Thursday, December 8, 2016

Map the Authors - repost

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Pecha Kucha

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Shor - Empowering Education

Ira Shor defines "Empowering Education" as "a critical-democratic pedagogy for self and social change" (15). Shor is advocating for education to be more about preparing students for social change and to develop their own opinions about the world, rather than memorize information and recite it back to the teacher. From my own experience in high school, I was taught the value in respecting authority and memorizing what they said and spitting it back out at them for the test. I was never asked to think about society or the way the world works, and I was definitely never asked why I was at school. My high school was a public school with a lot of students who just did not care about school at all, but maybe if we had been given a voice within our own education it might have made a difference. I know that all throughout high school I constantly asked myself why I was being forced to go there day after day, and if only my teachers had taken the time to talk about that with me, I might have felt differently. Shor says, "education can either develop or stifle their inclination to ask why and to learn" (12) and my high school definitely stifled us and never let us question authority.

Shor talks about how teachers need to "challenge the standard syllabus" (12). I have been through class after class, even at Rhode Island College, where the teacher or professor has not once strayed from the syllabus given on the first day. There was no room for students to add anything or to challenge what the professor thought we should be doing every day. Shor explains that you can still stick to your syllabus but allow students to question you or to expand on any part of the syllabus they would like. Talking about things that actually matter to students and that are relevant in their outside lives, makes school much more engaging and worth while.

"Students in empowering classes should be expected to develop skills and knowledge as well as high expectations for themselves, their education, and their future" (Shor 16)

This video posted by DevEd, talks about the importance of relevant education and fits pretty well with the article by Shor 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Promising Practices Reflection

At the Promising Practices event on Saturday, November 5, 2016, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the conference. The key note speaker at the beginning was Robert Brooks who is a clinical psychologist, author and lecturer. At the beginning of the morning I was not sure what to expect out of this, and as soon as Mr. Brooks started speaking I was instantly engaged. He started off by telling us that his main choice in college was not psychology, that he had completed three years of a different degree before discovering psychology was what he truly wanted to do. I really appreciated him saying this because it helped me relate to him on a personal level. I too have switched around majors and will not be graduating in my expected four years, and he really helped me understand that there is nothing wrong with that. He has a very successful career today and was very inspirational to me in helping me accept the path I have chosen and know that it is right for me. One topic he talked about that really stuck out to me was the how important it is as an educator to be what he calls a "charismatic adult". He described these as people whom posses some of the following qualities: empathy, trust, connection, welcoming, problem solving, decision making, etc. I found this important to keep in mind as a future educator so that I am aware of how my actions and personality effect the children I am teaching and there success as students.

The workshop that stuck out the most to me was "Embedding Growth Mindset into Everyday Elementary School Lessons". This workshop was run by Sarah Hess (a teacher in Henry Barnard) and Makayla Calkins (an almost graduate of the FSEHD). The topic of growth mindset has always been important to me and has always been something I have strived to maintain. To relate this to my personal experiences, I thought about the activity I do called colorguard. Within this activity there are many challenges and you do not always get things the first time. Your instructors might ask you to do something you have never done before but you have to do it anyway. It is important to always maintain an open (or growth) mindset when approaching challenges like this, because if you approach it the opposite way with a closed mindset, the challenge will be almost impossible. So, the idea of growth mindset is definitely something I would like to incorporate into my classroom one day and this workshop gave me great resources on how to embed these lessons into the regular curriculum.

The idea of growth mindset can loosely connect to Lisa Delpit where she says that it is our responsibility to teach the rules and codes of power to our students, because without these rules and codes it is very hard for students to gain power. I believe that having a growth mindset is a code for gaining power in the world. Without this growth mindset, you are accepting that you have grown as much as you can in life and this is where you will stay forever. Successful people constantly are trying to better themselves and seeking ways to improve. I believe that if we did not teach this in schools early on, it will hold kids back from achieving more than they thought possible.

Here is a website that lists 30 different children's books you can use in your classroom while trying to teach children about growth mindset.

