Monday, April 29, 2013

Going Through School with Asperger's Syndrome: A Personal Story

All throughout school I was usually one of the smartest students in my class.  I did really well on tests but I had trouble focusing in class.  I always struggled with group work.  And if my homework took more than an hour then I wouldn't finish it.  During my high school years I knew that there was something about me that made me different than my peers but I had no idea what it was.  When I was sixteen I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder but that wasn't it.  Then finally at the age on nineteen one of my friends told me about something called Asperger's Syndrome and shortly after I was diagnosed with AS.

Now, I know what you're thinking, what is Asperger's Syndrome?  Asperger's Syndrome is a pervasive development disorder.  What does that mean? It's an Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Asperger's is on the high functioning part of the spectrum.  Normally children are diagnosed much younger than I was.  Symptoms normally start to present themselves at the age of three.  Like Autism, there is no known cause and no cure for Aspergers, there are only ways to manage the disorder.
This video from PBS show Arthur does a very good job at describing what Asperger's Syndrome is. 

The symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome varies from person to person but there are signs.  This is a list of signs that children with Aperger's may exhibit: (the ones in maroon are the ones that I experience)
- Not picking up on social cues and may lack inborn social skills such as being able to read body language, start or maintain a conversation and taking turns talking.
-Disliking any change in routines.
-Being unable to recognize subtle differences in speech tone.  Such as not understanding a joke or taking a sarcastic comment literally.
-Have a formal style of talking or a vocabulary that is advanced for their age.
-Avoiding eye contact or staring at others. 
-Have unusual facial expressions or postures.
-Being preoccupied with only one or a few topics in which the child will be very knowledgeable about. (I went through a lot of these: The Wizard of Oz when I was four; Pokemon when I was about seven; Harry Potter between the ages of nine and thirteen; Right now, my current obsession is Doctor Who)
-Talking a lot about a favorite subject. 
-Have delayed motor development.
-Have heightened sensitivity and become overstimulated by loud noises, lights or strong tastes or textures.  
(I have answered yes to all ten questions in the video)

Because of Asperger's I had a really hard time in fifth, sixth and seventh grade. In fifth grade I had transferred from a parochial school in Providence to a public school in North Providence.  I didn't take to the change well.  It took me nearly two weeks to make friends.  In sixth grade I had really awful teachers.  These two teachers did the opposite of everything we learned about in class.  They had "problem students" face the wall either in the front of the class or in the back of the class.  The students who needed extra help (I was one of them) were ignored or in my case, belittled in front of the entire class.  That year I would have an average of three and a half hours of homework a night.  I could never finish all my homework and I was usually punished for it.  I would lose my recess privileges and I wouldn't be allowed to talk to my friends at snack time.  By February of that school year, my teachers had stopped attempting to teach me anything and I had stopped attempting to learn from them.  Because of that, I nearly failed sixth grade. 
In seventh grade I was relentlessly bullied for being "slow."  I was called: slow, retard, SPED, poor, lesbian and just about every name in the book.  Thankfully, there was a teacher aid for a boy in my class and she was told by my teachers to help me out as well.  Because I couldn't deal with what I was going through I had behavioral issues at home and in school.  I fought with my best friend, threw a notebook at one of my classmates, and I told another classmates to hit me.  After several calls from the school, visits with my teachers, and almost being suspended (for throwing a notebook at a classmate) my mother decided to send me to another school for eighth grade.  

About two years ago I started going to a support group at The Groden Center in Providence.  The group consists of young adults who have Asperger's Syndrome.  It's a way for us to learn about how to interact in society and to meet other young adults who are having the same experiences.  I still have issues in school (it took me nearly five hours to write this) but with a little push I'm able to get things done. 

The thing about Asperger's Syndrome is that in some instances you would never know that the person with AS has it.  Sometimes people with Asperger's need someone "safe" that they can go to.  Someone that they feel comfortable talking to and who accepts their little quirks.  Sometimes all someone with AS wants is someone who understands them one hundred percent.  I hope you were able to learn a little bit from my post. 

