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Group 17 – Teaching Science for Social Justice (11/16)

Teaching Science for Social Justice: Chapter 8 – Empowering Science Education and Youth’s Practices of Science

 

Summary:

This chapter was mainly a summary of all the overarching ideas presented throughout the book, linking together different concepts that were presented in isolation into a bigger picture (Figure 8.1) and evaluating their roles. The chapter then explores possible future directions that we as educators can explore. In designing future curriculum, we need to keep in mind topics that allow students to see science: 1) “through multiple points of entry”, 2) “through structures that recognize networks” and 3) “through thinking about identities and relationships through a desire for change”. The book ends with a reminder, or author’s thoughts, on why we should pursue science education as a career.

 

Connection to class:

  • This chapter came in a timely manner in tandem with our Case Study assignment where we were forced to think about our roles in classrooms in the future. Members of the group were able to apply our PLC readings to this assignment in our analysis of the case study assignment.

 

Highlights of Group Discussion:

  • We talked a little bit about the Paris attacks and how Facebook let people “check in” that they were safe. We talked about how people had a problem with this, in that they are asking, “Why does FB only care about people in Paris, and not anywhere else in the world that are getting terrorized?
  • We decided this was unfair, but it also made us feel like no matter what is done that is good, someone will always find a way to show you how wrong your good is.
  • We also talked about how we are sad this is our second to last PLC! This semester has flown by. Three of the four of us are student teaching next semester, and although we are excited, we realized we only have 9 days of classes left of our undergraduate career which is CRAZY!

 

Questions to Pose (for the teacher’s panel next week):

  1. Has a student ever exhibited an insensitive response (e.g. laughing, ridiculing, mocking) to a social justice topic you were trying to teach your class? How did you respond to this situation?
  2. How much energy should/can we devote to incorporating social justice topics into our science curricula? How can we go about this in a tactful way?
  3. Has it been hard to balance making sure you are not offending someone in whatever you do? Like we were talking about from our first two discussion highlights, it seems that no matter what we do that is “good,” someone somewhere will find it offensive.

 

Mission Statement:

There was no change in our mission statement aside from the qualifications made from last week’s readings.

 

Next Week’s Reading:

Since we’ve completed the book, we’ll be revisiting the book in its entirety and discussing the overarching ideas, how they relate to what we’ve learned in the course this semester, and how we can apply them to our future careers.

 

Teaching Science for Social Justice: Chapter 7 – Building Communities in Support of Youths

Group 17 – Teaching Science for Social Justice (11/9)

Summary: In this chapter, we are introduced to the REAL (Restoring Environments and Landscapes) science community at Southside Shelter in New York City. In particular, the author explores the importance of collaboration in the scientific endeavors (and eventually accomplishments) of the science community in this urban setting. Individuals at the shelter not only draw from each other’s individual strengths, but also engage in dialogue (e.g. “courtyard chats”) to identify the needs and wants of the larger community. The author proposes that this inquiry-based approach to doing science has potential even in more traditional classroom settings.

Connection to class:

  • Nieto (2009) talks about the importance of modifying instruction to be culturally sensitive which is reminiscent of the concept of “Inclusivity” discussed in this chapter. The need for “responsiveness and respect” also ties in with Nieto’s argument that cultural sensitivity should be emphasized in the classroom.
  • Everyone comes to the classroom with different experiences and knowledge, based upon the circumstances they are born into (Hochschild, 2003), which was a concept the chapter revisited when contextualizing a Science classroom in a lower income area.

Highlights of Group Discussion:

  • We talked about why one of our group members, René Kronlage, decided to join Teach For America. She knew she had to be a teacher after watching the movie Precious and was inspired by the teacher. From there she looked more into the program.
    • A main argument against TFA is that it perpetuates the problem of there being a “revolving door of teachers,” and research has found that most lower-income, struggling schools have this revolving door of teachers. René brought up a good point, in that correlation does not equal causation, and asked us to think about the underlying issues that could be leading to this (i.e. lack of resources, not as much support from faculty, etc.). Why would a teacher want to continue teaching in a lower-income school if he or she isn’t supported and there is such a severe lack of resources, when they could transfer to another, better-funded school where their jobs would not be as stressful?
  • Bryan Wang is currently deciding whether he wants to student teach next semester in an Honors Biology classroom, or in a classroom where his students are dropout students. From observing classrooms and his knowledge of both schools, the Honors Biology classroom would probably be much easier and less stressful, however he would have a lot of support teaching the high school dropouts Biology, so it would be much more rewarding. He also feels that if he could get through teaching next semester with these students, that he would learn a lot more about the “real world” in how hard teaching is and it would be much more rewarding. We will keep you updated on what he decides!

