Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Shor, "Empowering Education" (Hyperlink)

Ira Shor
"Empowering Education"

Shor believes that children should be
 in their learning

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 Children should
and learn from their peers
within a community based setting.
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Children should
each others differences

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Personal contributions are
 valued and encouraged

Democratic Education

 Shor argues that a democratic classroom is essential where "the teacher leads and directs the curriculum, but does so democratically with the participation of the students, balancing the need for structure with the need for openness. The teacher brings lesson plans, learning methods, personal experiences and academic knowledge to class but negotiates the curriculum with the students and begins with their language, themes, and understandings. To be democratic implies orienting subject matter to the student culture-their interests, needs, speech and perceptions-while creating a negotiable openness in class where the student's input jointly creates learning process."

Democratic Education is......



        Morning meeting in the classroom        
Guided discovery

Critical Thinking is

Children should not memorize what they are being taught. In order to give learning meaning, a child must use critical thinking skills which will unlock understanding and knowledge.

Enhancing Student's Critical Thinking Skills

Free professional development on how to enhance your students critical thinking:)

Ira Shor with Paulo Freire
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Critical Pedagogy

Saturday, June 18, 2011

August, "Making Room for One Another" ( Extended Comments)

Making Room for One Another
By Gerri August

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      Respect Differences

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Gerri August in "Making Room for One Another" describes in detail her observations of a Kindergarten classroom and the ways in which the children socialize and engage with each other. The democratic lessons that are taught to the children, throughout August's observations, are presented by a teacher named Zeke. It is evident throughout the reading that Zeke is a profound teacher who makes the learning environment comfortable for his students and teaches his students how to respect each others differences.

While conducting her research, August centers her observations around one student named Cody. Cody is a child that is from a non-dominant family structure. He is of Cambodian heritage and was adopted at five months old by two lesbian mothers. Throughout August's observations, she notices that Cody is hesitant to share family stories with his class and felt a sense of insecurity. Was Cody afraid to discuss his non-dominant family structure with his peers? This was a big question that August had while observing how Cody interacted with his peers. As August continued her observations and research, she came to the realization that Cody was more insecure about his adoption than having two lesbian mothers.

 After reading the selected chapters from Gerri August's "Making Room for One Another" and then reading Alison's blog, I agreed with her in depth analysis of the chapters and selected quotes.

“But what if the purpose of schooling in a democratic society is not simply to transmit and reproduce the knowledge and culture of the present order but to evaluate social and political practices according to principles of democratic ideals and, further, to equip students to become active agents in the transformation of society.” (August, 2)

I agree with Alison that this quote is extremely relevant to August's text. It "describes the key reason for her research on Zeke's classroom." Alison mentions how the quote "states that schooling is not just about teaching the “knowledge” of society’s culture of power, but rather incorporating all cultures, beliefs, and ways of life into a curriculum that creates the best pedagogy for all students." 
 I like how Zeke provides opportunities for children to share their personal stories in school.  I agree with Alison that "letting the students from non-dominant family structures share seems to create an acceptance of differences in Zeke’s classroom."
I believe that it extremely imperative for ALL children to learn about diversity.When children become aware of the different cultures and family structures that make up our world, they gain a sense of acceptance, respect and appreciation for differences.

“He [Zeke] wanted students to stretch their social schema's that were already constrained by dysconscious biases.” (August, 143)

Alison feels that this quote "not only describes what Zeke wanted to do, but shows what kind of teacher he is. Zeke wanted to create an environment for his students in which all students were comfortable to talk about things that personally affected them. He wanted them to really think about these topics and try to put aside any subconscious influences that they may have already been exposed to." I agree with Alison. This quote definitely portrays what kind of educator Zeke is and what kind of things he wanted to accomplish within his classroom. Zeke's goal is to provide a comfortable learning environment for his students, where children can discuss personal triumphs and not feel ashamed about who they are or their family dynamics.

