Pic of the week

Pic of the week
Brad Beaver

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Talking Points 10: Argument

             Ira argues the topic of critical teaching. Anyone can be a bad teacher but being a good or great teacher is very difficult. Getting students to think beyond the questions and answers is not easy. One way IRA achieves this is by asking his students about a topic or question then redirecting the question upon his students in a way that they can debate or brainstorm and think critically. This gives power to the students and they are then able to build upon their curriculum.
            Ira also has a strong argument on challenging the social relations. Social relations decide who talks first, who talks the most, and whose word is most important. In my future classroom I hope to use Q.S.Q., questioning the status quo. Instead of making the teacher the most important role or having he or she answer all of the questions I hope to allow the children to have an equal voice. We are all products of social experiences thus our social context is very important in who we are. IRA has three main questions that come about in this topic. One is what kind of changes are needed and can we as educators teach it? Second is as educators are we responsible and capable to create change? Last and most importantly, what tools are needed to make change? Questioning the status quo, acknowledging inequality and injustice in society are all controversial ways to educate. In my eyes these are a must and should be used to improve teaching. I found this to be a very interesting topic and hope to learn more about it later this week.

Talking points 10

Ira Shor
"Can Critical Teaching Change The World"

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Talking points 9:

          “I started to notice that I didn’t like the classes I was taking called special education. I had to go through special education almost all of my life. I wanted to take other classes that interest me. I had never felt so mad. I wanted to cry” (Mia Peterson).
          “Now we know that people with disabilities can learn and have a full, rich life. The challenge is to erase negative attitudes about people with developmental disabilities, get rid of the stereotypes and break the barriers for people with disabilities” (Jason Kingsley).
          Freire believes that democracy can only happen when no one’s voice is deterministically silenced. “Dialogue imposes itself as the way by which people achieve significance as human beings” (Freire). He values respect, humility, and creative listening. He also stressed the movement to merge the education of children with or without disabilities.
          The acceptance of included children with disabilities with children that do not builds community value in all the children involved. The value of this is high in the fields of literacy development and friendship formation.  
          My favorite book growing up was “Where the wild things are.” My mother would read me this book all the time and we would talk about how some people are different. The most important thing we would discuss is how we treat others the same and never treat anyone differently even if they don’t look like us. Now I have two children of my own and both of them are familiar with the story. As a parent I teach my children the same things my mother tried to teach me.
          I found this article very interesting. It was inspiring to see that although the children in Shayne’s class with severe disabilities lacked in some areas like language, they also exceled in others like listening deeply and taking on different roles. Shayne considered learning also an opportunity for community building.
          To value another is to recognize diversity as the norm. It is to regard it as part of the culture we live in and the community that surrounds us our entire life. This reading goes deep into the debate over whether it makes sense to define individuals as intellectual deficient or regards the child’s thoughts to fit within the normal statistic mold.  As educators we need to fully understand what it is we are asking of our students. To prepare all students for the future community they will be living in they should have equal opportunity and equity in the classroom to succeed in the world.         

Talking Points 8: Extended comments from Tyler’s blog

                  "I always thought that the students in the higher level classes were always just smarter than me, but this just made me realize that they had more of a opportunity to learn, while I was getting disciplined and had some of my education taken away from me" http://tduff071392.blogspot.com/ 
               I was in the same position as Tyler in high school. Students who had the same GPA as I did were pressured to take SAT’s and enroll in higher-level classes. I was placed in “special education” and not even offered the same equity or opportunity as most of my peers on the same “level” as I. I feel the same as Tyler believing that some of my education was taken from me. The “track” that my high school put me on was not to higher my education but rather just hand my diploma to me and guide me to a laboring job. All students should be challenged and not just put on a path according to what some school committee believe the child’s potential is or will be. Students are the captains of their own ships and need to be guided and assisted. They do not need to be placed on a specific track by anyone else.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Promising Practices

