Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Presentation with Israeli Professors

Early in the semester Corinne asked myself and a couple other students to come and speak about the new Youth Development program at Rhode Island College. We talked to a group of individuals from Israel about how they have had their own Youth Development program in their country. It was interesting to hear other people's thoughts from a whole other area of the world about something that we had been going over in our own discussions. We were able to read blogs that other students had written about their youth development experiences. Prior to the meeting Corinne asked us to think about questions such as; what attracted you to the youth development program, what are our career goals, how are RIC courses preparing us for career goals, and how would we describe this program to an incoming freshmen. Now, looking back on the answers to some of these questions it is interesting to see just how far I have come from just a couple months ago towards progressing in my profession. For the Spring in my internship I hope to gain further knowledge on how to train and become an Early Intervention specialist, as well as finding out how to perform assessment tests on children.

I had hoped that the visit would include more people from Rhode Island College to hear their inputs on the program and what their thoughts were. I was however very happy several of our classmates were able to be involved with the discussion with new people that have experience with this field.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Open House at RIC

On November 9th Rhode Island College featured its open house for students who may have been trying to decide on where to go to school, what major to declare, or just get general information. For the first time ever, Youth Development was a part of this open house. Myself, Anthony and professor Mckamey were able to stand by and answer questions students and parents had about the program. This experience felt like our elevator speeches that were put on a recorder. I felt as though most of what we talked about was discussed, and re-discussed. What was more enjoyable to me was talking to parents and students on a more personal level, finding out what they enjoy and what they hope to get out of their education. I was able to relate to each of them more and tell them about my own longer then hoped for college experience. It was rewarding being able to help students in a way that no college program would be able to. It was not too long ago (six years almost to be exact) that I was in the same position that these students were. Scared, confused, excited, and intrigued by this whole new world of college. I can remember walking the campus of Plymouth State University so excited to get to my new school, meet new friends, and have a whole new life. 

Coming to Rhode Island College was a different experience then that. I knew I wanted to work with kids, so OASIS was my "mentor" of what to do. They told me that if I wanted to work with children I should begin my process of applying to the Feisenstein School of Education. The process was long and grueling, and during the first two years of my experience at Rhode Island College, I could tell something was just not right. Was this for me? Was teaching the option I wanted? Youth Development has been the program to steer me in the right direction. I have learned a great amount of information in different field like Social Work, Education, and Non-Profit Studies. Talking to people about this experience I could tell they were much like me in this confused position of what to do. When I told them that in this program you are not restricted to the classroom setting to work with children, there was a strong degree of interest and motivation to learn more. This experience was rewarding, I hope that at the next open house maybe we can have some type of video of us as youth workers to grab the crowds interest, or perhaps doing an ice breaker with the crowd. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Looking at "the look"

The concept of interpersonal relationships between the teacher and student seems commonly debated among educational professionals. There are many educators who believe in a rigid, traditional classroom in which students must raise their hands to speak, the desks are faced in rows and are facing the teacher who is the "dictator" of the class. This setting sets a certain tone for the type of environment the students will learn in. Then there is the opposite of this, where the teacher sets up the classroom in groups, a semi circle, or some other way and students have open conversations, the teacher may ask them personal questions, and the energy is high and positive. This, I believe is the classroom where the greatest learning occurs because children are able to express themselves and connect with one another as well as the teacher on another level. 

In class we discussed with Youth In Action their take on how they structure days. They may have had red days where the speaking is mostly among the adults, or violet days where there is much more open discussion. Corinne's research seemed to me to touch upon this idea of how we can set the tone for learning by our relationships we have with the students. The way we conduct ourselves through our dialogue with students can create a certain environment-whether it is positive or negative. "Holding students quietly seated in classroom rows, may also function to limit dialogue between teacher and students ." 

Corinne's research on 'the look' forced me to look into my own experience of my interactions with children. While writing my philosophy on Youth Development I mentioned that my curiosity and enthusiasm for working with youth is what I hope to carry through to my professional life. This is where I portray my own 'look' of helping, listening, and learning every day about young children and wanting to make sure that they are provided positive learning experiences. I can see where in the research there was a struggle of conflict between the teacher role and losses as a researcher. The fact that Corinne was able to put her role as a teacher before her research shows her own dedication to helping youth, even if it was to cost some personal loss.

