Saturday, December 20, 2014

Third Author Connection - Johnson

Allan Johnson teaches us that we must say the words. He speaks of how important it is to talk explicitly about privilege, power, and differences. Throughout my service learning project I experienced several moments that reminded me of Allan Johnson. The moment that sticks out to me the most was my first day at Mary Fogarty. I was in front of a group of students reading a story with them. While we were talking about the reading, a student asked me what was wrong with my face. At first I was very confused and wondered if something was actually on my face. The student asked again and pointed to his cheeks. I then realized that all of the students in my group had never seen freckles before. I told them that they were just freckles and that I was born with them. I like to tell that story to people because it really is quite comical and cute and it shows how early students recognize differences. This is a perfect example of explicitly talking about differences the way Allan Johnson says we should. The students know that I am different from them and vice versa. They asked me a question about my skin and I let them know that it is okay to ask those questions. Students should be educated at a young age about differences, privilege, and power.

 Privilege is also a topic that Johnson discusses in depth. He states, "Privilege grants the cultural authority to make judgements about others and to have those judgements stick. It allows people to define reality and to have prevailing definitions of reality fit their experience. Privilege means being able to decide who gets taken seriously, who receives attention, who is account­ able to whom and for what." Many of us do not realize the privilege that we have. I am an example of that. I knew that I was middle class and lived comfortably. I did not know how privileged I was until I walked into the classroom at Mary Fogarty. I saw the students with clothes that did not fit and walking to lunch without lunches. I was born into a culture of privilege without even realizing it. The students in the first grade classroom were born into a culture of poverty. At this young age they may not know about privilege, but as they get older they should recognize it. Allan Johnson would want these students to be educated on privilege so one day they can work their way out of the culture they were born in to. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Second Author Connection - Delpit

Throughout my experience at Mary Fogarty Elementary I witnessed several Delpit moments. I recently presented my Service Learning project with Karissa and we believed that Lisa Delpit would disagree with the way we handled our experiences. Delpit believes that teachers should teach the rules and codes of power to their students. For example, rule number four is "If you are not already a participant in the culture of power, being told explicitly the rules of that culture makes acquiring power easier." Delpit also states that "These issues include: the power of the teacher over the Students; the power of the publishers of textbooks and of the developers of the curriculum to determine the view of the world presented: the power of the state in enforcing conclusory schooling; and the power of an individual or group to determine another's intelligence or "normalcy.""

In my first grade classroom, I witnessed not just one, but several Delpit moments. The teacher explicitly told her students the rules of the classroom and how they should behave each day. The rules are posted in the front of the classroom actually. I also observe the routine of the students. They know to sit up straight, put their hands together, and keep quiet when the teacher asks who is showing 'ready'. They know where to line up and in what order when going to the bathroom or to lunch as a class. They know that the teacher is in charge and that is because of the rules of Delpit. Fridays are the classes main testing day each week. When the test needs to be completed in a certain time frame, Miss Johnson sets a timer in the front of the classroom. Once this timer goes off, the students know to put their pencils down and hand their test in. This is because Miss Johnson taught them explicitly to do so. Miss Johnson has great control over her classroom and much of that is because of the rules and codes of power from Delpit. After observing this classroom for several weeks, it was clear that much of the teaching strategies were influenced by Lisa Delpit. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Promising Practices

On November 1st I attended the Promising Practices Event, but unfortunately I was only able to stay for one session. Even though I was only at the event for a short time, I still was able to take in a lot of information and learn. The workshop I went to was called ‘Making It Personal’. When signing up for the different sessions, I chose this one because I predicted that it would be about individualized learning in the classroom, which is very important. There were two presenters for this session. The first one was Buddy Comet. He is the Dean of Pedagogy on the administrative team at Central Falls High School.  Buddy is a National Board Certified teacher, a New Teacher Center presenter, and an educational coach accelerating the effectiveness of teachers and administrators through professional coaching. He is dedicated to building high quality teaching and learning communities. Buddy began with an introduction to the activities we would be completing. He spoke about individualized learning and one-to-one learning and how it is becoming popular. There is currently a study going on where an entire class is comprised of students with IEPs. These students will go to every class together that has teachers as well as teacher assistants. After his introduction to individualized learning, Buddy Comet explained our next task. The group, which was rather large, would stop at each station around the room and complete the work in five minutes or less. The instructor asked us questions like, “How do the activities balance individual autonomy and collaborative work?” and “What needs to be in place for students to be successful?” The first station my group went to was called ‘Cubing for Slope’. The instructions were to roll the dice to get coordinates for your slope and then calculate the slope. The group worked together to find the correct answer. The next station my group moved to consisted of matching tables and graphs. One example was “Tom left his home for a run, but he was unfit and gradually came to a stop. Match a time graph and table of data to the interpretation.” This activity works to help students who struggle to understand rise over run. Unfortunately there was limited time so each group was only able to complete two stations. Buddy then began to discuss the purpose of the activities in depth. The group discussed how students would need prior knowledge and precise directions to complete each station. He suggested that teachers be up front and let the students know that it is okay to not be finished and that they can move on if the work is not fully completed. The stations Buddy set up combined students of different abilities to work together. He also noted that getting up every 10 to 20 minutes to move to a different station is a positive aspect.
            The next presenter was Karen Oliveira. She works in the School of Social Work here at Rhode Island College. Her lecture was directed towards Social Work Internships. Karen informed the group about what her position at the College is and informed us about how we can involve ourselves in an internship. The social work internship would consist of classroom observation, behavioral planning, and implementation. It provides one on one support and counseling as well as group facilitation. Those who work in the social work field would develop IEP goals and participate in team meetings. Karen explained how the social work internships were going at Central Falls High School. At that high school, educators are implementing social-emotional learning with the students. She noted that trauma, poverty and stress impacts children’s learning. Current teachers were in the workshop and shared their personal stories about what are affecting students in their classrooms, which was very interesting.
            Through each of these workshops, I learned a great deal about different elements of teaching. I learned about personalized learning, which I knew little about before attending Promising Practices. I also got to learn about social work internships and social emotional learning. It was also great to hear real stories from current teachers. I saw the teachings of Delpit when Buddy Comet explained that students need precise directions to complete each station.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Empowering Education - Extended Comments

