Saturday, April 19, 2014

Bringing it all together

I’m so glad this reading was left for the final post. Though long, it really tied everything we have learned together.  A lot of different authors came to mind; One in particular was Johnson. As we know Johnson argues that we must talk explicitly about issues of privilege, power and difference. Shor argues a very good point that right from the start is important for teachers to encourage their students to question why they go to school. This discussion allows the students to share their thoughts and express opinions on how they feel towards school. “ This would set a questioning tone, telling the children that you trust them and that they are intelligent” (1). Trust is key in a classroom and being able to discuss, as Johnson says, “the issues of power, privilege and difference,” there is already a strong bond formed in the class for a successful year ahead.
I was quickly reminded of that time in class when Dr. Bogad gave us all that question and answer “assignment” and we had to put everything away and answer a worksheet on the reading, when Shor stated “ If the students’ task is to memorize rules and existing knowledge without questioning the subject matter or the learning process, their potential for critical thought and action will be restricted” (2). We all simply took the paper and wrote down as many answers as we could find, assuming that we read the article, knew what it was about and went to it. None of us questioned why we were answering the questions, or thought the questions were irrelevant while finishing the assignment. Relating that back to Oakes and how tracking exists in schools and to Finn with Literacy with an Attitude, if students are not allowed to question and explore the learning process at various academic levels, then how will they ever be able to fully appreciate learning?

I know that I said that I have had many other favorite readings, but this one really brought home everything we have done with this class over the semester. I thought that when Shor mentions that the teachers are the ones who make various decisions to teach the traditional curriculum; that they do what they can to teach creatively and critically. I LOVED this. I can remember in high school my history teacher would create such interesting ways of teaching different decades or have us create a project to help us understand why we had different wars. Rather follow a boring “turn to page 117, read the chapter, a test next week” sort of syllabus, she would find maps and videos to show us how the wars started and just really brought the class to life with her lessons. I feel that's a big part as to why I want to be a teacher; to make learning enjoyable for students. Shor had many great points and many of the previous authors we have read all connect back to this article. This past semester has truly prepared me to take the next step on the path to becoming a teacher. I found this link that shares different teachers ideas on how they make teaching enjoyable and really bring their students together as a class. I feel as a class we can definetly all relate to this article and have had different "teacher" experiences this semester, with our service learning projects and even outside of school . This semester flew by and I absolutely loved every class we had. It's weird this is the last post, i've gotten so used to blogging haha! Good luck out there future teachers xox!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Citizenship in Schools

I first have to start off by saying that this reading was not as difficult to get through as I thought it would be.  I never looked at Down Syndrome the way Kliewer argued or rather realized how the   behavior and ability.  This reminded me of the article we read by Oakes. How tracking students is so controversial and even our own class discussion about being separated by honors classes, EEP credits and college prep classes. Children begin to realize and compare themselves to others. In relation to the ability and behavior, students who are seen as having these behavior and ability problems are separated and not kept within a regular classroom. Biklen states, “success in life requires an ability to form relationships with others who make up the web of community.” The community at school is the entire makeup of al the students. It is all the learners, all the teachers and all the people who make up the community of the school. Though for some, controlling who is met and interacted with is not possible. Sometimes we meet people who are not going to be the best around, but learning to work together and finding ways to work and interact is all apart of being in the democracy of school in a community.
separation of classrooms makes an impact on these students . Many children are put into classrooms where they are not able to interact with other children and never experience being able to work with other children on group projects, at recess or even just having a conversation. Douglas Biklen stated “ society itself is hurt when schools act as cultural sorting machines- locations that justify a competitive ethic that marginalizes certain students or groups of students.” Race, ability, ethnicity, gender are all part of this sorting method of the students in schools. This method later elaborates into sorting of just ability and behavior.
  Within this democracy there will always be judgment and that's something that cannot be avoided.  Judith Snow a self-advocate in the disability rights movement stated, “ how absurd to be judged by others at all, especially by those who have never experienced a disability or who are unwillingly providing us with support or who don't listen to the voices we have.” Makes a lot of sense and many people do not realize that people with disabilities are able to function just as you or I.  My favorite part of this reading was about Lee, a young boy who has Down Syndrome, and Colleen Madison who’s response to a question truly hit me and made sense.  Madison believed that no child was inherently an intellectual burden to the classroom but that each student brought something unique to the relationships that are formed at school in the community. She was a leader in Lee’s classroom and when she was asked  “ wouldn't anyone who come into the room pick out Lee as the student with a disability” and she responded in such a way that I was like BOOM you GO! The quote is really long but to sum it up she stated that, people who do not know lee, but have that “stereotype and mind set” would pick him out as the child with the disability right away.  People see the mental challenge, the see the Down Syndrome, but they do not see how the child is, they see what they know. Make sense? They do now see how this boy reads, solves problems and works in the class. They brand Lee and in a way, they give him a label. That's not only true with just this case of Lee, but with many students just like Lee.  Quick judgment of any child with Down Syndrome will get you no where because not every child is the same.  Honestly when I read this I was just so in agreement and couldn’t wait to blog this part of the reading.
            There’s a young boy in my swim lesson class who has Down Syndrome and he is a great  
swimmer. He is well behaved and to be honest, the other kids do not think anything less of him. All my students talk and laugh and I know they would agree with me that he is just as capable as they are in swim lessons.

