Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Promising Practice 2016

I was given the opportunity to attend the 19th Annual Promising Practice conference at Rhode Island College. The conference focused on resiliency in students and how as educators we can help foster that resiliency. The keynote speaker was a great and really kept my attention throughout the entire conference. Dr. Robert Brooks had a great resume as a psychologist, educator, author and the list goes on. He shared several stories of his past as a psychologist and his experiences in classrooms. Dr. Brooks bring to attention something the August would agree with; that classrooms must be welcoming and make students feel safe. If the students feel safe and comfortable. If there is no safe space, learning is difficult especially resiliency. Students can become turned off to learning if their environment isn’t open and positive. Dr. Brooks adds that if there is positive reinforcement and positive emotions set in the classroom, that it creates a climate that has hope and gives the students a sense of purpose.
It was great to hear a speaker admit to the struggles and obstacles teachers face in any classroom. He admits that he would go home wanting to quit his job because he was feeling defeated which is something I think teachers don’t always tell their undergrad students. He said he woke up one morning dreading to go to work until he reminded himself that, “Today could be the day that I change a student's life forever.” Teaching is most definitely a difficult job but it was inspiring to hear his stories and how he handled several different situations in his career. He reminded us that as educators, we have real potential to impact a student's life.
The first workshop that I had attended was Fostering Resiliency: Strength based interventions that support diverse learners on the path to standardized tests. I felt this session was helpful for me not only as an educator but also as a student. It touched upon different ways to approach standardized tests for all different types of learners. Some students need the extra help to become better at dissecting a question to find the correct answer. They gave examples like ruling out the incorrect answers to narrow down your options. As well as go on what you know and then try to make the connection using your previous knowledge.  This workshop also gave us pointers on how to help the student not feel defeated if they did not pass or have to take the test more than once. I can totally relate to this because I am not a great test taker and not passing a standardized test is a frustrating cycle . This workshop reminds me of Delpit because this was our way of learning the “rules and codes of power” in order to be successful in these difficult standardized test that students will continue to take. It helps us better understand what steps we need to take as educators to not let these test discourage students but more so teach them how to approach these kinds of difficult tests.

The second session I was able to attend was Stress Management Techniques to Build Resiliency. I found this also to be a great tool to have 1. Being a future educator, and 2. Being a student myself. They touched upon the ideas that your mindset can change how you view your situation which ultimately will reduce your own stress. They had us do an activity which I then used in my service learning classroom. I felt that this connected to Finn because it created an open discussion and collaboration that the students do not usually do. We were told to sit in a circle and write on a piece of paper a stressor. We then were instructed to crumple the piece of paper and throw it into the center of the circle, and pick up a new one. On the new paper, you were to write advice as to what someone could do to help reduce their stress about whatever they wrote about. Again we were instructed to throw it back into the center and pick up a new one and then we could share them outloud. This went over well with my service learning students because it gave them a chance to reflect on themselves and collaborate with other students. I found this to be effective because it allowed students to open up and give their own opinion without having to hear this advice from a teacher. Students are more inclined to listen to one another versus hearing it from the teacher because they “wouldn’t understand”.Overall I found promising practice to be a great conference that I was able to learn a lot from as a student as well as a future educator.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Pecha Kucha

Monday, November 28, 2016

Extended Comments

I chose this week to use Kelseys blog for my extended comments on Empowering Education written by Ira Shor. Kelsey used great quotes that captured Shor’s main points, that education is not simply about learning facts and memorization but it's also about socialization. Shor also brings to the table the idea of empowering your students by making them feel valued and intelligent in an adult social environment.

“You must arouse children’s curiosity and make them think about school. This would set a questioning tone and show the children you trust them and they are intelligent enough at their own level, to investigate and come up with answers.”  (Shor 13)

I saw this occur first hand with my service learning project where students became engaged and realized that I had valued their opinion and their beliefs. When I opened the debate to the whole classroom, students were hesitant but once a student gave me an answer, I responded positively and asked for more opinions. More hands went up and began to give full answers because they felt that they were intelligent and their opinion mattered. There were times in my service learning where I felt students did not want to participate because they always felt they were “too dumb” to know the answer.

