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.