Monday, April 28, 2014

Here's a link to our final service learning project.
Sarah Whiston and Mariah Caldwell

Monday, April 21, 2014

"Unified Starts with U"- Event Blog


         On April 15, 2013 I attended an event at my high school in Tiverton. As two students senior projects, they put together a unified basketball game. The unified teams already existed, and our school has always been very supportive of them. A unified basketball team for those of you who don't know, is a team composed of "typical students" along with those who have a disability. They play together as a team against other teams from different schools. This particular game was even more special than the others. 

          Their goal for this game was to fill the stands. They were incredibly successful and it was an amazing experience to be a part of. The amount of support that these teams got was incredible. While the teams are from "rival" towns, it did not matter; each team got the same amount of praise as the other. The photo to the left shows just one of the four bleachers of that size, which were also filled. Admission was free and the first 250 to come got a free t-shirt that said "Unified Starts With You". These two senior applied for a grant to Special Olympics Rhode Island and received a grant for these t-shirts to promote "unified high school sports".
          Kliewer's article was one that I was able to connect this event to the most. Kliewer's main point was to not let students with a disability be silenced and segregated from the rest of the school. They have just as much of a right as the other students to learn in a typical classroom. The more that students with disabilities are integrated into schools, the less "different" they will seem to other students who have never met or interacted with someone with a disability. This unified team is a way to involve those students with disabilities with typical students to play a sport that everyone can enjoy. This particular event was a great way for the high school and community as a whole to show their support for this team. Kliewer would have approved of this event, the students are able to interact and gain experience in the community and not have to feel different anymore. This game had more people in it than any other sporting event at this school. Which just goes to show how SCWAMMP is becoming less relevant and the community accepts those who are different. There was chanting and singing and cheering, and it was such an uplifting experience. This allowed the students with disabilities to show everyone that they are much more than disabled. They are incredible people, smart, athletic, friendly, and they fit in with the rest of the school. 
          There act of inclusion are just what these kids need as well as the community. It was amazing to see this community brought together to support the unified basketball game. This event also reminded me of the video we watched in class called "Ir a la Escuela". This video talked about the struggles that those with disabilities have with advocating for themselves, and being able to get integrated into the "regular" classrooms. It also reminded me of a particular part where they were speaking about how their special education department had own hallway and no one went down it. They were segregated from the rest of the school, and this event shows have integration is beneficial. It also showed how many people were supportive of it from filling the stands completely. It also supports the point that was made in the movie that community involvement is almost or even more important than a strictly academic education. By making this opportunity available and gaining this much support, just goes to show the importance of integration. It might take some work, because some of the member of the team needed a little extra help, but it is worth it for them to be a part of the community and have the support they need to stay involved. 

           Another connection I was able to make from this event was with the article "Safe Spaces" by Vaccaro, August, and Kennedy. This event was able to showcase that being different is okay. It is even supported and praised. This was a very safe space, and the discrimination that once might have been evident, was completely gone. Although this event was not about LGBTQ, it still had a similar message. Which was that it is important to teach people about things they are unfamiliar with, while allowing schools to be a safe place for anybody, no matter what. The happiness on everyone's faces was incredible, from the athlete to the onlookers. It was incredible to be a part of it, and see a community come together and praise those with disabilities, and give them some time in the spotlight.
          There was even a gold medal winning Olympic athlete that attended. Michelle Kwan was taking pictures in the stands, and tweeted about it. Tiverton is not a very well known school; people normally think Tiverton is just a street. The fact that a celebrity came and supported this team was an amazing thing, making it even more special.

          I really hope that things like this are happening at more schools to raise awareness and advocate for the unification of schools every, not just a team. It is so much bigger than that. During this even, connections from article we have read were going through my head, and not just because it's a requirement, but because these issues we have been discussing in FNED are extremely relevant to our daily lives. This event was even put in the Newport Daily News. This was overall an incredible experience, and a great event. It was so amazing to see the amount of support and enthusiasm that was coming from this high school gym for this unified basketball game!!