This video is a reaction a baby had to one of my favorite songs it is so adorable! Talk about a mother child bond!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Girls on the run

Kohn's article discusses the comparison between middle class and lower class child rearing strategies, and how the parents get their children involved in extracurricular activities, and for what reasons. When we are looking at the activities we involve our children in it is important to note if these engage the child's curiosity and creativity, or if they are mostly submissive to adult authority. Most things that parents involve their students in are authorized by adults. While having some of these groups can be okay, it is important that children are able to learn how to question why things are the way they are, and what purpose do they have. While this may seem to be disobedient, often it is an opportunity to learn something new. I have come across a lot of this in my own experience of working with children. It is often times easy for adults to try and take control a group of children with rules and authoritative activities, but it keeps us from learning and allowing them to learn as well.

One of the example scenarios that Kohn mentions in the article was a lower class family living together. The daughter was making spaghetti and brought it over to the bed and dipped bread in it. She gave some to her brother as well. The children were yelled at and told to go in the kitchen. The children missed out on an important lesson on why they are not allowed to eat on a bed, and the adult being authoritative missed out on finding out that the older sister was doing nothing but trying to share with her younger brother. A situation that could have turned into a perfect learning experience, and family shared moment was taken away by adult authority.

Programs that allow youth to be involved, and keep a communication open with their adults are able to have so many more enriched learning and life experiences. There is creativity involved as well because there is no fear of getting into trouble, and more positive relationships are born.

A program that I would like to get involved in is called Girls on the Run, where girls get together and do activities that involve running, but also enhance self esteem and promote self confidence. A program like this has limited adult authority, there are adults present but they are there to support the girls and their goals. As well these adults help the girls with issues they are dealing with including bullying, or other pressures of youth. This program not only promotes healthy lifestyles, positive body image, and self esteem, it also lets girls know that they matter and are important.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Philosophy on YD

I wanted to post this on my blog in case it did not show up on my portfolio. 

Philosophy of Youth Development

I have been working with children since I was merely a child myself. Growing up I was surrounded by a lot of people older then myself, I eventually found myself acting more like them to try and fit in with them. From that I have instilled motherly instincts. In my own house I was the older sister to my younger brother and both of my parents worked nearly full time if not more. My mother went back to school to become a Nurse Practitioner and my father has always been a bit of a workaholic, so this left my brother and me to take care of ourselves once we were capable. From there I tended to take on the motherly role, making sure we both did everything we were supposed to from doing homework and following the rules of the household. This form of upbringing is what I would attribute today to my instincts of being a constant caretaker.
Before I went to college there was something also that happened in which I realized made me destined to be a child educator. I had been close to graduating high school when I started working at a daycare. For me it was the perfect job at the time. Work after school, make some money, and still have my weekends free. I walked in to the daycare and the smell of play dough and crayons immediately made me feel welcomed. During the interview the woman asked the burning question; do you like children? I had never thought about this before. While I had said yes at the time, I was not sure I knew the true answer to her question. That answer however was answered for me the following week when I began my first day working at Early Learning Center of Rhode Island.
Miss Mack was what I would be referred to throughout the time of working there. It did not take long before all of the children were circled around me, asking me my name, what I was doing there, would I play with them. I was pulled around the playground told stories by each excited child. There was not one second of that first day that I was bored, and for the three years that I worked there I never had a day that I didn't come into work that I didn't smile for most of the day.
Working at the daycare taught me a lot about myself, I learned that I was a hard working, passionate individual. For three years, I called out sick once. Most importantly though, I learned the true answer to that question I was asked during my initial interview; that I do have a true passion and admiration for working with children.
My philosophy of practice with youth consists of enthusiasm and curiosity. These two characteristics will be helpful for all of my future practice and work with children. When working with youth one must have a genuine want and desire to be constantly surrounded in this type of environment. Working with children requires having curiosity in learning more about them as individuals every day.

