Monday, December 7, 2009

End of the Semester

Dear Everybody,

I just wanted to say that I am going to miss our class so much. I've never been in a class in college that was as comfortable as ours became in one semester. This course has been my favorite since I started here at RIC and I am sad that it is ending. Not only did I really enjoy the topics we covered in this class, but I feel like I made many great friends that I might not have otherwise met.

I truly feel like much of what we discussed this semester will be useful as practicing teachers. I know that the lessons we learned will stick with me for a long, long time. I have learned so much and I definitely look at things differently now. I can't help but try to analyze certain things going on around me based on many of the authors ideals that we read about.

Anyway, thank you...everyone, for making our class feel like a family! Also, thank you all for making FNED 346 a meaningful experience for me!

Jessica Fagundes

Monday, November 30, 2009

Talking Points #10

Ira Shor
Education Is Politics:
An Agenda for Empowerment

1. "People are naturally curious. They are born learners. Education can either develop or stifle their inclination to ask why and to learn. A curriculum that avoids questioning school and society is not, as is commonly supposed, politically neutral. It cuts off the students' development
as critical thinkers about their world. "

- I think that it is extremely important for education to be interesting for students. Since people are curious, if education is interesting it will keep their attention and make them want to learn more. For a student to ask questions especially the question "why," then they are learning and are somewhat intrigued by what they are being taught. Also, allowing students to question the world, makes them think more critically about the society they live in.

2. "A curriculum that does not challenge the standard syllabus and conditions in society informs students that knowledge and the world are fixed and are fine the way they are, with n0 role for student to play in transforming them, and no need for change."

- While I think it is important to teach concepts that are the "norm," I also believe in teaching the opposing sides to these normalized ideals as well. This way the students can form their own opinions. Also, like stated in the quote, they think about what things might need to be changed and they can form ideas about how to change these things. Nothing in the world is in a fixed pattern and students should learn this at a young age so that they can make their own ideals and paths toward the future.

3. "As the teacher observes students in class, reads their writing, and holds dialogues with them, he or she perceives many suggestive threads which have to be fashioned into a problem for the next phase of inquiry.

- I think that it is a great method for teachers to learn from their students learning. By asking the students questions, getting their insights, then reiterating/reposing new questions based on the student answers will help make concepts more concrete for them. Also, from this the teacher can see how much the students know about a particular topic and can also clarify any questions or confusions that the students might have.

I really liked this reading other than the fact that it was so very very long...but the topic covered in this article were interesting and I agreed with a lot of it as well. Teaching students about the society we live in today and by challenging the "normal" curriculum students tend to think critically, form their own opinions and also become interested in what they are learning. Therefore, these students will soak up more knowledge.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What my VIPS students are learning about Thanksgiving

While I was tutoring at my school on Friday, my teacher asked me to staple the children's reading/writing homework together. This week the assignment is for them to read a story about Thanksgiving then write about it. I thought everyone might be interested to see what exactly they are teaching about Thanksgiving in some first grade classes. I took pictures of the assignment when the teacher and students stepped out of the room.

So the students are taught the cute little story about the Pilgrims and the Indians becoming friends and sitting down together to have a nice feast celebrating their friendship. What I found worse was the writing assignment that followed.

If you can't see what it says, it says "Please read the nonfiction Thanksgiving book. Then write in a sentence a fact of something you learned. Nonfiction books are books with real/true information. Facts are information that are true." The students are being told that this is the true to life story and then are being asked to reflect upon this story further reinforcing that this is what actually happened.

When I was in elementary school I learned the same cutesy story and we ran around dressed as Pilgrims and Indians. This is me, some of my classmates, and my cousin in kindergarten around Thanksgiving at school: (sorry so blurry)

I don't think I learned about the truth of Thanksgiving until high school.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Talking Points #9

Christopher Kliewer
Citizenship in School:
Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome

1. "I started to notice that I didn't like the classes I was taking called special education. I had to go through special ed. almost all my life. I wanted to take other classes that interested me. I had never felt so mad, I wanted to cry."