I found a video that I wanted to share

It's the year 2013 and Georgia Schools are still segregating their high school proms.  One group of students have decided to plan their own integrated prom.   They reserved the venue, handed out flier and hired a DJ.  I find it really disgusting that schools in the south are still racially segregating proms and other school events.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"Gaming for a Cause." Social Justice Event

On Saturday, April 12, 2013 I attended the "Gaming for a Cause" event that was put on by The RIC Otaku and G.A.M.E.R (Games and Merriment Enthusiasts of RIC).  The event was put on to raise money for a charity called "The Able Gamers Foundation."  Able Gamers makes video game accessible to all people regardless of physical ability.  

"In Service of What?" Kahne and Westeimer
"Gaming for a Cause" definitely fit the description of a charity that was given in the reading.  According to Kahne and Westeimer, a charity's moral domain is giving, the political domain is civic duty and the intellectual domain is an additive experience.  While, "Gaming for a Cause's" political domain wasn't civic duty (we were playing video games the entire night for crying out loud!) it fit the moral and intellectual domains pretty well.  The event was an event that was set up to raise money to donate (give) to a foundation.  The additive experience of the event was having the opportunity to maybe play a game with a complete stranger and perhaps make a new friend in the process.  Attendees could, if they chose to, participate in one of three pay-to-play tournaments (a $3 fee), or try to win a prize in the raffle (tickets were sold 1 for $1 or 5 for $3).  However the attendees didn't have to participate in either if they didn't want to.  The Otaku and G.A.M.E.R were able to raise $354 for the Able Gamers Foundation through the event.

"Safe Spaces."
At one point during the event, one of the RIC students who has a developmental disability came to the event.  Everyone who was a part of the event welcomed the student with open arms.  He participated in one of the card games, "Apples to Apples, and then he had an absolute blast playing "Dance Central 3" for Xbox 360 and Kinect with the other attendees. It was really wonderful to see everyone welcome a student with a disability so wholeheartedly and make him feel welcomed.    

I would also say that the event was a completely discrimination-free zone. There were students of all different races, backgrounds, and genders in attendance.  The members of Otaku and G.A.M.E.R had created a space where everyone could hang out, play video games, eat pizza and get the chance to talk to someone that they may not have spoken to otherwise.  

"Citizenship in Schools."
  While the event didn't necessarily have much to do about the inclusion of children with disabilities, the foundation that the event was raising money for does.  The Able Gamers Foundation tries its best to allow all children the opportunity to play video games.  Able Gamers tries alternate solutions for a child who might not be able to play video games due to physical limitations.  Such as mounting the controller to a table or wheelchair for children who cannot hold or use a controller normally and provide a full audio description of what is going on in the game for a child who is blind.  Able Gamers is able to give children the opportunity to take part in something that many children take for granted, playing video games.

This article talks about how video game companies are starting to create games for disabled children.

With the introduction of motion controls in video games, Nintendo Wii and the Kinect for Xbox 360, video games have found their way into physical therapy and rehabilitation. For the past three summers I helped out with a program at Sargent Rehabilitation Center in Warwick Rhode Island.  One of the programs that I helped out in was a physical education class for children and teens with profound autism.  While there I found out that the children play the Nintendo Wii as part of their classes and therapy.  They play games such as Wii Sports, Wii Resort and Just Dance.  These games are a way to help the children to improve their motor skills, hand eye coordination as well as social skills if they're playing with another student. 

This link talks about how video games help children with autism learn social skills. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

"Citizenship in Schools: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome." -Quotes-

I found the text: "Citizenship in Schools: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome" to be a rather interesting read.  There were a few quotes in the text that really stood out to me.

"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. (Kingsley, 1996, p. 6)." (Page 72)

Upon reading this quote I recalled an article I read in the Providence Journal a few years back.  The article was about a young woman who had Down Syndrome (sadly I couldn't find the article online).  She lived in her own apartment in Providence with the help of several aides four of whom were local college students.  The article really hit me because the young woman the article was about had been in my Girl Scout Troop back in 2000.  She earned all the same badges and patches the rest of the troop.  She wasn't given watered-down, easier activities than the rest of the troop.  She was even able to give a presentation on Down Syndrome to a younger troop.  

