Friday, April 18, 2014

Every Little Aspect Makes a Big Difference

First I want to say how crazy it is that this is our last blog post for this semester.  It truly did fly by.  I guess time does fly when you're having fun?

Anyway, while reading, "Education is Politics" by Ira Shor I gained a lot of new information and also was reminded of information from past articles and discussions.  For the most part I found myself constantly connecting Shor's ideas to Kohn and his chart on what to look for in a classroom.  The reason being is the constant reminder of what a classroom environment should be like and how both the teacher and students should act.  Shor believes that through these actions if the environment is working or not can be seen which will result in empowering or de-powering the students. 

Along with what a classroom environment should be like I feel as if the idea of WHY we go to school plays an important role in every child's education.  If a student feels as if school does not have a purpose and that they are just going to get through it that there will be no actual learning occurring.  As a result, starting each and every school year with this discussion may lead to greater success. 

Throughout this environment and necessary conversation that Shor believes to be very important I also thought about Finn and his ideas.  The fact that there should be different methods of teaching depending on the school location and the social classes of the many students.  Along with this, Oakes ideas are also brought into thought.  The idea of tracking students based on their abilities may always have controversies but is very important in the education of all students.

Overall, I feel as if Shor’s article was very intricate but simple at the same time.  Throughout this article the many different ideas we have covered during this semester where brought to mind.  Each of these ideas paints a picture of what the perfect classroom may be and how to deal with the difficulties that may arise.  I know that as a future teacher I will keep each and every aspect in mind.  

In this article that I found the "ideal" classroom is described.  But, what I found interesting in it is that it does not focus on the material things but the meaning behind all of the "stuff".  May be useful in a few years!!!

Sunday, April 13, 2014


I had a difficult time choosing which event to write about.  I attended both Mr. RIC and went to crossroads with my sorority. I feel as if both of these events connect very differently but very well to the many aspects we have learned throughout this semester. 

Although this is true, I am going to focus on my experience at crossroads.  I had no idea what to expect when I showed up to volunteer but it was definitely an experience I will never forget.  At first I thought I was going to be serving the homeless people but turns out we were cleaning the kitchen, serving area, and dining area.  I am not going to get into great detail but I'll just say it needed to be cleaned very badly.

The entire time I was cleaning these areas I found myself thinking about Augusts article "Safe Spaces" as well as Kozols article, "Amazing Grace".  Although the topics of these articles do not connect directly to my event I do believe the main ideas taken out of these articles do.  In both "Safe Spaces" and "Amazing Grace" the idea of feeling safe and welcome in an environment is very important.  "Safe Spaces" speaks on the ideas of making LGBT students feel welcome and "Amazing Grace" speaks on the ideas of how such young children feel safe in a not so safe atmosphere.  Like these instances, the people who attend crossroads feel safe and welcome in this environment.  Although it is not in the best shape they receive food and spend time with individuals who may be in the same situation as them.  So, like the stories in these two articles, at crossroads there is some type of connection with the people that makes everything feel as good as it can.

After completing my service and leaving this event I thought back to the article by Kahne and Westheimer, "In the Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning".  Even though the individuals who get served at this kitchen were not there and I was not able to "suffer with them", to some extent I still feel as if I did.  While doing the service of cleaning these areas I was able to see to some extent the conditions these individuals live under.  I tried to put myself in their position and think of how they viewed this place as a "good" place even though it was extremely dirty.

I loved to be able to connect this experience to our semester in class.  During this experience I was able to see how lucky I truly am and how peoples lives can vary greatly.  In fact, it really hit home to me that crossroads is two streets over from the school where I complete my service-learning.  This just shows how important it is to not judge anyone.  Everyone undergoes their own difficulties and struggles and as a future teacher I want to be able to help in some way or another.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Citizenship in School

For this blog post I am going to focus on a few quotes from the article.  But first, when I started reading Christopher Kliewers’ “Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome” I related it directly to Oakes.  In the first paragraph the ideas of a down syndrome student named Mia are stated and how she felt segregated from those who do not have disabilities and their opportunities.  This one sentence relates to the idea of tracking and the controversies in schools today.  Some individuals view this idea as unfair to the non disabled peers while others view it as unfair to the disabled peers who are being segregated. 

Some thoughts by Douglas Biklen are outlined that also relate to the idea of tracking, “society itself is hurt when schools act as cultural sorting machines- locations that ‘justify a competitive ethic that marginalizes certain students or groups of students…that legitimize 
discrimination and devaluation on the basis of the dominant society’s preferences in matters of ability, gender, ethnicity, and race… and that endorse an elaborate process of sorting by perceived ability and behavior’”.  In this statement, it relates the placement of individuals based on their ability, gender, ethnicity, and race to society’s preference.  So, in other words, if an individual is not what is “normal” to society then they cannot be placed with other individuals because they are different.  Biklen talks of the competitive manner that is present with these preferences.  With this, if an individual is different in any way they are being segregated because they do not seem good enough.  But, as I continued to read this article, a teacher named Shayne talks about her experiences with including disabled students in her classroom with nondisabled students.  Through these experiences I can understand how passionate Shayne is about teaching.  She only looks for the good in an individual and uses these strengths to allow them to learn.  This shows the good that can come from inclusion classrooms and how the negative, competitive energy from tracking does not need to be present.  In her experiences, “Shayne recognized a child’s nonconformity as natural human diversity; a source of strength that could be supported by the school community in order that it add unique and valuable dimension to that community”.   So, in other words Shayne understands that no individual is the same.  Everyone is different in some way and brings different strengths and weaknesses to the table.  But, each of these differences are what make the world go round and that allow everything to be possible.  Each strength that an individual has, can be used to help another individual and overall to better our world.  With this, it is seen that everyone deserves an equal opportunity.  Just because someone is different it does not mean that they are not capable but that they may need to go about specific activities differently.  But it is most important to remember that being different is okay.  Everyone was put on this world for some reason!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Literacy with an Attitude

For this blog post I am going to focus on connections.  While reading “Literacy with an Attitude” by Patrick Finn I was able to make connections to several different ideas that we have focused on in class. 

