Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Promising Practice

On Saturday, November 1st 2014, I along with many other educators attended Rhode Island College’s 17th annual Promising Practice: Culturally Responsive Curricula in STEM. This conference consisted of two workshops of our choice, followed by the Keynote Address, “HipHopED(ucators)STEMming the Tide of Disinterest in Education” from, Dr. Christopher Emdin. I went into this Conference with the, “I’m only here because it is required for the class and part of my grade”, while I noticed that many other teachers who attended this Conference gave up their Saturdays as well not because they had to but because they wanted to. It was inspiring to see the passion and I was able to walk away from the conference with that same passion.

The first workshop I attended was, Hands-on-learning, presented by Helaine Hager, who is a Science teacher at Mt. Pleasant Highschool. This workshop was my least favorite part of the whole day. I walked away from this workshop with no new knowledge. The thing that bothered me most about this workshop is the lack of discussion that was taking place. Hager started her presentation saying she doesn’t tell her students what they are doing it is up to them to figure it out on their own. I feel like this statement would have started a good discussion but instead she went right into a demonstration she does with her students in the classroom. After her demonstration she starts passing out a lab with a worksheet and tells us to work on it for the remaining of the time. I personally didn’t read the worksheet or do the experiment because it was completely irrelevant to me. The workshop ended and we didn’t even go over the worksheet.

I found Helaine Hager’s method of teaching to tie into what was being taught at another workshop. In Erika’s “Promising Practice” blog she mentioned, “The women explained to us that children are self-learned, and they get a lot more out of coming to conclusions and discovering information themselves than to just be lectured by a teacher”. This connects back to our class and the discussion we had after we were told to do that “quiz, where the answers were right in front of us.This shows examples of how teachers give students the work to not make them feel stupid but show them that they know they are capable of doing the work and challenging them to make them better learners.

The second workshop I attended was, Teaching-While-Brown, presented by an uncle and nephew. They were really family oriented which affects how they teach. The presenters were David Upegui a science teacher at Central Falls High school and Jonathan Acosta a teacher at Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy Middle school. They were great presenters who really engaged in the crowd. This workshop was super relavant to class, as well as our service learning as it talked about how race and background didn’t match academic success. In the workshop I learned, that today black and brown students outnumber white students. Yet in some cases these students aren’t being treated fairly as we have seen segregation by neighborhood and by level of “smartness”.  The Presenters stressed how important it was to connect with their students and how it helps them learn better. They shared ways to doing this by relevance making the lesson alive and personal. One thing they use in their classrooms is narrative instruction. I really liked listening to the presenters stories they told of the bonds that they created with their students. I remember my favorite teacher was one who went to my teams sporting games after school, which is similar to what one of the presenters talked about how he would play pick up basketball games with his students.
One of the students of the presenters students was at the conference, who couldn’t stop talking about how great this teacher was. She has a tattoo of a DNA molecule because of him.


The Conference ended with an address from Dr. Christopher Emdin.What an amazing speaker he was. Because this conference was mostly teachers I thought it was going to be formal but he spoke to us as college students. At one point during his speech he started rapping. His speech really tied in well with my second workshop, about making students interested as well as segregation in the classrooms. One thing that really stuck with me when he said blacks were treated better prior to the Brown Vs. Board of education. We are future educators to make this change happen!

Over all this conference was a great experience, I found myself comparing the articles we read after to relate to the speech as well as my workshops.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Empowering Education, Ira Shor- Extended comments

For my blog post this week I am using Anthony's blog
Anthony said, "Today having a teacher or professor who is genuinely passionate about getting the best from his or hers students is rare" and I feel that this is sadly true!

When I was in highschool, at least in every class once a day someone would ask the question,  "is this on the test? " and if the answer were no, you wouldn't write notes.

I understand that this video was made mainly about technology in the classroom  think this video has a deeper meaning then technology ruining classes. I think it sums up Anthony's points. When I watched this video (Which was after I read the article) I kept thinking back to shore and his argument about 
Could students resort to technology because they are board in class and not engaged in class?  

Things that Notebooks Said that really stuck that really stuck out to me were

"18% of my teachers know my name" "I complete 49% of the readings" "My neighbor paid for class but never comes" "I memorized this stuff to fail"

Over all I think Shor's reading is a definite recap of everything we have learned this semester and I think that the very first line of this reading is exactly what we have been questioning after this whole semester

"What kind of educational system do we have? What kind do we need?
How do we get from one to the other?" (11)


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Kliewer, Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome- Quotes

This weeks reading by Kliewer, was really interesting. In class we have been talking a lot lately how race, and social class segregate students, but I feel as though it is worse with students with disabilities! 

