Friday, December 3, 2010


I know I talked about the commercials that bugged me in class, and I never posted about them. Well here is my mini rant and the actual commercial.

                Okay, I get that the product is supposed to be good for you, and make your butt look nicer? Well I mean, that’s all someone could get out of it. How degrading to women, that they could care less about what the women looks like from the waist up. And why does it have to be only that she has a nice butt, is that the only attractive thing about the women? This is a horrific example of why girls today are under such pressure to be ideal, when in fact I the women were supposed to resemble, aren’t even real. There is so much touching up, and refining and whatever else they have to do to make it better and more unreachable for the average women. It’s ridiculous.

                Next, ever since this class, I’ve had a real hard time looking at t.v. the same way. I’ve never noticed how every single woman on television, whether it be a commercial, t.v. series, or movie, must be “perfect” (it’s in quotes because, let’s face it, it’s not real), and yet, all of the men, are just average. How fair is that!? I never thought I was susceptible to this, and yet, it’s all I can see now. And its aggravating.

Last, but probably not least, I recently went to New York with a friend. We first did the typical time square, radio city, New York tour, and then we went to visit another friend in upper Manhattan. As we rode the subway, it became more evident that there were only two white people on the train, my white female best friend, and myself. All of a sudden everything I learned this year became clear. I had never been the minority, and I was scared. I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb, and everyone saw the nervous little white girl in me. I never want to feel like that again. And I can’t help but think that some people feel like this every day of their lives, having to question the way they’re treated simply because of the color of their skin. And I’m very aware that I only scratched the surface of this feeling. I told my friend I didn’t think I could go with her to visit there again.
                I decided to try again next week. I knew what it would be like, and I knew that if I was sure of myself, it wouldn’t be a problem. And honestly, I was so less scared. I could smile and laugh and joke, and be myself without a worry. This could have been the two extra white males we brought with us, but I’d like to think I grew within those few days. This time on the train, I took time to look around, and I couldn’t help but focus on the advertisements. On a train, full of different races and cultures, the ads were mostly, lighter skinned people, advertising schools. “Choose the right school fast” “get your degree online” as if the only way to be this happy was to be lighter skinned and educated. I again made a connection to class. I understood how hard it must be to see that every day on ones way back and forth into a neighborhood that most tourists would never step foot in.
                I want to thank every single person in this class for helping me become who I am. In these few weeks I’ve learned so much through not only my experiences but also listening to everyone else’s. It was a great semester, and I’ll truly miss this class.

Promising Practices

                The day started at some ungodly hour as I stumbled out of bed and into some “professional” clothing. Thankfully, I love getting dressed up. I got to the conference early, I’m always afraid I’m going to miss something important. I got there just in time for the water and granola bars. I quickly got my information packet and spied the rest of the class in the back of the room. I had completely forgotten what seminars I had actually signed up for, so anything would be fine, but I was put into two that seemed interesting. Session one was, Students with Special Needs: What You See Isn’t Always What You Get with Heather Dubrule. For session two: Get Up Out of Your Seat!: The importance of Teaching Concepts to Young Learners through Music and Movement with Michelle Nonis and Jessica Borges.
                After the opening introductions Donna and I walked over to Alger Hall, somewhere we both had only been to once before for orientation. The room was set up with a power point and sheets of papers that looked like worksheets for everyone to grab. I’m not really a fan of power points, I find them usually boring and uninformative, so I was not exactly excited for this presentation. Thankfully, it was on something near and dear to my heart.  She began with an exercise by showing a handful of students’ pictures and had given us a list of disabilities something similar to a matching game. Donna and I looked at each other in agreement; there was no way to tell. I felt like if I was to try it would be stereotyping the child and would be unfair. We discussed how, yes, there is no way to tell what children have what problems.
                The session continued with the power point and some other exercises. The one that really stuck with me had to do with de-coding. We were given a paragraph with almost all the words spelled wrong, and at the top was a word box, with the rules to figuring out how to fix the words. We were given five minutes to figure out the paragraph. At the end, I barely had gotten through the first sentence. She explained that this is how some children with learning disabilities saw their work; only without the word box we had been given. It was really eye-opening, and I immediately thought of Lisa Delpit, and how it was quite literally the rules and codes of power, and these children don’t have the proper tools to succeed. Heather Dubrule went on to discuss the importance of individual student and giving attention to the special needs students. This was quite obvious to me already, I was waiting for the key, the big hint on how to do so, but it never came. I asked, “These children definitely need special attention from us, the teacher, but how can I do this with a class of 25 students?” She didn’t have an answer. So I left, with more questions than answers.
                The next stop was Henry Banyard School. I was slightly discouraged by the first seminar, but went in with high hopes. We started with again another power point, but this one had videos, and spots for us to answer questions. They then gave us a small break, and played a silly song for everyone to dance too. After we were done they explained that the small dance break was to wake us up, and honestly, it worked. It was a perfect example of what they were trying to get across. We were then shown videos of children dancing and singing educational meanings, even songs the teachers themselves had written to popular songs. They then told us it was our turn, we had ten minutes to write our own songs in groups, and with some starter ideas we were off. Some were informational, some out of key, and some just silly, but everyone understood the point. We were then given the names of some artists that have purely educational songs for kids, lesson ideas, and so much more. I was given a much better understanding of using music in the classroom and how to go about it, I left with so much information, and I could probably write my own song to this day.
                After a mediocre Donavan lunch the keynote speaker, Dr. Dennis Shirley, was introduced. I was very excited; the topic of Mindful Teaching was very intriguing. Yet again, I had more questions than answers. I pulled a few useful ideas from the lecture, but overall, only specifically remember his trip to India (and yes, I had actually taken notes). I also kept thinking of how his topic of being mindful to different races and sexes and so on, actually didn’t apply to him, him the upper-class, white, male. It was then that Beckah and Chris pointed out the picture above him of the children and the white boy in the middle with all the focus on him. I was very disappointed with the entire lecture, and didn’t find him to be mindful to his audience, I feel like he was trying to sell his book and not trying to educate future teachers.
                Overall, it wasn’t a bad experience, the second session was awesome, and I got free lunch. I’d definitely go back next year to see what has changed, and hopefully be able to take more from the conference.

