Wednesday, April 30, 2014

SL Final Project Link

Here's our Final Service Learning Project!

Danielle Granata & Kate McCaughey

Social Justice Event Post!

For my event this semester I went to the Open Books-Open Minds Student Conference. This conference was held on Friday, April 11th and I attended 12-3pm in the Student Union Ballroom. I originally had to go to this conference for my FYS class, but after sitting through this event and listening to all of the speakers I actually found it really easy to find ways to relate what they were saying to this class. Each year OBOM picks a new book to discuss. The book that was discussed this year was PYM by Mat Johnson, which I didn't read but I ended up looking up more information on it after the event. PYM was based off of Edgar Allen Poe's novel that had to do with racial identities in America and Antarctica and the power of whiteness. The main character in Johnson's book was Chris Jaynes, an African American professor who decided to venture off with a group of other African Americans to find the island in Poe's book. The rest of the story is about what he and his crew find and what they face when they arrive at Antarctica. So anyways, back to the conference. There was a panel of 5 or 6 people in front of us discussing issues and themes they found in this story. The two topics that I thought I could relate to this class were issues including LGBTQ and racism in the book PYM. 

So one of the speakers was talking about racism as a topic. He explained how racism is shown a lot throughout the book PYM. It is displayed in the main characters life, as he is the only African American professor at the college he works at and he was treated differently than other professors with the same degree. Also the island in Antarctica that he wants to explore has a population of only African Americans but it is described as a place of horror. He discussed how the term "whiteness" was shown a lot through this book. This speaker automatically made me think of two of our class readings. Both Privilege, Power, and Difference by Allan Johnson and White Privilege by Peggy McIntosh could relate to this speakers view. Both authors discuss the issues dealing with white privilege and the power that white people hold over others, even when it is unnoticed. This speaker described ways that white privilege is still shown today, and how evident that is even in a book that was only written a few years ago.

Another speaker talked about LGBTQ as a topic. She explained how in the book, there was a gay couple on the ship. They were two males who were part of the all African American crew that the protagonist picked. In the book, the gay couple was documenting their adventure for a blog. The speaker discussed how they were treated differently than the other crew members. They were not treated as equally as others throughout the entire adventure. This speaker's view reminded me of the same views as Gerri August in Safe Spaces. Both the speaker and Gerri August would agree that in order for the couple to have felt welcome on the ship, they would need the support from the rest of the crew and to feel as they are treated with the same respect as the others. Which they should have been! 

This conference actually ended up being a lot more interesting than I thought it would have been! I'm glad I had the opportunity to go and hear some of the student's opinions and relate them back to this class! 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Education is Politics- Extended Comments

This reading, Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change by Ira Shor, definitely tied together pretty much all of the readings from this semester. I think that this reading helped to make all of these topics a little bit clearer for me. For this week I decided to do an Extended Comments post off of Jamie's Blog post because she explained this reading exactly as I would have and she made really good connections! 

Jamie first describes the eleven values that Shor lists, that will help to create a more empowering education:

  • Participation
  • Affective
  • Problem - posing
  • Situated
  • Multicultural 
  • Dialogic
  • Desocializing
  • Democratic
  • Researching
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Activist
She then explains how all of these topics connect so well to all of our other authors and readings that we have had this semester. This reading connects to Alfie Kohn and what good and bad things to look for in classrooms. It also connects to Kahne and Westheimer, the effects of service learning in classrooms, how to incorporate SL into the curriculum, and the difference between charity and change SL. There are connections to Collier and Rodriguez and the positives and negatives in multicultural classrooms. Shor can relate to Delpit and the rules and codes of power. Also August, and making a classroom a Safe Space for students of all races, genders, sexual orientations, religions, etc. and involving those topics in student learning. Last but not least, Christensen and the "secret education" that children are exposed to in schools.

It is clear that Shor's reading is a definite recap of everything we have learned this semester and I think that the very first line of this reading is exactly what we have been questioning after this whole semester and all of these readings. 

"What kind of educational system do we have? What kind do we need?
How do we get from one to the other?" (11)

In Jamie's post she also brings up how Shor encourages students to question the "status quo" and of course this fits so well with this lovely clip from High School Musical! People are allowed to be whoever they want to be! 

