Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Pecha Kucha PowerPoint

Copy and paste the link below for a direct view to Jenna and I's Pecha Kucha for FNED 346!

Social Justice Event: Kate McKinnon from Saturday Night Live

      On April 21st, Rhode Island College was graced with the opportunity to host the comedian and actress, Kate McKinnon, most noted from her work on Saturday Night Live, in Roberts Auditorium. The getting to see such a powerful female figure in today's society was absolutely incredible in-and-of itself, but it also gave me opportunities to connect her and her stand-up performance to what we have been going over in class.

     I know some of you might be thinking, "How on Earth is she going to relate a comedian from SNL to what we've gone over in class?", but I assure you, there are multiple connections, especially from "Safe Spaces", the full Brown v. Board of Education segment of FNED 346, and "Schooling Children with Down Syndrome" because they all have one key component in common; acceptance.
     As you already know, Kate McKinnon is one of the most popular comedians currently on SNL. That alone is a huge accomplishment, as when a lot of people are asked to name comedians, they mainly think of famous male comedians rather than female. The connection to Brown v. Board is more closely based on gender, but none-the-less, still a valid connection. Although the article from Herbert states that, "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", this can be applied to gender, which can then be applied to SCWAAMP. It is believed that you can only truly succeed by being a male, while women continue to be segregated against in the work force, while out on their own, or really anything. Some believe that to be a woman is to be weak, dumb, and submissive, but women are moving up in the world finally thanks to some major figures. Along with others such as Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, and Kristen Wiig, McKinnon has been helping to pave the way for women across the nation by not being afraid to show the world what women are capable of doing, refusing to let any boundaries get in her way of achieving her goals. In this way, her actions can be related to both the "Schooling Children with Down Syndrome" reading by Christopher Kliewer, although again replacing gender with disabilities, but in this case, again relating to SCWAAMP, the female gender can be seen as a disability. In the excerpt we were instructed to read from the book, Kliewer stated that we should form, "... actual educational arenas where all students are welcomed, no voice is silenced, and children come to realize their own self-worth through the unconditional acceptance of one another" (Page 74). This connects to McKinnon because through SNL and her career, she has found a place in her life where she is welcomed, isn't silenced in what she has to say about anything, and she realizes her self-worth based on her fans and her fellow actors who continue to support her every day, as she does with them.

     Although both Brown v. Board and "Schooling Children with Down Syndrome" can be related to McKinnon and her performance, the reading that most closely connects to her and her stand-up routine on the 21st has to be "Safe Spaces". As some of you may or may not know, Kate McKinnon is a lesbian and completely open about her sexuality, going so far as to make a skit out of it on SNL with close friend and co-worker Aidy Bryant, which can be seen here. Even in her stand-up routine in Roberts, she made subtle gestures to her sexuality through a fake PowerPoint she created for senior thesis topics and saying how she finally had a partner which got a rousing applause, but then brought the audience into laughter by saying that it was her cat. In "Safe Spaces", August states, "Assumptions, if left unchallenged and unexamined, can devolve into active bigotry. Bigotry is a heat-seeking missile- it will find its target" (Page 88). Based this quote, Kate McKinnon, through her talent of comedy, has defied any prejudice against her by showing the world that she doesn't care what the world thinks of her; she knows who she is and she is proud of the person she has become. Her sexuality has a place in her life, but she doesn't let it control what people think of her

(Here a clip of one of the songs she made up for the show at RIC! Enjoy! :D )

Sunday, April 19, 2015

"Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change" by Ira Shor

For this week, I decided that I was going to base my post around Julienne's blog on her reflection and connections to the piece as an extended commentary!

Julienne, as always, I thought you did an amazing job on your blog post. You always go so in depth with your posts, which shows how dedicated you are to this course. Additionally, you did very well adding in your personal thoughts and connections, which definitely helped to make your blog all the more interesting. Great work! :)

     At the beginning of her post, Julienne made some personal connections, noting how excited she was when she noticed how some of the previous authors we have studied (such as Finn and Christensen) were referenced in the reading.
     Julienne then proceeded with the rest of the blog by listing quotes from Shor's reading and then writing her reactions to them, similarly to that of a blog whose topic was quotes rather than reflection, but none-the-less, still powerful. The very first quote she listed was actually by Jean Piaget, whom she had been recently studying in her psychology class and had posted a hyperlink connected to Piaget's theory on cognitive theory. The quote stated, "If the aim of intellectual memory training is to form the intelligence rather than to stock the memory, and to produce intellectual explorers rather than mere erudition, then traditional education is manifestly guilty of grave deficiency." (Page 12)
Julienne reflected on this by stating, "The students are also forced to learn information that is not interesting to them. I always feel bad because anybody can just tell based on their body language that these fifth graders would rather be somewhere else. As future educators, we need to avoid forcing our students to shove information that they can care less about in their heads. Instead, we need to keep our lessons interesting so that our students maintain their enthusiasm in learning." and I couldn't agree more with her opinion. If students are having difficulty absorbing and enjoying the information that is being given to them, perhaps it is a better option to adapt our own means to educating the students rather than just staying with a certain method what we know and confusing the kids.