Then a few weeks ago I came across this video about a young man with Down Syndrome who owns his restaurant.
 These two examples go to show that just because a person was born with Down Syndrome, it doesn't mean that they can't live fulfilling lives.

"How absurd to be judged by others at all,especially by those who have never experienced a disability or who are unwillingly providing us with support or who don't listen to the voices we have. (p. 12)" (Page 73)

Both of the quote I have put so far talk about how people with Down Syndrome should be treated like people who do not have it.  Just because someone was born with Down Syndrome doesn't make them any less a person.  Later on in the article Kliewer talked about a high school freshman with Down Syndrome who went from a segregated school to a public school.   He mentioned that before the student entered public school she had poor motor skills, low self-esteem and would often "act-out" in class.  Then after she entered the public school all of that changed.  Her motor skills improved, her communication skills improved and her behavior improved.  I particularly enjoyed reading the little excerpt of one of the student's newspaper articles:

"Knock it off! Knock it off! Becky is a girl who has cerebral palsy....She's not allowed in school because of her handicaps. I think her school should just knock it off and let her in. She needs an education. Just because she is handicapped doesn't mean she can't learn. She's just got to do what she can do, which can be just about anything. Becky is smart enough to fight back, just like I would if I wasn't allowed in school. I have Down Syndrome and I can still do anything I want to do. If I wasn't allowed in school. I wouldn't have learned to do all the things I do now. I have Down syndrome, but I am not handicapped. (Durovich, 1990, 
quoted in Harris, 1994, p. 296)" (Page 93)

-Things to consider:-
I honestly think that the quote above can easily sum up the entire article quite nicely.  Just because a person was born with Downs Syndrome it doesn't necessarily mean that they are handicapped. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

"In Service of What?" Kahne and Westheimer -Hyperlinks-

As I read this article, I discovered that I have been unknowingly participating in Service Learning projects since I was in the fourth or fifth grade.  When I was in the fourth grade, I became a Girl Scout.  Nearly all Girl Scout badges and awards had some element of community service to them.  For one of the Interest Projects I earned my troop painted a room in the church where our meeting were held.  Then every year we participated in something called Project Undercover where we donated socks and underwear to under-privileged children throughout Rhode Island.  I helped a fellow troop member with her Silver Award Project.  She helped to teach younger girls about staying healthy.  We got teach them easy healthy recipes, how to properly wash their hands, and exercises that they could do every day.  While in Girl Scouts I got to work with several girls who had profound Autism, Down Syndrome, and other disabilities. 

 I was a Girl Scout for well over ten years and I couldn't tell you how many hours of community service I participated in.  One of the quotes from the reading that stuck out to me was: "In addition to helping those they serve, such service learning activities seek to promote students' self-esteem, to develop higher-order thinking skills, to make use of multiple abilities, and to provide authentic learning experience."  I know that for me, the years I spent in Girl Scouts complete validate the quote.  I was able to develop those skills as well leadership, responsibility, and many other valuable skills at a young age.  I know the troops that I was in didn't make community service projects seem like work.  Usually  we did projects with younger troops.  Whether I was an entire day dedicated to staying healthy or just a little craft project.
 My Community Service Patch

 My Patches for participating in Project Undercover

The Junior Aide Patch I earned for working with younger troops.

Throughout high school I was in several school clubs that actively participated in community service and service learning programs.  From ten through twelfth grade I was a member of the North Providence High Math Peer Tutors where I would go to one of the middle schools every Thursday and work with students in math.  It was a program very similar to the VIPS program only it took place after school.  I was a member of the Wind Ensemble where we would go to the other schools and put on concerts for them.  It was similar to what the music director in the reading did with his upper-middle-class students.  I was also a member and officer in my school's chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions.  The club's goal was to do our best to educate our fellow students about the dangers of substance abuse.  Then there was Senior Project.  For my Senior Project, I worked with the middle school band.  I participated in their after school band sessions, performed in their concerts, went on two of their field trips and I got to teach a few music classes. I was supposed to complete a minimum of sixteen mentoring hours  but in the end I completed well over forty hours!  I even went after I graduated!

