Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Final Project


For my final project I pulled some quotes out of a few different texts and created an anonymous survey that I asked for people's reaction to the quote.  Here is what I found....

Armstrong & Wildman
The Quote: 
“In educational settings, faculty and students of color often carry the major responsibility for highlighting issues of racial justice.  They should not shoulder the institutional work of either caring about race or the onus of educating their White colleagues.  People of color know all too well that society racializes them with a race other than White.  Yet, Whites often do not think about race and racial justice, except when they notice people of color are present.  Whites tend not to notice that they too have a race and that their own race carries social meaning and generally positive presumptions.” (66)

Some responses:
"I have felt this in many situations in the classroom when the issue of race comes up. I feel like many of the white people in the room look to me and to other black people to be a voice for all black people. I can't speak for anyone but myself and I am not informed enough on many of the topics that many of the white people think that I am an expert on simply because I am black." (17 years old African American)

"This is kind of insulting. I don't think it is fair to characterize all whites the same way. Just as it in unfair to characterize all blacks the same way." (17 years old, white, middle class)

"White people do not call themselves white, or think of themselves as a white person. White people aren't heard saying "hey check out that white person over there," or "this white person was in line in front of me." When the race is not white, a white person will explicitly identify the race and we have all heard a white person say "hey check out that black person over there," or "this black person was in line in front of me." White people don't see our race or the privileges that come with it. It takes people of color to point these privileges out by sharing their disadvantages. If there are 10 white people in a room, no one notices. If there are 9 white people, and 1 black person in the room, the race is noticed." (27 years old, white, middle class)

The results of the survey are slightly skewed because majority of the respondants are white. However, from the 3 quotes here we can see the difference in the privileged perspective versus the perspective of the young black man. In the second response, you can sense how defensive the person is. Johnson tells us, "This defensive reaction has done more than perhaps anything else to keep us stuck in our current paralysis by preventing each of us from taking the steps required to become part of the solution" (viii). This person's reaction to the survey quote is the perfect example of that defensive reaction. Immediately the person takes offense to the quote and implies that it's not our (the white man's) problem to deal with.

I like the last person's acknowledgement of his/her white privilege and the example used is perfect. Just something as simple as the way we (white people) describe others. It is common to use describing words of minority people but would always omit that detail if the person we are describing is white. This idea is the exact "colorblindness" that Armstrong's and Wildman's article warns us about. We need to be aware of color differences, not just ignore them.


Delpit:
The quote:
"JOEY: Uhm-hmm, that’s a hard question.  But I think they shouldn't make books like that.
TEACHER: Why?
JOEY: Because they are not using the right way to talk and in school they take off for that, and li'l chirren grow up talking like that and reading like that so they might think that's right, and all the time they getting bad grades in school, talking like that and writing like that.
TEACHER: Do you think they should be getting bad grades for talking like that?
JOEY: (Pauses...answers slowly) No ... no.
TEACHER: So you don't think that it matters whether you talk one way or another?
JOEY: No, not long as you understood.
TEACHER: Uhm-hmn Well, that’s a hard question for me to answer, too. It’s a question that comes up in a lot of schools now as to whether they should correct children who speak the way we speak all the time. Cause when we're talk­ing to each ocher we talk like that even though we might not talk like that when we gee into other situations, and who's to say whether it’s
JOEY: [Interrupting} Right or wrong.
TEACHER: Yeah.
JOEY: Maybe they ought to come up with another kind of... maybe Black English or something. A course in Black English. Maybe Black folks would be good in that cause people talk, I mean black people talk like that, so... but I guess there's a right way and wrong way to talk, you know, not regarding what race. I don't know.
TEACHER: But who decided what's right or wrong?

JOEY: Well that’s true ... I guess white people did." (Delpit, 43)

Some responses:
1. "Reading this felt a bit awkward because of how the student answered the teacher of maybe having African American English, and Caucasian English. Feels as if this reading was written in the 1960's." (17 year old, mixed race, upper class)

2. "My reaction to this quote was shocked because of the student perspective on the topic. I think it has a lot to do with the society and how they view black people and white people, even thought its better today. The last line has a lot of affect on the whole quote because it shows the students view on white people. Its kind of sad too, because he says the white people decide what is right and wrong, if you really think about it its not entirely wrong or right." (14 year old, hispanic, middle class)

3. "We have an official language in the US, let's use it so we can all understand each other." (50 year old, white, middle class)

4. "I've never thought of that before. I'm not sure what my position would be on it. Some of the thoughts in my head are that in a subject like the English language shouldn't there be a standard as how to write a specific way? Yet at the exact time language has a certain fluidity that is based on how it is used- shouldn't it be taught according to usage." (32, white, middle class)

