Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Misc Post!

Below are links to a couple of videos featuring my friends and their college wrestling teams doing the Harlem Shake. I thought they were pretty funny myself.

Rider Wrestling Harlem Shake

Roger Williams Harlem Shake

Social Justice Event!

          For my social justice event I returned home to volunteer for a day with the Jason Roberts Challenger League. The Jason Roberts Challenger league is a baseball league for mentally handicapped children that accept volunteers of most ages. You are assigned a “buddy” who you help and keep an eye on during the baseball games. It also gives parents the opportunity to coach and play with their handicapped children in a new and exciting way. When I was in middle school I would attend it regularly but as I grew older, I became busier and was unable to continue. But after a phone call from a family friend I went back as a favor because they were short-handed for a game. At first I did not realize that this could be categorized as a social justice event, but then I remembered our readings by Kliewer and Kahne and Westheimer.
            The reason I would volunteer for this league when I was younger was because my grandmother, as most of you know by now, used to work in the Boston public school system in a special needs/handicapped classroom. So naturally she encouraged me to participate. I was assigned a young boy named Alan who unfortunately has down-syndrome. This event connects to our readings through Kliewer’s work “Citizenship in school: Reconceptualizing Down-syndrome”. Within this reading there is an excerpt that I believe accurately describes what the Jason Roberts Challenger League tries to do. “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 the stereotypes and break the barriers for people with disabilities.” The Challenger league gives these children an opportunity to participate in a sport that otherwise would not be available to them. It also allows them to play this sport with children just like them. It breaks down a barrier that had been holding these children back.
            It also connects to Kahne & Westheimer’s piece entitled “In the Service of What?” This goes into detail about various ways in which students can perform community service and talks about what the students feel they get out of it. What I feel I get out of this is knowing that I helped someone do something fun that they were not able to do before. Even though I am not playing in the game myself, I am still having fun watching the children play baseball in their own unique way. Also seeing the smiles on the parent’s faces as they watch their children have fun is another bonus. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Shor "Education in Politics" Reflection/Quote

             For Shor’s “Education in Politics” I am choosing to do a quote analysis to start off my reflection. Shor says that: “A participatory classroom offers chances to hear the largely silent voices of students from which teachers learn how to integrate subject matter into their existing knowledge. Students routinely hold back their voices as a means of resisting traditional classrooms where authority is unilateral and where they lack an inspiring life of the mind which speaks to their dreams and needs.” I believe this quote gets Shor’s point across in a much briefer way. I can attest to this method being a preferred way of learning for students because I myself am a student and have observed that students participate far more in this type of lesson structure rather than a mainstream lecture in which students scribble notes. I observed this first hand in Dr. Bogad’s classroom and personally because I usually do not talk often in classroom yet in FNED I can’t seem to keep my mouth shut because I actually want express my opinion and get feedback from the teacher as well as my classmates. As a history secondary education major I am constantly just sitting in classrooms typing endless amounts of notes from a professors lecture, so it’s a nice change of pace when we have classroom discussions that stimulate my need to reason thoughts out and carefully choose how I want to convey what I have to say.  In essence I am saying that as a student and future teacher, I prefer the idea of a participatory classroom because it forces students to think and reason. It makes them want to learn and understand and I believe that should be the students attitude in every single classroom. 

Below is a link to a rather lengthy but relevant video on participatory classrooms.

Kliewer, "Citizenship in School" Reflection

              For Kliewer’s “Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome” I have decided to comment on it in a reflection. Prior to my grandmother’s retirement, she was employed by the city of Boston as an assistant teacher in a special education classroom. Due to my mother’s poor health my grandmother primarily raised me and had no choice but to bring me to work with her when I was a child. I remember it as if it was yesterday and it causes me to question Kliewer’s idea of inclusion in “regular” classrooms. My reasoning is based off of the behavior I observed as a child. The children in the classroom were in diapers, violent, and some were even in wheelchairs. I am struggling with the idea of children with severe down syndrome/disabilities like those I shared above being integrated into a “regular” classroom. However there are children with Down syndrome that is not as severe who I can see being integrated into regular classrooms.  An example of this is a child in my kindergarten class who is extremely smart however due to his down syndrome he cannot be left alone. I was working with him today on blending and sentence reading and he flew through it faster than most of the other children in the class. So in a sense I am torn, I believe children like Caiden should be allowed in regular classrooms. However on the other hand I remember how unstable my grandmother’s classroom was due to the children’s behavior and special needs and I cannot fathom them being in a regular classroom. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Literacy with an Attitude

         For the text “Literacy with an Attitude” I wanted to focus on two quotes that I believe summarize the main point that Finn is trying to convey.

