Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Empowering Education by Ira Shor (Argument)

In Shor’s article, he argues that having students memorize things is not an effective way for them to learn. He thinks that the methods, like the three R’s, are not good methods for students, they should be able to learn, think and question for themselves instead of being told how to learn and what to think. Shor says, “If the student’s 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 thinks that students need to participate in class in order to do well and that they should be given the opportunity to do that. He argues that students need to develop social skills and by sitting in a classroom getting lectured or talked at then this will not be able to happen. Social skills are important for life and being successful. Classes are set up with one curriculum and do not give students much room to think on their own.  Students are told exactly what they have to learn and are told that there is only one correct answer; Shor wants us to be able stray away from this. Unfortunately, this idea is hard to drift from and many things influence what we are exactly taught in school. Certain topics are chosen to be taught in schools, while many others that are equally as important are forgotten about.

In class, I would like to talk about empowering educating and if there is even a possible way to do what Shor argues.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Promising Practices

My day started off by having to get up unusually early and making myself presentable for the Promising Practices conference. When arriving to Donovan Dining Center there was many people already there but getting my folder was easy and took no time.  When I sat down and looked through my folder I was disappointed at first that I had not been placed in sessions that I had chosen but after reading about them I thought it could still be a good and fun experience.

My first session was Students with Special Needs: What You See Isn’t Always What You Get with Heather Dubrule.  In the Promising Practices pamphlet it says that this session is about “addressing common misconceptions of students with disabilities. Participants will use cooperative and hands-on activities to gain a greater understanding of students with special learning needs and discover how to meet these needs in an inclusive classroom.” I thought that with this description that the session would be very helpful since I hope to become a special educator, but I felt as though the session was not like the description. The session talked about what you can do to help a child with special needs in your classroom but everything was for singling that child out and what was not answered was how would you single out every student if they all needed special help?
One of the first activities we did was we had a worksheet and there were pictures on the screen from the projector and we had to match the pictures with the descriptions on the worksheets of 8 children. The descriptions ranged from “I have Rett Syndrome, a form of Autism that will eventually cause me to lose the ability to speak and walk,” to “I am bipolar, and need the assistance of my 1:1 aide to make it through my school day,” to “My mom is in prison and I live with my grandma- I have a hard time focusing in school because I’m worried about my mom.”  When reading these descriptions I just stared blankly at the paper and the pictures and thought to myself how is it possible to match these descriptions with the pictures? The pictures were not of like a child with a crutch and the description saying a child sprained their ankle, the descriptions and pictures were of things that were not possible to match together. I left my worksheet blank because there was no way I could write down answers. The instructor gave the answers to some of the pictures, only the ones where the description was of a disability and she said that you could not tell that the child had a disability which was very true. I thought this was important though because unless you were told someone had a disability then the chances of you not knowing that they had a disability are high.
We then did an activity which related to Lisa Delpit’s article, The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People’s Children. In the activity we had to decode a paragraph in a certain amount of time. When the instructor said time was up I had only decoded a few sentences. She then said imagine if how the paragraph was when we were trying to decode it always how we saw it. This reminded me of Delpit because it is like the code of power and the child who reads the passage and have to decode it will be left behind and confused unlike the child that is able to read the passage fine and in the right amount of time. This session also reminded me of Delpit because we talked about “talking with kids” and understand the kids need or how to explain it to them. What the instructor was saying what we need to do was be explicit with the student and that being explicit might be one of the most important things to do with a child with special needs. I thought this was the most important piece of information that I had learned from my first session.

After my first session I went back to Donovan and waited to head onto my second session. Although I did get useful information from my first session, I was still left with many questions. This did not happen at my second session though which was Get Up Out of Your Seat! The importance of Teaching Concepts to Young Learners through Music and Movement with Michelle Nonis and Jessica Borges. I thought this session was very enjoyable. The instructors were two teachers from the Henry Barnard School and we were actually in Nonis’ classroom. They showed us videos from their classes and how they teach lessons with using music and movement. Researched has shown that movement and music has helped improve brain function and has helped teach concepts in the classroom. I thought this was very interesting. The teachers had different songs to help teach topics such as time, money and one about the body of an insect. The kids were able to get out of their seats and sing and dance which helped them memorize what they were singing about and by moving they were not bored and wanting to learn. The instructors showed us many songs that could be used in the classroom to help teach topics and I thought they were all very interesting.

After the second session I went back to Donovan where we ate lunch and prepared for the keynote speaker. The keynote speaker was Dr. Dennis Shirley who left me confused. I felt as though his speech, which was about the Mindful Teacher and Multicultural Education, was very long and I thought the points he was trying to make were confusing. At one point of his speech I thought he was done but then he seemed to start with another topic. He talked about how there is a hidden curriculum that teachers use but it is not the one that they are suppose to be using. I think if the curriculum that the teachers are suppose to use does not get the same outcome as their hidden curriculum that they use then I do not understand why the hidden curriculum is not what they are suppose to use. At the end of Dr. Shirley’s speech he said to know your vision which I thought was a good way to end his speech.

