Week 6, #F5F

1.  Based on my thoughts this week about low-income families, my main interest pointed me in the direction of internet providers.  EveryoneOn is a national nonprofit working to eliminate the digital divide by making high-speed, low-cost Internet service and computers, and free digital literacy courses accessible to all unconnected Americans. They aim to leverage the democratizing power of the Internet to provide opportunity to all Americans – regardless of age, race, geography, income, or education level.  This organization also work with device refurbishers to give low-income families access to discounted services and discounted products.
http://everyoneon.org/about/

I am also following “Close the Gap, Bridging the Digital Divide” which is another non-profit which offers high-quality, pre-owned computers donated by corporations to areas in need.  Last week, on Feb. 18, King Philippe of Belgium donated his 500,000th computer.  YAY!

2.  When I read this article, “Education and Health: Keys to Reducing HIV among Adolescent Girls and Young Women,” I saw so much connection to what we’ve been talking about in terms of equity and education.  To summarize, the HIV epidemic which is sweeping across Africa brings to light a hard truth: “diseases thrive in places where there is inequity and lack of opportunity.”
I learned from reading this that this week alone nearly 7,000 young women and girls will be infected with HIV. In many countries in Africa, young women are twice as likely as young men to be living with HIV. That grim reality of inequality in the progress against HIV is connected with economic and social inequality.
This article ties into the idea that in many places of the world girls are still less educated than men.  It also ties into my concerns of low-income families, and the lack of connection they have to knowledge.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amb-mark-dybul/education-and-health-keys-to-reducing-hiv-among-adolescent-girls-and-young-women_b_9261000.html

3.  Staying on the lines of girls, I found an organization which I will follow from now on, called “60 Million Girls.”  Healthy, safe, empowered girls transform families, communities and countries.  Worldwide, there are an estimated 124 million children and adolescents around the world who are out of school.  Out-of-school children face many obstacles to getting into the classroom. Poverty, gender and place of birth are critical barriers and some children face more than one. We know that poor, rural girls are the least likely to be in school. Research convincingly shows that programs directed to educating girls are more effective than virtually any other community investment in the developing world.
On a smaller scale, I think of girls in my own classroom.  I think of their opportunities. In my STEM class we focus on what girls gain when they are given safe environments to learn about scientific concepts.  (More on that later…)

“60 Million Girls” aims to give girls basic quality education. They aim to provide girls with access to health and nutrition information for themselves and their families – including helping to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS. It provides a safe place to grow as they learn. It gives them the knowledge to provide economic support to their family. It delays marriage and pregnancy, thereby lowering infant and maternal mortality. And, an educated woman is more likely to send her children – both boys and girls – to school, thereby increasing the likelihood of future generations receiving an education.
With the help of programs like this, “THE CYCLE” can be broken!  The future generations can change, and education can be a much more equitable experience for girls of the future.
http://60millionsdefilles.org/en/about-us/why-girls/

4.  To connect to Christina’s idea of “Learning with Play,” again comes girls in education.  Building a STEM pipeline for girls in education is an important opportunity for girls.  STEM has taught me a lot about how to incorporate design challenges and “play” into the classroom, in order to teach collaboration, innovation, inquiry, and problem-solving skills.  Society often tells women that they don’t belong in Science, therefore giving them less opportunities as adults to land in a field of science, engineering, math, and technology.  How can we ensure that girls have just as much equity in their education as boys?  We can do this by teaching through play, and by “being good teachers.”
http://www.aauw.org/what-we-do/stem-education/

5.  Lastly, this is a bit off to the sidelines, but I read this article recently about a mother of a special-needs child who is using her creativity to design clothing to fit their needs.  This is such a cool connection to a “playful” design, but also ties in with the idea of self-driven, student-led projects we spent a lot of time reading about in the first few weeks.  Check it out, how neat!
http://www.buzzfeed.com/norawhelan/runway-of-dreams#.ksVMgybJg

 

A few other things for the good of the cause:

@Teaching Globally, wow!  Thank you for this amazing guide to Twitter, for Educators.  What I found to be the most encouraging was when it says, “Don’t just Tweet, create!”  I think this is such an important lesson for teachers to share with their children.  As kids, and as humans, we often CONSUME everything!  We take it all in, accepting knowledge since that is our job.  Kids need the opportunities to be the creators, and as I’m getting deeper into this Connected Learning Class, I am realizing that the importance and the fun of creation! http://www.edudemic.com/guides/guide-to-twitter/

This week on Facebook a good friend of mine posted something in honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.  My friend decided to celebrate her own recovery and to share her love and strength with all those who continue to struggle with disordered eating.  Her post is below, in quotes:

“I was at my weakest when I felt isolated and alone, when my disorder was a secret that imprisoned me in shame. Yet when I finally started to speak out and share my story, recovery became possible.  My strength comes from connection. Through my recovery, relationships with family, friends, and self have grown and become more honest and genuine. My strength comes from embracing and sharing my vulnerabilities, knowing that despite my flaws, I am enough. I am loved.  My recovery story is one of many. Many more have yet to be written.

May you never feel alone.”

This was so powerful to me for many reasons.  First, she is a dear friend of mine, and I feel very passionate about her recovery and encouraging her to keep the balance in her life.  The connection I made to this class, however, was that she said it so perfectly- “MY STRENGTH COMES FROM CONNECTION.”  Connecting with others is such a powerful force.  To tie into this week’s idea of low-income families, I think about how there are many people who don’t have the means to connect to others.  For my friend, she finds serenity in connecting with those like her- and those who aren’t like her- since she gets her encouragement from embracing and sharing herself.  

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