Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Promising Practices

        I'm going to be honest and say I wasn't entirely thrilled about my experience at Promising Practices. The keynote address was made by Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott. She is the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health. Her topic was the importance of integrating Public Health and Social Work in Rhode Island. She discussed issues of addiction, STI rates, teen pregnancy and lack of health care availability to some. I think the keynote would have been more interesting if she didn't relate everything back to certain standards. She took more time explaining the standards rather than describing how we can make a difference with these issues.

      My first workshop was called Assessing Teacher Confidence and Proficiency with Sexual Health Education Standards: Implications for Professional Development. I was interested in this because it originally said assessing teacher confidence and proficiency. Since I am in the education program, I wanted to learn different ways to become a better teacher and I thought that's what this would be. It wasn't until the day of Promising Practices I found out it had to do with Sexual Health Education. Even at that, I was still interested because I am going for Physical and Health Education so this will be part of my program.
     The workshop discussed a study made by one of the professors on campus Dr. Fisher. She sent out a questionnaire to all of the school nurses, physical educators and health educators in Rhode Island schools. Of those that replied, she found many did not feel the met the standards required for sexual education. This was not surprising to me because it is a very uncomfortable subject to teach as well as learn. This reminded me of August and Safe Spaces. I believe in order to have safe spaces, you need to be able to educate and be comfortable discussing such topics. I know Planned Parenthood has been under scrutiny for a while but they do a great deal about education. I found this tool to help educators be more comfortable implementing sexual education in schools.

     My second workshop of the day was Youth Action for All Abilities. Kathleen Kuiper is a Rhode Island Parent Information Network resource specialist coordinator at the Rhode Island Department of Health. She brought some students along with her who worked in the programs they discussed. It was great to hear some of their stories but I wish there was more information about them and the programs. The majority of the workshop was dedicated to the history of disabilities. I understand the need to have a background, but it shouldn't have taken up the majority of the workshop. This did however remind me of Kliewer and how important it is to integrate students with special needs into regular classrooms rather than segregate them. I feel this was one of the messages they were trying to send in this workshop through their programs, but should have implemented it a different way.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Empowering Education by Ira Shor

I had a difficult time reading this. I wasn't really grasping the entire concept but I now have a better understanding thanks to MaryAbby's blog. She did an amazing job of taking Shor's main arguments and making them more understandable. MaryAbby brought up the fact that education is politics. This has to do with funding, school structures and the defense of the school system itself.


The breakdown of funds to schools goes by the community as well as scores on mandatory testing. The communities with more profitable careers will have more tax dollars spent on their schools compared to communities who are less fortunate causing less money to go to the schools. This disparity in funds creates a gap in the education the students are receiving which causes the upper class students to receive a better education than the lower class because of the amount of money spent on their education. With this, test score differ and instead of helping the underperforming schools, they punish them by not giving them as much money. So they are forced to stay in the underperforming levels because they are not receiving the funds they need to improve.


 This has to do with funding as well since the lower class who do not have the money to dedicate to their schools often suffer and are faced with older facilities that are not suitable for a proper education of the students. This can cause health and safety issues and can distract students from learning. This particularly stands out to me from the American Life episode that talked about dead pigeons falling from the ceilings in classrooms. It took an action like that to be publicized before something would be done to fix the structural damage of the building.


When tax cuts need to be made in communities, it often goes to school budgets. The defense of the school system needs to be a higher priority. We are educating the future citizens of our country and yet that doesn't seem to be enough to make cuts from something else. The fact that educators no longer need to focus on the proper education of their students and need to focus more on advocating for what they are teaching and the supplies they need to do it is unsettling.

The world is all about politics. It's all about who you know and your economic status that can influence how far you get in life. This is the same with schools. The better the community, the more political influence they have, the better their schools and education will be. It all goes back to one of the overall lessons from this semester: PRIVILEDGE.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome by Kliewer (Reflection)

I am at Rhode Island College to become a Physical Educator. With this comes the responsibility and the privilege of working with children with disabilities such as Down Syndrome. This reading really hit home with me because my classes so far have taught me to educate to the learning abilities of each individual student. This can be very difficult because I will see numerous students a year and only for a short period of time. While trying to improve the physical ability, fitness and knowledge of each student, I need to create a learning environment suitable for everyone at the same time because there will be a mix of different abilities in one class.

We often see videos on Youtube or Facebook that show kids with disabilities being put in a sports game when their team has a huge lead to give them a chance to play. If they have the skills to play, why does it have to be when the team is ahead? When there is no risk of losing or winning if the game is a blowout by the opposing team?