“Zeke demonstrated how an awkward moment can be transformed into a teachable moment

 I agree with Zeke that an awkward moment can be transformed into a teachable moment. I like the example that Alison gave on how Zeke transformed a very uncomfortable moment for a child into a teachable moment. "Jackson came into the classroom with shorts on that resembled pajamas, the students pointed to him and said that he was wearing pajamas. Zeke quickly takes this uncomfortable and embarrassing moment for Jackson and says “I’ve got a pair at home just like them.” (August 144). Zeke then went on to explain that there are “many different kinds of people from many different kinds of families who may wear different clothes.”
I like how Zeke immediately intervened and made the children aware that he had " a pair just like them at home" and that not every person wears the same clothes. He transformed negative dialogue into a positive learning opportunity. He made his students aware of differences to avoid future judgement.
 I agree with Alison, that "Zeke’s teaching moments like this one is what created his classroom to be a comfortable place for students who learned through Zeke how to respect each others’ differences."
 This is a great activity book titled " The Peaceful Classroom" written by  Charles Smith.  
                                               The Peaceful Classroom
 Through the 162 engaging group activities, children learn to find friends, cooperate with others, and respect each other's feelings and differences. Each exciting activity uses easily-accessible materials and incorporates the joy of music, movement, puppet-making, play dough fun, gardening, and more. A gem of a book to foster sharing, caring, compassion, and cooperation. Written by Charles A. Smith
 Charles Smith
"The Peaceful Classroom"
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Monday, June 13, 2011

Rodriguez/Collier (Connections)

Richard Rodriguez

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Richard Rodriguez's article "Aria" is a personal reflection of his childhood experiences with bilingual education. Throughout his article, Rodriquez offers detailed information on how learning English was a struggle at times and how learning English as a second language negatively and positively affected his life.

 At the beginning of Rodriguez article, he discusses his culture and the language/private sounds that were spoken at home. Spanish was the primary language that Rodriguez spoke at home with his family. As Rodriguez slowly began using more English at home, as requested by his teacher, he felt that the private bond between him and his family slowly diminished. Unfortunately learning the English language lessened the dialogue between Rodriguez and his family, but there were many positive things that occurred in Rodriguez's life as a result of learning English.
 As time progressed and Rodriguez became fluent in the English language, he experienced public success and developed his individuality.

Virginia Collier
"Teaching Multicultural Children"
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In "Teaching Multicultural Children", Collier supports bilingual education. She believes that bilingual education is the most affective way to teach children whose primary language is not English. Throughout her article, she emphasizes the importance of appreciating the different languages and cultures that are present in the classroom. Collier believes that teachers should support the acquisition of the English language, while retaining the child's primary language that is utilized at home.

Within "Teaching Multicultural Children," Collier examines the challenges bilingual teachers encounter. Within her informative piece of writing, she provides seven guidelines for teachers. The guidelines help educators acquire a better understanding of how to effectively teach children who are learning English as a second language. Collier believes that the guidelines give educators the opportunity "to better understand how teaching English to second-language learners can become an enriching experience when appreciating students' different languages and life situations."

1. Be aware that children use first language acquisition strategies for learning or acquiring a second language.
2. Do not think of yourself as a remedial teacher expected to correct so called “deficiencies” of your students.
3. Don’t teach a second language in any way that challenges or seeks to eliminate the first language.
4. Teach the standard form of English and students’ home language together with and appreciation of dialect differences to create an environment of language recognition in the classroom.
5. Do not forbid students from code-switching in the classroom. Understand the functions code-switching serves.
6. Provide literacy development curriculum that is specifically designed for ELL.
7. Provide a balanced and integrated approach to the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.


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While I was reading the articles by Rodriquez and Collier, I immediately discovered a connection to Delpit's article "Other People's Children". While reflecting back and analyzing Delpits idea of  "culture of power" which was discussed in her article, I found a strong connection to Rodriguez and Collier's views on this topic.

 Delpit feels that there is a "culture of power" evident in schools that negatively impacts children of minority. She believes that educators need to be aware of this in order to make children successful in the larger society while also validating their culture.

