Social Forces

Social forces and trends are continually changing. They are also effecting schools’ curriculum and planning. Here are some of areas of social forces:

1) Social goals
2) Conceptions of culture
3) the Tension between cultural uniformity and diversity
4) Social pressures
5) Social change
6) Future planning

For more information, read about the three different levels of social forces.

When building a curriculum or instruction, these 10 social forces should be taken into consideration:

1) Increasing Ethnic and Cultural Diversity- an educator should emphasize the “salad bowl” theory over the “melting pot” and preserve and share cultural diversity, as the population of schools continues to be more and more diverse.

2) The Environment- curriculum should address important environmental issues such as pollution and overpopulation to raise awareness and prevent further damage.

3) Changing Values and Morality- there has been an inconsistent cycle of frugality versus overconsumption and elders transmitting values to the next generations seems somewhat lost. Increasing drug and alcohol abuse as well as a high divorce rate are evidence. Students admitted to a much higher level of cheating on tests or stealing from a store. Teachers can help ameliorate this by implementing character education (Kohlberg, equity/justice/caring/empathy) but some parents and teachers oppose this, thinking it best that values and morality be left to the home sphere.

4) Family- Family dynamic is changing now more than ever: single-parent families, grand-parents as guardians, same-sex parents, and stepparent families are more common than ever. Families are not as close as before, not closely tied to community, mothers are working more, family can be spread over a large geographical area. The roles of mothers, fathers, and families overall have changed.

5) Microelectronics Revolution- technology is more important now than ever and ever-changing, with a vast array of available educational aids. Computers, software, programs, and other technologies have changed the way people learn- as well as the time and place! Computer literacy should be included and students who are not familiar with technologies available should be exposed in a structured and nonthreatening way.

6) Changing World of Work- the boom in technology has greatly changed the job market and will continue to do so, again reinforcing the importance of technological education for all students. Teachers should encourage and enable students to become self-directed life-long learners.

7) Equal rights- women and minority groups have had success in seeking equal rights and creating more equality. However, with N.C.L.B. there is again more inequality because of the uniform standards applied globally. Students with learning difficulties or language barriers are getting left behind, and some students with no handicaps are being placed in special education classes. Schools try to promote social change and equal opportunity, but somehow end up often furthering the existing problems.

8 ) Crime & Violence- there is much more school vandalism, more violence including armed robberies, burglaries, aggravated assaults, and rapes at schools. Violence and gangs create unsafe neighborhoods, and the issues in school are ever-more complicated with too many instances of school shootings.

9) Lack of Purpose & Meaning- changes in family dynamics, rampant corruption and violence, poverty, fluctuation in economy, rapid changes in technology increasing disparities, crime, the lack of adult guidance, and injustice leave many students feeling a lack of purpose or meaning. Resulting concerns include: depression, eating disorders, violent and criminal behavior, alcohol and drug abuse, academic failure or drop-out, suicide, and teenage pregnancies and STDs.

10) Global Interdependence- international relations are extremely important and continue to be more and more so; educators must help students understand others cultures and values, economics, and way of life so they can participate in a global community.

Questions to think about:

What are some ways that teachers in any given content area can adjust their curriculum to reflect these important forces?

What social forces are currently heavily impacting the lives of your students? Are they all important at this time?

How can you help students be more aware of these and share what they are personally faced with?

How can your curriculum bring about positive changes that can impact the greater community and nation?

What social forces are you most concerned with? Are there any that you are uncomfortable or unfamiliar with? Educators must be aware of these forces and have up-to-date, accurate knowledge about them.

Cognitive Development

Vygotsky’s Social-Cultural Theory
Vygotsky: psychological tools enable the individual to develop higher psychological processes; they come from outside the individual from the surrounding culture
-General genetic law of cultural development occurs on 2 planes:
*Social plane- appears between people in an interpsychological category
*Psychological plane- appears after the interpsychological to within the child as intrapsychological
-Culture enhances the social, interpersonal, and language skills of an individual

Information Processing Theory (IPT)
-Sensory pattern recognition> short-term memory (STM)> encoding techniques > long-term memory (LTM)
-To help convert information to long-term memory encoding techniques must be used:
-COVER: Connection, Organization, Visualization, Elaboration, Rehearsal (brings more deep relevance)
-Memory made up of: Taxon memory system (rote memorization as in Reading or History), Locale memory system (learning the bigger picture needed in Math or Science), and the brain seeking connections in the information

Motivation Theory
-In order for self-appraisals to influence behavior, they must involve valued activities; the greater the value of an activity, the more the likelihood the self-appraisal will elicit self-approval.
-Teachers must determine how to motivate the students (extrinsic vs. intrinsic) and use it to increase learning.
-Intrinsically motivated students are driven by a need for competence and control over the environment. The student plays an active role in the learning situation, is internally driven to exhibit appropriate behaviors, and exercises his or her right to choose. They perceive that they have total or partial control of the learning situation.