                On November 5th 2011 I attended the Promising Practices conference at Rhode Island College. This was the first educational conference I have ever participated in. When I arrived on campus I went to Donovan Dining Hall where the conference was being held. At first this experience seemed very overwhelming because there were people everywhere. It seemed like I was walking into the middle of chaos. After reviewing my agenda for the day I was able to relax a little. I grabbed a cup of coffee and found a table where most my FNED 346 classmates were already seated. I enjoyed sitting with my class in a different setting and discussing where they were going to spend the rest of their day.
                After a quick briefing we all went our separate ways to the workshop we would attend first. I was fortunate to be able to participate in the workshop Art and Diverse Expressions. The conference was led by Virginia Freyermuth and Kristen Vito-Silva in the Henry Barnard art classroom. I was very happy to have successfully received my first choice in workshops. There were also five of my FNED classmates also participating at the session.
                Virginia started the session with the class separated in small groups around several small tables. The presenter explained that she has over thirty years in the art education field and has spent time in New Mexico studying the Taos Pueblo culture. We were shown a short PowerPoint on the Taos Pueblos which I found to be extremely interesting. I learned that it is part of their culture to create “Prayer sticks.” These are from their environment like a stick or branch from a tree surrounding them. After this is gathered they will attach ribbons, strings, feathers, etc. These become symbols for each hope or prayer in the person’s life. After the art is done it would be hung on the wall of their home, alone, with nothing else. When the person that made the prayer stick would need to pray or hope for something they would fulfill this by touching the stick. I found this to be very interesting.
                After learning about prayer sticks we were given materials to create our own. I thought this was such a great experience. At the end of the workshop Virginia explained that this activity is a way to make meaningful art. She also said that because we picked the specific materials the entire piece was meaningful. As students make art we as educators must make it relevant to our students own lives. At the end of the session I realized that it is important not to just throw standardized curriculum or objectives down the students’ throat. We need to make the objectives meaningful. One easy way to achieve this is through art.
                Our next speaker was Kristen and we learned right away that the class that we were in was really her own. I thought her room was incredible. She told us that at the beginning of the year the room was completely blank with nothing on the walls. During the first class she explains to the children that this room was their learning community and they would be the ones to “build” it. She also told us that she spends the beginning getting to know all of her students and their families. As the year goes on the class learns about art on a literary and artistic level. All of the artwork they create becomes lined all over the walls. This is community building for the children and is very important for them. It also gives them power because they get to create the environment they will be learning in.
We have discussed diversity a lot this semester and one thing that Kristen really hit home was that art sees through diversity and levels the playing field for all students. As teachers we just have to make sure we remember to make it meaningful.
Promising Practices was a great experience from the workshops in the morning, to the teen empowerment session in the afternoon. In the latter session we learned a little about what it is that students we are educating need to succeed and be empowered. They all might have equal opportunity but it is about equity, or the way we as educators treat certain students. I am glad I attended this conference and look forward to attending more in the future.   

Friday, October 28, 2011

Talking Points 7: Changing Education Paradigms

Talking Points 7: Title IX

Driving Change, Shaping Lives (Education Panel)

Talking Points 7: The Pseudoscience of Single-Sex Schooling

  "In attempting to improve schools, it is critical to remember that not all reforms lead to meaningful gains for students. We argue that one change in particular—sex-segregated education—is deeply misguided, and often justified by weak, cherrypicked,
or misconstrued scientific claims rather than by valid scientific evidence. There is no well-designed research showing that single-sex (SS) education improves students’ academic performance, but there is evidence that sex segregation increases
gender stereotyping and legitimizes institutional sexism."

"Single-sex schooling lacks scientific
support and may exaggerate sexism and
gender stereotyping."


Friday, October 21, 2011

Talking Points 6: Wise or ?...You decide!

Talking Points 6: Tim Wise on The History of Race

Talking Points 6: Study conducted by Century Foundation in Montgomery County, Md

     I know it is only one study but just think about it. If the people in power are grouping the poor into the same neighborhoods, schools, and districts aren’t the children attending the schools destined to fail to the circumstances of their surroundings? One key thing that came from this study is that: "By the end of elementary school, students in public housing who attend more-affluent green zone schools through the inclusionary housing program cut the achievement gap with non-poor students in the district by one-half in math, and by by one-third in reading." http://tcf.org/media-center/2010/in-montgomery-county-maryland-economic-housing-integration-promotes-academic-achievement

                    “Separate and Unequal”
    “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. Expectations regarding student achievement are frequently much lower, and there are lower levels of parental involvement. These, of course, are the very schools in which so many black and Hispanic children are enrolled.”
 “Separate and Unequal” by Bob Herbert http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/22/opinion/22herbert.html?_r=3&src=tptw  

     Although schools are no longer legally segregated, but because of residential patterns, housing discrimination, and economic disparities aren’t the ones in power still to this day segregating the schools in those places?  ”On May 17, 1954, the Court stripped away constitutional sanctions for segregation by race, and made equal opportunity in education the law of the land.” http://americanhistory.si.edu/brown/history/index.html

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Talking Points #5 "In the service of what the politics of service learning" by Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer

   This piece was a breakdown of two cases of service learning, Mr. Johnson's government course and Ms. Adams class. Mr. Johnson allowed his students to pick their own service learning project while Ms. Adams had her students identify issues of common concern and then voted to focus on the issue of homelessness.
   This work examines the moral, political, and intellectual goals that motivate those who support service learning. In my eyes this is pointless to argue over whether it is labeled as 'giving' or 'caring.' Service learning is just that. It is a service you perform and learn from. I think that this project is a extremely beneficial part of education. It is also beneficial to be involved and useful in one's community. This project can change student understanding of knowledge in the field and the social and cultural issues with which they are a part of. Everyone benefits from service learning. The people being served, the students, the elderly, and the homeless. Many schools around the country are implementing where each student is required to complete 75 hours of volunteer work in order to graduate. One can only come away from a project like this feeling better about themselves and about the community they live in. Completing my service learning in the city of Providence has opened my eyes. I am looking forward to continuing because I need this just as much as the third grade class I am working with. This is beneficial for all of us.

