Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Yeah, I embedded a video! ! ! ! Thanks Dr. Bogad!  I love school.  (see last 2 posts. . . )

Sunday, February 23, 2014

FNED 346
Dr. Bogad

Inside the Classroom Walls
foundations for an inclusive and safe society

“Classrooms lay the foundations for an inclusive and safe society: a just community where common interests and individual differences coexist.”  The world would be a wonderful place if this were true. And in fairness to everyone, it should be true.  In Amazing Grace, Kozol stated that if we do not acknowledge the problem we cannot even begin to fix it.  So too, the authors of “Inside the Classroom walls” argue that in any classroom, “silence in the presence of anti-LGBT statements (and attitudes) suggests acceptance and approval.”

So even though the walls of a classroom create a definitive space, the authors assert that it is not necessarily a safe and nurturing place.  Much like osmosis, these walls are permeable to the beliefs and assumptions of the community at large.  Students and teachers reflect the community.  So the challenge becomes how do we create a classroom where difference, specifically the LGBT community, is “expected, explored, and embraced,”  and students  “develop perspectives that result in respectful behaviors”.  And the inclusive and safe classroom becomes real.
                          ( kidsActivityBlog.com)

I took this article to heart.  I am headed towards high school classrooms.  The beliefs and assumptions that I expect to encounter, good or bad, will have been boiling for a long time.  More than once I found myself thinking “the more I know the less I know.”  And although it wasn't high school, the manner in which the kindergarten teacher challenged a child’s intent by having him research the meaning of his “hurtful” words, disarmed the child's intent.  This was a powerful technique.

I recently observed a High School class that was engaged in a lively group discussion about the human reproductive system.  I was struck by the maturity of the students, and the non challant way in which they followed the teachers prompts with potentially uncomfortable material.  But there was no visible discomfort in the students behaviors.  What they were learning were facts.  There was nothing to judge.  This particular teacher had clearly defined the rules of acceptable behavior.  It was visible in the classroom.  Of course not everything is on the surface.  But as an observer it was an extremely positive and hopeful experience.

In my field work at a local alternative high school, I have three students who are enrolled in a college level course on Human Sexuality.  During our first tutoring session, one of the students shared their paper on the history of Homosexuality in Rome.  The topic was the student’s choice.  All three students seemed completely matter of fact about the material.  Granted this is an alternative high school, where part of the mission statement is one student at a time.  It is a priority that each student is celebrated for who they are and what they want to pursue.  But I was again impressed.  In both of these high school scenarios, something good is happening.  I am however aware that I may be observing only the tip of an iceberg.

At the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, GLBT intolerance is written in the law.  I feel this is worth mentioning because it is currently a punishable crime to behave “openly” gay in public.

In July 13, 2013, The New York Times published the following:  "A few days earlier, just six months before Russia hosts the 2014 Winter Games, Mr. Putin signed into law allowing police officers to arrest tourists and foreign nationals they suspect of being homosexual, lesbian or “pro-gay” and detain them for up to 14 days. Contrary to what the International Olympic Committee says, the law could mean that any Olympic athlete, trainer, reporter, family member or fan who is gay — or suspected of being gay, or just accused of being gay — can go to jail."  (Fierstien, New York Times 7/31/13)

Upon hearing this, I was shocked that the United States did not decide to boycott the games, or at least challenge Russia on such an outrageous policy.  After all, we had boycotted the olympics in 1980 over the Russian invasion of Afghanistan.  Yes the situations are different, however the common thread is/was persecution.  And we do not know what other countries might have joined suit.  Nevertheless,  I do not understand how the current climate around the games does not infuriate the global community.  

This first link is to CNN, detailing the public flogging of the band Pussy Riot and the concerns of what will happen next.


This is an interview of Stephen Colbert, two members of “Pussy Riot”, and their interpreter.  The two women had just been released from a Russian prison.

And just because you may not be gay, lesbian bisexual or transgender, doesn't mean you are not being victimized as well.  What we have in common with our fellow man is the human condition.  Persecution affects everyone.

I take from this article some valuable techniques.  As our class moves forward I hope that there is more sharing of personal experience and observation.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Every Child needs a champion.  It's just under 8 minutes long.  A terrific site, this is wonderfully inspirational  (Yes I know, my first reaction was I do not have eight minutes. . . Listen to it while you brush your teeth. . . . )

and then there's this. . . .

