Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Social Justice Event... WOOP WOOP

Social Justice Event: Vagina Monologues Open Books, Open Minds

Okay, so I went to The Vagina Monologues. I went on Valentine’s Day. I have yet to post a blog, I was going to do it today (April 10th, 2014). After my math class though, I went to the “Open Books,Open Minds” conference or meeting for my seminar class. We were presenting my poster. I’m using this event instead since it related so much more to this class! ****I STARTED WRITING THIS THE 10th THAT'S WHY IT SAYS THAT :)

Okay, before I start this… Remember before we entered college, we were supposed to read that "Pym" book? I wasn’t too upset about it, I love reading. Except for this book… I couldn’t get past the 5th page. But on the bright side, it’s a nice decoration on my book shelf. Anyways! There were six students in the front of the room talking about all of the different themes within this book. Kaleena and I kept staring at each other because it was so relative to this class!

One of the students was talking about racism. He also related the author, or the protagonist in the book, to Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. He was saying that they faced many difficulties in their lives and couldn’t be heard. This reminded me of Rodriguez, Collier, and Delpit. All three of these authors had a general theme that there
are many cultures within a classroom. In addition, it reminded me of our SWAAMP activity (Straightness, Whiteness, Americanness, Able-bodiedness, Maleness, and Property). We already have these preconceived ideas in life and our lives are constantly being influenced by these dominant ideologies. Within the story Pym, with the main protagonist (Pym himself) being black, he was already struggling. People were already giving him a hard time and no one would listen to him just because of his skin color.

They were also talking about how there was actually violence within this book. There was a tension between Pym’s ship, when he was on sea, and the Native American’s. People were being killed, yet miraculously Pym and his partner, Peters, didn’t die. They end up becoming friends with one of the Natives who ends up admitting that he has a fear of anything that’s white, which is another sign of racism. Or maybe he’s scared because he thinks that they’re racist towards him. This reminded me of, in a way, to Johnson. He openly admitted that he was afraid of someone from a different race and he was talking explicitly about his issue. He knew that white people had more power than him and he was actually afraid of that concept. I also think this is an anti-August situation since this person didn’t feel safe. He wasn’t comfortable in his surroundings, or society.

Another student was talking about a homosexual couple. She was saying how differently they were being treated on this adventure. This reminded me of August because we talked about homosexuality in that article. It’s not necessarily that this homosexual couple didn’t feel safe, but it was more of the fact that they didn’t feel comfortable and were not accepted. August says that you need to feel connected and included, which clearly these characters didn’t feel since they were being treated differently from the rest. Just because they weren't a straight couple, it led to them feeling left out.

Overall, it was a good event for this class. It was kind of funny since I went to an event, the Vagina Monologues, and paid money for it to use as my blog post but instead a chose a completely opposite event. I only was at this event for another class but it was crazy how relative you could make it to this class! I didn’t like the Vagina Monologues that much… I mean, it was funny but for future FNED students – I wouldn’t go to it :)


And I doubt you want this, but here's a link to buy "Pym" on amazon in case you want to buy it! 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Shor thing, chicken wannnng... TYING EVERYTHING UP.

HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!!! Who needs to go out when you can do homework? (Haha, kidding, sort of…) Anyways, here’s another connections post because… why not?

When I was reading Shor’s article, I was so unbelievably bored! I don’t know why but I was. But then I was thinking, maybe because he covers so many topics at once that I wasn’t really into the text. And maybe because many of the things that he covered was related to the other articles that we read.

On page 20, Shor said that “many withdraw from intellectual work because they are told so much and asked to think and do so little. Rote drills drain their enthusiasm for intellectual life, as do short-answer exams and standardized tests”. This reminded me of that activity we did with Dr. Bogad when we had that “pop quiz”… It was the week we had Jeannie Oake’s article. When you go to school and do that, you’re not really learning anything… You’re memorizing things just to pass but you’re not learning any helpful information. On the next page, another quote backed up Oake’s theory even more. It said, “Large numbers of students are refusing to perform at high levels, demoralizing the teachers who work with them. At times, performance strikes become organized resistance to authority, with leadership and articulate demands. But most often the students’ refusal to perform appears as low motivation, low test scores and achievement, and a “discipline problem”. […] The low performance of students is routinely misjudged as low achievement”. This reminded me of the whole tracking process and how some students had been put in the higher classes while others were put in the lower ones. It kind of shows how kids refuse to do tracking in schools. Then, when Dr. Bogad was explaining to us how ashamed she was that we all just took this “stupid test” and didn’t refuse to take it even though they were just basic questions, this quote came into play: “From the start, I wanted students to be active and thoughtful. A participatory class begins with participation. A critical and empowering class begins by examining its subject matter from the students' point of view and by helping students see themselves acknowledgeable people. I wanted them to take, from day one, a critical attitude toward their knowledge, their writing habits, and their education. The foundation of the syllabus would be their words, understandings, self-respect, and desire to learn more. I hoped they would recognize that they were already writers who knew some important things about writing, even before the teacher told them anything” (37). It showed me that we aren’t dumb, we’re all very smart even though we may not see it right away. We should never look at ourselves as anything less.

