Thursday, December 10, 2015

Promising Practices

I went to two different events but both were related in the fact that they had to do with helping students with mental and/or physical disabilities find positive outlets to become members of their communities. 
The first presentation I went to was about Special Olympics. I was really excited to go to this presentation! i could not wait. It was really informative and it helped to re-instill the feelings I got when I first decided to go into Special Education and why. 
The look of pure joy and fun on the athletes's faces, competing at the different Special Olympics games gave me goosebumps. 
I never knew they had so many programs! 
AND not only did they have events for athletes with mild to moderate physical/ mental disabilities but they had events specifically designed for those athletes with sever physical/mental disabilities. 
I also learned about this amazing program called unified sports. I had never heard of it until I went to this lecture. I think that unified sports is an amazing idea. 
For those of you who don't know what unified sports are; unified sports consist of teams made up of athletes without any form of disability as well as those who have a disability. They compete against other unified sports teams. They not only have fun but they all learn something. They gain new friends. They gain a sense of belonging. They gain a sense of confidence. 
The Special Olympics and Unified Sports are doing so much more then bringing athletes together, they are also providing health care for these athletes. And the athletes love when it comes to time for their check-ups. 
The sense of joy, pride, confidence and accomplishment that Special Olympics is providing for these athletes is incredible! And they not only provide these resources to teens through adults, but they also have started a young athletes program to get little kids involved in sports! 
For more information, check out the link below:
The second lecture I went to was Youth Action for All Abilities. 
I did not like this one as much. I chose it because I thought it went hand in hand with the Special Olympics. And it did to an extent. However, I was just not as engaged in this lecture as I was in my first. 
The lectures were members of the Rhode Island YouthACT team and members of the Youth Advisory Council. 
They discussed their program and how the provide an after school club for students with learning disabilities who otherwise, may not become involved in a school club. 
Their message and program was great to learn about. However, I felt as though they spent too much talking about the history of disabilities and the injustices people with disabilities faced rather then on the purpose and desires of their program.
I really enjoyed hearing the personal stories from some of the lectures who were actually members of the group. 
Again, I just wish they spent less time on the history and more on their program. 

Overall, it wasn't a bad experience. Except for the fact that it was geared toward nursing and health majors when a majority of those in attendance were education majors. It got off to a slow start but once I was in the Special Olympics lecture, I didn't want to leave! 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Shor Empowering Education Reflection

    School and Politics go hand and hand according to this article. Without politics, there would be little to no funding for schools. They would not have the resources they needed to continue. There are actually many programs and schools strictly for Politics. Politics control everything. It is all about "who you know". This not only applies to the schools but also to other institutions. 

    My dad is a providence firefighter and recently they had their contract violated- or as the mayor says, it was never valid to begin with. They now have to work 15 more hours a week for no pay because the mayor says that the Firefighters are the ones who are going to bankrupt the city. The politicians- not all, but most, are corrupt and support the mayor because it means that they are not going to lose any money. My dad is going to be lucky to get the benefits of the pension that he has worked 24 years for. (rant over)
    So, back to the article. Politics has a favorite. They are the schools that are going to benefit the politicians themselves. The richy-rich schools are the most beneficial. They are the ones who "produce "To educate is to adapt the child to an adult social environment"
     Yes, better resources and funding helps schools produce better environments for their students to learn in. Yes, they can probably hire more "qualified" teachers and educators. But more money also produces a greed. I'm not saying that all teachers who work in higher funded schools are only there for the money but some are. And in the same breathe, those teachers who work in underfunded schools aren't better then those who work in upper class school.
    So far, I've only discussed the money aspect if this article. But I know there is a whole lot more to this article. The  curriculum is based on politics which is a big problem. With the politicians controlling what the teachers teach, the students only learn what the politicians want them to learn. This creates a very  narrow minded curriculum. 
    With a narrow minded curriculum, there comes narrow minded students who grow up to be narrow minded adults. Some of these students become politicians who keep pushing their one way ideas. Some become teachers who either continue to teach the narrow mindedness or they push against that glass and they don't take the path of least resistance. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome Quotes

1. "He (Isaac Johnson) tells the most amazing stories. I know you've heard him. But he'll just (she made a series of babbling sounds)- like that. And he'll be acting it out, incredibly dramatic, and you'll have absolutely no idea what he's saying. Nothing. Zero. Nothing. There's not one intelligible word in there. But I know him. And I'd say, from knowing him, watching him there, at home, thats its all story-related. The first time I tried reading Where The Wild Things Are, which is his favorite book, he couldn't sit. He had to be up, dancing in the middle of the circle, acting out. He couldn't resist. He could not help himself. It got all the kids going. We were all Wild Things and it just came alive!"(76).

