Sunday, May 1, 2011

Random blog #2

Over the course of  the 9 visits I have done at West Broadway Elementary, I can say I have seen a lot. I have seen an improvment in my students and in myself. My class at WBE have become a little less like second graders and a little more than third graders, while I have become a little less like a college student and a little more like a teacher. I have learned that working with inner city students takes patience and understanding. They may not have the best home life or be the smartest kid in class but they all have big hearts and are very smart in their own way. Because I was always there during math and science, I was able to see them improve in those areas. In just 9 weeks, they were able to go from not knowing anything about money to knowing everything. How to add, subtract, and skip count money! There is nothing better than actual being able to see the improvment in person rather than on a tracking sheet because you get to witness first hand the change that the teacher has made in his/her students. One of the first things Ms Carbone said to me was, "I'm not just their teacher but I'm their mother, nurse, friend, and police officer. I am everything that they will ever need roled into one." And as I end my time at WBE, I can see that she was 100% right. Those children need a role model in their life and by being a teacher, you can give them that. This experience has taught me to strive to be the best teacher possible because there are innocent children relying on you to teach them what they need to know.

Random blog #1

Since April vacation (for kids in grades K-12) was last week, I decided to make a special trip into my school. I had known that they were going to have an Easter celebration or better yet a "Vacation" celebration (since not all children celebrate Easter) and I wanted to see what it was going to be like for them. I remembered my elementary school and how we use to watch movies all day and have tons and tons of food. So me being the little kid that I am, decided I would make all 26 kids a goodie bag filled with chocolate and candy...and here is where my oops moment comes...I forgot to ask if anyone had any allergies. There was one little boy in my class who has bad allergies to anything containing nuts. While nothing in my bag was made with nuts, he felt like he couldn't eat any of it so he threw the whole bag away and he was the only one in the class who didn't get to enjoy the chocolate lollipops. I felt horrible after seeing the look on his face while all the other kids were enjoying their candy. To add to it, my bag wasn't the only bag he had to throw away! His teacher had made bags too! So for the rest of the time that I was there, I decided to sit with him and talk. He told me that his favorite candy are those malted whoppers...who would've guessed that those were a 9yr olds favorite? So this past week when I went back, I brought him a goodie bag filled with his favorite. It didn't fix how he felt a couple of weeks before but it definitely brightened his day to know that I remembered him. We can't all be perfect 100% of the time and I think this definitely showed me that.

Random Video Clip

I know we did the disability lesson a while ago but I thought it would be great to post this. A kid by the name of Eric Duquette graduated with me last year and was our salutatorian...the coolest part was that he had autism. He beat the odds that all his doctors gave him and he is obviously one of the smartest kids in my school. The video gives some background on him and parts of his speech. There wasn't one dry eye in the entire auditorium after he finished.

Social Justice Event

     On February 16, 2011 I attended my social justice event at my SL school. West Broadway Elementary was doing a celebration performance for Black History Month. This "performance" included skits, dancing, singing, and A LOT of history. The show opened with a dance choreographed by my SL teacher. The children who are involved in the after school dance program showed off their hard work by dancing to a variety of songs either written or sung by African Americans. Following the dancing came a few children singing songs like Follow the Drinking Gourd. People in the audience learned that this song had historical background because it was sung to help the slaves find their way to the north by using the big dipper as a guide. Two other skits that really stuck out to me was the Oprah skit. Children put on a skit that had a little girl playing the role of Oprah and interviewing other famous African Americans. And lastly, they had a Rosa Parks skit. This skit included a childrens version of what happend that day. They had created a fake bus and even had a police officer arrest Rosa! A lot of thought went into this skit and all the children who particpated did a fabulous job.
     Throughout the performance, I noticed several connections that could be made to other texts that we have read in class. For instance, media played a large role in this day for the kids. They got ideas for skits from television shows such as the Oprah show. While Christensen talks mostly about cartoons and princess movies, I saw some of her thougths and ideas in this. One thing she says in her piece is, "I want to develop their critical consciousness, but also move them to action" (Christensen, 4). To me this fit into my event. The children had learned that it isn't all about white people, that African Americans did just as much as the whites did. Teachers at West Broadway developed critical thinking in their students, they made them put together a 2 hour show that taught people about what they learned. They learned that Oprah was a self made millionaire and she used the money she made from the show to help others. They were able to see that Oprah isn't racist and that she is thought of highly by many people. Another author that I saw through this event was Johnson. While this event/performance was to celebrate Black History Month, it also showed the struggles that African Americans had to go through. The main thing that the children did was they just said it. They didn't tip-toe around what had happened. "It is possible, however, to talk about it in ways that make the strugle and pain worth it" (Johnson, 13). These children just flat out said it and to me that was so admirable because even as a college freshman, I am still cautious of the words I use when talking about sensitive issues. Lastly, the third author I witnessed in this event was Lisa Delpit. One part of the Rosa Park skit involved a bus driver asking Rosa, "Are you supposed to be sitting there?" And Rosa replied by saying, "Yes." Now because most of us grew up in the culture of power we wouldn't think twice at our response. However in the skit I saw a "white bus driver" use the culture of power towards an African American woman who was not in the culture of power. In Delpit's piece, she talks a lot about just saying it instead of asking it, "Each cultural group is left saying, 'Why don't those people just say what they mean?' as well as, 'What's wrong with them, why don't they understand?'" In this specific skit, Rosa was the one asking why and the bus driver was the one asking what. This event also reminded me of some youtube videos I have seen over the years... This first video is composed of images and music showing the past in civil rights, slaves, and celebrities. Short clip on the Rosa Parks story. Short biography of Oprah Winfrey to give background on what the kids did.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Education is Politics