Though these videos are heartwarming and the students are accepted by their peers on and off the field, they are not given the same opportunities as everyone else. These young men were not put on the field or court for a game time decision or as a substitute for an injured player. They got their time because their teams were A LOT!

They are put into classes "designed" for their learning abilities which is great, but it takes them away from the rest of the school population. Kliewer talks about this segregation and how these students are not incorporated into other classrooms with other students throughout their school career. They are denied these privileges of meeting and learning from their nondisabled students and feeling a part of the school community. Students with disabilities can learn a great deal from those without but I believe those without disabilities can learn much more from those who do. This is why I truly believe integrated Physical Education classes, as well as all classes, can benefit all students. To give them opportunities to succeed in society just like everyone else. Hopefully videos like the one below will become normal....

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Literacy with an Attitude by Patrick Finn (Connection)

After reading Finn, it reminds me a lot of Delpit, Johnson and Kozol. Finn himself mentions Kozol in this reading. However, Finn's writing style is similar to Kozol. Finn uses personal experience and tells a story to get his point across. I liked hearing his personal experience and helped me understand his main idea a little easier.

"The status quo is the status quo because people who have the power to make changes are comfortable with the way things are." (Finn XI).

This quote could be straight from Johnson. Johnson talks about privilege and how those with privilege often don't realize they have it while those without it do realize it. Finn talks about the rich children getting empowering education which leads to positions of power and authority compared to the rest of the children who get a domesticated education which allows them to be productive but not be troublesome. The rich don't want change because they have everything going for them and don't want to risk properly educating the  lower classes because it may impact their status.

*This video describes how much of an impact the middle class could have if  they were to use their power of numbers to "rise up" and make a change. Something the wealthy are scared of*

"I didn't say to an errant student, 'What are you doing?' I said,  'Stop that and get to work.' No discussions. No openings for argument." (Finn 4).

Delpit would have been proud. Finn understood these students needed explicit directions in the lower level literacy classes. Since they are doing so poorly in literacy, they may not be able to understand the true meaning of a question such as "What are you doing?". A teacher really means why are you not doing what I asked you to do while all the students hear is what are you doing? These explicit instructions allowed the students to understand exactly what is expected of them and gives them the tools of success.

I enjoyed reading this. I like his experience as a teacher and the methods he used to make his students successful. He understood their needs and created an environment suitable for them. It gave them a sense of accomplishment by receiving their graded work the next class and completing assignments that were fit for their learning abilities. I hope I can be like this as a teacher.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Connections to Authors


  • One of the most surprising things I found when I first started was that every classroom has a smartboard and almost every student has a laptop. Technology is one of the most powerful tools in today's society. It has become a resume booster for what types of technology a person can use. With this and the school including smartboards and laptops, I believe they are teaching the students the rules and codes of power because understanding how to use technology at a young age will help them in the future.


  • One of my students opened up to me and said that graduating isn't important. This either goes against the school not making graduating an important topic or her home life where no one graduated or they do not show an importance in doing so. I also feel this could connect to Delpit as well because no one is teaching her the rules and codes of power. Graduating would increase her chances of getting a better job and even increase the possibility of attending college which would allow her to go farther in life but no one is specifically telling her this either at home or at school.

Kahne & Westheimer

  • For the past 6 weeks I have felt my time at Harry Kizirian has been charity rather than change. I work with the same group of students in my fourth grade class and work with all of the students in my fifth grade class. In both classes, the students read aloud in popcorn style. I felt like I wasn't really doing anything to help them. Yesterday, one of my students needed an intervention on a couple of things and I was able to work with her one on one and I could see how she began to understand it and connect things. It made me feel important because I was able to actually help her understand and I felt like I was making a change rather than just going for charity.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Problem We All Live With

"One of the most powerful tools for improving the educational achievement of poor black and Hispanic public school students is, regrettably, seldom even considered." (Herbert 1). Each one of these readings and podcasts talk about the importance of integration in closing the  gap between middle-class, white students and low-income and poverty stricken black and Hispanic students. Each has a different story and view.
Episode 562: The Problem We All Live With


In the first episode of The Problem We All Live With, the focus is on integration by accident. Michael Brown, a black man shot by a cop in Ferguson, MO brought about huge controversy around the country. One thing that stuck out was how, after his death, his mother mentioned how difficult it was to get him to graduate because not many black boys do.
Normandy High School, where Brown graduated from, is almost 100% black. Based on scores from the state and Board of Education, the students were underperforming in every subject and Normandy was placed on probation.....for 15 years. In January 2013, Normandy lost its accreditation and the Transfer Law was enacted. This law allowed any student from Normandy to transfer to another school district for free. To try and suede the students from leaving, the bussing school of choice for the Normandy School District was Francis Howell which was 30 miles away and 85% white. 1,000 students; 1/4 of the population, left Normandy for Francis Howell. Francis Howell became integrated by accident because of the loss of accreditation of Normandy.

