Saturday, April 27, 2013

Misc. Post - "Safe Spaces" LGBT connections

As many of us have heard, RI is very close to recognizing marriage equality. There has been a ton of buzz about LGBT rights on my social media accounts. One of my friends on facebook, posted a youtube video, I did not watch it. Then another friend shared the video, too. After about ten people had recommended this youtube video, I clicked on it. It's twenty minutes long, but it's so well made. The video is a story about what life would be like if homosexuality was normal, and those who were heterosexual were the "weird" ones. It's tough to watch, because you know that the things shown in the video happen to way too many LGBT students, teens and adults. I think watching this video has helped me understand what it feels like to not have a "safe space". It has also helped me understand how to explain to others about what it must be like. I highly recommend watching it, as it has given me a better perspective on the reading and the subject. (Apparently the video has been circulating for almost a year, so if you've already seen it, feel free to strike up a conversation!)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Social Justice Event - Macklemore

For my social justice event, I attended the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis concert on campus. It was really awesome to see so many participate in an event on campus. I met some new friends and saw some old friends and it was a good night. I know that Tiff attended the concert too, and here is her blog. I will try to highlight different things so that it is not too repetitive. Let me give you some background on Macklemore…

Ben Haggerty grew up in Washington state and after high school got a bachelor’s degree from Evergreen State College. After earning his degree, Haggerty went to work for a program focusing on education and cultural identity called "Gateways for Incarcerated Youth" where he facilitated music workshops. He recorded Open Your Eyes in 2000, and was known as Professor Macklemore. Once he released his full length album titled, The Language of My World 2005, he got rid of "Professor" and went simply by Macklemore. Unlike other rappers, he tries to write songs about real issues that teens are dealing with. Here are some examples of his songs and how they relate to important things that we have covered in class…
White Privilege - Macklemore
Although we studied McIntosh's article "White Privilege" and it obviously has some similarities , I feel like this song most strongly connects to Johnson's "Privilege, Power and Difference".
"“…the reality of her having to deal with racism and sexism every day is connected to the reality that I don’t. I didn't have to do anything wrong for this to be true and neither did she. But there it is just the same (Johnson, Privilege, Power and Difference, 9).”
In this song, Macklemore is talking about how it is to be a white rapper, in a world dominated by African-American rappers.  He sings the lyrics, "And we don't want to admit that this is existing so scared to acknowledge the benefits of our white privilege"
Like Johnson suggests, Macklemore agrees that we need to name what our society is, we must say the words. We must acknowledge that some people's ethnicity equal mean power in our society, to change the outlook of how people see race and see differences.
 In this article Macklemore is interviewed on his music. The author of the article, along with many fans, believe he is changing the face of Hip Hop.  If you go down to the comment section of the article, there are some negative comments of people who do not believe he should be a rapper because of his race. In this situation, being white is seen as a negative thing, and he losses power in that aspect of the music world because he does not fit into the categories that the majority of rappers do. I feel that music is music, regardless of the race of the singer. I like different kinds of foods, foods that do not necessarily come from "white" countries. Should I not eat it because "my people" did not start making the dish? No! People would think that's absurd. So although rapping and rock and roll were started by the African American culture, I think anyone who would like to try making that style of music should.
Same Love - Macklemore
macklemore same love | Tumblr
I know that Tiff did this song too, but I can't help it. It's a song extremely relevant to the time and this class.  These lyrics jump out at me in particular.
"When I was in the third grade I thought that I was gay 'cause I could draw, my uncle was (gay), and I kept my room straight I told my mom tears rushing down my face. She's like "Ben you've loved girls since before pre-k tripping, " Yeah, I guess she had a point, didn't she? Bunch of stereotypes all in my head. I remember doing the math like, "Yeah, I'm good at little league"a preconceived idea of what it all meant for those that liked the same sex"
This reminds me of "Safe Spaces" and the videos we watched in class, as well as the discussion we had that week. We are all afraid to talk about it and ask questions, because it's so controversial or so foreign and we do not want to offend anyone. But it is important to be understanding and thoughtful about this topic. As Johnson would say, we must say the words. We have to get these stereotypes out of our society and we need to realize is that it is not a "choice" but a feeling. And that is what Macklemore protests in this song.
This MTV article discusses how rappers, like Macklemore and Jay-Z are bringing awareness and less homophobia to the Rapping world. This is excellent to see that celebrities who people look up to are speaking up and out, and stopping the wrongs of rappers in the past by creating a new standard of what is acceptable and right.
Thrift Shop - Macklemore
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This is probably Macklemore's most famous song. Although it is seen as a "fun" song, I feel that people have a special connection to it.
This song is about shopping at a thrift shop. Some of the lyrics are about how paying for a brand is ridiculous. It goes on to say that if you're paying a lot of money to impress other people, you're really not. This reminds me of  Christensen's "Unlearning the Myths that Bind us" and Orenstein's "Cinderella Ate my Daughter". Consumerism is a big problem in the United States. In schools, there's a war on who has the latest and greatest. Girls in particular seem to expect more, they believe that being pretty and fashionable will secure their future, although it probably won't. We need to break this cycle of consumerism and place importance on what is really important - being a well rounded, social aware person who sees beyond the exterior of others. When we think of thrift shops, we typically think that poor people have to shop there, and it has a negative image. When I was younger, my parents did not have extra money for clothing. My mom would go to the thrift store in our area and pick up clothing for our family. I was so embarrassed and I felt that everyone knew and made fun of me. Looking back, I know realize many of my friends were in similar situations, and they were not my friends for my clothing, but for my personality. It's nice that a star is rapping about things that everyone can relate to. It makes teens more comfortable in their own skin. Plus - recycling clothing and goods is good for our environment! :) Here is a link to show how goodwill sales have improved!
Macklemore is an advocate for societal change, and I believe it is in a good directions. He stands up for really great causes such as sobriety and marriage equality. He makes teens think about their choices and he tries to break down the wall against white rappers. I am happy I attended the event, as I had not been a fan beforehand.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Shor, "Educating is Politics" - Quotes