  • Here's a link to the Special Olympics Unified Sports page!
  • Here is just one more link to 92 proFM page, the Tiverton Unified team was able to talk on the radio because they got Team of the Week!
  • This is just a short video that explains what Unified sports are! 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

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

          I know a lot of people will be doing a connections blog post this week, but I also think it is a great way to sum up our semester."Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change", by Ira Shor was a very informative article. I was constantly thinking about and connecting back to a few past texts while reading this article. Christensen, Kohn, and Johnson were some of the major connections I was able to make. Additionally, my service learning experience was another way for me to relate to this article. It was good to have some experience to relate back to, and really bring Shor's words to life.
          Shor had a great way of pulling the reader in with a great point that really related to Christensen, and how she believes that students need to find real ways to talk back and express their critiques; and teachers need to encourage this, and realize it is beneficial. Shor says that "not encouraging students to question knowledge, society, and experiences tacitly endorses and supports the status quo." This further imply's the fact that students need to be able to have a voice, and have confidence that can help them succeed in other things in the classroom. By just following the curriculum and giving no leeway, this gives the impression to students that the "world are fix and line the way they are, with no role for the student to play in transforming them, and no need for change." It is important for a student to be able to question the curriculum and school in general; and for the teacher to encourage their students to question school. This method can gives the students a better learning experience, while allowing them talk explicitly about things regarding privilege, power, and differences. Johnson would agree with this idea by Shor, because now the teacher is not seen as the only intellectual in the room; the power dynamic does not shine the light solely on the teacher. Students are made important, intelligent, opinionated, and motivated to learn.
          Another important point that was discussed, is about things regarding how "this competitive orientation leads to isolation and alienation". This is a reason to worry in  Kohn's "What to look for in a Classroom". Shor goes on to discuss the harmfulness of having things like star charts, the best project on the walls, the neatest handwriting displayed. This method of encouraging those who are successful, simply discourages those who are not rewarded (in many cases, the" minority and female students"). This is definitely something that I can relate to from my service learning assignment, my classroom is full of these reasons to worry. The walls are covered with "excellent explainers", "terrific tests", star charts, and a reward bucket.
          Another important point regarding was regarding inequality in school based on the economy. They spoke about how education should be democratic, when really schools are designed with the "small elite destined for the top and a large mass destined for the middle and bottom". This is again another Johnson moment, but this time anti-Johnson. The privilege and power difference is clearly evident, and it is become of wealth. The learning experiences an opportunities as a result differ.
          This article is so informative, and extremely relatable. It is also full of great tips regarding how a teacher should conduct their classroom. The importance of giving students a voice and an option to speak out is highly enforced in their article. It is a good thing for your students to question why they are in school, question the curriculum, and have their own opinions. Also there was a point about how student learn from doing and thinking about their own experiences. This gives the students something other than just simply academics and note taking and feeling as if they can learn the same things if they didn't go to school, and simply read a textbook at home. I certainty feel like that in some of my classes, even here at RIC. The teachers who strive to get their students involved, and interested are the ones who are most successful.

          I can't believe this is the last blog post of the semester, time has certainly flown by! I have learned so much from all of these articles, and I think this was a great one to use for the last article. These articles and FINED 346 has made me even more excited to become a teacher, and given me the proper tools I need to know how to have a successful classroom. Maybe we can talk in class about how this article was about sum up all of the other articles we have read so far, and about different connections people were able to make.

This is just a short video where students are speaking about how they want to learn to their their teacher, some of the points are really good, but the video is set up a little weird but it still get the point across.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Schooling Children with Down Syndrome, Christopher Kliewer



       I really enjoyed reading this article, the beginning required a bit of rereading, but the topics discussed were really eye opening, and the stories incorporated in it made the situations Kliewer researched come to life and be even more effective. This particular article was especially important to me because this relates directly to my major. It is important to incorporate people of all abilities into the classroom, and use all different methods to target the way that they learn best. I especially found the examples from Shayne's classroom to affect me the most, and I love how they created a school that has a main goal of inclusion.
A main topic in this article was about democracy in the classroom. An important quote was "democracy can only be achieved when not one person's voice is deterministically silenced". A phrase used to describe schools in a derogatory and discriminatory way was as "cultural sorting machines". This method is detrimental to society and discriminatory. his article also aims to end was is was once historically and culturally valued (SWAAMP). Especially what is viewed as able-bodied.  It also bothered me when they categorized all children with down syndrome as being "happy". Every child is different, and I like how Shayne spoke about how each has a different personality and  way of communicating. Kliemer's article spoke about not only the importance of inclusion in the classroom to better education, but also to prepare them for real life in communities.