Shor also mentions, “Politics are not only in subject matter but in the discourse of the classroom, in the way teachers and students speak to each other” (Shor 14). I’m sure most students in FNED 346 with Bogad would agree that the classroom she describes is the one we are in every Tuesday and Thursday. We hold open discussion in class, not much one-way teacher talk, and there is mutual dialogue between teacher and the students. We all feel comfortable enough to disagree with Bogad and are able to discuss it amongst our classmates in open discussions. No student (in my opinion) feels that they are unable to voice their own opinion or that their opinion is not a valid one. That is what I believe is key in empowering your students. Allowing the students to have an open “safe space” that there is substantial critical thinking going on. The video below shows Gary Bennett's philosophy of teaching with that same idea in mind. He ensures his students are able to engage and tackle the hard complex ideas and make sense of them together. Not having a right or wrong answer but being able to discover together.

“In sum, the subject matter, the learning process, the classroom discourse, the cafeteria menu, the governance structure and the environment of the school teach each students what kind of people to be and what kind of society to build as they learn math, history, biology, literature, nursing or accounting. Education is more than facts and skills. It’s a socializing experience that helps make the people who make the society” (Shor 15).

We all learn from one another, for example when they say you learn through play. Regardless of the age group, we learn from our environment and those around us. Your school and experience with teachers can mold you into the person you are today. It can sometimes take one teacher to make you see things differently or make you "question everything". Regardless, each social experience "makes the people who make the society".

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Reconceptualizing Children with Down Syndrome in schools

After watching the hour long film about special education students from Los Angeles, I had the AH-HA moment where I realized how important it is to incorporate these students into the “regular classes”. The students were showing improvement from the first couple of months being in the regular classes by being able to stay better focused, develop better math and language skills, and learn how to follow the “rules and codes of power” in each classroom. Their social skills were also being practiced and they were accepted by the students in their classrooms. After watching it, I felt that yes integrating the students into the classroom was a very beneficial decision for both the special education students and the "regular students". The regular students developed a connection to the students and created friendships with them. The idea of reconceptualizing children with down syndrome in schools is something that takes time, and integrating the students is the first step to do just that. 

However, with all the benefits,  I felt very conflicted. After reading Tracking by Jeannie Oakes, I somewhat agree that it is beneficial to have higher ability groups and lower ability groups for the students who excel and need more of a challenge; as well as the lower ability students having the resources for extra time and help. Integrating the special education students has great benefits and they do deserve the education that any other child receives. However, I still feel in the middle about having the special education students integrated. I keep wondering how would a teacher find a way to make the lessons adequate enough for all students at different levels of understanding. The special education student has disadvantages and may fall behind the other students in the class, or the "regular students" (Don't like using those words) will feel that they have to go at a slower pace for those students. Thus I still cannot decide what I believe to be the better option in order to end the discrimination and segregation amongst the students. Socially I agree that the students should be incorporated because they deserve to be treated as any other student. When mentioned in the film that wing of the school landed the reputation of "special ed wing" and no students would use it bothered me. In my high school, special education students were very involved in our community whether it be in dance or unified sports, they were incorporated. No student should feel that they do not belong in their community and that's exactly what was happening.

The parents shown in the film had brought to light their rights as parents and that the school system should be able to accommodate and bend for their students regardless their child's conditions. This is something that should have progressed years ago. Students should not have to attend a different school that is no where near their friends or community because that school cannot accommodate for them.

I found this video to help me understand a little better and view it from a different perspective. Check it out. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Mapping the Authors

My Mapping the Authors.

Why Schools Need To Take Another Route, Jeannie Oakes

"In low-ability classes, for example, teachers seem to be less encouraging and more punitive, placing more emphasis on discipline and 'behavior and less on academic learning. Compared to teachers in high-ability classes, they seem to be more concerned about getting students to follow directions, be on time, and sit quietly. Students in low-ability classes more often feel excluded from class activities and tend to find their classmates unfriendly. Their classes are more often interrupted by problems and arguing, while students in higher-ability classes seem to be much more involved in their classwork."
-Jeannie Oakes
This quote reminds me of my service learning classroom because it is absolutely true that in low ability classes, like mine, they are more focused on discipline and behavior. The first twenty minutes of class is usually an attempt to control the classroom and have everyone sit down in their seats. Twenty minutes. Students are either arguing with one another, showing each other videos on their phone, listening to music, you name it. There is wasted time on attempting to reign the classroom together to focus on the task of that day. However, if the teacher did not spend that time getting the class together, it would be chaos and there would be no way of having a productive class. Students will also not participate in workbook activities which would cause the class to be interrupted to point out the students weren’t doing their “busy work”. Most of the class consists of talking, playing on their phones, and being rather loud until the task of the day is finally enforced by the teacher. When at most times, the teacher only expects one assignment of the students, which isn’t a whole lot.

