Thursday, March 31, 2016

Happi's Friday 5-Inquiry Based.

1. I really enjoyed the reading last week on the Alt School. It was inspiring, to see how personalized we truly can make education to the students every though. However, its very alarming given what can happen with identity theft, an advertising. If we could separate our education system from profit and competition i could see this working beautifully. However since it is often one and the same I will be watching to see how this school continues ver the next couple of years.

2. So for my final make I am revising a lesson based off a textbook lesson. I am looking to make this lesson more k-8 friendly, inclusive, and relevant to the now. The one thing I am noticing while reading through the unit is the importance of words, and where they are placed. For example when talking about the migration of Europeans and Asians it says, 'and the migration of the african people'.  Free travel, and slavery are completely different and I am having a problem with the two being grouped together. I see that I will have to spend some time picking out the language for this project.

3.Related to what I am searching I found this youtube channel that makes videos on bullying, historical figures and more. I watched a few, and thought they would be good for elementary students.

4.This week I had a reflection assignment around the idea of teachers being everyday activist and for us to think about the kind of activist we want to be. I am liking the overlap between my courses this semester. Its allowing me to stay on the same wave-length in thinking about where I want to be and who I want to be when I grow up, lol. Its also helping me to narrow where I want to 'make change'. I am realizing that I am very interested in who writes the curricula, where they get their information from, and who gets to be a part of the story. I am sure, without having to look up any numbers, that the voices of non-dominant people like myself are small, hence where i feel i can make the most impact.

5. Thank you for posting about Minecraft Kindergarten Cop, as half of my students in afterschool are obsessed with this game, and I have now found a new way to connect with, and use what they like in our learning. I also like finding new things to master and beat my students in....I was THAT older sister, lol.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

My Small Move

My students had been complaining about the pre-made snacks we received from the city and wanted healthier options. The problem was that we did not have the funds, and I did not have time to work on this alone. The students decided that they would draft a program around their wanting this option, so they could ask local stores and community organizations for money to fund their program. They created a budget that included storage, how much it would cost for a years worth of fresh fruits, veggies, and grains. They talked with the principal about where we could store our foods, since our program is in a school, and created jobs for them each to hold. Long story short they were able to raise enough money for a new refrigerator, kitchen supplies, and enough food for 40 students for an entire school year (discounted of course)! Here is their story in  Star Trek comic form, because who doesn't love Star Trek?

My last weeks friday 5.

Sorry for this super late post. Life has!

1. For my final project I am making a website that would begin to explore Philadelphia's Black History. I would like to make the site k-8 friendly and for the to be some interaction, and space for future exploration. I have some website making skills, and was given a few places to look into from Christina, but any info you guys might have around web platforms, or ways to make it easier for the k-2 groups would help!

2. For the last 3 years or so I've worked in the Kenstington section of the city. I can say, after being in a few different parts of Philly, Kensington is truly something special. Iv'e experienced so much in just a 6 black radius that its crazy! I have a project in which I have to describe the community, its struggles, and the schools. I am actually looking forward to completing this project, and I have some eager students willing to let me use their stories....students helping teachers! I told them we could have a view and discuss session about it once I am done.

3. I attended another TAG Philly meeting around my topic, the black history curricula, and saw the below picture:

There is so much that could be said, and not said just by taking in this information, and it reminds me again why this is something I am so passionate about. Just by looking at this picture, the 'Black Experience' is 176 years of slavery and struggle, with only 50 years of what one would call freedom. Did you also know that we were never compensated in anyway for this struggle? Something to think about.....

4. This is unrelated to education, but is related to connectivity...I 've been working on my cooking skills and found a recipe through pinterest for butternut squash soup in a slow cooker. I made it, with some tweeks, and it came out awesome!! Because of my newfound success, and lack of time i will now be trying this slow cooker recipe for whole roasted chicken. I also found a youtube channel as well as a few cooking shows to watch. This will be the year that my cooking skills came up!

5. Right as I was about to post this I saw this winning doodle posted on google by Akilah Johnson. Reading about  this young lady's upbringing in the afrocentric lifestyle, and her appreciation of heritage is exactly what I needed to see to stay encouraged. Except for the comments at the bottom of the article.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

This week our focus is on shared purpose — a principle of connected learning that I find particularly interesting as well as complex. What are examples of shared purpose you have seen or experienced? What does it mean to learn with a shared purpose? And what are the implications?