          This is a great video that really speaks and gives a voice from someone with Down Syndrome about how they think they should be taught in the classroom. The video is called "Don't Limit Me!", and Megan Bomgaars is an extremely successful person who was a cheerleader, a model, and even planner, and is learning how to become a public speaker. She wants everyone to know that she should not be limited to opportunities because she has disabilities. This woman Megan Bomgaars is an incredible person, and she wanted to be taught important skills for life like power, passion, love, and independence; things beyond the classroom. Megan was able to succeed in a "normal classroom" with an aide that helped her in the classroom. A quote that really stuck to be was "don't limit me, by teaching me to depend on others". She wished to be treated equally to those in the classroom and held to the same expectations so she can one day live independently. She made a statement about setting expectations that are high, but not impossible. This is similar to Kliewer's article when he talked about Shayne's classroom and how she set a realistic goal for her co working with down syndrome to work in a movie store rather than working in Hollywood. It is important for realistic goals to be set. Another important point that Megan made was that good teachers are able to teach and learn from their students. This video was extremely inspirational and goes hand in hand with this article, but from a different perspective that makes the points in the article even more clear.


          Spread the word to end the word campaign has a goal to eliminate the R-Word, and as Johnson would say, just say the words! They aim to eliminate the word retard(ed) from everyday vocabulary. They are having people pledge through twitter, through sending a text message, through writing it on their website, or doing it as a school. This word has the ability to hurt, categorize, stereotype, and it is overall just offensive and derogatory. I believe Kliewer would agree that this campaign is beneficial to ending separated classrooms, and it gives people a small amount of knowledge about how offensive that one word can be. By pledging the campaign asks people "to stop saying the R-word as a starting point toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities for all people. Language affects attitudes and attitudes affect actions". What I especially appreciate about this campaign is that they are aware that it is only a very small step towards ending people's view on those who have a disability. They are so much more than just disabled. In the article it spoke about how stereotypical that it is too only define them as disabled, there are so many other ways to show intelligence and capability. This campaign is also an amazing way to get raise awareness, I know this from experience. My school took part in this campaign, and as a whole our school is very supportive of those with disabilities and down syndrome. We have built lasting friendships with them and been able to see them for their unique, interesting, and intelligent people that they are.

          After reading this article, it is clear that it is important to focus on the abilities that those with down syndrome have that are beneficial to their learning as a student and in society. Instead of dwelling on the difficult things like inability to understand speech, awkwardness, sporadic movement, or frustration; it is important to utilize things such as their communicative skills or cognitive skills and highlight them. By doing this and taking the time to work with and get to know each student, it will be easier to find a teaching method that works for them. You should never just give up and deem them "uneducable", like in John's situation. He was labeled this in school, but was able to succeed later in life by being in an inclusive community that did not put a label on him. The National Down Syndrome Society is an organization that "advocates for the value, acceptance, and inclusion" for those with Down Syndrome. They hope that one day those with Down Syndrome will have better lives and become widely accepted member of the community. They have a "buddy walk" every year that "promotes inclusion between friends of every ability". This website also includes things like preferred language of people with down syndrome, inspiring stories, inclusion from an early age in community and education. This website is a great place to learn about Down Syndrome in general, and also learn about ways to create more inclusive environments. This society has been around since 1979!

        I have been involved in a lot of acts of inclusion in my school and in the community. I have been involved in Special Olympics and this gives children with all sorts of disabilities, including Down Syndrome to be able to participate in sports and work with people without disabilities. This program has been able to form lasting relationships in not only my life, but all of the other Buddy's lives as well. Also, my school was a huge supporter of our unified basketball team. This was a basketball team for those with disabilities and those without. We had certain time slots every so often, when our entire school would go watch a unified basketball game and cheer them on. These acts of inclusion are small steps to creating a well integrated and more aware society for those with disabilities, like Down Syndrome. You will never know how to make a situation better for a disabled person, without asking them directly. These websites and links were great way for me to connect to the article in different ways. I was able to research things from outside sources that directly related to the article by Kliewer. And I hope to talk about other peoples experiences with inclusion and Down Syndrome in class.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Literacy with an Attitude, Finn


This article was probably the hardest one so far for me to get through, even harder than Delpit. It wasn't just because of the excessive length, but also I found the content to be a bit boring and repetitive. 

