Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Keep Calm and Walk On- Social Justice Event!

On April 28th, 2013 I participated in the 11th Annual Imagine Walk for Autism. The Imagine Walk is a benefit designed to raise money for school systems and communities in Rhode Island to provide resources and programs for people with autism. A family friend of mine, Jess, has been a part of the walk since it started eleven years ago, and asked if I was interested in being a member of the team she created. Our team alone, Keep Calm and Walk On, consisted of twenty people, and we raised enough money for one child with autism to attend a summer camp this year. The walk this year was bigger than ever, and over 7,000 people attended to participate and show their support for people who have autism. 

The first text I want to relate my social justice event to is Alan Johnson's article, "Privilege, Power, and Difference." Johnson discusses the issues of difference we face in society, and how people are affected by these issues. I know Johnson brought up gender, race, sexual orientation, and social class, but I figured I could incorporate autism in their somehow. "We don't need to love one other, or even like one other, to just work together or just share space in the world." This quote by Johnson expresses so many different, powerful, emotions that I can't even put into my own words. So many people in this world are judgmental towards others because of their color, or sexual orientation, but this is the same for people with mental disorders or special disabilities. At the Imagine Walk, everyone their was supporting the cause, and many had some form of Autism, and it was just so awesome to see how proud they were to be part of a function where they can be themselves. One of the best moments was when a senior from North Kingston High School went on stage to sing the National Anthem in front of the crowd. This young man had his school behind him, and they led the walk for raising the largest amount of money as a team. At this event everything seemed perfect, with happy faces everywhere, but unfortunately we all know it isn't like this everyday for people with autism. They still face issues because they have a little mental disorder, and some people will never accept them as normal because of having autism

This walk also made me think about Christopher Kliewer's piece, "Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome." Even though down syndrome and autism are completely different, sometimes people misunderstand their meanings. Down syndrome is a genetic disorder created by an extra chromosome which leads to mental retardation, and lifelong developmental problems. Autism is a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain impacting the areas of social interaction and communication. Kliewer's chapter discusses how students with down syndrome should be able to attend a normal classroom, and be around all their classmates, not just ones with disabilities. People with autism need to be surrounded by their own peers and feel comfortable around people, so they can improve their low communication skills. Being in an abandoned classroom in the basement of a school is shutting students with disorders out, which is punishment. From being at the Imagine Walk, I thought to myself if I were to have a child with a disability I would do anything for him or her to know they are a normal kid, and that they can do whatever they wish, just the challenges they face could be more difficult. 

For the last connection I decided to talk about Bob Herbert's article, "Separate but Equal," in relations to the Brown v. Board of Education case. As we all know the Brown v. Board of Education reflects on the segregation in schools during the 1950's. This ties into the issues with racism, and how people are treated poorly because they look different, or come from a different class. For students with autism are they separated from regular classes, and if so are they treated the same by both teachers and classmates? In my mind no matter what the circumstances are I do not believe separate will ever be equal, especially when involving education. The autism benefit raises money so students can go to school and teachers have the training they need so everyone can learn sufficiently. Any student should be able to attend a normal classroom no matter what disorder they may have. The teacher is responsible for finding the right strategy to approach the class in a convenient way the everyone can learn from. This way no students are left out because of a learning disorder, and this benefits everyone; parents, students, teachers, committees, etc. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Shor, "Critical Teaching for Social Change" Reflection

Ira Shor’s reading, “Critical Teaching for Social Change,” wasn’t anything too exciting. Shor discussed how educators need to question their students, allowing them to play an active part in their education. This quote stuck to me right from the beginning when Shor says, “You must arouse children’s curiosity and make them think about school. It is very important to begin the school year with a discussion of why we go to school. Why does the government force us to go to school? This would set a questioning tone and show the children that you trust them and that they are intelligent enough, at their own level, to investigate and come up with answers.” I think teachers need to make the materials as fun and involving with their students they can. I know from being in school for so many years now it can be extremely boring. When students are bored they do not want to participate in class or engage in learning. My service learning was good for the first few weeks then after that we were all bored. As a teacher if you’re bored then your students are most definitely bored and not learning the materials. Everything was becoming too repetitive. During math time my students do rocket math which takes up a decent amount of time, but it is hard to keep them fully engaged because they would rather sit their and do nothing. This is all because they do the same thing at the same time five days a week. Reading also, they all know their weekly sight words, ABC’s, and letter sounds. For a while I was just grabbing a game out of one of the bins, but they all knew how to play so we would be done in ten minutes. So, I started bringing in a blank book, and we just yesterday finished. They came up with everything, and we had to use their sight words in our book. Now they are doing the fun part of coloring, but they loved making the book because it was something different, and they were the creators. This is what Shor is saying, we need to get our students minds thinking in a way that they are interested. Just making it fun, doing projects, researching, anything instead of just getting drilled with information. 