“Students in empowering classes should be expected to develop skills and knowledge as well as high expectations for themselves, their education, and their futures” (16).

            I think that allowing students to have a voice in the classroom changes everything. Setting this class setting up early is important so that on day one, the students feel that they are a valued part of the classroom, which should improve their outlook on school.  I also think that in empowering classes, students help one another develop a sense of self-worth. If as an educator you have a chance to do this for your students, why wouldn’t you?

“They ask why the official textbook and syllabus are organized the way they are and how this knowledge relates to their community cultures and to conditions in society” (37).


            This quote popped out at me. The minute I read it I thought - “Dr. Bogad”. She is teaching our class as an example of what Shor is trying to say. As a student I am so used to doing what I am told by teachers, because they are my teacher. But as students, we deserve a say. Luckily, we are given one in FNED, but how many other classes give us this choice? I think that as we prepare to become teachers, we must keep this in mind. We have to care about our students’ opinion and we must allow them to question.


“I posed the problem but did not lecture on it. Instead, I asked-students to write their responses individually. They read them to each other in small groups of three or four to discuss their analyses before each group reported to the whole class for dialogue, reading statements from their groups one at a time for discussion” (40).


I liked this segment of the reading. I think that teachers always feel the need to jump in and help the students, which forms their views and opinions on certain subjects. However, when an educator is patient and lets the students work it out on their own, they get to form their own opinions and learn to debate it on their own. Also they will be more likely to ask questions if you do not present all the facts in one quick lecture. I really liked this method of teaching, and I think the ideas of use are great.


Class discussion: Do other people plan on teaching in this manner? Do you see different pros and cons? I feel I will try to teach in this way. I think it is beneficial for both my students and myself.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Kliewer, "Citizenship in School", - Extended Comments.

