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Courses

Education

Capstone in Education

In the Capstone, students consolidate and build on their prior study in the College to create a portfolio of advanced work, generating an understanding of education as a field of practice. Students build by pursuing research into unifying concepts informed by observation in schools. The aim is for students to generate perspectives on teaching that can prepare them for thoughtful action in educational arenas. Prerequisites: Please email pjones@bennington.edu with a statement of interest by October 31.

  • Peter Jones | SP2013 | T, 8:20AM-12:00PM | EDU4401.01
  • Peter Jones | SP2011 | W, 8:20AM-12:00PM | EDU4401.01
  • Peter Jones | SP2012 | W, 8:20AM-12:00PM | EDU4401.01

Conceptions and Misconceptions

Before even going to school, we work to make sense of the world in which we live and, as a result, develop conceptions as to how our world works. In schools, we broaden that process by developing conceptual frameworks based on learning beyond our everyday experiences. During these processes, we develop both adequate and inadequate conceptual frameworks, with the inadequate ones often resulting in misconceptions. In this course, we will explore the process of developing conceptions, misconceptions, and conceptual change through the study of some common misconceptions, particularly in the areas of history, mathematics, and science. Prerequisite: None.

  • Carol Meyer | SP2012 | MTh, 10:10AM-12:00PM | EDU2150.01

Digital Literacies

Digital literacies, or meaning-making practices in online environments, are both continuous and discontinuous with traditional print literacy and modes of communication. This course investigates the tension between different ways of making meaning from an educational linguistic perspective. It explores the ways that language and discourse are recruited into digital literacies, with consequences for communication and learning. Lenses on digital language and literacies include sociolinguistics, language socialization, ethnography of communication, and Bakhtin's dialogical approach. Students will develop informed critical abilities and bases for interventions in a range of digital contexts. Emphasis will be placed on both official and unofficial literacy apprenticeships and practices in schooling. Prerequisites: None.

  • Peter Jones | SP2013 | T, 4:10PM- 6:00PM | EDU2208.01

Discourse & Learning

We will look at learning taking place in and through interaction, talk, & text in a range of settings, out of school and in. We will explore theories and models of learning and observe activity in classrooms and other social spaces, generating data to hold up to theory, exploring and theorizing congruence between theory and observed practices. Students will observe learning in classrooms, though they can also propose an alternative location for observation of learning activity, subject to approval by instructor. Prerequisites: None.

  • Peter Jones | SP2014 | T, 4:10PM- 6:00PM | EDU2106.01

Discourse and Compassion

In the stated goals and intentions of schooling, communication for cognitive purposes trumps affect. Given the range of difficult experiences many children have both in and out of school, the implementation of content learning in light of affect is crucial. This course explores connections between communication, content, and affect through the study of classroom discourse taking place in local schools. We are specifically looking at compassion in relation to content. What does classroom discourse look like when teachers deliberately pursue academic content in compassionate ways? Teachers in local schools develop with us a provisional model of compassionate academic discourse. Students will contribute to the effort by studying the discourse that is produced in implementation of the model. They will visit local schools and examine artifacts displaying attempts to communicate content compassionately. We thus come to understand communication as discourse and develop analytic resources and skills as we orient to a practical, applied context where it matters. Prerequisites: None.

  • Peter Jones | SP2012 | T, 4:10PM- 6:00PM | EDU2519.01

Discourse and Thinking

We study the social organization of thinking. Discussion, conversation, confrontation, evaluation; in public, at home, in classrooms, on street corners: thinking can be studied as both specialized and ordinary communicative practices. Thinking is understood not so much as a private mental process, but an activity emergent within social interaction and pursued jointly. Approaching the construction and justification of social realities as discursive phenomena makes thinking visible and available to criticism. Throughout the course students gather data and analyze it using discourse analysis. Prerequisites: None.

  • Peter Jones | SP2013 | W, 8:00AM-12:00PM | EDU2520.01

Gender and Education

What role does education play in the construction of masculinity and femininity? In what ways might girls and boys experience of and outcomes from formal schooling differ? How might gender theory as well as insights into issues of power and knowledge, intersecting inequalities, and human agency inform how we approach pedagogy and education research? Through class discussion, readings and critical reflection this class will apply the lens of gender to the study of education. Topics will include the intersection of race, class, gender and sexuality; gender equity and gender achievement gaps; the legacy of Title IX; gender identity; classroom and curriculum issues; and single-sex schooling. Prerequisites: None.

  • Rebecca Ossorio | SP2011 | Th, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | EDU2130.01

Making Computing Socially Relevant

Educators are beginning to attend to the challenges of developing meaningful computer science education: identifying a common core of intended learning outcomes, instructional designs, and assessments. Computer scientists are beginning to attend to the challenges of making computing relevant to communities and society and educating the next generation of computing professionals. However, existing approaches to teaching computing tend to focus on small projects, solely for the consumption of the teacher and students in the class ("toy projects"); formal methods (the "traditional" approach); game development ("projects about toys"); or examples intended to be meaningful to the digital generation ("relevant" projects, but with a lower-case "r"). We will review existing computing curricula such as the Association for Computing Machinery's model K-12 computing curriculum and Cisco Academy; frameworks such as the media computation, robotics, and game approaches to introductory computing; and trends such as recent calls for computational thinking across disciplines to understand efforts to make computing accessible to a wide audience. We'll learn the underlying computing topics (programming, networking, etc.) at a level of detail that will allow us to address issues in curriculum development and instructional, assessment, and evaluation planning. Students will develop learning modules that are Socially Relevant (with a capital "R") meaningful in the sense that they contribute to our understanding of and ability to improve society at large. This course will be of interest to education and computing students and those interested in computing education in service to public action. No prior programming experience is required. Prerequisites: None.

