Saturday, November 15, 2014

"DON'T LIMIT ME" Kliewer

“Citizenship in School: Conceptualizing Down Syndrome” by Christopher Kliewer argues that all children no matter their disability, such as Down syndrome, should be included with typical children in an inclusive classroom setting.  This is a critical part in development for any student.  Schools need to recognize that ALL students can learn if their environment supports ALL students.  “School citizenship requires that students not be categorized and separated based on presumed defect.  The phenomenon of categorization at the expense of individual value has been described as a “disability spread” in which we [schools] extrapolate the characteristics we associate with the notion of disability…” (85). Any school should allow difference, server or non-severe disabilities within the classroom, with support from other adults.  "The idea is that tolerance will grow as students gain appreciation for difference" (August 85).

Students with disabilities, even Down syndrome, should be integrated in all classroom situations.  I remember having a student with disabilities who entered into our school for the first time only knowing school as being in one class all day.  This student was never integrated in any school classroom except for classes which were not academic.  “Vygotsky found that the culture of segregation surrounding people with disabilities actually teaches underdevelopment of thinking thought the isolation of children from social valued opportunities” (83).  This is dangerous because students who are subjected by these behaviors-- learn these behaviors.  The student who entered my classroom for the first time never knew how to interact with students on a social level and therefore was deprived from social interaction of typical children.  The student with disabilities was socially involved with students who were considered to have behavior disorders.  This student with disabilities learned the behaviors of other students and was then labeled with behavior problems.


The parent of the student was concerned because her child was labeled as a student who could not function in a mainstream classroom.  When the student came to our school, he was fully integrated in the mainstream classroom and learned that not all students has behavior issues.  The behavior improved and social skills improved.  This reminded me of Christine’s story.  “Christine’s skills improved… she was out in the community, Christine’s network broadened…” (92). Bringing students into mainstream classroom helps the student with disabilities become a part of a community.  This will only enhance the learning levels, because those student who may be deprived of learning from students of all levels, will then have the opportunity to connect and learn with ALL students.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Collier and Rodriguez

“Teaching Multicultural Children” by Collier argues that teachers need to understand what an English language learner needs in order to be successful at home and in the classroom.  I felt very strongly about #5 which talks about code-switching.  Collier states that “Code-switching is the most creative and dynamic process of the three, is highly structured… [it] should be accepted, and not penalized.” (230).  When English language learners are in the classroom it is an imperative for them to feel the need to relate their native language to the new language.  I had a former student who moved to this country as a 6th grader.  I had to pleasure of having this student for 7th and 8th grade as I looped in previous years.  I can remember her only having a minimal exposure to English (English was not spoken in the home). The ELL teacher would sit with her in the mainstream classroom.  Not only was she learning math content she was also learning English at the same time.  The code-switching Collier speaks of is making references to her native language and integrating English for math vocabulary.  Here is an article from Rethinking Schools for improving instruction for language learners.

A quote Collier states “The most successful long-term academic achievement occurs where the student’s primary language is the initial language of literacy” (223).  I felt that this was interesting considering the majority of students can speak Spanish at school, but do not know how to write the language.  It is my personal experience; students can verbalize what they want to say in Spanish, but rather can write what they mean in English.  So students can verbalize, but the written form is entirely absent.  I find that even when they write in Spanish, they can write what they know, but cannot interpret some words they know in Spanish.   This might stem from being able to write in English when in grade school, but not able to write their own language as a young adult. 


I found the personal story “Aria” by Richard Rodriguez just as insightful.  Hearing his version of language development as a child to an adult made more aware of how identity can be transformed over time.  It reminds me of some situations at family conferences.  I would say that over 85% of family conferences are in Spanish.  A translator is needed on hand all day.  It is interesting to me that “children lose a degree of ‘individuality’ by becoming assimilated into public society” (38).   It is so true.  So many parents do not speak English, while many of the students are completely fluent in both languages, and are accustomed to American lifestyle.  It is my concern that students do not fully embrace their culture from their families, particularly the students who are born here.  When debriefing with some students, some students are afraid that teachers will think less of them because families do not assimilate to the culture.  They know the differences and are embarrassed by their parent’s clothing styles, language, or actions. Have my students’ “public identity or individuality” been compromised through this assimilation?  I think most have, but might not realize the full importance of family traditional culture.  Sure my students embrace where they come from as an identity.  I am sure they will realize at an older age to embrace these difference.  

Reflecting on Safe Spaces.

Reflecting on Safe Spaces

First, I want to thank you all for the positive and delta changes after class. From reading the positives, I was happy that many of you liked the 4 A’s protocol.  I think it’s a great strategy for anyone exploring any text.  I use this strategy often when facilitating professional development with faculty at school, so it almost felt natural to deliver, except it wasn’t in front of around 50 people.  Since many of you have English teaching backgrounds, I thought this might be an appropriate strategy to use in your classroom.  The dialogue was great between the 4 A’s and think that we could have easily used each ‘A’ for more time than was allotted.  Since we naturally have great conversations on any topic, the protocol lends itself to a variety of how each one thinks. 

The blogs you all wrote were great jumping off points.  I wanted to incorporate many of the questions you brought up and extend the conversation in class.  I basically treated your blogs as exit tickets, used your arguments/points, and hopefully be able to tie up loose ends in conversation.   Although, I felt over-whelmed because there was so much I didn't know, I felt that using your blogs helped guide me. 


I wanted to wrap things up at the end with our personal experiences (people), and realized that many spending more time on that were very valuable.  I know that many can relate to the personal experiences and sharing these out would have really finalized or brought some closer.  I know that with our students it was be a great opportunity to use that format to help students visualize their experiences and talk about them.  I hope that many of you do.  What a great experience!