Questions to Pose:

  1. What does it mean to participate in a science community?
  2. How do decisions around who can participate and what participation entails influence the purposes, goals, and outcome of that community?

Who should be able to participate in a science community and how should participation be measured?

Mission Statement:

There was no change in our mission statement aside from the qualifications made from last week’s readings.

Next Week’s Reading:

Chapter 8 – Empowering Science Education and Youth’s Practices of Science: Under the same assumptions as last week in that later chapters refer back to stories in previous chapters and hence a chronological approach towards our readings were adopted. Through this reading, we will be reading more personal stories of individual students with a focus on geographical locations.

Group 17 – Teaching Science for Social Justice (11/2)

Teaching Science for Social Justice: Chapter 6 – Transformations: Science as a Tool for Change

Summary: In this chapter, we are introduced to a young Black Cuban American man named Darkside who lives at an inner city New York homeless shelter. Darkside is in the 10th grade and has dreams of graduating and making a life for himself, but he encounters many obstacles along the way. Among them are the dangers of gang violence and, of course, the hardships of living at the homeless shelter, without a place to call his own. Nonetheless, we see Darkside making great strides towards his goals by engaging with a community science effort to beautify the surrounding area with a garden. Through his enthusiasm and leadership, he is also helping to transform his community.

Connection to class:

  • Barry (2005) talks about how people who are advantaged (socioeconomically, by race, by association) have more opportunities to have access to a quality education and educational experiences. Similarly, he discusses how some students are disadvantaged by these very reasons and how they have to overcome much more challenges to get where the more advantaged students are. This creates a cycle were those who are at the top of the socioeconomic chain remain there, while those at the bottom remain there, too.
    • Some factors that affect whether students end up ahead that Barry (2005) mentions include:
      • Lack of parental care
      • Lack of regulation in childcare
      • Childcare
      • Income level
      • Encouragement
      • Cultural resources
      • Prenatal care
      • Child abuse
      • Maternity/Paternity leave
      • Number of words child is exposed to a year
      • Disability resources
      • Access to technology
      • Technology use ability
      • Private Vs. Public schools
      • Flexibility of time off
      • Political viability
      • Gerrymandering
  • Bettez also argues that “Racism is a problem for us all.” In this sense, racism is negatively affecting Darkside.

Highlights of Group Discussion:

  • Relating Darkside’s experience to personal experiences in schools as well as in-class observations as part of our pedagogical classes, although at a less extreme degree.
  • Linking ideas shared in class presentations today to the PLC reading and discussing lesson ideas that could have been helpful in utilizing science as a tool for positive change in these classrooms.
  • We talked about how science can empower students to want to go out and do things like make a community garden.

Questions to Pose:

  1. How can we guide students to use the knowledge they have to help them succeed in the classroom?
  2. How can we involve students in community projects like creating a community garden?
  3. How can science be used as a “tool for change” in that science can make students feel empowered to go above and beyond?

Mission Statement:

There was no change in our mission statement aside from the qualifications made from last week’s readings.

Next Week’s Reading:

Chapter 7 – Building Communities In Support of Youths’ Science Practices: Under the same assumptions as last week in that later chapters refer back to stories in previous chapters and hence a chronological approach towards our readings were adopted. Through this reading, we will be reading more personal stories of individual students with a focus on geographical locations.