* This picture shows a great example of how Shor wants students involved in their learning. Something so easy can make such a big difference for learning. Teachers just need to incorporate things that students like, and make it part of their learning experience. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Down Syndrome, Christopher Kliewer- Hyperlinks

Christopher Kliewer’s, “Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome” was most definitely my favorite article this semester. Mia Peterson wrote about how poor and segregated her education opportunities were because of having down syndrome. When Mia Peterson shared, “I started to notice that I didn’t like the classes I was taking called special education.I had to go through 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,” my heart literally sank. This piece touched me the most because I have been working with special education students, a few with down syndrome since elementary school. As long as I can remember, special education students have always been placed in regular classrooms in the schools I attended. In elementary school, students with disabilities always did the same as the entire class. Their was an aid in the classroom to help their student, but no one was ever left out. In high school, my homeroom teacher was the head of the special ed. department, so I would have conversations with students who had learning disabilities everyday. For anyone who says special ed. students are “retarded” and “dumb” are idiots. They’re extremely bright. My high school had a school store that was open every period, and the life skills (special ed.)  students ran it. In the store they learned daily life skills: handling money, stocking shelves, talking to customers,etc. The life skills students weren’t in any segregated part of the school either. Since they switched every period, and went to normal classes, their was no reason for them to be hiding in some neglected area of the school. I know most schools don’t work with special education students this way, but I am most definitely satisfied with how these students are involved in a normal school day. It is important because just because people are born with disabilities they should not be treated differently. What Mia Peterson went through was completely unfair. A disability should not disable someone from wanting a better, equal education. People with disabilities succeed in life just like everyone else, they just might face different obstacles before they reach their goal. 

* This article also made me think about the video we watched in class. Richard for example, was fully involved in a normal school day, not in a special education class. Which this is how it should be in every school, because not only is the child being engaged in a normal learning atmosphere, but classmates are also most definitely benefiting from having different learners in their class. It allows students to see that everyone in their classroom is the same, even though some learn differently, and look different. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

"Tracking," Jeannie Oakes Opinion

For Jeannie Oakes article, “Tracking: Why Schools Need To Take Another Route,” I decided to use a quote to bounce my own opinion off of.

“Many express particular concern about tracking's effects on poor and minority students, who are placed in low-ability groups more often than other students and are less likely to be found in programs for gifted students or in college preparatory tracks.” 
This quote makes me think about the learning levels my service learning students are at. Just because someone is from a poor family and home, does not mean they can’t be smart. It seems that privileged students think they are better in everything, whether it be school or athletics just because they come from a more constructed home life. The minority students I believe in their heads also think they are not as smart as the kids who have everything. Though, I don’t believe this goes on forever, I think once kids get older they understand everything more. Then again, most students from low income families are placed in the low groups since they are hardly ever educated at home, which has a big affect on them. Like Oakes says, students and teachers in the low ability classrooms don’t put in the time and effort they need to suceed. This makes students feel not smart, and makes them not want to do the work. I know most of the students I work with may not have the best guidance, or support from their homes. But, teachers should be the ones from the start encouraging them to succeed, and tell them they are going to go somewhere when they grow up. With my kindergarten students the entire hour I am their we work on math and reading skills. I have two separate groups, so I work at completely different paces. Since the groups have been put together by students abilities, no one is really ever struggling. Though, I do constantly have the problem of them already, at five years old, in the habit of not wanting to do the work. I know by the end of the day they are exhausted, but I do try my best to encourage them to do the work their best. When we do something I try to make them feel extra special, because I don’t want them to get the effect I don’t care about their learning. At home they probably have no discussion with what they are learning at school, especially since most of their parents can’t understand. 
* Students need to be pushed more to succeed and take advantage of their education. As educators we need to be the guidance students need whether it is low or high ability levels of learning. I personally think, low ability students can learn materials from high ability students, maybe even better than from a teacher. Tracking has a negative and positive affect on the way people learn, but I think it does have more advantages. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