From attending Rhode Island College, and being in the Youth Development Program I have been able to learn how I will be able to bring my philosophies into my practices. Excitedly, I wait to enter the field of Early Intervention and be able to work with children and their families to help in their developments. Throughout these experiences I will make sure to bestow upon my enthusiasm and curiosity of Youth Development to these families and their children. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Roles in life

We all play a variety of different characters throughout our lives, and we are constantly in battle to try and balance each and every one of them. A "diffuse identity status is a state in which there has been an exploration or active consideration of a particular identity and no psychological commitment to one." We all participate in this personality exchange throughout the day. We become the daughter or son to our parents, to the student in the classroom, to the colleague and employee and our jobs. My own interpretation of a context map is to put all of these roles that we play when we are in different situations into our own map, because often if we think about all of the personalities we portray we could become a bit dizzy. Achieve Identity, Foreclosed Identity, Moratorium, and Diffuse Identity are all a part of how we can organize these sequential identities.

My own Context map 

   Rhode Island College student    
         Youth Development Major
             Waitress at Dublin Rose and Thames Waterside
                        Graduate of Barrington High School 
                               My dog Newman
                                              Going to the gym
                                                 Obstacle course racing

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Girl's Rising

While in class last Friday we had briefly discussed a clip about a young girl from a developing country in which she was not allowed simple rights such as an education. Girl Rising talks about young girls from several different undeveloped countries that were deprived of these same rights. The documentary follows girls who have stood up against what is considered societal norms for women. Some have been beaten, raped, kidnapped, or deprived of education and their freedoms. These youth have been given almost nothing in order to survive let alone speak out, and here they are standing up for what they believe in and giving girls all over the world a hope for a better life.


I worked with one of the non-profits last year called Plan USA which helps girls in these countries by providing them with food, shelter, clean water and even educations. The program, "Because I'm a Girl" focuses on women in these places specifically to help them become independent and educated. It is so horrible that these girls and women are faced with so many hardships starting at such young ages. It makes me think back to our classroom discussion about "childhood". While many of us think of jumping rope and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, these girls have barely been given the ability to be a child.

We take for granted all of the things that we have in our lives. Not many children in America have to worry about being able to go to school, because it is our right that we get to have a free education. People in other countries are not however given this right. In many countries if you want to go to school, you must pay for it and if you cannot afford to do so you may not have that ability. Most children in families suffering from poverty must go off to work at a very young age to help their parents make money. It seems like a sad thing to us, but in some cases they know no difference. I am hopeful for these companies and non-profits that are helping children and girls to stand up and be able to have their rights given to them. It makes me really want to go and get involved in these places and be a part of giving these children more opportunities in the world.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A new definition of Youth

"What would our cities look like if we all started to see youth as powerful assets instead of problems?"  Often there is the assumption that youth are trouble makers, they are young and naive and lack general awareness of the world around them. This misconception was struck down immediately while reading this article. These youth were given the opportunity to speak out and express themselves, which reflected significantly through these writings. While reading I could see that these youth had been given the opportunity to have a drastic amount of growth because of their capability to speak their minds.

"Arguments do no always have to be negative", these children have the ability to disagree with someone regardless of their role in society, but are able to construct their argument because they have been given that ability. People in this YIA program are able to disagree with one another, while still having the respect of that other person's opinion. This program allows youth to think for themselves, they are not given a set of ideas to think but instead are allowed to create their own.

"What got me through college was my ability to critically reflect on my own life history, the systems that shaped me yet often excluded me, and the vision I had for all young people behind me." While thinking back on my own experiences of my college education I had typically learned the most in those classes that allowed me to express myself. This idea of the teacher lecturing students for two hours while we frantically scribble down pages of notes needs to be changed. Classrooms are a place where community should take place, where we can have discussion, debate and critical thinking.

The Roots and Remedies gathering had this similar concept for the youth they worked with. The groups were able to come together and talk about different concepts such as "what is education", or "what is democracy". These youth were able to talk among each other and come up with visuals for these concepts. It is critical that we have programs like this that get youth talking and thinking about concepts that are beyond what surrounds them directly. I wish that when I was in middle or high school something like this was available to me. To get youth from all around the world together and see how different and alike their cultural backgrounds are would be such an enriching and enlightening experience that everyone should be able to have at least once.

Youth in Habitat for Humanity http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKjYxUD7b_g

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What is PYD?