Typically, low-track high school students have been in low-ability groups and remedial programs since elementary school. The gap between them and more successful students has grown wider - not only in achievement but in attitudes toward school and toward their own ability to succeed.
-Jeannie Oakes

I loved this quote because it captured exactly what I was thinking while reading this article. Students that were in the low-ability groups since elementary school, of course have a different attitude towards their achievement and their own ability to succeed. It’s almost as if being in those groups caused them to lose their self esteem academically. Imagine being a student who never is able to escape from the lower ability groups from elementary school to high school. Their opinion of themselves will be, “I’m too stupid to be in that class”. I have heard classmates make comments of that nature because they have been in that environment for so long they feel they would never be capable of being in the higher level classes. Oakes also points out that some classes require basic skills that may not seem so basic to a student in a lower level classroom. I have also seen this among classmates who would look at the work that I would be doing and say that it looked way too hard and that they would never be able to do the work. They haven’t been given the opportunity to master the same skills as someone who is in a higher ability classroom and if they are never given that chance, they will continue to struggle to have the drive to move up to a higher classroom. This creates a gap amongst students which will pave a clear path of who will succeed and those who will not. That seems like a very broad statement, however, not given the proper tools, you will see the students who thrive and those who fall behind.

“Few low-ability classes, on the other hand, were taught these topics skills. Students in the latter class learned basic reading skills taught mostly by workbooks, kits, and “easy to-read stories.” -Jeannie Oakes
This quote reminds me of my service learning project and how this is what the class is based off of. They are given “dumbed- down” activities and worksheets that the students themselves view as too easy or “stupid”. They are not given enough credit for the intelligence that they do have and are forced into the redundant, easy work to just get by. Most students recognize the difference in the level of difficulty, but don’t seem to mind. They see there is no challenge and have no motivation or drive to present themselves with one. In this quote she is comparing how higher ability students classrooms are learning literature including Shakespeare to develop their basic reading skills versus their simplified versions. Along with the higher level literature they were expected to learn vocabulary that would expanded their vocabulary and help boost their SAT scores. This gap clearly makes a difference among students, by simply holding one to a higher expectation.

This video shows how in this particular classroom, they were able to bring together both lower ability and higher ability for all students to have a better understanding altogether on the particular subject of math. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

"The Problem We All Live With"

In the "The Problem We All Live With" radio broadcast, Nikole Hannah-Jones from the New York Times argues that integration is necessary in order for the "bad" schools to "catch up" to the "good schools". Listening to this broadcast left me in shock and ready to attack this blog post. Nikole brings to light the idea that integration is the key in closing the achievement gap amongst black and white kids in school systems. She mentions how most segregated schools have a high poverty concentration which means the majority of the students are from the same kind of lifestyle. Most of the students are behind and remain behind because they are all behind. Nikole argues that if integrated with other students, some advanced, there will be an all around improved environment for all students.  Integrating the students would give the African American students the equal opportunity to be in the same facilities as the white students and access to the higher quality teachers.

     Of course this idea comes with backlash and wave of negative opinions.  Ma'Riah's story of her experience with integration in schools was nothing short of an uphill battle that in my opinion will open the eyes of many. Her mother, Nedra Martin shares that her daughter has always been an A student but after attending Normandy, her grades had dropped significantly. The teachers had not notified her about her slipping grades and said that there were too many students to reach out to all parents. It seemed as though the teachers did not care or were not as invested in the students that attended Normandy. She also mentions how the classes seemed to be unorganized and even dumbed down. Nedra, concerned of her daughters education decides to look elsewhere and find more information to have her transfer. After endless calls, Nedra weighs out the options and realizes that its unrealistic to pay tuition for a public school or a private school simply because she cannot afford it.

Newscaster: "New tonight, a major blow to a school district in the metro area. The Missouri State Board of Education is pulling accreditation from the Normandy School District" (Nikole Hannah-Jones, "The Problem We All Live With" )
This was great news for Ma'Riah, due to The Transfer Law which allows students attending Normandy to have the right to transfer to a nearby accredited school for free. However, there would be only one school of their choosing to have free transportation which was closer, but unfortunately in the same district. Ma'Riah was an honors student who wanted to receive the best possible education and wanted to attend Francis Howell which 1,000 other students from Normandy were also interested in. Francis Howell was 85% White whereas Normandy had been predominately a black community. There was an uproar for the parents from Francis Howell school at a Town Meeting on the subject matter that absolutely shocked Ma'Riah, Nedra and myself included. The meetings topics were the following:

