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Collecting Data & Listening with Intention

Written by Danielle Filipiak
February 01, 2012

Below, you will find an excerpt from a  transcribed discussion, which I typed up and projected on a large screen as students debated (another great idea I stole from Ammerah Saidi).  It sheds light on valuable data, which I used to inform my lesson plans later on, as well as create writing prompts from. Lines like, “you don’t ride around the ghetto in a limo” let me know that students “get it.”  They understand metaphor, among many other literary conventions we’ve explored, they are beginning to make powerful connections in understanding power, and they are not afraid of divergent viewpoints. This lets me know so much about my classroom culture and the space I am attempting to create.

Additionally, I ask students to “trend” this kind of data with me, asking about specific lines that are strong, emerging themes, the flow of the discussion and the participation level of those in the debate circle. Who’s talking, who’s not.  Why not?  

While I know that data has become a dirty four-letter word word for many, it doesn’t have to be.  There are many creative ways we can assess where our students are at and include them in this process of “listening” to data; furthermore,if we wish to do so in a way that encourages transformation, we must be intentional about not only the “what”, but also the “how” of data: how is how it is collected, disseminated, and reflected upon by all.  Including students. 

Prompt:

 What are the most effective strategies and tools to establish and maintain power? Use examples from readings, film clips, and life experiences.

 Context: Students watched film, Food Inc, and are currently reading Elie Wiesel’s Night.  They were asked to document:

  1. Who has power
  2. Who doesn’t have power?

(why or why not?)

  1. What tool or strategies are used by those who have power to establish and maintain it?

Hour 3: Al,  Mike, Cherry, Alejandra

Alejandra: the most effective tool is language and knowledge

Mike: the most effective strategy to use is deception

Cherry: using words

Al: to maintain power is having control of the situation

Mike: do we wait for somebody else?

 Class begins to get quiet

 Renee taps out Alejandra

Renee: the most effective tools are lies, because in Food inc, the corporations would tell us lies about our food and make money off of it. 

Cherry: so what they are telling us is keeping secrets from us to eat their food.

Al- I think that in food inc the gov has a lot of power and they are misusing it to control power.  This power is not good for us.  We are eating junk food and the things they are giving us.

Renee– In Night, guns and threats have power- like if the Jews didn’t listen, they would be threatened and killed-shot.

Class has lots of noise as Ed taps out Renee

Teacher: if the class decides to keep talking, we can’t continue these discussions.

Ed: I agree that like weapons can play a big role in power, but I also agree that the greatest weapon in the hands of an oppressor is the mind of the oppressed-  b/c if the oppressed has fear, that makes them easy to manipulate. However, if the oppressed become angry, like in the French Revolution, then the oppressor is screwed. If the oppressed lose their fear, and get angry- then they have an everlasting hunger for revenge.  They can’t be oppressed anymore.

Also, the oppressor is actually scared of the person they are oppressing most of the time anyway

Tap out Renee-Jacob

Jacob: how is oppression hidden?

Ed: they were very obvious-it was obvious who had money and who didn’t

Jacob: how do ppl hide that so nobody ever knows

Ed-I think that you would just try not to be seen doing that kind of thing, like don’t ride around the ghetto in a limo

Jacob: I think that advertising has a lot to do with it, b/c you can put a label on something, and people think it’s a good product, and you buy it- even if its not good for you.

Bell rings