Positive Youth Development touches upon the basic foundation of needs that youth require. Positive Youth Development entails basic needs are met such as; food, shelter, and safety. They need to be taught values and connect with others. We know this is true by looking at research done by well known experts such as Maslow who formed the hierarchy. 

Maslow's hierarchy describes the basic needs that all humans require in order to be successful. The hierarchy starts with basic needs such as air, food and shelter, moving up to safety, protection and security. Then moves on to feelings of belonging and the need for love, family and affection. When someone has reached these they are then able to move on to esteem needs such as achievement, status, and responsibility and ending with self actualization. 

In order for anyone to be able to accomplish what they want to, they must meet these needs. I bring this hierarchy up because in Jutta Dotterweish’s introduction piece to her presentation she mentions how "young people cannot focus on learning when they are focused on survival." They need their basic needs met "before they are able to survive in a complex world." This seems like something very basic and well-known, but it is shocking how many people do not have these basic needs, and therefore find it very difficult to have a positive youth development experience.

According to Jutta we need to look at our society, it was claimed that our society is “socially toxic”. There are too many things toxic that are present in our society such as; poverty, sexism, racism, health threats, and violence to name a few. If all of these things are present, it makes it difficult for our youth to survive let alone try to become successful. 

Prevention research focuses on risk and protective factors. It "aims to prevent or reduce negative behaviors such as teen pregnancy, school drop out, substance abuse, and violence... Factors that lead to an increased likely hood that young people will engage in negative behaviors."

This is the purpose and reason for having the youth development program. It is the objective that we can provide programs to children and young adults in order to allow them to meet their basic needs and to move on to become successful. If children are able to have a positive environment at a young age, the hope is that they will become less likely to become involved in some of these toxic behaviors that Jutta discussed in her presentation. 

"The philosophy or approach that guides communities in the way they organize programs, supports, and opportunities so that young people can develop to their full potential." This is our ultimate goal as youth developers to ensure that all young people are able to work to their potential and have the equal opportunity at success. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

27 reasons why parents shouldnt text...silly digital Immigrants

I came across this link the other day and couldn't help but feel it was closely related to our conversation with Digital Natives and Immigrants.


And they especially don't understand how to use their phone's camera:


By blogging we are able to reflect on our own thoughts and values, and see how other people may differ with their own thoughts or opinions. Blogging enables us to write out our own experiences and express ourselves so that anyone is able to access and read about them. In having these documented experiences, ideas, or images we can see ourselves grow and develop throughout time.

Encouraging youth to blog provides these abilities. They can have these memories instilled, and as opposed to paper, it is something that is held in a concrete database that can be accessed for lengths of time. We want youth to be able to feel comfortable to express themselves and have these entries to look back on . It is easier for youth to use technology as a basis for writing down their thoughts, and allows more flexibility then a paper to show creativity and proof of knowledge on given topics.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Digital Native or Digital Immigrant?

Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants only puts my fears further into reality that very soon this world will be ran by computers. With technology at it’s near peak advancement, people are able to do things we never thought able many years ago. Now there are programs like “Khan Academy” that has children in classrooms learning through their computers. There is no longer the teacher to student interaction, and for that matter almost not any interaction at all when it comes to these new learning programs. “A really big discontinuity has taken place. One might even call it a “singularity” – an event which changes things so fundamentally that there is absolutely no going back. This so-called “singularity” is the arrival and rapid dissemination of digital technology in the last decades of the 20th century.”  As someone who would describe herself somewhere in between a digital native and digital immigrant, I have seen and grown up with drastic changes in the educational system. I have seen computers and touch screens take over in every day places like the grocery store, to banks, and now the school setting.

The Khan academy is a program all online that is able to teach children about any subject from math and arithmetic to science and reading. It provides coaching and tutoring for children who struggle with certain subjects. Teachers are now being given tutorials and are bringing these methods into their classroom. I do think this is hugely beneficial to many students, and helps the teacher in many ways. Those students who are struggling and falling behind are able to continue with the lessons they are having trouble with, while the other students who wish to go on to further their understanding are able to do that as well. Again, while I do think there are many benefits to this type of setting, it furthers my fears that this limited amount of interaction is just as unbeneficial to students.
Sitting in front of a computer all day, using this as your main source of education there is no interaction or socialization among other human beings. Students are going to become so glued to a screen and their social and emotional skills are going to become very limited. We can see this happening all ready; families out to dinner instead of talking to one another all sit on their Ipads and Iphones playing games, texting, or Tweeting. This is extremely unhealthy. Humans have an innate need to be social, so why are we making these children so incredibly unsocial?