Here is a website of short inspirational videos that can be used to demonstrate growth mindset.

Lastly, here is an article that explains why it is okay to fail at something, as long as you are willing to try again.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Oakes - "Tracking: Why Schools Need to Take Another Route"

Throughout this entire article written by Jeannie Oakes, all I could think about was how true it was to my own middle school and high school experiences. This idea of "tracking" is that students who are known to be smarter are placed in "high-ability classrooms" while students who do not display clear signs of intelligence are placed in lower-ability classrooms. This means that the instruction within these classrooms differs immensely. The high-ability students are being challenged daily and being asked to use critical thinking skills in order to learn from each other and the real world. In the lower-ability classes the teachers spend more time on discipline and classroom etiquette, rather than critical thinking or classroom discussions. This results in worksheets, busy work, and allows more time for students to get left behind.

This was the exact system my middle school used. Each grade was divided into 4 or 5 different classes. The same students were in all of your classes and these classes were determined based on how your previous years teachers think you did academically. I was in the high-ability class and I had friends who were in the lower-ability class. This gave me plenty of opportunities to compare and contrast our assignments and figure out how these classes were divided. Although it was never explicitly said that there was a level difference between the classes, everyone knew. In my eighth grade English class, my class had a paper to write on one of the books we had read. The lower-level class read the same book but only ever read it in class when the teacher could read it to them, my class had to read it on our own, which allowed for more class discussion and therefore made our papers stronger. The lower-ability class had to write the same paper but theirs was required to be significantly shorter than ours, more like a summary of the book to make sure they understood what the book was about.

Transitioning into high school these classes did not change much. The higher-ability kids took the honors classes while every one else took College Prep classes or lower. I'm not sure how I feel about this method of instruction even after reading this article. I believe it is a good way to ensure that higher-level learners are achieving their full potential, but I think it is cutting the other students short without even giving them a chance. So, there are obvious flaws on the idea of "Tracking" because every student deserves the same learning opportunity. However, it becomes a fuzzy situation when you try to blend a classroom and then the higher-ability learners are not being challenged because the other students are struggling and vice versa.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Kahne and Westheimer

In this article about service learning entitled, "In the Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning" authors Kahne and Westheimer highlight two completely different approaches to service learning. One method, used by a 12th grade history teacher named Mr. Johnson, had less guidelines and was more of a volunteer experience rather than giving of a service. Mr. Johnson explained his assignment by saying "students would interact with those less fortunate than themselves and would experience the excitement and joy of learning while using the community as a classroom". The projects students chose ranged from volunteering in a center for babies whose mothers were addicted to drugs, and another student simply ran errands for a local doctor. While both projects are effective and useful, these two students did not get the same experience out of their projects. This teacher required no extra reflection or assignments to go along with their service learning, so the student who ran errands for the doctor, was not actually learning about or helping those less fortunate than themselves. To me, this seems like a waste of time and a waste of an opportunity to really gain great experience from the real world.

In a second service learning assignment with a different teacher, Ms. Adams, had her students all do the same project together. This allowed the students to talk with their peers and share knowledge and experiences that can spark interesting and intellectual conversations amongst the seventh grade class. These students focused on the prominent issue of homelessness in America. The students actually learned in class about homelessness prior to their service learning and continued to write journals and reflections about things they saw in their service learning. This seems effective because it gets the students to actually participate and reflect on what they are doing and realize why it is important.