5. "The student I belive is right when it comes to talking in a racist manner and how white people use say the n word to describe African Americans. Though he is rude to the teacher I belive his point is correct whether one way of talking is the way people talk and we can't change that now. Using African American instead of the n word would definitely help in a racist matter in my opinion. People talk differant, it's there way of life and how they were raised to talk. So there is really right or wrong way to talk." (15, white, middle class)


The responses to this text excerpt were more sympathetic. Maybe because it is a conversation with a young child and innocence is assumed whereas with Armstrong and Wildman, the reader may feel like they are being lectured/reprimanded. While most responses were more sympathetic, there were definitely some responses that made me feel like I was living in the 60s, like the first student's response suggested. This response really strikes me because of the time period mentioned. The Delpit text (I believe) was originally written in 1995. And although it is over 10 years old at this point, 1995 is still a far cry from the 60s that the student believed he/she was reading about. The third response is jaw dropping to me. As far as I know, the US does not actually have an official language, so to demand that everyone use it is mind blowing to me. The fourth response response calls to mind the Collier text and the discussion on code-switching. Without actually giving it a name, the person who responded is essentially referring to code-switching. However, the question remains, when is this code switching "appropriate" and who determines what should be considered the "norm" and what should be considered "switching"??? Delpit would argue that all of those "norms"/standards are developed by the culture of power. There are so many things I LOVE about the last response. First of all, I think it is admirable that this 15 year old middle class white student can recognize that racism is still very real today. What I find most interesting is that he interprets the little boy's tone with the teacher to be "rude." This is so Delpit! Around pages 33-35, Delpit discusses at length a major difference between black teachers and white teachers is in the way directions are given. White teachers (or anyone in authority) tend to pose a demand as a question. The example in the text is the white teacher asking the student, "where do the scissors go?" The teacher does not actually expect an answer to this question, but rather it is a nudge to have the student return the scissors back to where they go. On the other hand, a black teacher would not ask a question, but rather give the student the direct command, "put the scissors away." In some cases, black students struggle to make this connection/understanding when asked by a white teacher, "where do the scissors go?" the student may reply. Often times, the student's reply is interpreted as sarcastic and the student is disciplined. I think it is very ironic that the 15 year old white student interpreted the student's dialogue with his teacher as being "rude." This response in particular also remind me of the Armstrong and Wildman text. I can't help but wonder if the student interprets this little boy's interaction with the teacher as rude because he pictures the teacher he is talking to to be white. On pages 72-73, Armstrong and Wildman discuss the "white normativeness" that exists. And basically the idea is that in many cases when a specific race is not mentioned, we (white people especially) often assume the person being spoken about is white. I wonder if the student would still have interpreted "Joey" to be rude, if he knew the teacher being spoken to is also black. 

Johnson 1:
“At the dawn of the twenty-first century, it is dear that however much people might wish it otherwise, the answer is still no.  Whether it's a matter of can't or won’t, the truth is that we simply don't get along.  Segregation in housing and schools is stubborn and pervasive, and the average wealth of white families is almost ten times that of blacks. The steady corrosion that everyday racism causes to the fabric of social life is everywhere. It especially galls middle-class blacks who believed what whites told them, that if they did everything right-if they went to school and worked hard and made something of themselves race would no longer be an issue. But they soon discovered, and they learn anew every day, that nothing seems to protect them from their vulnerability to white racism.” (Johnson, 1-2)

Responses:
"I agree with this post because no matter how successful black children become no matter how hard they work if society stays the way it is today in America nothing is going to change" (18 year old, black, lower class)

"Disagree. My white family struggled financially because of poverty, not because we were white. I also have many friends who are of color or minority who are very successful. " (32 year old, white, middle class)

"This quote reflects a mindset that may be ignored in society. Because of historic mistakes made in the past, people seem to linger around them and feel that whites still have those traces in history; however, it is not fair, like that of blacks, to segregate. No matter what race. White lives matter too. Every life matters." (17, white, middle class)

Once again, the irony of how the people in the culture of power reacted to the this text compared to those not in the culture of power is amazing. The young black man recognizes the struggle that lies ahead for him. While the white responders are more naive in their response. I find the second response to be very interesting because the implication is that the white respondent who currently identifies as middle class, came from a lower income home. It seems that this person has fairly easily broken the cycle of poverty. I wonder how his/her experience would be different if he/she did not have the privilege of being white. The end of the third quote sticks out to be because of our discussion of All Lives Matter. This person's ignorance is points back to Armstrong's and Wildman's colorblindness this theory. Yes, we are well aware that "all lives matter," but that statement does not need to be made because white people are not oppressed. Armstrong and Wildman tell us that it is not enough to be "colorblind" and view everyone as an equal. The bottom line is we are not equal. A white man can freely wear a hooded sweatshirt, cover is face, and safely walk down the street with his hands in his pocket and people would assume he is cold. But a black man does not have the same freedom because it would be assumed that he is hiding something dangerous in his sweatshirt. That is not equality...and that is why Black Lives Matter is an important and appropriate movement.

