Saturday, April 30, 2011

Can Girls Wear Tuxedos?


This week's assignment reminded me of a girl in my high school. Every year we had a Mr. Saugus High pageant. Shannon Fitzpatrick just wanted to have fun, like the boys, in this pageant. There was so much controversy when she decided to do this. The principal didn't seem to have a stand on either side, but students didn't see why she felt the need to be a part of the pageant. In the article one student asked why she was even involved in something that was tradition. Shannon was also the president of the Gay Straight Alliance that we had in the school. Due to all the controversy, Shannon pulled the Title XI information out and said that she had every right to participate because there was not another activity for girls like this one. This article also points out that the girls just look pretty for this while the boys have to act "manly". The girls dressed in ball gowns and the guys had to wear tuxedos.

There is another article in the New York Times news paper about cross dressing. Students just want to experiment and see where they can push their limits. This one school had a "Mix 'N Match" day where the teachers assumed the kids would dress with polka dots and stripes, but there were about 50 students who went to school in the opposite sex's clothing. Some teachers just couldn't handle this. I am not sure why, though. I remember a boy who came into school with a dress on one day and he was sent to the principal's office and told to change.

Why does it matter what people wear? Can't people just accept that others want to dress in what they think is comfortable? There is no right or wrong way to dress. Is there anything wrong in either of these cases?

Education in Politics

Extended Comments:

I chose to work off of Conor's blog because he picked such great quotes. The first one is about the teacher being the head figure in the classroom, but the student participation is critical. This relates directly to Dr. Bogad's classroom. We have to participate all the time! It is important to to make sure that all the students understand what they are learning, and what better way to do it than by having everyone participate. The last quote that Conor used was relevant to the first one in the way that participation is key.

Conor's next quote was about how if there are many students in one classroom, then students are less motivated. How true is this? Really! Who thinks that lectures in big lecture halls are fun? You sit there and the professor is most likely not going to know your name. Therefore you do what you have to do to pass the class and not put any extra effort in to go above and beyond.

I love the idea of sitting in a circle and discussing different ideas, where we all learn, but how do you put that into a math classroom? I'm not sure if it would work out right. Groupwork is easier. That would get all of the students to work together. Something to think about.

"Effective Teaching is Responsive Teaching"

Social Justice Event:

On Tuesday April 26th, I got an e-mail from My Calculus 3 professor saying that if I went to a math related lecture I would get 2 points added to my average. I just wanted the extra points so I decided to go. Once I was there I saw familiar faces, both professors and classmates. It was a relief that I was not alone. I was expecting this lecture to be extremely boring but I was able to take a lot out of it.

Dr. Anne Collins, from Lesley University, came to speak about teaching and the different ways to get a point across. She made several important points that I will take with me when I get into teaching. Dr. Collins believes in the reward system, but it is also a way to learn several things in mathematics. Each student would get a check register and if the students completed their homework assignments then they would add 1 point to the register, but if they did not, then they would have 1 point taken away. At the end of each week the students would have to 'reconcile their checkbook'. They are learning about balancing checkbooks, and positives and negatives. It also teaches responsibility. I believe that this type of reward system is productive, and I would consider using it in my classroom. Because it is a reward system, Alfie Kohn would highly disagree with this. Although there is a reward system, Dr. Collins believed that groupwork is a very important part of learning, which Alfie Kohn would be happy to see.

If Patrick Finn was sitting in on this lecture he would see that  Dr. Collins taught students to ask questions. This relates to the "affluent professional schools". Finn specifically states in his article, "What mattered was that they discussed their ideas." Dr. Collins would write every possibility to an answer on the board and until it was proven wrong, it would remain there. Students then had the ability to work hard to figure out if the claim was right or wrong. (In math there are always wrong answers. Sometimes, problems have to be done a million times before we can come to the correct conclusion.)

Finally, even though Dr. Collins didn't talk about tracking in schools, she talked about where she should start teaching, and what material to go over. She would listen to what the students had to say and then she would base her lesson plans off of that. She would work to make sure that each student was caught up with the previous material and then move forward. Dr. Collins had a great outlook on teaching. She never once said "I taught it, they just didn't learn it." Instead, Dr. Collins would say "I taught it and the students understood it. I know they did."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Down Syndrome


The quote about Mia Peterson not being able to take classes she wanted because she could only take special education classes reminded me, right off the bat, about tracking. She could only go to certain classes because she was a certain kind of student. The last article, Literacy with an Attitude by Patrick Finn, showed us that the "smart kids" could be in "smart classrooms", while the "dumb kids" had to be separated. There needs to be some way to put everyone together and be able to teach effectively to all students no matter how they learn. I'm still unsure of a way to do this. (Maybe we can talk more about how we cater to every students' needs in class. I am lacking the understanding on this topic.)

I also see a little bit of Allan Johnson in this piece. Jason Kingsley says that "The challenge is to erase negative attitudes . . . [and] get rid of stereotypes . . .." We, meaning all people, need to talk about this issue and make it clear that people with down syndrome are human beings, too. They are capable of doing anything they set their minds to just like people without it. Like Johnson says, we need to talk about it! It seems like lately, that's all I can think of. Just talking about it. It may be difficult, but it is necessary and it helps everyone broaden their horizons, have less tunnel vision, understand the world through someone else's eyes.