Here are some quotes from the reading that stuck out to me:

"I started to notice that I didn't like the classes I was taking called special education.! had togo through special ed. almostall mylife. I wanted to take 
other classes that interested me. I had never felt so mad, 1 wanted to cry"
(Peterson, 1994, p. 6)
This quote made me think about practicum for SPED 300 I am working with a student who has a learning disability and is pulled out of the classroom and goes to a resource class class, Everytime he is pulled out he says to the people at his table, "time to go to my class for stupid people" these students catch on to the segregation, which they don't like. This kid doesn't like going to the resource classroom, he doesn't like missing part of his class he has told that to me. When I read the quote above and think about the little boy I think back to Johnson's article and realize it could tie in with disabilities and being able to see difference in these children and what they need to offer. They shouldn't be defined by their disability!
"Shaye Robbins devoted so much energy to creating a classroom community where all were 
afforded citizenship. "Don't think," she told me, "that those special needs 
kids drain anything. That class would not be half what it is if anyone of 
those kids got segregated. We're all together in there."(87)
I really liked how Shaye didn't look at her students and saw downsyndrome, August's article talks about how the classroom should be a safe space for students and that is how Shayes students felt. Shaye expressed in the article the importance of belonging to a community, she didn't look at the negatives like one of the girls from August's article who got marked down on her Spanish test for instance non of these students where she was marked down for using "Ama" instead of "Amo"
Shaye went above and beyond to seeing her students succeed with helping her teaching aid with down syndrome find a job of what she like to do!

I would put Shaye in the category of a good teacher, She reached  created curriculum using the popular story "Where the Wild Things Are" because of  which I connected it to the Penguin book that August wrote about in her article.

"Vvgotsky found that the culture of segregation surro"Iunding people with disabilities actually teaches underdevelopment of thinking through the isolation of children from socially valued opportunities"(83)  
This quote shows the article went into positive stories about how students who were included were able to not let their disability define them. It showed the difference it made when the students were included in the classrooms. I loved reading the stories for instance: 

 "When she enrolled in a regular public high school as a freshman,Christine's Individual Education Plan was passed on from her segregated school; it suggested that she had extremely poor motor control, low-level cognitive skills, low-level communication skills, a lack of adaptive skills,
 and aggressive "acting-out" behaviors. In the general curriculum of the regular high school, however, these images of defect were dramatically
 transformed (Harris, 1994)"

"By the end of John's first year in Mendocino, he was holding down two part time jobs; taking weekly voice, art, and gutair lessons, attending aerobics classes five mornings a week; occasionally reading stories to kids at the local preschoool;helping his mother teach a class on self-esteem to a group of troubled adolescents; making daily "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"   (p.108)

Before these students did feel segregated which reflected on their personality's it was amazing to see how much they had improved by getting involved!!
Here is a video, A different kind of Brilliant that focuses on the strengths of students with down syndrome, which isn't often looked at.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Literacy with an Attitude, Patrick Finn-Extended comments

                   Like many other’s from the class, I had a tough time with this reading.  To better understand the reading I used this summary to get the main points of this article. After reading the full article I felt as though I was able to make many connections to past articles as well as the promising practices and my service learning project. I felt as though I understood the beginning of the text better and was able to connect it more to that.

This week I am using Cindy Rojas blog to make some extended comments on this weeks reading of “Literacy with An Attitude” by Patrick Finn. This reading along with the past couple of readings we have done have really opened my eyes to how unfairly students are treated. I couldn’t agree more with Cindy when she says, “Dividing students into different classes depending on their levels of ability and social class is segregation” . Finn said, “There were four hundred eighth graders who were sorted by reading scores from the highest, 8-1s being the highest and 8-15s being the lowest” he then goes into saying, “The theory was the slowest students would get attention in smaller classes. The reality was that as the year wore on there were spaces available in the lower classes to dump the troublesome students”(3).  This just proves that schools are not providing the same opportunity to students. This article made me think back to Dr.Christopher Emdin’s speech from Promising Practices speech when he said that students would be at more of an advantage, if they weren’t so segregated, which I agree with him on that! This reading made me think of the movie the Blindside
and how  none of his teachers paid any attention to him, they would just pass Big Mike to the next level because they didn’t want to have him as a student again. He didn't start caring about school until a family took interest in him and supported him, what if he had that support  in the beginning?  It is really sad how those teachers exist today and give up on some of their students. For example, there is this one little boy in the classroom I am in for my service learning project. He is in my group for math which is the lowest level of students but he is extremely bright for example, he can count to 100 while the rest of them can barley count to 15 as well as be able to look at a picture that has 9 circles and be able to identify that there are 9 circles and he doesn’t keep counting over them. He is definitely in this group because he is a “troublesome”  student wh doesn’t sit still and is always getting yelled at by the teacher. It is clear that he is bored in  my group so he acts up. I hope this little boy gets the positive attention that he needs from his teachers, so he can succeed.

I think that more teachers need to have that attitude that Finn had when he says, “we wanted are students to succeed and move ahead” (7). Finn got through to his students and said that he was a huge success. He approached his students the right way and pushed them, it seems like he and his students were all on the same page.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Brown vs Board

The thing that stuck with me the most from the Promising Practices was when Keynote speaker, Dr. ChristopherEmdin said was black and Brown students achievement was higher prior to the Brown Vs board when schools were segregated which really shocked me.  I can remember learning about the Brown v. Board of Education but I never totally made the connection between then and how race is still a very big issue that we deal. 