For this week's reading by Ira Shor I decided to complete an extended comments piece using Jessica's blog. In her discussion of the text, Jessica made connections to other readings we have done in class. 
The first connection she made was to Alfie Kohn, from a journal entry we had to do in regards to our service learning. Kohn's What To Look for in a Classroom is a table that he created that consists of both good and bad things in a classroom. Jessica also said that her reading of this piece was long and painful which I can fully agree with. To show her connection she provided the following quote from Empowering Education...
"The typical classroom is framed by the competition, marked by struggle between students (and often between teacher and students), and riddled by indicators of comparative achievement and worth. Star charts on the wall announce who has been successful at learning multiplication tables, only children with ‘neat’ handwriting have their papers posted for display” (Shor, p23-24). Kohn believes that star charts and reward systems should not be in the classroom and Shor says that these are quite common in the classroom. I found this very interesting because in almost every elementary classroom I have stepped in to, rewards and star charts are seen frequently and used often. 

The next connection Jessica made was to the assignment we did for Dr. Bogad in class. We had to fill out a very simple paper with questions about the Jeannie Oakes article. The questions were so simple that I thought I was answering them incorrectly. Most of them were fill-in-the-blank questions which require little thought. Throughout my schooling, I was taught not to question authority so when Dr. Bogad gave us the paper, I completed it without question. Once the time to finish the assignment was up, she explained to us the purpose of the work. She wanted us to refuse the work because it was so simple that it insulted our intelligence. Even if I felt this way, I would not express that to the teacher, as I explained in class. Shor says, “If the students’ task is to memorize rules and existing knowledge, without questioning the subject matter, or the learning process, their potential for critical thought and action will be restricted” (Shor, p12). Shor feels the same way that Dr. Bogad does, as Jessica explained. They both feel that students should be challenged in order to excel and further their intelligence. With this challenge in the classrooms, students can become thinkers and change society in positive ways rather than becoming minimum wage workers.
The last connection that Jessica made was to Collier, Rodriguez, and August. I agree with this connection completely. Shor says, Our role as teachers is to create a safe environment in which students can express opinions and, most importantly, generate their own language materials for learning and peer-teaching” (Shor, p.43). August's article "Safe Spaces" explains how important it is to create a safe environment for students, like Shor stated above. Rodriguez explains his struggle with keeping his first language in the environment he was put in. In order to be successful in society, he was told to speak only English, loosing his native language and identity. As for Collier, she believed that it is crucial for students to embrace their first language skills to acquire new ones. This quote pulls together three different readings perfectly. Jessica did a great job on all of her connections and I agree with all of them and was happy to elaborate on them.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome - Reflection

I enjoyed this weeks reading very much. Inclusion in classrooms is a topic that cannot be avoided. As a special education major I found this article to be quite relatable and interesting. I believe that it is crucial to integrate those with disabilities into learning environments with classmates who do not have a disability. As an elementary school student I never thought about why my classmates who had special needs were separated from me and other students. But now as I mature, I start to realize how wrong that really is. In my educational psychology class I just learned about Vygotsky who was quoted in this article. His words really stuck with me. "Vygotsky found that the culture of segregation surrounding people with disabilities actually teaches underdevelopment of thinking through the isolation of children from socially valued opportunities” (Kliewer, p.83).   
Educating children as a whole and together pushes away the idea that down syndrome along with other disabilities is a burden. Down syndrome is defined as a congenital disorder arising from a chromosome defect, causing intellectual impairment and physical abnormalities including short stature and a broad facial profile. It arises from a defect involving chromosome 21, usually an extra copy. 
Down syndrome can be defined as a disability, intellectual impairment, or physical abnormality but individuals with this condition do not need to be treated like they are. Like Vygotsky said, if you segregate those with special needs you are essentially isolating them from other social opportunities and experiences. A child with down syndrome may not easily understand the topics that are being taught in school, but they are certainly not that much different from the rest of us. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Literacy with an Attitude - Connections