Jamie's blog post really summed up the article and connected this reading to pretty much every author! Everyone check out her post! :)

For my own little conclusion, I think that the Shor reading was perfect as our last reading of the semester! (It went by so fast!!) This reading wraps up all of the main topics we've covered from the presence of privilege in classrooms, multilingual classrooms, codes of power, the secret education, and creating a safe space for the students. All of the readings we have read this semester will affect the way I will be as a teacher and will help me to become the best teacher I can! 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Citizenship in School: Quotes

This weeks reading: Citizenship in School: Conceptualizing Down Syndrome by Christopher Kliewer was awesome. Although it was long, I thought that it was really interesting and I loved reading all of the different stories. I think that the most important part of this piece was the idea of community and that all children should be educated equally. There were so many quotes in this reading that really stood out to me. There were three from the very beginning that really helped me form an idea of what this reading was about. 

The first quote was said by Judith Snow, "Community requires a willingness to see people as they are--different perhaps in their minds and in their bodies, but not different in their spirits or in their willingness and ability to contribute to the mosaic of society." (73) 
In this quote, I think Snow was showing how important it is for a community to be accepting towards one and other in order to be successful. 

The second quote that stood out to me was: "Success in life requires an ability to form relationships with others who make up the web of community." (73)
Kliewer was also making a point very similar to Snow's; a successful community requires successful relationships with everyone who is in it. Everyone should be accepted and treated equally. 

The third quote I loved was: "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." (75)
This quote by teacher Shayne Robbin's about her students is saying that all students are able to learn the same materials whether they have disabilities or not. But there is no need to put a label on a student regarding a disability. They will all learn, just maybe at a different pace. Everyone needs to work together as a community in order for learning to happen.

This reading was very focused on making a classroom environment that is suitable to everyone. There should be no segregation regarding disabilities in classrooms, because all children have the ability to learn. This reading actually reminded me a lot of the Oakes article we read last week on tracking. Tracking students with disabilities and separating them from others who learn differently will only do more harm then good. It will make the students think that they are different in a bad way, which is not the case. This article also kind of reminded me about the Safe Spaces article. Creating a welcoming environment that is non-judging with a community of people who are supportive. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Literacy With An Attitude- Connections

I probably should have looked over this 35 page reading before I decided to read it at 10 o'clock at night... Literacy with an Attitude: Educating Working-Class Children in Their Own Self-Interest by Finn wasn't really easy for me to get into and fully understand. What I was able to grab out of this reading was that Finn was explaining how education in schools is affected by the social class of the students who attend. It is also affected by the type of neighborhood the school is in. Working class people need to learn powerful literacy just as higher class people do. This automatically made me think of the reading by Bob Herbert: "Separate and Unequal" The reading by Lisa Delpit: "Other People's Children" also cam across my mind in this reading.

For last weeks blog post we read about Brown v. Board of Education and one of the readings was Bob Herbert's article. Bob Herbert argues that if a school is in a neighborhood with high concentrations of poverty than the students at one of those schools are not getting as good of an  education as a student in a more affluent area. He gives the example that teachers with the best education tend to avoid schools in areas of poverty because "it is very difficult to get consistently good results in schools characterized by high concentrations of poverty."  I think that Finn would agree completely. In the Preface of this reading Finn states: "The status quo is the status quo because people who have the power to make changes are comfortable with the way things are. It takes energy to make changes, and the energy must come from the people who will benefit from the change. But the working class does not get powerful literacy, and powerful literacy is necessary for the struggle. How can the cycle be broken?"  I think that Herbert would also wonder how that cycle could be broken. In these readings both authors discuss the issues within schools of a lower social class and the type of education they are currently getting compared to the type of education they should be getting. I think Herbert and Finn are saying that society believes that the higher the social class, the better the education has to be because the higher the social class the more professional a person will be. 

The ideas of Lisa Delpit also ran through my head as I read this article. Lisa Delpit argues in her reading that  a teacher must state the rules and codes of power of a classroom explicitly in order for every child to understand and become a successful student. In the article Literacy with an Attitude Finn discusses the methods of power he used as a teacher. On page 4 Finn states, "I didn't say to an errant student, 'What are you doing?' I said, 'Stop that and get to work.' No discussions. No openings for an argument." He clearly stated the rules and codes of power of his own classroom so that the student would know exactly what it means. I think that Lisa Delpit would applaud him for this, because this is how she believes every teacher should be towards their students. 

Also found this website! Information on the book, the author, and some of his other books! 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Separate Is Not Equal

Brown v. Board of Education- Free Response

The website on Brown v. Board of Education, the article by Bob Herbert, and the two videos about the book Between Barack and a Hard Place by Tim Wise all have one very strong topic in common. The issues of segregation and racism. On May 17, 1954 the Supreme Court stripped away constitutional sanctions for segregation by race and made equal opportunities in education for people of all races. Since then, racial integration in schools is present and segregation has subsided, but Bob Herbert and Tim Wise say differently. They believe that because of public opinions on people of a race other than white, racism has not completely gone away, and is still a problem in America today.