The Problem We All Live With 1
“Ira Glass: The US Department of Education put out data in 2014 showing that black and Latino kids in segregated schools have the least qualified teachers, the least experienced teachers. They also get the worst course offerings, the least access to AP and upper level courses, the worst facilities.
The other thing about most segregated black schools, Nikole says, is that they have high concentrations of children who grew up in poverty. Those kids have greater educational needs. They're more stressed out. They have a bunch of disadvantages. And when you put a lot of kids like that together in one classroom, studies show, it doesn't go well.

Nikole Hannah Jones

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 advanced, the kids who are behind tend to catch up. These kids in these classes in schools of concentrated poverty don't have that. They don't have that effect of kids who can help boost them. Everyone's behind.
And then they're getting the worst teacher. 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.”
The Problem We All Live With 2
Beth Cirami: This is what I want to know from you. In one month, I send my three small children to you, and I want to know is there going to be metal detectors? [APPLAUSE]
Because I want to be clear. I'm no expert. I'm not you guys. I don't have an accreditation. But I've read. I've read, and I've read, and I've read. So we're not talking about the Normandy School District losing their accreditation because of their buildings, or their structures, or their teachers. We are talking about violent behavior that is coming in with my first-grader, my third-grader, and my middle schooler that I'm very worried about. And I want to know. You have no choice, like me. I want to know where the metal detectors are going to be, and I want to know whether your drug sniffing dogs are going to be. And I want-- this is what I want. I want the same security that Normandy gets when they walk through their school doors, and I want it here.
[CHEERING]
And I want that security before my children walk into Francis Howell. Because I shopped for a school district. I deserve to not have to worry about my children getting stabbed, or taking a drug, or getting robbed. Because that's the issue. I don't care about the taxes.

Responses:
1. "This makes me feel lucky because I'm at a very nice school where there are many clubs and diverse people. At my school unlike schools with kids living in poverty we have very smart, experienced, and caring teachers unlike kids that lived in poverty and have unexperienced teachers that don't care while everyone is learning at the same pace. In conclusion, this makes me be very thankful for they life I have lived." (14, white, middle class)

2. "Schools with the most poverty and more disadvantaged students have the least qualified teachers because the lack of support from the districts and from the families of the students. How can a teacher teach properly when they are constantly dealing with bahavior issues in the classroom? And when they try to call home, here is no response or no support to hold the child responsible. Teachers in these schools are just teaching content, but trying to teach basic life skills and right from wrong. There is a constant battle and because of this, the true goal of the classroom is put aside.

The root of the negativity, drugs, violence and need for metal detectors comes from the home life. Teachers can teach all they want, but the child's foundation will be the determining factor of who they are to the core and what values, respect and goals they bring to the classroom.

This is not a hidden issue. People know of the constant violence, so the fear or concern for their middle class children and schools is a legitmate concern in their eyes. They want to make sure that the foundation they have built for their children isn't going to be rocked or changed due to this incoming, unknown force which is known for its violence." (33, white, middle class)

3. "These quotes make me feel like a lot of parents are losing trust in the school systems and their safety for their children. The first quote shows that kids who are black and latino are segregated in the educational department, but I believe that it is all based on how you grow up. You don't chose what you're coming into when you are born. There could easily be the same disadvantage for a white child or a child of another race depending on the community and how focussed they are on their local schools." (17, white, middle class)

The first response to this scenario is actually uplifting to me.  This student seems to have grown an appreciation for the privilege he or she was born into.  The first step to equality is recognizing the white privilege, so this realization is an important one.   I am torn over the second response.  It seems the person WANTS to be sympathetic but is so consumed by the racism and stereotypes that he or she has been brought up with, he/she is unaware of how offensive the statements are.  The responder quickly assumes the worst of the Normandy students.  Implying the teachers can't teach because the students are so unruly and that their parents don't support the teachers etc.  Clearly, this is not true since the parents are willing to send their kid on a 30 mile track to school.  If they didn't care about their kid, they would leave him/her at the local Normandy school and not care what happened as a result.  Again in the last part of the second response, the person mentions violence.  Maybe the quote was misread because they were only given a portion of the transcript.  But in no part of that transcript does it mention violence in the Normandy school district.  However, the 17 year old, white, middle class respondent just assumed violence because it's an inner city school.  This relates back to the previous comment about All Lives Matter.  This mentality is precisely why BLACK lives matter...because the worse is seldom assumed of middle class white students. The third quote once again addresses the unearned privilege of being white and especially middle/upper class.  The person explains that we do not choose where we are born...and that is correct.  But for some people, those in the culture of power, those who are more financially stable, DO get to choose.  They get to choose to buy a house in a good school district.  Those in the culture of power DO get to choose where they grow up.  