Then, my little buddy Kohn came into play with the ideal classroom. “The typical classroom is framed by the competition, marked by struggle between students (and often between teacher and students), and riddled by indicators of comparative achievement and worth. Star charts on the wall announce who has been successful at learning multiplication tables, only children with “neat” handwriting have their papers posted for display” (23-24) reminded me of Kohn because it reminded me of the “bad signs” of a classroom. It even mentioned two of them from the chart itself, with only the “good” projects being shown to others and the star chart. It’s a shame that this is considered a typical classroom. Especially since we’ve learned all of the “good signs” a classroom should have, this once again shows you how negative of an affect it can have on your classroom.

When I came across the quote, “From a critical point of view, existing canons of knowledge and usage are not a common culture; they have ignored the multicultural themes, idioms, and achievements of nonelite groups, such as women, minorities, homosexuals, and working people. The empowering teacher who denies universal status to the dominant culture also denies emptiness in students. They are not deficits; they are complex, substantial human beings who arrive in class with diverse cultures; they have languages, interests, feelings, experiences, and perceptions” (32), I thought of August. It reminded me that you need to feel safe in your classrooms no matter who you are. You’re no different from someone just because you’re not straight, or because you’re not a man. You should always feel comfortable in your classroom and included. That’s what will make us all great teachers.

I then proceeded to find a connection in addition to August as well as Rodriguez and Collier. On pages 42 and 43, it said, “Auerbach and Wallerstein, who adapted Freire's use of pictured scenes from daily life, called "codes" or "codifications," to develop language skills, job competencies, and critical thinking in English as a Second Language classes: The goal of problem-posing dialogue is critical thinking and action, which starts from perceiving the social, historical, or cultural causes of problems in one's life... The first step in promoting action outside the classroom is to transform education inside the classroom. Our role as teachers is to create a safe environment in which students can express opinions and, most importantly, generate their own language materials for learning and peer-teaching” (42-43). Not only does this quote talk about ESL students, or students who speak English as a second language, but it talks about how it’s our job to create a safe environment for these students. It’s up to us to make them feel comfortable when they come to school every day.

OKAY, last connection: I promise! I thought of Kahne and Westheimer when I was reading this quote. It talks about how “very young children can learn what health care is by discussing health care at home, visiting the school nurse, and so forth. At this level, they can discuss justice as meaning everyone gets treated by the nurse or by someone at home when needed. In math, story problems can sensitize children to health care costs. Children can then examine which jobs in the community provide health insurance and which do not, and what kinds of people occupy which jobs. Older children can find out what provisions there are in the community for health care for poor people. Some of their own families may use such services” (46). Our major theme this week was charity versus change. Within this quote, it shows you all of these activities that you can do that are community service things and how to go beyond “charity work”. I also think that this quote is important because it shows you, as a future teacher, how you can make learning fun and educational at the same time.

All in all, after painful hours of reading this week’s article, it proved (yet again) to be useful information for us as teachers. It tied in everything we have learned this semester and was a great way to tie everything together. I’m very glad I was able to take this class and I’m kind of upset this is our last blog post… ANYWAYS, Happy Easter again everybody! XOXO

P.S. I found this article online that isn't completely wrong... It's "How to Be a Good Teacher" and it has 20 steps... Steps 2+4 remind me of Delpit, Step 3 reminds me of August, and other steps remind me of other articles... Do you guys see it too!? :D

Friday, April 4, 2014

Kliewer, "Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome"

Before I ever start this post, I just wanted to let everyone know that you should avoid libraries near schools. I'm in the library right now in Johnston and there are hundreds of little middle schools who WON'T STOP TALKING. I'm so mad right now. I thought libraries were meant to be quiet? Anyways, this is a "quotes" AND "connections" post, since I already did everything I'm making this a combined one :)

P.S. This is the first time I ever read something in one sitting (it was really interesting)

I think one quote that pretty much summed up a large chunk of this piece was: "diversity is viewed as normal, people are considered of equal worth, relationships are of a mutual benefit, and belongings is a central societal theme" (95). Well, it didn't really sum this article up but this is how disabilities should be viewed. As I was reading all of Kliewer's piece and every individual story, I felt that the theme going on was that you can't view a disability as a bad thing. You have to find the positives and focus on them instead of only looking about the disadvantages.

