Monday, April 30, 2012

Mesages sent to children, and the cruelty of kids...

Back to Siobhan Vivian’s The List.... For those who do not know, The List is a young adult literature book about a high school that creates a list every year. The list features the names of two girls from each grade; the prettiest and the ugliest. In class we talked about the way society portrays the way men and women "are supposed to" look. We even discussed a little bit about popular kid toys like Barbie and G.I. Joe. According to what was said in class, Barbie’s measurements in real life would be impossible. Likewise, the size of G.I. Joe’s muscles is a ridiculous, non-human size. We even got on to the topic of a poem by Jane Yolen called “Fat is Not a Fairytale.” It was about the desire for a fairytale that featured a plus-sized protagonist. Many people do not realize it but it shows that even the fairytales we have in our society are sending out these sorts of subconscious messages. In every one of the fairytales mentioned in the poem, the princess is always skinny and virtually flawless. In fact, other characters in these stories that are “fat” are either evil, bad or unflattering in some way. These are the messages that children are receiving even before they can read. More relevant to the list, we discussed personal stories and/or experiences that we ourselves have faced. I was disturbed to hear one of my peers speak about an experience she had in high school that was very similar to the situation that happened in the list. She said that at her high school the seniors always create their own “Most Likely to…” list. When she was a high school senior, she told us that she was voted “most likely to become a prostitute.” Now that her younger sister is a high school senior, she too was voted into a category. Her sister was voted “most likely not to live ‘til college.” While people in our class said they did not like The List, because of its content, we have to be aware of the fact that this is the kind of thing that is already happening in our schools, and something that many students are even experiencing themselves. It is a sad fact, but unfortunately, it is true. People often think of the academic side when they think about their life as a teacher, but that is only one aspect of it. There is a complete other side that exists and we as teachers have to be just as prepared to handle those situations as well.

Resources (print, not nonprint)

Last week in another one of my classes, we took a field trip to the library. Before going, I was not really sure what to expect but I figured it would probably be something worthwhile. When we got there I discovered that there were actually many very helpful resources in that back section (2nd floor, very back area, to the left). As a fourth-year student I have walked past those shelves plenty of times, but I never stopped to look at what those shelves were holding. To my surprise there were tons of textbooks with relevant topics ranging from grammar to literature guides. I found a grammar textbook that I found particularly helpful because not only did it have informative information about the features of our language but it also had worksheets that could easily be scanned and used in classes. Now that I know about this resource section I will definitely be making use of it. I am especially excited because I will be student teaching next semester and we were told that we could take materials out for extended periods while student teaching. I am glad we used a class to explore that part of the library and I also plan to tell some of my friends about its existence so that they too can utilize it.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Well, today I stumbled along a website called FanFiction. Before today I actually had no idea what
fan fiction even was. But, luckily we live in a world where it only takes a matter of seconds to look
something up and discover what it is. I've come to the conclusion that fan fiction is basically fictional pieces
written about an original work by fans of that said piece of literature. :-) After I found out what fan fiction
was, I was able to understand what I was looking at on this site. As I browsed through, I found many things I was familiar with, or that are commonly found in the ELA classroom. Some of the featurted books on the
site that I recognized were Goosebumps, Gulliver's Travels, The Great Gatsby, The Hunger Games, The Scarlett Letter and even Beowulf. I clicked on a few books and found some work written by students about the literature. I looked at a student-created piece entitled "Lady Macbeth's Diary" and another called "The Students of Venice" and I even found one called "Animal Farm -- Eviction." I thought these were pretty creative and I could see several uses for them in the classroom. I think that this would be a good way for students to gain confidence with their own fiction writing by publishing it on this site. Or, if students or the teacher do not feel comfortable with putting work on the internet for everyone to see, it could be a resource to use in the classroom as a model to students. Students could view some of the work other students have done, and likewise create their own work that will not be shared outside of their own classroom. Either way, I definitely see possibilities for this website in the classroom. Check it out if you'd like:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The National Writing Project

Well, today I checked out the the "National Writing Project" website.

I found this website to be pretty helpful to future and current teachers. The following video is an overview of what the National Writing Project Connect is all about.

This website lets you connect with teachers from all acroos the country and people are able to share their experiences and ideas, as well as ask questions and seek advice. Members are able to create their own profiles and share whatever they would like to. The website also features many other little stories and articles. The first story that I saw when I went on the page was a short little article that mentioned that tomorrow, (April 26) is "Poem in your Pocket Day." There's just a lot of interesting news about education and even specifically with this group's own specific network. Anyone can be a member and once you're a member you have full access to the sight and can even post blogs. Go check it out! :-)

Monday, April 16, 2012

The message of Beauty in the books we teach....

In my Young Adult Literature class we read The List by Siobhan Vivian. In this novel, the idea of beauty was very prominent.Some of my classmates said they would never teach this book because of the superficial content it featured. The book tells about the lives of several high schoolers and every year there is a list created that has the name of 8 girls, the prettiest and the ugliest from each grade. Although some may not like this idea, these are the kinds of things that high school students actually face today. Not only that, but, the sometimes controversial issue of beauty has plagued the human race since virtually the dawn of time. In class we did an activity that exemplified the Greek mythological story of when Eris, the Greek goddess of discord. In this story Eris placed an apple among three other goddesses and the apple was labeled “To the Fairest.” Each goddess wanted to be deemed as the fairest. This goes to show that people have been arguing about who is the most beautiful for thousands of years. Also, this particular story made me think of the story of Snow White, because the entire plot was driven on a disagreement about who was “the fairest of them all.” The story of Snow White is still popular today and the list is a new novel that is very popular today. It seems that opinions on beauty will forever be a part of human life, whether we like them or not. Hopefully as teachers, we will be able to still teach books such as these in a way that does not cause students to discredit their own beauty, but instead appreciate it.

Censorship in the classroom

In one of my other classes, we discussed the idea of censorship in the classroom. This topic brought up a lot of controversies in class. It seemed everyone had a different perspective of the matter. However, even with so many different opinions, the one that stood out to me the most was the comment made by Tim Plumberg. He said that we cannot truly even compare our responses because everyone’s idea of what is good” or “bad varies; we are all different places on the spectrum. He is absolutely right! We watched the latest Jennifer Lopez music video (it was rather racy) in class and there was a wide range of responses to it. The difference in thoughts on the video alone showed how differently we thought and even how different our morals may be. Like someone said in class, you never know where your students are coming from and what they have or have not been exposed to. In the classroom I feel that I will censor a little bit more than I would with my own children, just in case I have students that may not have been exposed to certain things. Also, some school districts are a lot more reserved than others and I would not want to get in trouble  with the school either. What do you think?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Blogging in the Classroom

Well, as the semester winds down, and we've been blogging for about 8weeks or so, I feel that I've written enough blogs to decide whether or not I would want to incorporate blogging in my own classroom. While I personally am not a big fan of blogging, I think that it could be beneficial in the classroom, perhaps if students have a writing prompt. For me, the hardest part of blogging is figuring out what to write about. I always feel like it's such a task to write my blog every week, but I feel as though I wouldn't mind as much if there was a specific writing prompt that I could focus on. Every week I have to rack my brain, or google some information to write about and it really bothers me. I think it would be a lot easier to respond to a standard question or thought. However, that is just my personal opinion, but I think I might use blogging in my classroom with writing prompts.