So just to recap on everything....the results are a bit skewed because I picked the ones to share, and also because there are far more white responders than any other race.  However, in general, the results match everything that we talked about and read about throughout the semester in class.  It was interesting to read the responses of high school students.  I did open the survey up to the public via Facebook, but I also had my students respond to some of the statements.  The fact that in some cases, grown adults have a much narrower mind than teenage students is both uplifting and scary.  Scary because adults should be the role models...but uplifting because there is hope for the future.  

Below I am attaching a link to the survey results if you would like to skim through them.  (in order to see the results, you must "submit" the survey)






Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Pecha Kucha

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/e/2PACX-1vSRB4vt5CtONt1Y1QXY9fATeW_0aVD_9V6I2lo6fW4rU-rSD5zTAgIkZ8I7Wkt8oq-kiitXarIXw3v6/pub?start=true&loop=false&delayms=20000

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Facilitation Reflection

Collier and Rodriguez Texts - Facilitation Week

Plus:

I like that I could related to this topic from a few different angles.  First, as a language teacher it was interesting to learn about and hear what works best as far as language learning.  Secondly, as a parent, of bilingual children (or at least that's the goal), it was definitely a topic I felt strongly about.  As always, a huge plus was our class discussion.  Our conversations always flow so effortlessly; it's really nice.  Although we did not go in the order we had originally planned, I think we did a good job of reading the classroom and altering our plans to go with the flow of the conversation.

Minus:

As was mentioned in class and as seems to be the theme throughout the semester, it was very hard to stick to the text.  I had so many personal stories (both from the classroom and my household) that I was dying to share, but tried to keep it as much to the text as possible.  Because we have all become so comfortable with each other, I think the tendency among all of us is to want to share personal stories - which I think is GREAT...it just makes it more challenging to stick to the text.

Delta:

I liked the shared doc that we did last class, I think we could have made a chart or something comparing a few different authors and all worked together in a common doc.  It would have been helpful/useful because then everyone would have the doc saved for future use.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Teaching to the Test

Johnson & Richer - PARCC

This text was a little difficult for me to relate to since my school does not have PARCC testing.  The closest I could relate to it was my few years teaching in a public school in Florida, especially because a lot of my students experienced the same struggles.  Majority of my class was made up low income families with quite a few ELL students in the mix.  Many of my ELL students immigrated to Florida the same year that I had them in 5th grade.  The fact that I am bilingual should have been beneficial to my students but I was not allowed to teach them in Spanish because of the standardized tests they
had to take.  Since the tests were to be given in only English, the class was to be taught in only English.  I found this out the hard way.  In an effort to make my students learning experience a more positive one, I made them vocab lists for each subject area, with key words in English and explanations of the words in Spanish so that the students could associate an English word with a concept rather than more English words they do not understand.  When my principal got word that I was doing that, I was reprimanded and told to stop immediately because the students were supposed to be taught only in English so they could develop the language.

As Johnson and Richer mention on pages 12-13, the teachers who took part in the survey expressed concern with regard to the pacing and curriculum and being forced to teach to the test.  I definitely could relate to that in my school in Florida.  My 5th graders were tested in math in science and so that is basically all I taught from August until March.  We also taught reading skills, but we taught it through Science based readers.  My students did not even know what their Social Studies text book looked like until after their testing was over with in March.  By that point, we had pushed through the whole Math and Science text books, so we reviewed those subject areas occasionally but mostly did Social Studies all day long from March - May.  Not only was this a crazy approach to the curriculum, but the Social Studies lessons were mostly lost because 1. we literally did lesson after lesson all day long and 2. the students could certainly "feel" and understand the vibe that once testing was over, the school year was basically over.  After being pushed so vigorously for those seven months, they were "checked out" as soon as testing finished.  

The teachers who were surveyed also expressed concern in their lack of trust for the testing company and RIDE.  “​In addition to feeling ethically compromised, a distrust of RIDE and Pearson was evident in the data. One educator reported that RIDE officials told parents that the PARCC would need no extra practice or preparation, but they told teachers the opposite.” (14) I could definitely see where this would be disheartening for the teachers. It seems like a business deal between RIDE and Pearson, and Pearson is telling the parents what they want to hear but then behind closed doors, telling the teachers that they have to teach to the test. It seems, they want the parents and students to feel like they are NOT being taught to the test but they, in fact, are. It makes the whole process seem very fake.

I did really like the potential solutions Johnson and Richer give on page 17, especially the last three solutions.

"2) Offer authentic opportunities for teachers and educational researchers to help plan an assessment system based on the local and diverse student population;

3) Create political structures that ensure meaningful teacher participation and resist corporatization in educational policy; and

4) Work to alleviate oppressive political and economic structures that disproportionately harm students of color and from poverty, thus leveling the playing field." (17)

The key to these solutions is that they focus on the diverse student population. The biggest problem with this standardized testing is in relation to the students who are coming from lower income families. In one of our first class discussions, we talked about the achievement gap vs opportunity gap and I think it's very fitting that we close out the semester with this exact same concept. Typically the lower performing schools are coming from the urban areas. In the suburban areas, the students who perform the lowest are typically the students with lower economic status. In some cases, there may be a language barrier that prevents the child from succeeding to his/her true ability; in other cases, it may be that the student's home life may not reflect the ideals that are being taught in school. In either case, just like we teach our younger students that you must always compare "apples to apples," the same holds true when we compare the results of these tests. It is not fair to use the same scale to measure every student - when every student is so different.


