Sunday, September 03, 2006

Will Our Students be Ready in 2020?...continued...





How can a teacher ‘willingly embrace’ technology when he or she does not have the time to do so? Time to a teacher is a precious commodity. A teacher uses his or her ‘prep’ time and lunches to do work and still takes hours of work home. Technology training requires a commitment and is not something that can be done in a few minutes or a few hours. It takes days, months, and yes, YEARS. That is a lot of TIME. There are tens of thousands of software products and millions of websites available. Today’s teacher has to be able to sift through (with purpose and efficiency) the unending myriad of choices available and learn to eliminate the junk from the educationally-appropriate. This, also, requires a lot of TIME.
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Friday, August 18, 2006

Will Our Students be Ready in 2020?...con't...





However, how can other teachers ‘willingly embrace’ technology when he or she doesn‘t even have a computer in the classroom? At the last school where I taught, only a handful of teachers had computers in their rooms--and most of those were obsolete dust magnets. There are funding issues, of course, for obtaining computers, but many of these issues can be resolved through the ‘Computers for Schools’ program (www.pcsforschools.org) and through creative funding techniques such as selling t-shirts, books, etc. Lorrie Jackson of the Education World website suggested: “Look for new money within existing budgets by reallocating from other areas and investigating lease options” (2005).
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Monday, August 07, 2006

Will Our Students be Ready in 2020?...continued...





However, how can other teachers ‘willingly embrace’ technology when they have no knowledge of how to use technology? I’ve been to every professional development session in this school district for the past five years, while employed by two different elementary schools, and not ONCE did I hear the term ‘technology integration’ or any mention of using computers to support the standards or the curriculum. Teachers (especially those who graduated from teacher education programs decades ago) desperately need staff training and development on the uses of technology in their classrooms. I also believe that today’s university teacher preparation programs need to be drastically revised to include more technology courses to reflect the growing trend of computer integration in our schools.
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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Will Our Students be Ready in 2020?, continued...





Technology integration is not just placing a computer in a classroom and surrounding it with educational CD-ROM titles. Wikipedia (an online encyclopedia) states that: “Technology integration is a term used by educators to describe effective uses of technology by teachers and students in K-12 and university classrooms. Teachers use technology to support instruction in language arts, social studies, science, math, or other content areas. When teachers integrate technology into their classroom practice, learners are empowered to be actively engaged in their learning” (2005). Still, for technology integration to truly work, an instructor has to learn how to use technology effectively; to incorporate it into a curriculum to support and enhance instruction.
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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Will Our Students Be Ready in 2020? ...con't....





The students I teach today will have technology pervade their ENTIRE lives--they will never know a life without it. This fact alone leaves teachers with a tremendous responsibility. Technology is EVERYWHERE. Not only should we, as teachers be well-grounded in knowing the components and peripherals of a computer, but we really have to know how to use it.--to help ourselves and to teach our students.


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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Will Our Students be Ready in 2020?




Thirty years ago, I never thought I would be teaching technology. When I first arrived at the school where I currently teach this discipline, I asked the elementary school students to imagine their young lives without the modern miracle of a computer. Many of them looked at me with a scared earnestness and actually told me that they would die and that the world would come to an end. When I reminded them that Confucius, Plato, George Washington, Martin Luther King, Jr., or even their great-grandmother accomplished great things without a computer, I am not sure they believed me. Children are so accustomed to computer technology that they cannot imagine a world without it.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Will Our Students be Ready in 2020?




Our students will never know a world without technology. Technology is a part of our daily lives, a part of our society. Change is also a vital part of our society and yet our schools seem to resist change. Though schools are a microcosm of our society, there are still many schools, and therefore many teachers who have yet to learn how to harness the incredible power of technology integration. However, like death and taxes, change is imminent; national organi-zations are ensuring that computer technology use in the classroom is quickly moving from the realm of science fiction to everyday reality.

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Friday, May 26, 2006

WILL OUR STUDENTS BE READY IN 2020?




