Tomorrow, we will begin our discussion of the book, “Voices: Letters to Ms. Em.” Prior to class tomorrow, there are two important questions that I want you to consider:
What does it mean to “write” within the context of this book?
What are three ways in which the concept, “Mentor in print” functions in this book?
Please take time to consider these questions as there is a chance that the author will be joining us in class tomorrow. If you have trouble with the questions, please review the power point to give you some possible insight.

mentors in Print


As a part of this society, we are all informally “taught” how to perceive the people who come from different places. When issues of race and poverty are involved, we are almost always taught to expect less and to enviision a future of failure. Below are links to video clips from the HBO series, “The Wire.” Beginning in season 4, the show followed a former police officer into the classroom where he became a middle school math teacher.

Clip 1: Mr. Pryzbo observed the students’ interest in math in the form of a poker game. In the midst of Mr. Pryzbo teaching the students ‘the numbers” underlying poker,one of the students asked if the numbers functioned in a similar way with “dice,” which is a far more common form of competition in their neigjborhood. In the midst of raiding the school’s supply room for dice, through which to teach a lesson on probability, Mr. Pryzbo makes a startling discovery. What does Mr. Pryzbo’s discovery tell us about the school’s perception of the students? Was Mr. Pryzbo right or wrong for using gambling as a way of teaching students mathematical content?
Clip 2:, A student who regularly sells candy to make money around the school, discovers that he can get far cheaper prices for his product online than he can from local merchants in his neighborhood. The problem is that the only way he can gain access to this cheaper candy is through the use of credit card. Not having a credit card, the student asks Mr. Pryzbo if he can purchase the candy for him with his credit card. Mr. Pryzbo says that all of the cash has to be provided up front. However, he warns the student that if he comes in to school the next day with the money, he will assume that he got it on “the corner.” (eg. selling drugs). On the way home from school the student sees a dice game and decides to get the money implementing the probability lessons he learned in school. He gets all the money he needs for the candy. Needless to say, he comes into school the next day and hands Mr. Pryzbo a wad full of money from which to purchase the candy. What do you see the future holding for the student who obtained the money?

clip 1:

clip 2


Alternative Perception

One of the issues touched upon in our discussion with Judge Chapman was the importance of perception and specifically, an alternative perception with respect to effectively serving students and families from communities considered to be impoverished and dangerous. In the readings, for which there are links below, we have the examples of William Strickland from Pittsburgh and Father Greg Doyle. The first created a state of the art youth arts, culinary school and graphic design center in the worst ghetto in Pittsburgh. The latter created a thriving business comprised exclusively of gang members from LA’s Latino barrio. Both are powerful examples of alternative perception. Where the rest of society saw danger and impossibility, these two men saw need, opportunity and success. In the case of Mr. Strickland, his facility stands mere blocks away from the neighborhood school which is a bastion of failure and misery. However, serving the same young people as the school, Mr. Strickland’s program experiences an 85% success rate in getting students to college. Immediately below is a link to Mr. Strickland’s TED video and below that are links from which you can download the readings.

Strickland (1)


In tomorrow’s class, we will be honored to discuss the above question with the Honorable William Chapman Family Court Judge for New Castle County. The brief reading from the book “The New Jim Crow,” was provided in order to demonstrate that there is an emerging racial class of disenfranchised people in society which exists, in part, because of involvement with the criminal justice system. Given that there is a recurring and predictable mechanism in our society for disenfranchisement, are good teachers the last line of defense? In other words, given the lives and environments that many students come from, are good teachers the last thing separating these students from disenfranchisement, which means loss of citizenship and therefore no stake in being a healthy and productive member of society? Judge Chapman has given us an article to read which spells out this relationship from the legap perspective. The link to the article may be found below:

Also, below is a brief bio of Judge Chapman:

I graduated from Georgetown Law School in 1986 have been a member of the Delaware Bar since 1988–from 1986-1994 i worked in the Criminal Division of the Delaware Dept of Justice–i was assigned to the Family Court Unit, the Drug Unit, Felony Screening and the Sex Crimes Unit. I served as an Associate Judge in Municipal Court for the CIty of Wilmington from 1994-to 1995 when i was appointed to the Family Court

Finally, attached are power point slides which delineate the emerging class of disenfranchised Americans and how it impacts upon society. You are encouraged to print this out and bring it to class tomorrow. Have an enjoyable day.-Front Line

In the reading for today’s 9/9 class, there was an article about a Delaware School in which the teachers were required by the principal to go out into the neighborhood of the school and to meet with parents and and students, to discuss the coming school year and in some cases, hand out backpacks. In the “comments” section which followed the article, it is evident that several people felt that the principal’s request was inappropriate, calling for teachers to do more than what they are obligated to do as part of their job description. Do you feel that this was an inappropriate request? Please respond with a Yes or No.

Today in class, we will be sharing our I Am poems. I hope that you find them to be an interesting and engaging way to get to know your fellow classmates and offer considerable potential for you as teachers to get to know your students. When implementing this activity in the classroom, however, considerable modifications are necessary at the middle school level. I have implemented this activity on numerous occasions with middle schoolers and it is necessary to provide a framework within which they can describe themselves. Below, I have attached an adaptation for middle school which should enable you to gain vital information about your students while supporting the students’ need for assistance in how to approach the activity.
I Am (Adaptation)

Since the field placement coordinators will be presenting in class tomorrow, we will need to cover the content for tomorrow’s class online. The topic relates to how teachers can get to know their students and convey to them that their authentic personal and cultural voices are welcome in the classroom. Review the contents of the Power Point Presentation and answer the following questions:
1. What does it mean when it is said that teachers need to integrate the students’ rhythms into the classroom beat?
2. Describe three of the most prominent qualities of “spoken word” poetry that you observed in the youtube videos.
Please send your responses to educ419fall11@gmail.comRhythm and Writing Presentation