Introduction

Describe an interest that you had as a young person, whether or not that interest was recognized as learning in school. Write or make something about it that you can share with others … Tell us about what might have piqued this interest. How did you pursue that interest or what did it make you think about? What and who supported you as you dove deeper? In what ways were your interests connected to school, or not? What were the implications? 

As a young person and even as an adult I very much identify as an introvert. I tend to be quiet, I prefer to listen, I value a few close friends over a large group of acquaintances and I have always felt the need to spend some time alone to decompress. As a child these moments alone offered me the opportunity to dive into what has become a lifelong interest: reading. 

 I come from a family of “readers” and that definitely helped me to pursue my interest. My parents would read to me each night before bed and model the life of reader at home by always having a book in their hands.Dinner time conversations often revolved around the books we were reading. Trips to the public library would result in stacks of books that I would devour in a week’s time. Read aloud in school was one of my favorite times of the day.

My love of reading continued throughout high school and college, and now as a teacher my passion for reading has expanded into the classroom. I love having “book conferences” with my students, discussing the books they are reading and their reading interests. These wonderful little conversations help me to really get to know my students. I love helping my striving readers find books that they can connect to and become excited about reading. Watching these students find an author, series or topic that keeps them reading is such a great feeling. And as an adult, read aloud is still one of my favorite times of the day, as I get to watch my students experience some of the same feelings I had as child.  Developing the reading lives of my students is one of my favorite parts of what I do as a teacher and it all stems from my childhood interest in reading.

Week 1 Interests/School Setting

Describe an interest that you had as a young person, whether or not that interest was recognized as learning in school. Write or make something about it that you can share with others … Tell us about what might have piqued this interest. How did you pursue that interest or what did it make you think about? What and who supported you as you dove deeper? In what ways were your interests connected to school, or not? What were the implications?

       I am from a big and proud Italian family with my grandmother as the much respected matriarch. We take cooking and preparing food (and wine) very seriously. It brings our whole family together and is an integral part of my cultural identity. I started helping in the kitchen around the same time I started kindergarten, with my responsibilities growing every year. By the time late middle school rolled around, I could make our family staples of cutlets, lasagna, pastas, and sauces. I went to a small Catholic school for my elementary and middle school years, so I was thrilled to find out the public school I was attending for high school had cooking classes! 

      Most of my screen time up to this point was the FoodNetwork and I cooked dinner with my grandma at least twice a week. I was considering a future as a chef at this point and couldn’t wait to register for the classes my new school offered. I received my schedule on the first day of school and was disappointed to not see the cooking classes I requested. I travelled to guidance and discovered I wasn’t placed in cooking classes because they were typically for “low track” students. I had placed in “high track” and it was frowned upon for “high track” students to take “low track” classes. I tried every year to enroll in at least one cooking class and I was denied every year because it didn’t fit in with my assigned Honors & A.P. schedule. My school recognized that cooking and working with food counted as learning, but as a lesser form of learning as only “low track” students would be placed into it. 

     It was extremely frustrating to technically have access to classes I really wanted to try, but being kept from them because they weren’t beneficial to upping my GPA. My school labeling cooking classes as “lesser” really made me question if being a chef was something I should do. Only the “dumb” kids took cooking classes in high school and I felt like I wouldn’t be living up to my potential if I made a career based in those classes. Looking back it upsets me that my school had such a strong divide between “high track” and “low track” students. Also how upsetting are those categories??? High or low? C’mon. 

     Since my school refused to give me access to the classes, I only received support from my family. I continued cooking with my grandma every week and experimenting with new foods. My grandma was (and still is) my cheerleader in pushing my to learn more about food and cooking. The implications are strange to think about because I obviously did not go to culinary school, though I still love to cook, but instead pursued a path in education. I do believe my future is in education, but maybe I would have stuck to culinary if I was given the opportunity. It is mind-boggling to think back and see how different my path could have been if I was just allowed to take the courses. It leaves me feeling a bit unsettled and concerned for how many other students’ paths are not being cultivated due to lack of resources, lack of accessibility, or school-held stigmas about certain classes. It makes you wonder what talents we as a society are missing out on?

