Thursday, December 19, 2013

Ira Shore - Empowering Education

"However, it is the students who decided to what extent they will take part in the Syllabus and allow it to form them. Many students do not like the knowledge, process, or roles set out for them in class. In reaction, they drop out or withdraw into passivity or silence in the classroom. Some become self-educated; some sabotage the curriculum by misbehaving,” (Pg 14).

I want to focus on this quote by Ira Shore because it best fits myself. I absolutely do better in classes without syllabuses. Seeing what I have to do in the class allows me to procrastinate. I know that I am a smart and efficient worker when I put my mind into things, and that's why I don't doubt myself when I think about putting things off. I can complete A+ essays 30 minutes before the class that they are due, and that's exactly what I did to pass writing 100 with an A. I can force myself to stay up all night and complete a full semester's worth of work. It isn't exactly a good thing that I procrastinate, but If I didn't have a set list of exactly what I had to do and how I needed to do it, I wouldn't procrastinate so much. In my first semester of last year, I took a history class where there was no syllabus, only an assignment passed out after every class that was due the next class. I never missed a class (which is also something I had a problem with) because I needed the work and needed to pass in the work that was due. There was no procrastinating that semester. This semester I procrastinated in almost all of my classes and fell behind due to a lot of issues that went on during the year. I was able to catch up, but it destroy me to have to stay up almost every night, and do nothing but stare at a computer screen for hours completing assignment after assignment. I did not try to sabotage the curriculum like Ira Shore said was a possibility, I accepted my error and took responsibility to self educate myself. 

This quote can also be related to how Delpit talks about making clear the rules and codes of power. I think that letting students know what is expected of them and when it is expected is good to do, but each student is different with what they make of it. I myself don't work good knowing I have time to do things later and knowing that I am able to get it done when I do decide to do it. Others look at a list of work and want to get more done earlier because they cant handle too much work at once or because they avoid stressing themselves out.

Note: had to do three essays and study for my final today, so that's why this post came up later.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Hello everyone! (:

Just wishing everyone a great holiday break and good luck to anyone still finishing up their finals! I was wondering if anyone knew Dr. Bogad's office hours and where she would be during those hours? Very important that I find out before Friday so thank you for the help (:

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Schooling Children With Down Syndrome - Kliewer

Kliewer makes a lot of really great points in the article Schooling Children With Down Syndrome. I never thought much about what pulling out students from their classes to work with other teachers for extra help really did to those students. I couldn't imagine sitting with a bunch of my friends, working on a paper handed out by the teacher, and then being torn from my class because I'm not at the level of my friends. I'm not ready to work with them because I need to work on myself first. I would be demotivated, and very upset about it. It would be one of the worst feelings in the world, especially at a younger age. This made me think of the LGBTQ issues we talked about and how excluding students can cause them to be less motivated to learn.  To be categorized the way some schools do into different groups with different animal names can be just as bad. When society places you into the group of "mice" and your friends are the "owls" are you supposed to believe you're equal? Are you supposed to believe that you just need a little help? No, what this does is makes children feel inferior. The owls are the stronger, hunters of the school and the mice are supposed to flee and live secluded with each other.

Students with disabilities, including down syndrome, deserve the equal opportunity to learn and interact with other students. Keeping students with disabilities with other students without those disabilities can be beneficial to all students. "Vygotsky found that the culture of segregation surround people with disabilities actually teaches underdevelopment of thinking through the isolation of children from socially valued opportunities..." (Kliewer) The students with disabilities are able to interact more and learn different things from the students without disabilities, and the students without disabilities are able to gain experience through helping the students with disabilities.

Safe Spaces - August

I have never read an article about LGBT student issues before, so reading this was very interesting to me. I never really realized all the issues that are still existent today and all of the problems that still need to be addressed. School should always be a place to go and feel comfortable. Students need to be able to go to classes thinking about what questions they have from the homework or how well they are going to do on the test. Never should a student have to walk to class thinking about where they might sit because certain people make them feel bad about themselves, or if they really should go to class today because the teacher labels them and makes them feel different and out of place. "To the extent that teachers, school administrators, and college professors create an atmosphere in which difference is not only tolerated but expected, explored, and embraced, students will be more likely to develop perspectives that result in respectful behaviors." (August, Page 83). School needs to be a safe place, and everyone needs to recognize that. Its not right that students feel out of place at school for any reason, and I'm just disgusted that teachers and other students would make them feel that way. 