I think I did my most rewarding Service learning projects through the martial arts school I attend.  I'm a certified black belt at Mastery Martial Arts and for the past few summers I have been helping with a program at Sargent Rehabilitation Center in Warwick, Rhode Island. Once a week during the summers I have been working with one of the Instructors in a program for teens and young adults who have suffered from brain injuries and another program for children and teens with profound Autism.  It really is amazing to watch the children progress in the program, especially the children with Autism.  During the first week or so we usually have a hard time getting the to do the movements and stand still but then by the end of the six week program they can stand still on their place marker, go through the movements with ease and even look us in the eye!

-Things to think about-
I know for me, doing volunteer work and service learning projects is almost as big a part of my life as going to school.  I've been able to use my past experiences as tool when I go to Kennedy Elementary School for the Service Learning Project through VIPS.  Has anyone had similar experiences?  Has anyone had no prior experience with Service learning project before the one we're doing for class?        

Sunday, March 17, 2013

"Cinderella Ate My Daughter" Orenstein

This was an interesting read for me.  When the whole Disney Princess franchise came to be I was about eleven years old and I was totally not into it.  Sure, I have seen every Disney Princess film at least once (my friends dragged me to "The Princess and the Frog" when it was in theaters) but it wasn't what I was interested in as a kid.  "Sleeping Beauty," "Beauty and the Beast," "Snow White," "Cinderella," "The Little Mermaid," and "Pocahontas" just weren't movies that I wanted to watch.  My younger sister, who is ten years younger than me, on the other hand was swallowed up by the Disney Princess Franchise.  She had every Disney Princess dress-up costume, several Princess Dolls, every Disney Princess Movie, the sequels to the movies, the sing-along movies, books, you name it, she probably had it.  So when Orenstein mentions that there were 26,000 Disney Princess items, it doesn't surprise me seeing that my sister must have had almost two hundred Disney Princess items and there was an almost endless amount of items that she didn't have. 

 One day when she was about four, my sister told me that she wanted to be a princess when she grew up and she asked me if I had wanted to be a princess when I was four years old.  I told her no and that when I was four I wanted to be a firefighter (see the picture below).  She cocked her head in a confused manner and said: "Oh, when you were a little boy?"   That conversation I had with my sister about eight years ago describes what Christensen talked about in the text "Unlearning the Myths that Bind Us" and the secret education.  The two terms that describes a person who fights fires are: "firefighter" and "fireman." The word "firewoman" is not in the dictionary.  At the age of four my sister had it in her mind that only little boys could want to become firefighters (or firemen) when they grew up and little girls could only want to become princesses when they grew up.  One of the lines that really stood out to em was when Orenstein said: "The boys seem to be exploring the world, while the girls explored femininity."  My mother used to work at an early childhood center and in the dress-up corner the boys would have policemen costumes, firemen costumes and Superman/Batman/Spiderman costumes when they girls would have princess dresses. Why can't they have a police woman costume, or a fire-woman costume?

Me dressed up as a firefighter for Halloween 1994 (age 4).  

The part of the article that really stood out to me was the part titled "Pinked."  There was one theme in that that I don't think is true.  She mentioned that when she was going through the Toy Fair one of the vendor mentioned that: "I guess girls are just born loving the color pink."  I am female and pink was never my favorite color and I never had a fondness for pink things.  My parents painted my childhood bedroom pink when I was about three years old and while my room was all the rage with my little girl friends I didn't particularly care for it.  I didn't hate it but I didn't love it.  My room stayed the soft pink color even after we moved out of the house almost seven years later. 

My Pink bedroom and me in 1997

-Things to Think about-
I don't think that girls are born to love the color pink.  I think that because society has automatically thrust the color upon little girls it has become a learned trait that starts from infancy.  "It's a Girl!" balloons are always pink.  This also goes back to the secret education that Christensen talked about.  Orenstein also pointed out that there was a time when pink was associated with boys and blue was associated with girls.  Pink was a variation of red which was considered a powerful and masculine color. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Going on about Christensen, a personal experience