Understanding by design
SED 407
Prof. Napolitano

UbD response

“Understanding by Design” provides a curriculum planning framework for organizing big ideas for learning into manageable and assessable lesson plans.   The framework describes effective learning as a “Backwards” scenario.  Beginning with analyzing what is to be learned; the big picture, followed by the essential questions: the big picture objectives, then developing pre, during and post assessment techniques.  Only then can one create truly effective lesson plans.  The concepts of a Big Picture and Essential Questions align perfectly with the design and development of thought provoking effective units and lesson planning, and direct explicit teaching that I am currently exploring in SED 406 and FNED 346.  Once again I feel as if I am the student that I am learning these processes for.  I will be working on my first lesson plan soon.  Understanding by design makes so much sense.

Module A, part one of the concept “Understanding by Design”, gives a descriptive account of what is considered the Big Picture.  While reading, (before reaching "What Is Understanding?" on page 6) I had a bit of a knee jerk reaction to the word “understanding”.  Bloom’s Taxonomy discourages using “understanding” as an objective behavior because it is difficult to measure without additional context or explicitly defined conditions.  I continued to read "What Is Understanding?" and was pleased that my concern was addressed (to my satisfaction, as if that matters!).

In Module F, part 2 of “Understanding by Design”, the essence of an essential question is explained.   Similar to the objectives used by Bloom, the essential questions are objectives for students to achieve, but are a bit more open ended. They could be answered with a "yes" or "no" but encourage further inquiry by the phrasing of the questions.  They provide a jumping off point for true learning.  These Essential Questions aid the teacher in focusing a unit while prioritizing appropriate issues. 

Using both Modules, A and F, teachers and unit designers, should be able to develop “thought-provoking essential questions related to the unit topic and understanding goals” and “precisely state the desired understandings as full-sentence generalizations.”  ( p.70)

This approach, consistent with the principles I am working with in my other Education classes, provides additional consistent supporting tools for the development of good unit design.  It also supports the reflective approach to teaching.  With gratitude, I have added them to my toolbox!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Aria, by Richard Rodriguez

FNED 346

Dr. Bogad

Aria, by Richard Rodriguez

In his article, “Aria”, Rodriguez begins his story by making a distinction between speaking Spanish, the private language of his family at home, and learning formal English in school, the public language of the United States.  Rodriguez compares his experience of learning English as a child with a loss of intimacy within his family life.  In his particular case the catholic educational system denied him his culture, evidenced by the nuns' visiting his parents to request that they speak english to their children.  A well meaning however insensitive intervention by the catholic church to address what they believed to be a potential student at risk situation.

For such a young child, Rodriguez had an astute awareness that it was his right and in his best interest to learn english.  It was the public language, the primary means in which to communicate with the world.  It was true.  To be denied this right was to be denied the respect and opportunities that afforded those who speak english.  This is apart from the effect of race and economic status on privilege.  In Delpit’s words, for Rodriguez, english was the literacy of power, the “culture of power.” (Delpit, "Other People's Children", 2001)   But for Rodriguez, even though he chose to learn English, it was at the painful cost of lost intimacy at home.  The nuns behavior was a far cry from the compassionate approach to learning that native Alaskan teacher Martha Demientieff took helping her students appreciate the value of embracing both their “heritage language” and “Formal English”. (Delpit, 2001, p.41)

Rodriguez recalls a pivotal moment at 7 years old, when he stood up in his class and proudly answered a question correctly in english.  A turning point by his admission, english became his primary language.  

When I was 7 years old my family took a sabbatical in Holland for a year.  My 2 sisters and I were enrolled in Dutch schools and within a month my whole family was fairly comfortable speaking Dutch, adequately, with each other, in school and in public.  However as both of my parents spoke German as a first language and english as a second language, adding another language seemed commonplace.  My sisters and I were already used to hearing two languages.  We understood enough German from listening to my parents as they frequently drifted back and forth between the two.  But by no means am I implying that my situation was in any way similar to what Rodriguez recalls except to say we were both young, impressionable and 7 years old.  And in contrast to his memories, I have never felt that my personal heritage was ever at risk based on how we were required to communicate with the outside world.  On the contrary as a first generation American with very mixed cultural roots, I had a difficult time empathizing with this story.  It felt as if there was something deeper going on, and learning the English language wasn’t fully to blame.  I do not claim to understand what that deeper issue is.  And although I am white, social and economic privilege in my family was earned by my parents.  After all they were German born and had immigrated to America in the early 50's with both jewish and christian roots.  My mother came from Germany, my father traveled from South America.