"Separate And Unequal" Herbert Extended Comments & Connections

This post about the Brown v. Board of Education is a mix between extended comments and connections through service learning. After looking at the sources Dr. Bogad provided, I thought Bob Herbert's article, “Separate and Unequal,” caught my attention the most. Like always, after I read the piece I went through others blogs just to see what they thought of the texts. As I read Hannah’s blog on Brown v. Board of Education, I realized she shared a lot of the same connections I have had in the community I was born and raised in. The town I am from consists of white middle class families, so everyone is for the most part treated equal. Therefore, agreeing with Hannah, RIC is the most diverse school I have attended. Herbert’s article discusses, “Ninety-five percent of education reform is about trying to make separate schools for rich and poor work, but there is very little evidence that you can have success when you pack all the low-income students into one particular school.” I believe that students need to be around different people from different families, so they know that their are other people out in the world. In my town, all of us were the same, so we all saw each other as equal. Though, unfortunately if you take a child from a private, high class boarding school, and put him into an inner city, low income school, he is going to be alarmed by his surroundings. Like I have said in earlier posts, the service learning experience has really opened by eyes. I think that schools need to be more diverse, and this will raise positivity among all the students in the schools to want to succeed. 

* As teachers, I think we need to share different environments with our students, and let them know not everyone is as fortunate as they are. This isn’t a reason for others to be treated differently or unfairly though. Everyone needs to be taught to treat others with the respect you want back, and to not think you’re better than others. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

In The Service Of What? Kahne & Westheimer Reflection

After reading, “In The Service Of What,” by Kahne and Westheimer, I thought about my own service learning experience at Sackett Street School. This reading talks about how service learning allows students to explore outside the classroom and see how people are different. I personally think that service learning should be a part of every middle school and high school curriculum. I say start in middle school because this is where teenagers are starting to gang up on one another, and then it just becomes worst in high school. Students need to be aware of different surroundings and life styles that others live. Not everyone is as fortunate as others, and it is important to help those who could use an extra hand or two. I grew up in a small town where everyone knows everyone, and I volunteered in my local elementary school, but wasn’t around different people from different cultures. When I first went to Sackett Street School I was a little nervous to see the differences from what I am used to. Right away I saw that these children don’t have what children in my town do, and it is sad but just makes me want to do whatever to put a smile on their faces. This experience has just opened my eyes to other surroundings, and I think this would most definitely be beneficial to high school students. The end of this article caught my attention the most, “Students in Atlanta must complete 75 hours of volunteer service to graduate.” I only had to complete 20 hours in high school and have a paper signed saying it was completed. According to this article many schools do service learning experiences as part of their volunteerism. I think for mine I helped out my field hockey coach with coaching youth girls, and then every year at the father daughter dances. It didn’t matter what we did because we weren’t guided in any direction. Students need to be more aware of different types of schools around their homes, and realize their are all different types of people. This article was good to read because it makes you see how important it is to help others, and you gain a lot from it. 

* This article shared a lot of important information, and teachers today should always encourage students to reach outside the classroom. Even though I want to be a first grade teacher I will always teach my students about different people and environments in our society. 

"Cinderella Ate My Daughter" Oreinstein Extended Comments

Since I did not read the entire article by Oreinstein, “Cinderella Ate My Daughter,” I decided to use the extended comments blog option. I used Torie’s blog to form an idea of my own, and as I read her argument on Oreinstein I completely agreed with what she had to say. When I was a little girl I was obsessed with the disney princesses. Cinderella in particular, I dressed as her at least four times for Halloween. Even when I was little I always said when I grew up I was going to be here. Now that I look back on my childhood I’m not upset that I’m not Cinderella. I haven't found a prince with a lot of money. My parents taught me how life works, and I understood that life was different from movies. I understand that Oreinstein is trying to complain about how princesses and american girl dolls give little girls the image of them having to be pretty, and that they will find the perfect prince. Although, little girls don’t think like that because in their minds when their little they are justing playing dress up and pretending they are one of the princesses. "Both Princess and American Girl promote shopping as the path to intimacy between mothers and daughters; as an expression, even for five-year-olds, of female identity." When Torie used this quote in her argument she stated that shopping is a bond between mothers and daughters, and that you rarely see father and son bonding at the mall. I completely agree, I have two older brothers and they would never come shopping with my mom and I, my dad forget it he hates the mall! Oreinstein tries to pick out the bad of toys younger children play with, and I just believe that you can pick out the bad of anything. Little girls are so oblivious to these bad effects Oreinstein is conveying, and I don’t think they are going to harm them in anyway.

* Reading and writing this blog made me think of the last article By Christensen. People just want to do anything they can to take certain things away from children. I think it is a learning process for children once they reach a certain age to realize they aren't going to live the exact life as someone they admired on television.