The other day at work I had a little boy, probably about four or five years old, in my aisle at the market I work at.  He looked at me, turned to his mother and said: "Mommy, I can't tell if that's a boy or a girl."  I wasn't offended by it at all.  I could see why the boy was confused.  I am almost the exact opposite of how various forms of media depict young women.  I have short, almost messy dark hair as opposed to the long, pin-straight platinum-blond that you see in the media.  I don't wear any make-up at all.  Young women in the media are almost never seen without make-up on.  While young women in the media have thin, perfectly sculpted eyebrows, mine are rather bushy and unkempt.  Unlike in the media, I am not well endowed.  Unless I wear almost form-fitting shirts, I appear nearly flat chested (I'm not afraid to admit I'm flat chested).  The average cup-size in America is a 36C and I will admit to being a 32A (a size that is made for girls who are still developing).  There are almost no girls in the media who are like me.  Honestly, when was the last time a shorter-haired young woman appeared in a children's show, cartoon or otherwise?

 (A recent picture of me)

Several of my friends were outraged at the comment made about me, (My aunt went as far as saying: "What kind of a moron is he?") And I explained to them that children are honest, sometimes brutally honest. They don't have the filters that adults have and therefor they will say whatever happens to be on their minds.  Most adults wouldn't go up to an androgynous person and ask: "Are you a boy or a girl?"  But a young child would.  I'm sure that if the child was a little bit older and had to ability to read my rather long name (my younger brother called me Kaela until he was five because of the length of my name) he would have been able to deduce that I am female.  He wasn't trying to be rude.  He was just trying to figure something out in the only way he knew how.  By asking a question that few adults would dare to ask.    

Thursday, February 28, 2013

"Unlearning the Myths that Bind Us." Christensen -Reflection-

In the text "Unlearning the Myths that Bind Us," Linda Christensen explains how different forms of media start to instill myths about gender roles, race roles and even size roles in children's minds from a young age.  She mentioned that several children's shows portray everyone who isn't a physically-fit, white male as inferior.  The women traditionally cooked and cleaned the house while the men went to work.  African Americans and overweight people were seen as complete idiots.  Native Americans were shown to only communicate in short, simple sentences and smoke signals.  Females in cartoons as well as other forms of media are portrayed with a slim waist and large breasts.  They usually have blond hair but from time to time a redheaded woman would be shown.  Christensen goes on to explain that media that children are exposed to often teaches them what sort of role that they can play in society depending on their gender, race, and body type. 

I feel as though, while cartoons have gotten better with portraying people of different sizes and races in a better light, cartoons today have started in ingrain slightly worse ideas into children's minds.  I have a sister who is ten years younger than me and she is often watching the Disney Channel.  Many of the shows that my sister watches place a high importance on romantic relationships.  One of the shows, "Good Luck Charlie," features a sixteen year old girl who is always pining over her boyfriend and how she needs a boyfriend to be happy.  There was one episode of "Good Luck Charlie," where Teddy finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her and in the end she gets back with him.  That particular episode shows to young children that it is okay to go back to a person who has hurt you in the past because they apologized.  Not a good lesson to teach a child. 

Another show, "Austin and Ally" the main female, Ally, gave up her dream to go to a prestigious music school for the lead male in the show.  In the show, Ally is shown doing whatever the boy in the show wants her to do.  She will put her own life on hold for the sake of the male character and it's really not a good thing to be displaying for young children.  It almost goes back to what Christensen said about the passive Popeye character Olive, who, from what I gathered in the text, is willing to do whatever Popeye wants her to. 

-Things to Consider-
Most cartoons today are seem to be teaching young girls that as they enter high school, they need a boyfriend to be happy.  Take the some of the Disney Princesses for example.  Most of them end up with a prince at the end of the story.  One of the few exceptions was Merida from "Brave."  She was one of the few  who wanted nothing to do with the suitors her parents arranged for her to meet and is the only Disney Princess who doesn't end up in a relationship.  I think there needs to be more shows geared towards young girls that do not focus on romantic relationships.  


