “Nay, we are seven!” (l 65-70) 

Furthermore, the poem “Simon Lee” is also written in a simple, common language and it describes an old huntsman who is well-known as a great hunter. The narrator lowers himself to the same level as Simon Lee because he believes that the rural lower class is much closer to nature. “Simon Lee” is a poem that shows “a man speaking to men” and Wordsworth wanted to portray common life by the use of a common and simple language. 

Wordsworth had felt the need indeed to write a poetry which describes everyday subjects and he used the language of real men. He rejected the poetic diction of neoclassicism and he used a language of great simplicity with no images.

Possible Uses of Narrative Literature: middle school language arts

Middle and high school students should be able to identify, analyze, and apply knowledge of the structures and elements of narrative literature. In order to successfully comprehend narrative text, students need to apply the structures of story grammar.  

Narrative literature can be defined as a literature which function is to tell a fiction story or a nonfiction story. Aristotle, in one of his works of literary analysis, suggested that “a story (narrative) has three key characteristics: an unfolding of events and actions over time; emplotment (the rhetorical juxtaposition of these events and actions to evoke meaning, motive, and causality); and trouble (peripeteia-the unexpected in the form of surprise, twist in the plot)” (Greenhalgh, 2005). Narrative texts deal indeed with a collection of six events that tell a story: setting, beginning, reaction, attempt, outcome, and ending (Mandler and Johnson as cited in Roe et al., 2004). 

Narrative text may be either fiction or non-fiction. Examples of fiction include “realistic fiction, science fiction, mysteries, folk tales, fairy tales, and myths.” Non-fiction is fact-based text such as “reports, factual stories, and biographies” (Jim Burke). Narrative text can have different purpose: (1) to entertain the reader; (2) to inform the reader; and (3) to persuade the reader.  There are many advantages of using narrative literature to middle school language arts and content area classrooms. According to Gillis & Olson (as cited in Klingner & Vaughn, 1987), “children develop sensitivity to narrative structure early.” Students feel familiar with the way narrative texts are structured. So, they remember their lessons better when they are organized in a pattern which is familiar to them. Therefore, Meyer (1984) pointed out that this knowledge can help them “(1) form expectations about what they will read, (2) organize incoming information, (3) judge the relative importance of what they read, (4) improve their comprehension, and (5) enhance their recall (as cited in Klingner & Vaughn, 1987). In addition, Fernando Romero (2005) suggested that “narrative structure may facilitate memory for global information.” For example, in history class, narrative literature will appeal more to the adolescents’ emotions. They will remember the main events easier if they are presented through a narrative text with a plot, characters, problems and themes. 

To illustrate, teachers can use the “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” in order to teach students about the reality of slavery. Consequently, applying good narrative literature to middle school content area classrooms will definitely “brings into the adolescents’ consciousness images of life, people, and their actions” (Rosenblatt, 1978). Furthermore, a science teacher can use narrative literature in a science class in order to help his/her students to think critically, to make inferences, to analyze, and to summarize. 

Teachers can use “narrative as a captivating vehicle for representing and communicating scientific information.” The use of narrative literature in a science class would “permeate” students’ lives outside school. It will provide “excellent models for kind of writing students might experiment with outside school” (Irvin 2007). If teachers use narrative literature in a science class, it will help them make science approachable and meaningful to their students. So, it is important to use narrative literature in a science class because it will engage the adolescents’ readers. Through the use of good narrative, the students will even “collaborate” with their classmates and they will “consider their thoughts and ideas.” Therefore, by being in contact with good narrative texts, adolescents will “create meaning through their own experiences and imagination as they apply to” the narrative text at hand. 

