Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Theory Connection #3

"acceptance is the aim when children with Down syndrome join their non-disabled peers in classrooms, and many schools and individual teachers have entered into this effort" (74)

In "Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome" by Christopher Kliewer, he argues that although students with disabilities learn differently, specifically Down syndrome, they should not be segregated from a normal integrated classroom. Segregating children who have Down syndrome or any disability takes away from the learning environment. Kliewer believes students would experience a richer learning environment if all classrooms include students with differently learning abilities. All children need to be valued because everyone has something to offer, with or without a disability.

Practice Example
I had the chance to work in a self-contained classroom for my service learning project at Asa Messer. A self-contained classroom has a fewer number of students which enhance my support for students than a typical class would. This classroom contained students with all types of learning abilities. My integration classroom had a child with Down syndrome, ESL students, Autism, low levels of attention span, and some children have no disability. This classroom is mixed with kindergarten, first, and second graders. I believe this classroom is a classroom that Kliewer would say is supporting all children's participation. At one of my service learning sessions, I was able to attend gym and art class. In these elective classes, my classroom was integrated with different classes which I believe is an awesome opportunity to not just get away from their class but to also interact with different children.
So what?
In many schools, students who have disabilities are placed in a segregated classroom, are lacking educational opportunities that other students are receiving. This is not fair. I see why isolating and segregating children to give them more attention can be beneficial; however this limits their social growth. Asa Messer does a nice job combining children in classrooms to be able to contribute in the same opportunities. Kliewer says that including students who have disabilities can make a difference in recognizing each individual's value and developing an appreciation for one another. 

Theory Connection #2

“Be aware that children use first language acquisition strategies for learning or acquiring a second language...teachers should be aware of the special kind of speech that mothers and fathers use automatically with their children” (223-224).

In "Teaching Multilingual Children," Virginia Collier says that educators need to encourage and embrace diversity in the classroom rather than forcing one language (English) and one culture. By using a child's first language, they slowly find ways of learning cultural appropriate patterns, this is why Collier says a teacher should not eliminate the first language in a classroom.

Practice Example
Cris, a five year old student whose first language is Spanish, has a hard time understanding demands in English. The teachers were struggling trying to figure out what would help him actively engage him to pay attention. When he misbehaved, the teachers would explicitly tell him not to do what he was not supposed to do but he would not listen. A couple weeks into school, the teachers discovered that Cris focuses when he is told, “Papao” after misbehaving in the classroom. “Papao” is a discipline Hispanic parents use when a child misbehaves. This is said with a gentle smack on the hand or on the bum. This gesture is a reminder of any wrongdoing that they do. The teachers use this discipline to keep Cris focused. 

So what?
Collier would also be excited to see that Mrs. Santaniello and the other teacher assistants in her classroom for using this child's first language to help the children learn a second language. Since Cris is still learning English, he does not know what is right and wrong in the classroom and most definitely does not understand. When he was once rolling around the rug and avoiding to do his assignment, Grandma said "papao!" and he stopped, looked at her and touched his bum! Using Cris's first language will help him correct his own mistakes over time. 

Other connections
In "Aria", Richard Rodriguez says, "it would have pleased me to hear my teachers address me in Spanish when I entered the classroom" (34). Richard did not have a professor who accepted his first language in his classroom. Luckily in my service learning classroom, Mrs. Santaniello allows it which is what Richard wish he had.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Promising Practices

I was excited to attend my first professional conference however it was so early in the morning that I did not know what to expect! On November 1, 2014, I attended Rhode Island College’s 17th Annual Promising Practices Conference revolving around Culturally Responsive Curricula in STEM. STEM is the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education. During this conference, I attended two workshop that evidently discussed this year's theme. 

The first workshop I attended was Confidently Working Toward Your Career ran by Yasah Vezele and Katherine Cook. Yasah Vezele is a Senior Test Engineer at Waters Corporation and Katherine Cook is President of K.Adina Coaching. These two presenters were so friendly and kept us engaged in their presentation; however, the content of the workshop was nothing like what I thought it would be. The description of the workshop said it was going to discuss the challenges of being a minority student in a majority world and tips and tricks for success and achieving confidence within yourself. I felt like I was in a middle school or high school presentation trying to prepare us for college. It was not what I expected. Yasah and Katherine discussed how resources can help me succeed, tools for middle and high school, and tools for college students such as scholarships and internships, guidance programs, recruitment and retention programs, etc. Most of the information discussed in this workshop was information I already knew.

The second workshop I attended was Comedy in the Classroom ran by Elizabeth Anne Keiser, Corinne McKamey, and the Transitions through Arts Literacy Learning (TALL) University students. I was excited for this workshop because I was expecting to get tips on how to incorporate comic in a classroom and as a behavioral management technique. A group of children were standing at the door attempting to introduce themselves and shake their hands with us. There was complete chaos when I walked into the classroom, there were more people than desk and it was very crowded. The TALL University students ran the workshop which I thought was different and adorable! I was very confused throughout the workshop because we played games and activities but were not explained what they were until AFTER we did them. It was not until the end of the workshop that Elizabeth spoke to the group and explained what all of these activities were for and what they meant. I think it was a fun time, especially having the chance to interact with these children who come from diverse backgrounds.

My favorite part of Promising Practices was the Keynote Speaker, Christopher Emdin. In his keynote address, Dr. Emdin promoted strategies for advancing opportunities for STEM Education in Urban Environments. He expressed that teachers and educators are responsible for the reason why students drop out, skip class, and fail if they do not feel comfortable. Students may find classes hard if they cannot relate, especially STEM classes, which is why Dr. Emdin suggests teachers must find different ways in order to prevent students from disconnecting from school. Dr. Emdin said, "teachers can have similar goals but they cannot do the same structure because they are privileging children." The teachers who expect children to sit quietly, take notes and soak in information is an example of this by not giving the students a chance to show and express their brilliance. What touched me the most in his presentation was the video he showed of a teenage boy, in an urban school, who was calling out the answers in the back of the classroom. This student had the right answer for his math class but the teacher interpreted as "disrespecting the class" and "disrupting the teacher" for shouting out the answers in the classroom. Dr. Emdin related this to cyphers, which is freestyle rapping. During a cypher, you do not have to raise your hand you just shout out a verse one after the other. Dr. Emdin believes Hip Hop Education used in STEM education can help students relate to their education because the skills people use to create a rap verse is the same skills it takes for a STEM classroom. Dr. Emdin was such a powerful speaker who kept the audience engaged throughout his presentation and I found this to be an amazing opportunity.