In “Other People’s Children” Delpit believes that learning to speak English in America is analogous to learning the rules of a culture of power.  But it doesn't need to be an indictment of a person’s personal heritage.  On the contrary it means one can learn the rules of the inherently privileged and how to utilize those rules to open doors to future career and economic opportunities for oneself.  Rodriguez’s recollection was the opposite.  He described a decreased connection with his family and their culture as his proficiency with the English language improved.  In exchange for opportunity, he felt denied of his heritage.

Although my parents were bilingual, english was and is my first language, and I watched my parents earn privilege through hard work and great sacrifice on our behalf.  My father was in higher education, my mother, also well educated, had to guide her family, her children through the ways of America.  Learning for the greater good was front and center in my home and community.  Our house was also brimming with the universal languages of music and art.  I never experienced the type of personal loss Rodriguez speaks of.  

Attached is a link to Wikipedia for Richard Rodriguez.  Not surprisingly, he has received many literary accolades including a Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction writing.  He is outspoken and well versed in the topics of bilingual education and affirmative action.


And this is a painting from my Paternal Grandmother, a piece of my culture.  

AND, I had to add this.  It's is a link to Jon Stewart's Feb 14, 2014 interview of NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio.  The mayor talks about policy initiatives to end the stop and frisk tactics that targeted young black males, and his initiative to make Pre-K accessible to all city children. . . . this is truly amazing.  Good things are happening. . .


Friday, February 14, 2014

Observation #1 Central Falls High School

SED 406

Prof. Kraus

Observations at Central Falls High School #1

I have to admit, our first trip to CFHS, was a bit of a dream come true.  I had an agenda.  I was secretly hoping to observe a specific teacher.  I had come across his name on more than one occasion and was curious.  Needless to say when J and I were given our assignment and it was his class, I was quite pleased. 

Off we headed down empty halls, passing artwork, and closed doors of classes in session.

Our entrance into the room mid class caused no visible interruption.  There were approximately 20 teenagers, a fairly equal mix of black and Latino students.  The dress was casual, with most students wearing jeans.  

The room itself was lively and colorful.  There were three individual signs by the main entrance:
On the other side of the same door were two more large signs.  The first titled “Habits of good readers.”  The second sign read:
Scattered around the room were visual aids, anatomical diagrams with callouts, and student art.  There was an aquarium with an Iguana, next to it was a rabbit, and across the room was a screened container with germinating seeds.  All signs of a learner centered classroom.

Mr. U was energetically describing the reproductive system of the human body.  He was quick and engaging, and the students, were entertained but actively listening and responding to his rapid fire questions.  He addressed them as Mr. A or Ms. C.   He would call on a particular student, but they were raising their hands as well.  Mr. U shared anecdotes and personal stories to help his students relate to the material.  Following this spirited exchange, Mr. U directed the students to work in groups.  They were to identify the 6 different Human body systems that were projected at the front of the room.  I took the opportunity to sit with a lone student just to my left.  I introduced myself, and she did the same.  She proceeded to share a bit about her feelings for the class.  She liked this teacher, his style.  She had a quiet confidence, and ambition evidenced by her future goals of going to college, and becoming a nurse.  She showed me her answers.  They were visible, measurable and correct.
Moments later, the class was dismissed the next one entered.  Two students arrived late.  Mr. U looked at the first and said “I know where you were” then turned to the other and said “you can tell me your excuse after school”  There was no protest from either one.  Mr. U proceeded to hit the class with a knowledge based question that was projected on the board at the front of the room.  He followed with a second question based on comprehension of the first.  This teacher didn’t miss a beat.  He was in complete control. His students knew the rules of his domain and none of them challenged it.  The 3 students I spoke with all agreed that it was both his personality and his teaching style that they liked.