Better Late Than Never

As a kid, a lot of my interests aligned with school because I was a “bookish” individual. I loved reading, creative writing, and learning about the history of different places. I am fortunate enough to say that school was a place where I felt appreciated, confident, and at-ease. Well, I felt those things with teachers; socially, I was a disaster.

I changed schools a lot, didn’t play on school sports teams, and spent my free time reading at home. In 5th grade, I begged my parents to let me join an after-school dance program because I wanted to learn to dance like my favorite artists on MTV. Since the classes were free, my parents let me join.

Image result for silly dance gif

In that class, something happened that I had never experienced: people liked me. This was so different from school. In school, other kids bullied me and didn’t invite me to birthday parties. In this new world (that was actually in the school), it was like I was a different person. Better yet, I turned out to be a quick learner. I had a lot of success in the class, made a lot of friends, and learned to be more confident.

The next year, we lost our housing and I moved in with my grandmother. The new school I went to didn’t have free after-school dance classes, so I resumed my day-to-day nerd life of being the teachers’ pet. The next three years were really rough for me, but I auditioned for a play at a local opera house and got cast as a supporting role. This opera house ended up being the way that I survived middle school. I was able to learn about theater and dance and make friends. In school, I participated in the newspaper and attempted to run for student government. Dance never became part of my school life.

Image result for no boys gif

I moved again just before high school and my parents didn’t want me to go to the public school, so I ended up going to a Catholic school where I had received a scholarship. High school was the first time that I was in an affluent school, and I felt extremely out of place. This isolation pushed me further into “nerd life”. Dance completely dropped off my radar in high school because I didn’t feel confident enough to join the school theater troupe (and the dance team was girls-only). My high school didn’t have any opportunities for me to learn about dance or practice with other students. Because I was living in a new place, I also didn’t have the support from the opera house.

By the time I got to college, I knew that I was interested in taking some formal dance classes. I made friends with other students who were part of the campus dance company and sat in on their rehearsals, asked them to help me practice certain things, and took classes that they taught. By my sophomore year, I felt like I was ready to join myself, so I auditioned for a hip hop piece. I got in and made an amazing group of friends that I would continuously grow with over the next three years. The theater and dance professors asked me if I wanted to take some formal technique classes, and I added them on to my already full schedule. By the middle of my Junior year, I had declared a second major in Theater and Dance; I went on to become a choreographer for the student-run dance company. In my senior year, I completed an honors thesis that earned me interdepartmental honors in English and Theater and Dance.

An Ursinus College Dance Company production that I participated in.

Dance has remained in my life as a way for me to express myself, make friends (especially after moving to across the country in 2019), and learn about the world. Because my schools did not offer dance classes (and my parents couldn’t afford them), I didn’t get to explore this interest as a kid. I am forever grateful to my friends and professors in college for supporting me in my journey with dance, regardless of how late to the game I was.

Describing an Interest from My Younger Days

Describe an interest that you had as a young person, whether or not that interest was recognized as learning in school. Write or make something about it that you can share with others … Tell us about what might have piqued this interest. How did you pursue that interest or what did it make you think about? What and who supported you as you dove deeper? In what ways were your interests connected to school, or not? What were the implications?

As a young person, I had a strong interest in learning through songs. My grandmother told me that a person could learn anything if they put it to music. I remember her teaching me how to spell my name in a “sing- song” way.  

Something that I can share with others about this technique is that the song you create does not have to have original music. What I mean is that you can use the tune to another song you already know and then just add the lyrics you want to try to remember. An example is the theme song from “The Addams Family” television show. I had a cousin whose teacher used the music from this show to teach the days of the week. The song was simply “Days of the week (snap, snap) Days of the week (snap, snap) days of the week, days of the week, days of the week (snap, snap), there’s Sunday and there’s Monday, there’s Tuesday and there’s Wednesday, there’s Thursday and there’s Friday and then there’s Saturday. Days of the week (snap, snap.)” 

Ever since she came over to visit singing that song I have not forgotten it! 

Thinking back on my younger days, I often used songs to help me through my education. During my days learning a second language, I would create songs to help me to remember language rules and vocabulary. I believe that using the song technique has helped me to remember most of what I know of the language.