It's not hard to emotionally scar someone by taunting, bullying, or excluding someone, so why don't more people take these issues more seriously? “Words invite or exclude, recognize or erase, empower or intimidate, examine or assume. Far from what the children chant would have let us believe ,words are sticks and stones. And those sticks and stones can either build bridges or break bones” (August, Page 95)

More action needs to be taken to create more, and more effective safe spaces. More awareness needs to be spread and disciplinary actions need to be carried out to prevent LGBT students from feeling like they are the only ones going through these issues and know that nothing is there fault. “Good intentions are not enough; trying to see all students as the same is not enough. Being a fair-minded individual is not enough. We argue that educators must publicly commit to creating classroom climates of inclusivity and respect with the pledged cooperation of all students. Only then can we create classrooms that are safe for LGBT youth.” (August, Page 99)

These ideas reminded me of an experience I had in class when i realized that the boys and girls were lined up into separate lines when ever they go out into the hall. When the teacher tells her students to line up into a boys line and a girls line, where does a child who looks like a boy but feels more like a girl go? Or a student that looks like a girl but feels more like a girl? Or maybe a student that sometimes feels like they could be considered both? There is a lot of room, in this seemingly simple request, for confusion and with that a student may feel out of place or uncomfortable. This as we have learned can cause the student to act out or shut down.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Promising Practices Event 2013

I am a little late to post about my experience at the Saturday conference, but I had typed this all up the next day and just delayed to post it until I finished playing catch up with my blogs.

The presentation in my opinion was not as relevant in regards to teaching as I hoped it would have been. It was interesting at some points, but not at all like I was expecting it to be. I did enjoy sitting and traveling through the conference with fellow classmates. It made the day go by quicker and made me feel a lot more comfortable.

The first portion was very hard to understand and even worse to grasp the concepts in general that were being discussed. The speakers spoke more to each other than they did to the audience, and they moved so quickly I couldn't really follow the discussions for that long. When it came time for answering questions they dodged a lot of the actual questions and provided irrelevant answers. One person stated, in reply to the discussion involving equality to immigrants in schooling, that immigrants are not treated equally when it comes to standardized testing because they are not all fluent in English and are judged by their test results on a test designed for fluent English speakers. The presenter chosen to reply to the question completely dodged it. He talked about how immigrants have a more difficult path to success than most others but they still have opportunity to succeed in the same ways as anyone else. Another question by the same person was about Brown University and it was completely ignored all together, I was upset because I was really interested in hearing the answer to it.

The three portions I chose to go to were all very rushed. Only one of the presenters was very engaging and informative but all he talked about was being an active member of society by voting. It was an effective speech but not really what I was expecting to take away from a conference I thought would focus more on teaching, or at the very least things that I could apply to myself to better my ability to teach. The whole conference was just frustrating to me and what I did learn I could have gone without. One of the male presenters used language that shocked me, he referred to the African American population at one school as the "N" words. He was an older man but there's really no excuse for that. He also referred to Native Americans as Indians. All in all it was a good experience in regards to my first conference, but as for its relation to the class I couldn't find any.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Separate and Unequal, Brown v. Board of Education

There was a lot of information to take in from the videos and article, but what I could understand really opened my eyes. I never understood how Obama being elected as president was going to change generations of wrongful behavior and mindsets. I know now from watching the videos that it was just another steppingstone across a wide river towards equality and the obliteration of racism.

No one movement, event, or person will ever end racism and bring complete equality to America, but they can widen the eyes of Americans and open their minds to change, and that's exactly what has been happening for a long time now. Many people are blind to the racism that still exists today. "If you want to know if a problem is problem, you need to talk to those who are affected"- Tim Wise  I agree 100% that racism still does exist and it will exist until every American understands that it is unjust and unreasonable.

In Bob Herbert's article Separate and Unequal he says that schools have been "desegregated" but are now separating students based on social class. Putting all lower class students into one school and all middle class into another and all upper class into a different school creates problems of its own. Herbert says that first of all this makes a lot of schools nearly segregated by color, putting most African Americans and Hispanics in one school while most whites are in another. He goes on to talk about how awful this is because putting poorer people into the same school together has very little evidence of being good for the students.

Going back to this post I can relate this topic to Kliewer's Schooling Children With Down Syndrome and the conversations we had in class about separating students. When we separate students based on different things we are depriving them of the opportunity to learn from each other. Every difference even the slightest most insignificant one, is something that can influence someone's way of thinking and what they bring to the table.