  1. Accreditation- is a fancy word for the act of granting credit or recognition, especially to an educational institution that maintains suitable standards. (Google) A parent brings up the question, "Once Normandy comes in here, will that lower our accreditation?" with a follow up of cheering amongst the people at the meeting.  Normandy has extremely low scores and, "In 2014, Points for academic achievement in English-- zero, math-- zero, social studies-- zero, science-- zero, points for college placement-- zero. It seems impossible, but in 11 of 13 measures, the district didn't earn a single point. 10 out of 140 points, that was its score." (Nikole Hannah-Jones, "The Problem We All Live With" ). Any parent should be concerned with the accreditation of their child's school system, especially scores like Normandy's. However, when they fight and resist the idea of the students entering Francis Howell school system, they are also resisting a student to receive the quality education their child is receiving simply because of their previous school system failing them, not the individual.
  2. Discipline- "So I'm hoping that their discipline records come with them, like their health records come with them."  (Nikole Hannah-Jones, "The Problem We All Live With" ) This quote from the transcript blew my mind when I had first read it. The blunt-ness this woman had at the town meeting was astonishing to me. The Normandy district had a reputation to be a "bad" school with violence, drugs, etc you name it. However, I cannot help but wonder if she had ever stepped foot into the school and experienced it herself. Also the students who wanted to attend Francis Howell had to travel substantially farther without free transportation just to go to that school. Clearly they are looking for a better education and are grasping the opportunity to. The reputation doesn't mean the whole. I have experienced this kind of negativity for going to Woonsocket High school where it also had a bad reputation. When I would tell others where I went to school, they seemed shocked and couldn't believe that I went to such a "scary"school. Or they mention how everyone there must be dumb. That was the kicker. I was an honors student and excelled in my school, just as Ma'Riah has, the reputation does not mean the whole.
  3. Integration history- "Years ago, when the MetroLink was being very popular, St. Charles County put to a vote whether or not we wanted the MetroLink to come across into our community. And we said no. And the reason we said no is because we don't want the different areas [INAUDIBLE] coming across on our side of the bridge, bringing with it everything that we're fighting today against."  (Nikole Hannah-Jones, "The Problem We All Live With" ) As I mentioned in the previous point, this parent assumes that the whole upholds the reputation of the school. The fact that this exists today should surprise me, however it doesn't. I've witnessed this kind of talking that is a "walking on eggshells" conversation because of the fear of being politically incorrect.
  4. Safety in school- "This is what I want to know from you. In one month, I send my three small children to you. And I want to know is there going to be metal detectors? Because I want to be clear. I'm no expert. I'm not you guys. I don't have an accreditation, but I've read. I've read, and I've read, and I've read. So we're not talking about the Normandy School District losing their accreditation because of their buildings, or their structures, or their teachers. We are talking about violent behavior that is coming in with my first grader, my third grader, and my middle schooler that I'm very worried about." (Beth Cirami, "The Problem We All Live With" ) I hope you are seeing a reoccurring theme amongst the parents attending the town meeting. As a parent, (even though I am not one) I can imagine that your child's safety is at the top of the priorities list. However, the parents seem to "jump the gun" and assume that every student being transferred is a delinquent and that Francis Howell school system will not be able to provide their children safety without metal detectors, as an example. "You have no choice like me. I want to know where the metal detectors are going to be me. And I want to know where your drug sniffing dogs are going to be. And I want-- this is what I want. I want the same security that Normandy gets when they walk through their school doors. I want it here. And I want it-- and I want that security before my children walk into Francis Howell. Because I shopped for a school district. I deserve to not have to worry about my children getting stabbed or taking a drug or getting robbed. Because that's the issue.(Beth Cirami, "The Problem We All Live With" ) Granted I have not met any of the students at Normandy or went to the school, but the descriptions from the parents seem to be extreme.
  5. Race not being the issue- "We have both-- my husband and I both have worked and lived in underprivileged areas in our jobs. This is not a race issue. And I just want to say to-- if she's even still here, the first woman who came up here and cried that it was a race issue, I'm sorry. That's her prejudice calling me a racist because my skin is white and I'm concerned about my children's education and safety. This is not a race issue." (Nikole Hannah-Jones, "The Problem We All Live With" ) This is the first statement that is mentioned that has somewhat of an argument in their favor. Parents are supposed to be concerned in their childs education and safety, and shouldn't have race as the focus when in their case it is not. Just because she is speaking out does not mean that she is a racist herself.
  6. ...... "And let me assure you, I personally know a family in the Fox School District that was shopping for houses in our school district that were negotiating on a home. And when this came on the news, they ended negotiations. So-- " (Nikole Hannah-Jones, "The Problem We All Live With" ) This is where the prejudice and racism come into play.  

