Thursday, May 12, 2011

1 Last Blog I Guess

So honestly, I have no idea if anyone is ever going to read this. I just needed to post this because I am still going to my VIPs school and I had an experience geeze I wish I had it during the semester so I could've shared.

So yesterday I went to my school and my teacher wasn't there. But they didn't have a sub, they just shuffled the kids throughout the school. The teacher next door saw me and welcomed me it. She told me that a few of my kids ended up in her room and I was more than welcomed to stay.

I was then told that this classroom was an ESL room. Now all semester I've heard people talking about having kids who didn't speak English, and I didn't witness this. I didn't get it. Who would've thought that the ESL room was right next door to me. This isn't the part that I wanted to share, while interesting, it's not enough to get me to post knowing no one will read it.

This teacher then informed me of something extraordinary. This class was actually made up of many refugees from all over the world. Some survived Haiti, some from countries or cities that were going through a civil war. One little girl from from a town in Ethiopia and in the town there was a war going on. Her mother was killed by a soldier and her dad was assassinated. These kids were so young.
The extraordinary part was the progress that these kids had made. Most of them didn't know how to hold a pencil when they came to this school never mind write. The girl from Ethiopia, because of where she was from, spoke a foreign language. I asked, "well is there someone who can get a translator?" This teacher told me, while they worked one on one with a man who spoke many of their languages, where this girl was from, their tribe spoke a dialect, of a dialect of the language. Because of that, no one could translate her.
When I got there, I couldn't tell. It was amazing. The kids were actually writing, while messy, was very legible. In September, they were, scribbling basically, and here they were just months later writing whole words!!! This blew my mind. The little girl even came up to me and pet my hair because it looked "pretty".

I think my favorite part of this classroom was what I saw next. The teacher was going over measuring objects on the overhead with units of measurement such as blocks or paperclips. She would go around the classroom picking one student. Before she picked that one, she would tell them she didn't want any of the kids going AWWWW or being upset because they didn't get picked. What I saw instead amazed me!!!
Not only did the kids not complain when a fellow classmate got picked....they clapped and cheered. They were so happy that a fellow classmate got picked to go up!!! I was Amazed...and there isn't any other word to describe it.

My teacher told me, that she was lucky. When they handed out pink slips, her principal told her she didn't want her to reapply, she just wanted her back. Of course my teacher was ecstatic but at the same time, she didn't know why. She wished that the principal had told her what she liked in particular so that she could make sure to keep that up.

After being in this class for three hours, which honestly...flew by! I figured it out. Like, that's what I want. When I saw this teacher, you could tell. You could easily tell that this is what she wanted and that she loved doing it. Even more impressive, is that the kids were having fun. They were laughing, smiling.....and learning!!! I thought fun and learning in this school was an oxymoron!!!

So I know no one will read this, but this event meant way too much to me to not write down!   Have a great summer everyone