Questions of Power and Identity in Science Education 10/12

Teaching Science for Social Justice: Chapter 4 Power and Co-opting Science Spaces

Summary:

Junior & Iris

  • Struggle between negotiating power in science and their lives: Junior and Iris both associate doing poorly in school with behavior/”being bad,” and they liked or disliked their teachers based on the respect they demonstrated toward her.
    • If they felt disrespected, the were likely to challenge authority, thus “being bad.” Their thought process was that the “bad” kids did bad in school, whereas the “good” children did well in school.

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  • Junior wants to hammer things for a living, for this is what he sees many of the adults in his life doing for a living.
  • Iris was extremely attached to her cultural identity as a Mexican and very loyal to her family–her siblings in particular. She took on much of the responsibility of a mother, and seemed very confused about her role as a sister (child) or mother (adult). Although Iris was smart, she was quick to give up if she didn’t do well at something right away–she was always “questioning the validity of her own choices.”

Co-Opting:

  • If given the opportunity, students of varying backgrounds have been observed to “co-opt” their interactions with science, to gain ownership over their learning and make their interaction with science authentically their own. Thus the author purports that as much as possible, students should be presented with chances to co-opt their education.

Connection to class: In Chapter 4, Barton explains how student actions which are often perceived as “resistant” are in fact expressions of identity and means of self-preservation. This connects to the Barry (2005) reading, where we encountered that students’ deviant behavior, often deemed “not socially acceptable” in school environments, is influenced by the vastly different kinds and rates of parental feedback they receive at home (p. 51-2). Rather than automatically punish these students and further restrict them, we should seek to understand their background and work to “connect their interests and talents to the wide range of possibilities offered by our society and economy” (Barton p. 70).

Highlights of Group Discussion: In the educational system, we are often taught that there is a “right” and a “wrong”. Responses to questions can be either correct or incorrect, and behaviors can be either acceptable or unacceptable. However, in this chapter, we have discovered that this kind of attitude towards the classroom experience can be off-putting to some students, and actually cause them to become disinterested in learning. In order to provide a productive experience for all students, we should embrace questions and challenges to what counts as “socially acceptable,” while still emphasizing to our students the importance of understanding the dominant social code.

Questions to Pose:  

  1. Should we/how can we, as educators, intervene in inter-student interactions to make sure no single student is dominating the scene and making others feel left out of an educational activity?
  2. How can we include different cultures or particular interests of students into the classroom?
  3. How can we encourage students to challenge authority and their identity without it being disrespectful to educators or the students feel that they are being “bad”?

Mission Statement:

There was no change in our mission statement aside from the qualifications made from last week’s readings.

Next Week’s Reading:

Chapter 6: Transformations – Science as a Tool for Change. Under the same assumptions as last week in that later chapters refer back to stories in previous chapters and hence a chronological approach towards our readings were adopted. Through this reading, we will be reading more personal stories of individual students with a focus on geographical locations.

9/28/2015 PLC Challenge

In Urban Science Education for the Hip-Hop Generation, the presenter Dr. Chris Edmin explains how he uses hip-hop and rap in the classroom to connect with and engage his students. This ties into our PLC reading in that it highlights the importance/effectiveness of making content material culturally relevant to students. In addition, it gives students an avenue to narrow the authority gap by letting them connect class material to something they are already familiar with.

Questions to Pose:  

  1. Would relating to students in this way reach every single student? What about the students who do not enjoy hip-hop music.
  2. Is it being stereotypical to assume that every urban child enjoys hip-hop music?

Mission Statement:

There was no change in our mission statement aside from the qualifications made from last week’s readings.

Next Week’s Reading:

Chapter 4: Power of Co-opting Science Spaces. Under the same assumptions as last week in that later chapters refer back to stories in previous chapters and hence a chronological approach towards our readings were adopted. Through this reading, we will be reading more personal stories of individual students with a focus on geographical locations. Since we weren’t to fully explore this chapter this week, we’ll revisit it in our discussion next week.

Group 17 – Teaching Science for Social Justice (9/21)

Teaching Science for Social Justice: Chapter 3

Summary: Living on the border of the Southern United States and Mexico has been extremely difficult for students who are trying to escape stereotypes, especially in science courses, as told by Claudia and Juan in this chapter. Juan and Claudia, who are living in homeless shelters, feel many people have given up on them already. Many students in similar circumstances also feel that material is presented to them in a boring way that requires far too much reading instead of interaction. The schools in the borderland are often poorly resourced and have a lot of poverty. Teachers are often required to complete “sensitivity-to-poverty” trainings, but rather than promote social justice, these programs only further discriminatory practices.