J and I left this class room and dropped in on the one across the hall.  Also a science class, there were at most 5 kids in this class.  It seemed that these students were struggling a bit with the material and with school.  They were being quite vocal about their dislike of school and that they wouldn’t be there if they didn’t have to be.  It did feel as if this indignancy was at least in part for our benefit.

J and I had seated ourselves on either side of a young male black student.  In spite of the comments being expressed by his classmates, this student was quietly studying the answers to an evolution worksheet.  I believe they were about to take a test.  I asked him if he understood the material he was working on.  He said yes.  I asked if he liked school, and he replied no.  I asked why.  He answered with one word.  “Necap”.  He then asked what I was doing.  I told him about my degree in biology but that I had been an artist for a long time, and that I hoped to become a biology teacher.  We talked about animation and gaming.  His plan was to start at CCRI, and then transfer to RIC.  He wanted to become a police officer.  

There were solid connections between the topics and methods being addressed in my RIC education classes and what I observed at Central Falls High School on Wednesday.   Although we had missed the beginning of his class Mr. U shared with us that each of his students had received a guide at the beginning of the unit, and that earlier in the week the students did presentations.  On this day Mr. U was reviewing the material, had the students study the information again in groups, and then individually complete a quiz. Mr. U's class reflected a direct teaching method.  The interactions I had with individual students were encouraging.  They talked comfortably about their dreams.  For myself this was a rewarding experience, and I look forward to future visits to CFHS.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

SED 407

Prof. Napolitano

Thoughts on "A Theory of Reading"

I have written and rewritten this first paragraph of an assessment of J. Wilhelm’s  “A Theory of Teaching” more times than I care to count.  I tried writing the middle first, then the end.  I thought maybe sleep would help.  Then, at some point, there came a very tiny “aha” moment and here it is.  Wilhelm introduces the theories of teaching reading, I read, he describes the best ways to teach, I read more, he compares techniques, I am still reading.  Then on Page 54, he shares the “Six Methods for Teaching Reading Strategies”.   And there it is.  

Perhaps this text exceeds my own “zone of Proximal Development”.  I was certainly frustrated with this material.  And it clearly reminded me of my high school and first college experience.  We were left to our own devices in text driven classes.  I was exhausted, feeling helpless, and believed I was stupid.  English is my first language, I am white, middle class, grew up in a liberal highly educated  family and community.  And yet I felt inadequate.  In retrospect, I reflect on that time in life and accept that I was not interested in the reading.  It did not relate to the world I wanted to be in.  I was not an at risk student but if a student is struggling is it not at least similar?  I am in this text.  It is Escher-esk.  And that is why I struggled with this assignment.

                                              M. C. Escher, 1948

Can you see it?

Getting back to Wilhelm, here is my original questions, “Self, what did you get out of this, what can you get out of this?”  

There are connections between Vygotsky’s theory and Hillock’s “environmental teaching” with elements in my other education classes.  Good.  I like that.  In SED 406, I am creating a lesson plan based on “Direct Teaching”.  It is a Learning Centered Teaching model.  If it is not Vitgoskty, it is very close.

For my “Direct Teaching” lesson plan, the goals must be clear.  Objectives must be visible and measurable.  The lesson has degrees of difficulty starting with simple tasks, teacher modeling, then leading the learner through group activities towards more difficult development of new abilities and finally independence. And there must be a way to assess success, and learned abilities.

Wilhelm’s summation of the “Six Methods for Teaching Reading Strategies” (53) includes all of the above.  I find myself, as I have so often this semester, feeling grateful.  Grateful for the continuity, guidance and methods that will help as I move towards certification.  And so these Six Methods are now part of my tool box.  And that’s what I “got”.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sunday, February 9, 2014

FNED 346

Dr Bogad

"Other's People's Children, recognizing Cultural Conflict in the Classroom"

In the article “Other People’s Children, Cultural Conflict in the Classroom” Lisa Delpit shares her insight on the debate among many educators on how best to teach literacy to the diversity of children in a classroom.  As students ourselves, we are continually reminded that one of our biggest challenges will be how to address that diversity.  How do we effectively teach every child everything they need to be successful?  To understand this debate, Delpit examines what she refers to as a “culture of power”.  She believes that every culture has a unique form of communication, and that in the classroom one culture dominates all others.  The result is that children who are already products of this dominant culture, middle and upper class white children, have a distinct advantage over their classmates.  The teaching ideology currently used is best suited to the learning abilities of the white children from this "culture of power", and consequently they have access to the best opportunities for future employment.  The rest of the class is labeled.  They are considered not as smart, savvy, or prepared.  But they are simply victims of a troubled educational system.