 In Kliewer’s chapter, "Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome" he brings up a self-advocacy newsletter piece by Mia. In Kerri’s blog, she chooses to highlight Mia’s story to effectively prove that people with Down syndrome deserve an equal education.  In her blog, she uses hyperlinks as examples. I think the videos get the message across and are insightful. Down syndrome is difficulty for people to understand, unless they have met or heard of someone affected by it. I think that Kerri did a really great job using quotes and explaining that Mia is high functioning and that there are different levels of severity. I think that educating any student is a case-by-case scenario and an equal education is the objective. The highlight of Kerri’s blog post was the video explaining what Down syndrome is and how it affects babies and children. I also liked how she added in her experience with the Special Olympics.

            I agree that all students deserve an education and I cannot imagine being told I could not take classes that interest me if I felt I had the potential of any other student. I do not think it is right to put students into sorting machines and based on a label on their transcripts they are defined and are not free to learn as much as they would like. If we want our future to get brighter, we need to understand and allow students to foster a love of learning that comes when they have a say in their education. Kerri’s blog helped me understand and process my thoughts on this reading.

Thoughts to share: I wonder if anyone had a Down syndrome student in their class (not a special ed class)? Did it seem this article is accurate? I feel that although I have not been exposed to many people affected with down syndrome, those I have would succeed in anything they would want to do.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

"Literacy with an Attitude", Finn - Quotes

“The working-class children were learning to follow directions and do mechanical work, low-paying work, but at the same time they were learning to resist authority in ways sanctioned by their community. The middle class children were learning to follow orders and do the mental work that keeps society producing and running smoothly. They were learning that if they cooperated they would have the rewards that well-paid, middle-class work that makes possible outside the workplace (20)”.
            This quote reminds me of last weeks “separate and unequal” conversation. This book suggests that working-class families produce working class children because of the schools in their neighborhood. Typically, middle-class neighborhoods have “better” schools in the way that teachers believe the students are capable of more. If students of lower income families are already labeled as a lost cause, how are they supposed to succeed? This also reminds me of Delpit because working-class students are not taught the codes of power in their classroom, and do not understand why they are doing the work they are assigned. On the other hand, middle-class students typically understand that if they do their work and succeed in school, they will get a good job and do better financially in life.
“…Anyon observed what she called a ‘dominant theme.’ In the working-class schools the dominant these was resistance (12).”
            According to Anyon’s study, the working-class schools all have a few common themes. They are taught to just behave and get by. They are not pushed to think, reason or question. Basically, the policy of many teachers is for students to shut up and do their work when they are told. Many because the students do not feel heard, welcomed or valued, they do not value the teachers, property or work the school supplies. Honestly, if I were being taught in that manner, I think I would resist the school, too.
“When students begin school in such different systems, the odds are set for them (25)”.
            I think this statement sums up the whole argument. It is so unfair to hold students to the same standards when their quality of education is so unequal. It almost seems like a conspiracy theory to keep the poor, poor. Teachers need to realize that poor does NOT mean dumb. It means they need more attention, more explanation. Not more work, more structure.
Points to share: How do we as educators remind ourselves that everyone deserves the same quality of education if a school does not encourage it?

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Brown v. Board of Education - Connections

The links and videos about Brown vs. Board of Education reminded me of many things we have already covered in the class. Specifically, I thought of points made by the authors Johnson and Kozol.

Allan Johnson’s Privilege, Power and Difference takes a unique approach to class difference by stating that we are all part of the problem that is discrimination. He uses the story of Rodney King, who at his trial stated, “Can’t we all just get along?” King, a black man, was beaten by a group of police officers and brought to trial. Although it has been decades since the Civil War and the days of W.E.B. Du Bois, there is still so much discrimination of races, especially African American. In the video interview of Tim Wise, they discuss President Barack Obama’s impact on how African Americans are seen in the public eye. Wise agrees that although it is a step in the right direction, our society seems to only accept extraordinary, well-educated black individuals. This is a problem, because most of our society accepts plain, mediocre people (especially politicians), provided they are white. This is unacceptable in this day and age, and it is our job to educate our children that race should not be a determining factor in a person’s eligibility to do anything. Race does not limit us, but our opinion on what different races mean does.