     Everyone learns and must be told what to in various ways, as explained in the readings of Delpit and even being connected to Julienne's blog when she states, "Even though some of us may deny this, but we all do not like it when things change because we like to be in control and be familiar with things in our everyday lives. If the orthodoxies changed, then the culture of power would no longer exist. Whatever happened to change being a good thing?" The culture of power is always in effect, whether we agree with it or not, but in terms of being part of a classroom, it can either be a phenomenal or terrible thing, all depending on the teacher. If the instructor chooses to use the culture of power for the good of their students rather than just themselves, they can tailor the lessons they are teaching to their students individually, creating new and engaging ways to help get the lessons and ideas across rather than just simply throwing materials at the kids. In this way, the teachers are providing students with the opportunities to directly impact their future for the better. Change must be enforced since no one is exactly the same from our backgrounds, to the ways we look, and even to our academic and education levels.

     Overall, I very much enjoyed Julienne's blog post. All of the quotes she used and her reflections on them were extremely informative, so much so that upon reading her post I was even able to better understand Shor's reading having gotten insight into what others thought. She kept me engaged the entire time while I was reading and her personal thoughts made the post seem more engaged rather than simply writing a reflection of what Shor was saying. All in all, amazing job on your final FNED 346 post Julienne! You're going to do great out there in the world of education!

(Video of Ira Shor giving input to his son's education, which similarly reflects his opinions that education should be a personalized, "homey" experience for students to feel comfortable and learn their best>)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

"Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome" by Christopher Kliewer

     After reading Chapter 4, "Citizenship in Schools: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome" from "Schooling Children with Down Syndrome" by Christopher Kliewer, I got a major impression of his argument. Kliewer argues that children with Down Syndrome, students with other disabilities, and the classrooms in which they learn are being segregated from the rest of the educational community. Although I never witness this occurring at my own town's schools, I have become aware from friends around the state and country that this is indeed a problem and should absolutely be addressed and fixed.
     Kliewer begins his argument stating by segregating the special education to their own classrooms far away from the rest of the student population, this is only emphasizes the belief that some people hold that if a child is diagnosed with a disability, they are immediately rendered useless, unable to learn, and a threat to the learning of other students without disabilities. He then proceeds to say that if classrooms were changed to be more diverse and accepting towards all students no matter who they are, where they come from, and what is a part of their lives, the educational community would greatly advance and improve the lives and self-esteem of countless individuals,. Additionally, this change would give all students the right they deserve to feel important regarding their educational experience and that they are cared about. Lastly, and probably most importantly, Kliewer expressed in his argument that in today's society, and in the future's, people must stop stereotyping, labelling, or naming others for being different than themselves because it will only prevent us from ever having a good and understanding democratic society. Through this, Kliewer states that we will be able to form "... actual educational arenas where all students are welcomed, no voice is silenced, and children come to realize their own self-worth through the unconditional acceptance of one another" (Page 74). Additionally, he enforces that being able to attend school, students with disabilities, especially Down Syndrome, are given opportunities to gain  "(1) literacy development, of central importance in experiencing school success, and (2) friendship formation, a possible consequence of being recognized as communally valuable" (Page 74), which will greatly improve their likelihood to succeed academically, socially, and emotionally.
     Although this reading had to do with the segregation of classrooms, such as in the "Brown vs. Board" readings we did in class, I felt that this particular reading was more closely related to that of the "Safe Spaces" reading by A. Vaccaro, G. August, and M.S. Kennedy. Both readings focused on the fact that schools need to strictly enforce that their classrooms are welcoming and open to anyone, regardless of their differences to others. Although "Safe Spaces" was more geared towards defending students of the LGBTQ community and Kliewer's reading on students with disabilities, they both had one thing in common; they discussed helping and defending students who are being discriminated against because of their DNA. No one chooses to be gay, bisexual, or straight, it's just a part of who they, just as it is for someone to be diagnosed with a mental or physical disability. We should embrace those in the world who are different from us and let them know they are important, not ship them off to segregated classrooms or ridicule them.