Friday, October 14, 2011


A few months before I was born my dad met a stranger who was new to our small town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer, and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around to welcome me into the world a few months later. As I grew up, I never questioned his place in our family. Mom taught me to love the Word of God, and Dad taught me to obey it. But the stranger was our storyteller. He could weave the most fascinating tales. Adventures, mysteries, and comedies were daily conversations. He could hold our whole family spellbound for hours each evening.
He was like a friend to the whole family. He took Dad, my brother, and me to our first major league baseball game. He was always encouraging us to see the movies and he even made arrangements to introduce us to several movie stars. The stranger was incessant talker. Dad didn't seem to mind, but sometimes Mom would quietly get up--while the rest of us were enthralled with one of his stories of faraway places--go to her room, read her Bible, and pray. I wonder now if she ever prayed that the stranger would leave.
You see, my Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions. But this stranger never felt an obligation to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our house -- not from us, from our friends, or from adults. Our longtime visitor, however, used occasional four letter words that burned my ears and made dad squirm. To my knowledge the stranger was never confronted.
My Dad was a teetotaler who didn't permit alcohol in his home--not even for cooking. But the stranger felt like we needed exposure and enlightened us to other ways of life. He offered us beer and other alcoholic beverages often. He made cigarettes look tasty, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished. He talked freely about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing. I know now that my early concepts of the man/woman relation- ship were influenced by the stranger.
As I look back, I believe it was the grace of God that the stranger did not influence us more. Time after time, he opposed the values of our parents, yet he was seldom rebuked and he was never asked to leave. More than forty years have passed since the stranger moved in with us, but if I were to walk into my parent's home today, I would still see him sitting there waiting for someone to listen to his stories and watch him draw his pictures.
His name?...We always just called him.......TV.

Author Unknown

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Talking Points #4 Quotes

                       Unlearning the Myths That Blind Us
                               By Linda Christensen
   Dose the content of children's books and movies instruct young people to accept the world as it is portrayed in these stories and media? Are they giving our children a distorted secret education?
"True death equals a generation living by rules and attitudes they never questioned and producing more children who do the same." (p.129)

“if the race of the character is the only thing changing, injustices may still remain”. (P.132) 
   Both of Cinderella and Snow white these tales leave young women with two myths- Happiness means getting a man, and transformation from wretched conditions can be achieved through conforming to the pressure of consumption-in their case, through new clothes and a new hairstyle. In Peter Pan the representation of men, women, people of color, and poor people are very up front, even with a boys club and changing a girl to look like a boy to fit in. Another story that comes to mind is Little Red Riding Hood. The girl in the story in is depicted as dumb and naive, I mean how many times is she going to let the wolf in the house? No one in their right mind would let a stranger in the once but in the story she dose over and over, and who mistakes a wolf for their grandmother…C’mon!
   I am uncomfortable with those messages. I don't want students to believe that change can be bought at a store, also i don't want them thinking that the goal of a woman's life is an "I do" that supposedly leads them to a "happily ever after." A man should not be the answer to a happy life or success. Also our Female students should not see their "sister’s" as competition like in Cinderella, but as part of their support team in life.
   We as educators need to find new ways in challenging the servant/master relationships or the materialism that makes women appealing to their men or the men appealing to their women. Maybe by having our students dissect these texts and write about the good and the bad that may come from  them as innocent as they may seem.
   I have watched all these children’s movies and have read many children’s books. Having two children of my own that have done the same, It is our job as parents to convey that these stories and media are forms of entertainment not a blueprint for life by any means.

Friday, October 7, 2011

An té a bhíonn ag magadh, bíonn a leath faoi féin. (When a person mocks other people, half of the mockery is towards himself.) Ghaeilge 

Starts with us!