After reading this article, I thought about my own service learning experience in this class. I enjoy the fact that after we go into our service learning, we are required to write down journal entries to reflect on our experiences. These journals will be interesting to look back on after a few years of being a teacher to see if our experiences in the classroom still match up or if we are using any of the teaching techniques we first saw with this service learning project. The fact that a majority of us were placed in kindergarten classes gives us the chance to share stories and tips with our peers. With this particular service learning project, I do not feel as though I am really making a difference, I feel like I am merely observing the approaches to teaching and the kindergarten environment. I hope that in the future when I do service learning that I will get the chance to personally impact the life of a student or have that student impact my teaching career.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Gender and the 2016 Election (option #1)

Clearly, gender has a huge role in the 2016 election. With Hillary Clinton having great potential to be the very first woman President, this could be a historic moment for our country. So in the natural reaction of America, people criticize Hillary Clinton for things that they may not talk about so much with Donald Trump. For example, Hillary Clinton is continuously asked about her husband, Bill Clinton, and his policies. However, Trump is never asked for the viewpoints of his spouse, which inexplicitly tells Clinton that her opinion  cannot be her own because she is a woman, so it must be from her husband.

In Jill Soloway's time magazine article entitled, "Jill Solloway on Donald Trump, Locker Rooms and Toxic Masculinity, she addresses why men's locker-room talk should not exist. Soloway explains how the way Trump talks about women is wrong and cannot be continued in general, never mind from a public figure. Soloway talks about how she refers to "classic masculinity" as "toxic masculinity" which comes from people saying phrases such as "boys will be boys". Soloway connects this toxic masculinity issue with the civil rights movement in America. Just as the N-word is now widely unaccepted as a usable term, America needs to make this locker-room talk unacceptable. Soloway explains how this type of language puts women into two different categories: the good women and the bad women. The good women are wives, daughters, and mothers and are off limits in this men's locker-room talk. The bad women are the women that this talk is revolved around. These women are referred to as property and are given no rights over their own bodies. The topics discussed in this article can relate to the Peggy McIntosh article, "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" where McIntosh discusses how people with privilege are often blind to it. In this case, it is the men who are blind to their privilege of being able to talk about women however they want and suffer no consequences.

In a New York Times article, author Amy Chozick discusses how the public has criticized Hillary Clinton for the way she speaks in public. Many people have accused her of screaming when she speaks and people do not take this well. Chozick quotes a public speaking coach named Ruth Sherman who says, "The tendency to yell on the campaign stump is not gender specific, but the public is much less accustomed to hearing a woman’s voice in such settings". This can basically explain the entire argument made by Chozick, that the way Clinton speaks is not based on her gender, rather than a campaign strategy or just the simple fact that this is not how women are expected to speak in our society. Women are supposed to be soft spoken and calm when speaking, not forceful and loud. This can relate to the Allen Johnson article, "Privilege, Power, and Difference" which discusses the relation between privilege and power. Johnson says that inequality is a problem in our society and that we have all created these inequalities by our instinct fear to things that are different. In this case, the way Hillary Clinton speaks is different from what we are used to from a women. So, instead of focusing on Clinton's opinions on foreign policy, or anything relevant to the Presidency, we are instead criticizing her over something that is only unsettling to us because it is different.  

Monday, October 10, 2016

Safe Spaces: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth - Extended Comments Post

In this book written by Annemarie Vaccaro, Gerri August, and Megan S. Kennedy, the authors offer strategies for incorporating LGBT topics into general curriculum. The authors express how vital it is to make sure that the classroom is a safe and encouraging place for all students, no matter their race, gender, or sexual orientation. Within the chapter, there are featured stories about instances where the LGBT community was silenced within the walls of the classroom. Some of the ways teachers handled situations with an LGBT student was mind boggling. The story about Maria, the Spanish college student who identified as a lesbian, and felt that her professor was forcing the heterosexuality norm within the classroom, the authors offered, "Did it always have to be a choice of denying herself or explaining herself" (88) when questioning whether or not Maria should approach her professor about the issue. Another example within the same page was about a student who identified as transgender and wished to be called a different name than was on the roster, and "[the professor] continued to call him the name on the official roster" (88).

After reading Kelsey's post where she admitted she was never taught about the LGBT community and was never exposed to it until her early high school years, I started to think back in my educational background. I can remember there was a girl in my second grade class who I became best friends with, and she had two moms. My mom still tells the story about the first day I came home from this girl's house and said "Mom can you believe how lucky [my friend] is!? She has two moms!". So at an early age I was exposed to the idea of a family that was not the normal heterosexual household.