          The major points that I got out of this article were about how schools for the working class, middle class, affluent professional schools, and executive elite schools are supposed to be educating students their students at the same standards, and levels. But the fact of the matter is, that according to this article the working class schools is not always seen as a problem because if they get properly educated, than they will realize that their education is not at the same standard as higher class neighborhood schools. In one example, they explained that the younger and less experienced teachers are sent to work with the lower classes, while the more experienced teachers teach the higher level classes. The quality for these schools is a lot different from the upper elite school, and according many different researches experiences in Finns article, they require a more authoritative approach. The workload in these classes tends to be more repetitive and less creative. According to Reich, he bluntly claims that 55% of the population is the working class, and they tend to be poorly paid members of society who work in the food industry, or security, or health care. 
          A slight difference from these schools are the middle class, which are a different type of schooling that is "taught to take orders" and learn directly from textbooks, they go a more tradition route and are less likely to be connecting school to their daily lives, less of them understood that they could be the creators of their own knowledge, in the survey that the students took. There was a statement about "possibility over resistance" which I thought to mean that they see colleges and jobs in their future only if they work hard and study the material. There is less creativity. Reich defines the middle class as 20% of the population that are most likely local and federal government employees and teachers. Economically the middle class stays the same and the schooling is average. My own schooling experience reminded me of this, but it all depends on the type of teacher and how devoted they are to the subject and their students. 
          The affluent professional schools are a step up from these and give their students more leeway to be creative, and find different methods of learning, rather than just the textbook. They can be more independent in their studies. They tend to come from more affluent families, and they find that learning in their schools is related to life's problems and "open to discovery. They view knowledge as the necessity to learn from tradition. Reich claims that the students who attend these schools come from the top 20% of society. They tend to come from solvers and creators in society, like doctors, lawyers, designers, engineers, etc. 
Finally, the executive elite schools are also part of the upper 20% as well. And they are given all of the tools they need with access to the best educators. The article talked about how some of the teacher had to watch what they said in class because the students were from very elite families, such as the mayor. The students are allowed more freedom and independence than any other school.
         This entire system is completely unfair. I don't understand why it has to be this way. Why should money and power give you a better education and better opportunities than those from poverty level? If schools are this different, than I think there should a happy medium between creativity and textbook and independence. All social classes should have access to the same education. The differences in these levels are astonishing, and it's really bothersome.
          Finn spoke about Kozal in this article, in regards to titling his book. Kozal has a story call Savage Inequalities. This reminds me of Mott Haven and how utterly unfair that their whole town and education system is compared to the upper class that has more power to do things like put incinerators in their town. Teachers tend to stay away from poverty stricken towns. Finn than spoke about how he wanted to use the title "Subtle Inequalities". But the inequalities between the school systems in different social classes may seem subtle, but that are just as Savage as the ones Kozal speaks about. 
          I was also thinking about Christensen while reading this article, and how she believes that schools should give students the tools they need to recognize stereotypes and oppression in their schools. The article spoke about the high class elite schools having independence and valuable tools. But the lower class is denied these rights, and they  tend to avoid the more controversial subject They are given unequal educational opportunities, and it does not supply them with the tools they need to fight back against the oppression they have to face, but can't even seem to realize. Freire was one of the men Finn spoke highly off, and he is a man that values culture and personal experience in the classroom, making him much like Christenson. He wants people to use dialogue, not anti-dialogue which is more derogatory. He wants to "empower the powerless" by giving them a system that is more rigorous, visual, cultural, and empowering. The things that are oppressing the students are "family, community, and school". He is able to realize and speak out about these inequalities.
          Lastly, I also found that Delpit was present in this article. The rules and codes in these schools differ because of the social class. The ones with the power are in the upper class with access to the best education because of their wealth and power. "The status quo is the status quo because people who have the power to make changes are comfortable with the way things are". This is not just in the classroom, this goes for the whole education community in the country. Those with the power want to keep it, rather than helping provide better educational opportunities for those in the working class. Finn was constantly speaking about the rules and codes of power within each school system, and how greatly that they differ because of class, Finn is working hard to give teachers the tools they need to teach to the best of their ability in the specific situations that might require different techniques. By speaking out about it Finn is having a Johnson moment by saying the words; its extremely important to recognize these issues and say them! Finn is saying that there is a problem based on the social classes and educational opportunities.

Overall I know that I might have written too much, but this was the only way that I feel I could have gotten my point across, and connect to the article. I would really like to talk more about this article in class, and see different interpretations from my classmates regarding this article to help me better understand it. 

