Category Archives: Class Reflection

Single-Sex Schooling and Gender/Sexual Identities: How Do We Support LGBTQIA+ Students During Development?

Hello all,

For our very last blog post of the semester, I thought we would be able to take the time to do some reflection and see what that looks like in the field of Psychology. For my child development class, I have been working on a toolkit for the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, in partnership with the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement. This toolkit will include evidence based-recommendations for teachers to access during their teaching careers in order to achieve what this class has been working to achieve: as much inclusion and support as possible.

In the last couple of Child Development classes, we have carefully read empirical and anecdotal articles about single-sex schooling and the effects, or non-effects, it has on student performance and sense of belonging, to name a couple, as well as how single-sex schooling may not be backed by scientific evidence to conclude that single-sex structure improves student academic achievement.

Along the way, we reviewed how psychologically, mentally, and emotionally challenging it might be for students who do not conform to cisgender, heteronormative identities. The LGBTQIA+ community will tend to feel less of a sense of belonging, and the single-sex structure and heteronormativity may discount and devalue their identities, which is very detrimental to children and young adolescents’ development.

Dr. Hunt discussed how some Republican senators are pushing to pass a bill that bans LGBTQIA+ instruction in the form of literature/texts, videos/documentaries, and such. This is very disheartening for many reasons. Recently, I have thought about teaching in Nashville, where I am closer to an environment of interest and some family. I, myself, also identify as a gay cisgender male. So, to hear about what has been happening in Florida and in Tennessee with the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and the banning of LGBTQIA+-supportive instruction gives a little sense of hopelessness for those with political power and disappointment that our careers are in the hands of white men in power.

Read one or both of the articles below, and let me know what your thoughts are about everything that has been discussed and anything that you want to bring in from the class.

Thank you guys, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Luis

To Kneel or Not to Kneel, That is the Question

Composite image - Kneeling football player with American flag background

My Digital Toolbox for this class is focused on Second Grade and specifically the American Symbols.  

VDOE SOL Civics Unit: 

2.13 The student will understand the symbols and traditional practices that honor and foster patriotism in the United States of America by

  1. a) explaining the meaning behind symbols such as the American flag, bald eagle, Washington Monument, and Statue of Liberty; and
  2. b) learning the words and meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance

Prior to last week’s homework assignment, I had not fully considered how controversial certain symbols like the Statue of Liberty could be.  As a child, I was taught to respect the various symbols of the United States including the Statue of Liberty, Pledge of Allegiance, American Flag and the National Anthem.  In 2016, I was shocked to see sports figure, Colin Kaepernick,  kneel in protest at the beginning of a football game as the National Anthem played. To me, the Anthem was always a beautiful symbol of hope, courage, freedom, liberty, and community. I never stopped to consider that may not be the case for all. 

How should we as educators address this potentially controversial issue in the classroom? Are we able to separate our personal feelings and opinions and simply teach the content standards, or should we attempt to inform, enlighten and educate our young learners that not everyone is treated the same in our country and why that might be?  Should we go the next step and try to explain the controversy? 

I found the following brief article relevant and informative. The article provides context and discusses both the Pros and Cons of kneeling. I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic and how it pertains to social studies education for our children. 

Also, take a look at this longer article providing a bit more background.

The January 2021 Attack on the Capitol, Where We Are Now, and How We Can Prepare Our Students In a Divided Nation

On January 6th 2021, a mob attacked the U.S Capitol and left the nation puzzled, frightened, angry and shocked. Social studies educators put their lesson plans on pause and addressed the fear and confusion many students experienced.  Civics and social studies education is a topic that has been fresh since the election and everything that’s happened since. There is so much going on in just our nation alone; a pandemic, economic hardship, the fight for social justice, teacher walk-outs, BLM protests, police brutality, our role in the war in Ukraine and countless other things. Our job right now as educators in this divided nation is a hard one.

I found an article that really spoke to all of those hardships and emotions students are facing and how we can help them think critically and try to understand what’s going on in the world. The article, titled “A More Perfect Union: Social Studies Educators Tell How To Get There”,  encourages teachers to instruct students to verify facts, decipher between fact and opinion, and learn about media literacy in a world of false information. The article talks about the importance of not squandering debate, but encouraging healthy and constructive debates in the classroom that build community instead of further dividing us. One skill the article discusses that America desperately needs to teach our youth is learning to listen to one another. The article stresses how education is only part of the solution, not a solution itself:

“We can’t play the blame game of laying it at the feet of education,” Tyson said, “because this is a historical multi-pronged problem that is also rooted in anti-blackness and systemic racism. It’s rooted in the ways people feel disenfranchised and are finding themselves becoming more economically fragile. Two pandemics grip this nation and the world: COVID-19 and racism.”

The article uses this quote to encourage us to teach our students to work together, listen to each other, and have those conversations with our students about civics and social studies to prepare them for the future. We must be open about evaluating sources, thinking critically, discussing our viewpoints, and reaching a consensus of community.