Starting when I got to high school I joined the color guard activity which is very accepting of the LGBT community. While being a part of this activity, I have created special relationships with people that I consider to be my best friends, and many of them identify as gay. In 2015, I marched in a drum corps and one of my instructors was transgender and she is still one of my biggest inspirations in the activity. Because the color guard activity is culturally aimed towards females, being a male in the activity results in some negative commentary. Throughout high school I was faced with challenges amongst my peers who just did not understand or care to understand why I was spinning flags on a football field. Words such as "gay" and "fag" have been thrown my way for years and I boil it down to ignorance amongst my peers and in society. I would love to play a role in a child's understanding of the LGBT community in hopes of stoping any bullying or negative commentary this community faces.

Because of my experience and ties with the LGBT community I agree with the authors of this book, that it is an essential topic to introduce to children within their elementary school years. It allows them to grow up knowing that there is not only one type of family possible, and allows them to become more accepting of those around them who might be different than they are. I will definitely remember this reading and make sure to incorporate it into my teaching strategies one day.

Here is a link I found to an article that talks about how California is soon going to be incorporating LGBTQ History into their curriculum 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Christensen - Quotes Post

Quote #1

"Our students suckle the same pap. Our society's culture industry colo-
nizes their minds and teaches them how to act, live, and dream. This indoc-
trination hits young children especially hard. The "secret education," as
Chilean writer Ariel Dorfman dubs it, delivered by children's books and
movies, instructs young people to accept the world as it is portrayed in
these social blueprints. Ami often that world depicts the domination of one
sex, one race, one class, or one country over a weaker counterpart." Christensen 126.

This quotation sort of summarizes what the entire article is centered around, which is the issue of racism and sexism within popular children's media. This type of exposure to racism and sexism is what drives every aspect of a child's life later on.  The "secret education" that is discussed is the constant reinforcement of SCWAAMP within all types of popular children's shows. This reinforcement leads children to believe that this is how the world is and it shows them what they need to do to get to the top. The dominant role in many children's media is the white, male, upper-class, American who lives happily ever after in his huge mansion and black servants waiting on him hand and foot. Another popular theme is the white female who does anything she can to "win over" Prince Charming. This leads children to believe that this is all women are good for and that marrying the rich white man will make all of their problems disappear and it takes away women's humanity by saying this is all they will ever amount to.

Quote #2

"Women who aren't white begin to feel left out and ugly because they never get to play the princess" Christensen 131.

This quote also goes along with the main theme of the article and focuses more on the sexist side of the argument. Here, Christensen is showing how most of the media children are exposed to portray a beautiful white princess and that portrayal never changes. So when children are constantly seeing the beautiful white girl being the princess, it leads them to believe that if they are not white they will never be a princess, and if they are not a princess then they are obviously ugly. This belief comes from the fact that within princess movies (specifically Disney) the princess is always beautiful, and there is never any other character that is more beautiful than her, so it leads kids to think that if they are not the princess they must be ugly just like the rest of the characters in the movie.

Quote #3

"Pam and Nicole swore they would not let their children watch cartoons" Christensen 134.

When I came across this part of the article and read this sentence I was a little taken back. Of course it makes sense that two students of Christensen wouldn't want to allow there kids to be exposed to this type of racism and sexism in hopes that their children would grow up to think differently than most. However, my question becomes, if these television shows and movies are the structure of our society, then not exposing your kids to this becomes a problem. Like Lisa Delpit says, it is very hard to acquire power, when you do not know the rules and codes of power. So, if you deny your kids access to this information then they may never get power in the world. I am not saying that this is my opinion, I am just pointing out the fact that unless this way of thinking changes throughout the entire country, it would be an injustice to your children to deny them access to this culture, as wrong as it may be.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Women in Hip-Hop Culture

I came across this article and thought it applied well to SCWAAMP. This article focuses on how women are degraded within the male dominated hip-hop culture. It may be an interesting read for anyone who is a fan of hip-hop music. It definitely opened my eyes to issues that I have always looked right over because it is what I have been trained to do because of the rules and codes of power within our culture.

