Sunday, December 5, 2010

Kliewer- Schooling Children with Down Syndrome (Reflection)

Although this is going up rather late I still feel as though I needed to write something. In this article Kliewer talks about inclusion classrooms. I never really though of the idea of inclusion. Inclusion as Kliewer describes it is the integration of special needs children into a regular classroom setting. As I read the article I was brought back to my elementary school years. My fifth grade classroom was an inclusion classroom. We had two teachers; one for the regular kids and the other for the students with special needs. The classroom ran rather smoothly.  We got to understand why the kids were the way they were. We got to interact with them and really get to know them. Unfortunately when we got to middle school and high school that slowly deteriorated. In high school we had separate classrooms on everyone’s learning ability. I've seen it first hand. Inclusion classes work. Those children participated just like any normal kid would and they probably felt so much better being in an inclusion class.

In the movie we had watched, some of the kids in the movie who were in special education classes were separated not just by a classroom but by a whole building. In my high school it was the same way. We had one hallway that was part special education. Like in the movie no one really went down that way, although it was a fine way to get to the front of the school. It is like we are afraid of the unknown. Since we don't know the person, it scares us. I know I was like that. My best friend has a brother who I used to not really talk to that much when I went over, if I ever did. Once I got to know him though he was so cool and funny and he can do all the same things anyone else can, but he is still placed in a special education classroom.

Of course FNED follows you everywhere you go. I was in Oasis and I was talking to one of the grad students who had grown-up in Finland. She said that she had never heard of separating children like that. In her country all the kids were treated the same in schools even if they had a learning disability. Some parents use this as a crutch and demand that there child be treated differently. I have a mom at church and her daughter has special needs. Her daughter is so much fun to talk to and can do so many things but she always has to remind us that she has a learning disability. Although she wants her daughter integrated in society if she keeps bringing her down she will never be able to reach her full potential.

To bring it back to what the article is about here is a video about a child who has down syndrome but is being successful in an inclusion classroom.

Although this article is late, I do not feel I could have written more truly. Having a chance to reflect on the reading and the movie and on these events I see in my everyday life really helped me to succeed on writing this blog post. Even as I am writing this I see on my Facebook this status:

Kids with special needs aren't sick or gross or stupid, and their handicap is not contagious. They only want what we all want: to be accepted and loved. Can I make a request: is anyone willing to post this and leave it as their status for at least an hour? It is Special Education Week, and this is in honor of ALL children were born in a unique and loving way.”
This shows that change is upon us and we are doing it one person at a time. I feel that’s what this whole course is about changing the world of education one person at a time.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Shor- Empowering Education (Connection)

This week’s article was on a well known topic in our class: Empowering education. All this semester we have been taught how we deprive kids of that education, but this article tells us the now what of empowering education. As I was reading I made connections to a few authors that we have read and talked about in class.

My first connection was to Finn and Oakes. Right on the first page of the reading I saw the connection brewing. Finn and Oakes talked about tracking. They said how tracking is something that creates a low performing working class standard education. Once you get rid of tracking all together you can lead kids towards an empowering education. Shor talks about how there is more to learning then the “three R’s” of education. He says, “You must arose children’s curiosity and make them think about school.” This is what an empowering education is about. We must use critical thinking to entice our children to want to learn and get the education they deserve. So they both speak about how we can all be successful through an empowering education.

My second connection was to Christensen. As I read through the article I reached a point where media literacy was just screaming out at me. Christensen in her article talks about how the media does not take responsibility on how it perceives people. She also talks about the large effect the media has on people. She talks about the secret education and how we learn these things from the media without any knowledge that it is happening. Shor talks about this journalism class and how the children were asked to ask questions about the media. The question that stuck out the most was, “Why isn’t the media more accountable for its actions.” This relates right back to Christensen and how the media uses the secret education to teach us things we do not need to know. If the media is going to give us this education, then why not give us a knowledgeable empowering education. The media needs to learn that it is the middle man. It controls how we see society.

These connections just confirm how good an empowering education can be. If we give our children the chance to grow and learn without putting a tag on them or without having the media give them hidden messages then we could have a very bright future. Here are someways these people thought up to create a more empowering classroom to keep students more engaged.