There was a story about a boy named John Mcgough. Before they even started off the story, they said that when a child has a disability, it's hard for people to recognize that child as a child. He used to live in one part of California where they didn't really accept him. He was left out of numerous activities, did not have any friends, and the school labeled him as "uneducable". WHO DOES THAT. As soon as John moved to a different area of California, everything changed (for the better). Everyone looked past his abnormalities and saw the real John. He was friends with all of his neighbors, everyone in his town, and he was finally accepted. That's all he wanted all along. During this part, there was a quote from one of his siblings that said, "Mendocino [the town John moved to] is what John needed-it's what he never had in North Hollywood. It's safe-what he calls a "safe space." Like a lot of people in Mendocino, he's accepted for what he is, not what he isn't. And he can concentrate on what he can do, instead of being shown or being told what he can't do" (86). This reminded me of August and "Safe Spaces" (not just because it literally says safe space). Once John moved, you could clearly see a change in his life. He wasn't isolated or left out for once. Once people didn't label him or look at him in a bad way, he was able to be accepted. He felt safe as soon as this happened. Although it took him a while, once he felt comfortable (and once people were comfortable with him), he was able to feel comfort in his every day life. 

I also wanted to relate John Mcgough's story to another author that we have read. It's not the best connection, but this quote reminded me of someone: "By the end of John's first year in Mendocino he was holding down two part time jobs; taking weekly voice, art, and guitar lessons; attending aerobics classes five mornings a week; occasionally reading stories to kids at the local preschool; helping his mother teach a class on self-esteem to a group of  troubled adolescents; making daily visiting"rounds" in the community; and going out to dance or listen to music at least five nights a week. He had numerous friends and acquaintances, and he was daily becoming more verbal and more assertive" (89). What does this remind you of?! QUICK, QUICK! Okay, I'll tell you. This reminded me of Herbert's article! Herbert mentioned how drastically where you live can affect your education. He wasn't necessarily talking about children with disability, but this (in a way) was very relevant! You can see that John was clearly not being treated fairly, or right, when he lived in North Hollywood. Once he got out of that bad area and moved to Mendocino, his life was improved in numerous ways. As you can see with the previous quote, his life drastically changed. From being the child that no one included in any activities, that was isolated and "uneducable", to this new person who had two jobs, was constantly out in his community and accepted. This was all because of his change in location. It's amazing. 

Now that you guys have heard way too much about John, let's talk about Christine! Christine was in special educated classes for FOURTEEN YEARS. Her mom wanted to change that and put her in regular classes when she started high school. Christine struggled a lot at first, she had "extremely poor motor control, low-level cognitive skills, low-level communication skills, a lack of adaptive skills, and aggressive "acting-out" behaviors" (92). But this was a whole new thing for her, she has never been in a regular classroom. After going to school for a few weeks or months (they weren't very specific on that), she improved a lot! Her communication skills were better, her social skills, she was out in the community, and her fine and gross motor skills improved. This reminded me of the article I read by Jeannie Oakes. On page 178 in Oake's "Tracking" article, it says "since so much of importance was omitted from their curriculum, students in the low-ability classes were likely to have little contact with the knowledge and the skills that would allow them to move into higher classes or to be successful if they got there". This reminded me of Christine's situation because she was being deprived of the skills that higher classes had. That explains why she was struggling so much when she finally went into regular classes. Once she was able to understand what was going on, she was doing better and better! At one point, Christine even said "I have down syndrome, but I am not handicapped" (93).

I stumbled upon this article from the NBC News about how disabled workers were being paid PENNIES an hour... but it was legal!? My mind literally just got blown... again. I think you should really check this article out because it's awful. People with disabilities should be treated just the same as us. Just because they are handicapped in a certain area doesn't mean that they have any less value than we do. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Literacy with an attitude!