- This quote was said by a young girl with down syndrome. It makes me sad that she went through her entire educational career only taking classes that the administration felt she needed to take. I understand why she was so frustrated. I feel bad that while "normal" children get to pick and choose certain classes and electives that they are interested in that students with disabilities have their classes chosen for them because people feel like they can't handle picking on their own or that they can't handle taking electives.

2. "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. Don't tell me any of these kids are being set up to fail."

- I have always felt that learning is a community experience. The child needs to be taught by the teacher, the students need to talk together about what they have learned, and the parents need to enforce what the teachers have taught their children. This should be the same for ALL students, whether disabled or not.
3. "Knock it off! Knock it off! Becky is a girl who has cerebral palsy...She's not allowed in school because of her handicaps. I think her school should just knock it off and let her in.
She needs and education. Just because she is handicapped doesn't mean she can't learn. She's just got to do what she can do, which can be just about anything.
Becky is smart enough to fight back, just like I would if I wasn't allowed I school. I have Down syndrome and I can still do anything I want to do. If I wasn't allowed in school, I wouldn't have learned to do all the things I do now. I have Down syndrome, but I am not handicapped."

- I think that the girl that wrote this is right! It is bad enough that people discriminate those with handicaps, but now there is even discrimination between disabilities. A student with cerebral palsy will probably need more attention than a student with Down syndrome, but that doesn't deny a student with cerebral palsy from a proper education. Also, I really like the fact that the student that wrote this feels like she doesn't have a handicap despite the fact that she has Down syndrome. This leads me to think, if she doesn't feel disabled, why do we, "normal" people, feel like she is? Why do we label her this way?

I liked reading this article. I feel like it is different than what we have normally learned about. I often forget about disabled students being looked over or being discriminated against. When I think of diversity I think more about race, economic status, gender, and or sexual orientation. For some reason I forget that there is so much more discrimination in the world than what is on the surface. Another reason why I liked this article was because special education is my major concentration. I'd like to be one of those teachers that provides the opportunity for all of my student to get a proper education no matter any differences that they might have.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Promising Practices

I have to say, I wasn't extremely excited about going to this conference. I was only happy that I got to take the day off from work for it. I thought that a six hour conference was going to drag on all day and be really boring. The only part I was looking forward to was seeing and hearing Tricia Rose and Marco McWilliams.

I checked in to the conference at 8:15, I had the hardest time waking up that morning. I found some girls from our class and we sat together waiting for the conference to start. I was already ready to go back to bed.

The first workshop that I picked to go to was Marco McWilliam's "The Media Made Me Do It." There were a number of students from our class in this workshop so I felt comfortable. I really liked this workshop. Marco talked about the different messages that the media portrays in advertising. He started his presentation with a number of interesting statistics. For example, "children 2-5 view more than 32 hours of television a week." That is more hours than I work in a week!! If children this young are watching this much TV, that means that they are absolutely subject to the images that are shown by the media. This scares me. Granted the more explicit advertising occurs late at night, but I have seen many erectile disfunction commercials during daytime television. My dad would say "kids that young don't know what these things mean so they don't pay attention anyway." I disagree with him. Just the other day I was watching the movie Sorority Boys at home on network television and there are a number of dirty scenes in this movie. Some images weren't even blurred out. When my younger brother and sister walked in the room I jumped up to grab the remote and change the channel. My dad yelled at me. He said "Jessica, they don't know what that is or what it means, when you make a big deal of it that's when they realize its bad...its psychology!" (That's his favorite phrase, even though he doesn't really know too much about psychology.) However, my sister is 13 years old, there are girls that are pregnant in her grade. She absolutely knows about these things! My brother is 9 and is very perceptive. He knows more than we assume.