Moreover, the use of narrative in geography teaching can be very useful in the middle school. Good geography narrative will stimulate the students’ imagination and it will promote their geographical knowledge. To illustrate, social studies teachers can use the novel “Things Fall Apart” written by Achebe in order to give students an idea of contemporary African geography by providing the class with maps of Africa before, during, and after colonization. Besides, narrative literature is very useful in order to help adolescents tackle themes and to deal with empathic questions. The study of narrative literature will help middle and high school students to have well-crafted and sustained insight into the character at specified moment in the text. They will be able to analyse the different voices in the text and it will help them to write informed personal response which engages with the task directly. Narrative literature in language arts will help adolescents identify their values and opinions by comparing their own experiences to the protagonist’s experience. 

Nevertheless, they are some disadvantages of using only narrative text. Some students are not into narrative texts, fiction, or stories. These students prefer to read informational texts because they feel that narrative texts do not “permeate their lives outside school.” They would rather study informational texts because they can use them as models for writing. These students prefer informational texts because they like to read about facts and use the discussion questions to develop their critical thinking. 

According to Romero, Paris & Brem (2005), middle school students prefer expository texts because they are “organized into statements that allow them to follow text through logic and causality.” As a result, non-narrative text will present various structures to the students: description, sequence, comparison and contrast, cause and effect, and problem and resolution. Teachers can use direct instruction when they are using expository texts in the classroom. Ivey (2006) has stated that good informational books can serve as model for writing. But he insists that teachers must “begin with explicit instruction” and that “over time students will gradually try the skills or strategy for themselves.”
In the same manner, graphic organizers support reading and writing. Teachers should construct a graphic organizer for use with narrative text within their practicum activities. Graphic organizers help the middle school students to remember concepts and to understand abstract thinking. They also help students organize their ideas. And through the use of graphic organizers, they can show the similarities and differences among characters. Therefore, graphic organizers are important tools because they help adolescents comprehend and interpret narrative texts
Plot Summary
Setting (Where?)



Falling Action

Point of View



Effective teachers should apply the strategies needed to successfully comprehend narrative text because fiction and nonfiction appeals to the students’ emotions. An understanding of the structure of narrative texts will improve the students’ “comprehension and it will increase the consistency in their writing skills.”

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Democracy can still work!

Everytime we ask an Arab president (Egypt, Syria, Algeria, Yemen, Bahrain, Tunisia, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Jordan,...) this following question: When are we going to have democracy? They tense up and snap back, "If I do what you want, the Islamic fundamentalists will seize power." OH MY, aren't they tired of this same excuse in order to legitimate their dictatorships!!! 

Democracy can work in the Arab world and these Arab presidents must stop using the fundamentalists as an excuse to sit on power pour toujours. These dictators create societies deferential to authority, with a powerful state and a bureaucracy which is corrupted. These presidents created passive citizens who are meekly submitted to hierarchy. Why? Fear! Fear to die, fear to be persecuted, fear to die in jail, fear to be tortured...would turn every citizen like that!

These Arab dictator have created in fact the problem of the 'Islamic fundamentalists.' These dictators have ruled their countries for decades and they have suppressed all political activity. The one place where people can have a dialogue about politic was at the mosque. Of course, these dictators could not shut down the mosques. Therefore, the mosques became the center of political activism and discourse and religion became the language of the opposition.

In Algeria, weeks of protests forced the government to cut taxes on sugar and cooking oil, and wheat supplies increased! Thank you for the cadeau!

Jordan Abdullah II, King for 11 years / Saudi Arabia Abdullah King for 5 years / Tunisia Zine el Abidine Ben Ali President for 23 years, ousted / Bahrain Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa In power for 11 years /  Morocco Mohammed VI  King for 11 years /  Egypt Hosni Mubarak President for 29 years /  Algeria Abdelaziz Bouteflika President for 11 years /  Yemen Ali Abdullah Saleh In power for 32 years / Syria Bashar Assad President for 10 years

En tout cas!! I wonder how they can still sleep at night! With Ben Ali gone and Mubarak gone, who's next?


