Sunday, November 27, 2011

Talking Points #10 Education Is Politics by Ira Shor


I have been reminded many times of the past teachers I have had while reading this article. Shor talks about the traditional style of teaching where students tend to be cynical because there is resistance that is caused by the teacher being the dominant power in the classroom. I have been through what Shor had described. When power only comes from one side, it creates an urge to resist and to only get by with work in school. This encourages students to feel that education is not important and therefore participation and engagement are often  not acted upon. In high school I was in a math class where the teacher was the only one who talked. She was very strict and joy did not exist in that class. I've always felt like I was silenced during every minute of lecture and fear was felt everyday. Students never asked questions because according to Shor the teacher could have done their part in creating an environment that encourages students to question authority. When there was a "fun" activity, it was very difficult to connect with classmates since it had become awkward without the initial connection to everyone including the teacher at the very beginning of the course. I did not recall learning anything in that class because all we did was read, remember formulas and applying the formulas to problems. If we had the ability to question what we learned, the content that was taught would've had a meaningful purpose and that is one of Shor's claims.

Sharing Ideas:

When Shor talked about questioning the status quo, it reminded me of the the article before this one by Kliewer. If we don't question it, it'll just go on a repeated cycle. It has come up in many articles and therefore I conclude that one of the key points of this course is somewhere along the idea of questioning authority. It seems like it would be hard to balance fun and seriousness in learning content material. I wonder what everyone else thinks about that.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Talking Points #9 Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome by Christopher Kliewer


This video is an example of our culture and stereotypes. We create a label for students with special needs. As a result, the labeling leads to segregation. That is what Christopher Kliewer mentioned in his article. When the segregation occurs students with special needs are restricted in their education. They can not attend schools or classes as the other students who are not labeled as disabled. This creates the need to filter students by intellectual capability level. Our culture creates these levels and because a student does not fit in a high intellectual level, they are considered as incapable of doing many things. Because of the existence of the stereotypes of mentally disabled people created by society, an event like the video I posted occurs where those students are ridiculed and bullied because of a stereotype. Often times, the definitions of a particular stereotype are conclusions of any action made by a person that had been labeled into a stereotype even though it's untrue like the situation in the video. In the article, Kliewer talks about how Shayne undoes this separation by connecting her students as a community where each student is valued and differences is normal. The experiences with Shayne and her students is a great example of how accepting students who are handicapped can benefit in regular classes in school, but the only way that it can happen is if the teacher allows it to happen. The teacher must help create the collective atmosphere in the classrooms while honoring differences and recognize what a student can be capable of by listening and not what they are incapable of.

Sharing Ideas:

After reading this article and coming across videos of unjust treatment to students with special needs, I thought of myself as a future teacher and how I can come up with ideas to make students feel that they belong in the community and that they are an important person even with differences. It would be interesting to share ideas on that.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Promising Practices

The Workshop:

I was amazed to see so many students on a Saturday morning on campus. I believed we all thought at some point "Ugh, why am I here? It's so early."

I was assigned to workshop A which was my first choice. I did not know what informal education was and so it sparked my interest to find out more about it. My Statistics professor, Mary Sullivan, was one of the presenters for the first session. She asked everyone to introduce ourselves to make use of time since the tech crew was late. It was a great idea even though I did not remember names. I learned that informal education was education outside of the typical classroom. An example would be after school programs such as clubs and summer school. Teachers might want to consider informal education if a traditional classroom is just not their style and if they love to work with young people. It's something new to try with a lot of options that can expand the concept of teaching.

We had another presenter his name was Alex. He gave us information about the organization PASA (click here for web page). They help schools integrate the skills learned during the regular school hours with hands on applications. It gives students the opportunity to explore the world which undoubtedly will lead to career choices with those experiences. It's a chance for students to practice the skills they learned. I liked that Alex showed the video where math was being applied outside the classroom. It allows students to see that math is used everyday and it's all around us. Applying the sills learned to real world situations tells students why they are learning the content in their classrooms. Below is a PASA video of the AfterZone Summer program that shows an example of the applications of classroom skills.

