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. 

Practice makes practice with Robert Frost

Road Not Taken
Robert Frost reads A Road Not Taken

Monday, June 29, 2015

Boyd vs. Wesch and the Digital Native

Dana Boyd and Mike Wesch both take interesting directions, regarding the importance of technology in our classrooms, and the social revolution it is creating. Boyd comments about the generational gap in regards to technology and why youths are considered as “digital natives”. There is this idea that all teens understand technology because they “learn faster” or “grew up with it”, however they also need to be taught to evaluate information.
On the flip side, Wesch feels that participation, and collaboration is more important than technology when thinking in terms of engaging our students. He believes that we need to move from making our students knowledgeable to knowledge-able, and that by doing so takes knowledge-ability, which is a result of practice. I agree wholeheartedly that this idea of social-technology takes social movements and makes them worldwide movements in days. The ALS ice-bucket challenge last summer is one example of a small movement brought “alive” by digital technology.
I feel that both of these authors’ views are valid in their own rights. Depending on the climate and culture of your school depends on if these ideas could be successful. I agree with Welch’s statement about social revolution. This type of social technology is allowing us to collaborate through sites like Facebook, and twitter as well as academically through sites like Wikipedia.  I think that technology is only going to become more and more important for our students and embracing the change is going to help our students be successful.
Boyd continues to talk about the idea of "digital wisdom" and teaching our students how to sift through revelant and appropriate information they find on the web rather than censoring it. I understood this idea clearly because I am experiencing it in my own school with censoring things rather then creating “teachable moments”. Wikipedia was an idea that I had trouble with in the Boyd piece. I was always told that information from Wikipedia wasn’t a reliable source for information, so in turn I did the same to my students. Wesch also believed that Wikipedia is a place in which people can collaborate and learn from one another. I understand and appreciate the idea of collaboration and learning from each other, however I still do not think it should be the only means of research for students.

Where do you stand on the “digital native” terminology?

I think that I stand on the side of Marc Prensky. I think that in some ways I am a digital immigrant because I have grown up with various different types of technology. However I do feel that personal interaction is just as important. I learned people skills by talking to people, todays’ digital natives sometimes only communicate with a screen in front of them.
 I remember life with out a cellphone and a computer; I still remember how it changed my life when it first came out and how I can’t live with out them today.  When I tell my students what my first cell phone looked like and that it was a black and green screen, it is unimaginable to them. However they have experienced this “digital life” since the day they were born. They are able to figure their way about the school firewall and bring up anything that I need that is blocked. Sometimes I don’t feel that I am neither supported nor capable to meet the needs of their capabilities.  
In my school there are teachers that still will not allow students to type papers with the notion that they will “plagiarize”. Prensky makes the point that our Digital Immigrant teachers, who speak an outdated language (that of the pre-digital age), are struggling to teach a population that speaks an entirely new language. Those moments need to be teachable and not censored. Unfortunately not keeping up with the times teaches our students nothing about skills that are now needed in the 21st century- therefore, they lag behind their peers.

Post #2...

I find that I am somewhat of a digital native. I do remember having a computer at a very young age. I also am surrounded with different types of digital devices in my everyday life and school. I'm usually the one that people go to to "fix" different technology "things" at school. My device of choice is Apple. I find that it is easier and something that I am able to navigate through.  

I am a 7th grade teacher at Woonsocket middle school. Our website is: http://woonsocketmiddleschool.weebly.com

Our  7th grade team has our own website:
To access student grades you may go to www.gradebookwizard.com . 

A great resource for ESL students is http://www.colorincolorado.org . 
This website is great for teachers and parents that want to enhance the learning for their ESL students.

Post #2 cont....

 In my classroom I use edmodo!
The link to my profile is: https://www.edmodo.com/home#/profile/20337448 . A unit that the students do in my classroom is Persuasion. To help students with the idea of persuasion, we do a unit on products and commercials. The students create a product and then create a script and commercial to sell their product. Here are a few that we did.  

A little about me...

I was never the best student growing up. I always got okay grades, but I was more interested in having fun then worrying about school. The irony in my choices is that I always wanted to be a teacher. I have been teaching for 10 years and I could not imagine doing anything else.
I grew up in Coventry and graduated from Coventry High School in 1999. From HS, I went to the Community College of Rhode Island and later transferred to Rhode Island College. In 2004, I graduated with a B.A in English. Directly after graduating from RIC, I went through the teacher certification program at Providence College and received my certificate in Secondary Education/Middle School English. I am currently working on my Masters degree in English as a Second Language and will be officially done this summer.
For my 1st teaching job, I took a job at the Hillside Alternative Program in Woonsocket (not really knowing what I was getting into). I truly believe that I gained ALL my patience and “bag of tricks” in behavior management from teaching there. After that experience, I subbed and taught in a few districts however, being that I was always at the bottom of the seniority list, I was always the first to be let go… and the cycle continued.
I am currently entering my 7th year at Woonsocket Middle School. For 3 years, I have been teaching 7th grade ESL (and I love it). I taught 7th and 8th grade English. My other “specialties” include the WMS yearbook of which I have done for the past 5 years.

In my free time, I am a competitive cheerleading coach. I have been coaching for 12 years for various high schools and all-star teams in the state. For the past 5 years, I have been the head coach at North Smithfield high school. If I don’t already do enough, I am the mom of two girls, Madison and Makayla. Madison is 4 years old and Makayla is 11 months old.  I am married to my husband Brian. We have been married for almost 3 years. We live in my husbands hometown of Pawtucket, with hopes of buying our first home in the next year.