 There is so much of this reading I could blog about and I could go on for days about this reading because I was truly amazed and learned a lot about children with Down Syndrome and the classroom setting. These students should be around other children and not held back from doing the same things. The teacher, Shayne Robbins, was another interesting part of the reading. The way she included Isaac in her classroom and made every opportunity in the classroom for all her students. Examples in this article of teens who have Down Syndrome holding jobs and being apart of their community is something many people need to realize. It's like when we talked about the window of glass. This is like a tap in the glass, these students and even teens or adults with Down Syndrome are capable of preforming tasks, they just need time and patience from those around them. I found this reading that describes various classrooms that have students with Down Syndrome and how the teachers work with the students, and also another link  about Down Syndrome in the classroom and how many students learn and interact in class. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Roles and Rules

This week I am going to do a connections blog piece.  “Literacy with an Attitude” by J. Finn, was pretty long but once I got into a good chunk of the reading I became very interested. A lot of the stories the author tells are where I got my connections. 
 countless efforts of lawyers, community activists and parents and even students made this historical event possible. They gave all they had to see that they all were accepted as equals, and had success through the Supreme Court.
My first connection is one the author makes when he makes a point about the “status quo” and that people who have power are comfortable and not motivated to make a change; they choose to remain comfortable and not bring about changes. Author Finn states, “ It takes energy to make changes, and that energy must come from the people who will benefit from the change.”(4) I connected this to the work we did with Brown vs. Board of Education; including the videos by Tim Wise and the website we used on the Brown V. Board of Education.  If the people never made the effort to end segregation, if there was no protesting, or cases brought to court, would anything have been done? Maybe eventually someone would have made an effort, but the energy the

My second connection to a reading was to Delpit.  Author Lisa Delpit argues that teachers need to explicitly teach the rules and codes of power to students who might not learn those rules and codes at home. I found it interesting that Finn knew and uses a very strict system when describing his classroom with the younger students. “ I was from the working class and I knew how the working class and poor kids related to authority.  They expected people in authority to be authoritarian, and I gave them what they expected.” These kids expected the teacher to show authority and Finn never changed that. He took the power of authority and made sure his classroom was kept in line. He always had work to be done and made sure his students were busy during class. He enforces the no recess policy to disobedient students, though he mentions he rarely had any. Delpit’s argument about enforcing the rules and codes of power was done immediately here and worked very well.  Even if any of the students author Finn had did not expect the “authority figure”, they would quickly learn that was how he ran the classroom.
I found a few other connections throughout the reading, but I am a big Lisa Delpit fan and liked that Finn knew how these students were and knew what they expected and immediately enforced “rules and codes of power” I look for this when I go to my service learning project each week. I try to see if my teacher uses these tactics herself. It’s interesting to see how different students react to the teacher.  That's something we as a class can discuss; how our students react to their teacher and how the classroom itself responds to the “authority figure” This entire reading is primarily about learning how to teach literacy effectively to the working class students in the country. It brings a sense of complex thinking for these students to grasp and help them become powerful learners in the classroom just as the upper class students would receive in their own classrooms. This link talks a lot about the social classes of students and the differences in learning levels. This other website also talks about backgrounds and differences we have in todays society. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Brown vs. Board of Education