Schools are responsible for developing students’ critical thinking skills in order to prepare them to become active, engaged and responsible citizens. What is critical literacy and how does it relates to adolescents?
Freire (1970) defined critical literacy as an attitude toward texts that questions the social, political, and economic conditions under which those texts were constructed (as cited by Ann S. Beck, 2005). Adolescents need to question the text, to understand the “socio-cultural influences and to comprehend the text with a critical edge” (McLaughlin & DeVoogd). 

According to Irvin (2007), critical literacy helps students analyze bias, perspective, audience, and the underlying assumptions of a piece of writing (42). By using critical literacy, adolescents use an authentic approach for thinking about texts and engaging a critical dialogue with texts. 

In the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy (2005), Ann S. Beck pointed out that critical literacy encourages students to apply critical awareness beyond the classroom. With the help of critical literacy, students learn to sharpen their critical thinking tools in order to transform their environment and become responsible citizens. Indeed, the significance of critical literacy as it relates to adolescents is essential because it develops their comprehension of the “words and the world” so students will not be “manipulated” by it (Freire, 1970). 

Critical literacy encourages readers to “adopt a questioning stance to work toward changing themselves and their worlds” (McDaniel, 2004). Adolescents like to be engaged in authentic tasks which will transform them and will transform their world. Teachers should understand that students are not “passive receptacles” but instead they are active members of our community (Freire, 1985). 

Consequently, teachers need to use books which will develop adolescents’ critical thinking. Teachers should use books which present credible voices and the themes should be about issues such as gender, class, tolerance, and prejudice. So, when students will engage in critical literacy, they will become “open-minded, active, and strategic readers who are capable of viewing text from a critical perspective” (McLaughlin & DeVoogd). 

Besides, texts are “infused with subjectivity and based on assumptions (Irvin, 2007, p. 43). So, adolescents who have mastered the tools of critical thinking can use their background knowledge to understand the author’s point of view. In addition, they know how to ask the right questions in order to participate in the class debate. 

Class debate is an important tool in order to construct critical literacy and develop critical thinking skills. Surrounding a variety of texts that can be used to represent critical literacy, teachers can scaffold the students’ learning. They will explain, demonstrate, practice and help students reflect on the theme through a well-constructed class debate. 

Therefore, researchers have understood that critical literacy develops students’ potential and it encourages them to be involved in authentic tasks. Critical literacy helps students develop a critical stance towards texts and it motivates them to be involved in tasks beyond the classroom. They are encouraged to ask questions and act as responsible members of their community.

I believe that critical literacy is an important skill which allows students to reach a higher-level of thinking. Critical literacy is an accurate and authentic approach for studying geography texts because it develops students’ critical thinking skills. 

It is very important in geography class because it helps students develop a critical stance towards history sources. I use critical literacy to teach adolescents the following critical thinking skills: (1) evaluate information and its sources critically; (2) understand the social, economical, and legal issues of some information; (3) to read from a critical stance; (4) to question who is writing the text; and (5) to expand their reasoning. 

I am going to share with you the following strategies which I use every day in order to engage students in critical literacy. Firstly, I use two anticipatory activities: (1) I set a purpose for reading and I ask students questions to make them use their prior knowledge; (2) I read the text aloud and I engage students in small groups to be engaged in shared readings. Secondly, I ask my students to identify the main ideas with supporting details from the expository text presented in their geography book. For example, for the lesson about weathering, rivers and coasts, I ask them to compare landforms from photos. I use videos, photos and sketches to explain the difference between weathering and erosion. 

Then, in order to understand erosion, transportation and deposition, I use the analogy of digging in the garden (erosion), moving the material in a wheelbarrow (transportation), then dumping it elsewhere (deposition). Then, I give the students a narrative text about what happens on a river bend and the narrative had three diagrams (a cross-section of a river, deposition on the inside of a river bend, and erosion on the outside). Then I ask students to draw the cross-section and to describe through their writings why one side of the river bend is different from the other. In addition, I ask my students to write down in their notebook two reasons why the flood plain of a valley is good for farming. Then, in group of three, I ask my students to give one problem of farming the flood plain and they should suggest what could be done to reduce the problem.