ED 677 IntroductionDescribe an interest that you had as a young person, whether or not that interest…

ED 677 Introduction

Describe an interest that you had as a young person, whether or not that interest was recognized as learning in school. Write or make something about it that you can share with others … Tell us about what might have piqued this interest. How did you pursue that interest or what did it make you think about? What and who supported you as you dove deeper? In what ways were your interests connected to school, or not? What were the implications?

     One interest I had as a young person was playing basketball.  I initially became interested because some of my friends and family members would play basketball for fun in the neighborhood.  I thought it would be a fun way to meet new friends and get active, so I joined the township’s basketball team when I was in fifth grade. It was a community athletic association and anyone who signed up was accepted to play.  However, I quickly realized that coaches were picking players for their teams based on who they already knew and what their skill level was, so I wasn’t sure which team I would end up on since I was new.  Luckily, the first team I played on when I was in fifth grade was very supportive of my new endeavor, and didn’t make me feel bad if I wasn’t the best player on the team.  My coach was wonderful and encouraged me to keep on trying, even though game after game I wasn’t able to score any points.  Fortunately, there were some advanced players on my team that helped us make it to the playoffs, despite my lack of scoring ability.  I never gave up with the support of my parents, coach, and teammates, and it finally paid off in the last playoff game of the season.  There were only a few minutes left on the clock and I scored one basket for my team.  My coach literally ran out on the court and picked me up in the air, and my teammates all cheered because they knew it was the first basket I had scored all season. It was a proud moment!

     At first, this interest did not connect to school, but it ended up helping me form lasting friendships with some of the girls who went to my school. Eventually, I made a school basketball connection by trying out for my school’s junior varsity team in 8th grade.  My skill level was a lot better than when I had started in 5th grade because I also played basketball for the township in 6th and 7th grade as well.  Therefore, I was able to make the cut and play for my middle school’s junior varsity basketball team.  The practices were a lot more physically challenging than the practices I had for the township, and at first, I felt like I had tried out for the track team instead.  My friends encouraged me to keep playing though, and it got physically easier as I kept practicing.  There were a couple of great implications related to my school that happened as a result of my playing for the junior varsity, and then varsity girls’ basketball teams.  First, I ended up having a social studies teacher who coached the boys’ basketball team and he asked me to help be the scorekeeper at their games since he knew I was already familiar with the game.  I also was able to make friends with the boys who played basketball too, so it was nice to make friends with both boys and girls who had a similar interest to my own. Another implication was that it helped me feel a sense of belonging in classes where I already knew people from playing basketball.  I felt more comfortable volunteering answers and doing group projects as a result.  In the end, I didn’t end up playing basketball in high school because I took an after-school job and wanted to focus more on my academics to get ready for college.  However, I feel that for the 5 years that I did play basketball, I gained friends and determination, so it was certainly not a waste of time.

ED 677 Introduction

Describe an interest that you had as a young person, whether or not that interest was recognized as learning in school. Write or make something about it that you can share with others … Tell us about what might have piqued this interest. How did you pursue that interest or what did it make you think about? What and who supported you as you dove deeper? In what ways were your interests connected to school, or not? What were the implications?

     One interest I had as a young person was playing basketball.  I initially became interested because some of my friends and family members would play basketball for fun in the neighborhood.  I thought it would be a fun way to meet new friends and get active, so I joined the township’s basketball team when I was in fifth grade. It was a community athletic association and anyone who signed up was accepted to play.  However, I quickly realized that coaches were picking players for their teams based on who they already knew and what their skill level was, so I wasn’t sure which team I would end up on since I was new.  Luckily, the first team I played on when I was in fifth grade was very supportive of my new endeavor, and didn’t make me feel bad if I wasn’t the best player on the team.  My coach was wonderful and encouraged me to keep on trying, even though game after game I wasn’t able to score any points.  Fortunately, there were some advanced players on my team that helped us make it to the playoffs, despite my lack of scoring ability.  I never gave up with the support of my parents, coach, and teammates, and it finally paid off in the last playoff game of the season.  There were only a few minutes left on the clock and I scored one basket for my team.  My coach literally ran out on the court and picked me up in the air, and my teammates all cheered because they knew it was the first basket I had scored all season. It was a proud moment!

