Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Part 3 Glee

Chris Colfer performing "I Wanna Hold You...
Chris Colfer performing "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

       One rising issue in the United States is teen sexuality. As teenage homosexuality gains notice, changes are being made in America with social treatment of gays. Tragedies such as the youth suicides are igniting a social movement. The idea of “gay is okay” is being shown all over the American television system. Americans are being exposed to gay culture and are becoming more accepting of it because of the exposure. One show with a unique set of characteristics is Glee. Glee is a show on a national network with the reputation of being conservative (FOX), which makes it more surprising that the show also holds the record for number of non-heterosexual teenage characters on a prime time show.
            A reoccurring theme for these Glee Club members is the constant threat of a
slushie to the face by the high school’s bullies, who constantly antagonize them, especially out and proud gay character Kurt Hummel. the show successfully transforms the understanding of gay bullying through the character Kurt Hummel who sends a tailored message to these specific groups by serving as an exemplary figure for victims. Glee mirrors real bullying through the interactions between Kurt and football ogre Dave Karofsky, who frequently singles out Kurt with malicious words, aggressive shoves, and angry glares. Kurt serves as a positive influence by celebrating his homosexuality and refusing to abandon his flamboyant behavior, even at the risk of his social standing. After a particularly brutal encounter with bully Dave, Kurt chooses to confront his aggressor with words of his own: “Hit me because it’s not going to change who I am. You can’t punch the gay out of me any more than I can punch the ignoramus out of you!” Kurt takes ownership of his life; he addresses the problem with the principal of the school and makes the decision to transfer to a more advantageous school with a zero tolerance of bullying and a brighter future. The initiative Glee takes in presenting a positive gay character and the immense support from the show is significant in that it encourages teens in similar situations to follow Kurt’s example and better their situation. Character Kurt Hummel successfully embodies and acts out the message “it gets better.” \
            The character Dave, like other bullies in real life, harasses Kurt because he believes that homosexuality somehow makes his victim inferior. In reaching approximately eleven
million viewers an episode, Glee is effective in obtaining a wide coverage to promote its
issues. The specific messages Glee sends are significant in that they seek to inspire change from its viewers. To the victims, Glee sends a message of hope through the uncompromising character of Kurt, who encourages teens to follow his example. The targeted change in this message is to influence the victims to refuse to compromise their identity by taking charge of their lives. Just as Kurt is teased for his sexuality, the
other Glee Club teens are slushied for being different, however when Glee Club starts, this uniqueness is celebrated. Glee makes the statement that the characters are at their
best when they are truly themselves and that they cannot let the other students or the dominant culture alter who they are. In responding to the issue of gay bullying as well as those struggling for other reasons in school, Glee sends a positive message that high school teens desperately need to hear: the most important thing is to be yourself.
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Part 3 Race in America

Racial discrimination is a very important concern in the US. For some reason we can't all seem to get along no matter what the color of our skin is. One particular race that is often stereotyped is the Asian-American race.  Several examples of these stereotypes can be seen across all areas of society including business, military, education, and sports.
            There have been incidents at different fast food restaurants, where Asian-Americans are marginalized and discriminated against. One occurrence was at a Papa John’s in New York City, when an employee typed a racial slur on a receipt to a customer. The picture of the receipt, which showed the name “lady chinky eyes,” was tweeted by the customer and went viral, gaining it public notoriety. Papa John’s has apologized publicly both via Twitter and on its Facebook page, and the cashier responsible for the slur, a sixteen year old high school girl, was fired. I don’t believe this individual meant to stereotype or garner any sort of hate behind her actions, but used rather ignorantly ways of describing a customer in a busy fast-food establishment.  She is a product of her educational upbringing and had she been more knowledgeable and sympathetic to current ethnic issues, this incident may not have happened.
            Another incident of this discrimination is the death of 19-year old Private, Danny Chen. Chen was found dead with a gunshot wound below his chin. This gave evidence that the wound was self-inflicted. Upon further investigation, it was found that Chen had been the target of racially motivated taunts and physical attacks at the hands of his superiors and comrades before he died. Five of these soldiers were charged with involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide in Chen's death. As a sibling of soldier, I had the opportunity to witness the Marine Corps boot camp and witnessed the brutality these men take from their superiors. It is comforting knowing that they will be prepared while protecting our country, however a line should be drawn. Danny Chen’s death is devastating not only because his life was taken, but that his life was dedicated to serving his country and yet he was treated in such a heinous way.
            Asian-Americans have also been determined as being the most bullied in US schools.  Data shows that Asian-American teenagers are three times more likely to be bullied on the internet. It was found that 54 percent of Asian American teenagers said they were bullied in the classroom, sharply above the 31.3 percent of whites who reported being picked on. The data comes from a 2009 survey supported by the US Justice Department and Education Department which interviewed some 6,500 students from ages 12 to 18. The Obama administration has made efforts in halting the continued bullying. In March, the president joined Facebook for an online anti-bullying conference, where he warned that social media was making the problem worse for many children.  Obama has also contributed to the It gets Better movement by submitting a video to those who seek hope.
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Part 2 Diversity