-Knowledge is constructed by the individual with guidance from an educator
-Teacher’s role is as facilitator
-Learner is active
-Much collaboration and cooperative learning
-Reinforcement is natural/intrinsic
-Teacher demonstrates strategies and supports the students’ use of these strategies in a discussion in which all jointly construct meaning. Gradually, more and more of the responsibility for the discussion is turned over to the students. Learners tend to internalize strategies that they can transfer to other academic tasks (big picture/real life application).

The Praxis II French: Content Knowledge

I took the first series of Praxis I tests before I graduated college. They were very easy. If you want to be a teacher, you should know everything on them already, and if you don’t…you might want to rethink choosing to try and teach others.I survived the Praxis II Content Area Knowledge in French and it was not anywhere near as bad as I thought it might be. I have been taking Education courses only for the past two and a half years and studying a little bit of French here and there when I can, or reading random articles. I love French, but I have not been exposed to much recently.
I can offer a few tips for those taking a Praxis II for languages:

First off– Know your verb tenses, but don’t obsess over them all: You do not need to have memorized every single different subjunctive, but you should know and be aware of them. They only used about seven or eight tenses, not the fourteen that I studied in 501 French Verbs (which was a good help by the way)

Second– Know grammar in English and French: You do have to know what direct and indirect objects versus subjects and nouns and adjectives. Maybe that sounds simple, but it can get tricky with two languages and it is something that is overlooked because not many people know English well if that is their first language. Foreigners learn it more thoroughly than we do usually. So quickly review the names of all parts of language if you are unsure.

Third: You do need to know your language pretty well: At first it kind of seemed like someone who hadn’t majored in French in college or spent a year abroad could take and pass this thing. But, even though it seemed kind of easy (ie they weren’t asking dozens of questions about which form of verb would you use for this, is the subjunctive used for this this or that? Like in the SAT II French test), it still did test a wide variety of types of language knowledge. They asked a lot of questions that didn’t seem too tough, but I think that was because I have such a good listening ear now after being exposed to real French speakers and modern spoken French!
They do pose enough varied questions that someone with lower levels of global vocabulary and cultural knowledge might not get, especially if they get stuck on one word they don’t understand (which seems less likely for those who have a true mastery of the whole language.

Was there anything that was unexpectedly difficult?

Yes. The historical / cultural section. They did warn me that there would be a culture section, based on the info found on their site. But the example question on the Praxis ETS site asked “When would a French family most likely have dinner?” And the answer was obvious: anyone could choose between 3pm, 8pm, or 11pm. Obviously 8pm. That is like common sense French culture that practically everyone knows.
These questions were sometimes way beyond me, like no one had ever mentioned anything about them in all my ten years of taking French classes. Do you know what resulted after Joan of Arc did her thing? How about the first piece of literature written in English? French speakers- do you know the French? Some questions seemed over the line- like what is a ‘troubador’? Not many people I majored in French at school with would know that.

Final thoughts: If you have trouble listening to a regular French news broadcast or can’t make it through a few pages of a French novel without needing a dictionary to get what’s going on, then you are going to have trouble. Keep in mind that I only started reviewing a few weeks before the test, and I have been out of study, so to speak, for almost three years.
If you do want to study, do not waste your time and money on buying a Praxis II study guide. Unless you have a lot of money and don’t care about the poor helpless trees out there in the environment. I don’t think they would be much more helpful than just using what you have, and the internet- try Better Learn French for some resources.
Just make use of the French manuals you have, coupled with listening to French news, or some other communication with real live French people, and mostly- use an awesome site like to really get a good language review!

A few final random tips for French takers:

Elision- what’s an elision? As far as grammar goes you do need to this type of lexicon

Joan of Arc- what resulted from her heroic actions?

Holidays- What day is la Fete de Travail (I think it’s May 1st) or what do they do on le premier mai?

Random history- what did a troubador help spread? what was the importance of chanson de roland? what did the huguenots bring to France? what is chartres known for? and stuff i knew, like what is the flower of France or what book is this quote from (the quote about only being able to see with the heart from Le Petit Prince).

I don’t exactly know how you would study for all of that. You could read up on stuff, but you really just have to know a lot of random stuff. I’m pretty sure I did fine on all the other parts besides the cultural one!

An unexpected teaching opportunity…almost

I’d been looking at Craigslist for days. Every day.

Faithfully checking it.

Which is difficult to sit and sift through.

And then I found it. ‘Philadelphia school seeks a full-time French teacher for immediate opening’. What more could I have hoped for or wanted in seeking a French teaching position…

And I went for the interview. My first professional teaching interview.