This week is another reflection blog. After watching the two videos and then reading the articles ad webpage, I truly think that it is quite obvious to see the connection between the historical issues with the Brown V. Board of Education case and the more current issues. I remember learning about the Brown V. Board of Education and never fully making a connection to how racism is truly a prominent issue that we still deal with today.
I always accepted that it happened and that the case was brought to the Supreme Court and countless efforts of lawyers, community activists and parents and even students made this historical event possible. 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? This is something we can discussion class. 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? In comparison to 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. One example i LOVED was when he used the able bodied person scenario. If a person is able bodied and looking for transportation, they are better off asking other able bodied people for information and opinions on transportation to and from places rather then a person who is not bale bodied. In other words we spend time asking white people their opinions on racism and they respond " nahh theres no racism" BUT in contrast if you ask people who are a victim to the racism you can get a better understanding of the actually racism that exists.
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. 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." The political end as he is describing has tried many tactics but they all dance around the one true topic of integration. The statement about are the results of many integration efforts. I couldn't agree more with Herbert when he states "What I think is a shame is that we have to do all of this humiliating dancing around the perennially uncomfortable issue of race. We pretend that no one’s a racist anymore, but it’s easier to talk about pornography in polite company than racial integration." It is a tough topic to truly take by hand and lead to victory. In comparison to the historical issues of Brown V. Board of Education, the racism will always exist.
 Though our schools are not legally segregated, many students are confined to the schools they are in based on the neighborhoods. Everyone wants to help these kids who come from poor areas but how much can be done to get those kids into a more prominent area. The case of Brown V. the Board of Education was only the first stepping stone to the decades to follow of how America would work through racism. In a way the website and videos made me look back to last week's service learning piece. Especially the Bob Herbert article from this week. Many people want to help these kids as I mentioned before, but does this become a form of charity or change. We want to change the way racism and schooling for these children is happening but will people only become involved because they know it needs to be done or because they want to see a change for our future students whoa re growing up in this society. We discussed the differences between Charity and Change, there are noticeable differences we all read last week. This link shares a lot of insight as to the change needed in schools towards racism. Truly an interesting read! 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Service Learning is so much more

In The Service of What?

By Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer

This week I decided to do a regular reflection blog. (I’ll eventually do a “connections” post). I liked this reading and never truly thought into that much detail about service learning and the actual politics of it. It took me a while to get into the reading but once I did, I found the “cases” of service learning were really interesting.  I liked that both projects gave the students the traditional experience of being apart of a service learning project but at the same time each “case” stressed upon different approaches.
I can remember when I was in junior high school and every other week my 8th grade class would go and bring canned goods to a homeless shelter down the street from our school. I never looked at this as a form of service learning or as some sort of project, but rather something nice that the school did. When I look back at even other events I did for different organizations in junior high or even high school I truly learned a lot about who we were helping and why, but there’s something different from then and now. As I go each week to tutor the kids at school for this class, I feel like there’s something more. Maybe it’s because this is something I want to do for a career but I really feel as if I am making an impact on these kids with this project. I know that this is a requirement for our class, but truly, I enjoy going and helping them and feel accomplished when I leave.

            There is an example in this reading where middle school children are visiting an elementary school in a poor neighborhood. Many of the students are reported that their parents said, “They were concerned for their children’s safety.” The students later came to school and in a written evaluation wrote thoughts prior to the visit, the authors report, “ the students had imagined horrified children running around on a dirty campus.”  The parents seem to have had an impact on the children’s ideas. The fact that the middle school kids were from an upper-middle class suburban area also played a key roll in the visit and thoughts before the visit.  After the visit the middle school students were surprised by how well behaved and friendly the elementary school children were.  The Kahne and Westheimer called this “diminishing otherness”. Can we talk about how this “otherness” is SO true?!? Maybe that's why I feel my service learning project is different this time. Yes, actually I believe it is. I am finally looking past the “otherness” and have full faith in these students. Helping them solve problems and spell words is truly something rewarding. Their faces light up when you tell them “you’re so smart” and it's a great thing to see. “ Maybe this [community service] is what citizenship is all about, acting in a decent way towards people who live where we live”(8). This quote speaks for itself. This was truly an inspiring reading this week.  In class I feel we can discuss our own experiences with different service learning we have had prior to this year in FNED and even just our thoughts about service learning in general. This link gives some great service learning project ideas created by educators! check it out :)