        Diversity is the differences in the characteristics between different groups, while culture refers to shared characteristics of a group of people Given the diversity of schools, students and teachers need to be aware of this and how it will effect education. In an ethnically diverse school, one of the barriers for students is the language barrier. One factor of this is the dominant language spoken at home. This language barrier can have a negative impact on school age children. Children may enter school with little or no knowledge of the English language. This in turn leads to difficulty understanding the teacher and other students and can lead to frustration.  We all have been shaped and molded through our experiences in life giving us a way of viewing the world, which is unique and unlike anyone else's.  In some ways this can hinder us from learning about other cultures and situations we are not used to, causing us to view stereotypical images we have about others. On the other hand, these views are very important to us since they have been molded through the experiences which identify us and make us who we are.
            When incorporating a Multicultural curriculum into the classroom it is important to first make sure that students understand their culture and where they come from. Teachers can apply the "Social Reconstruction" approach into the classroom, which would focus on the community culture and its environment. Students need to become exposed to other ethnic groups and develop a deeper sense of multicultural understanding. This can be accomplished by participating in the local community, either by planned field trips or simply coming together to create a community recycling project.
When dealing with diversity as a teacher not only must you be aware of others’ differences, but also your own and how this impacts your students. Individuals bring their own attitudes, beliefs, experiences, and skills with them. Especially in teaching, a teacher brings their beliefs that may influence their teaching. A teacher may bring perceptions of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds that may be flawed. They may misinterpret and prohibit certain cultural behaviors of a particular group limiting the students learning opportunities simply because the teacher does not understand them. This will limit the teacher’s abilities to effectively teach all students. Teachers can adjust delivery of information and the curriculum to fit the needs of the students in their school. Curriculum should be bias free and content should be reviewed to make sure this is accomplished. Teachers should deliver information in a variety of ways to fit the student’s individual learning styles. The idea of the “tossed salad” is the focus in education. University programs and individuals need to face the challenge in order to fit the needs of a diverse student population.
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Part 2 Bullying

            One-third to half of American children report being bullied at least once and 10 percent feel continually targeted. More than 40 percent of students admit to bullying a classmate at least once, while more than half have witnesses bullying and not reported it. Bullying can take the form of physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse or hazing. Recently, cyber-bullying has become another form of victimization. Cyber-bullying can be defined as sending or posting harmful or hurtful messages using the Internet or other digital forms of communication.
            Cyberbullying can cause significant emotional harm. Victims of face-to-face bullying often experience depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, physiological complaints, problems concentrating, school failure, and school avoidance. Targets of cyberbullying suffer equal if not greater psychological harm because the hurtful information can be transmitted to a larger base and instantaneously and can be difficult to eliminate. Aggressors can remain anonymous and are hard to stop. Not knowing who an aggressor is can cause adolescents to be too cautious in terms of examining their social environment to avoid hurtful encounters. Cyberbullying also may be worse than face-to-face bullying because people feel shielded from the consequences of their actions and often do or say things online that they would not in person. In some cases, cyberbullying can lead to severe dysfunction, externalized violence, and suicide.
            Tulsa Public schools has established an online tool that assesses the occurrence of cyber bullying in its school, in hopes of reducing it in the future. In January 2012 the district launched the Threat Assessment, Incident Management and Prevention Services or TIPS, which allows for the anonymous reporting of weapons possession, drug/alcohol use, harassment or intimidation, school vandalism, physical assault, threats of violence, suicide risk, abuse or neglect and other incidents. The school has designated teams at each school and the district office to be automatically notified of certain types of reports. The system allows team members to create a record of recommendations and actions taken, keeping track of which members view and add to the record and notifying members of new information. Staff can set automatic reminders that notify them if it's time to check in with a student who has been recently victimized or other items earmarked for follow-up.
            These struggles and insecurities that adolescents face are a direct result of their culture, which shapes their behaviors and perceptions. The adolescent society is the closest thing to a "closed social system where students seek and value peer status as an indicator of their own worth. Peer pressure wields great power in these individual’s lives.  Students are not preoccupied with academics, but rather popularity, athletics, and physical appearance.
            Rener Gracie, 27-year-old son of UFC originator Rorion Gracie and grandson of legendary Brazilian jiu-jitsu grandmaster Helio Gracie recognized that the martial art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, created by his family, is ideal for combating bullies. So he and his brother Ryron developed a program specifically for kids who have been the target of bullies. Here students are taught the three T-steps: TALK to the bully and ask him to leave you alone. TELL the teacher and your parent that the bully won't stop even after you've talked to him. TACKLE the bully and use jiu-jitsu to gain control of him without resorting to punches or kicks. This program is very similar to the EKP program, of which I am certified.  This is just one of the many techniques that can be used as tools by those who have reached that block in the road.
            It Gets Better is another one of these tools, it is an internet-based project founded by Dan Savage and his husband Terry Miller in 2010 It was a response to the suicides of teenagers who were bullied because they were gay. Its goal is to prevent suicide among LGBT youth by having gay adults convey the message that these teens' lives will improve. The project has grown rapidly: over 800 videos were uploaded in the first two weeks, and the project's YouTube channel reached the 650 video limit in the next week. The project is now organized on its own website, the It Gets Better Project and includes more than 30,000 entries, with more than 40 million views, from people of all sexual orientations including many celebrities.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Portfolio Showcase

