Sunday, November 17, 2013

Citizenship In Schools

Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome
Christopher Kliewer
Response to article with use of a hyperlink...
When working in schools, we as teachers are going to come in contact with children of all different learning abilities and disabilities, as well as those who are more advanced than others. When dealing with those who are know to have a "learning disability" it is important not to make the child feel less  intelligent than their peers around them. Some of us know what it feels like to be one of the "special" kids in school who were taken away from the rest of the class to be shown more attention, one on one, by another teacher. By removing a child from their friends to work on a learning disability you are automatically making the child feel "different" which can be recognized by other classmates. This type of attention is known by all to be negative attention because the child who is being separated knows that they are not as up to speed as the rest of the class which makes them feel less intelligent and insecure.
When reading Christopher Kliewer's  article about educating children with down syndrome it was very upsetting to read the stories about how children felt when they were put into "special education" classes. Kliewer talks about throughout his article not only how children with disabilities feel within a school environment, but how as educators we can help them learn. When reading Kliewer I was inspired to learn more about these skills so I furthered my research.
I came across a website within my research of teaching children with disabilities in which I found very helpful. This website can be found on The National Center for Learning Disabilities website and provides helpful tips and advice for teachers who are dealing with students that have a learning disability.  Within this website are tabs that allow you to browse not only by the stage of the disability but the age of the child as well. It includes many commonly asked questions as well as resources such as special schools and programs to help a child with a learning disability. While scrolling through this website I found out that it was not only helpful for teachers but for parents who have a child with a disability as well as for adults who suffer from a disability. It was very interesting exploring and utilizing the resources available to help me teach children with learning disabilities as well as become a better teacher.

By reading this article I was reminded of Geri August's, "Safe Spaces" article and how LGBT children talked about what it was like to be LGBT in a schooling environment. Both articles address a problem of children feeling different and insecure within school because of their own uniqueness and how they are taught that just because they are different they should be treated as well as viewed "abnormal." Both of these articles are very upsetting to me because it is important for a child to feel comfortable in a learning environment because if they do not, no learning can take place. Children should feel safe a free to express their opinions as well as learn not be embarrassed and uncomfortable because of who they are, or what they are.

Questions to ask in class...

It is hard to accommodate as well as make every child feel comfortable in school, what are some ways to teach children that school is a safe space to not only learn but share your thoughts and ideas?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

To all my fellow classmates, aka family members :)

Hi everyone! 

As you probably realize the semester is almost over which means our time together in FNED will he over :( I consider you all like family and have grown very close to many of you. Jess and I were talking and want all of to stay close throughout our time at RIC.  We all are so comfortable around each other and have the same major so why not stay friends? Jess and I have recently became a part of the recreation center here at RIC and would love it if all our FNED classmates, (family members) would join with us and do fun activities such as until use the school swimming pool and work out rooms in between classes! Jess and I thought this would be a fun idea to spend time and stay in contact with everyone while being on campus because she and I are both going to miss everyone once the semester is over!!!

Hopefully we can talk about this is class! Or after class!

Love always,


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Promising Practices Reflection

Promising Practices Reflection

On my drive to the Promising Practices Conference early Saturday morning, I began to panic because I realized I forgot to print out my ticket. Upon arriving I entered Donovan to find out that they were not checking tickets which made me think, "did I really have to spend $16 on this?" Despite this small dilemma I was able to find all my classmates and sit with them in the beginning of the conference. Each speaker introduced themselves, and spoke a little about how they were involved in Promising Practices. This may be a little blunt to state. but to be honest this part greatly bored me and I did not see how I was benefitting from listening to the panel of speakers talk about themselves. I began to look around the room and saw that at least seventy-five percent of the people who were attending the conference were preoccupied with their phones and the rest just didn't seem to care. I was completely turned off from the conference when it began to turn into a political debate verses a learning and educational environment.

The part that made me most uncomfortable was when questions we open to be asked by the audience. To be truthful I had no idea what was going on throughout the speeches so I had no need to ask any questions however, I felt very incompetent and uneducated when other people began to speak. They began asking such complex and detailed questions I sat there wondering why I was at this conference because I felt like I did not belong.