Question to Share:
     I know several others have asked this question in their own blogs, but I thought it was an important question to be address: has anyone ever been in a school environment where special education students were segregated from the rest of the school community? I know in my own high school, students with disabilities were given a classroom of their own to work on their schoolwork with their aids, but they were integrated into the rest of the school environment for their legitimate classes (math, science, English, history, phys. ed, etc.). Did anyone else have a school like this, or was it completely different?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

"Literacy with an Attitude" by Patrick J. Finn

     For this post, I chose to write a reflection of "Literacy with an Attitude" by Patrick Finn through comparing my own service learning environment to the ideas and beliefs of the Jean Anyon study expressed by Finn. I got the inspiration to do my blog about this based on Allee Krause's blog when I was posting comments on people's most recent blogs. I admired her take on the reading, so I decided to set up my newest post similarly to her's (great job on your bog Allee!).
     Jean Anyon's study expressed how differences in the socioeconomic status of its students resulted in differences in the classroom, causing children to become labelled as executive elite, affluent professional, middle class, and working class based on their social and economic stability. In my service learning assignment, I am currently working in a school that can most likely be categorized as working class. Much like Allee's service learning though, the description of a working class classroom that Anyon produced didn't really match my classroom's environment. I thought this was understandable, as not every school under a certain socioeconomic category are all the same.

"In the working class schools, the dominant theme was resistance" (Page 12)
This does not seem to fit the theme of my service learning school at all; practically all of the students are pretty open to learning and appreciate being taught by such caring and interactive teachers. Resistance doesn't seem to the theme of any school I've been to in my life honestly.

 "Knowledge in the affluent professional school was viewed as being open to discovery" 
(Page 16)
Although I don't necessarily agree that this quality is solely found in affluent professional schools, I do believe it has the possibility to be applied to and found in all types of school environments. In my service learning school, this particular aspect is much more apparent in its students compared to the previous quality of resistance. Whenever I've helped a student one-on-one, they seem extremely eager to learn from what I can help them with and they are constantly interested in their classwork because of how new everything is to them.

"Control involved constant negotiation" (Page 17)
Again, while this aspect was used in Finn's reading to describe qualities found primarily in affluent professional schools, I found this quite prominent in my own service learning "working class" school. The teacher I am assisting is constantly having her students engage in the learning process and always presents questions to them asking for their own ideas or inputs. I really admire this choice in how she teaches because it makes the students feel like their thoughts and opinions are truly being taken into account, resulting in a better learning environment.

Question to Share:
     Even though I know Allee and I didn't find many matching qualities between Anyon's typical "working class" school and our own student learning experiences, did anyone else find their service learning classrooms did not match up with their supposed socioeconomic label? I personally felt this reading had a particular connection to Rodriguez's "Aria" based on the fact that both readings dealt with stereotypes in educational society. While Finn's reading focuses more on the socioeconomic stereotypes in schools, how they effect the students' learning, and ultimately how far they can go in life, Rodriguez's reading focuses on racial stereotyping and conforming to society in order to improve oneself, resulting in going further in life.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Brown vs Board of Education-, Bob Herbert, and Tim Wise

     Upon learning about the Brown vs Board of Education court case, I was able to take the information I had learned and apply it to my knowledge of school systems today, with the help of Bob Herbert and Tim Wise's contemporary issues with race. The historical issues the court case brought up, that being the segregation of races, and the contemporary race issues brought up by Herbert and Wise, coincide with one another in terms that while the original case was supposed to prevent further segregation for future generations, poverty and race still play a role in segregation in schools today.
     On the American History website featuring the "Separate Is Not Equal" reading, the website states that "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." Through this court ruling, the educational system of the US had simply offered equal opportunity, not truly enforcing that segregation is illegal and that there should be no opportunities; equality for all should be enforced and acted upon, not simply offered or suggested. Although the court ruling did lighten tensions between races and has made the educational system more equal now racially, segregation in a new form has risen, fiercer than before. In Bob Herbert's New York Times article from 2011, "Separate and Unequal", Herbert claims that although racial segregation definitely isn't as bad as it once was, it has now been combined with economic segregation and is attacking anyone of any race that isn't as financially well-off as those in the middle-high class society. Herbert states, "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", bringing to light the fact that while racial segregation isn't as common today, by being at or below the poverty level in today's world or being in a less financially stable household, the students in these circumstances are being segregated by their wealthier, well-off peers. 
     In conclusion, these articles have overall helped me to understand the difficulties facing today's society. Even though the Brown vs Board of Education sentenced that segregation in schools would henceforth be illegal to do, new forms of segregation have risen out of the economic despair of the United States. Those who aren't as financially stable are basically forced into a social and economic segregation through no fault of their own, and because of this, are forcefully set up to encounter great difficulties throughout their lives. In Jonathan Kozel's article, "Amazing Grace", Kozel brings up a quote from Lawrence Mead, a political science professor at NYU, who stated ""If poor people behaved rationally, they would seldom be poor for long in the first place" (pg. 21 of "Amazing Grace"). Kozel then proceeds to say that people in poverty are more often then not in that state through no fault of their own, doing their best to provide for their families by working multiple jobs, no mater how low the pay, and generally doing whatever they can to give their families what they need. On top of this, Ullucci used the quote, “… they are poorly paid, underemployed, or working part-time. Thus, the problem is not that those in poverty are lazy and unmotivated, but that we have a low-wage and too-few-jobs problem (Anyon, 2005)", so again, this shows how the poverty problems are not the faults of those in poverty, but that of society as a whole. Bob Herbert stated at the end of his article, "Separate but equal. The Supreme Court understood in 1954 that it would never work. But our perpetual bad faith on matters of race keeps us trying" and in a way, this is true; despite the fact that segregation was a problem and will always continue to be one, we as humans will always find it in our hearts to try for a better world. Someday, I do hope total equality will be possible, but until then, I refuse to give up being kind and unprejudiced towards anyone that I meet. Like Lily James says in her role in the new Cinderella film, "Have courage and be kind."