Anyway, I went off on a tangent. I really liked how Marco showed images and asked us to describe what we saw. He showed us this image
He asked us what we noticed about the picture. He told us that this was a controversial picture and asked us why that might be. Here is why
Powerful stuff huh? I couldn't believe it when I saw this. He showed other images that showed the belittling of women and such. I really liked this talk. I was sad that it seemed to end quickly.

The next workshop I went to was called "The Power of Numbers." I picked it when I registered because I thought it sounded interesting. I wasn't quite sure what to expect though. This workshop was held in a computer lab. One of the first things that the instructor asked us to do was to take out our cell phones and to text a code that summarized our feelings about math to a specific number. What was really cool was that as people began texting, a poll was adding up on the smart board! I have never seen anything like that before, I was really impressed. Anyway, the point of this was to see how people think of math. The instructor then went on to talk about different things that can hold an illiterate person back in life. In small groups we created lists and shared them with the other groups. Then she said what are the problems that people who can't "read" or work with numbers are? What types of issues might and innumerate person suffer from in life? I had never really thought of it that way but when you do think about it, many important things in life involve numbers and calculation such as paying bills and doing taxes.

I really liked this workshop as well and it also went by pretty fast. So far I was really enjoying my experience at the Promising Practices Conference.

Next was lunch and the keynote speech. The food was great! The best food I've had at Donovan so far. And the speech by Tricia Rose was FANTASTIC! I love how she incorporated so many stories in her speech. That type of storytelling speech keeps me engaged and interested. Also, when I can think of a real life application of these different theories I tend to understand the points more. I feel like everything that she said somehow connected to everything we have learned in class so far and that was exciting! Also, I really liked the pledge she made us take also. She was really insightful and her speech, which seemed to be mainly on the spot improvisation, was so smooth!

I was able to connect so much of what I learned at the conference to many of the theories that we have learned in class. One of my main connections was Christensen to the Marco McWilliams workshop. In her piece, Christensen talks about the power of the media and how to interpret it so that you can recognize the stereotypes and oppression that are present. Marco did the exact same thing.

I was able to connect Tricia Rose to so many of the author's theories from class. The main one that stuck out to me was Johnson. Johnson argues that we must learn to say the words and that we should not get defensive about racism. Both of these point directly relate to Tricia Rose's speech. First, she kept saying that we need to learn how to "unpack" the difficult issues in class. We cannot just breeze over them like they never happened. We need to learn to say the words and explain. Also Tricia Rose's pledge made us promise not to feel directly responsible or guilty for racism, but instead to be the change which is another of Johnson's points.

I am really glad that I had the opportunity to go to the conference. I found it really interesting and I learned a lot.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Talking Points #8

Jean Anyon
"Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Schooling"

1. "In math, when two-digit division was introduced, the teacher in one school gave a four-minute lecture on what the terms are called (which number is the divisor, dividend, quotient, and remainder). The children were told to copy these names in their notebooks. Then the teacher told them the steps to follow to do the problems, saying, "This is how you do them." The teacher listed the steps on the board, and they appeared several days later as a chart hung in the middle of the front wall: "Divide, Multiply, Subtract, Bring Down." The children often did examples of two-digit division."

- I don't quite see how this is different from any other school. When I was just learning how to do division I remember learning the vocabulary and the little lecture about what each part of the equation was. We were repeatedly taught the steps and we often practiced. This is basically my exact lesson on division so I don't understand the point that Anyon was trying to make.