  • William Doane | SP2011 | TF, 4:10PM- 6:00PM | CS2105.01

Principles of Developing Literacies

Literacy is often thought of as one's ability to read the written word, but this simple definition limits both political and educational decisions. As an extension of commonsense definitions of literacy, this course addresses issues of literacy as social theory, as a cultural construct, and as educational and social practice. These more nuanced considerations of literacy raise questions about the changing nature of literacy, what constitutes a literate person, and the varying definitions of "text" in our technologically savvy world. In this course we will join educators at all levels by asking: What makes someone "literate?" What qualifies as a text in today's educational settings? Is a bus schedule, a Shakespeare play, a basal reader story, or a web page each an equally meaningful text? What are various theoretical approaches to literacy instruction? How do these theories transfer into classroom curriculum and instruction? And, what are the personal and political implications of our literacy choices? This course will explore these questions in an effort to understand the underlying principles which guide how educators - from the classroom to the policy board - currently approach texts and literacy in our society. Prerequisites: None.

  • Christine Dawson | SP2012 | W, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | EDU2180.01
  • Michele Whipple-Solomon | SP2011 | W, 2:10PM- 6:00PM | EDU2180.01

Second Language and Culture Acquisition

Language and cultural learning are potentially transformative, yet can seem evanescent, elusive, and difficult to name and deliberately provide for. What conditions contribute to second language and cultural learning of the transformative kind? How does schooling both cooperate with, and block, opportunities for learning new languages and cultures? Sociocultural, interactionist, and linguistic perspectives structure our exploration of the conditions, processes and outcomes of second language learning. Course participants will engage in second language tutoring in the local school district with English as a Second Language students. The course is particularly recommended for preparation for a semester abroad and can also serve as an opportunity to reflect and theorize upon return. Prerequisites: None.

  • Peter Jones | FA2013 | T, 4:10PM- 6:00PM | EDU2521.01
  • Peter Jones | FA2014 | T, 4:10PM- 6:00PM | EDU2521.01
  • Peter Jones | FA2011 | T, 4:10PM- 6:00PM | FLE2521.01
  • Peter Jones | FA2012 | T, 4:10PM- 6:00PM | FLE2521.01

Sociolinguistic Voices: Identities in Text & Talk

Identity has become an inevitable concept in social theory. Theorizing identity and examining how identity becomes relevant in communication contributes to understanding power, culture and agency. This course looks into identity from a sociolinguistic perspective, where identities are seen as coming into being through semiotic practices entailing gender, ethnicity and class, as well as emergent blends that may have enduring consequences. We look into how identities may be generated, ratified, reformulated or resisted using tools drawn from a range of approaches to talk, text and other semiotic modes, including interactional sociolinguistics and micro-ethnography. Course projects can focus on identity work in a range of contexts, including schooling. Prerequisites: None.

  • Peter Jones | SP2011 | T, 4:10PM- 6:00PM | EDU2120.01
  • Peter Jones | SP2014 | W, 8:20AM-12:00PM | EDU2120.01

The Philosophical Roots of American Education

Schools are supposed to prepare students to participate in a democratic society, bring out the best in each student, and teach knowledge for its own sake. These ideas emerge from different philosophical traditions and have spawned various educational theories. Through reading a wide variety of works by educational theorists, we will develop a historical perspective on movements and approaches to education (including progressivism, behaviorism, and constructivism) while learning to unpack assumptions and analyze arguments. Ultimately, through analytical reading and writing, students will articulate their own beliefs about the goals of and practices in schools. This course has evolved from EDU2207 Teaching and Learning and therefore there will be overlap between the courses. Prerequisites: None.

  • Carol Meyer | FA2011 | MTh, 2:10PM- 4:00PM | EDU2307.01

Understanding Children and Their Worlds

This course provides an opportunity for students to study the lives of young children and the settings that facilitate optimal learning. Through classroom investigations, readings, and critical reflection, students will develop an understanding of how young children develop and how to create educational settings to enhance this development. This course includes field trips chosen to expose students to different philosophies of education in action. Emphasis will be placed on developing the inquiry skills of presence, observation and description. Prerequisites: None.

  • Rebecca Ossorio | FA2012 | M, 8:20AM-12:00PM | EDU2102.01

Ways with Words: Literacy in Practice

Historically, "literacy" often has referred to one's ability to read and write. But that definition is expanding, shaped by discussions of new literacy studies, digital media, and common learning standards. This course explores questions related to literacy learning in our modern context. Our primary goal this semester is to use a more complex understanding of literacy to inform how we think about literacy instruction. We will be exploring literacy education as it applies to emerging literacy, early literacy, and adolescent literacy. We will consider how the learner and his/her qualities (e.g., age, experience, interests, background) affect his/her literacy practices, how teachers can assess a learner's needs, and how teachers can support students in developing meaningful, lifelong literacy practices. Across our discussions, we will consider the ways a teacher's knowledge and beliefs, a learner's strengths and needs, and the instructional purposes and assessments shape instruction. This course emphasizes an inquiry stance, both as a learner and as a potential literacy teacher. Such a stance prompts us to inquire into our own journeys and experiences as literacy learners, and it encourages us to inquire into the literacy journeys and experiences of diverse students from Kindergarten through high school. While this course focuses on how literacy is taught and can be taught in schools, it is not just a course for teachers, especially if we consider literacy learning as something that we do throughout life and across contexts. To this end, students in this class will engage in literacy tutoring in several different area schools as part of the course requirements. Prerequisites: None.

  • Christine Dawson | FA2011 | M, 4:10PM- 6:00PM | EDU2177.01
  • Christine Dawson | FA2012 | T, 4:10PM- 6:00PM | EDU2177.01