After being released from the hour and a half panel of speeches I attended my first conference which was "Real Voices." Once again I sat before a panel of speakers except this time I was a little more interested in the subject they were speaking about. No visuals such as handouts or powerpoints were provided and this honestly made me a little less engaged in this conference. I am a visual type of learning and I feel as if the speakers provided me with someone to look at during their speech I would be more engaged and interested in what they were saying. However, one of the speakers was a girl around my age so it was nice to hear her story and why she was involved with her group because I felt as though I could relate to her.

My second conference went a lot better then my first one did. I attended "Project Citizen" where State Coordinators, Michael Trofi and Michael Connolly were speaking about education for democratic citizenship. I was handed a manila folder with multiple informational packets in it which I mustb say was impressive. I really enjoyed listening to Michael Connolly speak because he was a very engaging speaker who involved and addressed the audience throughout his speech. He had a very smooth voice and even joked a little while talking which made his conference enjoyable. I felt relaxed and comfortable throughout this conference and paid close attention while the two speakers talked about ways to teach students how to become a part of public policy as a democratic citizen. I found this workshop very helpful because as an elementary school teacher I will be teaching some history and politics and it is important to be educated in the world around us. What I found really helpful was a paper provided that had what exactly students should be learning in each grade regarding politics. I thought this was very interesting and a useful tool for my toolbox for becoming a teacher.

What I did not find helpful at all was the keynote speaker because I was not sure how this speech tide in and to be honest I was quite tired of hearing the word, "Chicago." I found this section of the conference useless and was not very pleased with the speaker. This part of the conference was very long which made me realize that the workshops were very short. It was very hard for the speakers in the workshops to get their points across with the small time they had and it did not help them that they were constantly interrupted by the people who kept reminding them to handout their survey sheets. I believe the speakers were pressured to pack a large amount of information into a small amount of time which made their speeches poor.

Overall I found my second conference very beneficial and I walked away with a lot of useful tools to teach children about the democratic world around them. I really liked how I was provided with the folder and all the information inside it. It was nice to finally have someone to help educate me not only on a specific topic, but how to teach that specific topic to children.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Seperate but why not equal?

Brown Vs. Board of Education Talking Points

When reading that this weeks topic  was centered around the Brown vs. Board of Education court case I grew a little excited because this court case is one that I have studied several times over the course of my education as well is something that I am greatly interested in. This is why I chose to do a free response on the topic of segregation and white privilege.

Within Bob Herbert's, Separate and Unequal, as well as Time Wise's radio interviews, and the Brown vs. Board of Education court case article, I was able to extend my knowledge about segregation and the idea of white privilege. The same theme seemed to exist in a three documents which is the concept of being "separate but equal," which in my opinion is a statement that contradicts itself.

I was very intrigued by Tim Wise's videos as well as his view point of the way society views blacks verses white in a cooperate environment as well as in everyday life. One example that Wise gave that really made me think was his reference to George W. Bush and how society lets him off easy despite his incompetence on the sole reason that he is white where as there is much controversy over Barrack Obama being elected do to the fact he is black.

One statement that Wise makes is that we must acknowledge the problem in order to solve it and this instantly made me flash back to many of the articles we have read already. In particular I thought of Rodriguez and Christensen where they talk about voicing as well as addressing the problem/topic at hand.