The result was that segregation would finally end, but after reading the articles and even listening to the Tim Wise videos, you have to wonder has racism truly ended? In the video interview with author Tim Wise, he mentions that it is important to deal with what is real. Obama is a big topic of this interview and how he is the first African American President of the United States.
Wise argues that we need to note that there never has been an acceptable limit on whiteness. For example, you could be white and be extremely smart go to Yale or be be the complete opposite, but that individual is accepted based on their skin tone. They are both equal. Will there ever be racial equality? To be acceptable as a person of color, you don't have to be Obama and be brilliant, but what about the other men and women who are as brilliant, but good at other things and can run a company, or become lawyers. Can this racial difference we as Americans seem to over look ever be done with? Why is it that two white people can be equally accepted, but a person of color has to have a 4.0 GPA and a high standing job to be accepted? Looking at the Brown V. Board of Education case, these people were to use separate bathrooms, bubblers ( drinking fountains) and countless other public places enforced segregation. It came to the point where people grew sick and tired of being treated differently. Wise states " Work still needs to be done." The historical cases were only the beginning of the work of those decades that would lead to the continuation of work American needs on the "denial" we live in.


                             After reading the article by Bob Herbert, I couldn't help but think of the Service learning we are doing now and how we are in poorer sections of the school system. I, like Herbert, agree with the fact that if these poor children could be put into schools with children who had a educational advantage, or were of a higher class, "  get them away from the environments that are smothered by poverty. This isn't as easy as it sounds but it could be an improvement. Looking at various school systems, the schools are separated by not so much "segregation" in skin color anymore, but by area and the community around that school area; the environment. Which goes back to Kozol when he mentions in his article that the cycle of poverty is going to repeat from generation to  generation because they can't leave. Herbert states "Some have established specialized, high-achieving magnet schools in high-poverty neighborhoods, which have had some success in attracting middle class students. Some middle-class schools have been willing to accept transfers of low-income students when those transfers are accompanied by additional resources that benefit all of the students in the schools." 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Rodriguez: Sacrificing private identity for public identity- Revisited

            The main Idea from Rodriguez's piece Aria, is summed up by his quote, "Children lose a degree of individuality assimilated into public society"(38), as this piece is about a boy who had to reform to the American way by speaking English. He had lost connection with his culture and more importantly family. The quotes that I felt were the most important were the ones that show the importance of family life and school life and how they should to an extent be separated, as the quotes I looked at show how the "Familiar setting of home" had changed which is sad.
"From the doorway of another room, spying the visitors, I noted the incongruity-the clash of two worlds, the faces and voices of school intruding upon the familiar setting of home" (35)
"The special feeling of closeness at home was diminished by then. Gone was the desperate, urgent, intense feeling of being home; rare was the experience of feeling myself individualized by family intimates. We remained a loving family, but one greatly changed. No longer so close; no longer bound tight by the pleasing and troubling knowledge of our public separateness" (36)
"My mother! My father! After English became my primary language, I no longer knew what words to use in addressing my parents. The old Spanish words(those tender accents of sound) I had used earlier-mama and papa-I couldn't use any more. They would have been too painful reminders of how much had changed my life" (37)
"But my father was not shy. I realized, when I'd watch him speaking Spanish with relatives. Using Spanish, he was quickly effusive. Especially when talking with other men, his voice would spark, flicker, flare alive with sounds. In Spanish, he expressed ideas and feelings he rarely revealed in English. With firm Spanish sounds, he conveyed confidence and authority English would never allow him" (37-38)
"I would have been happier about my public success had I not sometimes recalled what it had been like earlier, when my family had conveyed its intimacy through a set of conveniently private sounds" (38)
Coming from other students blogs in the class that helped me find the main idea of this article:
1.) From Erika's
 blog, I really liked  her Connection she used;
I remember on my first day of first grade, I was seated next to an unfamiliar face. I looked at the boy's name tag on his desk and saw that his name was Achille. As I tried to speak to him and get to know him better, I realized that he became overwhelmed and began to cry. I later in the day found out that he was a new student from France and that he knew no English. As the year went on, he became more familiar with the English language, he accounted it to the fact that his parents also made an effort to speak English at home. Within a couple years of being at our school he became fluent in English and even admitted to not remembering a lot of French. It was apparent, that that much like Rodriguez that even though he knew that he needed to speak English to be successful in America, he passionately missed his French roots.
3.)  "bilingual educators say that children lose a degree of 'individuality' by becoming assimilated into public society. But the bilinguists simplisticlaly scorn the value and necessity of assmilation. They do that seem to realize that there are two ways a person is individualized. So they do that realize that while one suffers a diminished sense of private individuality by becoming assimilated into public society, such assimilation makes possible the achievement of public individuality." (Rodriguez, 39)
(Lindsey's Blog )
4.)  "Without question, it would have pleased me to hear my teachers address me in Spanish when I entered the classroom. I would have felt much less afraid. I would have trusted them and responded with ease."(34) (Anthony's Blog )
5.) "Those gringo sounds they uttered startled me. Pushed me away. In that moment of trivial misunderstanding and profound insight, I felt my throat twisted by unsounded grief”. (35) (Gianna's blog )