In this interview with Drake, he says "hip-hop has elements of comedy in it, those make for the best quotes" however this comedy is delivered at the expense of a woman's identity.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Teaching Multilingual Children - Hyperlinks Post

In the article "Teaching Multilingual Children", written by Virginia Collier, Collier offers teaching strategies for educators in classroom settings where English is not the only language spoken. This article can connect to our discussions about Lisa Delpit where she says that unless you are explicitly told the rules of power, acquiring power is much more difficult. In this case, speaking English is the power, and those who do not speak it, are at a disadvantage in our society. Collier discusses how important it is for a classroom to have "two-way bilingual instruction" in order for students to effectively learn English or any second language. In some of the research I have done, I have come across many articles that say there is not enough being done in schools to help the students who do not speak English as their first and most fluent language. This can be a product of systemic racism, which is racism that is influenced by a system or institution (in this case, a school). In previous discussions, we have talked about how education is geared more towards the white, english speaking, upper-middle class Americans. So, education systems think it is not necessary to effectively teach people how to speak English, even though their entire curriculum is based off of the assumed knowledge that every student can speak and understand the English language. Collier talks about how many students can converse with their peers in English because it is easier to acquire a different language in a non-professional setting. Collier says, "politicians, believe that if limited English proficient students can converse with their monolingual English-speaking peers, then these English-language learners can compete with them on an equal footing". This is the assumed knowledge that the people coming up with the curriculum are not paying attention to. This is how students start to fall behind in their education, because they are not given the proper tools necessary to effectively learn how to speak and understand English.

The sixth strategy that Collier offers says "Provide a literacy development curriculum that is specifically designed for English-language learners". This is the one that stuck out the most to me because it seems like it would only make sense, right? However, this all depends on the funding of the school at hand. If the school cannot afford to hire extra ESL teachers, or have the technology or materials required to effectively teach a student a second language, then of course the students will start to fall behind. Collier is saying that every school should have a system in place for students who are English-language learners in order to allow them to succeed just as well as the rest of their peers.

Here is a Ted Talk about the important of bilingual education. I thought it paired very well with the article written by Collier. In the video, you will hear a lot of recurring themes from the Collier article. Such as why it is less effective to take a student out of their regular classes for an hour a day, in order to learn English.

This picture simply made me laugh because it perfectly describes how a student can be incredibly intelligent in their native language and because they do not speak English we automatically assume they are less intelligent than the people who speak English fluently.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Peggy McIntosh / "All Lives Matter" Post - Reflection

In "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack", Peggy McIntosh discusses the issues surrounding white privilege and how many white people are unaware of its existence. McIntosh describes white privilege as, "an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day". McIntosh begins to "unpack" this invisible knapsack by listing "ways in which [she] enjoy[s] unearned skin privilege and [has] been conditioned into oblivion about its existence". By doing so, McIntosh attempts to remove the silence surrounding white privilege by creating this list and sparking a discussion that creates consciousness about white privilege and power.

In correspondance to McIntosh's suggestion to eliminate silence surrounding race power systems, the Black Lives Matter Movement has prompted more discussion and consciousness regarding these systems and the racial equality imbalances. In an article from Fusion titled "The next time someone says 'all lives matter', show them these 5 paragraphs", Kevin Roose accessibly defines the issue with responding "all lives matter" to the black lives matter movement. His conclusion is that the black lives matter movement is saying that "black lives should also matter" and that by responding with "all lives matter" ignores the problem and "falsely suggest[s] that it means "only black lives matter".