keeping track ~ finn&oakes

(Extended Comments)

                I really enjoyed the points Christopher made in his blog. It helped me understand the article better. He pointed out the argument very well. Oakes feels tracking is the wrong choice.
                Oaks states that some people think this helps target individual needs so that children can learn more. In the article a main argument is pointed out.  Oaks argue that children should not be tracked because it actually puts them at a disadvantage.
                Actually, it only puts some people at a disadvantage. The more intelligent students continue to get challenged, and those seen as less intelligent go on being taught basic skills and not taught critical thinking.
                The children in the honors classes are able to move faster and cover more material, but the kids in the lower learning classes she says are not able to cover the amount of subjects at such a rapid pace. It’s just like she said the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The ones who have been exposed to this higher intense learning are getting the great education, and those who do not have the same benefits are lacking.
                In my experience tracking was helping but as Oakes and Christopher I am an average student. So when I was placed in harder classes it was beneficial. After being in the lower level classes it was evident that the teachers were not properly prepared for different level learners. I can agree that tracking is bad, but if the “institution” was to take away tracking, teachers should be more educated and prepared for a different level students. Maybe it should be looked at as if every child needs an Individualized Education Plan (I.E.P.).  Students are all individuals, so how could they be grouped together in large clumps? From a young age we try to teach children that everyone is different and special, so to use tracking just seems cruel and possibly confusing to a young child. This website has very valuable information and statistics on tracking in modern schools. How as teachers are we going to keep our classrooms untracked?

Song of the moment: Picture to Burn

Gender and Education


             Gender and education is a serious controversy. It is incredibly evident in any classroom, girls and boy’s lines, girl’s prizes and boy prizes, even the different books geared to the different genders. I suggest we break down those barriers in schools. Children are now being raised in gender neutral ways at home, why not bring that into the classroom? There are different ways to line up the children, different ways to reward them in class. Both genders are capable of holding any career. I feel that us as future teachers need to take initiative and teach the kids in a way that encourages them to be whoever they’d like to be. We need to create an unbiased classroom in order to best suit the needs of the individuals we will be teaching, because that’s what we should consider them. Instead of saying “Boys and Girls, let’s get to our seats” we should try “Students” or “Class” there are so many ways we can give these kids an education fitting to who they are as people, not simply they’re gender.
                This website shows some staggering statistics:
Across the country, boys have never been in more trouble: They earn 70 percent of the D's and F's that teachers dole out. They make up two thirds of students labeled "learning disabled." They are the culprits in a whopping 9 of 10 alcohol and drug violations and the suspected perpetrators in 4 out of 5 crimes that end up in juvenile court. They account for 80 percent of high school dropouts and attention deficit disorder diagnoses. (Mulrine, 2001)
                How is it that girls and boys can sit mixed together in classrooms throughout their entire career as students but gain such different ideas, and learn so differently?
                This article suggests it has to do with reduced pressure on women to marry and have children, and more pressure for girls to compete in the job market. Yet, what strikes me most isn’t the article itself, but the enormous amount of feedback it got, from parents of children in schools to Harvard professors. It also discusses how women now outnumber men on the nation’s college campuses and again how this may be due to the pressure put on men to find work immediately.
                Even Wikipedia has a definition of gender and education, stating that women, at all levels are achieving higher representation and success. What as future teachers are we going to do about this?

