Monday, July 13, 2015

Once Upon A Digital Land

           When I first entered this class, I had no idea what I was in for. I originally thought that I was taking a class on technology and how to use it in the classroom. (Piece of cake-Wrong) I knew I needed 2 elective classes to complete my masters, so I wasn’t overly concerned about why I was doing it (double wrong!). The dynamic of the entire class was refreshing, we all have different stories to tell ,but teaching is the ultimate theme.
Coming into this course, I did what I was told at school and the things that I believed were swept under the rug. Technology and the idea of exploration was somewhat of a “native” term. Every website that I explored was blocked, the server is usually down, and student access is somewhat limited. However, it is still my job to explore more technology and apply it to everyday life. When we did our “This I Believe” statements, the light bulb went off!  For my project, I wanted to do something that I would use and use often. I chose two tools that would help me on my journey of open communication with my students’ parents.
             The first tool was easy, I needed to update and make my website more user friendly. I added and changed things to make it more of a center of my class rather then a tool that I say I use, and don’t. Second, I was always told that social media was not a place for teachers (wrong again). I would have never have thought of using social media for parent communication particularly Facebook.  However, being that I have parents that have a large language barrier, I wanted them to know that school is a place that wants to work with them- not against. I am still a little skeptical on how this will work and I am anticipating pushback from some colleagues, but I believe in it. I know that if I want my parents to be informed, I need to go where they are.
I once believed that I was a techno-traditionalist, after taking this course I am moving toward the techno-constructivist area. Before this class, I used to use gradebookwizard as my grade book program, would use Google Docs to share documents, and used my email religiously. Now I realized that I am able to do so much more, even with my cash strapped district. I never heard of the term "Virtual field trip" I did some research and have now included it in my Civil rights unit.
Aside from my project and tools that I have already used from my toolbox, I will be scanning and using livebinder, screencastify, doceri, and google forms. I think that having all of these tools for my students will make life so easy for them. Also, after listening to Tina and our discussion on Disney Princesses, I have decided to change one of my units. I will be going a unit on gender stereotypes. I am trying to find a novel that fits the theme, but it is so important for them to be exposed.
I think that I gained so many amazing things from this class. The entire 8 days was fun and exciting. The content was awesome, Dr. Bogad was so supportive and the entire class created a warm environment. I am so excited to bring back all that I have learned from the class and each other back to my classroom.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Turkle vs. Wesch?

            I found that Sherry Turkle’s , The Flight From Conversation and Michael Wesch’s Anti-Teaching: Confronting the Crisis of Significance to be educationally sound, but in complete different approaches to haw people should look at communication. I think that each makes a great argument to the significance to technology and communication, in my opinion one is not more then the other.
            Turkle’s article stuck a personal cord with me. I often have to tell my husband to put his cell phone down, or text my nephew in the next room because he’s engulfed in his phone. I agree with Turkle that we are loosing a little bit when we conduct conversations behind a screen. However, because I am a busy person, I feel that I am able to get more accomplished when I text, email or Facebook the people I need to—it saves me tons of precious time.
            Wesch’s educational approach has a “new wave of education” feel to it. He understands that education has evolved to include new and innovated ways of teaching- including technology. I appricate his idea that all students learn differently, and technology allows the students that were once “not cut out for school”, able to succeed at a different level.  Isn’t Engaging students is what its all avout? Wesch suggests that we turn student’s laptops and cell phones into educational tools. It would make sense for me to forward this article to all my “Anti-cell phone” colleagues.