Students like Ma'Riah do not get factored into this equation. Nikole Hannah-Jones also mentions another student who transferred to the middle school, Rianna who had a negative experience at first because of the reputation her previous school had. A white student made a racial slur and was instigating a fight. The student made comments regarding her being ghetto, questioning her intelligence, etc which Rianna had not involved herself in.
"Because I feel like, if I was to run away, if I was to come back, then she was winning. And I had to prove her wrong. I had to prove to her I'm not stupid. I'm very intelligent. And just because I went to Normandy, that doesn't define who I am either." (Rianna, "The Problem We All Live With")
All I can say is S.C.W.A.A.M.P. Because the students were not part of the dominant power, the parents of Francis Howell students viewed them unfairly. Luckily Ma'Riah and Rianna were able to overcome the obstacles of the debauchery they had dealt with between schools. However, not all students, school systems, or parents, get involved enough in order to make changes in their education systems.

Here's the link for all you non FNED students if you're interested in hearing the broadcast/interview.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Service Learning

     In the article, "In the Service Of What? The Politics of Service Learning"  by Joseph Kahne and Koel Westheimer touches upon the benefits of service learning in schools. This article brought up several great points of how service is an important aspect of learning which teaches students different perspectives in the process. In one of the examples provided, Kahne et all explain how a middle school teacher proposed their students, part of a suburban upper-middle class, to volunteer at a poor elementary school in the area. There were already mixed emotions about volunteering in that environment because of previous notions and reputation of the school system. "The students said that they had imagined 'horrifying children running around on a dirty campus...And expected them to be 'rude, tough, noisy and very unfriendly". Along with the confirmation from parents that it, "was a bad neighborhood and to be careful." The incredible result of this form of service was that their pre existing notion of the experience had a complete opposite turn out. "After they returned, the students' perspectives on these elementary school children changed. They were 'surprised at the children's responsiveness and their attentiveness, and found the children extremely polite and surprisingly friendly." One student wrote....

"Everyone at the school had good manners and I think more highly of [the neighborhood] now".... 

   "This experiential and interpersonal components of service learning activities can achieve the first crucial step toward diminishing the sense of 'otherness' that often separates students-particularly privileged students- from those in need."  I found this to be absolutely true because of the fact I have experienced this sense of "otherness" in my high school career. The high school I had attended was an urban community with a similar reputation as the middle school mentioned but on a higher scale. It was known for being scary, having fights, bomb threats, and overall a negative reputation. My junior year of high school I was forced to attend another high school, (long story), which was a privileged community with predominately white students. Before starting my first day of school, I wasn't worried that I would not fit in with this community and had pre existing notions that the students would be friendly. However, they did not meet my expectations and if anything were the opposite, making me feel unwelcome and part of the "otherness". Knowing that I had come from the different, underprivileged school system with a bad reputation, they looked at me differently. I would get the same comment, "You don't look like a kid that would go to school there...Is it scary there?.. Have you seen a fight...etc etc".What was I supposed to look like to them? It made me feel excluded and I was viewed differently than the other students. They thought I was aggressive (lol) and not like any of the other girls there. This is an example of the ignorance that creates the "otherness" described in the article.

                                   I hope this meme aggravates you the way it did for me. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Gender Relevance in the Election

       In Jill Soloway's article Donald Trump, Locker Rooms and Toxic Masculinity, she argues that the "locker room talk" enables men to objectify women because it is a place that tolerates this kind of behavior. Men are quick to talk about woman in a degrading way but, as she mentions, you will never hear them refer to one anothers female wife, daughter, or sister. This kind of behavior is tolerated because it's done in the gender specific privacy of men who "would never betray their membership in the man’s club to admit." (Soloway) This can be connected directly to Donald Trump and his many statements regarding women that are degrading in many ways. Trump is a very outspoken candidate that has no issue spitting out the sexist remarks on live television. The audio clip they have of Trump talking about groping women and kissing women without consent as something that was simply "locker room talk". He refers to it as locker room talk several times as an attempt to justify his actions, which in my opinion causes him to become an enabler. 