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"Safe Spaces Continuation"

I was going to check my email when I found an interesting article on The Huffington Post about a transgender six year old girl named Coy.  Coy was born male but refers to herself as female.  When she first started in the school she was transitioned in as a female and used the girl's bathroom but soon after her parents received a note from the school.  The note stated that Coy was no longer able to use the girl's bathroom because she was born male.  The note went on to state that parents may start to grow uncomfortable with a girl with male genitals using the girl's bathroom as Coy grew older.  Coy's parents pulled her from the school and are now home schooling their daughter.  Her parents stated that the school wasn't a safe environment for their child and it set Coy up for bullying and harassment later on.  The link provides a video, several other links to LGBT articles and a slide show titled "15 Things to Know About Being Transgender."

Coy Mathis, 6-year-Old Transgender Girl, Barred from Using Girl's Restroom in Colorado School

I feel as though this article relates to what the reading "Safe Spaces" talked about.   

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Safe Spaces-Vaccaro, August, Kennedy -Hyperlinks-

In the reading "Safe Spaces: Inside the Classroom Walls," the Authors talk about how to create a safe-space for all students but in particular, students in the LGBT community.  As the link states, LGBT stands for "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender."   It is mentioned in the article that teachers often make the assumption that everyone is heterosexual and display the appropriate gender roles in society.  

The authors of the text state that teachers will almost never address the issues that the LGBT community faces.  And if it is addressed it is usually negative in tone.  Recently, a teacher in an Indiana School started petitioning for a straight-only prom that would exclude student in the LGBT community.  The teacher in question who has recently been suspended from her job stated that being gay is a choice that the person in question has made and claimed that the only time that a gay person should be defended is "when they were going to admit that they were wrong and accept god."  Basically in her opinion a gay person "would only have a purpose in life if they chose to become straight."

Another point that was mentioned in the reading was that the State of Alabama treats LGBT issues as a "public health risk."  Recently a Tennessee Senator tried to pass the "Don't Say Gay" Bill which would forbid educators from teaching about and discussing LGBT issues.  This is exactly what the authors of "Safe Spaces" said NOT to do.  They mentioned that an absence of meaningful discussions on LGBT issues will lead to the continuation of homophobic and transphobic tendencies in society. The Tennessee Senator has also mentioned that: "The act of homosexuality is dangerous to a person's health and safety." 

In recent years, the number of LGBT teens that commit suicide has been on the rise in recent years.  The authors of "Safe Spaces" argue that is because of harsh stereotypes about the LGBT community.  This study claims that LGTB teens are "five times as likely to commit suicide than their straight peers."

Short Video of President Obama demonstrating his support for the LGBT community.

Most of this goes back to what Delpit says about the "Culture of Power" as well as the "S" in S.C.W.A.A.M.P.  Sadly, in this country, heterosexuality is the "norm" and homosexuality is considered "different" and often times "wrong" in our society. 

Things to consider/Question:  Throughout the course of American History there has been a recurring theme of groups labeled as "different" and "inferior" fighting for their rights in society.  As well as the overturning of many laws and legislation to oppress these groups, such as Brown v. Board of Education which overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of "separate but equal" facilities for African Americans.   Do you think that legislation oppressing the LGBT such as DOMA (The Defense of Marriage Act) and bills such as the "Don't Say Gay" Bill will ever become obsolete in this country?  And like how African Americans and women are discussed in length in schools today, do you think that someday, the LGBT community will have their place in everyday school discussions?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Quotes from Collier: "Teaching Multilingual Children"

Quote Number 1

 "People  untrained  in  linguistics.  particularly  politicians,  tend  to believe that if limited English proficient students can converse with  their mon­olingual  English-speaking  peers,  then  these  English-language  learners  can compete with  them on an equal footing.  If it were only so easy! English-lan­guage  learners  who  can  chat  comfortably  in English do  not  automatically develop the academic language skills needed to compete." (225)

What Collier is saying here is that learning to speak a second language is only part of the battle.  It is possible to learn the oral practices of a language but be completely clueless when it comes to how to write and read the language.  It's similar to how an American preschool student is able to chat in English however they may not be able to write their own names or read a picture book.  In other words, just because a person is able to speak another language at the conversational level does not mean that they are completely fluent in said language.    