This is an article I found about how the government is trying to make a ladder for those that are poverty stricken communities to grow into the middle class, maybe even improving education. click here

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Segregation is NOT Equal: Brown vs. Board of Education

Free Response Piece/Connections

          Throughout many of my years in school, I have learned about Brown vs. the Board of Education and the desegregation of schools. The American history website was able to provide all lot of great information about some of the most influential people and organizations like the NAACP. It took tremendous effort and decades of work to be able to finally desegregate schools, and sway the ruling of the Supreme courts. It took dedication by members of the community, activists groups, parents, students, teachers, lawyers, and a tremendous amount of time to finally desegregate schools. 
          Before winning the Brown vs. Board of Education Case, Plessey vs. Ferguson was a large step toward giving people of color free education. This was known as separate but equal. But in reality there was nothing equal about it. The Plessey vs. Ferguson case discussed on the website reminds me of Kozal and the community Mott Haven. They segregate this poor community from the rest and even put all of the sick people in one apartment. This only makes the sick get sicker with no opportunity to improve. Much like how the article by Herbert said "evidence show that poor kids of all ethnic backgrounds do better academically when they go to school with their more affluent — that is, middle class". This shows that putting all of the kids in poverty with lower learning skills in the same school will not give them the opportunity to improve.
          The way that I see the case Brown vs. Board of education is altered after reading the article by Bob Herbert, and watching the videos by Tim Wise. I used to see it as just a monumental change in education for colored people and blacks, which it is. But now I know that it is not even close to solving the problem of racism completely. According to Wise "is still very evident". Despite the progress that they made, it all happened over the span of decades, and took multiple series of events. Brown vs. the Board of Education was definitely a big event, like the civil rights movement, and the voting rights act. Neither of these are a complete solution on their own, just a tap on the glass. Wise has a great way of explaining racism with a 1.0 and 2.0. Racism 1.0 is what we have already defeated like segregation and the overly bias type. 2.0 is where people are starting to view people like Obama as a "transcending racist".
          There was a particular part of the video that I found very interesting. Wise spoke about a type of racism that has to do with expectations. When Obama became President Wise claimed he "broke the glass ceiling". But they never would have let a black person with some of the same credentials as someone like George Bush become President. He also gave examples of some presidents with past bad reputations and still becoming president. Like "crashing five planes and graduating fifth from the bottom of the naval academy". Obama would not have even been considered.  There should not be a double standard for blacks and whites. Why is there an acceptable blackness, but no sort of acceptable whiteness? Obama is an exceptional person, there are very few of us that can be a bright, articulate, and intelligent as Obama. A great point made by Wise in regards to this was "racism will end once blacks can be as mediocre as whites". This could not be truer, black are still given stereotypes like they are not as smart as whites, or they have a potentially higher crime rate.  
           Obama becoming President does not change everything, but like Brown vs. Board of Education and our history leading up to where we are today with racism, it is just another event in the series of steps leading to the end of racism.
          Herbert made a great point in his article about how racism is not close to an end, although there have been some great steps towards ending it. A majority of teachers and educators tend to stay away from schools with "high concentrations of poverty". This is a racist thing to do, by just assuming they don't have the ability to learn as well because of their social class and situation. He also said that we need to stop dancing around the topic of racism and for some reason "we pretend that no one's a racist anymore, but it's easier to talk about pornography in polite company than racial integration". This could not be truer and it is extremely sad that it is a true thing. It is a real eye opener for me to actually take the time to realize that these things are happening in the world today. This idea from Herbert goes hand in hand with Johnson who says "WE JUST NEED TO LEARN TO SAY THE WORDS!" Stop avoiding conversations about race and just say the words.
          My original ideas about Brown vs. the Board of Education were changed after reading and watching the videos by wise about contemporary views of racism. I agree with their ideas about how racism has not ended, and it takes a lot of time and a lot of events to get the ruling of the Supreme Court, and the opinions of everyday Americans to be changed. There are more subtle forms of racism today, although they are not as prominent and overly prejudice as those acts of racism in our history, they are still detrimental to society and it needs to end. We need to find a way to help those suffering, but it can't be a narcissistic act, it needs to be on that is altruistic. In order to change racist views we need to continue with what history has done, and continue fighting for change, and take each event like Obama as the first black president, and Brown vs. the Board of Education as a step in the right direction.
This is an interesting video coming from the contemporary view of everyday people, not the researchers that we watched videos of and read articles about, they are pretty similar to their views, just not as articulate and well researched.