"Meaningful teacher participation" is so crucial. These tests basically shut the teachers down and turn them into robots just teaching the material and curriculum that will be on the tests. The teachers are the ones in the classroom working with the students for countless hours. The teachers are the ones who know the students far better than any booklet with bubbles can dictate. They/we should be involved in determining the most accurate way to asses the students.

If solution 4 could be achieved, then many other problems would slowly but surely dissipate as well. If the playing field for an education were level, then eventually the job field would also be leveled off and so on.

These solutions seem to increase in difficulty with each progression. To have meetings would be a fairly easy task (in comparison to the other 3) and the fourth solution is definitely the hardest plan to put into action. At the same time, the first option would likely contribute the least immediate change because the people can talk all they want, but if no actions are taken, no changes will happen either. The last solution is the hardest one to make happen, but if (and when?) it happens, it will definitely cause the biggest changes. 

This video teaches students how to TAKE the PARCC test.  There is so much information needed just to take the test.  That is not even touching upon the information that will actually be ON the test.  I am all for technology but even using a computer for the most basic mathematical things frustrates me; watching the math tutorial part of this video makes me want to cry.  

This next video is interesting because it is posted by "PARCC Consortium." 

The first thing that caught my attention with this video is the tone of the video.  It makes it seem like everyone is in favor of these tests and that they are in the best interest of the students.  More interesting than the video, are the comments listed below the video.  The tone the video takes are completely bashed with all the negative comments, by frustrated teachers, frustrated parents, and nervous students.  Of the 27 comments, 25 are negative and 2 could possibly be considered neutral.  At least one of the comments even mentions how the test attacks the student's self confidence.  

As I said in the beginning, my school does not have to deal with this dilemma of testing because we are a private school. However, I can say that when I first accepted the job, I took it figuring that it would a "foot in the door" type scenario and early on when I looked into public school positions with a high pay scale, once I talked to people in the system, most of them warned me about all the testing stuff that goes on. Ultimately, I (obviously) decided to stay at my private school and that is my plan for life at this point.


 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

What is a Family?

Safe Spaces - Vaccaro, August, Kennedy

The last few readings have been more difficult for me to get through, but this one felt a little easier.  (Maybe it was just because my husband took the kids out for the day though.) I don't really know what about it made it easier - I don't personally identify as LGBT nor does anyone in my family.  However, for some reason, I found a lot of the examples, relatable in some way.

The chapter starts off by talking about our classrooms, "The walls are permeable: students (and teachers) bring their personal experiences into the classroom and carry their classroom experiences with them when they leave." (83)  I think I have mentioned this before but I find this to be especially true being a language teacher.  In my classroom, there is so much room to get to know the students and for me to share information about myself with the students.  Just the other day, I wrote a little blurb about my daily routine as an example for their writing assignment - which was to write about their daily routine and incorporate their new vocab and grammar concepts.  Just from that one assignment I could get a peek into what their day is like.  Some of my students don't eat breakfast, some of my students have to make their own breakfast (and it usually consists of cereal or a rice crispy treat), some of my students have a plate of pancakes, bacon and eggs waiting for them in the kitchen before they leave for school and others not only have to get themselves ready, but also a younger sibling ready.  In that same assignment, I learn who plays sports after school, who is involved in theater, who goes to the cafeteria to get HW done (because it's possibly better than going home to an empty house or because they don't have a ride), who goes off to practices for outside activities, who goes to work, who goes home to take care of siblings...the list goes on and on.  The hard part for me sometimes is to determine whether what the student is saying is accurate or if it is a vocab/grammar error.  For example, I have had students say they slept in their "coches" (cars)...but do they mean that...or do they mean "camas" (beds)????

In the next paragraph the authors talk about the relief that comes when you know a friend is saving your seat in a class and how that cuts down the anxiety of entering a new classroom.  (83) When I was reading this, 2 similar memories came rushing back to me.  The first was when I was a freshman in high school and was called up to play varsity a little ways into the season.  While I was obviously thrilled at this opportunity, I was completely panic stricken about who would be my catch partner! I mean, not only was I young and new...but the season had started, everyone had established a catch partner already! I was anxious about it all day!  Luckily at the start of practice, one of the senior captains asked if I wanted to join her and her partner to warm up.  That small gesture made me feel so much more at ease.  Similarly, my freshman year of college, I was in the same situation.  I was all moved in and classes had started.  I was looking forward to the start of pre-season but that same panic took over me.  What if there were an odd number of new players and I was the odd one out?! One night before the season started, our RA held a "get to know you" meeting for our floor and I discovered that another girl on my floor was also going to play softball.  After the meeting we went running towards one another and you could tell we were both thinking the same thing.  At almost the exact same time we looked at each other and blurted out, "do you want to play catch together tomorrow?!" We met each other in the hallway, and confidently walked to the field together.  To this day her and I joke around about what a relief it was to know we had a catch buddy before we got to the field!