Today was a somewhat stressful day. Not only did I have my exit interview at 10 am this morning, but it was with none other than the physical education chair and former President of NASPE, Dr. Lynn Couturier. I prepared myself for the interview by going over every possible question that could be asked in my head. As it got closer and closer to the interview, I felt as if everything that I has prepared for was going to just draw a blank in my head. However, as I sat down at the table with Dr. Couturier and my peers and was asked my first question, it turned out I was better at this than I thought I was. I was thankful for my professor, Stephen Yang, for informing me about Paul Zientarski and his learning readiness system because that is exactly what I talked about when asked how I would convince Administrators that Physical Education is important in a school's district's curriculum. Dr. Couturier was impressed with my answer and overall my interview in general. At the conclusion of our interview I was even more elated that my online portfolio was nominated for the Portfolio showcase. Here is the link to my online portfolio:

Thursday, April 19, 2012


In a very significant settlement that occurred recently, New York State Union of Teachers and state leaders have agreed to a new statewide teacher evaluation system that limits the weight of students’ standardized test scores. It is designed to help teachers improve and also reinforce collective bargaining to shape evaluations based on local needs. They are hoping that this system acts as a national model.  The Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo has called it a “historic agreement.”  60 % of the new evaluation will be based on the teacher’s performance, which is majorly based on classroom observations both announced and unannounced.  Other tools to evaluate could be student portfolios or student and parent feedback surveys.  The remaining 40% is based on student achievement. Only half of that will be based on state tests, while the remaining half will be based on student’s assessments selected from a list five options selected through collective bargaining.  Teachers can either be rated ineffective, developing effective, or highly effective. A teacher who receives ineffective must receive support and training to improve.  More than one ineffective rating can lead to dismissal of that teacher.  The governor has linked the Annual Professional Performance Rating to any increase in school funding for the 2012-2013 school year. For districts to be eligible, they must have an approved APPR by January 17, 2013.
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Cover of "Murderball"
Cover of Murderball

Upon seeing the film Murderball in adapted physical education class today, I was enlightened of the everyday lives of paraplegics. The documentary clears up the common misconception that quadriplegics don’t have use of their arms by showing these athletes ramming themselves into one another in pursuit of victory on the court.  This film has changed my attitude toward not only disability in sport, but disability in general. What makes Murderball so effective is that it debunks just about every clichéd stereotype about the handicapped. These are predominantly young men in there 20s and 30s, but other than paralysis they're just like every body else. They are pranksters that laugh and drink at poker night, and jut regular guys, trying to hit on girls at the bar. They can give hope to other disabled people by showing them that there is always something to live for. Murderball is not really a sports film, but rather a film that uses sport as a way to see into the lives of the athletes portrayed in the documentary.  All of the people in Murderball are imperfect, which makes them all the more relatable. They are a bunch of men, with the same flaws that the rest of humanity has to deal with. While rugby is heavily focused on in the film, more importantly it is about people overcoming great odds to embrace life.  This movie has changed the way I look at people in chairs  because it breaks down the misconceptions. The movie shows that quads can be fiercely competitive and completely like everyone else, except for the way they mobilize.
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