Saturday, May 4, 2013

Social Justice Event- Walkathon

In addition to my service learning project, I volunteer at another school as well. I also volunteer at George J. Peters Elementary School in Cranston. I usually go about one or two days a week depending on my schedule and I work with the afternoon kindergarten class. Last week I was asked to help out during the schools Annual Walkathon. Since kindergarten is only two and a half hours, they do not get to walk as long as the other children do. They are only able to walk about half the time as the other students. A few weeks before the Walkathon, teachers send home news letters that tell a little about the Walkathon and then they also send home a donation sheet. It works out well for the school and for the children for two main reasons. One is that the children get to spend time with their parents, if there parents do come to walk and the school gives away prizes to the people who raise the most money, so this gives them a little extra motivation. This also helps the school raise a lot of money, which sometimes goes to programs at the school and sometimes goes to charities.

One article that I can relate my Social Justice Event to is Alan Johnson's "Privilege, Power, and Difference". Throughout Johnson's article, he tells us about the issues and differences that wee see in society today and some of us might even face there differences. Johnson mainly talks about race, social class, and gender but I think that I can include the Walkathon into his article. The Walkathon is some thing for everyone to participate in. Any family, any gender, any race, and any grade. There is no discrimination at this time and I think Johnson would really be impressed with this because he just wants us to "work together to share the space in the world." We are all working together to give donations and walk for many causes, as the charity changes every year. During the Walkathon, everyone is there for one charity, one cause. No matter the race, gender, or social class, everyone puts their differences aside for this event. I was really honored that I was asked to be part of such an amazing walk that took place at a somewhat diverse elementary school. I just loved seeing all the children getting along, having fun, and coming together for this one cause. This has by far been one of my favorite events at George J. Peters Elementary School.

Another article that I would like to relate this to is "Charity or Change?" by Kahne and Westheimer. For me in this situation, I feel as though this is just charity work for me. I am just walking around the school yard with about fifteen six year-old children, hoping that I can keep them all in one group and keep them all together. But for them and for the students of George J. Peters, this is an example of change for them. They are walking for a cause. Sometimes it is a charity and other times it is to raise money for something in their school. Either way, if it is for something in their school, they are going to raise money to afford something they could not before, therefore it will be something new added to their school. If they are doing it for a charity, then they are donating a lot of money to a charity that did not have as much money before, therefore they are making a change to this charity and I am sure that the charities that I do receive money from these Walkathon programs are very grateful and appreciate every penny they are receiving.

The last article I wish to connect my Social Justice Event to is "Brown VS Board of Ed/Can Separate be Equal?". Except, I have a counter and very upsetting example. As I walked around the school with my kindergarten class, we could see inside some of my classrooms. I went to this school when I was little and so did my sister, so I know exactly where the special education room is, there is only one room and it is located right near the playground. It just so happens that during our Walkathon, we walked right through the playground and past this special education room and unfortunately, none of the special education children were outside during the Walkathon. It honestly got me really upset because right as I walked by I just thought in my head "this is not equal." Brown VS Board talks about how issues dealing with race in the 1950's were unequal and it just broke my heart to see that maybe it has changed with race, but why not with disabilities? They are no different and should not be discriminated like this. Not only are these students separated from regular classrooms, but they are not even participating in school functions. This just shows me that separate is not equal and it makes me ask myself "will it ever be equal?" Not only should students with disabilities get the same learning privileges as other students, but there is no reason why they can not participate in schools functions like a Walkathon.

Random Misc. Post- STILL LOVE DISNEY

As I mentioned in my introduction blog post and a few of my other posts, I have a sick obsession with Disney, like its kind of a problem. I love all the movies and characters, especially all of the princesses. My favorite princess is Belle so when we watched the opening scene in class, it was a great day for me, except I wish I could have sang the song.. HAHA. As for my random blog post, I would just like to talk about my opinions on Disney movies in relation to some of the articles that we read in class.