An example that comes to mind for me around shared purpose are the projects we do in the afterschool program. One of the major aspects of our program centers around the idea of project based learning. In the beginning of the year, as we do our 'get to now you activities' we ask the students to help us create an interest wall. On this wall the students and staff write/draw all the things that they are interested in learning more about. It is from this wall than we then create projects with open ended questions that we then spend weeks, or a few months exploring. One such topic  centered around space. We were reading about Virgin Air and shuttles and the students asked, 'what would I need if I were to travel to the moon?' Through this question students were able to explore various topics that were of interest to them. Whats more important is that the students drove the questions, and although the project dealt with space the students still found ways to relate everything we did to their lives and community. Part of our moon exploration focused on our study of rocks, stones and gemstones. We learned about the usual space rocks, then one student said, 'what if we could capture an astroid, think about all the stuff we could do.'  They then started reading articles and discussing ways the neighborhood could/would benefit from the resource, and they designed a mock plaza with a description for this new resource. I could spend another 2 pages describing all the different things that came out of this one project. It was amazing! What made it better was having some of their teachers come downstairs to see students they would describe as 'problematic' or 'disinterested' often being the leaders in the discussions and in the group work. Through this project I was also able to learn so much more about the neighborhood and their families as well. Through our neighborhood 'space walks' we talked about the community including the buildings, people we saw, and who we didn't see. One walk in particular even lead to our following around community and with 5th grade gentrification. I couldn't believe that I was having a conversation around this topic with 5th graders! Although I had to teach them the word, they had the concept down, complete with arguments for and against it. Who knew!

And for me this is what it means to learn through shared purpose. I liked the reading the article Christina posted A Shared Purpose Drives Collaboration. As the director of this program it was my job to motivate my staff to ask what they like, why and what they could do about it. I would often ask them whats something they are thinking about, something they want to do, or something that bothers them. Without even realizing it, many would take these same questions, or the topics they were discussing and push their groups in the same way. The previous year I went mad having to plan, create and make all the lessons, but through the various conversations between the staff, myself, and our students were were able to guide what we learned about in a way that was meaningful to us. The students also realized that they had a voice, and many relished being the ones guiding many of our discussions, because we all know they usually don't have the right. I am also thinking of shared purpose in terms of working with my fellow educators. As I mentioned in a previous post, I am connected to a TAG group whose shared purpose is the remaking of the african-american studies curricula. On paper that is the shared purpose of this group, however that is just the tip of the iceberg. After listening to various members of this group (all are welcomed!) I see that this group is out to change more than the curricula. This group wants to change the way students are educated, the way teachers interact with students, and the way we interact with each other. This group wants to have a serious conversation about how we educate and produce the next group of conscious adults that can make Philadelphia, and the world a place worth thriving in.

So what if this was how we educated all of our children? I can't help but be slightly pessimistic when asking this question. Why? Because I can see this, just like the idea of equitable connectivity seriously making an impact in the way in which all students learn. This gives my students weapons that this society does not want them to have. Confidence, because they are challenged to speak up about what they like in an effective manner. Curiosity, because they will constantly wonder how they can improve or change what they see. Problem solving and people skills, because they are working together to attack the questions they raise. There is more, but i believe the point has been made....

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Making of My Map

I can honestly say that this has been my most challenging masters class thus far. I am constantly wondering if I ‘Get It’ in terms of the concepts and my interpretations of them. Its also because I am not used to learning this way. Yes, I have done online classes before. However, they stuck to the Blackboard model, even when it was clear it wasn't working well. Learning this way; where we read what Christina puts up, then we are free to go off on our own is difficult. I have a VERY hard time staying focused, and an even harder time not clicking every site I see...

In thinking about what I am learning and where I am going just the concept of using the Internet as a way to fuel true student driven education was not something I even knew existed. So now I am wrapping my head around this concept along with how I can use it to challenge inspire and educate my students to be productive citizens in society.

So not to long ago I painted an entire wall in my office/spare bedroom with chalk paint. This wall was perfect for me to do this weeks assignment. While thinking about this course the word LEARNING was the first word that came to my head. The surrounding words all encapsulate where I am now and what I am thinking for the future. I am taking this class alongside a diversity & inclusive curricula class, so many of the conversations we have here overlap with the other class. Ideas around education, brown people, equity and inclusion are what’s in the forefront of many of my educational discussion. How can I use what I am learning here to be more effective in ‘growing’ my students?  I use the term growth because I realize that what I am trying to do with my students goes beyond ‘open a text book and copy’. I am trying to prepare my students for life, specifically their life. For many of my students their reality isn’t easy. They dodge many problems just making it to school, just to be short changed for one reason or another. How do I do this knowing the lack of resources many of the students I serve deal with? Many of the schools and students I serve have a hard time getting basic resources, let alone the stuff that fuels imagination. We don’t have money for toilet paper, let alone a STEM coach working with our Tech. teacher. How can what I envision help combat the hatred many of students face in society, while encouraging love for both themselves and their communities. How can it be a ‘change agent for them and their neighborhoods? Is there a way to marry both my education and ‘maker’ side? The last question, which for me is a little big is how can I bring what I do to the elementary side. For the past couple of years I have been managing programs for both elementary and middle, but realized that the little guys are way ore fun, and I can make impacts earlier, so how can this work?