   Reading this, I honestly got a huge smile on my face and goose-bumps. This makes me so happy! I want to be a Special Education teacher and it was actually a down syndrome child that helped me know that this is what I wanted to do. They are the brightest, happiest, sweetest children- and teenagers/adults- ever! They are constantly smiling. What makes me get goose-bumps is this teacher. She allows this to happen. Even when Isaac started getting the other students riled up, she didn't tell him to stop. This is how Isaac interacts with the story. This is his way of showing how he feels. It made me happy to read how she is doing something to change the way that students with disabilities are taught and treated. The article was all about finding ways to incorporate students with disabilities into the classroom with students with non disabilities to help them become better citizens. This school, Shoshone Elementary School, is amazing with what it does. Their students with disabilities are not separated from their students without. They have lesson plans that are geared towards each child's skills and their specific needs while keeping them at the same level as those students without. 

2. "Recognized a child's nonconformity as a natural human diversity; a source of strength that could be supported by the school community in order that it add a unique and valuable dimension to that community" (78). 

   I think this is huge! The fact that students who are normally seen as nonconforming students are usually labeled as problem students. To change how they are seen will create a unique society. This will help install a sense of individuality as part of the community. Sometimes people see individuality as being an "outcast" of society. But in this article, they talk about individuality and nonconformity as being a dimension of community. 

3. "Beginning with the simple act of listening. Shayne created not only a valued community role for Anne but one that the young woman relsihed"(78).

   First off, Anne is a young women with down syndrome who, was absent from her high school transition planing conference where the decided that she will be a preschool aide. Shayne knew that Anne did not particularly care for young children and was unhappy with the prospect. Anne wanted to be a Hollywood director, so Shayne took it upon herself to find Anne a job in a local video store. It was not Hollywood but it was a move in the right direction. Anne excelled and really connected with the customers. She loves it at the video store. And all because Shayne actually listened and payed attention to Anne interests. Shayne not only helped Anne get a job that she likes, but she helped Anne become a unique part of the community. 

Shayne Robbins is helping these students to learn the rules and codes of power in a way that is not only accessible to them, but will help them to become a valued aspect of their communities. They are able to succeed in their communities because they are given the same opportunities and are able to take the same classes as those students who are not disabled. This article helps to not only show some success stories of people with down syndrome becoming valued parts of their communities but also ways that schools can help their disabled students get the same education and experiences that the students without disabilities have.
-Tim's Place; the first restaurant owned by a young man with Down Syndrome. 


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Literacy with an Attitude Hyperlinks/ Quotes

I really had trouble connecting with the text this week so extracting a lot of information was hard. I pulled some quotes that I thought made an impact on me and I found some other articles that I thought enhanced the quotes I picked.

Finn's piece is about the differences in literacy between the social classes. He discusses the two different kinds of education that students receive based on their social class. 

     "First, there is empowering education, which leads to powerful literacy, the kind of literacy that leads to positions of power and authority. Second, there is domesticating education, which leads to functional literacy, literacy that makes a person productive and dependable, but not troublesome."

Then a couple of paragraphs down, Finn says who benefits from each type of education. 

"When rich children get empowering education nothing changes.
But when working-class children get empowering education you get literacy with an attitude. "

This is the sentence where Finn got his idea for his title. 

"Over time, political, social, and economic forces have brought us to a place where the working class (and to a surprising degree, the middle class) gets domesticating education and functional literacy, and the rich get empowering education and powerful literacy. We don't worry about a literate working class because the kind of literacy they get doesn't make
them dangerous."

Finn talks about social Change only being possible by those who would benefit from it.

The statistics that show how people in poverty are less literate then those people in the middle and upper classes are astounding. 

This article is about "Growing Demand, Dwindling Resources

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Service Learning

     Okay, so trying to connect my Service Learning experience with three authors that we have read this semester is pretty hard. I am in a fourth grade classroom and they really do not discuss nor do they have to discuss the topics that are covered in the readings. I can see some similarities to some authors, however, I feel they are a bit of a stretch. I actually used Taylor's blog as a model for mine, because we are both in the same situation with limited ways to connect our classrooms to the authors so far. 

      Collier: In my classroom, the students are minorities students. There is actually only one student who is not considered a minority. The primary language spoken in class is English but every now and then I will hear a little side conversation of Spanish. It's really cool to see the students smiling while they talk in Spanish. I haven't asked the students what languages they speak and what language they first learned but the next time I have service learning I will ask and post an update! 

