Sunday, September 23, 2007

Studying Takaki

In her comments of my blog Dr. Lawrence asked me why I read Takaki like a novel but read Stiggins and Wineberg (and the articles) with a pen in hand. I read Takaki looking for things that I already know and use that previous knowledge to guide my reading. I also read Takaki thinking about what resources in American Memory or other parts of the Library's website relate to what I'm reading and how I would teach it to students. For example as I read the section on the Cherokee and the Trail of Tears I thought about a young women who used the Trail of Tears as the basis of her performance for the DC competition for National History Day. She was so angry in her performance and in her process paper noted that she still hated Andrew Jackson for uprooting the Indians. As I read Takaki I could better understand her hatred of Jackson though I wondered why she did not mention the landowners and the people that came in and didn't allow the Cherokee to take their belongings when they were evicted from their lands.

On the other hand Wineberg and Stigins have new information that I have not been exposed to and I use a pen to write questions or highlight a few things that I want to remember or think are interesting.

When I do my readind, I sit at my dining room table, grab a pen and start to read. This week as a I read Takaki I actually wrote on a separate piece of paper what resources I would use for teaching and an idea for a question I would want to ask students as part of a class assignment.

Part of my studying also takes place at work the next day. I find that if I discuss what I've read I will retain it better. So I talk to my colleagues (all of whom are former teachers) and they often tie what I've read to experiences in the classroom or experiences at work. In terms of Takaki one of my colleagues has a very activist husband who leads a very politically active church and often quotes civil rights leaders and historians in his blog. She will talk to me about some of her experiences with her husband and some of the reading he has done which also helps reinforce what I learned in my reading.

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