2. "The teachers continually gave the children orders. Only three times did the investigator hear a teacher in either working-class school preface a directive with an unsarcastic "please," or "let's" or "would you." Instead, the teachers said, "Shut up," "Shut your mouth," "Open your books," "Throw your gum away-if you want to rot your teeth, do it on your own time." Teachers made every effort to control the movement of the children, and often shouted, "'Why are you out of your seat??!!" If the children got permission to leave the room, they had to take a written pass with the date and time.... "

- This barking of orders really really reminds me of some of the teachers at my service learning project school. It's just like when she said "That's it! Everyone sit your bottoms on the rug. Sit still! I'm setting the timer for five minutes. You will sit there completely still for five whole minutes. I'm watching you, if you so much as squirm, I'll set it for longer! If your parents can't teach you self control at home you WILL learn it here in MY classroom." I didn't think that a little squirming on the rug called for this sort of punishment and lecture. Teaching through fear isn't going to get you any where. There is no way that the students will respect a teacher if they aren't being respected back.

3. "There is little excitement in schoolwork for the children, and the assignments are perceived as having little to do with their interests and feelings. As one child said, what you do is "store facts up in your head like cold storage - until you need it later for a test or your job." Thus, doing well is important because there are thought to be other likely rewards: a good job or college."

- I agree with this statement. However, I think that Anyon is being critical of only working class/middle class schools. I have always had this sort of attitude about school. A lot of people I know felt this way. But not necessarily in a bad way. Like, I loved school, but I never felt like I would need a lot of the stuff I learned about later in my life. Why am I going to need to know the chemical number of Fluoride on the Periodic Table of Elements? Some people might need to know this because it will relate to their interests and probably their career choice if its something they like but not everything you learn about in school will be useful in every one's future. Ever since college I have changed my mind. This is because now we are at the point in our lives where we are learning about things that will be directly associated to our futures and what we want to do with our lives.

I couldn't get into this article. I found it disagreeable. I feel like a lot of the stereotypes that Anyon had for working/middle class schools are common in all sorts of schools. Also, of course work is going to be a hidden curriculum if you think about it. You learn what you learn in grade school to prepare you for middle and high school and you learn in high school what you need to prepare you for college and you learn in college what you need in order to prepare you for your career choice. It is all connected but not in a bad way that should be criticized. It is just a common fact.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Talking Points #7

Gender and Education

It is evident that some sources today believe that separation of the sexes in public school is crucial to the education of students. They believe that the education of the two very different genders should be approached differently catering to the learning styles of each sex. While this is a valid suggestion, I believe that the social interaction between boys and girls in school is vital. If the girls and boys are segregated from each other in school when they are young, and where learning from each other can take place, when they join "the real world" they will have a rude awakening. The stakes are higher outside of school. In the working world, men and women need to learn how to coexist. If people don't learn to do this at a young age it can create social awkwardness in adulthood.

I found a video online about the differences between girls and boys in school. It was a sociology project by some students. The background music is semi annoying but the video in itself is interesting, but I do suggest muting it.

The video talks about how girls might tend to feel more comfortable in a classroom setting because the field of education is mainly dominated by women. Many children have women teachers throughout their education and for female student having that automatic "ally" in class might already set the stage for success.

The video also mentions boys not doing as well in school because they are afraid of blowing their image as a tough guy. This kind of reminds me of the movie Grease, the part where Danny Zuko, played by John Travolta, is talking to Sandy, Olivia Newton John, and he is excited to see her. He talks to her in a way that would show that he likes her. However, when Danny's friends, the T-Birds, nudge him he snaps out of it and quickly backtracks in order to sound cool in front of his friends. He ends up insulting Sandy and she becomes upset. She says "What happened to the Danny Zuko I met at the beach?"

Yet the same can be said for girls...I'm not excusing girls from this stereotype. This was just the example that stuck out in my head. In the movie Mean Girls, Cady Heron, played by Lindsay Lohan, pretends to be bad at math so that the smart, cute guy in class will tutor her. Image, whether in the classroom or just in social interactions, can be a major influence on people young or old, female or male.

Also, I just have to say from my own experiences as a student, almost all of my classes were dominated by girls...sorry boys. When I took Honors and AP courses in high school there was an even more overwhelming majority of girls over boys in class. Even now in college, most of my classes, not even just educational directed courses, have more girls.

I have often wondered why this is so.