      August: Although August teaches about creating a safe environment for students who are LGBTQ or know someone who is LGBTQ, I feel it can relate to creating a safe environment for students who are considered a minority and speak a different language. 
     In the reading group I had the Thursday before Columbus Day Weekend, we were reading about Christopher Columbus. Some of the names were Spanish and Portuguese. I let the students read and it was really cool to hear how they pronounced a Spanish word. I was following along with them so I could help them if they got stuck on a certain word. When they got to a certain word, that was Spanish, I proceed it one way- the English way- and they pronounced it the Spanish way, and more then likely the correct way. I didn't correct them because I don't know Spanish and they did. It was really cool to hear their voice kind of get excited when they saw a Spanish name or something they recognized. It was cool for my to hear their accent and their pronunciation of the word! 

     Delpit: The classroom I am in is a fourth grade class. Their teacher is Ms. Priscilla Santiago. She is only 23 years old. The kids absolutely love her. She runs her class very well. She explicitly tells her students what they should be doing. When a student isn't doing what they should, she asks them what they should be doing. If they do not know, then she tells them again. If they do know, she tells them to do what they should be doing then. She doesn't  ask open ended questions that could leave the students with even more  questions. She gives them the rules and codes they need to succeed in her classroom. She has different reading groups that are broken up based upon each student's reading ability. The advanced students get advanced reading and critical thinking questions to accompany that reading. Her lower level reading students get readings that will challenge them but not to the point of discouragement. The readings that she has me help them with, are to help better them. She caters to each students needs while providing them the tools they need to improve as well as get ahead in certain aspects. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Problem We All Live With quotes

"Everybody’s in favor of helping poor black kids do better in school, but the consensus is that those efforts are best confined to the kids’ own poor black neighborhoods. Separate but equal. The Supreme Court understood in 1954 that it would never work. But our perpetual bad faith on matters of race keeps us trying" (Bob Herbert).
I chose this quote to open up with because I feel like it really speaks to the two broadcasts and the article. It calls attention to the first broadcast in the sense that both are about the idea of integration. In the first broadcast they talked about the forced desegregation and integration of students from uncredited schools with those of students from credited schools. The broadcast is about the resistance of integration and desegregation.
In 2015, we still have schools that are segregated. Not by law but by accident; through economic diversities, traditions, and housing discriminations.
When schools, like Normandy in Missouri, are uncredited, their students are given the opportunity to go to a predominately white school where they have the most qualified teachers and some of the best schools around. However, when stereotypes fill the minds of the parents whose kids will now be integrated with these students from poverty areas, these opportunities seem to slip away before they could even reach out and grab them.
"If you're surrounded by a bunch of kids who are all behind, you stay behind. But if you're in a classroom that has some kids behind and some kids advance, the kids who are behind tend to catch up. These kids in these classes in schools with concentrated poverty don't have that.So it's not even like they're getting the same quality teachers as kids who are advanced. They're getting worse teachers. When you combine those two things, it is almost impossible to undo that harm. You have to break that up"(Nikole Hannah).
Yet, once this integration happens, all the stereotypes that had previous filled people's minds and preconceptions of these ghetto students are gone. No incidents happen and these children thrive in their new schools.
The second broadcast talks about the acceptance or rather, the rushing toward the opportunity to integrate. They talk aout a young girl, Kiana, who embraces the idea of integration. She saw some white kids at her predominately black and nation school, and went over and sat with them and made friends. She is a one women integration program.
She was curious about white people. Even though she lived in New York where they said there was about 4 million white people, she never had a white person as a friend and now she did. She decided to go t college upstate so that she could experience full heartedly. She loved every second of being in college with predominantly white people and she is doing really well.
So I've thought about this moment many times since then because it's weird, right? Kiana is a New Yorker. She grew up in New York City, where there are something like four million white people. And she had never had one as a friend. And she was so curious about white kids.
I am not still not clear on what exactly "White Wasted" is but maybe that's because  I am a white girl form the middle class who has only experienced an "inner-city" school- based off the free or reduced lunch rates- through my service learning. I grew up in a 90% or more white community. There were maybe 10 kids in my whole school who had free or reduced lunch.
It was very hard to hear some of the parents speaking about why they didn't want the Normandy students to go to school with their students. But Mah'ria said it perfectly, it was just the parents talking but the kids actually are going to school.
I really liked these quotes and I didn't really go along with analyzing the quotes but they helped to support what I was saying.