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Adolescents on the Edge

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James Lawrence

on 15 August 2013

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Transcript of Adolescents on the Edge

Jimmy Santiago Baca's
Adolescents on the Edge (2010)
with ReLeah Cossett Lent

Prezi by:
Erica Johnson
Mary Kuchar
James Lawrence

Western Michigan University
Summer 2013

Part One: Chapters 1-3
Part One Continued:
Chapters 4-6

Part Two: Baca's Stories
Community and Trust
Engagement and Motivation
Challenge and Self-Efficacy
Collaboration and Group Work: Literature Circles
Writing and Learning
Introducing: Jimmy Santiago Baca
A successful and recognized poet, writer, producer, and educator...
it was a tough journey to get there:
Selected Stories
Major themes and ideas for classroom practice
The Interview
A glimpse into the challenges of adult literacy and learning
Baca provides account of his journey toward literacy and eventual mastery as a professional writer.
How to foster self-efficacy:
Publish student writing in the school newspaper
Involve parents and invite them to literacy events
Give students the opportunity to respond positively to their peers' writing
His Stories
Part Two:
Contains ten short, autobiographical stories written with adolescents in mind.
Learned to read and write "to understand people and systems," as well as what he had been through (p. 81).
Parents left him with his grandma at five years old, who then gave him up to an orphanage.
Ran away from the orphanage, lived on the streets, and was eventually arrested on heroin charges; sentenced 5-10 years, no parole.
Learned to READ and WRITE while in prison.
Arranged thematically:
Longing for Love



Each story is followed by suggestions for teaching, using an organized, yet simplified lesson plan format, including suggestions for use "beyond the classroom."
Unifying themes also include:
The power of self-expression
The power of language and education
Searching for common truths among human experiences
Challenges he faced in life, in addition to his culture and heritage, inform his writing and teaching.
Longing for Love:
"Wells Market"
A story of Christmas time in the orphanage
The Suggestions for Teaching
Best Practices
End-of-story suggestions echo the best practices outlined in Part One of the book:
Creating a safe environment for students
Purposeful group work and collaboration
Teaching reading and writing as processes
Providing opportunities for critical thought
Higher-order questioning
Many opportunities for discussion, reading, and writing
Student-directed research
Multiple means of expression, representation, and engagement
Use of technology
Quality assessment practices to inform instruction
"That was all I ever wanted, to be respected
and loved." (p. 83) -Jimmy Santiago Baca
"Sign Language, Convict Style"
Language as "a conduit to our emotional lives" (p. 118)
The power of language and self expression among convicts during a writing workshop
Poetry workshop held by Baca
Broke down barriers between the different groups of convicts (i.e. racial and cultural, gang affiliation)...unity through language and shared experiences.
Ideas for Teaching:
Text analysis of passages
Marking and highlighting during reading
No pressure free writing, no grade, sharing if they want to...just like the convicts in the story.
Writing workshop with female prisoners, who disclosed the horrors they faced from the men in their lives.
Baca decided to inject some positivity:
Got birdhouses for them to choose from for their "new families"
decorated and personalized, then journaled about nature

Ritual of "creating a new beginning, cleansing of their previous sorrows, sharing in creation, but also confronting pain and loss" (p. 129)
Ideas for Teaching:
Content vocab - symbolism
Connecting text-to-self
Freewriting about nature
Group work and collaboration to create
Deals with loneliness and the desire for a mother figure, or anyone who might care.
Baca sought experiences to temporarily fill this void.
Many of Baca's stories involve intense emotion and imagery, as in "Wells Market"
Ideas for Teaching:
Setting group roles (i.e. recorder, facilitator)
Setting multiple purposes for reading
Using visual presentations and providing multiple means of expression for students.
On Teaching
Baca chooses to work with the young, gangbangers, blue-collar workers, convicts, and illiterate adults
to "unteach them what they were taught about who they are" (p. 158)
DVD Resource
Included, too!
Contains live performances, interviews, and teaching by Baca and Lent.
Emphasizes the importance of leaving our comfort zones when writing; of opening up to our deepest emotions.
"Language contains who we are as a person and allows us to be reborn" (p. 153).
Believes in the power of language to melt opposition and barriers in life.
Repeatedly stresses that to be a writer, one must write, and write what they know.
Additional ideas for using the video content with students or teachers (professional development).
Baca on why he writes poetry.
Baca and Lent provide a useful resource for teachers and students, focusing on best practices and pedagogical elements which lead to increased student learning and engagement.
Baca's autobiographical stories will appeal to a broad audience and provide ample material to explore the power of literacy in the classroom, particularly at the secondary level.
Research-validated instructional practices will work at all educational levels.
Students reported that "making choices" and "doing things," as opposed to simply reading the text, helped them not only overcome their decoding problems but also enjoy the experience of literature while rethinking the act of reading and their roles as readers (Baca 2010).
Performances and Projects
Writing Wordle
Power of Writing
"Writing has the power not only to transform individuals but to knit together communities by evoking trust, common experience, and compassion' (Baca, 2010)
~Learning Logs
`Writer's Notebook
~Digital Writing
A Few More Quotes...
"Resist the urge to grade every piece of writing students produce" (Baca, 2010)
The Value of Discussion
"Students must learn how to become connected, to really listen to each other, and try to understand others' viewpoints even if they differ radically from their own" (Baca, 2010)
"It is this collective intellectual energy that sparks creative ideas and leads not only to deeper understanding but new learning within a community" (Baca, 2010)
"Students learn from peers because they value peers' opinions and are influenced by them in ways they are not influenced by teachers" (Roskelly).
*Everyone will participate in discussions.
*Members will signal when they want to interject a comment by ___________.
*We will take a time-out if the discussion becomes adversarial or non-productive.
Group Norms
*Freeze Frame
*Reader's Theatre
*Directing the Show
*Poetry COffee House
*In the News

"In a trusting environment, students feel free to take intellectual and emotional risks while learning about social boundaries." (Baca, 2010)
Invite Students In
"When students believe that the space in which they learn is theirs, they will work together to maintain it, building community along the way."
(Baca, 2010)
Allow students to collectively make decisions about classroom expectations, procedures and assignments.
Put artistic students in charge of making bulletin boards.
Celebrate positive events and share good news.
Take pictures of moments that define community.
Model the Behaviors of Strong Relationships
"It is extremely important for students to observe how one person deals with another when there is conflict or disagreement."
(Baca, 2010)
Speak firmly but kindly
Use reason instead of pulling rank
Express caring even though you may be upset or angry.
"It is not the teachers' job to keep the students engaged, but rather to provide relevant and meaningful text, assignments, and opportunities for learning that will foster engagement as a natural byproduct." (Baca, 2010)
"Students must feel safe to take risks and make mistakes as an important part of the of the process of understanding." (Baca, 2010)
Use prompts like:
How have human lives been improved because of mistakes someone made while learning? (E.g. Thomas Edison)
"For too long, American teachers have been giving the proverbial fish instead of teaching students to fish for life." (Baca, 2010)
Give up control over things that don't matter
Ask students to assume classroom tasks
"The potency of one's belief about the self is phenomenal."
(Alvermann, 2003)
"When challenge increases, engagement often soars." (Baca, 2010)
Challenge Thinking:
Ask hard questions to think about and discuss issues.
Critical Questioning:
Teach students to examine online, text based, and media sources.
"Increasing students' self-efficacy often means looking at students with new eyes, seeing their potential in place of their failures." (Baca, 2010)
Full transcript