Connections Post

"Literacy With an Attitude" - Finn

This was such a long reading. It took me all day because I kept taking breaks (I can't focus, so I guess that's why too). ANYWAYS, as I was reading I noticed that this post had many connections to previous authors that we have read. In addition, I was connecting bits and pieces to my service learning too. So, it was only right to do a connections post... right?

As most have realized, Finn's biggest connection was to Delpit. When you first began reading his text, he said "But, in fact I was schooling these children, not to take charge of their lives, but to take orders" and "I had work assignments on the board when the students entered the classroom, and so there wasn't a moment when they didn't have anything to do. I didn't say to an errant student, "What are you doing?" I said, "Stop that and get to work." No discussion. No openings for an argument" (4). In both parts, Finn emphasizes the importance of "taking orders" and how important it is to say the word. He says something that Delpit wouldn't want you to say and then corrects it with something she would want you to say. He then goes on to say how great of a teacher he is, so apparently by teaching the same way Delpit would teach, that helps you gain control of your classroom. Another Delpit moment was what Anyon saw in a fifth grade classroom. He said, "the working-class children were learning to follow directions and do mechanical, low-paying work, but at the same time they were learning to resist authority in ways sanctioned by their community. The middle-class children were learning to follow orders and do the mental work that keeps society producing and running smoothly" and "Like the children 
in working-class schools, children in the middle-class school were 
schooled to take orders" (20). Once more, this shows the importance of following directions and following orders. Without this, society wouldn't be able to "run smoothly". 

When Anyon teacher went to go observe the five elementary school classrooms, one part stuck out to me and reminded me of my service learning. He said, "children were required to plan lessons and teach them to the 
class. Among other things, they were evaluated on how well they 
kept control of the class." Recently, my teacher was telling me that they had a faculty meeting and they were going to try something new out. She said that they have to have the children be the teachers and take over the classroom. She wasn't too fond of the idea and didn't think it would go too well, but since it was the new rules, she had to go along with it. Luckily for me, I was there to witness it the first time they did it. Of course my teacher started them off. She did this thing where she would start reading a story, and she would tap on someone's shoulder. Once you have been tapped, you have to start reading out loud WITH who ever else is reading. By the time everyone's shoulder was tapped, the room was loud with voices all reading the same story. It was a good way to teach fluency and they all had to practice not reading too fast or too slow. Once the story was finished, a child had to lead class discussion. They were really nervous and confused. They weren't used to having this power and they kept raising their hands when they didn't have to. On Tuesday, they have to make up their own lesson (like Anyon witnessed) and teach the class. I'm excited and scared to see how this goes...

In multiple parts of this weeks reading, I noticed things that related to the article we read by Bob Herbert. At one point in the text, it says “those at the top have gotten a whole lot richer. Those in the middle are in about the same place economically, and those at the bottom have gotten a whole lot poorer. The question is, do the children of the elite and the middle class and the working class still attend schools like those Anyon described. The answer is, you bet!” (22).  And then Finn says, “when I suggest to my hard-bitten students that poor children are not being as well educated as they could be, they are not amused. They take it as a personal attack from someone who has been living in an ivory tower for the last thirty years, and they resent it-a lot” (8). I couldn't stop thinking of Herbert's article. The schools that are poverty schools usually consist of black and Hispanic children, that's just the way it goes. It's due to the area that they live in, it's not saying that these children are the reason why it's a poverty-written school. But since teachers tend to "avoid such schools", according to Herbert, then they are not getting the best education. So what Finn says is that they're not being as well educated as they could be. I believe that Herbert's article went hand-in-hand with what Finn said. It still breaks my heart that this is the way things are, but hopefully one day we'll be able to change it. If you read this article, you can see that social class doesn't only affect you in elementary school, yet it can affect you in college as well. I thought it fit well :)

My last connection to this piece is relating to what Viv said in class one day. This isn't really a big connection, but it was on page 23 when a student was writing about this new high school in Amherst, New Hampshire. He said, "For example, students had their own smoking section, they called their teachers by their first name, there were no honor level classes, and a lot of material 
taught (from science to English) was done through projects involving the kids to the greatest extent." It reminded me of Viv's service learning in The Met because she mentioned before that the students call their teachers by their first names and she talked about how they learned in different ways and did all of these different projects. 

Even though this week's reading was extremely long, I learned many things from it and was able to connect it to many different things. Not only was I able to connect it to different authors, but I also connected it to my service learning and Viv's. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Brown Vs. Board of Education... CONNECTIONS BLOG

Brown vs Board of Education
Between Barack and a Bad Place - Wise
Separate and Unequal - Bob Herbert

Connections Piece

Last semester, I took a political science class and we briefly went over the "Brown vs Board of Education" act from 1954. Other than that, every thing that I read for this weeks blog - between this webpage, the interview, and the article - was completely new information. Even though they were from different types of media and not by the same person, one could clearly see the connections within them.