Talking Points #3 Hyperlinks: GLESN

    A Day of Silence is the largest student-led action towards creating a safer school for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression of gender. On April 15, 2011, students across the country took a vow of silence to call attention to the "silencing effect" of anti-LGBT bullying in schools.
     No matter what sexual orientation or expression of a gender one may have, they do have equal rights to the education in this country. So why is it that anti-LGBT bullying is so high? The victims of this abuse do not feel comfortable in school when they do attend. A main problem is children that are being harassed are not going to their classes where they are being bullied or not going to school at all. This is a huge problem. The education environment should be conducive for all students, not just the jocks, or the so-called straight, good kids. It should be for everyone. Children are not raising their hands when a question arises because of the way their speech may sound. Sometimes the teacher will not call on a child specifically because of this reason. I think this is ridiculous! As a future educator it is and will be my job to embrace all types of people I have in my classroom. Everyone has the power and privilege of free speech. Unfortunately some are not using theirs because of the way they may sound. Some children fear that they may offend someone or get harassed.
     On this day of silence students around the country are giving up their voices for all of the voices that are not heard at all because of harassment. The first step is to end this practice. So as future educators it is our job to embrace the voice that they do have. This needs to occur no matter what it may sound like. I completely support A Day of Silence. This I hope to have a full day implemented during the curriculum where the classes participate in completing the activities using another way to communicate with their peers.
You can download GLSEN’s Safe Space Kit at     
Here are some links for more information on this interesting method.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Talking Points #2: Reflection

           “Teaching Multilingual Children” by Virginia Collier and “Aria” by Richard Rodriguez are both very interesting texts. All of my classmates in FNED 346 will come across students who do not speak much if any English at all. Teaching English as ones primary language has its advantages and disadvantages in the school system. On one hand, teaching all children English at an early age will prepare them for today’s society. For someone getting a job in the US, it is imperative that they can speak the primary language of English. Thus our school systems are preparing the youth with a bilingual education.
            On the other hand I have a problem with what the family portrayed did. They allowed the school to dictate what culture they would be or conform to. Yes, it is beneficial for a young student who does not speak English to learn it. But it is also important to not strip the family of their native language. Schools help mold a bilingual student and enable them to have a better chance of employment later in life.
            These readings reminded me of the displacement of the Native Americans that were stripped of their language, appearance, and culture as a whole by the white man. Native American children were put in boarding schools to learn the white man’s language. After schooling was completed they were released into the world. Most of them tried to go back to their families that were left behind but now they realized that it was harder because they had been transformed into “Good Indians.” In reality, there was nothing good about going back to their tribe and not being able to communicate. They had been stripped of their native language and couldn’t understand it anymore. Being stripped of your language to conform to a society is never right. Bilingual education is a very rewarding system if every language is embraced.
            The two main questions that I have in teaching to a multilingual class are probably common for most educators. How do you teach English in a way that respects and affirms the multiple home languages and dialects represented among students in class? How do you affirm the cultural values of both the home and school? “Teaching Multilingual Children” by Virginia Collier is a great answer key. “Language is enchanting, powerful, magical, useful, personal, natural, and all-important” (181). She further goes on to explain that the reason to use a whole bunch of activities in the classroom is to eliminate the boredom, raise awareness, and to make language teaching as well as learning as culturally relevant as possible for all students.

Monday, September 19, 2011



Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley

Talking Point #1 Kozol

     The text "Amazing Grace" by Kozol was a piece of writing that most people would finish asking themselves if this happens in real life. The answer to this would be yes! "Do people of color believe that they are being shunned or hidden by society" (Kozol, 3)? This is happening by keeping the poor all together in the same neighborhoods. This occurs even if half of the population of these areas are infected with the HIV virus. It is awful that children that are born with this disease are placed in the same areas of children that are not infected. This makes it inevitable that these children will grow up and contract this illness. A trip to the hospital could be somethimes deadly. Handing out condoms and clean needles to the prostitutes promotes the illegal activities that results in having to quarantine these people apart. Dirty needles and infected homeless people in the neighborhood playground is not how most of us grew up. Unfortunately this is a harsh reality of today's society we live in. "Somebody has power, pretending that they don't so they don't need to use it to help people-that is my idea of evil" (Kozol, 23).

     "I wonder how powerful God is. He must be wise and powerful to make the animals and trees and give man organs and a brain to build complex machineries, but He is not powerful enough to stop the evil on the earth, to change the hearts of the people" (Kozol, 23). It was nice to hear that the children in this past community had a safe place to go in St Anne's Church. It was here where they could go inside and close out the filthy streets full of death and crime. Just having something to believe in can make a huge difference to a child that witnesses murders, and drug deals. It is so common for them to see these things it does not seem to phase them when they are talking about them. This is a sad reality but with a bright light of belief and prayer children can find a way to escape the sad reality of their lives.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My life as of now

My name is Phil Kenney and I am in my junior year at Rhode Island College. I am majoring in Physical/Health Education. My life has always revolved around sports. I currently coach Pop Warner football in Portsmouth, RI. I am a husband and father of two boys. I like all sports and love to spend time doing active things with my family. I am eager to gain and spread knowledge in this great field of education.