Connection to class: The readings delve upon the availability of resources to students in lower income/ “borderland” areas which is reminiscent of the case study activity we did in class today, analyzing the negative impacts of the lack of resources on students as well as how we can modify our classrooms to support these students. The focus on what the students have in stark contrast to what they don’t have (deficit thinking) also seems to resonate throughout the chapter, underlining the empowerment of living in the Borderland has. This also relates closely to Barry (2005) that emphasized the importance of resources to student success.  

Highlights of Group Discussion: Educators often fall into the trap of believing that their lessons/curricula are “student-centered,” but rather than focusing on just being student centered, as teachers we should focus more on “encouraging student authorship or ownership” (p.56). We should give students an opportunity to express themselves/prove their academic ability through a wider variety of activities and assessments (e.g. some students prefer to write a report as a way of engaging with the material and demonstrating what they know.) We also discussed the importance of exposing our students to the myriad possibilities of paths they could pursue, as often times they are limited to the few options they know from experience (e.g. Juan was set on becoming a rocklayer, without having really explored other options).

Questions to Pose:  

  1. How can we teach students who have different backgrounds than us?
  2. How can we understand how youth use the borderland as a place of strength so that we can connect with them, their desires, and their concerns?
  3. How can we encourage students who do not want to pursue an academic career, but rather do construction like Juan?
  4. How can we help students, like Claudia who had minimal resources, get access to resources, such as tutors and friends who supported and valued her expertise?

Mission Statement:

There was no change in our mission statement aside from the qualifications made from last week’s readings.

Next Week’s Reading:

Chapter 4: Power of Co-opting Science Spaces. Under the same assumptions as last week in that later chapters refer back to stories in previous chapters and hence a chronological approach towards our readings were adopted. Through this reading, we will be reading more personal stories of individual students with a focus on geographical locations.

Group 17 – Teaching Science for Social Justice (9/14)

Teaching Science for Social Justice: Chapter 2

Summary:

In Chapter 2, we are taken through the personal story of Kobe, a young, inner-city African American male who becomes discouraged from learning science. In recounting Kobe’s experience, Barton illustrates the impact of the deficit model, through which people often unproductively attribute failure to individual lack of desirable traits. Kobe, an aspiring basketball athlete, was actually balancing being a primary caregiver to his three younger siblings as well as school, which became impossible for him. When he tried to re-enter school after taking some time off after deciding science would be his backup career, his teacher publicly asked him who he was and laughed when Kobe told his teacher his was going to try to finish out the school year. His fellow students also contributed to the laughter, which led to Kobe officially dropping out of high school that day.

Connection to class:

This chapter connected closely with today’s case study, “The Problem We All Live With”. As we saw with the case study, the quality of students’ education and school experience is significantly impacted by the environment in which they are put. If students feel excluded or alienated, they will feel less comfortable and less motivated to pursue knowledge and academic success. As educators, we have a responsibility to adjust our curriculum and lessons to accommodate students of all backgrounds.   

Highlights of Group Discussion:

-Linking back the chapter we read to the readings we did this week as well as the case study activity we did at the start of the class.

-Recognizing the importance of giving students opportunities to bring their own experiences and/or perspectives to the table, especially in science classrooms where students often feel distanced from the science community/literature.

Questions to Pose:

  1. How can we make sure that we, as teachers, have enough resources for all our students?
  2. How can we make personal relationships with all of our students and understand each student’s personal identity?
  3. How can science teachers successfully integrate students of all different backgrounds to encourage healthy, strong relationships with each other?

Mission Statement:

There was no change in our mission statement aside from the qualifications made from last week’s readings.

Next Week’s Reading:

Chapter 3: Living in the Borderland. Under the same assumptions as last week in that later chapters refer back to stories in previous chapters and hence a chronological approach towards our readings were adopted. Through this reading, we will be reading more personal stories of individual students with a focus on geographical locations.