For the times, they are a’changin’. Bob Dylan, 1964

The first real computer I ever saw was when I was in college in the early ‘70’s. It was huge by today’s standards: it was about six or seven feet high and about four feet wide. It hissed, sputtered, and moaned – and after some typed cryptic promptings would display letters and numbers on a tiny black and white screen. As students, we had to stand in line to use it, and for the life of me, I just didn’t appreciate the power of that big, ugly grey piece of steel machinery. I resented standing in line to use something that made no sense to me. I’m embarrassed to say that I just didn’t ‘get it’. That was more than thirty years ago.
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Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Post 9/11 Classroom--Embrace Diversity!


  1. How can I help my young Arab-American student?

--Don’t chastise the student if he unconsciously writes from left to right or if he has trouble reading from right to left.

--Don’t schedule tests on Muslim holidays since the student may be absent.


--Try not to schedule tests during Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim calendar during which Muslims fast). Since Arabs fast during this time, the child may not function as well as when he is well-nourished.

--I was surprised when Mohammad first hugged me, however, I should refrain from initiating physical contact. If the Arab-American is male and the teacher female, he may be shy about touching or hugging her. “Some Muslim men, for religious reasons, avoid physical contact with women other than close relatives.”

--I need to search for books for the students that celebrate his and other cultures and try to discuss multiculturalism when I think about it. Hopefully, introducing multiculturalism into the curriculum is more than just lighting the Menorah at Christmas. I need to find ways to bring multiculturalism into the curriculum whenever it is feasible.

--Make sure there are no pork products in the cafeteria food. If so, have him eat lunch with me.

--Muslims pray six times a day. If the student needs to go to a quiet place to pray, let him.

--Since Mohammad’s first language is Arabic, I should demonstrate patience with him if he is having trouble with reading or with language comprehension.


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Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Post 9/11 Classroom--Embrace Diversity!



As a teacher, it is my responsibility to help eradicate many of the myths surrounding those of Arab descent. I teach in an urban school where the student body is 99% black. (We have 1000 students, two of whom are white, one who is Asian, and one Arab-American. We have many students that are Muslim, but not necessarily of Arab descent.) I teach technology to grades one through six. The Arab-American (who appears to be Caucasian) is in one of my fourth-grade computer lab sessions. His mother arrives with him in the morning in traditional Arab garments speaking to him in Arabic. (So that means Mohammad is bilingual.) In a school that is 99% black, I am sure that he cannot help feeling alienated. Last year was his first year in the school. He seemed to be nervous (understandably so) and hyperactive, always having to move a part of his body, tapping his hands and his feet constantly. This year, perhaps because he has become more acclimated to the school surroundings, he is calmer and more focused in my computer lab.

How can I, as a teacher, help Mohammed and not further alienate him?

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Post 9/11 Classroom--Embrace Diversity!



Many Americans have disdain for Arab society because they see the society as patriarchal and male-dominated. (Due to influences from other cultures, however, this description is rapidly changing.) The male has dominance over the women and children in his family and this dominance extends into the institutions of their society. Some ridicule the garments of the women, saying they look like ‘black lumps’ walking down the street. While many of us hold disdain for this patriarchal point of view, many Arab women say they prefer a male-dominated society, saying that the society and the garments offer them ‘protection’. Americans generally see the women as helpless, but there is a report on the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia website that states that the Arab patriarchal society: “does not imply that women are totally powerless or totally deprived of rights” (2001).

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Post 9/11 Classroom -- Embrace Diversity!



Some students or teachers may ridicule the fact that Arabs may have more than one wife. Mary Ali of the Institute of Islamic Information and Education website stipulated that Arabs may marry more than one woman because there are more women in the world than men and that the male population is further reduced by wars. “Polygamy helps more women become part of a family. Polygamy has been practiced by mankind for thousands of years. Many of the ancient Israelites were polygamous, some having hundreds of wives. King Solomon is said to have had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines”. Another website, Cultural Orientation tells us: “One’s status in Arab society is determined by the place of one’s extended family.” And, because “marriage is expected of everyone,” a man having more than one wife is ensures those women a place in society.

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

THE POST 9/11 CLASSROOM--embrace diversity!