Going on a small tangent, I hated the first day of class when Dr. Bogad said that we have to SEE race, gender, and the other major issues. I figured I was going to treat each child in my classroom alike. Well now I see that you cannot avoid these issues and treat everyone the same. This class has blown my mind and made me think of topics I would never in my life talk about. I realize now that I was afraid of opening a can of worms, where now I am excited to open this can and see all different sides to it. I am so intrigued that I am not afraid to ask questions that I would never think to ask before, in fear of insulting someone.

But back to this post. I can pick out authors from many things that I am involved in now, and for this I am happy. It is extremely interesting to see that this down syndrome article, and what the students said, relate so easily with other articles that we have read. I was looking around to see what I could find about children with down syndrome and going to a "mainstream" school and I stumbled on this website. In the summary it says that "Like all children, those with Down syndrome display a wide range of abilities." There you have it, in a nutshell. I know it doesn't have much to say but I liked that the author of the website chose that wording for this article.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


So it only took me all semester but I finally finished reading the book Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld. It was a really great book about a small town girl from Indiana who goes to a boarding school. We read about her experiences with the school and the relationships she makes with her peers and teachers. The last chapter stood out the most and was most comparable to what we learn in class. I caught myself reading and comparing theories that we have learned in class to the book. There are comments about race and there are so many references to money.

Curtis Sittenfeld has also written a couple other books. On her website there is a biography and more information about her and her novels. I always like to read and it is even better when I can relate the book to my own experiences. Dr. Bogad has also read this and agrees that it is a very good book. When the summer comes, I cannot wait to pick another one of her books and read it! I hope some of you try it out and enjoy the novel as much as I did!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

An Attitude Can Change Everything!


Patrick J. Finn's "Literacy with an Attitude" is a powerful article that relates to many of the pieces we have read this semester. Within the first few pages, Patrick Finn had a Delpit moment about three times! Way to go Mr. Finn! I was definitely not expecting to like this article too much but it kept getting better as I read. There was also a reference to Jonathan Kozol's Savage Inequalities. As I looked up this book, I first put the title into Google. I found a very interesting presentation. (I know it has little to do with "Literacy with an Attitude", but I was hooked. I also do not know how much credit this project should be given but it is from the Fordham University website. It can't be that bad.)

So anyways, Finn starts by showing us the different types of schools. In the working class schools, teachers would frequently tell the students to stop fooling around and do their work. Middle class school children were given a little bit more leeway and the affluent professional school children were given space to "negotiate" what they would do. The students would probably be asked if what they were doing was acceptable instead of being told that what the student was doing was unacceptable. This brings in the culture of power because the working class students were explicitly told, whereas the affluent professional students were not. Interesting. I wonder if Finn does shows this correlation on purpose. He must have been doing his research!

I also think that this article relates to Alan Johnson. 'Just say it' is how Johnson feels we should deal with controversial issues. With Finn's article, I feel that this is the same thing. We should 'JUST SAY IT!' There should be less separation between the social classes and more talking about it. If we just keep doing what we are doing we will never be able to fill the gap. Finn says "The idea is that if we could raise their level of literacy they would join the haves." Ok. So let's start by making sure that everyone understands the issue and THEN we can make sure everyone has the same amount of literacy.

In class we should discuss how we can tell what types of classrooms we are in now or how do we make sure that where ever we go, we, as teachers, can teach to the fullest.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Color Preference

Extended Comments:

Black, white, rich, poor. What's the difference? I would like to use Amanda C.'s blog this week as my extended comments. I know she used Billy's, but Her first paragraph was extremely strong. Amanda talks about how she has seen her neighbor go through tough times to keep their house. I know that this week is about the separation of black and white people, but this also ties into how much money a person or family has.

My family has been through hell and back, financially. I was always taught that I had to work my butt of to get what I wanted. I never could just splurge on something because I had the money or just because I wanted it. In my house, I learned the value of money, without a choice. Now I am not saying that I am dirt poor, but my family has come close to losing our house several times. I will never forget the week when both of my parents lost their jobs. The jobs that they had was just enough to pay for the house. Forget about food. They went grocery shopping maybe every 3 weeks. It was tough living paycheck to paycheck. This only made me work harder for what I wanted.

My town is not the richest town, nor the poorest, but it's school system is NOT good. There aren't many books in the school library, people have to pay an arm and a leg for sports, and there are NO buses to get to and from school. No, sorry, that's a lie. You had to pay $400 dollars each half of the year to take a bus. It's a public school. REALLY?!?! It was a white dominated school, but you knew that many of the kids had tough financial problems at home. I go into my service learning school and the kids are getting the same education I am. Yes, they are under privileged, but I would have to say, that would make me the same way. Just because you are in a white school doesn't mean that you have a better education.

I think that teachers become teachers to help their students to learn and make something of their lives. A school with all colored students can be in the same boat as a school with all white students. I feel, because most of the poorer schools are dominated with colored students, that that is where the attention is going. I am not looking for attention, but I am saying that there are more than just problems with predominantly black schools.

The New York TImes article is a really good one. It does seem that there are black schools and white schools. The segregation has never really ended. We just took that one more step towards equality in our nation with the Brown vs. Board of Education desegregation laws. It all goes back to being in a poorer school doesn't give the best education. "The current obsession with firing teachers, attacking unions and creating ever more charter schools has done very little to improve the academic outcomes of poor black and Latino students." This quote is perfect. I have little to say after this. I have run out of words to say. Grades and money, unfortunately, go hand in hand. It's almost like that commercial you didn't go to college, so you didn't get a good job, so you work that much harder, and the cycle continues.