Jonathon Kozol’s article “Amazing Grace” and the NY times article “Separate and Unequal” by Bob Herbert have many similarities. Kozol’s article focuses on the students living in the Bronx who live in very high poverty conditions. It is difficult for students in these conditions to worry about school when they are worried about where they will get their next meal or sleep. Although there is no longer a law saying that black students go to black schools, and white students attend white schools, it happens. In the Herbert article, he sums up how this happens. “Educators know that it is very difficult to get consistently good results in schools characterized by high concentrations of poverty. The best teachers tend to avoid such schools…These, of course, are the very schools that in which so many black and Hispanic students are enrolled”. Reading this I just kept thinking, this is so TRUE! All the time, older teachers will tell me not to work in the place I grew up because there are many poor students (who they have low expectations for). Both of these authors point out that students in poor communities do not get the same education as a middle class white family’s children.


Points to Share: How can we as teachers fix these gaps?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Kahne, Westheimer - "In the Service of What?" - Quotes

“They stress the importance of compassion for those in need, and they encourage children and young adults to find ways to help” (3).

The authors of this article did a study on the impact service learning has in K-12 classrooms. The two projects they highlighted were different, one being focused on giving charity, the other focusing on promoting change. However, any kind of service learning is better than no service learning. I think that it is essential for young people to be exposed to the idea of helping out the less fortunate. I think that it makes young people more conscious about the world and diversity around them as they grow up and become more independent.


“By engaging in meaningful service--whether tutoring children for whom English is a second language, helping patients in a hospital, doing difficult chores for the elderly, or supervising younger children's recreational activities--students will have opportunities to experience what David Hornbeck, former Maryland state superintendent referred to as ‘the joy of reaching out to others’” (5).

            I think it is interesting that these aspects of service learning were mentioned. I think the authors may have done so because these are examples almost every community could use.  I think Rhode Island has many great volunteer opportunities. As a middle or high school level student it would probably be easy to volunteer to help younger students, as many may have siblings of a similar age. Also, everyone has elderly living in their area, and I think that really great bonds could be made between students and the elderly. I also agree, as the article points out a few times, that students feel satisfied when they help their community.



”Rather than tie the service curriculum exclusively to moral development, some advocates of service learning talk about developing citizens for our democracy” (8).


When reading this quote, I was like what a great idea! My inner history teacher thought of a million lessons that could go along with this idea that we should be good citizens by performing duties for “America”. As I read on, I felt that it could be dangerous and it does suggest a political agenda that I may not want in my classroom. Then I thought of a few ways I could flip this to turn in into a whole other assignment about politicians in society and why they choose to promote certain values.
Here are some interesting statistics...


Things to discuss: What were my class mates school’s policies on service learning? What were some positive/negative experiences?