Surprisingly, it went way better than I had imagined. I got to be my genuine self and I wasn’t too nervous. They asked me questions I had anticipated and some I hadn’t, but overall it was not too nerve-wracking.

As I begun to think about if I could really teach 5 French courses a day, 5 days a week, at a school at least 45 minutes away from home, I questioned the paradox- could I ask for enough in a salary to make it worth my while considering the actual teaching time plus planning and transport? Would it be too much to ask considering I had no previous teaching experience (besides a few classes and the Summer Practicum)?

I eventually realized after much deliberation, that this would not in fact be the job for me. Had I had a year or two in the classroom, or if I had had all summer to do lesson plans and preparation, it might have been different.

It also brought up the issue of if I asked for too low of a salary then when I got my Masters it would be difficult to ask for a huge pay jump.

Such is life. I was so close, yet so far.

At least I got that interview out of the way and now know that they are not terrifying and daunting, just people wanting to know about you and your qualifications.

Online Schools and Teaching French

I recently contacted an online learning school about a posting for a French teacher. I was so enthused, I referenced my educational background, and my knowledge of technology, and the love I have for both.

Since I saw myself as a good candidate, and wrote an energetic ‘cover letter’ describing my creativity and other desirable qualities, I thought they would get right back to me and set something up.

I waited a week, two weeks. I even called to check up and they said they had received a lot of interest and hadn’t yet begun to look it over. Eventually, I emailed again and politely mentioned my previous email and phone call.

They did eventually get back to me, and although they said I sounded like a great candidate and it seemed genuine, there was the issue of certification.

Everyone is looking for a certified teacher. I will be one soon enough. They told me to contact them when I had my certification.

By the time I get certified, though, I’ll be looking for full-time teaching jobs in physical schools.

I guess it’s always something to consider for the future.

Summer Practicum- Day Six- July 16th, 2007

“A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary”. – Thomas Carruthers

I tried to be more of a guide on the side today and have interactive material. In reality, though, this was mostly only true for the game!

Coming into the second week I realized I was way behind what I had originally planned. There was so much I hadn’t gotten to, so I had pushed everything back and though I was still making thorough lesson plans, I allowed for some flexibility in it and for the remainder of the overall schedule. I knew I wanted them to make a culminating invention having to do with some part of what we had learned, and that that could take some time.

We needed to get back into and go over the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty that they had started the K-W-L charts about. I found a video on Discovery Education’s United Streaming, and an article and I planned to have them fill out graphic organizers to answer the French question words. I even had a special organizer I made using a picture of the La Tour Eiffel I found on the web:


They might have showed more enthusiasm for this were it not first thing Monday morning. They were bored before we got to the second organizer on the Statue of Liberty (and I realize that is too much content to lump together- especially without having them do something more active), so I had to change plans a bit.

So we played French hangman (Le Pendu). It was great, they loved it, and it was a fun game that used their previous knowledge of all the vocabulary we had learned thus far. It went well, got them thinking and more importantly moving! so we could move class along. It was hard to get to the next activity because they were so into it, but that’s just how a game goes- children want to play games all day!

We did the routine putting info up and drawing on their maps. Then we did something else exciting- preparing questions for the real live French man who was going to come in the next day. I was so lucky that the other French teacher’s French husband said he would be willing to come into my class (he had come into her class one day and I observed and everyone loved it). So we brainstormed what we might ask him and I had them write two to three questions on a card and turn that in as their way out of class.

Overall it was a good day but I could still have them do more learning on their own and I also know now to start a Monday morning off with something active.

Summer Practicum- Week One Thoughts

Exhaustion mainly comes to mind. I hesitate to say disappointment. One of the program advisers had a talk with me and she asked if I thought I was being too hard on myself. Hard thing for me to answer- maybe I’m being hard on myself, but I could be doing so much better. I know I procrastinate, but I haven’t had time to procrastinate during this program because every day a whole lot happens and I must carry out a thorough, well-planned lesson which never ends up the way I planned it (no matter how many hours it took me to rough draft).

There really are a million things to think about when you get into all the different levels of teaching. I can’t believe how many schools let teachers come in with only their content area degree and have no teaching experience.

I know that you can learn a lot from teaching itself, but the theory and methods I’ve gathered throughout these education courses is way more involved than just winging it. I know they will sometimes send teachers back to school to get a Masters or further learning, but I think it’d be better if everyone had a solid basic knowledge of educational pedagogy and instruction methods.

I’m glad I’m in the classroom, putting it into practice. There are a lot of requirements for this specific program, so it’s an extra dose of challenge and educational lessons. The students definitely teach me as much as I teach them. I just need to help them be so involved that they help me teach the content. As someone put it, and I really like this, you’re just there as a teacher to “be the guide on the side“. Facilitate learning and provide scaffolding and appropriate materials and activities, but let them do the work:

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand”~ Author unknown

Summer Practicum- Day Five- July 13th, 2007

All learning begins with the simple phrase, “I don’t know”. ~Anonymous

This is a phrase I should have used today “Je ne sais pas” (I don’t know). I gave some misinformation! I gave the wrong date for the Eiffel Tower at the end of class when a student asked to put it up on the invention timeline. I think it was about 15 years off and now I will definitely have to start class Monday by apologizing and correcting it. I had mixed up lesson plans again and am still altogether too too disorganized so I was flustered.