Curriculum
The authors start off this section referencing how those who identify as LGBT don't ever see themselves portrayed in everyday life...not in movies, books, tv shows etc.  I of course, immediately thought of SCWAAMP! Furthermore, most times when the topic comes up in the classroom setting, the teacher either just skims over the topic and brushes it aside or may even speak openly against it.  It was shocking to me to learn that some states "specifically prohibit the affirmation of same-sex relationships." (88)

That being said, the curriculum is definitely SCWAAMPy! It is safe so say that there are no activities, readings, or listenings, or videos, where the family's used are neither divorced, nor same-sex, nor adoptive or any other possible variation that a family be consist of.  I have mentioned before that when the book presents the vocab on family, it is the "traditional" (I hate that term) family members that are given.  The text book doesn't even teach step-siblings until halfway through Spanish II, so I hope no students in Spanish I have a step parent or step/half sibling!  When we get to the family unit (in Spanish I) I give them supplemental vocab and make up a crazy family tree that includes both half and step-siblings.  In an ideal world, this year, I would include a same-sex couple with an adopted child in the mix....but I would not be allowed to do that in my Catholic school.  

On page 89 of the text, there are few points for reflection that I would like to answer:

The messages I received in school:
When I was in high school, there was little, if any, mention of the LGBT community.  Towards the end of my high school career, I can vaguely remember a support group of some sort being formed, but other than that I don't recall anything ever being mentioned.

I know little to nothing about the gay rights movement as a specific "movement."  I mean, I am aware that certain changes have occurred over the years, but I do not know the history of these changes by any means.

Sadly, I do not directly address the youth in my life about the LGBT community.  My hands are somewhat tied as far as the youth I deal with in my school because of the fact that I teach in a Catholic school and we are not allowed to enforce anything that is against Catholic teaching.  However, I think of this question more as a parent.  The answer is still no...but I would love to!  I struggle very much with this as a parent.  It's difficult to start these conversations, especially since my kids are so young.  I mean, with Laura, it sometimes comes up...but she always makes it awkward because her curiosity causes her to ask questions as sometimes inappropriate times.  We were at a family function one time and I have a cousin who I am honestly not sure how she identifies, it's really never been discussed.  We have never met neither a boyfriend nor a girlfriend and I really don't know how she identifies internally, her outward appearance is that she is "manly."  While at dinner Laura asked me if she was a boy or girl.  The ironic part is that she somehow knew enough to come ask me that in ear very quietly.  I pulled her aside and told her that she was a girl and she asked why she looked the way she does and I tried as best I could to explain that everyone is different etc. But if she didn't ask me that question, what would she have thought? And did I answer her question well enough?  How did she know to ask me quietly?

Zeke Lerner - Integration & Interpretation:

I love the idea of the integration and interpretation.  I like the idea that things are brought up naturally through various contexts versus "okay class, today we are going to talk about same-sex relationships." In this way, it's presented as it should be...something normal and natural...not different or out of the ordinary.

Now that my daughter is very much into reading (thank you to her Kindergarten teacher!), I am going to make it a goal of mine to start to integrate these books to her.  I found this list of children's books that I will look into for her to add to her library!  She is very inquisitive and it often comes up at inappropriate times because of my "color blindness" to many differences.  Just the other night we dropped something off at her friends house and she noticed that her friend's neighborhood was different than ours.  She didn't really say much but just asked "How does Adrianah and her family and all their stuff fit in this small house?" (it was an apartment.)  Thankfully, she did not ask when the other family was around...but I just explained to her that everyone lives different lives and lives in different places.  Some people have big houses with a lot of stuff and can go on vacation a lot and some have little houses and less stuff and travel less.  I tried to explain that none of that matters nearly as much as the person they are and that size and amount of things are all relative.  We may be a little more fortunate than her friend but we have several other friends/family who are far more fortunate than us.  I reminded her of a graduation party of one of my students that we attended last year.  When we pulled up to the (very large) house...she asked why the party was at a hotel! And when I explained that it was just their house, she was amazed.  So I compared that house to ours and their "stuff" to ours.

Just to wrap things up...I started this blog unsure of why this reading/blog was an easier one for me and I think throughout the blog I got my own answer...my kids.  My kids are 5 and 2...I have no idea who they will fall in love with in the future and I guess I want them to know that I don't care who they love as long as the person treats them well!  I hope that one day when you google "family" something more than this comes up, because "family" is defined by so much more than what is portrayed in these images!   #sappymoment #imayneedcarbs

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Tech Savvy or Just Social Media Savvy????