I started making connections while first reading the preface.  Finn states, “Over time, political, social, and economic forces have brought us to a place where the working class gets domesticating education and functional literacy, and the rich gets empowering education and powerful literacy.  We don’t worry about a literate working class because the kind of literacy they get doesn’t make them dangerous”(X).  I was able to relate this directly to Brown vs. Board of Education and Tim Wise’s thoughts.  Although Brown vs. Board focus’ on race the connection is still clear.  In Tim Wise’s interview he talks about the idea that in order for a black individual to be successful they need to be truly exceptional.  They must attend an ivy league school and maintain a 4.0 GPA while a white individual can attend any school with any GPA and end up just as successful.  To me, this relates to Finn’s idea stated in the article.  He believes that because an individual is rich they have an upper hand to a middle class individual.  Just because an individual is rich they seem to receive an empowering education that a middle class individual will never receive.  With this being said, they have no opportunity to be as successful as a those in a higher class.

Along with my connection to Brown vs. Board of Education and Tim Wise, throughout the rest of the reading I was constantly connecting Finn’s experiences and ideas to Lisa Delpit.  This connection first came to my mind when Finn stated, “I was from the working class and I knew how working-class and poor kids related to authority.  They expected people in authority to be authoritarian, and I gave them what they expected” (3).  These two sentences are Delpit’s main ideas.  She believes that teachers need
to explicitly teach students the rules and codes and Finn did this.  He knows that they need this direct instruction so he is schooling them to “take orders” which will lead to future success.  Along with this, Finn also didn’t give the students time to not be on task.  He had them working at all times and the students knew what they should be doing.  With this, Finn did not need to ask what a student was doing if they were off task but could simply tell them to stop that and get back to work.  This too is an important aspect that Delpit focuses on.  She believes that a teacher must be direct with a student rather than asking them what they are doing.  This way the student knows that they are in the wrong.  Although I was able to connect the entire article to Delpit I believe that these few points really show how Finn’s teaching style is similar to Delpit's ideas.  Working in these ways results in a large amount of success in the classroom with students who may have difficulty following directions or doing what they are told.  

Although I focused on connections in this blog I wanted to add an article on the grouping of different leveled students.  In "Literacy with an Attitude" they talk about how students were put into different classes depending on their reading scores.  This article talks about how grouping students by ability "regains" favor in the classroom.  What are your thoughts on having students placed in different classes based on their abilities?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Separate Is Not Equal

Extended Comments of Jaclyn's Post

For this post I am going to work off of Jaclyn’s thoughts from her blog.  When reading her blog I agreed with all of her ideas and these ideas also made me think even deeper into the works we are focusing on. 

Jaclyn started her post remembering how she learned about Brown V. Board of Education throughout her schooling and how it never clicked that segregation is still something that we deal with on an everyday basis.  Like her, I would have to say the same thing.  Obviously now that we are older we see incidents of racism more often, but as a younger child when learning about this important topic it was almost like we just learned about it as a past event, something that is over with. 

Jaclyn proposes the question, “you have to wonder has racism truly ended?”  Honestly, I do not think it has.  This can be seen throughout the many readings we have done this semester and also through the video interview with Tim Wise.  During this interview, Tim Wise focuses on how black individuals are just as bright as everyone else.  But, as Jaclyn points out, how in order to stand out they must attend an exceptional school and receive a perfect GPA to be accepted while a white individual can attend any school, receive any grade and still be equally accepted.  I related Jaclyn’s thoughts on this idea to the “standard” Wise brings up.  He states that the standard for blacks is that they have to be truly exceptional to be successful.  Like Jaclyn wonders, I too wonder if this racial difference will ever be done with?

Another point that is brought up in Jaclyn’s blog is Wise’s idea that, “work still needs to be done”.  Wise brings up Brown V. Board of Education in part two of the interview.  He relates this step with the first black president to Brown V. Board of Education.  I love the idea that not one event changed the issue of segregation but each of these important events plays a role.  This is the next step but so much work still needs to be completed.

Besides the interview with Wise, the article by Bob Herbert also relates directly to the idea of segregation and how it still does exist.  When I read this article I thought back to when we read “Amazing Grace” by Jonathon Kozol.  In this article, Kozol speaks of a town that is in extreme poverty and is not considered a safe place for its citizens.  Whether these children were black or white, they went to school together but that is not necessarily the point.  Herbert states, “studies have shown that it is not the race of the students that is significant, but rather the improved, all-around environment of schools with better teachers, fewer classroom disruptions, pupils who are more engaged academically, parents who are more involved, and so on”.  This along with the rest of the article relate to Mott Haven.  Just because the individuals who live there are poor they are separate from middle class students in schools.  Their schooling is separate and unequal.  They should receive the same opportunities as everyone else.  Although I mostly related this article back to Kozols thoughts, when I read Jaclyn’s blog I also then began to relate it to our service learning like she did.  Even though it may be impossible, if the students in poorer sections had the opportunity to attend school with students in a higher class their academic achievements may increase.  I know that in my service-learning classroom there is a lot of disruption from some individuals which then affects others chances of learning. All in all, nowadays segregation doesn’t necessarily have to be by color but by the community an individual lives in.  We shouldn’t let this determine a young students future.  Everyone should have an equal opportunity.  

The link attached to "not one event" gives a variety of different things that have occurred while working to stop segregation.