Sunday, June 28, 2009

Gay pride in an elementary school

This picture shows Nettelhorst Elementary School parent Amy Goodman and her children (Sadie, 3, and Ben, 6) preparing a wagon for the 40th annual Pride Parade, which celebrates the city's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. About 50 families from Nettelhorst took part in the parade along with their elementary-aged children. Read this short article from the Tribune to learn more about why the group from Nettelhorst chose to participate, and then share your thoughts on: a) Whether you think this is a good idea for elementary kids, and/or b) How you think parents at your school would respond to such an effort. (Or, if you'd rather, respond to Daniel's great "Teachable Moment" post below).

Friday, June 26, 2009

Teachable Moment

During the school year an 8th grader was suspended a day for writing this letter. Instead of being suspended what could have been an alternative towards addressing this situation? Should this student have been suspended? What does this say about how our young girls are being indoctrinated? How could this have been used as a teachable moment?

Monday, June 22, 2009

No blog posts required this week

Because I was sick all weekend (and still am, though I'm feeling somewhat better), I wasn't able to post any new topics on the blog, so you won't have to do a post this week.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Connecting with resistant students

We watched several clips from the documentary "The First Year," which showed Los Angeles teacher Nate Monley's efforts to connect with one of his most resistant students, Juan. Juan, like many students in Chicago and elsewhere, was dealing with a number of outside-school issues that made it difficult for him to focus and behave appropriately in the classroom. In your experience in schools, what are some of the strategies you have seen (or tried yourself) that are effective in terms of connecting with and engaging the most resistant students?

Is there a pedagogy of poverty?

In his article "The Pedagogy of Poverty vs. Good Teaching", Martin Haberman states that many urban schools that serve poor students practice a traditional, regimented, teacher-centered form of teaching that seeks to control students more than educate them. Do you believe that, in general, schools in poor neighborhoods offer a qualitatively different kind of education than those in middle class or wealthy areas? If so, in what ways? Why does this happen? And what can teachers in poor communities do to teach differently?

Monday, June 8, 2009

What does it mean to educate "good citizens?"

One of the purposes of education in elementary schools that we discussed in class is citizenship education. But just what does "citizenship education" mean? And what does it mean to be a "good" citizen? The authors of our textbook say that citizenship education "should include developing affective attachments to this nation and its democratic heritages," (p. 5) and they mention the importance of actions such as saluting the flag and pledging allegiance. Is this what being a citizen in a democracy is all about? Or is there more? How would you approach citizenship education with young children in an age-appropriate way?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Assets vs. deficits: What do we see?

I talked briefly in class this past week about the difference between an "asset" vs. a "deficit" perspective: seeing what's good in a child, family, or community versus only seeing what they supposedly lack, don't have, or aren't doing.

In what ways do you notice deficit or asset perspectives among the adults at your school? How do teachers and administrators "see" their students, the students' parents, and the school's community -- through a lens of negativity or a more positive one? Does the way we "see" our students matter?

Culturally relevant teaching

This week in class, we watched the film "A Girl Like Me," made by New York City high school student Kiri Davis. The film explores issues of self-image among African American girls, and discusses how white/European images of beauty that dominate the media can have a damaging impact on the self-concept of girls of color.

What did you think of the film? And, more importantly, how does it relate to the work of teachers? What specific things can teachers do to provide a curriculum and school experience that affirms and validates their students -- especially students who come from cultural backgrounds that differ from the mainstream?