Monday, May 2, 2011

Social Justice Event

So A few weeks ago I went to a Karate seminar. I've been to a few, but this seemed the most interesting. In most seminars, you go and learn new moves and techniques. My first seminar was conducted my Grand Masters from Hawaii. They showed us weapon moves, as well as an ancient form that people outside of their style will never see unless they are, very lucky, if you will. Not sure of the exact way to word that.
This time. the seminar was conducted by a doctor named Robert McKittrick.
A short Introduction of this man.
  • New Jersey State Trooper
  • Chief Athletic Physician, D.B.R., State of RI
  • Physician at U.S Nationan Boxing Team/A.I.B.A Certified
  • Physician at Cranston Medical, Inc.
  • Was in the US Army
  • Graduated from Brown University in 1989 in Neural Science, B.S. 
  • Graduated from Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University
To say the least, this man has quite the experience. I was foretold that the seminar would be on nerves on the body and the use of them in Martial Arts. I never dreamed I would be able to use this for my Social Justice Event, but as I have spoken about earlier, and as you will see, it was very connectable. 
Anyways, I got to the place, it was at a building called "The Battleground" where there was a lot of MMA training equipment. This building was right off of Main Street in EG near KON if anyone is familiar with the area.
Anyway, so I went in the building expecting to guy to show us how to use the nervous system against our opponent. It was this...and much, much more.
We started by learning about the body, the history of the martial arts, many different ancient masters, as well as himself. To make a long blog short, let me get to the point.
This man taught us about the truths and faults in our own styles. Having studied many different styles, he was able to figure out what was the most effective moves. What I took away from this was the following.
I have studied 2 styles mixed into one in my 13 year career of the martial arts. They are Kenpo Ji-Jitsu. I have learned everything in that respect and that respect only . Dr. McKittrick taught me to throw out that perspective. Rather actually, not throw it out, but make us understand that this can't be our only perspective or else the knowledge we gain becomes extremely limited. WE must be willing to see other styles, and take in what makes sense to us, whether or not it agrees with our focus styles.

I can easily compare this to this class and teaching. Working on becoming a teacher with a special needs concentration, there will prove to be very many difficulties in teaching my future many students each who will need their own individual attention, while still focusing on the classroom as an entirety. This is actually true with any teacher. Importantly I gained the idea that, as a teacher...what I think is the right way to teach something or do something in a classroom, can't be the only way that I use. I have to understand, which I do now after going to this seminar, is that I have to learn everything I can, and from there do what feels right, and seems most effective. I have to become able to mix different teaching styles to create a style that is most beneficial to my classroom and more importantly my students.
From this Event, there was one quote that stood out above all. I have mentioned it before and I will mention it now because it truly ties this all together.
From Doctor Robert McKittrick himself..."Everybody learns the same alphabet, yet, every person has a different signature" While I want ensure that all of my children learn the same material, it's impossible that every child will learn the same way, and with the idea of connecting every idea I learn, I will have to create my own styles to compensate and overcome disabilities for my students to ensure their learning progress.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Inclusion is Belonging

 This weeks article was from the book entitled Schooling Children with Down Syndrome by Christopher Kliewer.
I'm not really sure where to start this week. I'm trying to take my time with this post...I don't wanna force out anything...Because when you force out an idea, you get text, when you take your time, you get soul. I liked this article, I think mostly because my intended major is to teach children with special needs. Anyways...I am running out of time to get this done...kinda burnt out...worked non stop till today which was my first day off in i don't even know how long, and I remodeled our entire bathroom and be thanked by my truck by finding out my water pump needs to be here it goes.

I'm gonna start out with this quote that I found from the reading.
"It's not like they come here to be labeled, or to believe the label.
We're all here-kids, teachers, parents, whoever-it's about all of
us working together, playing together, being together, and that's
what learning is. Don't tell me any of these kids are being set up to
For my senior exit project...I worked with a Special Needs Classroom at my old Junior High School. My first choice for this project was to work at an Autism camp but the mentor bailed on me on the last minute, and looking back at it, I'm kind of glad, as terrible as that may sound, but only because I got to work in a public school.  The classroom I worked with was much different from other classrooms. The kids came in happy. But the classroom was self contained. To get to it, I had to go to an entirely different classroom and go through it. There was no sign to get to it or anything. It was like invisible. I couldn't find it on any school map, and never heard of it while I was at the school(that may or may not have been due to the fact that it was on the same floor as the library, a place of which I stayed far away from.)
I expected that all the kids would need a lot of help and work on much lower ability content.  This was, kind of true. The cool thing about this class room, was that the kids didn't stay in it for the day. The kids only had a class or so in this room.  Rather than being just a special needs classroom, it was just a class room that taught several subjects at different rates. Some of the kids I would see would go there for JUST history..or JUST math, or maybe math and history. Other than that, they would go to "normal" classrooms for their other subjects with other kids that didn't necessarily go to any special needs classes.  This was interesting to me because I knew for a fact that the school also had a classroom upstairs for children with special needs, but they would just stay in that classroom all day. As terrible as it sounds, when you saw these kids out of their classroom, you knew they were special needs, not because they wore a label or anything, but because you didn't see them in any other class. While on the other hand, the kids I worked with, you could never tell because of the fact, chances were, you had classes with them, and you saw them all over the school. 