My overall experience at Promising Practice was a good one. Although it was a long day, I think the sessions were the right amount of time and I was not bored. I left the conference with newly learned information and was happy with my experience.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome by Christopher Kliewer (Quotes)

"It’s not like they come here to be labeled, or to believe the label. We're all here-kids, teachers, parents, whoever-it’s about all of us working together, playing together, being together, and that's what learning is.”

I really liked this quote and thought that it was important. I agree that in school no one should have a label and be treated differently because of that. I also think that it is important to know that everyone is working together and learning together. School is supposed to be a safe and comfortable place for everyone and there needs to be a way for that to happen.

"Jason ponders, “How do we erase those negative attitudes?” in light of the fact that “people without disabilities are judging us.”

I liked this quote but at the same time I did not like this quote. I liked it because I thought it was important to know that people do this. I think that no one should be judged because of a disability and no one should have to feel judged because of a disability. I think it is sad that someone would have to feel that way and do not think someone should judge because they only know how to live life in their own shoes.

“Each student contributes a unique and potentially valuable dimension to the web of relationships that formed a school community”

I thought this was a good quote because I think that it is very important to have diversity in a school. Without diversity I feel as though then there is just one type of learning being taught but with it there are many types. I think each student’s own uniqueness is very important for themselves but it may even help other students.

This site is about different types of learning. I thought it was intersting because everyone learns different ways, some techniques work for some people and not for others.

I think this article was important and in class I would like to talk about what everyone thinks and their views about this article.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Finn and Oakes (Extended Comments)

Katie's Blog
Quotes from Finn and Oakes
As I read the two articles for this week I tried to keep Dr. Bogad's words in mind, "can separate be equal?" I found that unlike the Brown v. Board case, where I could firmly say that separate was not equal, I could not come to a definitive answer on either side of the issue of tracking students in public schools.

Starting with Oakes, Tracking: Why Schools Need to Take Another Route, I found myself going back in forth between arguing that schools should group students into different levels to arguing that it is harmful to students to do so.
Oakes writes,

"Tracking leads to substantial differences in the day-to-day learning experiences students have at school. Moreover, the nature of these differences suggests that students who are placed in high-ability groups have access to far richer schooling experiences than other students."

I’ll draw from my own experiences to comment on this quote. In my own school, Math, English and Science classes were broken up into high, middle, and lower level groups. When I was in honors classrooms I did much better than when I was in inclusive classrooms because the teachers spent less time on discipline, we went at a faster pace, and I was motivated to keep up with the other students. In my regular classes I was bored easily, distracted, and less challenged. While on the one hand I think it would be beneficial for previously labeled lower level students to be in classrooms with highly motivated students, I worry that it might drag the material behind for the students who are moving faster.

I enjoyed reading Finn’s experience growing up and teaching in urban Chicago schools in, Literacy with an Attitue but when he described the feelings of some of his graduate students, I must say that I had to agree with them,

"When I suggest to my hard-bitten students that poor children are not being as well educated as they could be, they are not amused. They take it as a personal attack from someone who has been living in in ivory tower for the last thirty years and they resent it—a lot"

Finn describes the only 8 years he ever spent teaching in public schools as being the wrong way to go about it (militant-like, not challenging) and then went to graduate school where he changed his perspective. But he never describes how he personally implemented his new teaching method theory. Considering how difficult these teachers in urban areas seem to have it, if he hadn’t tried these ideas on his own I probably wouldn’t listen to him either.

I think the best quote from Finn was about students in working class areas and schools systems,

"Their capacity for creativity and planing was ignored or denied. Their response was very much like that of adults in their community to work that is mechanical and routine."

I am a firm supporter in social justice opportunities for underprivileged students and I think it is horrible that teachers significantly lower their expectations and materials to those children who deserve a good education. That being said, I also think it is unfair to punish highly motivated students by giving them less attention because they somehow, “don’t need it” and this is the unfair attitude that these authors seem to suggest.

If you are interested in social justice and equitable education, I suggest looking to books by Louise Dunlap: Undoing the Silence I met and worked with her at a teaching conference two years ago and found it to be a great experience.

I’m interested to hear what the rest of the class thought of these articles and the conference. Do you think schools school segregate based on GPA and perceived abilities of students?

My Response:
While reading Katie’s blog I really like the quotes and points she used and agreed with what she had to say. These two articles by Oakes and Finn are about the idea of tracking in schools. The students are separated into different classes and even different levels depending on their skills. The first quote Katie used I felt that I also could relate to it.

"Tracking leads to substantial differences in the day-to-day learning experiences students have at school. Moreover, the nature of these differences suggests that students who are placed in high-ability groups have access to far richer schooling experiences than other students."