I do think that there can be hidden messages in Disney movies. But some people do not pick up on them. Obviously little kids just want to watch the movies for fun and entertainment so they do not pay attention to the negative aspects or hidden messages in the movies. I myself, being one of Disney's biggest fans, also do not think about these negative aspects because I love the movies so much. If I never took this class and never completed the reading "Cinderella Ate My Daughter" by Peggy Orenstein, I still would not realize what I do now about the Disney movies. From reading Orenstein's article and from our class discussions, I do realize that girls in movies are portrayed as beautiful, yet weak. In most of your classic Disney movies, the white girls are portrayed as beautiful, but they are also portrayed as non-independent women. Every princess eventually gets her prince. However, not all women are portrayed as weak. Mulan, for example, took her dads place in the army so that he wouldn't struggle or die. She was not about feeling beautiful and although she felt like she was letting her family down, she knew that standing in as her father was the best thing for her to do and it was exactly what she wanted to do. Pocahontas is another great example. She was also a leader when she stood up for someone she loved, which was also someone of a different race. So Pocahontas does intertwine multiracial relationships.

I feel as though there can be hidden messages in any movie, not just Disney movies. Below I put a video of the same clip we watched in class that does portray some hidden messages in Disney's "Beauty and the Beast". I also put a clip from Mulan, basically showing that "she is not meant to play the part" of being beautiful. I will still to this day love all the Disney movies but now as I watch them, all the things I learned from this class and Peggy Orenstein's article will be in the back of my head.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Shor- Reflection

I was not really all that into this article. I didn't even finish it but after reading about half of it, I noticed that it got repetitive. Sometimes I felt like I was reading the same stuff over and over again. But maybe that's just how some authors like to get their main points across.

As I first started reading this article, one particular quote stood out to me from the very beginning and that quote was "You must arouse children's curiosity and make them think about school. For example, it's very important to begin the school year with a discussion of why we go to school. Why does the government force us to go to school? This would set a questioning tone and show the children that you trust them and that they are intelligent enough. at their own level, to investigate and come up with answers". I think this is an excellent quote. I really like it and I completely agree. If children know you have faith in them and think that they are capable of doing something, they are going to try much harder because they know that you have confidence in them. The questioning tone is a great way to approach things, especially if maybe you are a first year teacher. Another thing I like about this quote is that it does not insinuate that they is always one answer for everything. When asking a question that begins with why, there sometimes may be more than one answer. I bet if a teacher asked "Why does the government make us go to school?" in a primary school, you would get a variety of different answers.

Points to share: I do wonder what other points stood out to people while reading this article and did anyone else find it repetitive?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Citizenship In School- Connections

When reading this article by Christopher Kliewer, it made me think back to Delpit, specifically when she talks about the rules and codes of power. Delpit tells us that we need to teach the kids the rules and codes of power so they know right from wrong. In this article, Kliewer believes that children with disabilities need to be mixed in regular classes with students who do not have disabilities, mainly so the children know that they are equal and not being separated from the other students. It also made me think "can separate be equal?"

The article basically focuses on the idea that children should be put together in one classroom whether they have disabilities or not. No child should feel how little Mia Peterson felt when she was in school. As educators, we do not want the children to feel sad and angry that they are not with other children. It just makes them feel like they can not achieve as much as the other students. Kliewer believes that if you want your child to be successful in this society, they need to comprehend a specific "dialogue".

Kliewer believes that schools act like "sorting machines", which reminds me of tracking. Schools discriminate students by their race, ability, and gender. When schools separate the children like this and begin to track them. it creates a competition between the children, which is not what we want. Tracking can be viewed as discriminating against children. If children know they are being put in the special ed classes, they are just going to view themselves as not as smart as the other children.

My point to share is this. This quote caught my attention while reading and I was wondering what other people thought of it: "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."

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Finn- Extended Comments

As I started reading "Literacy With An Attitude" by Finn, I was a little confused. But after finishing reading the preface and chapter one, I had a better understanding of it. After completing the reading, I still was not fully confident with it. So I went and looked at other peoples blog and Nicole's really stood out to me.

