All posts by abiola_daniel21c

Blog #5 Creating a MOOC?

I have heard of MOOCs before,. A couple of previous classes that I participated in included them as resources for the classes i.e. students were given links to the MOOCs to look up as assignments while preparing for the next class. it would never have crossed my mind to create one.

However, I would not mind knowing how a MOOC is created so long as the colleagues who know what to do are willing to teach people like me who have no idea what to do. Remember my on going battle with "twitter.com" and blogging? I just finished stressing over logging onto my blogging account!! Andre, hope you are reading this.

I am willing to go along with a MOOC, I just need coaching. Sure it sounds like a challenge but it will be nice to share what we are learning with other people beyond our class.

I do not consider myself an authority on race and ethnic identity issues but I have learned some things along the way particularly an educator of English Language Learners. I am willing to share what I have learned and learn from other people as well. If conversations about race and ethnicity are difficult one can only imagine just how much more challenging the situation is when the person experiencing the difficulty also has a language barrier. If our efforts sensitizes only one person then we have made some progress but I am sure more than one person will benefit.

Blog #4 – Conversations About Race


Why do we need to have these conversations about race?  What can we do to shift the tides towards justice and change?  How can we connect to make our projects matter in the world outside our classroom?
Conversations about race are important because it is when we have real conversations  - listen to other people's views and experiences and I return share our own experiences that we can learn from each other.

I have learned from this class. The conversations we've nbeen having have involved vulnerability, letting other people into your emotional space even if for a few minutes. It takes courage to have meaningful conversations about race and sometimes emotional restraint to get the message across  in a way that the other person(s) would want to receive it. That is where I sometimes lose it because of my passionate and intense nature. The challenge for me is how not to come across as combative and aggressive when I am really riled by racist comments and acts whether they are overt or subtle.

These conversations are important because they can cause us to pause and look at the other persons shared experience; they help us become more sensitive. The whole world would most likely not change at once nor immediately, but, if we can cause even one person to pause and reconsider then we have made progress. That one person can affect yet another person or more and the chain continues.

To shift the tide towards justice and change involves a willingness to put oneself out.
It involves moving out of one's comfort zone to be an activist of some sort - it could be verbal (being willing to speak out at events, TV shows etc.),writing articles in newspapers, blogs or tweets or just a simple well phrased contribution to a conversation in response to negative comment. The kind of contribution that causes others to pause and think.

The internet seems to be the best option in connecting our projects to the world outside. We could actively invite people to visit the digital omnibus, follow our tweets, read our blogs etc.

Dr. Z, I kind of sense that this part of the question may require more than the above. I am still thinking it over.

Technology and Me. Standard English

Okay. Let's face it. I am a newbie to blogging and tweeting. I just spent hours trying to figure out how to send my tweets  in response to tweets from colleagues.

Eloy, do I remember you telling me I could do it? The friend I thought I had lined up to guide me seems to have gone into hiding. lol. I am now looking at alternative technical tutoring. I have read a few articles but am yet to figure out how to embed them in my blogs or tweets. 

Jonathan and Andre, the NPR article on sounding white/code switching is interesting. I personally practice code switching. I have found it necessary. If I did not try to speak in standard American English as much as possible, very few people would understand what I have to say. I naturally speak fast, add that to my West African (in this case Nigerian-Yoruba accent), also, I grew up with British English it will be interesting to see how you will understand most of what I am saying. What with American English using words like "trunk', "hood", "blinker" etc. in place of British words - "booth", "bonnet", "trafficator" for parts of the automobile. (That is just the simplest part of the confusion) I know that I cannot erase my accent. I do not wish to. That is what make me who I am. It identifies my ethnicity but I also want to communicate with people so I need to make myself understood. When I am amongst people who understand my other "codes" I speak those dialects or languages.

The way I see it, learning to code switch is a skill and the better you are at it the better for communication. I have stated several times that I feel that I am still learning about the American culture and society. I am speaking from my experience. The radio broadcast from NPR or even BBC are listened to by people from other nations. How are those people to understand what is being broadcast if every broadcaster were to talk his dialect or language register. The standard English is difficult enough. Remember that we are trying to build a global community 

I speak, read and write in four languages. I can only communicate with most English speaking people in one i.e. English language. The other three I can only use in the fora where they will be understood. Two of those languages can only be understood mainly in the West African region and only by restricted groups (Yoruba and Pidgin English).
Yoruba - by fifty to fifty millions of ethnic Yorubas in Nigeria and some more in other countries both English and French Speaking West African Nations up to Cote D'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) on the West African Coast. Pidgin English (or creole) is spoken mainly in English Speaking West Africa. Both these languages have some dialectical differences depending on their locality. The fourth language is French. I can only communicate in standard French. I would have serious challenges trying to completely understand the regional dialects of French.

In my part of the globe if there was no common or standard language believe me we would be in serious trouble. There is a standard Yoruba language which I speak as well as my dialect (Ijebu). When I speak my dialect my husband who is also Yoruba has no clue what I am talking about. So, we communicate in standard Yoruba and English. The same applies to other people from my country. We have over two hundred languages(200) not dialects let's not discuss that at this time! So  English is the official language of communication in the country. Yes, when one travels to the states and rural towns more of the local languages are spoken but with English and Pidgin English you can communicate or are able to get an interpreter.

