Sue's Contract for Grade : LUSENET : MEd Cohort III : One Thread

My contract for grade will follow:

-- Anonymous, November 11, 1998


Contract for Grade Sue Lalama

At this time I am planning to work on curriculum development for my master's project. I want to use my contract grade projects as efficiently as possible to lead into the bigger project. B. Bender and I are looking at developing "inclusive" curriculum for the health and Senior English Skills classes at our school. We want to include issues of importance to teens as well as develop a system of delivery which will improve the success rate of differing student populations - students on I.E.P's, racial minority students, students with low motivation, etc.

For this grading period I want to read and evaluate the following books for an "A". 1. Am I Blue? Coming out from the Silence edited by Marion Dane Bauer. It's a collection of short stories which focus on adolescents who are dealing with homosexuality. We may use some of the stories in our curriculum. I've started reading it and I'm very impressed with the quality of the stories.

2. Collected Wisdom - American Indian Education by Linda Miller Cleary and Thomas D. Peacock. With this book I am hoping to gain insight to the American Indian culture and use that knowledge for our curriculum project.

3. The third book, which I do not have yet, is a book on "different intelligences" I have the title and the author written somewhere but I can't get my hands on it tonight. I'm sure the information in this book will help us with our inclusive intent, and I've been embarrassed that I haven't read this book yet. I've heard a lot about it.

-- Anonymous, December 02, 1998

Sue A. Lalama 1/9/99 Cohort 3 Semester 1 Contract for A Grade Assignment #1 Bauer, Marion Dane. (1994). Am I Blue? Coming Out From The Silence. HarperTrophy. 273pp.

Am I Blue? Coming Out from the Silence edited by Marion Dane Bauer is a book of short stories whose main characters are adolescents struggling to define their sexuality. I chose this book , first of all, because I was hoping to gain insight for myself. Many adolescents are dealing with being gay in a society which is still very negative and abusive to them. As an educator I should be aware of and sensitive to the needs of these students. Secondly, while I dont believe that the English classroom is the place to teach sexuality, it is definitely the place to discuss issues and the importance of understanding and being tolerant of differences. While weve made it unlawful to openly harass others at school, we cannot legislate attitudes. Attitudes can only be reflected upon and changed through investigation and sharing. So, while gaining insight for myself, I am also looking for avenues to share insight with students. Since I am planning a curriculum development project for the Senior English Skills class as my masters project, maybe a story or two from this book can be placed in the curriculum. Or, short of that, it could be a choice for individuals or small groups to explore. The book contains 16 short stories , many of them by adolescent literature authors that I recognize, including M.E. Kerr, Lois Lowry, Jane Yolen and C.S. Adler. The title selection, Am I Blue? by Bruce Coville is humorous and is one of my favorites. The main character Vincent, a sixteen-year-old boy, is beaten by three neighborhood bullies accusing him of being a faggot. He is befriended by an angel fairy godfather who gives him three wishes. Vincent uses one wish to make everyone who is gay turn blue for twenty-four hours. Shades of blue depict just how gay a person is. Of course, Butch the bully is bright blue, while Vincent is a light shade indicating his undetermined state. The twenty-four hour blue day helps because now all straights have to stop imagining that they dont know any gays. It uncovered other misconceptions also, including a non-blue librarian who everyone knew was a lesbian. All the main characters, like all adolescents, are dealing with becoming sexual beings. The characters in these stories, however, are also dealing with the seclusion and the separateness of feeling different from their peers and family members. The old homophobic attitudes, beliefs and condemnations suddenly become very personal as each struggles with a definition of their sexuality. The conflicts in the stories can be divided into two main categories. One set of stories centers around the main characters realization that they are gay. In most of these stories the main character has a saving contact with one other gay person. This savior lets the main character know that they are not alone and that they do indeed have the courage to claim their sexuality. The savior in Three Mondays in July tells Dave, Just remember, youre not alone.(124). The savior in Running tells Terry Youre going to have to deal with it.(101) which serves to acknowledge her dilemma and gives her strength. In The Honorary Shepherds, one of the most artistically written stories, two male college students discover their attraction for each other, declare it in their filmaking project and are accepted and validated by the eccentric female professor with this statement, Very fine work boys. Live out the old myth. Pour new life into it. You belong there.(82). Other stories are organized around the conflict of coming-out to loved ones, usually family members. The main characters in these stories have already experienced the epiphany of their sexual orientation, but are dealing with the trauma of explaining themselves to people they love with the relentless fear of being rejected. In We Might As Well Be Strangers, the old Jewish grandmother accepts her granddaughters confession and compares the bigotry the girl faces with a visit she had made to Germany with a friend of hers right after Hitler had been elected chancellor. The pivotal irony is that when Alison tells her mother, the mother is very disapproving and tells her daughter not to mention this to her grandmother because it would kill her. When Alison objects saying that her grandmother will understand because she dealt with bigotry against Jews, her mother claims that gays and Jews cannot be compared and that if she has the grandmother all wrong, then I dont know her and you dont know me and we might as well be strangers.(26). Some declarations of homosexuality turn out well as in Winnie and Tommy, Michaels Little Sister and Parents Night. where after initial denial by the loved one, the gay main character is finally accepted and embraced again within the family. However, in Slipping Away, a young girl broaches the subject with her long time best friend only to see her friend pull away leaving Jacina on the beach to reflect forlornly on her mothers advice, ...everything falls into place somehow and even crazy things eventually start to make sense....we have to be strong and brave and patient.(59). So even forlorn Jacina is left with hope. Even though I am a hopeless romantic who was able to see realism in all of these characters (even the ones in the fantasies. Im sure that not all adolescents who struggle with the issue of their homosexuality end their struggle with the positive resolutions which are prevalent in these stories. The editor explains in her introduction that One out of three [of the teenagers who attempt suicide] do so because of a concern about being homosexual. and that every statistical classroom across the country there is one young person in danger of dying for lack of information and support concerning his or her sexuality.(ix). Her intention with this anthology is to ...tell stories that will open a window for all who seek to understand themselves or others.(ix). She certainly succeeds with these stories and also offers hope.

-- Anonymous, January 10, 1999

Spring Quarter/Semester Contract:

1. I am reading and viewing the booklets and tapes from a Control Theory workshop that another Cohort member attended. He loaned me the materials. Videos: Teaching Students Responsible Behavior: Tapes 1 & 2. Sessions 1,2,4,6,7,8,11 and 13. Also included are the texts: An Introduction to the Basic Facts of Control Theory excerpts from Control Theory by Dr. William Glasser, Teaching Students Responsible Behavior Resource Book by Douglas Naylor and Teaching in a Hyperactive Society by Hank Benjamin. I will read and view the books and tapes and write a response journal.

2. I am attending a workshop on May 22 titled "The Story of Nagahchiwanong" The workshop lasts from 8:30 to 3:30 and provides ahistory of the Fond du Lac Reservation. The book, A Forever Story: The People and Community of the Fond du Lac Reservation is provided with the workshop. I will write a response to the wrkshop and the text.

-- Anonymous, May 12, 1999

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