Like Katie I could personally relate to this quote. At my High School classes were broken up by Advanced Placement, College Prep, Honors and regular classes. The AP classes were at a much faster pace and required the students to do a lot of work on their own. The CP classes were at a fast pace but not as fast as AP classes and the work load was not as much. For the honors classes and regular classes there was not much of a difference besides a little extra work for honors. The students that were in AP and CP classes were given more praise because they were said to be the “smarter” students. Some students though who should have been in those classes opted out of taking them and took a lower level class. If you were not “smart” enough to take them then you could not because of the fear that the students who were not “smart” enough to take them would slow the rest of the students down and take away from them. The AP and CP classes were taken very serious by both the students and the teachers but the honors and regular classes were not taken serious by both the teachers and students. Some of the students were in the honors and regular classes because the AP and CP classes were too fast for them but the students still wanted good teachers who take their class seriously but since they are not in the “smarter” classes they do not get the same experience. I think that although it may be okay to separate students by levels, each level should be able to have the same experience and same quality for learning.

I also like this quote that Katie cited by Finn.
"Their capacity for creativity and planning was ignored or denied. Their response was very much like that of adults in their community to work that is mechanical and routine."

Katie said that she thinks it is horrible that teachers lower their expectations and materials for underprivileged students but she says that they deserve a good education, I could not agree more. Expectations and materials should not be lowered but just made equally.
In class I would like to talk about if anyone has experienced tracking or knows someone who has been.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Gender and Education (Hyperlinks)

The topic of gender and education is still an issue today, although not as big as it use to be but there is still an issue. Before searching about it and reading articles I did not realize there was still an issue with segregation of genders in school.
I found this article that was very interesting to me. The article talked about a blog  that was about a Middle School in 2009 in Kaplan, LA where the girls and boys were split up for their core curriculum classes. The principal said “boys are more likely to enjoy argument and lively classroom debate while females may be content to simply observe.”  I personally could not disagree anymore with this statement and while reading more of the blog neither could the person who blogged about it. In the blog it talked more about how the “boys will learn to be active, dynamic participants in conversation, to be leaders and movers and shakers, while pushing girls to sit quietly and listen to what people tell them, setting them up for a nice obedient life of doing whatever their husband says and never speaking up.” I think that this is awful and that they feel the females should not get the same education as the males. Luckily, this issue is going to the court because of a lawsuit on Title IX law. The article ended with this quote, “Sex segregation has no place in public schools, especially when its message is that girls ought to sit down, shut up and find a man to take care of them.” I think although at a time women were suppose to sit down and take care of men, I do not think this is their job anymore at all.
I thought this video was interesting because it was done in 2010 by High School boys. It talks about how women not having rights and being unequal but they are saying to "turn things around." Although the things they are saying are not all about education, I thought it was interesting that it was done by High School students and that they were boys.

In class I would like to talk about if anyone has seen or has been segregated in schools by gender. I know for me personally I have not, only with sports but I still think that that is an issue.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Between Barack and a Hard Place by Tim Wise

Tim Wise, the author of “Between Barack and a Hard Place,” talks about how racism is still very much in the world today. He says that a person of color may not be thought of the same way as a white person because they might not have come from a prestigious university. They may be in fact qualified for a job but might not get it because of their skin color. They may be as smart and capable of working a job but their skin color may interfere with them getting the job. The Brown vs. Board of Education trial was done to stop segregation of people of color. Wise is saying that even though this trial helped, there is still racism.
Something I thought was interesting was how Wise said that a white male who was mediocre was more likely to get the job to that of an outstanding black male. They said how George Bush was a “buffoon” but yet he was still the president of the United States. They also talk about how if George Bush had been a black male then he would not have received the job. What does not make sense is why color matters and why being white would make someone more qualified for a job. 

This video relates to the other videos and is by Tim Wise called, "The Pathology of White Privilege." This video is part one but there are 5 other parts that go along with it.

In class I would like to talk more about what Tim Wise said and what everyone thinks about it.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

In the Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning by Joseph Kahne and joel Westheimer (Quotes)

"Educators and legislators alike maintain that service learning can improve the community and invigorate the classroom, providing rich educational experiences for students at all levels of schooling".
I really liked this quote and thought it was important. I think that service learning is important for both people who are experiencing it. The person who is going in and helping will leave with something while the other person who is receiving the help or guidance will also learn something or get what they need. I think by doing a service learning project, everyone gets something out of it. Even if you are helping someone, they are also helping you by giving you an experience you probably have never experienced and you learn something new.
“The experiential and interpersonal components of service learning activities can achieve the first crucial step toward diminishing the sense of “otherness” that often separates students-particularly privileged students- from those in need. In so doing, the potential to develop caring relationships is created.”
I think this quote is very important. Service learning activities bring people together who may be different from one another.  By doing this the different groups of people may not feel separated from one another and will have something in common. I think it is also good that a person who is different from another person helps them because you will learn about them as well.
“If we focus on the “numerous values we share as a community,” writes Amitai Etzioni, the founder of the communitarian movement and a proponent of service learn-ing, “our world would be radically improved.”
I agree with what Etzioni is saying. I think that every person has something different to offer then someone else. By doing a service learning activity you are able to learn something new no matter if you are the person helping or the person getting the help.  
In class I would like to talk about more service learning and the different kinds, such as for charity and change.