Delpit continues to help us understand this “culture of power” by dividing it into five categories.  My interest is in the second category, “the ways of talking, ways of writing, ways of dressing, and the ways of interacting”  These are behaviors that those in power understand, respect and reward.  If you already know, or can learn, and apply these rules to your social interactions, you are “playing the game” and you will have a better chance of succeeding in the world of privilege, in this case the workplace.

Delpit’s points are similar to McIntosh’s in “White Privilege” (2001).  McIntosh shows us that if the privileged deny the existence of racism, they are denying responsibility for a problem they are in part responsible for.  Delpit points out that many of the privileged do not recognize the existence of cross cultural problems in the classroom.  They too are denying the existence of the "culture of power", so deny responsibility for a failed system that they helped design.  In addition, if educators of color and the students of other cultures also deny the existence of the culture or “linguistics" of power they are doomed to fail.  As with all problems, nothing can be fixed unless it is recognized and acknowledged first.  And as we have seen in our readings so far, denial is pervasive in our society, although it could be an indication of how helpless many of us feel.  

I am grateful for this article.  And particularly grateful for Martha Demientieff.  A “masterful Native Alaskan” teacher who created an environment where she helped her students embrace two cultures, their own “heritage language” and “Formal English” (the culture of power).   Demientieff  set up visual examples of the contrasting cultures and explained that there were “people, not like those in (their) village , who judge others by the way they talk or write.”  She explained the differences as facts and helped her students see that is was a good thing.  She was teaching her students how to be successful in the real world.  I am impressed by such a simple yet effective model, she has given me something useful, and I am putting it in my toolbox.  I believe that the state of our economy can be blamed in part on this culture of power.  Imagine how different the workforce would look if it was driven by talent and skill.  Instead the judgements keep qualified applicants form securing positions simply because they cannot play the game and communicate in “formal english”.

Demientieff shows that the game can be defined, and the rules can be clarified.  My field work is at the Met Alternative high school.  All of the students are responsible for creating internships and are already learning that playing the game isn’t denying your own culture, it’s being smart about creating opportunities for yourself.  

I would be interested in discussing the power culture in the news media.  Newscasters speak in “formal english”.  Ironically Oprah Winfrey lost her first broadcasting job because she was told she wasn’t Television material.  In spite of that initial setback, she has become one of the most powerful women in this country.  Just listen to how she speaks.  She played the game.  And after achieving her position of power, she began putting programs in place to challenge that culture of power.  Below is a link to a short video showcasing the first graduating class at the Leadership Academy in South Africa in 2012.  It is important to note that Delpit believes that for true change to occur it needs to be initiated at the top.  Oprah's South African Academy is a perfect example of change coming from the top.


I am including this photo as well.  Look at the sign.  It was created by a graphic designer.  What a great example of someone in a position of "power" helping someone that doesn't have the "linguistic skills" to create this work of art.  How would you react if you drove by this person.  And look at the smile on her face.  I think this is wonderful . . . The little things add up!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

SED 406

Prof. Kraus
Central Falls High School

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”   Margaret Mead  

I have lived in Rhode Island for much of my adult life.  I raised a daughter here.  I had the privilege to chose to live in a community where I could have my dream: a home, a studio for my art, 2 dogs in the yard and good schools for my daughter. 

I know little of Central Falls.  I certainly did not know about the National attention it had been receiving, and not just regarding the school system.  The LA Times stated “Central Falls” was “widely held up as a national worst-case scenario” regarding “drastic benefit cuts” for public employees due to underfunded pensions. (2013)

But this is about Central Falls High School (CFHS).  The Annenberg Institute at Brown University cited CFHS as being one of the “lowest achieving schools”  in the country. (Jan. 2013).  By federal law, it was required to choose one of “four intervention models: turnaround, restart, school closure, or transformation.”  The transformation model was the chosen option with the goal to: “increase the graduation rate, increase mathematics proficiency rates and improve the culture and climate of the school”.  (Annenberg Institute, Jan 2010, Para. 1)  Implementation of the transformation was a struggle.  Negotiations between the school board, school superintendent, and the teachers’ union failed resulting in the firing of the principal, 3 assistant principals and 77 teachers.  Not surprisingly this made national news.