There was a lot from this article I didn’t include so please take the time to read it. It felt very relevant to our predicament as social studies teachers in our world today. What was one big take away from the article that really resided with you? How can we foster community in our classrooms when discussing difficult political and civic topics? How has education failed students in the past and how can we do better?

(PS. I hope everyone had a great weekend! Please forgive me for my late blog post, I had my scheduled days confused. Thank you for understanding and I will see everyone in class!)

A Thirsty Fox Getting Its Tail Cut Off & Naked Ghostly Geese

After looking at a variety of books relating to economics, Dr. Stohr made a point to read two books from the collection that may seem to have questionable storylines and/or illustrations. The first book was One Fine Day by Nonny Hogrogian, which is a retelling of an Armenian folktale story about a thirsty fox that gets its tail cut off by a woman (who also refuses to sew the foxes tail back on) after she catches it drinking her milk. Although I believe its important to include diverse literature; as an adult, I can’t help but view this literature with some negativity regarding the concept of animal cruelty, which made me feel a bit uncomfortable. Thus, my immediate thought was not to consider including this book as it might send messages about negative treatment of animals. Yet, I am still unsure of which way I’m leaning more toward on whether to include this diverse literature in my future classroom instruction. The second book Dr. Stohr read was Agatha’s Feather Bed: Not Just Another Wild Goose Story by Carmen Agra Deedy. I appreciated the honesty in providing readers and Agatha the reality of where the feathers came from, but the illustrations of naked ghostly geese might feel frightening for some students, regardless of the message that “everything comes from something.”

A combination our most recent class discussion and Erika’s post on book banning led me to the question: “Are there resources that provide educators with diverse, un-bias children’s literature that focus on the topic of economics?” And, fortunately, I came across a variety of booklists on the Social Justice for Change website for educators to consider.

Link: https://socialjusticebooks.org/booklists/

Further, as I explored the “Economic Class” booklist, I noticed that there were some of the same books from Dr. Stohr’s collection included within this booklist , such as A Chair for My Mother and Tia Isa Wants a Car.

Are there books within the “Economic Class” booklist from the Social Justice Books website that you might consider including in your economics-related lessons? Further, as you explored the other booklist topics, are there specific books from other booklists within this website that you might consider including within other lessons pertaining to social studies, and does the literature you came across provide cross-connections between other core subjects? Also, have you found other websites particularly helpful in providing un-bias literature on any topics within elementary social studies?

The World Map Projection Issue

Our last class was really intriguing as we talked about the different types of world maps. I was blown away by learning that the Mercator Projection is so wildly off lol… I believed some countries were more prominent than in real life, like Russia. Even though the Peters Projection stretches things out a little, I think the accuracy is much better than the Mercator, and it should be used in all schools, in my opinion! I would have loved to see just how massive Africa was before now. I always thought it was about the same size as South America!

Peters World Map (Laminated Poster): Schofield & Sims: 8601404371486: Amazon.com: Office Products

I found this article from 2017 that talks about Boston Public Schools and how they planned to switch from the Mercator Projection to the Gall-Peters Projection. They talk about the importance of showing countries as their actual size, and it is just a fascinating read.

https://brightthemag.com/heres-why-students-need-many-maps-to-understand-the-world-d3ba6507b9a9

How did you feel during the map discussion? Did you already know just how off the Mercator Projection is, or were you shocked to learn what we now know? What projection would you want to use in your classroom? Did you use a projection other than Mercator while in Primary school?

Helping Children Understand the War in Ukraine

A significant thought lately, especially after visiting the Valentine, is how to answer questions about today’s biggest current event: the war in Ukraine. I have already experienced these conversations with children as young as 5 who are scared that something will happen to them. Yet, I did not know how to respond because what is okay to say to someone so young?

Woman holding her young son

I understand how important it is to be open with children because many of them can see right through you. This article linked here explains how to talk to children about the war in Ukraine in age-appropriate ways. As educators, our job is to teach our students about the world and what is happening in it. The students I have come in contact with who are aware of what is happening in Europe could be getting that information from home, friends, tv,  anywhere. Our job is to calm any nerves that they might have but still be open with them in an age-appropriate way.

Have you had any similar experiences, whether with the war in Ukraine or something similar? How did you handle it?

Did you find the linked website helpful when thinking about approaching this topic with children?

Lastly, I know that even if it doesn’t turn into WWlll, this war will be in our textbooks someday and will be something that we have to teach. Thinking about that is so scary and sad because it is literally happening right before our eyes. How do you feel experiencing this history when you know what impact it will have on us as we teach our future students? I personally am so sad thinking about it, but it is life, and this is our job. I believe that even if we can’t fix the world, we can prepare our students for it and make them the best humans possible 🙂

 

 

The Danger of a Single Story

 

Hi everyone!

               During class this week, we discussed teaching “hard history” (Learning for Justice), including slavery and American Indians. Within this topic, we explored the history we learned and what is still taught (Columbus, Presidents with enslaved people, etc.); collectively, we felt this was not doing anyone justice. As mentioned in previous posts and classroom discussions, we can not ignore parts of history; although we morally may not want to talk about Columbus, we need to (even if it is just to fulfill the SOL). However, we do our due diligence and tell both sides of the story.