     At first, this interest did not connect to school, but it ended up helping me form lasting friendships with some of the girls who went to my school. Eventually, I made a school basketball connection by trying out for my school’s junior varsity team in 8th grade.  My skill level was a lot better than when I had started in 5th grade because I also played basketball for the township in 6th and 7th grade as well.  Therefore, I was able to make the cut and play for my middle school’s junior varsity basketball team.  The practices were a lot more physically challenging than the practices I had for the township, and at first, I felt like I had tried out for the track team instead.  My friends encouraged me to keep playing though, and it got physically easier as I kept practicing.  There were a couple of great implications related to my school that happened as a result of my playing for the junior varsity, and then varsity girls’ basketball teams.  First, I ended up having a social studies teacher who coached the boys’ basketball team and he asked me to help be the scorekeeper at their games since he knew I was already familiar with the game.  I also was able to make friends with the boys who played basketball too, so it was nice to make friends with both boys and girls who had a similar interest to my own. Another implication was that it helped me feel a sense of belonging in classes where I already knew people from playing basketball.  I felt more comfortable volunteering answers and doing group projects as a result.  In the end, I didn’t end up playing basketball in high school because I took an after-school job and wanted to focus more on my academics to get ready for college.  However, I feel that for the 5 years that I did play basketball, I gained friends and determination, so it was certainly not a waste of time.

About ME

My name is Debbie and I am currently in my 10th year of teaching. For the last 4 years I have been teaching third grade and I love it! I am  working toward my Autism Education and Connected Learning certificates at Arcadia. I am excited to learn about how I can better support the learners in my classroom. In addition to teaching and attending graduate school, I am a mom to three boys that keep me on my toes!

Let’s Start at the Very Beginning…

Hello Arcadia ED677 classmates, fellow educators, readers, and learners. I’m starting this blog as a way to both track and reflect on my journey through the world of literacy. After finishing my undergraduate degree, I began teaching at a Catholic school in Connecticut. I was 21, completely unprepared to teach, and I failed miserably. I decided to try a career in the corporate world, but always found myself getting involved in on-boarding new employees, developing curricula for training sessions, and teaching clients about software. Because of a personal desire to have an impact on urban literacy, I got back into secondary education in 2017.

Teaching in a classroom at the Mathematics, Civics, and Sciences Charter School in Philadelphia.
Teaching in a classroom at the Mathematics, Civics, and Sciences Charter School in Philadelphia.

I began a M.Ed. program at Arcadia University and started teaching in a Philadelphia charter school. Studying education at Arcadia fed my desire to work as an advocate for underrepresented youth, especially queer students of color.

At the beginning of my graduate school career, I intended on completing Pennsylvania certification so that I could work as an English teacher in Philadelphia public schools. Due to a change in my husband’s career, I have recently relocated to Oakland, California. I am gaining my bearings in a new, vibrant city while finishing my master’s degree.

Oakland, CA
A view of Oakland from Lake Merritt.

I am not quite sure yet where my journey will take me, but I am interested in working with students outside of a traditional classroom. I want to support students in their learning, whether that learning takes place in a classroom, library, after school program, or community service experience. I am also looking at some pathways to CA certification.

In my final semester of graduate school, I am looking forward to solidifying my educational philosophy and setting career goals for myself. I am especially excited to learn about connected learning and how we can expand our definitions of learning, achievement, and success. I titled this blog “The Radical Reider” first and foremost because I am a nerd who can’t resist a pun (my last name is Reid) but also because I consider the act of reading to be radical in a world where people too often make choices based on misinformation and fear.