Within Bob Herbert's article he states that even in todays day and age we are still somewhat segregated and this caused me to think about segregation within schools now. Remember in high school when there were "cliques"? Not only did the "black" kids hang out with the other "black" kids, and the "Asians" with the other "Asians" but the nerds, the jocks, the popular girls, ect. all separated themselves from the other groups and hung put with those who are more like themselves. You never saw the President of the debate club walking down the hallway with the Prom Queen now did you?
We separate ourselves from others for fear of not being accepted and the fear of being judged. It is very clear that racism still exists today but segregation is allowed to grow by allowing cliques to form in schools. By allowing children to associate with only others of their "kind" we are encouraging them to participate in segregation and the separation of others just because they are "different." We have had the discussion in class about ethnicity and minority as well as the fact that those of the same "kind" tend to migrate towards each other and become close do to the simple fact they are the "same." Why do we pick our friends? Because they have the same interests as us. Why do we pick our mates? Because they complement us. Why do those of the same race tend to hang out together? Because they feel more accepted then when they are around the majority.
This fact is sad but is unfortunately true. This is why when Doctor Bogad mentioned that her "white" son has a "black" baby doll I sighed with relief that there is still hope for society. Just because her son is "white" does not mean that he HAS to have a "white" baby doll and the same rule applies for cliques in schools and society.
By teaching children to become friends with all times of people we can help eliminate segregation and help our schools to become more diverse friendly.
Questions to ask in class....
How to we get children to venture out of their comfort zone encourage them to make friends of all difference?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

In The Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning

In The Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning

For my blog this week I chose to reflect on three quotes from Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer's, In The Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning that impacted me the most. This being a difficult reading as well as a very political one, I had much trouble grasping the full concept however, was still able to manage three quotes that I believe reflect and explain the entire article.



Quote Number One:

"Educators and legislators alike maintain that service learning can improve the community and invigorate the classroom, providing rich educational experiences for students at all levels of schooling. Service learning makes students active participants in service projects that aim to respond to the needs of the community while furthering the academic goals of students. Students in a service learning project might analyze and monitor the composition of nearby swamplands or produce an oral history of their community (Pg. 2)."
This quote was a quote that was found early in the reading and impacted me the most out of all of the material. Within this quote it is explained that service learning is a positive aspect within society and is very beneficial for students. I like how the authors explain the academic outcomes that service learning provides for students as well as ways that they can apply it in their real lives as well as in their community. This quote stuck out to me the most because in such a short paragraph it sums up exactly what service learning is and how well it benefits those who participate in it.
Quote Number Two: 
"Educators who emphasize change would clearly also value the educational benefits of this approach. To tap into the full power of service activities, however, these practitioners would want to combine critical inquiry with action. This process can transform students' understandings of both disciplinary knowledge and the particular social issues with which they are engaged (Pg. 6)."
I chose this quote for the sole reason that I greatly agree with it. When talking about educators who support change within their curriculum, the technique used would be disciplinary knowledge as well as engaging students in topics and issues that they are interested in. By doing this students greatly benefit from this within their education because they understand the importance of learning the material as well as have a sense of interest in the issue.
Quote Number Three:
"Similarly, many contemporary scholars focus on change over charity and argue that the lack of connection between individual rights and communal obligations within our culture has left us with a bankrupt sense of citizenship (Pg. 9).
When reading this particular quote I was a little confused at first and had to read it multiple times. Upon understanding it I was able to conclude there is a debate that service learning should be done with the mindset to change or for the conditional good of others, (charity). Within this quote it states that this confusion takes away our sense of citizenship depending on which way you feel, (Change vs. charity). In my opinion I do not see wrong in either way of service learning. In both change and charity students are benefiting in their education. It is hard to say which one is right because I see the good in both of them. This quote really made me think into the deeper meaning which made me remember Christensen's views about hidden meanings and hidden learning.
Points to discuss in class....
When doing service learning which point should we emphasize, charity or change? Are we wrong if we believe one more than the other?



Sunday, October 20, 2013

Unlearning the MythsThat Bind Us

Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us

By Linda Christensen

When reading this article I had a tough time deciphering on how I felt about it. Growing up as a child I always wanted to be a Disney Princess or look like Barbie. To this day my dad still refers to me as "his Princess" and I have a tattoo for my dad that has the word "Princess" in it. So for someone who grew up wanting to be a Princess how can I sit here and argue that teaching children to grow up to be their favorite characters is wrong?