The English language is the language that the "culture of power" utilizes. Rodriguez discusses his personal experiences learning the English Language and Collier provides a guide for teachers that teach English as a second language. Delpit, Collier and Rodriquez all believe that children should be taught the English language because it is the primary language used by people of  power. A child's unique culture and language should be acknowledged and appreciated, but in order to be successful within today's society a child needs to be explicitly taught the the values of the "culture of power".

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Meyer, Gendered Harassment in Secondary Schools (Questions)


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Gendered Harassment in secondary schools:
Understanding teachers' (non) Interventions
Elizabeth J. Meyer

This article is based on six comprehensive interviews, that were completed with a diverse group of Canadian teachers who work in secondary urban public schools. This article written by Meyer, includes an analysis of the teachers perceptions and responses to incidences of harassment in their schools. The goal of this article is to gain a better understanding of the intricate factors that mold how educators view and respond to harassment, so that teachers and administrators can develop more affective solutions to reducing the unfortunate bullying and harassing that is present in schools today.

While reading Meyer's article on harassment in secondary schools,
several great discussion questions came to mind.

1. What are the complex factors that shape how teachers view and respond to gendered harassment?

2. According to Meyer, students report that teachers stand by and allow biased and hurtful behaviors go unchallenged. Why are sexual and homophobic harassment accepted parts of school culture where faculty and staff rarely or never intervene to stop harassment? How come faculty and staff do not consistently intervene to stop these undesired behaviors?

3. Meyer developed a theoretical model that emerged from the interview process. There are four tiers in this model that demonstrate the relationship between the main factors that influence how teachers respond to gendered harassment in school. What are the four main tiers in this model?

4. Meyer expressed that many of the teachers felt that their teacher education programs did not sufficiently prepare them to address incidents of harassment or bullying. The interviewees felt that they did not feel that they had many opportunities to pursue additional training in this area since they were encouraged to do professional development primarily in their area of instruction. How can teachers improve their practice and receive proper training? If it is not offered within their teacher education program, what are some other options that educators have? What resources are available and where can they go to attain appropriate training to prevent bullying and harassment in school?

5. Many of the teachers that were interviewed expressed concerns about their lack of awareness of and attention to the issues of racism, sexism, and homophobia within their schools. They also mentioned concern for their lack of knowledge on school policies such as bullying. Many of the educators did not have a clear understanding of these extremely important policies. As a whole, Meyer believes that there are many structural obstacles that exist and prevent educators from responding consistently and effectively to incidents of gendered harassment. How can we increase the awareness of racism, sexism, and homophobia in schools? How can schools provide clearly stated policies for teachers that indicate exactly how to address various forms of bullying and how teachers should enforce and apply these specific school policies?

6. Meyer states that there is a huge connection between personal experiences and discrimination. Many of the teachers that were interviewed made it clear that the significant influence of their personal identities and their own experiences in school shaped how they perceived and acted in the culture of their school. Although many teachers have experiences that have impacted their lives tremendously, how do we raise the awareness of teachers who have not gained meaningful personal experiences involving discrimination?

I found this article written by Elizabeth Meyer to be very informative :)

Gender and Schooling

Ending bullying and harassment, and promoting sexual diversity in schools.

Monday, June 6, 2011


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                                                            Stan Karp
                                 WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?