"To socialize students, education tries to teach them the shape of knowledge and current society, the meaning of past events, the posibilities for the future, and their place in the world they live" (14) I feel like every child experiences this at one point throughout their school career. From the minute we enter elementary school, to the minute we graduate, we are constantly taught the past (in our history classes), society in our economic classes, and everday life in every single one of our classes. Our guidance counselors, home room teachers, principles and just about every teacher in the school tells us what our place is and what we should do for our future profession. Things like this, is just the beginning to a child's life in school.

"People begin life as motivated learners, not passive beings." (17) Think back to kindergarten and first grade...were you excited to go to school? Most children are thrilled to enter school because they get to learn everything and anything they want. Kids can't wait to start their first day, see their friends, meet their teachers and see what else they can learn this year that is better than the last year. Now think back to the beginning of this class, while most of us were counting down the days to spring break, some of us were ready to start a new schedule and see what we could learn from this FNED class. I myself was on that list of  a motivated learner. It's like a cycle that you can't break out of. The more you desire to inquire, the more you become an active participant in your classes and every day social life. Participation eventually leads to empowerment.

"Many students do not accept these limits, which is why teachers often face resistance in the classroom" (20) Due to the limits set up by elites that kids don't like, teachers are having a harder time teaching the social lessons. Kids are beginning to challenge and resist what their elders say because they are no longer agreeing with these rules.

Everything that I read in this weeks assignment made me realize that education is a lot harder than it looks. I know I should have realized that probably at the begging of this class but for some reason it hit me now. This reading made me think about my own education. I realized that when I started out in elementary school, I was so excited to wake up, and go see my friends, my teacher and learn my multiplication tables. I knew that if I mastered my times tables then I would be smarter and smarter meant I could go to the next grade and so on and so on. It is this cycle that we create as a society. All of the kids who resisted my teachers may have been right to push back. By pushing back, the teachers had to find different ways to help their students. Educators can no longer take the easy way out. They have to find ways to help their students instead of passing them along to the next person. In my opinion, the education system needs a lot of work in order to be better and up to date. So to wrap this blog up, I ask you...What kind of education system do you think we need?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome


Directly in the opening of this chapter, Kliewer has a quote given by a student on her feelings about being in a segregated classroom because of her down syndrome, "'I started to notice that I didn't like the classes I was taking called special ed almost all my life. I wanted to take other classes that interested me. I had never felt so mad, I wanted to cry." (Kliewer, 1)
-This quote set the mood for the chapter. The minute I read it, I began to feel for the student. She was never allowed to pick what she wanted. She was never allowed to challenge herself. Mia, the student, got by with what others thought that she could handle and she never had an option. Even though students with down syndrome might have struggles with their school work, it should be up to them as to what classes they feel they can handle. This quote is an example of what most students with down syndrome have had to face their entire life and school career.

Right after Kliewer gives Mia's story, he gives another quote by Jason Kingsley, "'Now we know that people with disabilities can learn and have a full, rich life. The challenge is to erase negative attitudes about people with developmental disabilities, get rid of stereotypes and break barriers for people with disablities." (Kliewer, 1)
-This quote sets up this idea for the following topics. The idea is how do we get rid of the negative attitude? In my opinion, Kingsley is right. People with developemental disabilities should have every opportunity available to them and they should be allowed to decide for themselves. The rest of the chapter goes on to talk about different things that challenge people with down syndrome.