Quote Number 2
"Students will produce utterances in the classroom in  their native dialect. To affirm the  home language means that they will not be mid that they are wrong, or that what they say is vulgar or bad. Instead, the  teacher analyzes with the  students  the differences  between  their dialect and the stan­dard  variety:  grammatical  patterns,  pronunciation  differences,  vocabulary items, varying social contexts, and so on." (227)

I think what Collier is trying to say here is that each language has many different dialects depending on the region it is spoken in.  Just because a child may speak a different dialect than the "standard" dialect it doesn't mean that the child is speaking an incorrect or vulgar form of the language.  It's like how English spoken in America is different than the English spoken in England.  It might be the same language and an English speaker from America will be able to understand an English speaker from England but there are distinct differences between the two forms of English.  

Quote Number 3:

"When  bilingual  people  use  both  languages in speech,  alternating  between the two, they  code-switch. Code-switching occurs at the word, phrase. clause, or sentence level. Linguists consider code-switching to be a creative use of lan­guage by bilinguals who know both languages well." (229)

When Collier talks about "code-switching" I believe that she is talking about how when a person speaks two languages they might switch back and forth between each language.  The person may start a sentence in one language then end it in another or vice-versa.  She also goes on to say that code-switching should be encouraged rather than condemned to help encourage the student to learn the second language.  Code-switching is something that I am very familiar with.  I live in a somewhat bilingual family.  My mother's native language is French and while she doesn't code-switch very much but my grandmother will.  She'll start a sentence in English then halfway through switch to her native language, French, to end the sentence.  

Things to consider:
I was able to relate quite a bit to this reading. And I have been exposed to many of the things that Collier talked about in regards to learning a second language. I was brought up in an English and Canadian French (Quebecois) household.  So when I took French in high school I already had some understanding of the language.  However I was told by my teacher that the French I grew up exposed to was "bad French" and that I needed to learn "proper" French.  I would like to know if anyone has had a similar experience, it could be with any language.
A short video on language "code switching."

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Kozol: Amazing Grace -Reflection-

I was originally going to respond on the shorter McIntosh reading (I ended up getting called into work and ended up working most of the day to make up for the wages I lost because of the blizzard) but after I read the Kozol text I ended up changing my mind.  The subject matter really stuck out to me because I had read something similar in a history class about poverty in New York during the first two decades of the 1900s. And I realized that, sadly, not much has changed for the destitute living in New York City.  

Some of the living arrangements that Kozol mentioned in the article have changed very little in the past almost  one hundred years.  The fact that families would have to sleep huddled up in the warmest clothes they owned to perhaps survive the brutal cold of the winters hasn't changed.  The small living spaces being completely infested with rodents and insects during the warmer seasons hasn't changed.  While the diseases plaguing the destitute of New York City may have changed, the large number of poor people of all ages succumbing to disease has not changed.  While drugs like heroin and crack-cocaine were not a problem that the poor had to deal with in the early 1900s, alcohol posed as big a problem in the 1910s as drugs did in the 1990s.  

Granted today there are programs put in place to help the destitute living the country such as SSI and welfare  however they are not always easy for some people to obtain.  Kozol mentioned that one of the women he visited had lost her welfare benefits.  In order for the ailing woman to get her benefits back she would have to get a letter from her doctor, a social worker and a hospital. When she got these letters and presented them she was then told that she would need to apply for a new ID.   I guess the point that Kozol is trying to make here is that even though there are programs in place, very few of the people he encountered had the means to apply.   

There was one paragraph in this that really struck a negative chord with me.  The paragraph started with a quote from a political science professor from New York University which stated: "If poor people behaved rationally they would seldom be poor for long in the first place."  It stood out because I have heard countless rich white men (and women) make very similar claims today.  Sadly, I do not believe that poverty can be changed just by the will of the people in poverty themselves.  And unfortunately this trend hasn't changed and is bound to keep repeating in an endless and vicious cycle.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


My name is Mikaela.  I am twenty-two years old and I'm a "super senior."  I started at RIC as a music major, then I switched to math education (but I couldn't for the life of me pass Calc 1), and as of now I'm a Secondary History Education major.  I started training in Tae Kwon Do four years ago with my entire family.  My mother and sister don't train anymore but my father, younger brother and I all hold black belts. 

My family has five guinea pigs:






(An older picture of me)

I hope everyone made it out of the blizzard okay!