            In this article, Stan Karp argues that teachers and public schools are often misjudged by parents, the community and the media. Karp believes that “we need to give them more homework because very few of them know what they are talking about.” They are not aware of all of the facts that pertain to the achievement gaps and the failing education system.
Unfortunately test scores have been used to label schools as failures without providing the resources and strategies needed to eliminate the gaps.  Before teachers and schools are judged based on test scores there are many factors that need to be taken into account. Critics need to be aware of the roots to the problem.
Not every school district is the same. Where I work in Providence, there are many children that are English language learners, do not have a  lot of parent support and come from low income families. I have been exposed to children that live in shelters, on the street and in homes where there is no food to eat or a bed to sleep in. Not all children come from environments like this, but many do. I have also worked in Smithfield, RI. A majority of the children that I taught in Smithfield came from middle to upper-class neighborhoods, who had a pleasant home environment with plenty of food and a safe place to live. As Stan Karp mentioned in his speech, it is not fair to judge teachers based on test scores, when there are so many other factors that affect a child's performance. The underlying issues that are hindering student performance in standardized testing, such as language, race, and poverty must be addressed in order to improve the education system.  
Karp also argues that “test based teacher evaluation and compensation systems have the potential to seriously damage the teaching system.” He gives the example of Central Falls High School. The entire staff was fired due to low test scores. They said it was a “courageous” act that was “right for the kids.” This was not a courageous act. As mentioned by Karp, “It is an example of how the federal education policy has gone off the rails.” “Neither the President nor his Education Secretary mentioned that the school was the only high school in the poorest city in the state. Or that 65% of the students were ELL learners or that parents, students and alumni loudly protested that plans to fire the whole staff.” The sole justification for firing the teachers was based on the low percentage of students who passed the state math test. Karp feels that this was a wrongful attack on teachers. He feels that  “Unless we change direction, the combined impact of these proposals will do for public schooling what market reform has done for housing, health care and the economy: produce fabulous profits for a few and unequal access & outcomes for the many.”
Karp discusses that “a deepening corporate/foundation/political alliance is using this same test-based accountability to drill down further into the fabric of public education to close schools, transform the teaching profession, and increase the authority of mayors and managers while decreasing the power of educators. “ Karp feels that this is obscene. This idea needs to be reevaluated along with idea of cutting education budgets. According to Karp, “Secretary Duncan and Bill Gates are going around the country proposing that schools save money by increasing class sizes, ending the practice of paying teachers for advanced degrees, closing and consolidating schools, and replacing live teachers with online computer programs.” THIS IS A PROBLEM, NOT AN OPPORTUNITY!”

Karp claims that Stephen Krashen had it exactly right when he said “if we were to spend as much on protecting children from poverty as we are willing to spend on testing children and evaluating teachers, we can reduce the problem considerably.” I agree with this. Assessments are important. Assessments are a great tool to help educators understand what their students need extra support in and to plan instruction, but before you can give an assessment and expect to receive valid information children need to be protected from poverty first. So much time and money is put into assessments and teacher evaluations. If we took the money and energy that is put into teacher evaluations and assessments and used it to protect children from poverty we could reduce the problem considerably. Assessments and teacher evaluations are not the primary factors when considering student success.
I would like to end this blog with one of Karp’s claims in which I agree is a “key” to school improvement. “Serving schools with high numbers of students in poverty is no excuse for bad teaching, poor curriculum, massive dropout rates or year after year of lousy school outcomes. We do need accountability systems that put pressure on schools to respond effectively to the communities they serve. And in my experience, parents are the key to creating that pressure and teachers are the key to implementing the changes needed to address it. Finding ways to promote a kind of collaborative tension and partnership between these groups is one of the keys to school improvement.” 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Kozol, "Still Seperate, Still Unequal" (Hyperlink)

“Still Separate, Still Unequal”

The Problem We All Live by Norman Rockwell
Collection of the Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge, Mass.

The title of this article identifies the major issues that the author
raises within this informative piece of writing.
"Still Separate, Still Unequal"

Kozol emphasises that "all people are due equal education and everything else that goes along with maintaining a healthy society. All must have equal health-care, food, water and environments to live in."

Some of the major issues conveyed by Kozol in this article include racial isolation. 
 "The issues of racial isolation that were matters of grave national significance some thirty-five or forty years ago have NOT diminished in more recent years. Schools that were already deeply segregated twenty-five or thirty years ago are no less segregated now, while thousands of other schools around the country that had been integrated either voluntarily or by the force of law have since been rapidly resegregating."


Prominent leader in the African American Civil Rights Movement
Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

"Martin Luther King Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement." (Wikipedia.org) 

Plessy v Ferguson and Brown v Board addressed two egregious policies in The United States of America: inequality and segregation.