Secondly, if I was teaching a science class, I would use critical literacy. In science, critical literacy is the ability to read texts in an active, reflective and analytical manner. I think that critical thinking is an essential skill for adolescents to acquire in the science classroom. I insist that science is more than just memorizing facts. I think that science is about asking and investigating questions. Before reading the text, I will encourage my students to read the list of key concepts because they introduce the big ideas of the text. Then, I will ask my students to read to one another in small groups about one concept. I will teach them to ask each other the “what if” question in order to apply what they have learned through their shared reading. Then, through the scientific inquiry question, students are practicing their inquiry skills and they learn to develop hypotheses, analyze research data, and develop hypotheses. Students read narrative texts about scientific inquires and they test their critical thinking by answering the “what if” question. I will ask them to illustrate important scientific concepts by using three-dimensional drawing. The drawings help them visualize biological concepts. The students use also diagrams to help understand the science narrative lesson. For example, I can ask them to draw, structure and annotate a figure, or a graph experimental data. Then, I will engage my students around critical literacy by asking them to write a self-quiz in groups of four about the chapter they have completed. 

In the following content-area classrooms, English literaturehistory and geography (and it is possible in the science class), I have used narrative texts and graphic organizers in their practicum activities. The students have understood the importance to think and to use anticipatory activities to master critical thinking skills. I have used “transportable and transparent strategies for content literacy instruction.” I have used anticipatory activities, read-alouds and shared readings, graphic organizers, vocabulary instruction in order to engage my students in critical literacy activities. 

Are the IRA terrorists?

The IRA have been responsible for numerous bombs and terrorist attacks in Britain and since the World War II nobody has bombed London more than the IRA. But I have never heard people calling the IRA Christian terrorists. And I totally agree with the fact that we should not use the term Christian terrorists or Muslim terrorists!

Members of the IRA are Christians (Catholics) who are fighting for the end of British control over Ireland. Until the tragedy of 9/11 which had killed innocent people, the government of the USA had supported IRA and this terrorist organization received funding from the USA. Let us not forget that the previous U.S. regime also supported Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan during the Cold War.

Al-Qaeda do not represent Muslims and they should not be called Islamic terrorists. They should be called, tout simplement, des terroristes!!

The label of Catholic terror was never used about the IRA therefore the label of Muslim terror must never be used too. This people who killed innocent people and who are still killing innocent people are not Muslims. They are criminal who show no mercy and they have no religion! They must never have the word muslim attached to their name because they do not represent Islam.  

The media must stop referring to "Muslim terrorism" because they are intelligent enough to understand that the atrocities committed by al-Qaeda have nothing to do with Islam. If we continue calling Mulim people terrorists, we are only playing the game of the people who are in the al-Qaeda. 
 Al-Qaeda uses a rhetoric of hatred as a powerful weapon. Therefore, they will recruit young people by telling them that the West is attacking your religion!  

Incorrect statement about religions can open a pandora box. We have to be careful! Journalists, think before you write, politicians, think before you open your mouth, some people, please do read between the lines instead of believing everything you read without using your critical thinking and reason!!!

The Quran prohibits aggressive warfare and it had only permitted war in self-defence. The true Islamic people are NOT the terrorists and the true Islamic values are certainly NOT carried by Osama Bin Laden or people who think like him. In Islam, it is stated that there must be no coercion in religious matters. Islam and Christianity have always promoted tolerance.

The true Islamic values are peace, reconciliation, and forgiveness.

The Jihadist is not a terrosist. People always understand the word Jihadist wrongly. The real meaning of jihad is struggle and NOT holy war. Jihad in Islam has no connection with violence. A Jihadist is a person who is spiritual and who wants to make the world a better place. Osama Bin Laden is certainly NOT a jihadist.

We need to use our intelligence in order to prepare a better world: precise intelligence. It is important to know who is our enemy and not to stigmatize a whole religion or population because of one group of people who are doing the wrong thing.

We should not turn potential friends into enemies. We should know how to call our enemies.