 I chose this video...because I liked it..ha...but my favorite quote from this the title. I didn't even read the title until after I started watching it and heard that quote, "Inclusion is Belonging". I think that's what I really liked about my senior exit project experience. When I watched my kids go to other classrooms, you could tell from the look on their face that they felt like they belonged...rather than being some out cast or reject. 

I think it's important to Include all "leveled" students into common classrooms for it provides a true growing experience. If you spend your whole life around one idea, that idea is engrained in you and it becomes your belief. If a kid with special needs spends his entire life in special needs classrooms, then there's nothing else to him or her, that's it. But when you include these children in other classrooms with other students, that's when their potential is truly unlocked and you really see the kids grow up. 

My question is this: up until high school, having the classrooms be inclusive was a foreign concept. We all knew there was a special needs classroom. In elementary school it was in the corner of the school. They even had their own playground so they wouldn't be around the other kids. In Middle school it seemed it was just that one large room on the 6th floor . It wasn't until my Senior Exit Project that I realized that kids with disabilities such as Down Syndrome and Tourette Syndrome were co-learning with students that didn't even have an IEP. so my question is, did any of you have classes with students with disabilities, or even know if you did? I guess that's the bigger question...did you know? And another idea is, did you know if you had a special needs classroom dedicated to just that in your school, perhaps you walked by it every day....but did you ever get to talk to those kids, or were they just there?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tracking: Good or Bad????

This week, we had a little bit of reading to do. One piece was called Literacy with an Attitude by Patrick Finn, and the other was Jeannie Oake's Tracking: Why Schools need to take Another Route. Normally, when it comes to blogging, I like to wait till last minute, and seeing as how it's 11:02PM on Sunday...I think I successfully succeeded in this again. My purpose it not to be last minute, but because I like to read everyone else's blogs. I like to get a hint of what people think and go in to My blog with that mind set. This week was a little bit different. I didn't really read anyone's blogs before I looked into the articles. I Went to our class Blog. The first article, by name alone, seemed pretty interesting...but whatever I thought. Just another assignment to read and report. But the other assignment instantly pulled me in. Tracking??? What does that even mean. So I clicked on the link in the blog and searched around. I personally liked the History tab on the site. I hope that link works because it goes to a PDF. I didn't really read every bit of it, I merely skimmed through. Alliance is a huge deal. Basically, and I could be wrong, but it's like the...father/mother of no child left behind. At least that is what caught my eye. Instead of being all...WOW...That's So Cool, Let's read more...I was Pissed off...and my only reason is because I hate the no child left behind program. I don't see how it could possibly work when, I personally have seen kids in classes falling behind and teacher's don't care because it's not in the classroom's "best interest". I can't remember who, but I even remember hearing stories of these scenarios of kids falling through the cracks in other Schools. I hate No Child Left Behind, because it seems like it's a lottery type deal and you only aren't left behind if you're lucky or gifted enough!!!....Anyways, to end a rant...I jumped on the reserves and pulled up the article......
Tracking??? It seems to me that it means basically to group students by their abilities/disabilities. "In other words, to keep the smart kids with the smart kids and the stupid kids with the stupid kids." I for one hate the words I just used. Half way through, I was going to backspace....but in reality...that is what we do when we group kids by what they can do. I don't believe in tracking at all. The article says "Moreover, the nature of these differences suggests that students who are placed in high-ability groups have access to far richer schooling experiences than other students. This finding helps explain, at least in part, why it is that tracking sometimes seems to "work" for highability students and not for others." So it's fine for the "high ability" groups, and is a waste of time and actually proves to.....educationally hurt? the kids of lower abilities. That's ridiculous. I don't care if you're the next Einstein or have more IEP's than anyone else in the is that fair...
I feel like I'm ranting about how much this topic really "grinds my gears"(probably because that is exactly what I am doing huh?) And A rant can't be fun to I apologize to anyone who find's themselves on my blog. For every paragraph that I read, while I grinded my teeth and clenched my fists...I thought of one thing....Can separate be equal...I googled Seperate but Equal.....and I love Wikipedia...