               We watched the first two minutes of The TED Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story   (or if you’re in Diverse Learners, the entire talk); I remember in high school also watching it after talking about The Carlisle School. We are always so quick to tell our students and children, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” “give someone more than one chance,” etc., but we are hypocrites by only giving a single story when teaching history. I loved Adichie’s point to start with “secondly,” begin the story of American Indians with their arrows instead of the ships coming in from England; this does not eliminate either storyline but still tells an entirely different story. We can see this too with the book A Fine Dessert; unintentionally, the author tells three different single stories which worked to normalize slavery, the elite whites, and the division of labor. This is a single-story, but it is not the whole story – luckily, Dr. Stohr has shared with us multiple books and resources to utilize when looking for an appropriate and complete story to teach our students.

               Do you all have any single stories that stand out in particular to you? Further, have you given into the single story? Even Adichie, conscious of her thoughts and actions, fell victim to subscribing to a single story. Lastly, any thoughts on her talk? I find it so powerful, and despite seeing it multiple times, I’m always moved and entertained by her words.

Have a great spring break y’all (‘:

Reflection on the Virginia Quality Criteria Review Tool for Performance Assessments Experience

During our last class, Dr. Hunt introduced the Virginia Quality Criteria Review Tool for Performance Assessments and provided us with the Farmers Market plan. In reviewing this plan, we noticed that there were significant strengths and significant weaknesses. I found that grading the content of the plan within categories on a scale from 0-3 was somewhat difficult. Were there any decisions that we  made as a class that you were not particularly in agreement with and, instead, had something else in mind?

I also believe that the time frame given for the activity was unrealistic. As you prepare to complete your own Criteria Review Tool, what are key considerations and other areas of focus that you will present when grading the plan?

Look at the sheets titled “Figure M.11 – Ideas for Performance Tasks ,”  “Figure M.12 – Student Roles and Audiences,” and “Figure M.13 – Possible Products and Performances.” What elements, if any, of these resources do you hope to or plan on using in the assignment and in future teaching.

Overall, what was something that you found to be most helpful from these resources (GRAPS, RAFT, etc.)? Looking at the Principles of Scoring Student Work handout, what two or three principles do you find to be the most important to you?

Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) | William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning | Michigan Technological University

In Morgan’s blog post last week, the formative assessment resource addressed the Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Additionally, the assigned “Show Me!” article discussed using a UDL approach. Criterion 6 of the Virginia Quality Criteria Review Tool for Performance Assessments is “Accessibility” and also references the UDL. Specifically, criterion 6B states “The performance assessment is accessible and allows for differentiating the ways that students demonstrate their knowledge such as through the application of principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).” The rubric then provides a link to the Center for Applied Special Technology.

Since in this week’s assignment (and in our future teaching careers), we will be looking for assessments that meet the UDL, I figured we should review the website and its associated resources. The UDL website provides a helpful graphic organizer emphasizing ways the teacher can ensure accessibility and provide differentiation. According to UDL, the teacher should provide multiple means of engagement, representation, and action/expression. Each of the three categories then has sub-categories below. You can click each link to read further information. I find this resource helpful for designing lessons and choosing assessments.

What did you find helpful about this resource? Did you find anything new? Anything you will keep in mind while going over this week’s assessment assignment? Any differentiation or accessibility strategy you had not considered and plan to implement?

Formative Assessment for Students with Disabilities

https://ccsso.org/sites/default/files/2017-12/Formative_Assessment_for_Students_with_Disabilities.pdf

Earlier this evening, I attended my Diverse Learners class (along with a few other of my classmates enrolled in this class), in which we all presented our “Mini-Disability Presentations,” providing information on a specific disability, effective teaching strategies, and signs/symptoms for teachers to look out for. With this and the assessment in mind, it led me to the article listed above and the following question:

What are your thoughts on allowing your students “re-takes” on formative assessments?

During our most recent class meeting, Dr. Stohr provided us examples of assessments for us to critique. I honestly was surprised with how many common errors the examples contained, especially the fact that these assessments continue to be used and sold to other teachers. I understand that we, as lifelong learners, can use these examples to help in developing and designing our own assessments, but how can we respectfully and constructively communicate and promote awareness to teachers about less-effective assessments?

Further, as mentioned in the article, it should be noted that students with disabilities are NOT low-performing students, similarly, students that are low-performing do NOT have disabilities. So if they don’t do well, how will you go about assessing their learning? Would you be willing/prepared to provide a different form of the assessment, for a specific individual, that might produce better results?

With so many personalities and individualized learning needs, how will you best “take notes” on these needs when planning and creating assessments? Have you found resources that have the foundation of “universal design”? How will you keep track of the effectiveness of different items within assessments on an individualized level?

I also wanted to mention that if you visit the https://www.ccss.org/instructionalsupport website, in my personal thoughts, a very helpful resource because it has tools, ideas, and resources regarding history and social studies around a different theme each month.

In closing, did you find this resource helpful, too? Was there a specific video example that you found especially insightful?