No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)

On January 8, 2002, President George W. Bush signed into law educational reform legislation known as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). NCLB seeks to ensure that all students receive the education they deserve, regardless of factors such as gender, race, age, or socioeconomic status. 

Based on what I have learned during my 16 years of teaching, they are several guiding principles that I feel would improve instructions in today’s classrooms.

 First, we should make sure that we know the curriculum standards that apply to my students.  
 Second, we would make sure to follow my state and district guidelines in teaching standards. We will make sure to familiarize ourself with the standardized tests my students will take.
 Then, we will have after school club in order to teach my students how to take standardized tests. We will teach them test-taking strategies, and we will provide them with plenty of opportunities to practice. The objective is to learn knowledge or skills to mastery and to automaticity in order to perform well on the tests. The instructional strategy called mastery learning will be helpful. 

The foundation of our lesson plans should be our state’s standards. We should plan all our lessons with mastery of the state standards. 

Furthermore, we should plan our lessons. First, we must create a course overview because it will give us an idea of the scope of the information my students need to master during the entire term. Then, we must create unit plans. We must divide the material we must teach into smaller units of information, then we need to plan how to teach each one. 

Ormrod said that “to promote mastery, break the subject matter into small, logically sequenced units, assess students’ mastery of each unit, and provide additional instruction and practice as needed”.

In addition, we need to create daily plans. A lesson plan includes the following: (1) the goals or objectives of the lesson; (2) the instructional materials and equipment required; (3) the instructional strategies to be used and the sequence in which they will be used; (4) assessment methods planned.

Instructional objectives must be explicit for the students because the students need to know what the result of a lesson will be. The students benefit from knowing the objectives of a lesson. The objectives for a lesson should be stated in specific terms and they must follow the standards knowledge and skills that students should gain. If the teachers have a clear idea about what students are expected to learn, they can more easily assess students’ achievement and how well students have learned. Because instructional objectives specify exactly what is supposed to be learned, they are indeed helpful to the teachers as well as the students throughout the learning process and are invaluable in the assessment process.

Teachers Must Plan!

Teachers should define learning objective and they should be able to explain why it is important for a lesson to have clear learning objectives. Teachers should plan for instruction.

Teachers must plan for instruction in advance. Effective teachers have materials ready in advance and they align their curriculum with state standards. They should also state learning objectives and how students will demonstrate knowledge and skills. 

In addition, teachers should choose learning objectives. The Bloom’s Taxonomy of cognitive objectives is a useful tool for planning learning goals at six different levels of thinking: remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create.

Then, to make sure that students have mastered information and skills, teachers can use three strategies: mastery learning, direct instruction, and computer-based instruction. 

Mastery learning is based on the idea that all students can learn school subject matter if given sufficient time; Teachers should present the lesson into small and discrete units and provide additional instruction and practice as needed. 

Direct instruction is an approach that uses a high degree of teacher control. Teachers should review the previous learned material before presenting the new knowledge in small and logically sequenced steps. Teachers should also provide independent practice and frequent follow-up reviews. 

Computer-based instruction is an important concept in cognitive learning theory because it reflects the behaviorist’s principles which are active responding, shaping, and reinforcement. 

Then, discovery learning is another teaching method which encourages the student to interact with their environment and derive information for themselves. By seeing something happening, students can encode it in their long term memory. 

Expository teaching promotes learning in several ways. First, students learn only when they are actively making responses. They also argue that students pay more attention when they are engaged in meaningful learning. Teachers should help students make meaningful connections among the things they learn by emphasizing its relevance to what students already know and to real-life examples. 

Then, teachers should also use computer-based instruction, online research, hands on and practice activities, cooperative learning, reciprocal teaching, and reciprocal questioning. 

Teachers must enhance students’ expectancies for success by trying to combine different kind of teaching methods. They should also provide the necessary support, resources, and strategies.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Multiple Intelligences and Inclusion

Based on my research and experience, teachers need to provide learning opportunities that appeal to all learning styles and multiple intelligences. 