(This particular topic made me think of the song "Imagine" by John Lennon since it expresses the want and dream for equality and world peace.)
I would have talked more about the videos from Tim Wise,  but the videos on Dr. Bogad's blog wouldn't load on my computer for some reason, so I just focused on Bob Herbert. I feel terrible I didn't to hear what he had to say, but I loved Herbert's article!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

"In the Service of What?" by Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer

"...ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."- John F. Kennedy (quoted on Page 1)
     This quote from JFK was a great way to open up and begin the article considering it's obvious connection to the overall message of the piece. Kahne and Westheimer's whole point of writing this article is to get the message across that Service Learning should be integrated into all schools to give students experience in working in the real world and help them make connections with adults in their possible intended career field of choice. This process will additionally promote students to get out in the world and help others. This is currently happening here at Rhode Island College, most notably in the FNED 346: Schooling in a Democratic Society course, the one which I am currently enrolled in with many of you, the readers of this blog. The Inspiring Minds organization works with the professors of the FNED classes to set up locations throughout the Providence School District which the education students work with young students from early childhood through high school settings. For FNED 346, we are required to complete 15 hours of community service helping students through the Inspiring Minds organization to help the students in the Providence schools while also gaining first hand experience working with students since this is most of our intended careers. This additionally connects to Kozel's work, "Amazing Grace" due to the fact that by working with the students in the Providence School District, many of them aren't from the same backgrounds, beliefs, and cultures as us, resulting in us college students learning to work with a great variety of people.

"In addition to helping those they serve, such 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- all goals of current curriculum reform efforts." (Page 2)
     This quote definitely connects to myself, and hopefully to others as well. Through the course of the FNED 346 class, we've been groomed and taught how to properly interact and communicate with the students around us, working towards the goal of helping them in any way possible. In order to do this, we are required to make use of our social skills and gradually developing teaching skills. Through these efforts, we improve our learning experiences, teaching methods and skills, and hopefully develop the skills and knowledge of those we are assisting. By performing this duty, not only are we raising our own confidence and self-esteem levels, we are additionally raising those of the students whom we help. In my own teaching experience at Mount Pleasant High school, by helping the members of the band and chorus through working one on one or in small groups, the students I've helped seem genuinely grateful for the assistance and individual time I'm spending with them and leave the classroom looking a little more happy than when they came in.

"The importance of a meaningful reflective component becomes clearer when one considers the kind of deliberation and student empowerment that such a curriculum can foster. " (Page 11)
     Finally, this quote spoke enormously to me. In the article, Kahne and Westheimer are discussing the reflection some students were required to complete once they had finished their service learning assignments. While I don't personally think having the students write a long reflection of their experience should dominate the grading aspect of the assignment, what they said in between the reflection did have an impact on me. In general, they stated that the students who helped in volunteering and performing their service learning, depending on the amount of effort and time they put into their assignments, got exactly what they put into it. The more hours and quality of work they put into their work, the better of a grade they got compared, as they absolutely should have. But overall, this shows that if you deliberately put effort into working with these students and help to improve their academic experience, the students you are working with will feel more empowered and feel more confident in themselves, and as a result, do better in their school work.

Point to Share:
      Although I do think that having a service learning assignment is helpful to anyone looking to become a teacher or work in an environment where you help others, I don't think that it should be mandatory, or at the very least have a lower amount of hours to be completed. In my own situation, I wouldn't have minded doing my service learning assignment if I wasn't so busy. My schedule is completely filled from 9 am to 4pm or later every day of the school week, so to start off, I barely have enough time to get from class to class and have a small meal, let alone drive to a school and teach students for an hour that I don't have to spare. If there was another way to complete the service learning requirement, such as having options available for several hours during the weekend or something similar, that would have made the service learning experience less stressful and more enjoyable for me.