Sunday, March 17, 2013

Orenstein, "Cinderella Ate my Daughter" - Reflection

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I remember being at Disney World when I was six years old. In one of the souvenir shops, there was a beautiful princess dress modeled after one in “Beauty and the Beast”. I quietly asked my grandfather if he thought I could have it. He looked down at me and told me that no little girl needed a $100 dress to be a princess, and to him I would be a princess no matter what I wore. I was not pleased with this answer, but did not argue because I knew it would be fruitless. All the way home I thought about how badly I wanted that dress.  I wanted the dress because I wanted to look just like the princesses I had seen in the theme parks, and on TV, and in my pre-school.  My room, bedding, clothing, hair accessories and dolls are revolved around the Disney princesses. My parents are WONDERFUL people and would go to the moon and back for my sister and I. They let me choose many different paths in life and have always supported my decisions.  Having two little girls, they felt it was best to give us fluffy, butterfly, fairy princess items because that is what girls “like”. They wanted us to be accepted and have the things the other little girls in our neighborhood had. So growing up, I was spoiled. This affected my sister and I very differently. I was given a choice in what I liked, and as I grew older I lost interest in materialistic things and began to appreciate experiences with my family and friends more than shopping or playing dress up. As my sister got older, she did not lose interest in having the “Princess Life”. At 17, her room is modeled after the Victoria Secret’s “PINK” collection. Her life revolves around shopping, beautifying and spending money to gain “happiness”. I feel like she is only as satisfied as her last purchase, and I want to help her get out of these habits before she leaves home. I noticed that many of her friends and even girls my age fall into this and it concerns me. We need to start teaching our children that life is so much more than materialistic things and that children should be able to choose their own interests regardless of what they “should” want.
Points to share: How did boys or people with brothers feel about this article? I had a toolbox when I was younger and my parents were pleased with my decision. I wonder how they would feel if I had been a boy who wanted a barbie dream house? Did any boys ask for "girl" toys and play with them?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Christensen, "Unlearning the Myths that Bind us" - Reflection

As soon as I read the first page of Christensen I knew what I would discuss.  In my personal experience, my childhood revolved around Disney movies. As a white little girl, it was easy for me to imagine myself as the princess - as Cinderella, Belle, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White are. I would play wedding with my next door neighbor’s grandson. After that I would go to my pretend kitchen and make my new husband some delicious play dinner. As a young girl, I thought my whole goal in life is to become a bride.  As I got older, Disney movies still played a role in my life. The princesses I figure to be in their late teens. They are all thin and beautiful. They have perfect hair, perfect outfits, and everyone who is good adores them. Well, I’ve never been all that thin, my hair is far from perfect, and not everybody wants to be my friend. In one of the courses I took in high school, we discussed how movies made us feel as children. While many other white girls in my class could relate to my experience, it was difficult for students of other races to agree.  That really opened my eyes to all the hidden education in Disney movies, as well as other children’s entertainment. I did a research project on some of the secret “messages” these movies give out. I talked with some of the little girls I babysat, and they all identified some sort of racist or sexist idea that they most likely learned from watching these movies.

Some examples were:

-          Bad people are fat and ugly

-          Princesses are the most beautiful, and they never have to go to work or school, but get the best husbands

-          If a man is not strong, handsome and charming he is bad

These were examples out of the mouths of four year olds. The way they see the world will be shaped because of this. To conclude, I found a video another student made to highlight some of the things I discussed.
Class discussion: What were other experiences, were they similar or different to my own?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

August, "Safe Spaces" - Hyperlinks

“There’s a class that needs to be taught every day, that’s compassion. Teach the kids to be kind to one another”  ~ Ellen Degeneres
Ellen Degeneres, a famous comedian and show host, is an advocate for anti bullying in general. Her parting words on every show, are "Be Kind to One Another". She is a great role model, and she happens to be gay (which doesn't stop millions of people from watching her show). This video has clips from her past segments on anti gay bullying. On one episode, she invited the mother of a young man who committed suicide to be on her show to get public attention to what is happening to our youth. In this part, Ellen cries out to everyone that this has to be stopped. We are in a crisis, and it seems like every one is too afraid to make a stand on the issue. She begs that teachers help teach the kids at school compassion, and to not stay neutral on such topics. Bullying is never acceptable. Bullying to the point where these kids feel there is no way out is downright outrageous.
I feel it is important for us as perspective teachers to prepare ourselves now. It is inevitable that we will come across an issue of bullying in our classrooms and we need to be prepared on how to do so. The above video also opened my eyes to another factor - How YOUNG these kids are who are committing suicide. That means, this is not just a middle or high school level issue. This needs to be talked about early on. I looked into some ways these can be introduced. Aside from the books mentioned in "Safe Spaces" I found:
Elmer is a duck who gets bullied because he is a "sissy". He is even misunderstood by his father. Elmer performs a courageous act to save his father, and proves he is no different from any other duck.
"One Dad, Two Dad, Brown Dad, Blue Dad" by Johnny Valentine is also a great book to help children understand that not everybodies family dynamic is the same.
Finally, I looked into some ideas to get the anti gay bullying movement going through out the whole school. Many of these programs have chapters, so there is one near us, or we can start one up.
Here are some school programs:
Gay Lesbian Straight Enducation Network
Geared toward younger grades. Nice tips on using inclusive language!
Help with keeping in mind the needs of LGBT students in schools.
Class discussion: I wonder if going to the Unity Center would help if we had any additional questions or needed ideas on how to help our students more effectively.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Rodriguez, "Aria" - Argument