My last quote comes from the last part of the chapter. "It is instead a web of dynamic, constantly shifting relationships that encompass the individual with Down Syndrome and all other human beings." (Kliewer,  13)
-I found this quote to be a great way to sum up the reading. This quote is talking about school citizenship and community. It is saying that like everything else in life, it will always be changing. As more people obtain knowledge of people with Down Syndrome, they will grow and change to see that those children are able to make their own decisions, relationships will change between eachother and maybe those negative attitudes that were once present, will become a thing of the past.

This weeks reading meant a lot to me because I have a cousin with Down Syndrome. My cousin Katie lives 822 miles away from me and yet no matter how much time goes by, I can pick up the phone, call her and it is as if I have missed nothing in her life. The last time I saw Katie was in 2003. At that time, she was beginning her freshman year in high school. The only thing was, Katie wasn't going to graduate with her friends at the age of 18, she was going to have to stay back for at least an extra 2-3 years until the school felt like she was ready to graduate. She was put in a classroom with other students who had develpomental disabilities and there they would work on the school levels that each child was at in their life. At the time, to me it seemed like a good idea, my cousin wouldn't be around the students who would tease her and she would be able to learn at a grade level that she needed. It wasn't until I reached high school that I realized what they did to her was wrong. In my high school, we too have a classroom for students with developmental disabilites. The only difference is that the teacher in that classroom brings the children into other classrooms every day in order to incorporate them with other students and to make it a learning experience for everyone. The students in the ALP classrooms are given tasks and jobs, such as running the school store, so they are able to interact with other people and they can learn everyday skills like counting money and taking inventory. This way of learning and intergrating all students with eachother is what my cousin needed but never recieved because back then, no one believed that is what we should do. Because my cousin was never intergrated, she was a home-body. She has finally graduated high school and now works at a nursing home where she is in an enviornment with people who won't judge her or make her feel bad about herself. But what if she had recieved a different education, one where she was allowed to pick what she wanted and where she was introduced to other people? Would she still be a home-body? What many people don't realize is that anyone who has Down Syndrome is just as much like you and me, the only difference is they learn at a slower rate. Down Syndrome is a genetic condition where you are born with 47 chromosomes instead of 46. The extra chromosome is another copy of chromosome 21. Another common name for Down Syndrome is Trisomy 21 (a name for the extra copy of chromosome 21). There are plenty of websites that further explain what Down Syndrome is and what symptoms are caused by this. One website that will give info is :

Here is a video froom youtube that has Mia Peterson (the girl who gave my first quote in Kliewers piece) in it!!!! I hope this video helps everyone to see that people with Down Syndrome are just like us.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Literacy with an Attitude!


"First, there is empowering education, which leads to powerful literacy, the kind of literacy that leads to positions of power and authority. Second, there is domestic education, which leads to funtional literacy, literacy that makes a person productive and dependable, but not troublesome." (Finn, ix)

-This was the first quote that stuck out to me when I began reading Finn's work. I found it interesting because it made me stop and think about my schooling and if they did this to us. In many ways, it seems like they did. Finn is saying that there are two different kinds of education and those two different types, lead to different literacy levels. He continues on to say that he doesn't believe this is a conspiracy, instead he says that we have all contributed to this.

The second quote I found was in chapter 2, when Finn is talking about the difference between 5 schools, two of them being working class, "While the same arithmetic book was used in all five schools, the teacher in one working-class school commented that she skipped pages dealing with mathematical reasoning and inference because they were too hard. The teacher in the second working-class school said, 'These pages are for creativity--they're extras.' She often skipped them as well." (Finn, 10)

-The second quote shocked me beacause teachers aren't supposed to give up on their children. They are there to inspire them and push them to their limits to get the best out of their students. Students can't learn and grow when their teachers are not challenging them. This reinforced my first quote. Finn's point in including this part of the chapter was to show that there really are two types of teaching, the empowering education and the domestic education. While this isn't right or kay, it exists.

Lastly my third quote is a quote from a teacher regarding her thoughts on her students, "When asked 'why?' she responded, 'They're lazy. I hate to categorize them , but they're lazy.'"

-My last choice was based on my second quote. It isn't that the kids are lazy, but rather that the teachers don't want to take the time to show them the extra work. The teacherse would rather skip it or call it "extra work".