Song of the moment: Girls just want to have fun

Unlearning The Myths That Blind Us ~ Linda Christensen


At first the article really upset me. The classics will always be close to my heart, they remind me of my childhood, and I refused to look at such movies in a negative light. It seemed that Christensen went into watching the films with a point to prove.
                One of my all time favorite Disney movies actually is the newest one The Princess and The Frog. This film features a black women princess in New Orleans trying to open her own business. This film broke down serious stereotypes for the Disney cooperation. I am not one to look for flaws in a film, but try to just enjoy it. Yet after some research I’ve found some upsetting features in the other main characters. The Prince has all white features, despite the darker coloring, his features remain white. Also the firefly, Ray, is voiced as a stereotypical uneducated southern black male. Now I still feel that no one has gone out of their way to put such stereotypes in this film, in fact Disney hired many consultants for this film to try to break these barriers. This article goes on further to explain the problems in this movie. However, it is still one of my favorite Disney movies ever.
                Some of the classics are more evidently sexist and racist. Films such as The Little Mermaid, Dumbo, and Peter Pan have much more blatant problems.

This website points out the nine most racist Disney characters. Now, it may have something to do with the target audience. White middle-class children were the ones most likely to pull at their parents sleeves asking for such movies. They teach the white children to be white, and see things from a white perspective. And in 1941 it was probably an assumption that most blacks didn’t own televisions. Although these stereotypes are horrifically obvious is it okay to not show our children these “classics”.
                More current films such as The Princess and The Frog, or Mulan are Disney’s attempts at making things right. I feel that these movies are all just for entertainment purposes, and I know I watched all of the classics and turned out fine. This may also have to do with my parents raising me in such a way that I understood racism and sexism, and how it was wrong. These values were instilled in me at a very young age, so I pose we keep the classics, just with some disclaimers provided by parents. Or should we keep them at all?

Song of the moment: Dig A Litte Deeper

Monday, October 25, 2010

between barack and a hard place ~ wise


i'd just like to start off by bragging about me going to the convention center and watching the motorcade drive through providence, i saw obama and it was sooo cool. =] please notice the protestors in the background, with their politically incorrect signs and ideas.

now back to the work at hand. the video on wise's book almost upset me. i mean, i completely understand the points he makes, and they are ones to be taken seriously. he was right in saying that we're not out of the woods yet in relation to racism. but who is he to be the one to judge where america stands? i like to also believe that racism "1.0" is no longer a problem, but 2.0? are we ever going to not be racist?

i really enjoyed the statement he made on the white males mediocrity and how that, in comparison to a black mans, is still not on the same level. in order for a black male to be taken seriously he cannot be mediocre. and as sad as that is, with barrack as president it almost enforces those ideas. but then i came to another question, if hilary clinton was to of won the office, would we still be focusing on racism? or would it shift to sexism, which is equality if not more important (at least in my eyes).  so then factoring in both racism and sexism, how hard must it be for black women to be taken seriously? condoleezza rice was the 66th secretary of state under the bush administration, and to be honest, one of bush's more significant mistakes. she was put up on this pedestal for being a black woman in office, but in the same token, not nearly as intelligent as someone would hope her to be. the american public did not take her seriously. again setting a standard that keeps the status quo in place. making it difficult for women of color to be heard, incredible women such as oprah, or even beyonce cannot and will not be seen as the intelligent women they are, not only because of their race, but also their sex.

in connection to the website, i really enjoy the brown vs. board of education trails. they were such a mark in history and incredibly fascinating. and i agree with wise when he said barrack obama's presidency is right up there with these significant moments, but we can’t just take it with stride. we must use it as yet another stepping stool to improve america and not just settle into believing there is no more racism.

i'd really like to discuss all of the questions i've raised in class, this was by far one of my favorite topics. and it’s also incredibly relatable to our lives. plus, i <3 obama. and if anyone is interested in the recent politics in ri, i've been trying to keep up with the elections and the recent "scandal" of frank caprio telling obama to "shove it" for not endorsing him there’s a great article on it on msnbc. i also found it really interesting that obama was in ri endorsing the openly gay david cicilline for congress, this might just be more well needed change.

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!
 -Langston Huges

song of the moment my president is black

Sunday, October 17, 2010

in the service of what? the politics of service learning ~ Westheimer & Kahne


By finding and engaging in community service activities, Mr. Johnson explained, students would interact with those less fortunate than themselves and would experience the excitement and joy of learning while using the community as a classroom.

its also an eye-opener. growing up in the white middle class neighborhood, i never saw or could even understand how poverty could effect children. i also love the experience, although its not the first time i've  been in the classroom with children, i can personally agree that by using the community as a classroom it's much more benificiary.

This process can transform students' understandings of both disciplinary knowledge and the particular social issues with which they are engaged.

we can talk in class all we want about about the socail issues, but without actual practice theres no way to know whats going on outside our discussions. through service learning we can apply what weve learned to real life situations. putting our knowledge to the test, and then through tiral and error we can better ourselves to become the best teachers we can.

Rather than assume, erroneously, that all educators share the same vision, we think it is better to be explicit about the numerous and different visions that drive the creation and implementation of service learning activities in schools.

no two teachers have the same standards. through service learning we can examine different teachers, teaching styles, and the response of the children to see what works, through yet more trial and error we can observe perfessionals in there own enviornment and take whats working and use it later when we have our own classrooms.

i found an awesome video explaining more on service learning.

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song of the moment : clarity