Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Social Justice Event

RIC/RIASPA Focus Group

I attended a focus group for Rhode Island College and Rhode Island After School Plus Alliance (RIASPA). During this time we talked about adding an after school program endorsement, similar to a middle school endorsement as an option. This is directly from an email I received as a follow up from the meeting:

"1.  The audience for the certificate could be one or a combination of populations including teacher candidates, afterschool and summer learning professionals, certified teachers, high school graduates who are not yet moving on to an Associate's or Bachelor's degree.
2.  The goal of this certificate is to improve the teaching practices of ALL professionals working in (or with) the afterschool and summer learning field."

It was very interesting to sit in on this and contribute my ideas. I found this option very eye opening and I see this and could be a positive addition to a resume.
When I was in Elementary School there was an optional after school program that we could sign up for and there were so many different options that we had and everyone always loved when it was "that time of year" for after school programs to start because you always had so much fun staying after with your friends!


"In the Service of What?"
This connects because when you're working in an after school program, you're dedicating your time to these students and it means a lot to them, having someone to help with their homework or do crafts with them or just to talk to and in the end it will just as rewarding to be the one assisting as it was for the one being assisted.

"Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us"
While trying to think of another article to link this to, I thought of what these children will be doing during the after school programs and they will be given the opportunity to do their homework and to interact with classmates instead of going home and watching TV or playing with their video games or ipods or cellphones. This gives them the opportunity to put the electronics away, get away from the media and enjoy being around their friends and get ahead with their work.

They asked us at the end of the meeting who would think about taking a course for an after school endorsement and I said I would. It gives another option for a resume and it wouldn't be TOO much extra work.


I felt like sharing this to show how much us going in to help means to the students at our service learning placements...

Today I went in to get a paper from my SL teacher and right when i walked in the door all the students jumped out of their seats and got so excited to see my face they all started waving and when I would make eye contact and smile at one of them, their whole face would light up.
Seeing how excited they were to see me, reminded me of why I want to be a teacher. It also reminded me of how much I am going to miss them at the end of this year :(
I had such a good time going to my SL placement and i'm glad this class gave me the opportunity to do that :)

Education is Politics

We were assigned to read Education is Politics by: Ira Shor

[ I underlined a couple parts that stuck out to me ]

"Basically I think that these quotes really show how Shor thinks that students should be in charge or their own learning with a little bit of help from their teachers. If teachers would just ask the right questions, then students would get to thinking about subject matter and they would start to learn from their thoughts and ideas. Teachers should not give their students subject matter to memorize, they need to think about it so they will be interested in it. I personally think that these are really good teaching strategies and ideas. Do you think that the problem-posing approach is a good one? It seems like it would work well to me."

Mariah did a really good job on this blog post and the "conclusion" part of her's really summed everything up that I wanted to incorporate into mine.
When she talked about spelling words and not making children memorize them, it made me think of my little brother. He is in 5th grade and my mom, my boyfriend, and I were all looking at his spelling words the other day and literally I had seen 2 out of 20 before in my life and forget the bonus words, they looked like a different language to me. My brother has started to give up on spelling all together and just accepting the fact that he is going to fail his spelling test, it makes me so sad. But this is showing, that my little brother knows that he isn't going to learn anything cramming for a spelling test and then not remembering how to spell those words in a week - so whats the point? This curriculum definitely needs to be modified 
Students learn so much better when they are being challenged. When the teachers are asking questions, they need to ask the right  question, questions that will make the students THINK. Or else they will just regurgitate information back and learn NOTHING.

Another issue Mariah talked about the ratio of student/teacher dialogue... "Future teachers need to make sure that their students are fully engaged and fully involved in the classroom. It can't just be a one way street." This is so true - in Dr. Bogad's class we are all always engaged in conversation and feel like our opinion matters. But when students are always being told to be quiet and that it "isn't time for talking", it discourages them from opening their mouth in the classroom. It doesn't seem right that the teachers are there for the children yet, they're taking up most of the class time lecturing to their students.

Teachers need to give their students the opportunity to speak and feel like they are a part of something in the classroom. In school, they are supposed to have the chance to be themselves but if the teachers arent giving them that chance to open up, it will be hard for them. Like Mariah said, future teachers need to involve their students and assist them to be engaged and learn to their full potential...

Reconceptualizing Children with Down Syndrome

We were assigned to read Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Children with Down Syndrome by: Christopher Kliewer

This article discussed different stories about children with Down Syndrome and how they're regular everyday children. They shouldn't be singled out because they have a disability. These people aren't stupid - which is why I strongly despise the slang context that the word "retarded" is usually used in a lot in this generation. It's mainly used to describe someone or something as STUPID or MESSED UP. Now, what is that saying about the people that are scientifically categorized as mentally retarded?

I have a friend in a wheel chair, there is nothing wrong with him mentally but, he developed bacterial meningitis - the most common form of meningitis - when he was around 3 years old. Bacterial meningitis is an infection of the fluid in the spinal cord as well as the fluid surrounding the brain. He cannot move from his neck down and cannot speak. He communicates my motioning with his mouth. This spectacular boy is one of the most heart-warming people you will ever meet, his smile will light up a room and he touches the life of everyone he meets. He just recently celebrated his 18th birthday! He's was as happy as can be on that special night! Having a personal connection to this boy, makes me see clearly that just because he's in a wheelchair doesn't mean that he's dumb and doesn't me he can't do things like other people. He is very intelligent and very caring. It makes me sad when people turn away from children with special needs, they're regular human beings and everyone deserves to have a chance at a great life...