Fast forward to 2014.  Many of the teachers were rehired. Test scores are improving as is teacher morale.  (Harrison, Dec. 2013)   CFHS is also offering community programs to help the families and younger children of Central Falls.  As a RIC undergrad or graduate student, there are opportunities to tutor at CFHS in every subject.  The school is committed to moving forward.  And the more I read the more remarkable my impression of this school becomes.

But it has been a long time since I have been in a traditional high school classroom.  I do not know what to expect.  My High School experience was not great.  My family went on a sabbatical  during my 10th grade, so by the time 11th grade arrived, I did not “belong”.  I studied hard, and if I wasn't in class I was avoiding the roaming groups of kids looking for someone to bully and I never once went into the school cafeteria for the same reason.  Somehow I imagine walking the halls of CFHS will feel similar to what one sees in entertainment and film.  A little bit of everything.  But in the classroom I hope to see a learner centered environment.  My focus is Biology, and I would be thrilled to observe Ric alumnus David Upequi.  A year ago, this biology teacher was the recipient of one of 13 Amgen Awards.  He was chosen for his “outstanding ability to inspire (his) students and produce results in science education”. (RIC News, june 2013)  And it appears there is an Iguana in his room.  And I love Iguanas!

You can read more about Upequi on the RIC educational news page, 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

FNED 346

Dr. Bogad

Jonathon Kozol, "Amazing Grace"

In “Amazing Grace”, Jonathon Kozol offers a subjective view of Mott Haven, NY in 1995.   95% of the population were poor in this section of the south Bronx which boasted the largest concentration of racially segregated people in the US.  Children in the school system received free lunches because they were categorized as “destitute”.  This, in the heart of New York City, a place where “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.”  Kozol offers no solutions.  And I believe his choice to write this was about acknowledgement and raising consciousness.  He never injects his own feelings into the dialogues he had with the children, adolescents and adults of this community.  In 1995, it was with “amazing grace” that the men women and children of Mott Haven lived their lives.

As a nation if we are to have a conscience about this horrific quality of life in our own backyard, Mott Haven, we have to acknowledge that it exists.  In “White Privilege: Unspeaking the Invisible Knapsack”  McIntosh states that obliviousness to the existence of privilege (or lack there of) is strongly “inculturated” in our country so as to maintain the myth that choice is available to all.  The privileged cling to the illusion that they are doing good, helping those less fortunate, without actually doing anything.  For purposes of discussion, the less fortunate in this case are the residents of Mott Haven.  And through Kozol’s accounts, we see the inability of a government implemented welfare system to help those who “chose” to get help.  For many in Mott Haven, resignation was an easier option after multiple attempts to work within the system failed.  So this choice looked like poverty and destitution.  Our government, those with power and privilege created the welfare system and in Mott Haven it wasn’t working.  

In “Privilege Power and Difference”, I was stuck on a notion that was never addressed in the article: Do the inherently privileged want things to change, do they want their lives to change.  Can things change?  What should we as a society do to facilitate change?  What can individuals do?  How can the residents of Mott Haven change their position, if the system created by those with power to help them doesn’t work?  What can I do?

McIntosh offers that “systemic change takes many decades”.  It is almost 20 years later.  Is there evidence of change in Mott Haven?  Let’s see. . . . 

Attached is a link to an article by Jessica Glazer in the Mott Haven Herald in June of 2012.  It is one example of a positive change.  Through funds donated by a farm in California, the students in a Charter School designed for children in the welfare system planted a roof top garden.  Read more about this uplifting project at


Picture from Article "Rooftop garden opens atop charter school" By Jessica Glazer Nov. 6, 2012

Footnote:  I read Amazing Grace once, I cried.  Being oblivious felt better. I read McIntosh’s article twice and had to look up the definitions of more than one word.  This was a difficult assignment, and I look forward to seeing what my fellow students chose this week.