 In the article "Separate and Unequal" by Bob Herbert, he discusses the issues of education in lower class communities. Education is lower class communities or communities with high counts of poverty are considered to be less educated communities. Herbert believes this is due to the fact that teachers who are highly educated do not want to teach in low class areas. He states, "Educators know that it is very difficult to get consistently good results in schools characterized by high concentrations of poverty. The best teachers tend to avoid such schools." He also states than it has been shown that poor children will do better academically if they are in a classroom learning with children of a higher social class or even in a more affluent school. Many students living in poverty or in these lower class areas are black or Hispanic. Because of this there would be racial and ethnic integration in the more affluent schools. "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." -Herbert. Brown v. Board of Education fought for schools to be integrated and for all students of all races to be equal. Although schools stay true to that law, due to issues with race and social class, segregation is still present in a different way which I don't think was presented back in 1954.

Tim Wise has a similar argument. In his book Between Barack and a Hard Place, he explains how issues of racism are still present even at a time when America has an African American president. He believes that there are still biased opinions towards the black communities and that America is in denial. He categorized racism into to groups. Racism 1.0 which is as he states "old school biased" or the kind of racism that was allowed when segregation was not unconstitutional. But he says that we should watch out for Racism 2.0 which he thinks is being brought around now. Racism 2.0, or as he calls it "enlightened exceptional-ism" is thought of as people who support President Obama because he is different than the "black norm." The fact that there are thoughts of a black norm is racist in the first place. Wise stated that 6 out of 10 Americans trusted at least one of the following stereotypes about African Americans.
1. Less intelligent than white people
2. More aggressive
3. Less hardworking
4. Less patriotic
5. Live on Welfare so they do not have to work

If Americans still have opinions such as those then it is clear that racism is still present.

This article reminded me a lot of the article "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" by Peggy McIntosh. I think that the ideas of Herbert, Wise, and McIntosh are all very closely related. Peggy McIntosh believed that the idea of White Privilege is everywhere and that it is learned at a young age that it is okay. Although we may not see it ourselves and believe that it is not there, it is still present in our everyday lives in ways we don't realize. I think that is what Herbert and Wise are trying to say also. With issues in education due to race and social class, the African American and Hispanic communities are segregated in a way that is unnoticeable to society in a major way. White Privilege is then present. The ideas that many Americans have about the "black norm" in a community shows that white people are considered more successful than people of another race which is not true. Tim Wise stated that "If you want to know if a problem is still a problem, it probably makes sense to talk to the ones who are the target of it, not the ones who don't have to know, because we're not."

The historical issues that are presented on the website on Brown v. Board of Education have not completely gone away. The contemporary issues of race raised by Tim Wise and Bob Herbert have always been around, but they have never been taken care of because they are not always noticed by society. The education of African Americans, Hispanics, or anyone of another race is in jeopardy. I believe that it is because the idea of “white privilege" is so present in America. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

In the Service of What? Reflection

For this weeks reading "In the Service of What? Politics of Service Learning" by Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer I decided to do a reflections piece. This reading was all about the benefits and affect the Serving Learning projects have on a society. Service Learning can also be viewed in two different ways: Charity and Change. The difference between Charity and Change is the different moral, political, and intellectual goals that come along with it. This reading made me think what my own service learning experience is all about. 

Doing a service learning project in an elementary school is definitely a lot of fun. To me, I think I would consider this experience to be more charity than change, although it sounds a little strange to consider it that way. I would hope that just in the short amount of time, I can make a change but I think this experience is more about helping students to be successful. "...service learning activities seek to promote students' self-esteem, to develop higher-order thinking skills, to make use of multiple abilities, and to provide authentic learning experiences..." (Page 2) Being able to help students understand and comprehend their work and have fun while doing it is a great feeling. In my own service learning experiences, I help three students with reading comprehension and fluency. Its a great feeling to know that you've helped them and they appreciate you! This definitely serves as an "additive experience" (displayed in the chart on page 5). Working with these students is very rewarding. Not only do I help to teach them, but they help to teach me how to become a better teacher/person. I think that's what the point of service learning is all about. It is made to benefit everyone in many different ways. 

I was also able to find this great link! 
It has a lot of great service learning project ideas to check out!