Also we need to encourage the students to identify similarities and differences and to generate and test hypotheses. For example, I use metaphors and analogies for making comparisons. 

I also encourage the students to analyze the lesson and to put it in their own words. (I use this method in geography/history) 

Summarizing requires students to substitute and remove nonessential information while learning to keep the main ideas and to recognize salient information. 

In addition, research has shown that note taking is beneficial to the students. Note taking is closely related to summarizing. It requires students to translate the teacher’s information into their own abbreviated form. Summarizing and note taking are great ways of synthesizing information. 

The teacher needs to set objectives and provide feedback. At the end of the day, the teacher needs to tell the students how they are progressing. 

They need to be aware of the mistakes they make and the teacher need to help them to correct these mistakes. They should not be afraid of making mistakes. Therefore, they need to practice a lot before a test and they should have more than one opportunity to complete a learning task. 

In the classroom, there is a merit sheet paper which shows how many merits (tally charts) each student is getting during the week. They can get merits for different reasons: helping, sharing, kindness, good work, homework… At the end of the week, the student with the most merits will win a merit badge during the assembly time which takes place every Friday. Then, we put a new merit sheet paper on the board every Monday. 

There is one practice that I have tried to enhance effective instruction in the classroom setting. A few minutes before the end of a lesson, I ask students to take a sheet of paper and to write 2 things they understand well about today’s lesson. Then, I ask them to write one thing they did not understand about the lesson or a question they would like me to answer. I tell them that they cannot leave the classroom unless they give me this sheet of paper. I ask them not to sign their names and that spelling is not important. Then, I use the information from the sheet of papers for the next day’s lesson. 

The goal of inclusion is for special need students to attend a general classroom practices and activities. This approach has many advantages. It gives students with special needs the opportunity to learn with their non-handicapped peers. All the students benefit from equal educational opportunities.

 The students without disabilities will learn about differences between people and they will learn to be tolerant. The teachers will have to adapt and learn new techniques in order to help these special need students. 

In the other hand, the special need students might not get the specialized attention and care in a classroom of 30 non-handicapped children. The teacher will not be able to give a special education, while also giving a regular course to the other students. Therefore, the teacher will need an assistant in the classroom.

Effective Teachers

Effective teachers choose instructional strategies that promote effective learning and cognitive processing. 

First of all, teachers should create a setting conducive to learning. They must consistently engage the students in productive learning activities. Secondly, they should follow these eight strategies in order to have a well-managed classroom: (1) teachers should find the best physical arrangement which will help students to focus on their academic tasks; (2) teachers should have good working relationships with students; (3) teachers should intrinsically motivate their students to learn; (4) they should set reasonable limits for behavior; (5) they should plan activities that encourage on-task behavior; (6) They should continually monitor what students are doing in the classroom; (7) they should modify instructional strategies when necessary; (8) they should take individual and developmental differences into account.

In addition, arranging the classroom into traditional rows is often more effective in keeping the students on task during individual assignments. Then, on the first rows, the teacher can keep the misbehaving or uninvolved students close at hand. Also, by placing her desk at the back, the teacher would be able to see all of her/ his students all the time. 

Furthermore, teachers must maintain positive and supportive relationships with their students. They should communicate caring and respect for students: (1) by being well prepared for class; (2) providing the right support; (3) include students in decision making; (4) accept students’ mistakes without making them feel like a failure. 

Moreover, teachers should create a classroom community where all the students will feel that they belong to. They should create a sense of shared goals, interpersonal respect, and mutual support.
Equally important, teachers must always keep the students engaged in productive activities. Otherwise, if students have a lot of free time in the classroom, they will misbehave. Effective teachers should give clear directions by always monitoring what students are doing. 

Besides teachers should coordinate their efforts and learn to collaborate with other teachers, librarians, counselors in order to create an overall sense of school community. 

On the whole, teachers must have a classroom where students feel physically and psychology safe and secure in order to have students who want to learn and who are motivated.  