Marc Prensky
This reading reminded me of the million conversations I have had with my mom trying to help her with her phone at various times....and every time I help her I remind her of the conversations she used to have with my Nana. My Nana used to somehow always mess up the clock on her VCR (yes, I said VCR) and she would call my mother frantic because the clock wouldn't stop flashing and it was driving her nuts. My mom would always walk her through the steps of resetting the time on the VCR and would always start or end with something like "If iI've told you once, I've told you a million times...." Technology in some form has been around forever and those who grew up with that technology tend to be more comfortable with it than those who are introduced to it as adults. Back in the day, the technology that my mom had grown up with was the VCR so that was "native" to her....with her iPhone.... she is very much a digital immigrant. And the iPhone is the least of her problems...her computer seems to do things "on its own" (according to her), that I've never seen befroe!


The idea of Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants is so interesting to me. I think at first glance many people would easily define these two terms as our students today who “seem” to be so tech savvy and then our parents and grandparents who can’t figure out how to send a text message or a photo to us. I think it is very easy for adults today to just assume this technological education is just innate in every child  and young adult, but this is huge misconception. I do it myself with my own children. I’m amazed on a daily basis how much my almost 3 year old and 5 year old can do when given any kind of device. However, just because they can swipe right and are able to get on youtube, does not mean they are digitally literate; it just means they are Digital Natives.


Marc Prensky coined the terms Digital Native and Digital Immigrant. He says that the youth of today are Digital Natives because “they are all ‘native speakers’ of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet. Digital Immigrants are simply “those of us who were not born into the digital world but have, at some point later in our lives, become fascinated by and  adopted many or most aspects of the new technology”(179). These terms have become problematic for some reasons.
1. Many people assume untrue things about what kids know and do not know about technology.
2. What happens when there is  a digital divide between the privileged students who develop more skills than  underprivileged students who attend schools with limited technology?
3. Are teachers just assuming their students know how to do certain things and not teaching them to become digitally literate?


Our reading stated that the idea of the digital native “presents an inaccurate portrait of young people as uniformly prepared for the digital era and ignores the assumed level of privilege required to be native. The 3 problems I listed above are played out everyday in the high school that I teach in. Some teachers assume kids can do all sorts of things related to technology. Then when they cannot do something, the teacher will blame the child or a previous teacher. I see the digital divide between students every single day. More privileged students, who have had access to more technology, know more about how to navigate through the internet and how to find worthwhile information. While some of my students do not have internet at home and cannot even print their homework. I also see students who are thought to be tech savvy because they can navigate around the blocked sites at school, like snapchat and twitter, but in reality, they wouldn’t be able to find an article from a database to save themselves. 
In June of 2015, CNBC posted and article titled, Millennials Aren't as Tech Savvy as People Think. The article reenforces what Marc Prensky explains. There is a big difference between being able to navigate on social media sites and being able to use technology as a whole; not just social media. The article includes this date chart below which I find to be so interesting! Less than half of fhe students actually know how to appropriately use email!
Tech Proficiency LevelWhat Activity InvolvesPercentage of Millennials
Below Level 1Using one function within a generic interface19
Level 1 Sorting e-mails into pre-existing folders39
Level 2Locating information in a spreadsheet and emailing it 34
Level 3Using a reservation system to book a meeting room 8


All teachers need to start at ground zero with every student. They need to make a “list of what they expect a student to be able to do in this networking world” and then take the steps necessary to get all students in the same place.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Literacy With an Attitude - Finn

For my blog this week, I want to focus on Jean Anyon's study of the 5 public elementary schools.  This part of the reading stuck with me the most because I felt it related to Johnson, Delpit, SCWAAMP, and many of our class discussions on achievement vs opportunity gap.

But before I get into that, there were 2 things from the first chapter that struck me:

"There had been numerous literacy campaigns earlier in Brazil, motivated by the desire to make the poor better workers, better citizens and better Christians." (p.2)  There is our SCWAAMP model in action.  Clear as day, being a better Christian is being grouped into what it means to be a better worker and better citizen.  This statement implies that if you are not a good Christian, you cannot be a good worker/citizen.  Someone's religious practices/beliefs should not have anything to do with how they are viewed as a worker!

"I was from the working class and I knew how working-class and poor kids related to authority.
They expected people in authority to be authoritarian, and I gave them what they expected," (p. 3).  Paulo Freire said this about his time working in a school in a black neighborhood in Chicago.  In this instance, because he is aware of what these students expect in regard to authority, he is able to deliver that to them.  Lisa Delpit would "high five" Freire for his ability to communicate with these kids in the way that is normal/natural for them.  

In the working class schools, Anyon says the dominant theme among the students was "resistance." That only seems logical given the way the students are treated.  In these schools, the teachers did not even really aim to teach them.  Their goal was to simply keep control...if the students actually learned anything it was counted as a "bonus" for the teacher.