In my country, the ability to code switch can open doors for you. If I want to see  an important official. I could be speaking standard English even as I am approaching the security desk. If I switch to Pidgin English or Yoruba (if I discern that the person speaks the language), I would most likely get a warmer reception at the security desk as I would be seen as not trying to be too big for my shoes. However, there are also instances when switching to very frosty tones in standard English has got me out of trouble if the person I am talking to is being very difficult and I find it necessary to change tactics.

I believe the same principle can apply in American society. There is room for standard English and there is room for code switching. How would there be communication between various groups if there was no standard English? Some of us would love to understand more of the different dialects or codes but until we can learn we can only communicate in standard English.

Blog #3. Contribution to Group Presentation

I had some time to ruminate about our last session in class. I always enjoy listening to the perspectives of my colleagues about race and ethnicity. Everybody brings a different experience and perspective to the table. Please continue to share your experience and/or questions.

I am part of Race and Ethnicity in the Classroom. We spent last class brainstorming about how to go about our theme. It is wonderful to listen to the contributions from everyone in the group. We are going to use reading from books, journal articles and clips from relevant movies etcetera to introduce and buttress our class presentation.

My own contribution to the group presentation is examining the issue of race in the classroom as it affects immigrant parents and their children (students who may be immigrants or first generation Americans). I will be doing face to face interviews with these immigrant parents/guardians about their experiences - positive or otherwise while interacting with teachers and administrators in the educational system. I do not want to limit myself to just one ethnicity when interviewing immigrants so I am presently looking for other ethnic groups other than Africans and Latinos just to enrich the interview experience and be able to compare the experience of these interviewees.

The tools Intend to use include a voice recorder. when the interviews are all done. I will download them as mp3 files onto my computer. The mp3 files would then be uploaded to SoundCloud where they can be accessed by members of our class. I would also use SoundCloud image uploads to show the picture of the interviewee or the setting of the interview. Since I am going to upload to SoundCloud, this will allow me to embed the interviews on the class digital omnibus when the project is completed.

I have opted to use a voice recorder mainly because I foresee a reticence in my interviewees about video interviews (I intend to video recordings as much as possible). One of the parents I was talking to about the project was enthusiastic until the issue of when to do the video recording came up and his "enthusiasm" evaporated. I then offered the voice recording alternative and that was acceptable to him. I have to remind myself that a number of immigrant communities are quite reticent about their personal lives and do not just open up to anybody.In some ways I am also like that. I do not mind talking to people face to face but I have been finding it challenging to "bare my soul" as it were on the internet. Who exactly am I talking to out there? I can't see nor hear you so I cannot assess your reception of what I am talking about unless you write a response.

I am still working on the questions I want to ask the parents/guardians as well as the students. I want the questions to encourage them to speak frankly but at the same time I do not want to "put words in their mouths" as we say in my corner of the globe.

Blog #2 – Project Proposal

Trying to brainstorm about my personal project proposal was overwhelming for me at first. I simply didn't know which theme  nor direction to focus on. I am interested in Racial Identity, its effects on everyday life and the educational sector.  I am also very much interested in how to better serve students (in general and English Language Learners in particular), teachers, parents and other stake holders in addressing the issues involved in racial diversity. I am currently not in the classroom so I had to really consider what kind of project that I would like to do and how to go about it.

I arrived in the United States as an adult educated immigrant. I have experienced racial issues in the market place and as a parent. I happen to consider myself as reasonably well educated but I still had to deal with people who felt that because I had an "accent" my ability to perform my duties or hold an intelligent conversation was doubtful. As a parent, I was informed that since I was an immigrant and my child had another language being spoken at home she could not really be expected to excel in her studies! All this without the said educator having taken the trouble to find out anything about my child nor her background. This attitude, I am happy to say, was quickly erased after the said educator was taken to task and asked to substantiate his claims. Needless to say that I changed my child's school as soon as I possibly could.

When I decided to become an educator myself, I noticed the same problems occurring with English Language Learners in particular and students who have immigrant parents in general. Even when educators try to promote and celebrate cultural diversity students from immigrant homes will go to extreme lengths to merge into mainstream American society and do not want to be seen as different. What can be done to actively encourage students from immigrant homes to celebrate their diversity, encourage all stakeholders to recognize that we are all humans and each person is different whether we look alike or not and speak the same language or another language.

The fact that I do not readily have immediate access to students (that I'm currently teaching and therefore, their parents) makes me want to pause. Also, there is the fact that I am a relative newbie to technology but I will like to see how far I can cast my net and come up with something that is interesting and that will also make a positive contribution to the class.

Research has shown that students including ELLs do better academically when there is cooperation between parents/guardians and educators. How to make this a working reality with immigrant parents?

I would like to do some interviews of immigrants - some parents,  a few students (including first generation Americans with immigrant parents) to see how the issue of racial identity has affected them in their interactions in the educational sector, what specific incidences (if any) could they recall, how they think the situation could have been better handled and what suggestions would they like to give?

The materials used for the interviews would be a video camera and/or an audio recorder depending on the preference of the person being interviewed, also pictures of realia could be used if relevant to the interviews.

Writing to Learn

A very apt title. I am writing to learn or should it rather be learning to write? Anyway, this is very new to me. I just took a leap into 21st Century technology as it were.
I really don't know what to expect from the class right now. Still trying to recover from the shock of finding myself in a writing class where I have to blog and tweet! I am hear to learn, experience and absorb.  I'd like to hear other people's perspectives of race, identity etc. and take that with me into the field as an educator of English Language Learners.