In learning about teaching diverse students I've encountered many misconceptions. Another misconception portrayed by the media is that all Arabs have the same swarthy complexions. Like African-Americans, Arabs come in all skin colors with different hair textures. Even our government seems to be confused: “The United States has, at different times, classified Arab immigrants as African, Asian, White, European, or as belonging to a separate group. Most Arab-Americans identify more closely with nationality than with ethnic groups” (Detroit Free Press, 2001).
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Monday, February 20, 2006

THE POST 9/11 CLASSROOM...continued...



Where do I start? The first thing I need to do is read more about the Arab people. Who are the Arabs? According to the online encyclopedia, Columbia, Arab is the “name originally applied to the Semitic peoples of the Arabian Peninsula. It now refers to those persons whose primary language is Arabic. They constitute most of the population of Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, the West Bank, and Yemen; Arab communities are also found elsewhere in the world. The term does not usually include Arabic-speaking Jews, but it does include Arabic-speaking Christians.”

Detroit has one of the largest populations of Arab-Americans in the nation. Because of this, immediately after the World Trade Center bombings, the Detroit Free Press (2001) published an article that tried to educate and dispel the many disparaging myths regarding Arab-Americans. Some assume that Arabs are bound by their religious beliefs but Arabs are a people that are united by the Arabic language. Within that common language, they belong to many religions, including Christianity and Judaism. The article stated: “Common misconceptions are to think that Arab traditions are Islamic, or that Islam unifies all Arabs. Most Arab Americans are Catholic or Orthodox Christians.”

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

THE POST 9/11 CLASSROOM...continued...



THE SOLUTION:
Erase and Educate

Arab-American stereotypes are so pervasive and persistent in our post 9/11 society that I feel that it is my duty and responsibility to familiarize myself with the Arab culture. I need to recognize some of my own misconceptions of the Arab people. This is a crucial first step: advice from the ERIC Digest website has stated that “It is tempting to deny our prejudices and claim that we find all children equally appealing. Teachers and parents need to acknowledge that we, like our children, are inevitably influenced by the stereotypes and one-sided view of society that exists in our schools and in the media” (Gomez, Rey, A. 1991). To become more enlightened, I think (no, I know) that I must make a serious and sustained effort to reach a much higher level of cultural competency. As a teacher with an increasingly more diverse student population, I need to confront my prejudices aggressively. A good way to start is to erase my misconceptions and educate myself about this segment of our population.

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

THE POST 9/11 CLASSROOM...continued



As I was searching the Internet for information, I was horrified to find this entry in full view for the entire world to see from the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia website: “The personal appearance of the Arab is rather attractive. He is as a rule, undersized in stature, dark in complexion, especially in the South, with black hair, copious, and coarse; the eyes are dark and oval, the nose aquiline, and the features regular and well-formed. The ordinary life of the Arabs is simple and monotonous, usually out-of-doors and roving. They are usually peaceful, generous, hospitable, and chivalrous, but jealous and revengeful. In later times, however, they have greatly deteriorated” (Oussani, 2003). I read it twice to make sure that I was reading it correctly. This is an encyclopedia on the Internet that children may use to do research! The bias of this writer is apparent: monotonous, roving, jealous, and revengeful?! Even the writer’s physical description is inaccurate, for Arabs have several complexions and different types of physical features. Because the article had more than one copyright date, I was sure that I was reading an older version of the article. When I scrolled down to the bottom of the webpage and read ‘Updated 6 October 2005’, I was very disappointed. I intend to write to the website manager to ask if the misconceptions can be removed.

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

THE POST 9/11 CLASSROOM...continued...



It is not just films that continually portray negative images of those of Arab descent, but also books and television. And let’s not forget one of the most popular current pastimes of our youth: video games. “Computer games often feature cartoon Arab villains in which children rack up high scores and win games by killing Arabs” (Karaman and Wingfield, 1995).
The entertainment media outlets are not the only culprits. Other industries perpetuate stereotypical myths as well: I was shocked and dismayed when I learned that a popular retailer had Arab masks for Halloween. “A few years ago, Spencer Gift stores sold ‘Arab’ Halloween masks with grotesque physical features, along with their usual array of goblin, demon, and vampire masks. The chain stocked no other ethnic masks” (Karaman and Wingfield, 1995). What must a child be thinking as he or she sees Arab masks placed next to those of demons and goblins?! Subconsciously, the child may begin to think that Arabs, goblins, and demons are one and the same.