With all of the questions listed above, where do I start?!? For my final project I am working on a website, and am wondering how much the type of platform I choose will influence the site. While thinking about this I am wondering if this question could help me begin to answer some of my other questions. And I haven’t even mentioned anything regarding my maker side. I am in the process of writing a business plan, and taking a much more serious look at what I do. I think its time, and this is a dream for me. So how can I continue doing it because I enjoy it and because everyone should be able to afford handmade quality items, while being able to sustain my family, specifically my beautiful baby?

This map was good for me to do. Like a true Virgo (not that I believe in that stuff much, lol) I am a planner. If not I go insane, and life as I know it ends. This exercise was really good for me to do, as it helped me continue to think and plan about where I want to be, where my time would be nest spent, and the impact I want to make in this world….

Monday, March 7, 2016

ITAG Meeting

For the last couple of months I have found myself becoming more pessimistic regarding the state of our nation, african-americans, and education. As a masters student I am constantly ingratiated in the woes and perils facing the educational system; particularly urban schools. I also spend time discussing strategies on what we as educators can do in our little corners of the world to make it right. However, no matter how enthusiastic the conversation I am often left feeling discouraged and pessimistic. Needless to say I  needed to find somewhere to 'vent' my aggravation after I read the numbers of blacks in prison and continual police shootings. Not to mention the constant attack I see happening on Philadelphia schools, its' students and teachers.

A few nights ago I attended the African-American Curriculum ITAG group meeting. If you are unfamiliar with ITAG/TAG Philly you can check out their site here. This group is taking a serious look at the  African-American History course with the goal of making it more accessible, providing certain standards of study, and empowering for students. Once complete, the group would like to submit their final curricula to the school district for approval to implemented city-wide. 

This ITAG meeting was just that place for me to be. It was attended by mostly teachers, but there were others in attendance who are in the education world as well.  A few of the educators in attendance teach the African-American Studies course. One of these teachers mentioned that 65%(I think I might be low on this number) of Philadelphia teachers are white, and it's student population is majority black. Given the numbers, a majority of the teachers of the African-American Studies course will be white. What are the implications? What will the experience be for black students receiving this information from White teachers? Will students of color feel safe exploring the historical context of racism and their relationship to Mayor Kenny's continuation of 'Stop and Frisk' with white teachers? What about white students, how can they explore issues around whiteness and privilege, while understanding connections between this history, neighborhood empowerment and themselves? How would the white teacher talk about the brutal history of this country with their black students while acknowledging their role, passive or otherwise, in this system?What happens when they are called 'cracker' by a black student? Is it a teachable moment, or another disciplinary action? Can they move through history to current events helping to motivate action from these same students?

What about the power dynamics? During our discussions a black male teacher shared his story of being told his white students feel threatened by him. This teacher explained that he was doing the same things he had been doing with his black students, but for some reason with his white students he was threatening. Is it possible for this class to address these issues? If so, how, and can they be addressed the same if the teacher was white? In this case how can the teacher 'teach' when he first has to address the idea of him being the boogyman. How does a black educator effectively teach this course without being labeled a trouble maker, extreme, or inciting their students to hate all whites? How do they encourage unity and collective activism if they worry about job safety?

Even with a B.A. in African/African-American Studies I am constantly reminded that there is always more for me to learn. I am excited to be a part of this group. The idea of being able to use my field of study to work towards effective change in education helps my pessimism.  It helps as I continue to read about neoliberal policies, watch videos of schools being taken over, and how wonderful(not) TFA has been for African-American teachers. What this group proposes to do follows the districts  idea to, "create a culture that not only reinforces a desire to learn, achieve and grow, but reaffirms their existence in the world."


Friday, March 4, 2016

Friday 5-Making week

1. The Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture will collaborate with the Tuskegee University Archives to preserve and share significant parts of the nation's Civil Rights Era with the world. For those of you who dont know; Tuskegge University  is where the Tuskegee Airmen studied, was founded by Booker T. Washington, and is the ONLY  University in the nation registered with the National Park Service. There will be an effort to preserve much of the history of the civil rights era, with plans for other projects... Pretty cool!

2. This week while thinking about connectivity I challenged myself to make a quick D.I.Y. People often ask how I make things, so why not pass on this skill. While mapping this week I made a pair of copper and clay earrings, and took pictures for each step. The video is posted here, as well as below let me know what you guys think!

3. I have been watching this youtube video all week on how to make a name chain. My name and my daughters name are both uncommon, so if I want anything it has to be made. I have been wanting to make us both necklaces so this video is helping to map out the process. I will let you know if i ever get to them!

4. Pinterest!! If you have not at least checked it out for fear of sensory overload don't worry. As an afterschool educator I find so many easy, and quick ideas for short activities, or things that I can weave into larger projects. Here are just two activities I have used from Pinterest.

5.Lastly, I have this Old document I found in a thrift store years ago that dates back to 1829. The document itself is not much, its an old land agreement, but the look of it, and what the world was like when it was written is what inspires me. It makes me think about what we will leave behind as 'antiques' when are children are in charge of the world, but more importantly what that world will look like!