Cooking is one of my favorite things to do and that made the second session fun to listen to. Foodies is an Americorps program that allow students to apply subjects taught in the classroom to food and cooking. Located in the Henry Barnard School, they create three course meals that reflect a very diverse population. It is a great experience for students to connect with each other through something that comforts us such as food. During their activities, differences such as IEP's and behavior issues seemed to go away. Cooking different recipes creates an exposure to culture. At times, they would play music according to the culture while making their recipes. The presenters told us how cooking involves science, language arts, history and math. I cook my meals daily and I've never realized all of those subjects were related to cooking. The connection amazed me.

The Expo, Personal Thought and Teen Empowerment:

I was only interested in getting information for the PASA AfterZone. I found a couple of friends when I looked around the expo and stayed with them throughout the rest of the conference. My friend Bill and I exchanged thoughts of the workshop we attended. It was nice to know that we both had similar goals as a teacher. Although his content major is English and mine is Math, we both had horrible teachers in high school for those subjects. That is why we want to be teachers. We want to make it a better experience for future students and that means making English and Math fun and interesting.

Teen empowerment is a very great organization. I liked the sharing of their stories. It was inspirational and I knew it had an impact because a friend of my friend went up to one of the speakers and shook her hand and told her to keep doing what she is doing. What teen empowerment taught us was skills to use within the classroom. Those skills are used to have some sort of connection in the classroom and to get an individual to feel that they matter in the class and that they do have a voice. I really would like to use the game they played using the chairs (almost like musical chairs except someone has to talk freely about a certain word) in my future classroom. Below is a picture of Teen Empowerments Theory of Change.

The Connections:

I think in general everything I have learned throughout the conference can be sorted into one theme, change. It's kind of like Delpit's rules, codes and conducts of power. When you realize what you posses and what you are capable of in a set of rules and conducts, you can create change just like how Teen Empowerment does. After the first session there was a discussion about our society's education system and how there should be more hands on experience in a typical school day. Our traditional environment of teaching has been the way it is for years and implementing a new system would be difficult. It's like the cycle Johnathan Kozol talked about in his article. People get used to the system and when there comes change, it's like tradition. Language is a part of culture and culture is a part of cooking. Collier says that for success in another language, first language skills should be embraced. I see that being applied to the Foodies program. Students are very diverse and cooking that involves honoring the culture helps embrace that first language diverse students may have.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Talking Points #8 Literacy With an Attitude by Patrick Finn


In the article, Finn describes the two kinds of education. One is powerful literacy that builds power and authority and the second is functional literacy that develops productivity. The working class does not get that powerful literacy since Finn described; the ones who have access to it are the rich. We can see a cycle that repeats constantly as access to both types of literacy are still limited to one class. It's hard for change since the working class does not have the literacy that provides power and those with power are too comfortable with the way things are to make changes. This reminded me of "Amazing Grace" by Johnathan Kozol. There was a similar cycle that he mentioned where the people were doing what they can to live a better life but without the people with power striving to also make the change, they got stuck with the poor living conditions in their area.

I believe that students should be able to question authority in school and that teachers should encourage and emphasize that action. Finn also supports this when he gave the many examples of the working class school's classrooms. Work consisted of procedural styles. Teachers rarely gave explanations on things that were taught in class. There were not many connections to real life experiences and little in depth discussions on a particular subject. By questioning their teachers, students can understand why they are learning and why it is important. Linda Christensen had the same thoughts. She knew that teachers needed to provide the tools for students to interpret the media. It's the same as giving the tools to students to obtain powerful literacy in Finn's argument.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Funny Video

I love math and this video was funny to watch hahaha. It's not real though.

Keep Wall Street Occupied

I thought this was interesting since we mentioned the occupy stuff in class.