However after reading Dorothy's blog, I had a slightly different viewpoint on the whole "all girls want to be Princesses" stereotype. In Dorothy's blog she chose to reflect on Jocelyn's blog which really helped me in writing my blog because I was able to see two different viewpoints from my own that in a way opened my mind. Between the two blogs it was discussed about "the idea of secret education." Not knowing what this was I furthered my research and found out that by creating movies that have a beautiful Princess that falls in love with a handsome prince we are putting too much pressure on children to follow this path.

I liked what Jocelyn said in her blog when she stated, "The pressures have been in place all my life to be beautiful, thin and submissive. I am often told by relatives that I should check my brain at the door if I ever want to get a man. But why would I want someone who doesn't love me for who I am, brain and all?" This statement not only broke my heart but made me realize that by creating children's movies that portray thin an gorgeous woman that marry a man that will take care of them allows children to think that this is how things should be done in the real world. In a way it degrades women, telling them that they must look and act a certain way in order to find a guy.

While reading Dorothy's blog I was amazed about how open she was when she discussed seeing herself as a "geek." While reading her story about people telling her she had to act and look a certain way in order to find a guy absolutely blew my mind. How can people be so cruel?! True love isn't found by the way you look. TRUE love is find when you TRULY love someone regardless of their flaws.

By analyzing this reading I began to connect it to Alfie Kohn's, Five Reasons To Stop Saying Good Job! In Kohn's article he talks about the effect that "good job" has on children and even though I do not complegtely agree with him I believe his way of thinking can be applied here. By telling young girls that they SHOULD grow up to be Princesses we are depriving them of developing their own choices of who they want to be when they grow up. Maybe they don't want to be a pretty princess, maybe they want to be a successful doctor or a lawyer. Also, when reading this I began to think about LGBT. These movies portray a princess falling in love with a prince but what if the princess fell in love with another princess or a prince with another prince? This is a subject that greatly frustrates me because our world is so diverse and filled with so many different kinds of people it is hard to accommodate everyone and make things that apply to everyone.

Questions to ask in class....

What are appropriate movies and messages to show to children? Should we be making movies where the princess falls in love with another princess? Prince falls in love with another prince? What do we do?! AHHH!

Also, am I wrong in my view that I still like Princesses and still want to be one? Does this make me a bad person and a follower of society's stereotypes?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Five Reasons to Stop Saying "Good Job!"

Five Reasons to Stop Saying "Good Job!"

By: Alfie Kohn

While reading Alfie Kohn's, Five Reasons to Stop Saying "Good Job!" I greatly disagreed with the author's views and opinions about using the phrase "good job." At such a young age, children need the constant support and praise of their actions because they are not mature enough to understand that their actions are ones they are supposed to be doing. Children lack self esteem and confidence and need the appraisal to know that they are doing a "good job" and to continue doing it. If a child doesn't think their actions are good then why would they continue to do them unless you give them that praise? 

While working on my Service Learning Project and gaining classroom experience, I have began to think about "what kind of teacher do I want to be?" I have tested out different phrases and have already had many "Delpitt" moments, however, the phrase "good job" has had a positive effect within the classroom so far. I work with kindergarteners who believe that what they have to say is the most important thing in the world at that time so naturally I hear countless stories about, "my brother lost his tooth," and "I just got a new puppy," as well as the occasional, "can you tie my shoe?!"

However, while hearing these stories and trying my hardest to keep these kids on topic I have noticed that by acknowledging their work and telling them "good job," they develop the need to in a way "please" me by continuing their work. I find that once I tell one student "good job" then the others hurry to do what they are supposed to in order to receive a "good job" as well. In my eyes there is nothing wrong with this and students should strive to receive a "good job" and I often notice their faces light up when you praise them. By praising them you are giving them a motive to keep up the good work!

One statement that Kohn stated that bothered me the most was his third reason stating, "Every time we say, "Good job!", though, we’re telling a child how to feel." I disagree with this statement because children are too young to develop the maturity level to continue doing what they are supposed to for their own personal benefit. They need a motive and a reason to be doing something in order to stay engaged. In a way they need a purpose for doing what they are doing. At five or six years old a child already think that their drawing is the best drawing ever so by telling them "good job" we are not telling them how to feel, but encouraging them to keep drawing and not give up on themselves!