The Brown vs Board of Education act was a very huge part in our segregation history. It was a big turning point and was when the "court stripped away constitutional sanctions for segregation by race, and made equal opportunity in education the law of the land." Countless hours were put in by many different people in order for this law/act to be passed. This shows how compassionate people were about this issue. Although it took quite some time, it made a big difference. 

As I was listening to the interview with Wise, I couldn't help but notice how relative his points were to the issue of racism. A few quotes really caught my attention. Wise constantly brings up Obama and says that racism still exists even though some people think otherwise. At one point, he says "where in order to be a successful person of color, you have to bring it the way Obama brings it" and you "have to be truly exceptionable". This is the sad truth. It's a big change that we have a president that is a person of color and it's a very good thing. Barack Obama is our very first colored person. But then again, he also has had many years of education and many degrees. For example, Obama went to four different
colleges/universities while Bill Clinton only attended two colleges/universities. As you can see, Obama worked harder in order to have his position. If two people were running for president with the same degrees and same amount of years in college, yet one person was white and the other was black, who do you think would be chosen? Do you believe our societies no longer racist, and that they would have an equal opportunity? Probably not. Nearing the end of the interview, they said that "all [of] these events are moving us in the right direction even though it's taking quite a few decades". Yes, we have come a very long way and I think that we could only improve. I don't believe that the issue of racism is gone, but I think we have made many changes and we're doing a lot better than we were fifty years ago.

Just to add to my mind blowing readings/interviews about racism, I read the New York Times article by Bob Herbert. I couldn't help but notice how much this article reminded me of not only Wise's point and the Brown vs Board of Education, but it also reminded me of my serving learning. Herbert says that "educators know that it is very difficult to get consistently good results in schools characterized by high concentrations of poverty. The best teachers tend to avoid such schools" and within these schools, "many black and Hispanic children are enrolled". As one can see, it's not technically the race that causes these schools so have bad grades or education, yet it's the area that they reside in. It just so happens that these certain races are located in these bad areas which is why people relate the two. I find this to be completely a shame because no matter where you live, everyone should be able to get equal education (once again relating to the Brown vs Board of Education). It's especially awful when teachers avoid such schools because it's like they don't care. If they don't care, then the children won't care, and if no one cares then of course that's why these bad grades occur... "If you really want to improve the education of poor children, you have to get them away from learning environments that are smothered by poverty. This is being done in some
places, with impressive results" Herbert states, which is very interesting. As we complete our service learning, most of us have schools which reside in Providence with most of our students being of different races (mostly African American and Hispanic), once again relating both low-poverty with such races. I wonder if we had better schooling systems in Providence if the grades would improve. I know for a fact that my classroom has very lowing testing scores. My teacher was very disheartened because she knows they could get higher scores if they really tried and wanted to. A majority of the children scored below proficient, few very scored above. I'm not even sure if what I'm saying is making sense to what you guys are reading, but I just think that this is crazy. Why do children from a Providence elementary school score lower than students that go to school in a Cranston elementary school? It's not equal and/or fair for these children. If you look at the NECAP Scores for Providence schools, you can clearly see how much of a difference their scores are from an elementary school in Cranston schools (I picked two random schools just to show you).

I really believe that I could relate this last article from the New York Times to our blog post from last week with Westheimer and Kahne. The main point from last weeks blog was the difference between Charity and Change. I still firmly believe that we are in between charity and change. At first it was a charity when we started serving learning, but I think this is a stepping stone towards change. Once we become teachers, we will make a change in these children's lives. I know it. Especially with everything that we know now. Like Wise said, "it's a start, but we have a lot more to do". It's up to us to be the change that we want to see. We are the future and we will make a difference. We have come a long way and if we really want to further the extinction of racism, it's up to us to do so. Racism still does exist, and one can clearly see that by this weeks blog post. We are moving in the right direction and no matter how long it takes we will make sure it will no longer exist. 

We have just seen many different instances of how racism still exists even though we have come a long way. I saw this video on YouTube a few weeks ago from 2009 on another way of racism still existing. Look how awful this was (thankfully it was only an experiment):
Like I said a million times before, we have come a long way with the topic of racism; but it's not gone, it's still existent.