We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of "separate but equal" has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.

This is from the Brown vs. Board of Education case that we all have learned so much about. While focusing and dealing with race as was the controversy of it's time, how can we not see the relationship to this idea of tracking. Schools are Separating classes based on ability. Is equality of teaching styles and teachers and opportunities for the students really possible. I really don't think so at all.

"In low-ability classes, for example, teachers seem to be less encouraging and more punitive, placing more emphasis on discipline and 'behavior and less on academic learning. Compared to teachers in high-ability classes, they seem to be more concerned about getting students to follow directions, be on time, and sit quietly. Students in low ability classes more often feel excluded from class activities and tend to find their classmates unfriendly. Their classes are more often interrupted by problems and arguing, while students in higher-ability classes seem to be much more involved in their classwork"

So my question is....what is an alternative to tracking? I really don't know. As i read this article, I couldn't wait until I arrived at some solution they would suggest...but there doesn't seem to be one...yet...It seems that the change isn't going to be simple. It won't be just...mixing up the kids and teaching mixed groups. I believe the change has to start in the teachers themselves. In order for students to have faith in themselves, they must know that other people believe in them . I can't tell you how many test I went to, and being on the verge of not being able to endure more pain(karate tests) I would just think of who had faith in me, and that would push me to the point of finishing the test no matter what.  I don't know an alternative...but I really hope we find one soon...because...from what I've seen in my own VIPs experience, from what all of you guys have seen, from what I see in other classrooms, Tracking doesn't work at all...well it does for those more "fortunate" of students, but pretty much screws the other kids out of so many experiences.

So I don't share this with many people, but this assignment really backs up my beliefs. So my major is special needs and education in elementary levels...but honestly, I hate schools and the special needs programs that I have seen personally for the most part. Sure we need them, but in so many cases they don't seem work at all. They just hold back the students. I want an education on how to work with special needs students...but I want to make my own program. Being a certified Martial Arts teacher, I have worked with all sorts of students. One particular student motivates me more than anyone else. He has Torettes, ADD, ADHD, a few other medical problems, and his parents just went through a messy divorce, all while he is about 10. That's a lot for anyone never mind a 10 Year old...and his mom told me how he is in all special classes at school and people make fun of him and how he hates it. In classes...I don't single him out, I don't make special forms for him or special class activities. He does the same activities as everyone else and is held to the same standard. Does he struggle at times? Yes. Does he get aggravated when he messes up or has a lot of difficulty? Yes. Does he give up when he fails...No...I don't let him fail. I continue to challenge him and let him know that I know he can do it. One weapon's class, where all the beginners use a bo, Jack hated it. I felt so bad and even though he wasn't getting any better with it, I wanted to give him an opportunity to use another weapon like I gave everyone else, I gave him a jump rope and he can swing it and whip it better than any other student we have.

While it is clear to me, that not every student will reach the same level, and some will be significantly higher, and others lower, I don't believe that grouping these kids by that idea and basically telling them that that is as high as they can ever get is the solution. Separate is not equal. Brown Vs. Board ruled that way. So why do we still have that in the classroom. How do we go about "fixing" this in a classroom. And do any of you work/have worked in special needs classrooms, and how do you think they are working. Do you think the teacher's let them go as far as they can, or do they hold them back.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Gender Inequality.