"White cis able-bodied educated males from the ruling class are at the top, holding nearly all of the power of the planet. You get access to this power if you’re married or related to one of these men. As you head down the pyramid, by daring to be perhaps — an unrelated white woman without a ring or poise, or gosh, a black woman, or a queer person or a trans person or a disabled person, your fall speeds up exponentially. " 

                    Soloway continues that if you do not fall under this category you seem to become lower and lower on the on the pyramid which then,"Your legal rights drop away. Your safety. Your body rights drop away. You are not a body, you are a piece of a body now, you are being murdered slowly, with words and ideas." This also relates to SCWAAMP which is exactly what the quote above is saying. Anyone who is straight, catholic, white, able bodied, American, male, and has property fits into the perfect umbrella that Trump is trying to create. This has everything to do with the election because we are dealing with people's rights, and safety regardless of their sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, etc. Trump is an example of a cis able-bodied educated male from the ruling class who has a considerable amount of power and could potentially be leading our country. In my opinion I would not want someone like Donald Trump who does not take into consideration the fact he is justifying his actions which ultimately says "it's okay to talk about women in this way, it's only locker room talk", when millions of people will be following him. Along with the idea that not all people will feel represented in our country or feel that there is true equality amongst us.

In the article, Hillary Clinton Raises Her Voice, and a Debate Over Speech and Sexism Rage

opinions of her as a presidential candidate. 

“It is 2016 and I cannot believe — cannot believe — we are having this conversation,” said Stephanie Schriock, the president of the group Emily’s List, which works to elect female candidates, in an interview. If Mrs. Clinton is shouting, “what is Bernie Sanders doing?” she asked.

It is a great question to ask because it is absolutely true that Bernie Sanders projects his voice to almost a shout. Because Hillary Clinton has the real potential of becoming elected, she is viewed as a threat especially being a woman. This can be connected back to Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us by Linda Christensen that touches upon the notion that women are portrayed in Disney movies to be lower than men and rely on their looks to succeed. Basically "We are taught, more than anything else, how to not rebel"and Hillary Clinton is defying this idea and is speaking out. Hillary also snaps back at Bernie Sanders when she says, "sometimes when a woman speaks out, some people think it’s shouting", regarding the comments of her delivery of speeches. This election has a great deal regarding gender considering we have a legitimate potential female president on our way, however, her delivery of speeches regarding volume should have no negative impact on her election. This race should be legitimately equal amongst the candidates taking away focus on the male and female differences. 


Thursday, October 13, 2016


      Starting my service learning project, I was aware that teaching in a high school would impose different challenges from the get-go. However, I was unprepared for the lack of control and how difficult it was to get the students to participate. The first class I had each student create their own name tag however they wanted. Some added drawings and designs to make it a little more authentic, which I appreciated. We then played an icebreaker game to get to know each other,  they were all given a packet of M&M's and used each one as a fun fact about them which they could eat after contributing to the class. It went well for the most part, but students were talking over one another and comments were being thrown left and right causing the classroom to become chaotic. After going through each student, they completed a worksheet titled, "The Soundtrack to your Life" where they chose songs they felt represented them and explained why. Many participated and had a lot to say as to others who left the sheet blank or as one student wrote, " I love bacon".

      Before the class was over we had began talking about values and what each students individuals values were. I was having difficulty bringing the students back to the lesson until I asked the question, "Would you rather be rich and dumb or poor and smart?" "Immediately, the alpha of the classroom, without raising his hand yells, "Hell yeah rich and dumb" and "I responded with a quick "why". The class went silent. It was the most incredible moment to see the students wait for his response because of his clear lack of preparation of a follow up question. He was deliberately answering this way for attention and I wanted to let the student know that it wasn't supposed to be a joke. I made it clear to the student that he wasn't wrong as long as he had evidence to back up his argument. This led to a major debate amongst the students but was done in a behavior that was completely opposite to the beginning of the class. Students were raising their hands, were not talking over one another, and had great, in depth arguments. It was then I realized I needed to create activities and lessons that would engage them in this way and truly connected with them.

     Therefore, when I went to the high school to teach again, I was a bit more nervous about the class because I was unsure of how they would respond a second time. I began the class digging a bit deeper into what values are and what are some things they value themselves. Many said family, money, friendship, etc. I compiled a list of 9 where they only chose five of them. It boiled down to success, truth, friendship, love and happiness. We were able to go through the list and explain what each word meant and why it is a value. They were completely attentive and it was clear they wanted to participate, which had me a little confused. I then explained that each word would be placed on chart paper and they would split into groups to write about why they value this, an example of this value or something that represents that value. They were helpful when setting up the activity, hanging up the posters, helping me cut each one, and were ready for more instructions. I proceeded to tell them they had five minutes at each station and then we would rotate. The entire activity ran smoothly and was ultimately a success! I was so impressed at how well they responded to this activity and how much effort they actually put into it. After it was all said and done, I had them write me at least a paragraph about their thoughts on the activity, something that they learned doing the activity, or the option of telling me their values and explaining why they valued it. I have just read through all of the papers and I am thrilled that they responded so well. Aside from the student who wrote, "I value bacon".  Each student wrote almost an entire page and now I have had this proud moment that I really was able to connect to the students and was able to almost feel like a real teacher.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Safe Spaces: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth

 Safe Spaces written by Annemarie Vaccaro, Gerri August, and Megan S. Kennedy

           Annemarie et all argue that LGBTQ's  inclusion into the curriculum of all school systems is crucial in creating a safe space for all students. They bring to light the importance of educating and integrating students of other lifestyles to in turn prevent bullying due to another students ignorance. As educators we should all strive to make every student feel absolutely comfortable in their classroom environments in order for each individual to have the right tools to succeed. I personally feel as though this topic is a difficult conversation for many but most definitely is a necessary one. For my service learning project there is a student in my class who is transgender and identifies themselves as a male. Before starting my project, I had visited the class to talk with the teacher about her expectations from me in the classroom and learn a little bit more about the kids. She explained to me how the student prefers a different name than the one presented on the roster. Immediately I made note of that in order for the student to feel comfortable when going through attendance. I had connected with a few of the students and had a chance to learn more about them. I did also have a conversation with the male student in particular and had a moment when I referred to him as "she". I felt embarrassed and upset that I may have offended him, even though I specifically made an effort to not make that mistake. I quickly corrected myself and he gave me the "it's okay look". He completely understood and shrugged it off. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that it was clear that the classroom accepted him. There was complete inclusion in conversation and there were no negative comments which was great. It's nice to know that with all the negativity and hate around this topic that we hear of so often, that there are communities where we see progress amongst the students and faculty. Going forward I absolutely will make the conscious effort to respect him and his identity.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us. (Hyperlinks)

Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us by Linda Christensen

I found this piece to be a very interesting look into the media, movies, gender roles, and gender stereotypes. Christensen argues that specifically cartoons, and Disney tend to have racist content that focuses on the role of women, the roles of people of color, and gender stereotypes that we still have in our society today. She also adds that this mass media causes people to shape their lives around these standards and causes people to form their own idea of what their lives should portray(Christensen 128) . A line that stuck with me was, "We are taught, more than anything else, how to not rebel." (Dorfman) In the video below, they portray how Disney shapes the minds of young children and adolescence to believe, for example, "beauty is good and ugly is bad." It causes them to believe that beauty is valued over those who are not as attractive. Including the fact being more attractive increases the likelihood of succeeding. They also give a false sense of what beauty is,

  • Big Eyes
  • Pale skin
  • Thin waist 
  • Delicate limbs 
  • Flowing hair

(All from video) 

This false sense of "who they should be" causes young girls to strive to look like Disney Princesses. Intelligence isn't something of high value because beauty is more important, which is pointed out in both videos below with examples like the Little Mermaid and The Beauty and the Beast. It surpresses reading for young girls and "who needs a voice when you have your beauty?' It teaches girls to become dependent on their looks and makes them believe that they will live "Happily ever after" if
    1. they find a man to marry 
    2. " Transformation can be achieved through consumption" 

    This notion that transformation can be achieved through consumption also touches upon how the media uses commercialism and consumerism to their advantage. The media uses the same strategies that Disney does, however it is used in advertisements to get people convinced that they need the next new product because it will make them happy. 

    "We are taught, more than anything else, how to not rebel." (Christensen 128)

    Christensen mentions that the "industrially produced stories" teach people how to do almost everything in their lives, down to "how to succeed, how to love, how to buy, how to conquer, how to forget the past, and suppress the future". These images and ideas shape our emotions and how we view ourselves which also lead to our constant need for consumption. 

    In the Documentary, Miss Representation they bring this strategy to light. This is a documentary I had watched in my digital media class and I found it to really dissect the media and the role it plays in our everyday lives. I placed the whole documentary into the post if anyone is interested in watching. It's a little lengthy but definitely worth the watch. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Voices and Silences: Language Is Power

In the reading “Aria” by Richard Rodriguez, there is a very clear message that having english as a first language has substantial benefits and how forcing the second language at home for educational purposes can have a negative impact on the student, as well as the family.