Literacy with an Attitude by Patrick Finn was quite lengthly, honestly, but I found much of the article to be very interesting. The beginning began with the discussion of various titles that the author had for the article. For example, Finn contemplated titles such as Subtle Mechanisms, Savage Inequalities and Making Literacy Dangerous Again. The text then continued on to information about the author. "It's about the resistance of working class children to the kind of education they typically receive, education designed to make them useful workers and obedient citizens."

"First Anyon noted similarities among the schools. They were nearly all white. They were all located in northern New Jersey and subject to the same state requirements. They all used the same arithmetic books. They had the same language arts course of study. Two of the schools used the same basal reading series. There were startling differences, however. In the working-class schools, knowledge was presented as frag- mented facts isolated from wider bodies of meaning and from the lives and experiences of the students. Work was following steps in a procedure. There was little decision making or choice. Teachers rarely explained why work was being assigned or how it was con- nected to other assignments." After reading this part of the article, I immediately thought of McIntosh and the article about whiteness as an invisible privilege. This excerpt taken from Literacy with an Attitude explains how prominent the division of working class and upper class is. It is a first hand study of five elementary schools and shows the reality of the separation.

"When I discussed discipline problems with other teachers, a frequent topic of discus- sion in the teachers' lounge, I would talk about my teaching meth- ods as methods of control. I had work assignments on the board when the students entered the classroom, and so there wasn't a moment when they didn't have anything to do. I didn't say to an
errant student, "What are you doing?" I said, "Stop that and get to work." No discussion. No openings for an argument." (page 4) What this teacher said here is the exact way that Delpit explains students should be talked. The teacher explicitly tells her students what they need to do without any discussion about it. 

In essence, this article is for teachers, parents, and students who are on the side of working class children. It is about a new brand of teachers who are learning new and effective ways to teach students in working class classrooms. It is about making literacy powerful for students. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Collier -- Revisited

Quote 1:
"One must teach in two languages, affirm the cultural values of both home and school, teach standardized forms of the two languages but respect and affirm the multiple varieties and dialects represented among stu­ dents in class, be a creative and flexible teacher, serve as a catalyst for discovery as students learn to operate effectively in their multiple worlds, be able to mediate and resolve intercultural conflicts, keep students on task and on and on." (222)

Quote 2: 
"The critical distinction to maintain is between how children acquire the capacity to converse casually in a second language. and how they learn to become proficient students using second language. These are two entirely dif­ ferent processes." (225)

Quote 3:
"Once upon a time there was a grown-up who loved children. One child who came to know this person was eager to find out about many things. Together they discovered the intimate secrets of time and space and nature and the way things work. They played with language. They both grew in wisdom and they learned how infinite and mysterious knowledge is ..." (222)

Quote 4:
"Don't teach a second language in any way that challenges or seeks to eliminate the first language." (227)

Quote 5:
"When two languages are used in the school curriculum, the teacher should plan the precise times to use each language. Bilingual pedagogy research indicates that the teacher should clearly separate the two languages of instruction. For example, the teacher should speak Spanish when the instructional language is Spanish, and speak English when instructional language is English. On the other hand, young children should be permitted to speak the language they know best." (229)

Quotes from the blogs of other classmates:
1. "While reading Virginia Collier's  Teaching Multilingual Children, I feel one of her main arguments is teachers need to embrace the different languages and cultures students bring into the classroom and use that in order to teach children English." (Essence's Blog)
2. "Collier explains that as a teacher, our mission is to help our students become fluent in their academic language but also give them the tools to continue sufficiently speaking their native language in the outside world." (Erika's Blog) 
3. "If life as a adolescent student is difficult and tumultuous at best when speaking only one language, When integrating a student into a curriculum or cultural setting that is that differs from their own native background, the everyday stresses of schooling may seem tenfold to a struggling multilingual student." (Chanel's Blog) 
4. "Suppose you are put into a classroom where the teacher only speaks Swedish. You're incredibly confused for most of the lesson, but you've got a few Swedish phrases down, but then you realize that you have to use the bathroom. And for the life of you, you can't remember how to ask to use the facilities." (Chanel's Blog)

Main Point:
I think that Collier is trying to stress the importance of the proper way to teach multilingual children in the classroom.