"Schools are no longer legally segregated, but because of residential patterns, housing discrimination, economic disparities and long-held custom, they most emphatically are in reality." Bob Herbert

In the service of what? by Kahne and Westheimer

This article raised some great points about service learning that I had never thought about before. Kahn and Westheimer claim that there are two different groups of service learning participants. One of these groups is composed of people who are forced to do service learning, like how we have a requirement to do service learning for 15 hours. The second group is composed of people who volunteer to do service learning, for charity or just for the exposure to the field they are volunteering in.

Kahn and Westheimer strongly believe that it is important to incorporate service learning into school curriculum and I completely agree. Students need exposure to what they plan on doing in life before they waste a lot of money learning about it and end up not liking it. A student could go to teach for service learning and find out that they absolutely do not want to teach high school students and switch their major to elementary education, or even realize that they do not want to teach at all.

Service learning also helps develop skills in your field that you couldn't get in a college classroom, like when I go to service learning in a first grade classroom and a student constantly drops his pencil and bounces around and I learn to work with him one on one more often to give him more attention and keep him sitting down and focused. In the beginning of the year we talked in class about different things that happen in classrooms when teaching that you just cant prepare for. I still get shocked by the things my students say even though I prepare for conversations they might try to start with me. In class experience is what gets you to where you need to be, not in a college class, in a first grade class or a second grade or a high school class, where ever your field is. It is very beneficial to the people who we are helping during our time service learning as well. Every kid I can teach a new word to or help solve an addition problem, is a step further than they would be without my help.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Unlearning the Myths That Blind Us by Linda Christensen

Reading Unlearning the Myths That Blind Us made me come to a realization that what I thought were innocent children's movies weren't actually so innocent. I couldn't believe how awful the subliminal messages behind movies like Snow White and Beauty and the Beast were. Christensen states "Many students don't want to believe that they have been manipulated by children's media or advertising" (128) Which is exactly true. The messages were always there, I never missed them. It was just that at a young age I had no reason to suspect that a movie would mold my mind the wrong way. And the worst part is that this continues to happen to children everyday when they watch most anything they see on t.v.

The roles women played in the movies of my childhood were gender restrained and stereotypical. Its disgusting to look back at the movies I would watch and not see a single African American family even. Children watch these movies to craft dreams and find hope in their futures. But a little African American girl growing up in poverty isn't granted the dream of being a princess because movies depict that you have to be wealthy or white and perfectly good looking to be successful or be a princess. This reminded me about our conversation about SCWAAMP. This can cause children to want to change who they are to match what they see in movies. Little girls suddenly think they are too fat and need to diet in order to be successful, and that is just absolutely wrong. Children need to embrace who they are and be proud of what they look like. Healthy is more important than skinny.

Talking points: What shows on television give off the wrong ideas about looks? How can we stop this idea that perfection has a weight limit? I think there needs to be more movies about princesses saving their prince and on that note, two princesses or two princes that get married.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Aria by Richard Rodriguez

Before reading Aria by Richard Rodriguez I never knew about how important speaking English is to achieving public individuality. I understand the importance of speaking English is school, but it isn't right to tell a student not to speak their first language and make them feel like they are wrong if they do. Students who do know more than one language have been proven to be better off than students speaking only one language as show in the link previous to this sentence. Its even been talked about that speaking two or more languages can help fight dementia! I couldn't ever imagine why someone wouldn't want to embrace a second language even in school. It bothers me even more that Rodriguez's teacher went to his house and convinced his family to speak primarily English because it would be better for them. This is absolutely ridiculous because that teacher is trying to change the cultural ties of Rodriguez's family.

Rodriguez mentions how "it would have pleased me to hear my teachers address me in Spanish when I entered the classroom. I would have felt much less afraid. I would have trusted them and responded with ease." (34) This expresses Rodriguez's fear of learning English and assimilating into society. He would have been less afraid if he was welcomed into it more warmly and if the teacher had expressed that his language was welcomed as an aid to learn English. This part of the article reminds me of Johnson’s article Privilege, Power, and Differences. Johnson talks about how people fear what is unfamiliar to them. (3)

Rodriguez talks about how when his family and himself made the transition to primarily speaking English it didn't feel right. It made his family less close together. He talks about how learning and improving on English allowed his family to become more social and involved in society, rather than spending all of their time together. By switching the primarily spoken language of his family to English the bond they had together over their common language that not many others in society could relate to was broken.

Talking point: I think that schools need to make more of an effort to use other languages to help students learn English. Having kids take more language classes in order to understand ESL students does not seem like a good idea to me because most students are already overwhelmed by the amount of work that society makes them do in normal schooling.