In class I would like to discuss how our class really encompasses empowering education.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Promising Practices :D

On Saturday November 6 2010 I attended my first teaching conference. When I was driving to RIC that morning I was very nervous and excited for what the day had in store for me. I parked and walked inside the Dovovan Dining Center. I needed to check in. I saw that they were grouping by last name, so I went to the “M’s” and stood in front of it. The person at the front of the line was having a bit of trouble checking in, but one of the staff quickly jumped in to help sign the rest of in. After I signed in I looked around to see if anyone was there. I saw all of our FNED class sitting at a couple of tables in the back. We found our seats and were ready for the day to begin. While we were waiting we discussed who was going to what group. It seemed as though no one was in the same workshops. Everyone seemed very excited about their workshops. I unfortunately was not put into my first choice for the workshop, but I didn’t have the energy to go change it. Finally the amazing Dr. Bogad hit the stage with a great introduction at 8:30 in the morning and we were off to our first workshop.
The first workshop I attended was the Visual Literacy workshop with Mary Howkins in Clark Science 106. I thought I was in the wrong place at first because nobody was in the room, but Mary assured me I was in the right place. The room had no heat but in my many layers I was quite warm. The workshop had about 20 people in it. This workshop really focused on what we see in the media and what it means. The main focus of media that she focused on was print ads. First though we compared these two painting to one another.
We talked about the backgrounds and how they help each person to seem as though they are coming out of the picture and how it helps contracts their skin tones. We mentioned how they are both in the center of the portraits and that stands for power. In relation to power we said how the Virgin Mary is of a high status and that a black man is replicating such a pose shows how power has shifted in the world. Finally we mentioned the man and how he is looking out at us. In the full picture the Virgin Mary is looking down at the host. He is trying to connect with us saying he is not afraid to be who he is.
After this analysis of the paintings we then looked at print ads. We saw in so many print ad things you would never even think of. In children’s magazines the blonde child is always placed in the center of an ad. This is because of the purity of a blonde child and how it represents the average American. We also looked at ethnically diverse print ads. Although most races were represented in the ad, there still had to some hidden message behind it. In all the ads we saw with ethnic diversity the white child was always in the center of the photograph (Like I said before the center of the picture represents power), or they were the only ones looking right at the viewer/ reader. These simple things help us connect with the white child more than the rest of the people in the ad. Here is a sample of what I was saying.
This workshop really related all to Christensen. It was all about the hidden messages in the media and how we may think something is equal when all along it is all a lie. We are teaching these kids through these ads that, yea you can be pretty but if you’re not the white or blonde girl you’re not going to be in the front, you’ll be in the back staring off at who knows what. It also relates to McIntosh in a way; it speaks to the whiteness as an invisible privilege.
After that workshop we headed back to the dining center for the curriculum recourse fair. This I did not use to my full advantage. For someone who wanted to go into Secondary Education with a concentration in English the fair was lacking. It was very much for the elementary school teachers. I did look around to see what they had but no luck. Some of the class and I during that time talked about our experiences in our first workshops. Some people said it exceeded their expectations and some said that the workshop fell short. I could not stop talking about mine and all the hidden messages in things we see every day. During this time I also ate about a trillion of those chewy bars.
Next it was on to the second workshop. After having an amazing workshop I was waiting to have a phenomenal workshop in the afternoon. When I arrived I was greeted by Mary Gormley. I was hoping to work in a group and meet other people but then she started talking about Geography and how it related to diversity. We ended up doing the strangest activities. The first one we all had to leave the room and come back in two groups and look at a bunch of objects. We then had to remember the objects and write them down when everyone was finished. Then we had to draw a map of Rhode Island College. Although I understood the message of that exercise it still dint make that much of an impact. She was just trying to convey that we all think differently and we shouldn’t be penalized for those differences. This sadly did not meet my expectations.
When I returned back to headquarters I really tried to have people explain to me the purpose of my workshop, many could not.  I decided to drop the subject of that workshop. I then went to eat lunch. The lunch was quite tasty for the Dovovan Dining Center at RIC. While we were eating there was a picture on the screen of some small children. It was a small white boy in the middle surrounded by about 10 black children. My friends in FNED thought I was crazy when I told them about it, but right there was proof about what I was saying. The one white child was in the center of the photo which gave him the power and our eyes are immediately drawn to him.
Finally it was time for the speaker Mr. Dennis Shirley.  I was quite excited to hear him talk because I know when Dr. Bogad talks in class I really enjoy hearing her talk about diversity. Well this man bored me to tears. I couldn’t hear a thing he was saying and I blocked him out about 15 minutes into his ramblings. At times he did make some good points. I like that he did mention about two things we should take away from his presentation. He said that we need to know our vision and we need a supportive network without these things, mindful teaching cannot exist.
Overall I really enjoyed the convention. It really open my eyes even more about diversity and what we can do to make our community, our schools, our classrooms one day a better place for all. After I left the conference I looked in the folder and saw we were given a magazine. I flipped though it and it was a very interesting magazine. It had stories in it like we have in class and just lots of ways to make schools more diversified. If we just keep an open mind then the world can be whatever we want it to be.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Finn and Oaks- “Keeping Track” (Argument)