Episode 563: The Problem We All Live With Part II
In Part II, the focus is on integration as a choice. Connecticut is home to many wealthy and middle-class suburban areas because of its close proximity to New York and Manhattan. However, Hartford, CT is a normal urban area with a high population of low-income, poverty stricken black, Hispanic and Asian people. The public school system was underfunded and caused many issues. John Britain decided to sue the State of Connecticut because of these conditions. He was able to gather staff from the Hartford schools and even the Board of Education to testify. This brought about the awareness of collapsing roofs, large class sizes, flooding and worst of all pigeon carcasses falling into classrooms. John Britain won in an appeal but it took many years after before the state would settle.

One of John Britain's law students, Edin Ray, took on his belief of integration as a choice and started promoting the magnet schools in Hartford to middle-class, suburban white families. She used marketing techniques often used by large companies such as Apple and Pepsi to create an idea that your child could pick a school that offered them something they are actually interested in rather than attending the same, boring curriculums in normal public schools. The classes were diverse as some students came from Hartford itself, but this gave families the choice to integrate their children into city schools with a diverse population.
Separate and Unequal by: Bob Herbert
"Long years of 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-- peers." (Herbert 1). With years of evidence, you would think integration would be more highly considered. Even though schools are no longer legally segregated, they are segregated based on residential patterns, housing discrimination and economic disparities. All of the poor are living with the poor and the rich as living with the rich. There is such a large economic gap in the country that it is near impossible for someone from a low-income family to attend a public school or private school in a middle-class or upper-class area. This relates back to Kristoff and how children's future economic statuses will be based on their parents' economic status. The middle to upper-class are providing more opportunities for their kids when it comes to education that low-income families and communities cannot provide. This creates Herbert's argument of separate and unequal.
Separate is Not Equal: Brown vs. Board of Education
In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brown vs. Board of Education stripped away constitutional sanctions for segregation by race, and made equal opportunity in education law. Today, in 2015, our schools are still segregated. It may not be by law but it is by economic status. Those who are underprivileged remain underprivileged while those who are privileged remain privileged. Separate is not Equal.
With accidental, choice and forced integration being successful, you would think it would be used and enforced in the school systems. With our country becoming more and more diverse, diversity in schools should be considered an advantage for the future. To learn and understand the differences so we can live with them as they become more and more prominent. Integration may be the solution, but no one wants to talk about it.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

In the Service of What? by Kahne and Westheimer (Argument)


Kahne and Westheimer's  argument is service learning to promote change, not charity. The authors discuss different service learning projects throughout the article and focus on how most are about the charity of the act rather than the interest to make a change. One example that really stuck out to me  was a girl who volunteered at a Veterans' Memorial Senior Center for Thanksgiving. Her and her stepmother served Thanksgiving meals to the seniors and at the end of her experience she mentioned how nice it was to see these veterans get together and make the holidays a little less lonely since they often don't have family near by.

"This experience and other like it, quite common in the literature of service learning, emphasize charity more than change. The experience was structured to promote giving rather than to provide the kind of understanding needed for the development of caring relationships. As a result, the student's descriptions of the event lacked the perspective and input of those she was helping." (Kahne and Westheimer 7).

Though the girl completed an act of kindness in serving these veteran seniors, she did not get to know them and learn about their circumstances and figure out ways to help them long term rather than one day. Many students complete community service or service learning assignments as part of classes or for religious reasons. They often participate to get the grade or complete their required hours but they often don't learn from it. They see the impact they have while they are there but do not continue with it once their requirements are complete. This is what Kahne and Westheimer were talking about. The service learning assignments have mostly become about charity rather than change. The youth often feel putting in their time is enough rather than trying to make a difference.

Many schools are now trying to require service learning into their curriculum and even a requirement to graduate. By making it a requirement, the students don't take anything from it. They know they need to complete it in order to graduate and don't put any effort into it. Rather than learning from those they work with, they do what they are told just to finish. This relates to our service learning in this class. It is a requirement for the class but I am trying to get the most out of it. I want to learn the different teaching styles and the different students to be able to use it in my future career as a teacher. This past week, I was working with my fourth grade group and they asked if I remember their names and I went around and remembered them all. One student spoke up to me and said I learned their names fast and she was very impressed. They now take me a bit more seriously because I took the time to remember them and our small group time is fun. This is what Kahne and Westheimer argue service learning is about. It is about taking time to do charity but also make an effort to make a change.