This video is about a boy named Joe, he has down syndrome but this doesn't stop him from being educated and learning just like every other student. This video was remarkable to me, the enthusiastic look on this child's face when he correctly spelt a word or pointed to a certain place on a map. This video shows that just because he has a mentally disability doesn't mean he can't function mentally and excel with his learning. He's very inspirational...

The National Association for Down Syndrome has been serving people with down syndrome and their families since it was created in 1961. It was founded by parents that decided to go against what everyone  the medical opinions and raise their children with Down Syndrome in their own home. "Our mission is to ensure that all persons with Down syndrome have the opportunity to achieve their potential in all aspects of community life. We offer information, support, and advocacy. " 

Also, The National Down Syndrome Society was founded in 1979 by Elizabeth Goodwin and Arden Moulton after Elizabeths daughter was born with Down Syndrome. "The National Down Syndrome Society envisions a world in which all people with Down syndrome have the opportunity to enhance their quality of life, realize their life aspirations, and become valued members of welcoming communities." They have over 350 groups all over the country. Those groups include local parents and other organizations that work together to help children with down syndrome and their families.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tracking - Alternate Routes?

This week we were assigned to read Literacy with an Attitude by Patrick J. Finn and Tracking: Why Schools Need to Take Another Route by Jeannie Oakes.
I chose to write my blog on Tracking: Why Schools Need to Take Another Route

This article talked about separating students by their intelligence level. PERSONALLY I don't agree with doing this to students. When I was in middle school, each grade was divided up into four teams, (I'll use 7th grade for an example) so the 7th grade had four different teams and within those teams there were different levels of classes (red, green, blue and yellow) For each team the levels were different, but they were STILL LEVELS. So there was the lowest level, the highest level and then two medium levels in between (I'm an average student, so I was always in the middle levels). Everyone knew that the "super smart" students were in the highest levels and all the "dumb" students were in the lower levels. If you were in the lower levels you were always discouraged and you were given easier work... You were learning the same information just at a different pace with assignments that weren't as challenging.

When I was going through this I didn't look at it as being a big deal, it was just something I was used to - I didn't see anything wrong with it.. But now, I definitely do. The lower level students were not challenged to their full potential at all. They were just passing by because they didn't have hard work... "Students in high-ability groups have far richer schooling experiences than other students" - This is very sad but true, because this goes back to Brown v. Board, Separate is definitely not equal... These students are getting treated different -discriminated against- because of their intelligence level. They don't CHOOSE to being slower learners, its the way their brain functions.. I don't see how this can even be considered fair... But, then again, I can say that and challenge it all I want, but I still can't wrap my mind around any ideas for an alternate strategy for this situation.....

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Gender in Schools.

This week we were assigned to research gender issues in the school system.

While thinking and talking about gender in schools, it made me think of something actually positive about gender in schools that happened in my high school last year. There was this one girl - she was a junior - and she is very athletic, and she decided that she wanted to play on the boys football team. The coach said absolutely not, but being a gymnast she was pretty strong so she challenged the coach saying that if she could out-bench one of the boys, he would have to give her a chance. To make a long story short - she made the team! She didn't play too much, but everyone loved that she actually took a stand for herself and proved that she could actually go against the gender stereotype, showing that girls CAN do what boys do.

I read an article which talked about the steps in which children perceive gender and it all starts when they begin school because that is when they actually go out into the world and experience life. In elementary school is when they learn the differences between girls and boys in deciphering who wears what types of outfits and that girls like princesses and dolls and boys play sports. Once middle school comes around, is when you begin to see boys being encouraged to be outspoken and girls must be well-mannered and behaved. These issues can affect the places that students go to college and the jobs they pursue in the future.

Children in the school environment everyday learn and see their experience in the school different from how we analyze it because they're living it, while we're just observing.
While looking on youtube, I wanted to find a video of actual children speaking about the way that they perceive gender and different gender roles. It's crazy how much children pick up from just simply watching - I believe they aren't given enough credit for how much they actually know...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Brown vs. Board of Education

For this week, we were assigned to look at a information about Brown vs. Board of Education, and watch a video called Between Barack and a Hard Place, an interview with author, Tim Wise about his book.

Watching the video Between Barack and a Hard Place really opened my eyes to racism. I always know it's around, but I've never been personally victimized by it.  But I have always been one of those people that questions it, wondering what makes people so pathetic that they find black people so much different that everyone else. In the end we're all people and we all have feelings and emotions... We all bleed the same color.

We can hope as much as we want but racism will never just disappear. But, we can still try to make equal REALLY MEAN equal. Like Wise said in the video, you have to look at past events in history, and see that there wasn't just ONE event that happened that moved society away from racism, but many things took part and changed us bit by bit. And things will continue to happen. But, this issue will never be gone for good...

Talking about/listening to all the talk about Brown vs. Board of Education reminds me of a movie I watched when I was younger called Ruby Bridges. She was a young girl that was chosen to transfer to an all-white school. All the parents didn't want their student exposed to a black child so they pulled their students from the school. Ruby was the only student there and she was so embarrassed about it. But she completed what she was there to do - she was very a brave little girl...

This is a famous picture of Ruby Bridges walking with security guards. She needed these men to walk with her because she was getting many death threats and the whites were protesting out side of the school Ruby was to be attending...

Tim Wise said in his book that there are a lot of black people who accomplished great things. For instance our current President, Barack Obama. He is the first black president, that's pretty awesome, especially when you put in perspective the background this country has, that's a big deal! Black people shouldn't be doubted because of their color, think about that? Someone looks different and automatically and judged and stereotyped. It just doesn't make any sense to me..