Major Interest as a Kid

A major interest of mine as a kid growing up was video games. It started with the Super Nintendo that caught my attention in the early 90’s. My grandmother bought me the system on my 8th birthday unknowing at the time how much the gift would affect my life.  I didn’t ask for that gift, I had no real clue about video games until that day. I immediately loved everything about it.  I loved how I could control players on a screen in an imaginary place of make-believe fun.  Gaming was the place I went (and still sometimes go if I ever find the time!) when I wanted to get away from normal life.  Something about the stories, strategies, and even the art-work grabbed my attention more than most other things.  Many games would spark my imagination and help me immerse myself completely into whatever genre of game I was playing.  Later on when I was older, I felt that video games helped me to be more creative.  I feel like video games helped me develop stronger critical thinking and problem solving skills.  To this day I feel that my hand-eye coordination is better than it would be due to gaming over the years. I have loved video games ever since that birthday.  I found myself wanting to play video games over watching television or reading books. From the early 90’s all the way up through high school in the mid 2000’s I was obsessed with the hobby.  Don’t get me wrong, like many other kids of that era, I played outside most of the time, however, anytime I was at home, all I wanted to do was play video games.  My parents did not support me in my interest in video games, in fact, nobody did outside of my friends.  They limited my gaming time and always had me doing other activities, which I enjoyed as well, but nothing came close to the joy I had when I was playing video games. I pursued my major interest for years going from Super Nintendo to Nintendo 64 to the Playstation platforms and eventually to Xbox.  Every few years I would save my money and wait for a new system to come out and, each time it did, it would feel like Christmas Day to me.  The only connection I had with school and video games was sharing gaming stories with my friends during free time.  All of my friends were on the same path as I was, we bonded over video games.  That’s all we really thought about for a time in grade school especially.  I caught myself daydreaming about specific games while sitting in class.  Anytime I didn’t have any after school activities going on, I couldn’t wait to get home and finish my homework so I had plenty of time to play video games. I feel like video games was frowned upon by the parental and educational communities back then.  Just as my parents did, most adults at the time didn’t believe any good could come from gaming.  Every parent I came in contact with had a skewed view on the subject.  Honestly, it probably was because that’s all my friends and I wanted to do.  I think people of that time period as well as today still view video games in a negative light.  People imply gamers as lazy or strange after a certain age and many games are too violent or addicting for any good to come of them.  I was led to believe that I was wasting my time with video games and that me and my friends should find another hobby.  I had plenty of hobbies as a kid, but video games was number one.  At the time I never connected my passion for video games to a future career.  Looking back at it now I realize how much time I really did put into gaming.  I also realize that I probably should have pursued a career in something I was so passionate about.  I have mixed feelings about video games now as an adult.  Part of me wishes I didn’t play as often as I did and part of me wouldn’t change a thing.  Oh how I wish I could go back to those times when school and video games were my only cares in the world.  I miss the amount of free time I had as a kid….

Early InterestsThe 1990′s was a glorious time. My neighborhood growing up was teeming with kids my…

Early Interests

The 1990′s was a glorious time. My neighborhood growing up was teeming with kids my age and each day was filled with awesome activities. We explored the parks, climbed trees, hopped fences, and rode bikes. My main interests, however, centered on sports. My friends and I played seasonal sports all year round. My first love was and still is baseball. I am also passionate about football, basketball, hockey and soccer, but Baseball is the national pastime. I pursued this interest by playing in competitive leagues and subsequently spent much of my childhood travelling to games in my dad’s ‘72 Ford Maverick while he smoked cigars and listened to Doo-Wop on the radio. 

Athletic competition may not have necessarily been recognized as learning in school but I was certainly encouraged to play sports by all of my teachers. My father was my greatest source of encouragement. He ingrained in me a love for sports, especially Philadelphia sports. We went to Veteran’s Stadium to see the Phillies play, but it wasn’t until the Summer of 1993 that they were any good. In fact, that ‘93 team gave me dreams of playing in the World Series. Even today I can still name ever player on the Phillies’ pennant-winning roster. 

I pursued my dreams of playing in World Series until high school, like when most teen-aged boys, I discovered girls and life’s priorities became more clear. I continued to play sports until graduation but not with the same desire that I had when I was younger. Extracurricular activities, though, were definitely a positive force for me in school. Athletics defined my daily routine and provided structure which served me well when I entered the military. 

Although I may have officially retired from competition, I will soon get to watch my son begin his journey towards the World Series. Jack Jr. already has posters of Mike Schmidt on his bedroom walls and this past Christmas Santa brought him his first tee-ball set. Just think, I now get to pursue the great American dream of living vicariously through my son. Fortunately for him, I do not drive a ‘72 Ford and I will not pollute those long away game car rides with cigar smoke.