Sunday, July 12, 2015

Final Reflection

Hidden messages are everywhere around us. They are on television, in toy store aisles, embedded in children stories, etc. These biases on race and gender roles are internalized without much thought. But if we have any role as teachers it is to teach them to be critical at all the times.

This is exactly the role that current school structures are missing. I teach at Calcutt Middle School in Central Falls. Central Falls does not have the best reputation. We are known as poor. We are known as the district where all the teachers were fired. We are known as transformation schools.

When I think of my classroom, I see the reality of “domesticating education.” We, as teachers, are given a scripted curriculum. It is largely worksheet based. As we sat in class everyday for the last two weeks, I realized how little freedom I have in my own classroom. Other teachers from more affluent districts were talking about units on analyzing media, gender roles, photo projects, etc. But all I could think of was my script. It limits me from teaching students how to explore and question independently.

Beyond the chance to explore, this Media Literacy class verified that technology does not be a means of education but can be just an added support. This is the way I already use technology in my class. Central Falls just issued chromebooks to students and teachers. As a result, my students are well versed in Google Drive. They complete papers using google docs. They answer questions and submit them on google classroom.

In this way I am largely a techno-traditionalist. I use technology as an aid to limit my paper load. By having students submit papers via google classroom, I reduce the number of copies I make, the need to print, and the constant stack of papers off my desk.

However, I decided that I want to push myself to push towards techno-constructivist. I wanted to use technology to change the way my students learn instead of just how they hand in work. So I decided to use technology to differentiate my scripted lessons for my special education students.

Through this class I learned some basic tools from new websites. I was able to create storyboards and posters through storyboardthat and glogster. These steps only required me to learn a new tool. I have learned to use many new websites in the last few years that this didn’t really surprise me.

I wanted to do something completely new. Other students spoke of creating a website but that task seemed astronomical to me. Although I  consider myself a digital native, this new task scared me. What if I don’t understand the lingo. What if I can’t create a basic set up? What happens if I spend a lot of time and it isn’t good enough to actually use?

But despite my discomfort, I ventured into the world of websites. First with google sites, where I failed, and then with weebly. I was amazed at what I could accomplish just by exploring new websites on my own. I made a website without a lesson or an expert. I made a website by trying new things independently!

I was amazed at what I accomplished on my own. I feel that my classroom was transformed this summer. I have a new way to communicate with students and parents. I have a new tool to teach students the same material.

I also realized that the term “digital immigrants” implies that the internet is a country. But I would argue that it is a whole world of its own. I may not be a digital native but I feel I am a google native. This class made me travel to new digital countries.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Final Project

I am so proud of all that I have accomplished in the last few weeks!

I made a class website with an easy domain name 

Here is where I stored all the new tools I created and plan to upload the things I have used in the past.

Here is my pecha kucha about the behind the scenes work I have done in the last two weeks:

Monday, July 6, 2015

Wesch and Turkle

I found Sherry Turkle's argument in "The Flight from Conversation" and Michael Wesch's argument in "Crisis of Significance" to be independent of one another. Turkle is making a statement on society as a whole while Wesch is specifically targeting classroom structures. In addition to this, Wesch talks little of technology at all. His focus is how to maximize student product rather than what tools we use to get there. 

If I had to place them into boxes of technology advocates or technology nay-sayers, I would put Wesch as an advocate and Turkle as a nay-sayer. Turkle found that technology is keeping us from living. She feels it limiting conversational skills and lessening a need for actual companionship. Although Wesch does not explicitly discuss technology in his article, he does focus on creating relevance in the classroom and making students into producers. These two mind sets oppose one another in terms of technology use.

I am hesitant, however, to categorize them this way. If they are these categories then I, as an educator, need to chose a side. This polarity is difficult to decide between. I fully agree with Wesch's ideas to make students invested in content by changing the way we teach to make classwork more relevant and functional. However, I also agree with Turkle's view that the world is relying too heavily on technology and losing touch with interpersonal skills. I feel that discussion and technology can be taught alongside each other rather than as two opposing realms.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Marketing Sexism

I read Mile of Aisles of Sexism by Sudie Hofmann as my chapter to focus on. This article further explores gender roles and expectations through the lens of children's toys. Hofmann found "several areas of concentration such as gender segregation, career-related toys, militarism, and themes in packaging such as color usage and marketing language" (208). 

In her study she found links between male toys and violent weaponry as well as female toys and domestication. Male targeted toys "encourage violence during playtime in the name of peace and justice" (208). Female targeted toys focus on either appearance or domestic. Household items such as kitchen toys, childcare toys, and cleaning products are marketed only towards females projecting the image of stay at home duties although this role rarely exists in modern day society. These results are frightening because  trips to the toy store are common place for parents and often made without much thought. The shelves promote gender roles to many unknowing consumers.

Even more dangerous is the gaming aisle. Science kits, chess sets, and games that required intellectual thought only have males on the packaging. Only simpler games and workbooks marketed using females; for example, bingo and coloring books advertised using young girls. This divide suggests that girls are not capable of or not allowed to enjoy academic engaging activities. These products promote the image that males are mathematical, scientific thinkers while females should stick to the arts.

In addition, woman were exploited throughout the store. In all the video games displayed "the only women shown were in 'compromising positions' with 'major cleavage'" (213). In addition to this unrealistic female body image portrayed for boys, Barbies come with features including Barbie's scale set at 110 pounds.  Hofmann found "girls' toys promote unattainable physical perfection and materialistic values and typically strengthen the cultural messages of inferiority... [that] affect self-image and academic performance for many girls" (211).

With Hofmann's research in mind, it is interesting to see the history of male and female marketing. Here is an excerpt from Peggy Orenstein's book Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture.

“Children weren’t color-coded at all until the early twentieth century: in the era before Maytag, all babies wore white as a practical matter, since the only way of getting clothes clean was to boil them. What’s more, both boys and girls wore what were thought of as gender-neutral dresses. When nursery colors were introduced, pink was actually considered the more masculine hue, a pastel version of red, which was associated with strength. Blue, with its intimations of the Virgin Mary, constancy, and faithfulness, symbolized femininity…Why or when that switched is not clear..