First off, I really love the picture Nicole put up on her blog with the block and the circle that says "you are here." I completely agree with Nicole when she says "This Type A teacher sounds and nearly represents everything perfect; someone who is neutral towards everything and does all things out of goodness. However the flaw in this is that to remain “neutral” is to represent not both or no political groups but represent the dominant one." So, one thing that it seems that we both agree on is that teachers reinforce this. Another thing I agree with is that teachers want to help their students aim to become "critical agents” by providing conditions where students can "speak, write, and assert their own histories, voices, and learning experiences.". Nicole also mentioned this in her blog. I think Nicole picked out a lot of great quotes from the text and I agree with all of them. Her blog really helped me to understand things more, especially when I watched the video she put up. If anyone has not watched the video, I would highly recommend watching it!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Brown V.S. Board of ED- Reflection

Sorry for the late blog post! Even thought my last blog post was also a reflection, I felt as thought I could connect this piece to my life. I grew up in Cranston, specifically the Western part of Cranston. A majority of the people living in this area come from white middle-class families. When I was in school, it was almost all white children. I think in my whole elementary school there was about two people of color. I have never dealt with any racial issues because a majority of the people I went to school and interacted with were white. Now that I am at RIC, my eyes actually see the diversity. RIC is most definitely the most diverse school that I have ever attended and this may be the case for other people who come from areas like mine.

As I read through the New York Times Article by Bob Herbert, I agreed with what he was saying and could relate to it in some ways. Herbert tells us that while in school, being separate and equal does not exist. Something else that he tells us in his article is that schools are districted by their location. This is so that the public schools are closer to the inner cities, which are mostly made up of colored students. Herbert tells us because of this location, the schools do not get as much funding and this can be a form of racism. When I think of this situation, it kind of confuses me a little because of the funding. Some cities just don't have the money to give, it is not because there are students of color who attend the school. I do believe that this can count as a form of racism, but I do think that this is a mild case compared to some of the other things we see in our everyday life. 

My point to share with the class is this: I would love to hear other people's reactions to the New York Times article by Herbert. Do you agree with what he is saying or disagree? How do you feel about what he tells us about the locations of certain schools and how do you think the location plays a role in the funding?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

In Service of What- Reflection

As I began reading "In the Service of What", I was a little lost and unsure of what was going on and how I was going to write my blog. As I kept reading, the term community service stayed in my mind. The more I read, the more I had the idea of community service stuck in my mind and I just kept remembering all the community service I had done over the past years. Both authors, Westheimer and Kahne describe different ways to complete community service and ways to get involved in the community to the readers.

Over the past few years, I have completed community service at a few different places. One thing that I did for community service was for my senior project. As the end of my senior year, I volunteered at a daycare. I thought this would be a good idea since I was planning to major in Elementary Education. It was really great to help these children out because you could tell that they did not get much help at home so it felt really good that I could go to their classroom three times a week to help them. This is also how I feel about my service learning placement this semester. I know most of these kids come from low-income families so most of the time their parents are working so they don't have time to go over things with them. It makes me feel a lot better knowing that I helped improve their reading skills. 

Something else that I have done is give clothes, toys, and books away to families that can not afford it. Even though I was not going out to buy them brand new clothes and toys, I feel great knowing that maybe I helped make their winter nights a little bit warmer. Many kids, especially in Providence, do not have money to just go buy new clothes whenever they want. Some families can barely put three meals on the table a day. Knowing that I can help these families makes me feel really good. Why should I throw away my old clothes when they are in good condition and can go to people who really need them?

As I read on, I saw that Westheimer and Kahne said that some states require students to do community service in order to graduate. My school did require this and every year the amount of hours increased. When I graduated I only had to complete ten hours. Now, I believe my high school requires twenty hours to graduate. This was put into effect my junior year but I do think it is a good idea to get kids involved with the community so they can see what the real world is like. 

My point to share in class is this: How many other people had to complete community service hours in order to graduate? If you did, what did you do and do you think it was useful? If you did not, do you think it is a good idea and how do you feel about not completing the hours? Do you feel as though it has a negative or positive effect on you today?