Below I have provided an example of the Khan Academy and its lessons. It is pretty amazing that this one man has invented a program that has been used internationally. Even Bill Gates uses it to teach his children!

Friday, September 13, 2013

hyperlink to rubric


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

“Our ideas about what is appropriate for children to do has changed radically over time.” We as Americans, went from a society that placed children into the workplace, to allowing children to play alone out in the street with friends, to now where children have GPS trackers on their I-Phones. At one point there were children who were capable to work starting at age four in factories to support the needs of their families. Today, people scowl at the idea of sending their children into daycare for eight hours. Has our society become a tad too soft towards children?

I realize that as a student without children of my own this is easier said than done, and I don’t doubt that one day I will be more protective of my own children then a lion with her cubs. I do think though, that today there are some parents that would rather put their children in a large plastic bubble and send them off to school rather than have them come home with one tiny scrape on their body.

I can remember as a child running around my neighborhood for hours and hours on end. When it was dark, I knew it was time to go home and have dinner. My parents did not stand outside watching me as I played with my friends, making sure that I would be okay. You know what though? I survived. There is a reason that childhood obesity has become an epidemic today. It is because, instead of going outside to play, children are glued to their television, computer, or I- Pad provided to them by their parents. These children have become lazy, droning zombies. While reading this article, I couldn’t help but run this thought through my head, that we have raised a generation of electronic junkie children. It is our own faults, we spend too much time on things like Facebook, Twitter, and Vine that we miss what is happening in front of our own eyes; life! We need to put down the phone, take it away from our children and get out to see the world around us. Let children go outside and play with their friends, and when they come home with a scrape…use a band aid! This is the reason that has inspired me to want to create activities and things for children to do, making sure they are getting involved physically, mentally, and emotionally with other children.

As I was reading “Child Labor and the Social Construction of Childhood” I tried to imagine even myself as a young child working all day to make a possible two dollars. I was lucky enough to not have to have a job until I was in high school, I could never imagine myself at the mere age of 6 sowing all day! Initially reading this article I was angry, thinking about these children blistering their little fingers over machines all day to support their families. Then I thought about our society today. Why have we gone in such an extreme opposite direction? Not that child labor is any where near my idea of morally correct. But when did we become so very, very soft to the point of harming children instead of helping them?

These kids don't mind getting their hands a little dirty!

Image from URL http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&biw=1280&bih=573&tbm=isch&tbnid=5R3Fes9b_V0TYM:&imgrefurl=http://www.parenting-blog.net/discipline/do-you-teach-your-children-house-chores/&docid=Wh3LcTeOQVjmuM&imgurl=http://www.parenting-blog.net/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/kids-washing-dishes.JPG&w=480&h=360&ei=DDEuUon2MIm7iwKvpoHgCA&zoom=1&iact=rc&dur=132&page=2&tbnh=135&tbnw=181&start=22&ndsp=30&ved=1t:429,r:36,s:0,i:195&tx=104&ty=54

Sunday, September 8, 2013

My name is Mackenzie Miller Davidson, when I first began my journey at Rhode Island College I was 21 years old and had never blogged before in my life. I had just transferred from Plymouth State University where I attended school for two years and came to RIC with every intention of becoming an Early Childhood Education Teacher. Now, recreating myself into the blogging world I am 24 and have discovered a similar, but more diverse path for my future career. Starting this past spring, I became involved in the Youth Development Program in hope to be able to inspire youth around the world.

As I become more involved in Youth Development my hopes have been that I will be able to be active in communities where there are young people and help guide them as they are learning and developing.  In this class I hope that we will become more involved in our communities and divulge ourselves further into service learning practices.

After attending the first class this week, I felt a feeling of relief that I would be working with people who I have begun to build a bond with. This is a new program, and we are all going through its highs and lows together. It will be a truly exceptional experience to introduce our practices to people as this program becomes discovered world wide.