In the writing Aria, Richard Rodriguez uses his personal experiences to argue that it is very difficult understanding bilingualism, especially as a child. Rodrigues remembers feeling as if Spanish was some sort of private language that he could speak at home with his family and friends. On the other hand, English was a public language, something he had to learn in order to make it through school. Rodriguez wishes that someone, especially a teacher, would have made him feel welcome by trying to understand and call him by his native language. This lack of understanding from his teachers left him to slowly slip behind socially and scholastically. Like all parents, his wanted the best for him and agreed to practice English at home with the family. However, this pushed him in the right direction. He and his siblings became more publically independent. He spoke in class and gained confidence in his ability. Rodriguez no longer felt that he was an outsider and became “Americanized”. 

                On the other hand, the silence Rodriguez had once experienced at school was now felt at home because his parents did not understand all of the English that he had learned. As he learned more English, he lost much of his Spanish words or translations. It is interesting that Rodrigues points out that as the family grew more divided, his father became more silent. He uses a story about his father saying grace before meals in English wrong to highlight how embarrassing it could feel to not fit in with the culture around you. The fact that from then on the mother said prayer is interesting, as it changed the family roles. As Rodrigues grew, he finally came to the realization and understanding that there are two ways of individualization; private and public. Rodrigues feels that although he lost some of his private individuality, he gained public individuality by assimilating to the dominant culture.

Point to Share: I remember thinking it was cool having a bilingual friend. Maybe as educators we should encourage students to share their language and culture with their peers to make it feel less "weird". 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

McIntosh "White Privilege" - Quotes

“I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was ‘meant’ to remain oblivious”(McIntosh 1).

This quote reminds me of something Dr. Bogad has said. Like McIntosh, Dr. Bogad believes we all have different tools, depending on our experiences. McIntosh compares being white to having a big set of tools, but pretending you do not notice that you are given more than somebody else. She believes that this is just as bad as acknowledging the privilege outright.


“When I am told about our national heritage or about "civilization", I am shown that people of my color made it what it is” (McIntosh 2).

McIntosh gives a long list of things privileged people take for granted. The list brings up many things that I personally take for granted at times. This item is particularly important to me because one day I will be teaching the history of all different kinds of religions, races and sexes. I think it will be important to keep in mind how I present the information to my students in the future.


“Disapproving of the system won't be enough to change them. I was taught to think that racism could end if white individuals changed their attitude… Individual acts can palliate but cannot end, these problems” (McIntosh 6).

This quote sums up the idea that the way privileged people are taught to look at race is not the most affective. In Allan Johnson’s Privilege, Power and Difference, he discusses the fact that you are not doing anything wrong by being privileged or not. If a privileged group ignores the fact that they are better off, it doesn’t change how they try to “help”. By setting the standards of what is helpful to the standard of living they are accustomed to proves the fact that they feel superior and better off.


Hey there!

My name is Marissa and I am a sophomore at RIC. I am studying to be a history teacher at the middle or high school level. All my life I have been passionate about history, and I want to inspire other students through my class. I work as a customer service representative at Wright's Dairy Farm and I love my job! I have 3 dogs and 4 cats who drive me crazy. I am blessed with a great family and friends.

~ My Friends ~
My co-workers ;)
One of my dog's puppies <3 So sweet