The low expectations set for these students sends the message to them that they are incapable breaking the cycle they are living in.  Mathematical reasoning pages in the textbook were not even attempted because the teachers believed those problems to be too challenging for the students.  Wow! Talk about an opportunity gap...How are these students going to compare to the students from other schools who have been working on these problems all year when it comes time for state testing?!  Those students are going to score much lower and continue to feel inadequate and less intelligent than other students.  And the cycle will continue.  How can we call this an achievement gap for those students when they were never even given the opportunity to learn the material?!

Instead of raising the bar and helping the students break through the stereotypes and cycles, there was "less resistance to easy work, and so assignments were rarely demanding," (p. 12).  Basically, the teachers and administration just chose to treat the students like animals and just keep them calm and under control.

Surely, one of your undergrad classes discussed Robert Merton's Self-Fulfilling Prophecy theory and these students in working class schools are a true example of this theory.  The students are treated as though they will not amount to anything and therefore, odds are, they will not.

I can relate to this type of school setting from my time teaching in West Palm Beach Florida.  I taught elementary school for my very brief (2 year) stay in Florida.  First off, I had no business even teaching 5th grade - my degree was in Middle & Secondary Spanish, but they were desperate and I had my bachelor's in Education, so they hired me and gave me a year to pass the K-12 FL certification test.  Let's start there....I had no business teaching those kids!  I was not in any way prepared or qualified to teach them math, science, reading, social studies etc.  Most nights I spent teaching myself the lesson I was about to teach them the next day. Would I, or any other unqualified person, have been hired to teach in a more affluent school?  Or was I deemed "acceptable" here because these kids "didn't matter" anyway?!

The students in my school were separated by ability for math class.  I, the new teacher, was given the lowest level class to teach.  Again, mind boggling.  In my opinion, the newest teacher should get the highest level students, as they may need less guidance than struggling students. The craziest part is that majority of the students placed in this lowest level MATH class, were not there because of their math ability at all - most of them barely spoke English, therefore did not do well on the placement test which was filled with word/application problems.  When life gives you lemons...make lemonade, right?  I figured that the least I could do for these kids was give them a little "Spanglish" math.  I taught them words that they needed to know like "perimeter, mean, median," etc in English so they would recognize them - but explained the concept of those words in Spanish to them so that they could associate that English (math) word with an idea rather than just more English words that they don't understand.  Well....my principal was making her rounds one day, and popped into my room and saw me doing this and I was told I could no longer do that for "those kids."  In the school there was an accelerated program called the "dual language program." In this program "advanced students" (mostly white), were taught their core subjects in both English and Spanish on a rotating schedule.  I was not allowed to teach the "low" students in Spanish because it conflicted with the dual language program.  Insert eye roll here!!!!!!

I want to skip to the opposite extreme, and I will later return to the middle schools.  In the executive elite schools the dominant theme was found to be "excellence." These students were preparing to be the best and only the best.  There was no other option for them.  They were given much more responsibility and trust.  They were allowed to get up out of their seats and borrow supplies without asking.  They were allowed to enter classrooms before the bells rang - presumably because they were trusted to not be doing anything wrong if unsupervised.  Going back to that self fulfilling prophecy - these students are treated as though they will be nothing but successful, and therefore they believe it, and they will most likely achieve it.

Going back to the middle class schools...this is where I can most easily relate as I believe my current school fits this category.  I immediately smiled to myself as I was reading that most of the teachers live in/near the neighborhood of the school.  I live less than a mile from my school and I know several of my colleagues also live close by.  Just one "level/class" up from the working class schools, but yet the expectation is seemingly so much more.  The working class schools used books that appeared to be intended for students with severe disabilities, this school used 6th grade books in the 5th grade.  While the students in this school setting were challenged more than the working class schools, Anyon noted that controversial questions were still avoided as to avoid getting complaints from parents.  (p. 14).  As I was reading this - Johnson's "elephant in the room" immediately came to mind, as did Wildman's color blind vs color insight.  In this middle class setting, rather than being given color insight and discussing those difficult/controversial topics (those elephants in the room), the topics are just ignored and the students continue being blind to the world around them.

Anyon also notes that this middle class school is the most patriotic - and that holidays are celebrated here more than in any other school setting.  I immediately connected this to SCWAAMP - being "American" is important to this group of people.  I may be assuming too much here, but I would venture to guess that majority of this school's population fit into more than just that "category" of the SCWAAMP ideals.

This reading, like the others, is yet another example/eye opener of how far we still have to go for
equality to be reached in all areas.  It's important that it start in our schools because an equal education for all is really the key to equal opportunity for all.  We cannot continue to call clear opportunity gaps, achievement gaps.  We cannot continue to blame the students for not performing well, if the full curriculum is never being presented to them!