The black lives matter movement is fighting to say that black lives matter also because their lives are currently undervalued and don't receive the same privileges as white lives. Therefore, the response "all lives matter" to the black lives matter movement is in accordance to McIntosh's conclusion that "obliviousness about white kept strongly unculturated in the Unites States so as to maintain the myth of meritocracy...Keeping most people unaware that freedom of confident action is there for just a small number of people props up those in power and serves to keep power in the hands of the same groups that have most of it already". Ultimately, the black lives matter movement is an incredible example of the discomfort most white people feel acknowledging their advantages and power because it means they will have to begin to either lessen it, share it, or eliminate it so that all lives can truly be and matter equally.

After reading McIntosh's list of her own privileges, I attempted to create my own and realized my list could be more extensive because of my advantage as a male. Until this reading, I hadn't realized all of the daily privileges I carry with me because I've never been without them before. I've also noticed that I have never paid as much attention as I should to the black lives matter movement and that I have once been a participant in the "all lives matter" side of the argument. I now understand how problematic supporting "all lives matter" is and I'd like to continue to address and unpack my own privileges by ending the silence surrounding white privilege, and continuing to engage in discussions regarding racial power and privilege.

I also found this HuffPost article that discusses white privilege and the "white guilt" people feel when they begin to acknowledge and address their own white privilege. I found this really interesting, because I've felt this guilt before and the author does a good job of explaining what it is and what it means in relation to identity and culture:

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Kristof Post - Argument

In Nicholas Kristof's article, "U.S.A., Land of Limitations?" Kristof argues that in recent years this country has allowed social class to hinder the opportunities and growth of children and adults. Kristof opens his article by saying, "I fear that by 2015 we've become the socially rigid society our forebears fled, replicating the barriers and class gaps that drove them away." Kristof is bringing to light the fact that what our country originally prided itself on (opportunity) is now falling into a societal pattern which other countries in the past have fallen victim to. The United States is allowing those who are already in poverty, to remain in poverty, and those who are rich, to remain rich.

Kristof says, "talent is universal, but opportunity is not". Meaning that everyone in the world has talents, but not everyone has the same chances to display those talents and use them. In my own experience, two aspiring dancers may both be equally talented, however only one of them can afford the fancy dance studio where all of the opportunities lie to make it in the dance world. The dancer who could not afford the studio falls victim to the social class gap that we have in our society and is forced to find a different path.

Kristof acknowledges that some people who are in the lower classes slip through the cracks and overcome amazing obstacles and become very successful people; this is not usually the case however. Children who grow up in a low income household, may be forced to drop out of school to be able to work and help support the family. However, because of their little education they cannot get a job that pays more than minimum wage, and now that they have dropped out of school they are stuck in this low income environment for the rest of their lives.

Here is a video that focuses on two students, one from a rich community high school, and the other from a poorer district. It outlines the differences in their learning environment that make it obvious why a student is more likely to succeed later in life coming from a wealthier area. Two things that stuck out to me are how the students get to school and what the school is able to spend its money on. In the wealthier school district, most kids drive to school which allows them to get there early and have more study time. In the poorer district most students have to take all sorts of public transportation (which they must pay for) and barely make it to school on time. In the wealthier community, the school is able to spend money on more tools to enhance student's learning, as opposed to the poorer school which has to spend its money on security measures to keep the students safe. It is a prime example of the class gap Kristof is arguing in his article.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

My name is Alex Grover and I am 20 years old. I attend Rhode Island College and my major is Elementary Education. A large part of my life is devoted to an activity called color guard. It is the flags, rifles, and sabres you see that enhance a marching band's performance. I am a member of The Cadets Drum & Bugle Corps, which is basically marching band on steroids. Here is a video of our show from this past summer. For three months in the summer, The Cadets learn a field show and travel around the country to perform for thousands of people every night. I am also a member of an organization called Alter Ego, which is a winter guard based out of Trumbull, CT. This requires me to be at rehearsal every Saturday and Sunday from mid October until finals in April. Outside of this activity I don't have much time for anything besides school and a small part time job teaching color guard at Dartmouth High School in Massachusetts.
 The Cadets performing at Epcot 
 My best friend at The Cadets, Lauren 
 Alter Ego 2016