So for this week's post, I did a lot of thinking. From when I left campus Thursday after math, till about 8 tonight, I have been non stop working working doubles at work from open to close, and teaching karate so I knew I wouldn't have time until now to do this week's blog. But because I knew what I had to do, i thought and thought. I thought about all of the ways gender is portrayed in our lives. I can't think of a single instance where a show has referenced to a guy being the stay at home dad and the mom working. Or a transexual dad or mom, or anything out of the "normal". I didn't really know what to say for this week. Like I watched videos on youtube, I read everyone else s blogs. I think the first blog I read was Mariah's which I really liked because she had a list of laws under Title IX pertaining to women and male athletes having equal, well everything from uniforms, to equipment, to locker rooms. This really helped me get my mind off of just appearance stereotypes to equality of what women and men have available to them.
Anyways, I kept running through YouTube, and I found one video that I really wanted everyone to see

If nothing else, I think the best part of this video is from 2:15 on. This video was actually done for a Education Class midterm. I chose this one inparticular for several reasons.
1. It was kind of similar to when we watched the dove commercials and that segment from Beauty and the beast. You could clearly see that all of the girls and women were played by "perfect" woman by their standard. They were perfectualy figured, perfect height and body, "normal" colored hair. Most of the videos were of woman doing house work, or in pizza commercial, serving the man and bringing him food. Which as I think of that instance, It also refuses to show the idea of a lesbian or gay male. They're not "bashing" on the idea, it just doesn't exist. It's like the state of RI and how it refuses to even see gay marriages as a marriage from other states.

2. While I watched this video, I wasn't sure if I was going to use it. In fact, half way through I thought it was cool, but so what. It wasn't until 2:15 into the video, that I really wanted to use it. As you watch, you notice they use the doll test, very similar and slightly adjusted from what we discussed in class. Instead of a black doll and a white doll although, they used a male and female and asked questions like who goes to work, and who stays at home. In which case the children pointed to the male goes to work, and the female stays at home.

If that isn't proof that gender stereotyping isn't clearly portrayed in the media and pretty much drilled into kids heads from a young age, then I don't know what is. Kids are growing up and being taught and shown that, Mom goes to the market, and cleans the house, and cooks dinner, and dad goes to work and as the saying goes, "Brings home the bacon". I hate this idea.
Lately, a coworker of mine, who is a female told me what happened to her the other night. She has been living with a man for almost a year now and they have been planning a wedding. This guy comes home one night, and became upset and sarcastically states, "Oh nice to see dinner on the table for me after a long day of work," saying this because there was no dinner. I grinded my teeth until I heard the rest. My co worker told me...that was it, She had had it. She called off the wedding and canceled everything. She was sick of living a stereotypical lifestyle that he wanted. I hate people who are line that. I think relationships, whether it be man and woman, man and man, woman and woman, or whatever the case may be, have to be equal. I know in my relationship can't cook to save her life, she's even almost burned a house down twice. So when we have relaxing dinners at someone's house, I generally cook. But she tries to. When it comes to shopping for food, we take turns, as well as paying bills at restaurants.
To take this one step farther, and connect it even more personally, As I wrote this blog, I thought about all of the gender stereotypes I have. Since I have been taking this class, I have opened up a lot more. I used to always pay for everything, being the guy in the relationship and all. If I didn't, people would call me out on it, so I just thought I had to. Now we take turns. Mind you, for anniversaries, I still have the idea that the guy pays for everything drilled in my head. I don't know whether it's right or wrong, but for some reason, it seems right to me. It seems like it's the way it's supposed to be, the guy pays. Another stereotype I have is driving. I really don't know why. I have a big 96 chevy 1500 truck that has a 30 gallon tank and gets about 16MPG on a good day. It costs about 120 to 130 to fill. She has a little Mitsubishi Galant which is the exact opposite from my truck, gas wise. Even though her car is better, I refuse to let her drive me. I think it the 4 months we've been together, she has driven me twice, and one time I had no car. I even told her, if we have to drive really far, well I'll drive her car. Why can't I let her drive me!!!