            As an educator I can appreciate both points of view. I feel that Turkle makes a great point that face-to-face communication is becoming a dying entity.  I agree wholeheartedly that we often hide behind a screen and allow our relationships to take a back seat. However, in an academic setting Wesch makes some great points. If technology engages students, then why not use it? There has to be a way to tap into face-to-face communication as well as use today’s technology, there needs to be a balance.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


Seventh Graders and Sexism

Being that I am a 7th grade teacher I thought that reading Seventh Graders and Sexism by Lisa Espinosa would be a fitting idea. As I was reading, I was realizing that her struggles with her students are the same that I experience daily. The idea that not only do they struggle with gender roles here in the United States but the gender roles that they experience within their own cultures are sometimes far different. Boys everywhere are expected to grow up and be heads of households, be the moneymakers, and in some cultures they are the only “educated ones”. Girls on the other hand are taught to cook, clean, take care of the home and in some cultures they are to obey the man in their life (either a father or husband). While reading her article I felt that she and I are at a complete disadvantage. How are we supposed to teach them about sexism and about gender equality when their cultures are telling them otherwise?

One piece that struck home with me was when she discussed about why 7th graders should learn about sexism. I have been teaching 10 years, and I have experienced many situations that were good and some were horrendous. This year I had 2 girls accuse 2 boys of inappropriately touching them. Sadly both cases turned out that the girl was lying and each incident had its own story. However, Lisa Espinosa also experienced this and it made me fell like I wasn’t doing wrong by my kids, that someone else was “feeling it too”.

After hearing Tina talk about her lesson and reading this article I have begun the framework to incorporating the topic of gender and sexism in my curriculum.  I plan on finding children’s books, articles and a novel (hopefully) to help drive the topic home. I will then have them do some type of persuasive piece. I know that this topic may ruffle some feathers, but it’s like the giant elephant in the room that no one wants to address. I’m grateful that I have the freedom to teach topics that will impact the students at Woonsocket Middle.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Magical World of Disney

            Currently I eat, sleep and breathe Disney Princesses’. If someone entered my daughter’s room they would think that she was slightly obsessed. Bedspread, stuffed animals, Barbie’s, costumes; she has it all.  Some parents may feel that the Disney Princess culture sends a message to our daughters of perfection, reliance on a man or racism.  I believe that it leaves room for conversation. Conversation about what its real and what is a story. What makes them beautiful, and what makes her beautiful.
             Madison’s favorite princesses have no color in her eyes. Her favorites include Sofia the First (Hispanic) and Tiana (African American). At four years old she doesn’t give their skin color a second thought, she finds them beautiful. She loves Tiana so much that she often gets upset when she is not represented in pictures (be on her bedspread, sippy cups and posters). She does notice that she is not with the other Princesses. I do believe that the Disney ideals are somewhat magical. The idea that no matter what, if you wish it, it will come true is warming to the heart.  Disney evokes the imagination, promotes the ideas of hope, laughter and happiness.  

            Linda Christensen’s Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us tore me if two different directions. On one side I agree that diversity needs to be discussed and represented better in the Disney franchise. Princesses and characters need to display real world people or all sizes, shapes and colors.
            However, I watch Disney Jr. on a daily basis and feel that changes have already begun. For example, Doc McStuffins is an African American female toy doctor, her mother is the breadwinner and her father stays home and takes care of the kids. Kate and Mim-mim is a story about a little girl and her imaginary toy stuffed bunny. Her bunny however represents a gay male.
            Christensen purposed the idea of a black Cinderella on page 194. Where I see the need to add diversity, I don’t think that we need to re-write classics to push for diversity. I do however think that stories like Princess and the Frog are important. They are their own story, and have its own happy ending.

            Disney’s Brave is one of the stories that I enjoy the most. Maybe its because its about a bond between a mother and daughter rather then the need for a man to rescue his beloved. Tonight I watched the movie with my daughter. She didn’t ask the deep questions about body image or race but rather, “ Why are they trying to kill that bear?”  and  “why is she crying?” We talk often about girls can do anything that boys can, and use Merida as an example. Madison wants to play golf.  We don’t discourage her curiosity, however we support her beginning passion for the highly male dominated sport. She knows she can do anything a boy can do, and boys can do anything girls can.