This week I explored articles about tracking. Tracking is a term that relates to keeping children of the same learning level in the same classes. Oaks states that some people think this helps target individual needs so that children can learn more. In the article a main argument is pointed out.  Oaks argue that children should not be tracked because it actually puts them at a disadvantage.
So what if some kids feel disadvantaged a few people would say but Oaks begs to differ. She first starts off by talking about the consequences of tracking. She say that with tracking that only those on the higher end of it are getting the education that everyone deserves. The children in the honors classes are able to move faster and cover more material, but the kids in the lower learning classes she says are not able to cover the amount of subjects at such a rapid pace. It’s just like she said the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The ones who have been exposed to this higher intense learning are getting the great education, and those who do not have the same benefits are lacking. As Oaks said, this tracking can also affect average learners. Average kids are given average teachers and minimum workload. It just points out why tracking works for the top students. Here is an Oaks video that shows more about the gap between the students.
Now what many would feel, how does one fix such a problem? Oaks has a some ideas that could be possible solutions. She says that children should be graded on how much they progress throughout the learning process. There needs to be communication and feedback. The students need to know that they can talk to the teacher and that the teacher cares.
Overall Oaks says that tracking is an unsuccessful tool for education. We need to teach teachers how to teach to all levels of students. My question for this week is how did we get into this system of tracking?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Gender and Education (Hyperlink)

When I was looking online for links about gender and education I found a lot of different viewpoints. I saw that people were split on which gender was getting "screwed" by the educational system. People had very strong opinions and facts to back up their views on gender.

Male Inequality  Male Inequality 2

This link shows how males are at a disadvantage when they are in college. In the video this is said to happen because of the low grade point averages males get along with bad test scores on standardized tests. According to a quote by A.Mulrine she states that 70% of the D and F that teachers give to students are to the male sex. She also says that 2/3 of them are labeled with learning disabilities and 80% of drop outs are male. This is something that needs to be focused on. If these numbers are this drastic then something must be going wrong.

Female Inequality 

This link shows how female students are at a disadvantage in the college classroom as well. The video is a clip of a larger video that speak to the problem that women have with keeping up in the classroom. It is from the perspective of women themselves and how they feel they are being treated in the classroom. In the few seconds of the clip they show a few women explaining situations that bug them. One woman talks about how when she tries to speak up and prove a point in a class she is bitchy but a man is just thought to be proving a point.

Fixing the Problem

This link shows the difference between boys and girls. Since this is such a growing problem people are trying to think of solutions to help solve the problem. One thing people have thought about is same sex classrooms. They think having all boys and all girls to be in one classroom would be the best idea. In the video they say this would help the teachers to help students more and to really focus on what each gender needs.

In class I would like to discuss the successfulness of same sex classrooms. Are they really working?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wise- Between Barack and a Hard Place

This week with watching the interview about Wise’s book “Between Barack and a Hard Place,” I was enlightened on Wise’s view of racism in our society. He argues that racism has not changed over the years and we keep repeating this vicious cycle that we somehow need to escape.  He talks about Obama getting elected. We all thought now that we have a black president things were going to change. Like we talked about in the last article; change doesn’t happen overnight. Wise talks about racism 1.0 and that is the blatant racism that anyone can point out. Then there is something Wise is calling racism 2.0. This is a bit harder to see. It the kind of racism that makes us feel comfortable. It is as Wise says “carving out suggestions,” of the people of black or brown color that we feel comfortable with. In this case he is talking about Obama. He talks about something we mentioned in class; Wise talks about breaking the glass. We need to break out of this cycle and look at Obama getting elected as steps forward in the right direction.
With the website of Brown vs. Board of education it talks about the history. It mentions moments in history that were honored for their drive forward for racial equality. He also talks about with comparison to the B VS. B link that a white person back then would have stated that a white child had the same education opportunities as a black child which the link and ourselves from history know are not true. White classrooms and black classrooms were run and set up very differently. We need to acknowledge that racism is around us and it hasn’t just gone away. We need to break the glass and make racial equality a reality.  This shows we still have some work to do, because there are annoying, stupid, close minded people like this fighting the system and going against equality.
In class I would like to talk more about the reasons for Obama becoming President and how many more acts will it take to wipe out racism once and for all. Also why people need to be racist in the first place.