Sunday, November 20, 2011

#9 Citizenship in school: Reconceptualizing down syndrome. By Kliewer

Kliewer talks about the effects of students with Down Syndrome being segregated in schools. Just because someone is different does not mean they should be separated in schools. Even though kids with Down Syndrome have a disability, Kliewer brings up some interesting points as to why these kids should still be treated equally.  This article relates a lot to the article we read last week which talked about  separating students into different classes and giving special treatment to some certain groups. 
When I was in high school there was a class set up for kids with special needs to be placed in, in order to get special help learning. One of the kids in the class happened to be a boy that I knew and grew up with.  He was a funny, nice, and caring boy that never saw anything wrong with himself.  He may have had a disability but still acted just like a teenage boy would normally act at his age.  I learned many things from him when we were growing up and also was inspired that he wasn't gong to let anything get in his way if he wanted to do something. He was in drama performances, went to every dance, and played every sport at school.  Just locking special needs kids up in a room by themselves all day really destroys the way these kids are looked at.  Just like the stories in this article if you can actually see these kids and realize they are just like normal students you can learn a thing or two from them.  But as long as they are segregated from normal students, students will view them differently and will never prepare special needs or regular students to handle being in the same environment  or respected equally. 

#8 Tracking: why schools need to take another route. By Jeannie Oakes

Tracking is a terrible way to teach kids in school.  I strongly agreed with Jeannie Oaks and her article.  The purpose of tracking is to put kids in groups from the smart kids all the way to the kids that need a lot of help.  Once these kids are put in these groups they then end up learning the same material only in different ways.  For example the kids in the lower class are usually given a worksheet in the attempt to learn the material while the kids in the higher learning classes are treated with more respect and have discussions about the learning material.
In my eyes tracking is like a hidden version of segregation, maybe not by race but by how smart a person is.  When I was in the high school there were honor classes that were for the kids that learned at a faster pace then others and general class for the kids that took a little more time learning the material.  I was stuck in the general class, as for my brother he was in the honor classes. Everyday when we would come home from school my mom would ask us how was school.  After I told my mom about how boring my day was my brother would start saying how exciting his day was and how his classes were filled with long discussions about the material.  When I would here all of this I would get very mad wondering why weren't my classes having these discussions?  Just because someone takes longer to learn something does not mean they are incapable of having discussions or  can not do an activity someone that can learn faster can do.  If we could stop tracking and have students mixed into classes I believe discussions could help everyone benefit from them, and kids will feel like they are treated more equally then being separated into classes.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Promising Practice

Going into the Promising Practice conference I was not expecting it to be a good time. I figured it was going to be a bunch of boring lectures one right after the other.  As I got handed my folder I quickly found out that I was in workshop K and all of my friends were in different workshops.  When I got to my classroom two young middle school teachers were standing up front getting ready to present.  Their presentation that they were going to talk about was on bullying and how we need to stand up to the bullies. As they started talking I started to get more and more interested as to what they were saying. they were telling us how they believe in order for students to learn more students need to feel more comfortable in the classroom. They then told us how they put kids from different "clicks" into groups and make them work and do activities together.  As the school year went on the teachers wanted to do more with the kids and decided to work on a anti-bullying little skit to show the kids in school that bullying needs to stop. They even brought in two students from the class that were involved in making the skits and they started telling us how great of an experience it was and how they learned that bullying is wrong and they will do what ever they can to help stop bullying.
The link above is the presentation they used and I strongly encourage everyone to go and check it out so they can get a better understanding of what happened and possibly cool ways for others to try and work with their students on bullying. Having done a previous blog on bullying I saw a lot of connections between things that I wrote and things they presented. For example they talked about how social medias like Facebook are so easily to bully people on now and if we want bullying to stop we need to stand up against it. All in all it was an amazing presentation and it was something I definitely didn't expect to happen.
The seconded presentation was done by a teacher that works at Rhode Island College. She was also presenting about bullying, but it had to do more with race.  The first thing she told us was how one of her relatives was in another country and saw someone being bullied because of their race. When she tried to help the person that was being bullied that person then slit her throat. She then talked about why someone would do something so mean and how we need the children to learn that bullying needs to end.  Her presentation was more dark then positive but still was very powerful. I saw a lot of brown and board of education that we talked about going on in this presentation,  showing that racism is unfortunately still alive and strong and if it was up to some people we would still be in separate schools. I also saw "Privilege, power, and difference" by johnson in her presentation explaining how everyone is different and how people are getting treated badly because of it.
The website above is a anti-bulling website for young kids called don't be a bully be a star.  It makes kids give a pledge saying they will not bully and will stick up for anyone that is being bullied.
The website above is another anti-buling site that is made to help kids, teens, adults, and educators deal with and stop bullying.
As for the Promising partnership expo I believed it was a very interesting, and unfortunately I saw not a lot of people actually looking at the stations. One that I enjoyed very much was City Year. while talking to the girl at the station it reminded me a lot of the service learning we do for class.  she started telling me how they go into school that are not the most advanced schools and help out kids in need.  She then started saying how a lot of the kids can't speak english and I had to tell her the stories about my service learning. To me they had the best station there and it is a great thing to get into if you can't get a job right out of school. I also have a friend in city year right now and he told me he is having a great experience and also changing his perspective on life.
The next presentation we had to deal with was teen empowerment. I was not a big fan of this presentation, i got very little from it and I believe the only point to this presentation was to show us how to use foolish ice breakers to get students feeling more comfortable.  I believe ice breaker games are a waste of time and from personal experience ways like putting the students desks in a circle and making them work in groups has a better affect on making the kids more open and feeling equal.
I also felt that the youth panel was a waste of time mainly because I already knew the answers to the questions. Maybe it is because I am still young and know how kids still act which is why I thought it was pointless, but as for older people attending they might have found this to be very helpful.