I want to ask everyone 2 questions to see how people stand. One is, what do you all think about paying in a relationship. Like when a couple goes out to eat or to the movies, who should pay. And the second question is similar, but who should do the driving. Like am I the only one who feels the way I do. I don't know why I feel I should pay or drive, I just do.

One T

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Karate Seminar

So I went to a karate seminar on Saturday and learned many nerves and pressure points and locks to do on people and I learned about the history of karate. The person who led the seminar was an 8th degree black belt, was in the hall of fame, a licensed and working doctor, served the air force, worked with the best of the best and was an ex NJ State Trooper. Basically he knew his stuff and he knew it well. Now, while his seminar was all on karate, and the history, and the body, there was one quote in particular that stood out above all that made me really think, not only in the mind set of a martial artist, but also as a future teacher.

He said, "Every one learns the same alphabet. A-Z, Z-A, it's the same alphabet no matter who you are. But, even though they have the same letters, every person has their own signature. No 2 signatures are the same."

I see this as the perfect quote to teachers, new or old, current or future or retired. It is highly important that while we strive to teach all children the same material, we need to realize that no two kids will learn the same and will understand material their own personal way depending on what works best.
So I don't know if that connection came out as clear as I thought it did through my words, but it makes sense in my head haha.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Nothing to do with Class.

So this, like the Title says, has nothing to do with class, I think, It's just been on my mind all weekend and I wanted to share it. Thursday night, I went out to a Chinese restaurant because it was a co-worker's last day as she was getting transferred to another place. All of my co workers who went to bid their farewells, were 21 or older so they were drinking alcohol. I for one, am 19, and while that tends to mean nothing when alcohol is involved, I choose not to drink. I much rather have an  ice cold Root Beer or Orange soda which is perhaps why I remembered this. I like to go to events where people drink, just because, when people drink, they tend to speak their minds. Nothing matters so they just say it and don't hold back. This can be good and this can be bad. In Thursday night, this was awesome.

My friend Rob had just polished off his 5th drink. He loves to bicker about society and the man and all of that other stuff. So he began to speak about, social status? I guess that's the right term. So he says to me this:

"If you ever wonder where you stand in society, think of this. If you walk into a building, and your name is on the live in a high society." Okay so I think of THE Dave who owns Dave's Marketplace, just because that's where we all work and we know him and how of a luxury his life is. Rob then says:

"If you walk into a building, and your name is on the wall, then you live a decent life, kind of in the middle of society." So in our thoughts, we think of all of our managers who have their names on plaques in the store. They don't live a life anywhere near the luxury style of Dave, but their doing pretty well, probably have nice families and are generally happy with how their lives' have turned out. Rob finished with this:

"IF, you walk into a building, and you look all around, and the ONLY place you can find your name, is on YOUR shirt, then you live in "low" society, at the bottom." Now this is perhaps the easiest for people to connect with. So many of us have part time jobs. We work just to make a few extra dollars to perhaps pay for gas, buy food or clothes, or even help pay some bills. But we tend to make so little, and we hate those jobs. They're there not for a future hopefully, but to make a few extra dollars to get by until we find our calling. I know I hate my job. And the only place I find my name is on my shirt. I mean nothing to the company except another number in some excel spreadsheet that breaks down how much i make, when I work and all of that other information that a company needs to know. As long as my shirt is the only place I can find my name, I'll be unhappy, and won't be living in a huge house anytime soon that's for sure.

I know this has nothing to do with class, but I love this Idea. It really opened my eyes and made me want to push myself. I'm not saying that I want to get a plaque on Dave's wall. But I want to strive for larger. Maybe one day there will be a building that has my name. Or at least ONE T, and then I'll be happier living a much more luxurious life!