Having people observing you is tough as well. It was a French teacher that asked me about it after class. I should have said “I’ll get the date for you guys on Monday, I don’t have it for sure right now”. I will readily admit that I am not always right as a teacher and would dare to go as far as to let them know that teachers are not always right, nor do they know everything.

It was a fun day overall, but I had a lot of inner turmoil due to my lack of planning (despite the fact that I planned for between 5-7 hours the night before!) and the little bit of misinformation. The other day they asked the word for the color “tan” and I said I did not know, I told them what I remembered beige to be (I was right about that), and said I would look it up. Note to self- always have a dictionary handy in class! I found out there is not really a word in French for tan. They barely even use beige, so says a trusty source (he’s French).

We had a Powerpoint about French-speaking countries. We discussed what they did for 4th of July and I related it to Bastille Day in France. Then we made flags of a French-speaking country of their choice. But I was off again about the whole point of it, which is probably why I ended up crying in front of one of the program advisers.


I had problems with time-management with making the flags. I should have given them white paper instead of all construction paper as a base, I should have imposed stricter time limits. And then one person giving me feedback suggested maybe I should have just gotten more into the connections between Bastille Day and 4th of July.

They enjoyed making the flags as it was hands-on and engaging and I played the soundtrack to Amelie in the background. But this activity could have been done by 3rd graders.

I was just trying to have them do something fun and educational because it was Friday and near Bastille Day. Then I had to push them to finish, put them up, and we moved along to “La Tour Eiffel” and the “Statue of Liberty” which I had already pushed back a day. We started a K-W-L chart and did not get very far before class was over.


I had to readjust the plans with this section of the lesson as well, because there was no internet access because of a storm the day before! Woh is me, right?! Teaching is tough. I felt so bad, especially because I didn’t do a very good job summarizing what we learned all week so they’d go home and remember something come Monday.

So I cried. The stress of feeling like even though it was a fun day it still went poorly or I could have changed dozens of things, the fact that I had been getting between 3 and 5 hours of sleep a night, and not knowing how to manage my time with 72 minutes (that had once seemed like way too long of a class period and now was barely enough), all combined to make me feel lousy.

I had a talk with an adviser, and though I was embarrassed and it did seem a little too intimate (crying opens up these unprofessional doors that lead to personal conversations), he got me to recognize that every day of the week, I had felt better and better and felt the lessons really did go better each day.

It’s just a TON of things to think about: time and classroom management, instructional methods, content, student interest and motivation, and how to effectively manage them all and adapt and change every day based on feedback and reflection.

Thank goodness it’s the weekend. For some other co-teachers, it meant the beach or another quick getaway. For me, it did mean sleep, but also a long period of time to review and revise next weeks’ lesson plans!!!

Summer Practicum- Day Four- July 12th, 2007

“He who dares to teach must never cease to learn.” ~ Anonymous

Something fun I started off with was an activity I made up to help them use French, while learning about the idea of Braille. I made this activity for them to put glue dots on a piece of paper that spelled a word in French that we had learned in the first few days from our word wall. The night before, I had gone over the ones they did to make sure they were readable, and some of them would have been too tough (I think it was already a tough enough activity to feel glue dots to guess which word it was), so I made a few neat ones myself.

A little more than half of them guessed the correct word, but I suspect that a few may have peeked. It was a good intro into the idea of Braille, which was created by Louis Braille from France. One of the students had studied him and the subject before, so I asked him to share what he knew. He even had some information that I did not have in the lesson plan so that was really cool.

We filled out a graphic organizer based on some information. I read a paragraph to them and they had their eyes closed. Then they would say which question word or words the paragraph answered. It was a different way to have them learn information.

As usual, they put some Braille on the map of France and on the Invention Timeline. Although I do think this was a creative idea for the theme of the unit, I’m finding it very difficult to get in as much French as I would like. Not to mention in a way that makes logical sense to them. A lot of vocabulary and some grammar concepts as they come up, but not as much sequence or groups of ideas in French. Oh well- you can’t expect fluency after 9 days!

I had to adapt this day a bit because everything was pushed back. It’s better because it gives me a chance to get more in depth when dealing with some of the content. I have to remember to teach French words and verbs for the main inventions we’re dealing with. We are getting a lot of words on the word wall though. I was going to share the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty but will do that tomorrow when we discuss Bastille Day which is actually on July 14th!