Questions to ask in class....

If Kohn doesn't want us to say "good job" then what should we say? If anything at all?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Safe Spaces: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth

For my Talking Points this week I chose three quotes from Annemarie Vaccaro, Geri August, and Megan S. Kennedy's, Safe Spaces: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth. Seeing this was a fairly long article, it was difficult finding only three quotes to reflect upon within my blog. However, I chose the three quotes that I felt the most strongly about and those that raised a concern to me while reading them.

Quote Number One:

"The walls are permeable, students (and teachers) bring their personal experiences into the classroom and carry their classroom experiences with them when they leave. Parents, coaches and religious leaders are present in our classrooms in the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs that students have learned from them. In return, classroom experiences spill over into family, extra curricular, and religious life. In this way, classroom walls though they mark off a space distinctive in purpose and language patterns, are something of a fiction." (Chapter 5, Inside the Classroom Walls, Pg. 83).

This quote can be found within the second page of this reading and impacted me the most while reading this article. I would like to start by making the comment that this quote is a very impacting as well as a wonderful way to start a chapter. When reading this quote I paused for a moment and read it again for the simple fact that I realized something and greatly agreed with it. Knowledge and learning can not be contained within the small areas of a classroom. Learning is a continuous process and can occur no matter where we are. As teachers we must remember that we strongly impact the young minds of those we teach. Within our small areas of the classroom our lessons and teaching can be carried out and applied within the big world.  We as teachers may be the reasons children come to school instead of dropping out, say no to drugs instead of being on the streets, and make positive choices instead of negative decisions. We do not realize the impact that not only our teaching style effects students but our attitudes as well. Students learn to apply what they learn in the classroom and use it within their everyday lives.

Quote Number Two:

"Students understand that classrooms are not neutral spaces---they are charged with emotion" (Chapter 5, Inside the Classroom Walls, Pg. 83).

This quote took me several times of re-reading to fully understand. I wasn't sure if the author was referring to the classroom not being a neutral space in the sense that students are scared to speak their own opinion in fear for whatever reason, or not neutral space in the meaning that emotions and opinions shape one's mind. After reading this quote over and over I formulated the opinion that this indeed was fear of being judged do to one's opinions and ideas. Unfortunately this is a problem that many students face which cause them to not participate in school. The classroom is a room that is filled with multiple people that all have different opinions ad view points. Many times students will not participate in class discussions for the fear of someone not accepting their opinion. This causes students to lose out on their chance to use their voice as well as speak their mind because they do not feel comfortable within the walls of the classroom.

Quote Number Three:

"One reason educators take the path of least resistance is their fear of negative repercussions from parents  or administrators." (Chapter 5, Inside the Classroom Walls, Pg. 91).

This quote is one that as a "teacher in training" I am fearful of also. We often shelter children from real world and disturbing content within lesson plans do to the fact that it will cause concerns and uproars among parents and administrators. Therefore we create a more "sheltered" curriculum which deprived students from the knowledge they need to understand the world around us. By doing so I believe we are in a sense "cheating" students out of the knowledge that is rightfully theirs to gain by censoring the content.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday, September 29, 2013 Talking Point #2

Aria by Richard Rodriguez


While reading Aria by Richard Rodriguez, I was immediately reminded of a research paper I wrote for my Writing 100 class freshmen year of college. In this paper I discussed the importance and reasoning as to why elementary school children should begin to learn a second language. I chose one of my references from this paper to use as a hyperlink to this article because I believe illustrates the issue of foreign and secondary languages within the education environment the best.


Within this article, the author, Arthur Turner, discusses the importance as well as benefits of teaching children a secondary language. Some key points that Turner makes is that as English speakers, we must come to the realization that English is not the only language spoken in our world. There is diversity throughout our world that allows there to be a wide variety of languages that are spoken. Turner emphasizes on the aspect of communication and that by only knowing one language we are limiting ourselves as well as depriving ourselves from communicating with those around the world.
In Rodriguez's article, he discusses the uncomfortableness he feels as a child in school. By not teaching about other cultures and languages in the education atmosphere, we are not only teaching children to be ignorant of the diverse world around them, but we are depriving those who do speak a second language from being able to use their voice in their native tongues and allow them to learn more about their own culture.