Amazing Grace by Jonathan Kozol

This article really opened my eyes to how awful life can be for some people. If more people really knew how bad things were for people in some areas I think more change would be done. People today are so focused on their own lives and being successful and wealthy, that they are unaware of how lucky they are to have the opportunities that they have. Not enough people care about anyone other than themselves or who they have to treat good in order to move up in society. This sort of reminded me of the idea we talked about in class when students are misunderstood or ignored and they shut down, the people of these run down trashy areas have been ignored and have shut down. I think that it is absolutely disgusting that we let people live in such awful conditions.

The state of New York doesn't even seem to care, they are only making it worse on the cities already suffering. "There's trashy things all over. There's a garbage dump three blocks away." The city of New York keeps putting things like trash dumps and incinerators in poverty stricken towns because they do not want to put them in the higher class wealthier towns. They make the impression that the people there are trash so they can put trashy things there with them. They take away the voice of the people and just do not care what they want or do not want in their city.

It really bothered me to read that people from other cities come into these poverty stricken cities and dump their trash everywhere. Its completely unfair that anyone would do this. Those people need the help of people outside their city, and all they get is trash and ignorance. Further research revealed to me that a lot more of the US is going through these problems of being ignored and left to waste too as shown in this article.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Five Reasons to Stop Saying "Good Job!"

Reading Five Reasons to Stop Saying "Good Job!" by Alfie Kohn gave me a new outlook on a few things, but for the most part I completely disagree with his ideas and reasoning. I am more familiar with younger children so when I compare experiences vs. what he says, it will be based on my observations in a first grade classroom.

As a teacher in a classroom, students look up to you and strive for your attention just as you need to strive to keep theirs. It turns into a competition for many of my little first graders for them to see just how long or how frequently they can obtain my attention. When they are working on their science projects and finish writing a sentence or two about their growing plants, they come to me to double check it. I praise them not only for what they wrote but for having the courage to come up to me and ask for additional help. This, for what I have noticed, causes them to like coming to me for help and shows others in the class that they shouldn't be afraid to ask a teacher for advice to better themselves in class.

I use praises for classroom comfort and to make students strive for success. They do not strive for just another "Good Job!" they strive for what they think I, as a teacher, would consider nearest perfection that I could not ask for more. I can see it in their faces and body language when they sit back down after hearing from me, both praise and constructively critique their work, that they want to improve so they can get a praise alone.

Kohn stated "Every time we say, "Good Job!", though, we're telling a child how to feel." which I believe is true. When we praise a child, we are telling them they should feel good about what they did or said to earn the praise. But we are not telling them to what extent to feel. When I tell a student who finished their test early "Good Job!" I'm not telling them they should feel so good about it that they shouldn't double check their work, I'm simply saying that they did a great job focusing enough to finish. This, I believe, should be clarified with the student you praise.


After listening to the different views about this, I have come to different conclusions. I better understand why it is not good to say "good job" to students too much, and have found alternative ways to go about reacting to what my students do.

I had a Kohn moment when I was working one on one with a student and the teacher had asked anyone in the class who had enough tickets to raise their hands so she could call them up to the prize box. The student I was working with raised his hand and yelled "I do!" and the teacher told him that he had to wait until I was done working with him to go to the prize box. This made he very upset, he started crying and shut down. He wouldn't listen to a word I said to him. The teacher finally gave in and let him pick a prize so he would continue working with me. "But the real problem isn't that children expect to be praised for everything they do these days. Its that we're tempted to take shortcuts, to manipulate kids with rewards instead of explaining and helping them to develop needed skills and good values." (Kohn) This moment also reminded me of Delpit because instead of telling the student what he was doing wrong and explaining the rules and codes of power, she gave in and rewarded him for bad behavior.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

About Me

Hello people of FNED and other random people who have come across my blog! If you continue to read this, odds are you're going to know more about me than you care to! I'm a percussionist from Massachusetts, which has landed me a position as a percussion director for a drum line and a paid percussionist for another drum core. I love music but my passion is teaching, so I made the choice to major in elementary education. I love teaching and helping kids reach their fullest potentials and couldn't imagine myself doing anything else. My music interests are very broad, but I'm more into country and rock than anything. I have a wonderful girlfriend who's a very talented photographer (my profile picture was taken by her) so if you can take a second to check out her photography page it would be much appreciated ( ). I'm living on campus for my second year here at RIC and love it. There are so many great people here and I wouldn't ever trade the experience of living on campus.