The Casbah Algiers

I have many friends who want to save the Casbah in Algiers. I totally agree with this great and noble initiative! 

 One day, I was following Houria while she was making her way down a steep stone staircase that leads to the turquoise Mediterranean Sea. The Casbah is a labyrinth of shadowy alleys and cul-de-sacs filled with unemployed youths who were casting suspicious look on us and gazing at us!

Houria wanted me to visit this storied hillside quarter of Algiers, Alger la belle, El Djazair la majestueuse! The people at the Casbah are kind and generous. I remember we met an elderly woman  wearing the veil who was eating from a plate of olive, bread, and cheese. She made us visit her house which was a crumbling two-story house. Around a cup of strong coffee, she told us the story of the Casbah.

She told us that the Casbah was dating back to Phoenicians times. She added that the Casbah had been rebuilt by the Ottomans in the late 1700s and it had served over the centuries as a refuge for pirates, freedom fighters, militants and thieves. It was easy to hide in the Casbah with its alleys and houses sequestered behind stone walls.

The Casbah is one of the most beautiful achitectural wonder of the late Ottoman style. The Casbah consists of white-washed structures, narrow passages, courtyards which have marble floors, fountains, intricate mosaics, and carved lintels.

"Oh my Casbah," wrote Himoud Brahimi, the poet laureate of the quarter, in 1966, four years after the Algerian resistance defeated the French occupiers. "Cradle of my birth, where I came to know loyalty and love. How can I forget the battles in your alleys, that still bear the burdens of war?"

We must save the Casbah! This precious jewel is becoming a "dingy slum with its fissure-ridden houses reeking of sewage and uncollected garbage." 
For the government, the Casbah is a treacherous place," says Abdelkader Ammour, secretary-general of the Casbah Foundation, a preservation group that got the Casbah named a Unesco World Heritage site in 1991.

I visited the Casbah 11 years ago (in 2000)! It is still so fresh in my mind: the staircase which turns into an alley or ruelle, carved Ottoman portals, spiralling, slender columns, impasses, rooftop terraces from where we can see a dense sea of houses and domed mosques and minaret.

and the kindness of Houria, the elderly women, the youths, 

I will never forget you my Casbah!

We have a great School Leader!

Heredity is a process of transmission, by genes, of specific traits from ancestor to descendant. The environmental influence on a person is the sum of all exterior conditions (family, neighbourhood and community, state/province and country). The debate nature versus nurture is still a debate involving many researchers. But in my opinion, heredity and environment interact in their effects. 

Children are granted with “predispositions to respond to physical and social events in certain ways.” But the environmental factors also make important contributions to development. (24) 

In his review of Sternberg & Grigorenko’s book, Intelligence, Heredity, and Environment, Akamatsu says, “both heredity and environment contribute to intelligence, and they both interact in various ways” (Akamatsu, p. 84) Therefore, I agree with Akamatsu when he says that heredity and environment interact in their effects.

As Ormrod stated it, “inherited predispositions may set a sensitive period, a point in development during which a growing child can be especially influenced by environmental conditions.” (25)

On the whole, school, culture, and climate are being influenced and affected by leadership. Teachers need to work together for the common goal of educating our students. Teachers can grow as educators and they can expand their curriculum in schools which propose a positive culture. Most of the teachers may have worked one day with good leaders or poor leaders. Therefore, as we become school leaders, we have to be able to learn from positive experiences as well as negative experiences. 

In the school where I teach, we have a great school leader. She takes responsibility for school success and she builds a strong school community. She believes that the problems of the school are her problems and she never stops trying to solve them. She is also creative in her problem solving and she approaches challenges with an entrepreneurial attitude. 

Akamatsu, C. T. (1999). Mind, culture and activity. intelligence, heredity, and
environment (Book Review). Vol. 6. Issue 1. Pp. 84-89.

Ormrod, J.E. (2008). Educational psychology: developing learners (6th ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson