Matthew Kissel - Chapter 2 Artifact Analysis Chapter 2 Artifact Analysis

For the next step of my inquiry I started searching for strategies teachers use to create a shared set of values in the classroom between the teacher and the students. At some point there has to be something that is important to both the teacher and the student if they are going to have a working relationship with each other. This change in thinking came from attempts to define what classroom culture is. One thing I had to come to terms with after completing my first round of artifact analysis was that there is not a consistent look or thought process behind classroom culture. I thought that teachers could use or construct it but the term is purely descriptive. Every classroom is going to have a culture, even classrooms where the students and teacher hate each other. Instead my thought process became about classroom community. The word community is stronger and describes something much more specific than culture, it has to do with what the group described shares. Merriam-Webster provides a definition for the word community; “A unified body of individuals as a body of persons of common and especially professional interests…”1 from which I will use to define classroom community. A classroom community is a unified body of students and a teacher with overlapping values. If the teacher's values and his students' values do not overlap at all then there is nothing to motivate the student to participate in learning activities, hence the relationship between the teacher and the students will not be a community. My guiding question for this stage of the inquiry is “What methods can teachers use to establish a common value with students with which to build a classroom community and how much do students get to influence what those values are?” For the purpose of this inquiry I will explain what I mean with the word value and what a common value is. A value is something that someone thinks is important enough that it influences their choices and actions. One example of a common value is money. Almost everyone who participates in


"Community." Merriam-Webster Online. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 16 April 2012.

Matthew Kissel - Chapter 2 Artifact Analysis the economy values money to some degree because acquisition of it motivates them to work. A shared value that more than one person has and that influence how they interact with each other. When students and teachers share a value they are agreeing to a common concept that they find important. In many situations grades are that value. Both the teacher and the student see the grade a student gets as important and are willing to put effort into improving the students’ grade, the student by doing homework and turning it in on time and the teacher by working with the student during lunch or providing extra study guides. Grades are established as a value because students are told a story about how good grades in school means they will get into a good college which means they will get a good job which then means they will make a lot of money and be a higher status member of society. When both the teacher and the student value grades they also work as a reward and punishment to get create a shared value of doing homework on time and studying for tests. Already my concept has the problem of assuming that the onus is entirely on the teacher to affect student values to bring about commonality. There is no reason why the teacher cannot allow students to affect his values to reach the point of commonality. For this round of artifact collecting I have collected notes and images from classroom observations of methods teachers use to establish a common value between themselves and their students. The methods teachers use vary in how teachers establish this commonality; I will describe how I analyze these methods in the next section.

Establishing Common Value The different methods teachers use to establish common value fall somewhere on a scale between the teacher changing or influencing the values of the students and the students changing or influencing the values of the teacher. These different methods can be described spatially. There is a place where the teacher can meet the students in a zone of shared values. Both the teacher and the students have their own starting point. A stereotypical starting point (though surprisingly not always

Matthew Kissel - Chapter 2 Artifact Analysis true) for the values of the teacher is they want silence, punctuality and participation while the students want chaos, noise and entertainment. The teacher has various things he wants from his students and students have various things they want from their teacher (even if it is to be left alone). At some point the teacher and students have to work their way to a point where they share some values so that they are not in constant conflict from each trying to get what they want from the other. Teacher can move toward the students to get to this zone of shared values or he can bring the students into a shared value zone closer to him. The following diagrams explain this.

A graphic representation of establishing common values: Fig. 1 Zone of shared value Zone of shared value “Distance” between values Teacher Fig. 2 “Distance” between values Zone of shared value Teacher Fig. 3 “Distance” between values Teacher




Each figure shows a teacher and his students meeting each other in their zone of shared value. The difference between each figure is who is expected to move more. There is an assumed starting point where the students and the teacher do not have their shared values (the commonality of something that forms their community and influences their actions). The lack of commonality is represented by a ruler that shows the “distance” between the teacher and student. They all have their own values that are independent of each other. At this point there are three methods that can bring about a classroom community. The teacher can apply some sort of method that influences the students to accept the

Matthew Kissel - Chapter 2 Artifact Analysis values they want them to have, thus bringing the students closer to the teacher. Figure 1 represents this situation where the students move toward the teacher to reach the zone of shared value. This would be a technique where the teacher brings students into a zone of shared value that is closer to his own starting point. The teacher is unconcerned with what the students value at the beginning. An example of a scenario like this would be a military boot camp. The drill sergeant yells at the recruits and punishes them with push-ups or extra duties which makes them value following his orders. In Figure 2 the teacher moves toward the students to reach the zone of shared value. The teacher is looking for things students value and is using those things to establish a commonality. Because teachers have to change their value system to find a commonality with their students the graphic shows the teacher moving toward the student to reach the zone of shared value. Figure 3 shows a situation in which the teacher is concerned with what students value and uses their values to a commonality but also expects students to incorporate his values. The graphic shows the student and the teacher meeting halfway. In this type of scenario teachers would combine different methods of establishing common values, some of their methods would involve incorporating student values and other methods would involve either appealing to students emotionally to adopt his system or adopting a punishment and reward system that make students value what he does. The following T-chart shows the differences between the methods the figures represent.

Figure 1 Method -Teacher expects students to adopt their values. -Tend to use punishment or reward system to establish norms. -Might use other method to change students’ values like appealing to them emotionally.

Figure 2 Method -Teacher adopts the values of the students. -Teacher is constantly working to understand student values and incorporate them into lessons and classroom routines.

Figure 3 Method -Teacher expects students to adopt some of their values but is willing to incorporate student values in other areas. -Teacher will use reward and punishment system to establish norms but will still work to understand and implement student values.

Matthew Kissel - Chapter 2 Artifact Analysis

In reality teachers will likely never be completely in line with Figure 1 or Figure 2. Most teachers combine elements of the two extremes in something like what is represented in Figure 3. Figure 3 can also be divided into three basic methods.

A breakdown of Figure 3: Fig. A Zone of shared value Zone of shared value “Distance” between values Teacher T C S Students Fig. B “Distance” between values Zone of shared value Teacher T C S Students Fig. C “Distance” between values Teacher T C S Students

These new figures represent the different elements of compromise. In it the all-or-nothing approach described earlier is replaced with areas that the common value is established in. Even though both the teacher and students are adopting new values to find the zone of shared value therefore fitting into the compromise figure (Figure 3) there are several ways this can be done. On this way of looking at establishing common values rather than resorting entirely to one side or the other the zone of shared value falls into one of three regions. When teachers tend to expect students to adopt their own values it falls into region T (for teacher), when teachers adopt student values it falls into region S (for student) and when the teacher and student adopt an approximately equal amount of values from each other this falls into region C (for compromise). Figure A shows an area that is closer to the teacher's initial value. The teacher considers what students already value but leans toward values that he already has that he expects students to acquire. .

Matthew Kissel - Chapter 2 Artifact Analysis In Figure B the teacher, while still bringing in some of his own values, will ultimately find a commonality that is closer to what students before school valued. Figure C has the area in the middle. The teacher moves as much as the student. Each of the following artifacts will be analyzed in terms of which of these figures the strategy behind them conforms to most.

Point Economy This artifact is an observation of an eighth grade Spanish class. The teacher of this class patrols the hallway during the few minutes between classes as students are walking down the hall and sings to them in Spanish. The words that he is singing are Spanish words that are telling students to get to class. The students inside the classroom can hear him and many are looking toward the door and smiling, which I interpret as them finding humor in his behavior. I was interested to see what how this teacher thought singing would affect his relationship with his students and what sort of outcomes he would like to see. The class had a lot of participation and signs of student involvement in the learning process. Students demonstrated that the students value the learning process the teacher has established. The teacher broke his class up into groups and each group gets points based on the behavior and participation of the individual members of the group. The daily class routine involves a lot of exchanges in this token economy between the teacher and students. Points are documented on a large grid in the corner of class that most students can see. This system appears to cause students to value the classroom norms because during my observation they demonstrated strong motivation to conform to the norms of the class. The teacher appears to have successfully make the classroom norms part of the shared values between him and his students by introducing a reward and punishment system through a token economy. The following are examples of instances I observed that are evidence of this with the time they occurred during the class

Matthew Kissel - Chapter 2 Artifact Analysis (the class time went from 9:50 am to 10:35 am). I note the time because the sequence of when each event happens can impact my interpretation of the events. For example, students may respond a certain way to one event because of something that happened before. Observations Showing Effectiveness of Points: 9:53 – The teacher asked students for a volunteer to write something on the document camera. About three-fourths of the class raised their hands within one second of the teacher's request. When the teacher selected one student I could hear an audible groan from several of the students who were not selected. It was clear that most of the class wants to participate in this activity. 9:58 – The teacher called on students to answer a question. Again, the majority of students raised their hands very quickly. 10:03 – A quote from the teacher to a student who was looking away from the teacher and talking, “Calvin, you lost two points for your team!” Calvin responded in a defensive tone, “Why?!” While Calvin's behavior would indicate that he does not share the teacher's value of having a classroom where students do not hold side conversations his value system meets the teacher's when it comes to him wanting to earn points for his group and not lose them. His response to the teacher's comment that he is losing points showed that he desired not to because of the defensive tone of his voice. 10:07 – A student's cell phone beeped during class. Students all had shocked faces and looked toward where the noise was coming from. It was unclear who the phone belonged to so the teacher continued teaching after a silent pause during which students were looking around the room. I could hear several students gasp at the sound of the cell phone. Students could have laughed or simply ignored the sound seeing it as the teacher's problem but instead they seemed upset that a cell phone had interrupted class. The teacher does not allow cell phones in class and allowing one to make noise was a violation of the classroom norms. The teacher had recently removed points from Calvin who sits in the general vicinity of where the noise came from so it is possible that students reacted the way they did

Matthew Kissel - Chapter 2 Artifact Analysis because they thought they were going to witness the teacher instigate a very severe penalty on Calvin because they thought it was his cell phone that went off and he had already been in trouble once that day only a few minutes ago. 10:08 – Students had gained points for their groups by answering questions. One student said to the teacher, “You also need to add my points.” This student was interested enough in gaining points for his group that he wanted to make sure the teacher remembered to add them to the score board. Observations Showing Ineffectiveness There were two events I observed during the class in which the points system did not appear to be a shared value between the teacher and the students. In these instances either the teacher’s use of the point economy did not have a noticeable affect on the student or students showed a sign of valuing the learning process independent of points. 10:05 – The teacher looked at a student and said, “You lost two points for that.” He had been bothering another student sitting near him. The student shrugged casually indicating that losing points did not bother him. The teacher then made him apologize to the student he had bothered. This appeared to be a response. In previous situations like at 10:03 the student’s reaction to losing points indicated that he was concerned about them. This student’s lack of reaction indicated to me that he did not value his points, it apparently did to the teacher as well because the teacher then made him apologize. 10:24 – After going over an example of Spanish sentence structure one student said, “Can we do some more?” I interpreted this as a student valuing the learning of Spanish syntax and not about points because the class has filler activities if it finishes early where students can earn points but does not have a way for students to earn points learning about syntax. This student wanted to spend more time learning the subject matter and was willing to forgo the extra time at the end of class to do games. In addition to these observations the teacher explained to me afterward that occasionally there

Matthew Kissel - Chapter 2 Artifact Analysis will be a student who does not value the points and other methods will have to be used like parentteacher conferences or detentions because it becomes unfair to any student placed in a group with a student who does not value points. Classifying the Point System

(A photo of the point chart on display in class) The students in each period are divided into groups and the behavior of individual members of the group can earn or lose points for the group. During a three week period students are put into groups which get their points totaled. They get points for classroom participation, conduct towards students and the teacher, and starting work like Do Nows on time. Students can also volunteer to help with classroom routines like passing out papers, cleaning and writing on the document camera. Volunteers gain points for their group. Students lose points by disrespecting classmates or coming to class

Matthew Kissel - Chapter 2 Artifact Analysis unprepared. At the end of the three week period the group with the highest score is rewarded, the students have a new seating chart, and the points are reset to zero starting the system over again. Prizes can be snack food, a homework pass or extra credit. Students often pressure their group members into participating because they want to win. So while the teacher can enforce classroom rituals by giving and taking points, students will enforce them among their peers in their groups in order to win the points game. While the fact that students help enforce the rules with the points system may make the enterprise look like student values are incorporated into this method the truth is that this system leans heavily toward region T. The teacher is using the point system to get the students to adopt the values he had before class started. He wanted students to value the classroom rituals he came up with initially and the points are an artificial attachment to the rituals to motivate students to follow them. The teacher is not moving closer to something the students themselves value but is using a reward and punishment system to bring student values closer to his.

Common Values Zone of shared value “Distance” between values Teacher T C S Students

Point system

The above diagram shows the point system located in region T. The student’s values that they had before interacting with the teacher have been changed to the teacher’s from the point system punishing and rewarding students adopting this behavior. Because ultimately it is the points and the

Matthew Kissel - Chapter 2 Artifact Analysis reward that comes from winning the point game that students value and following classroom norms is simply a means to receiving points for a reward I consider this method an artificial means of establishing shared values in a classroom. The teacher is unapologetically using this system to get students to adopt values that are similar to his own coming into the classroom. Inclusive Language My second artifact is an observation of an English Language Development class for 8th grade students. This class uses a rotation system where some students are on computers, some are reading and others are doing an activity with the teacher. The class is run on a very tight schedule because activities have to be completed in a certain designated time for different rotations of students. The teacher cannot have her group go overtime because the students who finish reading or finish with computers will not have a rotation to move to. In this situation the teacher values activities being completed in a timely manner. This is a portion of the observation: A student does not have his workbook open after the bell has rung. The students sitting around him do. The teacher is standing in front of the class ready to begin and is looking around at the different students. She notices Ivan does not have his notebook open. “Ivan,” she says, “you are robbing your fellow students of their precious learning time. Please open your notebook now.” Ivan opens his notebook after this. The following is an incident that took place one week later in the same class with the same student: Students are sitting in desks moved to form a large table like a corporate boardroom. In this group they are supposed to practice their test-taking skills. Ivan has turned to a student sitting next to him (Lyle) and is talking with him. The teacher looks at Ivan and says, “Be considerate to those around you and work quietly.” Ivan quiets down after hearing this. He is quiet for five more minutes

Matthew Kissel - Chapter 2 Artifact Analysis then starts talking again. “I need you to focus on the task.” Ivan then is quiet for a few more minutes until his friend Lyle starts talking to him. The teacher says to Lyle, “Lyle, will you switch [seats] with Eve?” Then to Eve, “Because he is not being mature enough to sit with Ivan.”

In these pieces of dialogue the teacher shows that she is attaching respect for the classroom environment and those inside it to her classroom norms in order to get students to value being on task and punctual. I call her method “inclusive language.” When she uses inclusive language it suggests to the class that an infraction of the class rules or rituals is an offense to the class and the people in it and not just an issue between the offending student and the teacher. In her first reprimand of Ivan she said, “You are robbing your fellow students of precious learning time.” The teacher did not make Ivan’s disrespect for the rules a matter between him and the teacher by saying “You are taking my time” (which would mean Ivan has wronged only her) or even simply “You are wasting time” (in which Ivan has not wronged anyone but is simply being wasteful of a vague resource). On this method of establishing a common value the teacher has made smooth classroom rituals a common resource that students share and contempt for the rituals is wasteful and therefore harmful to other students like spilling water from a town well during a drought. The observation includes a portion where the inclusive language did not end Ivan’s contempt for the shared classroom rituals and the teacher had to resort to using punishment, moving students’ desks. Classifying Inclusive Language While use of inclusive language is a way of establishing a shared set of values for the classroom the origin of those values ultimately rests with the teacher. Much like the point system the teacher expects students to adopt her values. The major difference is that it does not use an overt punishment

Matthew Kissel - Chapter 2 Artifact Analysis and reward system. The teacher is using this language to convince students that acting in line with the teacher’s value system (valuing students being ready to work on time and working at appropriate noise levels) is the best thing for them to do. There is also a subtle underscore of reward and punishment in the fact that it supports the existence of social consequences as a form of punishment. If other students buy into the notion that the classroom routine is a collective good and infractions are offenses against them students will value the norms the teacher sets because they do not want to upset their peers. Common Values Zone of shared value “Distance” between values Teacher T C S Students Inclusive Language

Inclusive language ultimately ends up in region T of the spectrum because the zone of shared values is closer to the teacher, in fact initial student values are not considered in this method but instead students are convinced to adopt the teacher’s values. It is not as far into region T as the points system because it uses the fact that students tend to value what their peers think of them in its method. While students come over to the teacher’s value system it attempts to use support from peers to move students. Excitement This next artifact is observations from a 7th grade World History class. In this class the teacher spends a lot of time finding things students will have initial interest in and incorporating them into his lessons so that students prioritize learning what he is trying to teach them. The teacher in this class uses conventions such as props, dramatic storytelling, cliffhanger previews, and references to pop

Matthew Kissel - Chapter 2 Artifact Analysis culture to accomplish this. The classroom is completely covered in historical props. These items are used both for decoration and to help students visualize places or people the class studies. When students learn about a person the teacher can present them with a three dimensional image of the person they are learning about. Students can even pass the image of the person around class to stimulate their tactile senses. Props can also be used for dramatic presentations that teach content.

Collection of miniatures.

Replica of a katana. The following is from an observation of the teacher in a lesson about the Samurai: The teacher is explaining the importance of the sword to the samurai warrior who owned it. Teacher: “The samurai kept his katana with him all the time.” The teacher is reaching into his closet and pulls out his replica katana. There are audible gasps from several students. All of the students are looking at the teacher. Teacher: “If a samurai ever lost his sword he had to perform a ritual called seppuku.”

Matthew Kissel - Chapter 2 Artifact Analysis The teacher draws the sword out of its sheath. The following words are punctuated by motions with the sword. Teacher: “He had to cut open his own stomach and show no sign that he was experiencing pain until he died.” One of the students says “whoa!” The use of props and dramatic storytelling are intended to be exciting to students. When this teacher is able to present his props to students successfully then learning the material becomes something that the students value. This also happens when the teacher is able to incorporate elements of popular culture into a lesson. In one observation he used the show South Park to teach students about Islam.

In order to teach students about the Muslim ban on portraying the Prophet Muhammad this teacher has students read an online CNN article2 about controversy over the show attempting to break that ban. Because the show is popular among students (despite its adult themes) and is a subject of many conversations outside of school between them. The teacher is using the students’ value of April 20, 2012

Matthew Kissel - Chapter 2 Artifact Analysis watching and discussing relevant popular culture to establish common values. Classifying Excitement Because the teacher is finding what students will get excited about in order to establish common values this is an example of the teacher adopting values that originated with the students. He has to take time to research popular culture to find references that the students will find relevant and has to find out the kinds of things that excite students in props and dramatic storytelling. Common Values Zone of shared value “Distance” between values Teacher T C S Students

Excitement This method of establishing common values falls into region S because of the fact that the teacher uses values students start out with (the things that excite them) to reach their commonality. Students take interest in learning the material because of the excitement and it becomes a priority for them over things they might do that the teacher would find undesirable (like hold side conversations or be disruptive). The only part of this method that involves the teacher influencing the values of his students is the fact that there is a very implicit reward system behind it. Students can authentically prioritize the learning but their behavior in showing that they are doing that is rewarded by the teacher when he continues to interest them. Because of this there is a small element of teacher values in meeting in the zone of shared value.

Matthew Kissel - Chapter 2 Artifact Analysis Conclusion My main assertion in this chapter is that there must be a hypothetical space that teachers share with their students where they have similar enough values so that both can be motivated to work together and get what they want out of the arrangement. I assert that a scenario in which such a space is not reached would be chaotic because students have no reason to give the teacher what he wants and the teacher has no reason to give the students what they want. In all likeliness classrooms naturally reach this shared space unconsciously the only issue is how it happens and how comfortable it ends up being for both parties. It is self evident to me that humans have values and naturally act in ways that are influenced by those values so it makes logical sense that these values will come into play in the classroom. The question is about the how and the who behind the values that dominate the classroom and build community. How are these values expressed? Who gets to determine what values dominate the classroom community? The artifacts I collected gave different answers to these questions. The point system and the use of inclusive language made the who primarily the teacher while the use of excitement made the who primarily the student. While the how in the point system was the use of reward and punishment through the giving and taking away of points to establish common values the how in the use of inclusive language and excitement involved persuading students that they ought to adopt common values (though there were smacks of punishment the use of persuasive language and reward in the use of excitement). One question not answered in this inquiry process is “which of these sorts of methods is the best method for establishing common values?” In the end all of the classrooms I observed had reached a point of having a classroom community and as I stated above it is very likely that any classroom naturally will develop into something resembling a community. Even though community is probably a matter of destiny one can still consider what that community looks like and how it came to be.

Matthew Kissel - Chapter 2 Artifact Analysis The problem with answering this question is that the answer will depend on who is asking the question. It is a question similar to “Should I eat an omelet for breakfast?” That question depends entirely on what I want to get out of breakfast. I have to consider if I need a high protein diet, if I need to consider how quickly I need to be able to make breakfast and what I feel like eating. To shape the next stage of my inquiry I will need to determine what results from these different methods to find out what actually results form the different methods of establishing common values or if they even have different results from each other. One starting point engage in the next stage of my inquiry would be to find out which methods leave a positive impression on students about the class or subject. After all, if a student misses content in the class or forgets it they have the rest of their lives to learn it over again. In life, however, they do not have a teacher picking what it is they ought to be learning. If they have a positive impression about the subject then it likely they will be willing to revisit the information. In a class designed to give students homework support I interacted with a student who had taken World History from the excitement teacher (Mr. Zed) the previous year. He complained to me about how boring history is for him this year. The following are observation notes from our conversation. Student: Mr. Zed made history really interesting. Last year it was my favorite subject. I ask him some questions about the class that he is able to answer. Like the fact that the Moors invaded Spain in 711 or how the Abassids conquered the Umayyads. The student even volunteered his own information. Student: Did you know that both the Queen of Spain and Columbus were gingers? That’s why she made him go. Because I value making students into life-long learners my next stage of inquiry will focus on the impression students are left with about subject matter from these classes and what they are able to remember.

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