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Monday, January 23, 2006

THE POST 9/11 CLASSROOM...continued...



Arabs have been the victims of stereotypes and misconceptions for at least a century in this country. Some Hollywood directors have been too eager to nurture stereotypical images of minority races in films and people of Arab descent clearly did not escape the clouded eyes of those directors. From the early silent film, The Sheik (1921) (portrayed by the legendary Rudolph Valentino), to The Thief of Baghdad (1924), to Arabian Nights (1942), to Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1944) to modern films such as True Lies (1994), Hollywood has been successful in perpetuating stereotypical myths. Even the Oscar-winning, seemingly innocent, animated cartoon, Aladdin (1992), which is obviously targeted to young children, is fraught with misleading Arab stereotypes.

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

THE POST 9/11 CLASSROOM...continued...



THE PROBLEM:
Stereotypical Images of Bombers and Belly Dancers

Although its origin is unknown, it is purported that there is an ancient Asian proverb that states: “May you live in interesting times.” Considering today’s turbulent events, Arab Americans who emigrate here from Southwest Asia (more commonly known as the Middle East), may find that these times are a little too interesting. Arab-Americans have a culture and history unfamiliar to Americans and this unfamiliarity sometimes breeds mistrust and contempt. After all, if you are Arab-American during today’s times, you may find yourself referred to as barbaric, ruthless, and violent. Some folks will swear that you live in the desert, ride camels, and harbor terrorist thoughts. Then there are some who may be more overt in their disdain and call you by the names of ‘camel jockey’ or ‘sand nigger’. Unfortunately, these prejudicial attitudes can leak into the classroom via textbooks, movies, children’s misconceptions, and teacher bias.

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

THE POST 9/11 CLASSROOM ...continued...



As an African-American I bristle when I see old photographs of black people being lynched. I cringe when I look at old movies and see blacks being portrayed as clowns and buffoons. I am disturbed when I hear young black males callously use the word ‘nigger’. My own parents grew up in the era of ‘Jim Crow’ laws: separate schools, separate water fountains, separate restrooms, etc. When I was a child, there were no black dolls. There were no brown people in any of my ‘Dick and Jane’ reading books. I could not mention Malcolm X or Martin Luther King without getting stern looks from my white teachers. As a student, I learned history from a Eurocentric point of view and I resented it. As a minority in this country, I am very aware of prejudice and racial stereotypes. So, because I, myself, am a victim of racial stereotyping, I certainly would be more sensitive and not have prejudiced views of others…..right? Unfortunately, I am embarrassed to realize that I am not that enlightened.
Copyright, 2006...to be continued....

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

THE POST 9/11 CLASSROOM, continued....



On the television screen was an image of a small boy, not quite school-age, sitting in his father’s lap.

Interviewer: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Small boy (smiling wryly): “I want to be a policeman.”

Interviewer: “Why do you want to be a policeman?”

Small boy: “Because I’ll have a gun.”

Interviewer: “Why do you want a gun?”

Small boy (wry grin breaking into a large smile): “So I can kill all the niggers!”

Mike Wallace asked those questions approximately ten years ago, but I will never forget that ‘60 Minutes’ interview that took place in the home of a Ku Klux Klansman. This interview haunted me for months….in fact, it still haunts me. It underscores what we already know, that prejudice is learned. We may learn it from adults, from teachers, from friends, from literature, and from television and other media. Children learn lessons when they are young which may shape their beliefs for the rest of their lives and by judging from the father’s huge grin, the young boy above learned his lesson well.I think about this boy from time to time, now a teenager, and wonder if he still wants to ‘kill all the niggers’. I wonder if this young man went to a school where he interacted with students from different cultures and backgrounds. Did he carry this learned hatred from classroom to classroom and from teacher to teacher? Were his beliefs reinforced or countered by his teachers?


Copyright, 2006...to be continued....