“If teachers who are transforming intellectuals are successful, the real-school model is established because the students want what the teacher has and teachers are prepared to teach it. The bastardized progressivism that separates students on the basis of scholastic achievement tests (which correlate highly with socioeconomic status) and "attitude" (which also correlates highly with socioeconomic status) and differentiates the curriculum and method of teaching (as we saw in Anyon and elsewhere) gives way to education for liberation across the board. Phony democracy and easy work in working-class schools give way to real democracy and hard work.”

Finn makes a good point straight off with this quotation. It is critical to create an environment in schools similar to the “real-school model”, which is when the students desire what the teacher has and the teachers are ready to teach it. What is it that Finn means when he says “it”? The “it” is knowledge. These students understand how valuable possession knowledge is. They recognize that knowledge can be traded for good grades, better educational opportunities after high school, and better jobs when they enter the real world. He also comments on how ineffective our current educational separation policies are inhibiting progress and ultimately is flawed. The techniques currently employed are too intertwined with the student’s socioeconomic status and, in a way, predetermines the future of the student and limits possible opportunities. Finn goes on to say:

“When this happens, progressive, collaborative methods begin to emerge because traditional, directive methods are inherently domesticating, not liberating. “Do it my way or it's wrong," is not liberating. "What we're trying to do here is get some notes for Friday's test," is not liberating. Progressive, collaborative methods can be liberating, but for many children they are not possible without simultaneous conscientization and dialogue.”

With this I believe Finn is trying to say that as educators we must be open to ideas in regards to education that go against the norm. We have to be open to the idea of progress through scientific observation. The text provided clearly displays the findings of Anyon. It showed that the students from the higher echelons of society are educated in an entirely new and new age manner. It is liberated, and by this Finn means that due to the freedom and unique relationships/interactions between the students and teachers, the students actually want to learn and obtain the knowledge that teachers want to share.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Between Barack and a Hard Place

The website provided says that “The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education marked a turning point in the history of race relations in the United States. On May 17, 1954, the Court stripped away constitutional sanctions for segregation by race, and made equal opportunity in education the law of the land.” However the videos featuring Tim Wise suggest that white America is only pretending that the United States is equal in regards to race. As much as I was annoyed with the host of the interview for his annoyingly liberal and obnoxious remarks, I respected and agreed with what Tim Wise suggested. He warns us that “we need to be on the look-out for racism 2.0” which is when white Americans act as if non-whites have complete equality in education and the workplace. I must admit, until recently I believed that non-whites no longer had to deal with much bias in the school system or workplace. However how could I? I’m not the target, so it is not a big deal for me. In order for me to understand I would have to speak to the individuals who directly affected by the bias. Wise also notes that there is a racism in the idea that if you are non-white “you have to be truly exceptional to break that glass ceiling.” This in turn means that non-whites must be something like Obama, a mix of white and black with a Harvard education.  Or in other words, he or she must be exceptional in order to rise to the highest levels of our society. This is a sad truth that not many people recognize yet, and in order to make progress people must be made aware of the problem. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

In the Service of What?

           Kahne & Westheimer’s piece entitled “In the Service of What?” goes into detail about various ways in which students can perform community service and talks about what the students feel they get out of it. I personally have done various types of community service, from volunteering in the Jason Roberts Challenger Baseball league (a baseball league for the mentally handicapped) to coaching at Doughboy Wrestling Club in Lowell Massachusetts. I have volunteered in kindergarten classes before entering into FNED, my church, as well as other random events such as the campus clean up that RIC has in the fall and the Walk for Breast Cancer. My favorite community service however is coaching at my wrestling club in Lowell. I did not even know that coaching was community service until my coaches told me.

            Doughboy Wrestling Club is a youth, high school, and college wrestling club located in Lowell Massachusetts and is regarded as one of the best New England has to offer. I love coaching and helping these kids because they want to learn and get better. They have dreams and ambitions and are willing to do what it takes to achieve their goals. That is a big factor for me, because if they are motivated to get better then I am motivated to help them get where they need to be. Another thing I enjoy seeing is when the kids we coach carry over their work ethic and mental focus into their everyday lives, I.E. their school and social lives. I believe that the way I coach is the way that I am going to teach, and by that I mean that I am going to expect more out of my students. I know that if I can get them to want to learn like I can get wrestlers to want to work hard that I will be a much more successful educator than if my students were just going through the paces.

              Community service in my opinion is about giving to others with the intent of actually making a difference in their life. You should not be doing community service if you are required to or pressured, you need to want to do it. When I step off the mat from coaching I feel satisfied more than anything. I had my time in high school, now it’s theirs and as long as they are motivated and excited at the thought of being the best (on and off the mat) I am going to everything in my power to assist them.

High School Teacher: What wrestling has done for me.