Plessy V. Ferguson

Brown V. Board of Education

Brown v. Board of

Major Issue at Hand

Segregation is Schools

According to Kozol, "The achievement gap between black and white children narrowed for three decades up until the late years of the 1980's where school segregation that steadily decreased, widened once more in the early 1990's when the federal courts began the process of resegregation by dismantling the mandates of the Brown decision."
Statistics on Inequality
"Still Separate, Still Unequal"

"In Chicago 2002-2003 87% of public school enrollment was black or Hispanic. Less than 10% were white."

"At Thurgood Marshall Elementary School 95% of students were black, Hispanic, Native American or of Asian origin, but clusters of white parents and their children each morning would stand on the corner street next to the school for a bus to bring them to a different school."

"In Washington, D.C., 94% of the children were black or Hispanic. Less than 5 percent were white."

"In St Louis, 82% of the student population were black or Hispanic."

According to Kozol, "even these statistics, as stark as they are, cannot begin to convey how deeply isolated children in the poorest and most segregated sections of these cities have become."

 "There is a well known high school named for Martin Luther King Jr. The school is located in an upper-middle-class white neighborhood where it was built in the belief- in hope- that it would draw large numbers of white students. When the school was opened for the first time, according to the
 New York Times,
"It was seen" as a promising effort to integrate white, black and Hispanic students in a          thriving neighborhood that held one of the cities cultural gems. Even from the start, parents in the neighborhood showed great reluctance to permit their children to enroll at Martin Luther King. Before long, the school 
became a destination for black and Hispanic students who could not obtain admission into a more successful school."
  (Kozol, "Still Separate, Still Unequal")

US Department of Education says,
"schools are more segregated than ever"

According to this video
"The landmark Brown V. Board of Education case brought integration to America's public school systems more than 50 years later American schools are more segregated than ever."

(Speech in San Fransisco, 1968)

   Eldridge Cleaver's speech, states in his speech that " those to blame are everyone from the president on down to individual citizens who allow these actions and policies to pass without challenge. You're either part of the solution or part of the problem."

" The inequality that exists must end if this country is to survive"

Monday, May 30, 2011

Lisa Delpit (Quotes)

Lisa Delpit's view on DIVERSITY
As I sat back and thought about the article written by Lisa Delpit, I realized that there are some major communication blocks between white individuals and people of color. I knew that there was a barrier, but I never realized the extent to which people of color felt about this topic. There are several quotes in Lisa Delpit’s article that come to mind as I think about the unfortunate struggles people of color face. “People of color feel left out of the dialogue about how best to educate children of color” “what you have to say about your life, your children, doesn’t matter. They don’t really want to hear what you have to say. They wear blinders and ear plugs.”  Delpit’s view on this topic and the many  questions that were asked in the article… “How can the bitterness and resentment expressed by the educators of color be drained so that the sores can heal?” encouraged me to think about the solution to the problem.
I believe the first step of healing involves acknowledging power. I then believe educators of different races should come together and share their experiences and opinions on the best ways to educate children. Collaboration and listening to what people of color have to say is key. The more information the better. Although this may be a difficult task due to the power white educators have, it is in the best interest of the children. Both white people and people of color want the same things for their students.  As a whole, Delpit feels that when the power of white educators has been acknowledged more open communication and honesty will be established. With this line of direct communication amongst people of color and white educators, I believe academic success will be promoted amongst all races and ethnicities.
Delpit comments, “I do not advocate a simplistic “basic skills” approach for children outside the culture of power.” Delpit feels that children should not be separated according to family background but instead ensure that each classroom incorporates strategies appropriate for each individual student. Delpit states that it is not the schools job to attempt to change the homes of poor and non-white children to match the homes of those in the culture of power.
 I agree with this. It would be unfortunate to operate as if these children were incapable of critical and higher level thinking and reasoning.  They may not be incapable just because they are outside the culture of power. As Delpit states “not all children learn the same way”. A child’s background knowledge, style of learning and cultural beliefs play a major role in how the child will learn. Instead of a simplistic “basis skills approach”, instruction needs to be adapted according to individual styles of learning.  
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