Rodriguez states within his article that, "Today I hear bilingual educators say that children lose a degree of individuality' by becoming assimilated into public society. (Bilingual schooling was popularized in the seventies, that decade when middle-class ethnics began to resist the process of assimilation-the American melting pot.) But the bilingualists simplistically scorn the value and necessity of assimilation. They do not seem to realize that there are two ways a person is individualized. So they do not realize that while one suffers a diminished sense of private individuality by becoming assimilated into public society, such assimilation makes possible the achievement of public individuality." I completely agree with Rodriguez's opinion that we find assimilation to be essential within our society and by forcing those who are bilingual to assimilate themselves into the dominate speaking language we are taking away their identity. The fact that the individual can speak more than one language becomes forgotten for they are forced to use the public speaking language which in a way degrades and deprives them from their culture.

Points to share in class...

I am a strong supporter of teaching children a secondary language throughout their education career as well as the benefits that occur from knowing more than one language. My concern is that should we have special accommodations for children who speak a different language  when English has been our primary language within schools across America for so long?

If anyone wants to read the paper I wrote that I was referring to feel free to e-mail me! I worked really hard on this paper and believe strongly in this topic so I would love to share it!
Here is my e-mail

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Service Learning Project

Good Luck to everyone starting their Service Learning Project this week! I start mine today and I know I'm nervous!!!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

About Me

About Me

Sorry guys I forgot to do this as my first post!!!

Hello Everyone!

My name is Lauren Demers and I am a sophomore here at Rhode Island College. I am a full time student as well as work a full time job. I am taking this class because it is in my highest hopes to be an elementary school teacher someday. I wish to teach second grade because as a child I remember learning how to write in cursive, do long division and address a letter while in second grade. While in high school I observed that many students did not know how to do any of these things an as a teacher I believe it is my job to make sure all students know how to do these common tasks! I am very excited to take this course as well as meet all new people! :)

Amazing Grace By Jonathan Kozol FNED346 Assignment Talking Point 1

Amazing Grace By Jonathan Kozol


When reading Jonathan Kozol's article, Amazing Grace, I began to realize how much we all, including myself, take our lives for granted. Growing up as a child I attended Catholic school all my life so I was very sheltered from the problems of the "outside world." In my mind I believed that all children had parents, went to school every day and ate dinner every night. I was not aware of people, especially children, who were homeless and did not have the things that I had. When reading about the emotional and mental problems that children develop while living in The South Bronx, it reminded me of the class discussion we had about teaching in schools that have diverse students. What we often do not take into consideration when dealing with a conflict whether it be a friend, co-worker, teacher, or student, is that the problems and situations that they live and deal with outside of the environment you encounter them in. When meeting someone new we do not know the struggles and hardships they encounter each and every day that effect their attitude, performance, character and view points.

For teachers, this is something that one must take into consideration. Teachers deal with 25-30 children each day who all come from different backgrounds, social classes, atmospheres and other aspects that differentiate one from the other. These aspects greatly impact a child more than one realizes. Reading about the anxiety, depression and breathing problems the children from The Bronx developed made me realize that we as teachers need to be aware and educated in how to properly teach those who suffer from such hardships. I am a big fan of The No Child Left Behind Program because I believe each child is entitled to a proper education regardless of their financial hardships, disabilities or ethnic background. I believe as teachers, we should never give up on a child and do everything in our power to help them move forward within their learning. It is unfortunate that children have to undergo the hardships discussed in Jonathan Kozol's article, however as teachers we can help educate these students and encourage them to learn. By getting a good education these children are able to get well paying jobs and improve their lives but this can not occure if we as teachers do not try our hardest to properly educate them and never give up on them.