In the video I have linked above, Simona Montanari, a professor from California State University, touches upon the pros of having being raised in a multilingual environment. I connected this to the "Aria" piece because Montanari talks about the social and emotional benefits being raised in a multilingual environment has. There are parallel views between the video and Richards point of view in his experience. Richard explains how the, "feeling of closeness at home was diminished.."(Rodriguez 36). Due to his teachers (nuns) suggestion to his parents about speaking english while at home, caused an emotional gap between the family that made things awkward for him. He mentions how when they had dinner together, that he also observed his fathers sudden quietness. However, "when I'd watch him speaking in Spanish with relatives, he was quickly effusive" (Rodriguez 37). Richard was able to realize how not speaking his native language changed his fathers position in the family and caused him to become quieter. He also mentions that being a child, they were learning english faster than their parents which caused even more difficulty in communication for the family. If the child were to explain something to their parents, the parents would often not understand what they meant and the child would almost "give up" attempting to explain because it was simply too difficult. This is where the issues of only teaching the "dominant" language (SWAAMP) in school systems occurs and causes differing opinions on the subject. I also wanted to point out Rodriguez's consistent reminder that this decision that his native language was not to be used in the classroom was taking away his own identity. One example was simply the way they pronounced his name from Ricardo to Richard. It may not seem as substantial of an issue to some, but it does take away his identity and his cultural background. The one quote that I found that hit the nail on the head was that his new understanding of the english language he had come, "to believe what had been technically true since my birth: I was an American citizen (Rodriguez 36). He finally felt that he belonged in his public environment which was something he had never had because he of his inability to communicate in the classroom. This cartoon below shows how not taking into consideration that english may be a second language to the student, we are unable to help them understand, which in turn may cause the student to ultimately fail.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh

"White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks" (McIntosh). 

             McIntosh describes white privilege as the "invisible knapsack" that clearly comes with some advantages.  She uses works like maps, passports, codebooks, etc all implying that there is something that white people have over others that seem to put them ahead. The key words she uses is that these are all"unearned assets" that are given to white people that seem to go unrecognized because of their oblivion to this advantage. She says that this privilege was "meant to remain oblivious" which I found interesting. She makes a great argument that when learning about racism, they view it " as something that puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage" (MacIntosh). This reminds me of Delpits' piece where she mentions that usually those with power are unaware that they have it, and those that do not have it, are more aware of the power; which is absolutely true. McIntosh is simply furthering that point that white people don't usually realize their advantages that they are guaranteed everyday over people of color. Being white gives them advantages in life like your career, education, home ownership, etc. White people have much wider opportunities lying in from of them that they can "cash in" each day versus someone of color. This yield a huge problem in our society that a persons race can boost their lives substantially more than someone of another race. This is where inequality is extremely vivid when discussing this "Invisible Knapsack".

"My schooling followed the pattern my colleague Elizabeth McIntosh has pointed out: whites are taught to think of their lives are morally neutral, normative, and average, and also ideal, so that when we work to benefit others, this is seen as work that will 'allow' them to be more like 'us'" (McIntosh).
           This quote I found very interesting because it brought up a great point that I had not realized before. Like SCWAAMP, there is an ideal image that our society cooks up that we believe is the "correct" or "normal way", which is what most people believe. Basically that if you are white, that you are living the ideal, normal and correct way of living and that everyone should follow suit. However, McIntosh's quote that, "this work will allow them to be more like 'us'" is shocking in my opinion, but not wrong. I think many people who do not see white privilege to be an advantage, will not realize this reality that they hold themselves to the SCWAAMP standard. I believe that McIntosh is right when she said that, "whites are taught to think of their lives morally neutral, normative and average, and also ideal..." simply from my own experience. Before this class, I never realized how obvious white privilege really is in our society today. Of course there is serious race issues that cause inequality in our society, however I never realized how much it had to do with specifically white privilege.

"Whiteness protected me from many kinds of hostility, distress, and violence, which I was being subtly trained to visit, in turn, upon people of color" (McIntosh). 

         In this quote, McIntosh hits the nail right on the head when she says that, "whiteness protected me". That alone allows us to understand McIntosh's perspective that being white, or fall under the categories in SCWAAMP that you are protected from the hostility, distress and violence. She was protected from feeling the oppression from the dominant power, because she was a part of it. I love her choice of words specifically the word "protect". That's exactly what her whiteness does in our society. She is exempt from feeling the oppression and repercussions because of her affiliation with the oblivious dominant power. Then she goes onto the point that she was, "being subtly trained to visit, in turn, upon people of color" which is again absolutely true. It's almost as if we are exposed to something different or foreign from what we are used to, that we immediately view it as wrong or have a negative opinion about it because it's not "their way". Her messages throughout the piece basically want the reader to understand that white privilege is something that has been taught, and many are unaware of its existence.