Sister Rose’s blog reaches 500,000 hits today

Since I moved my blog to WordPress on October 5, 2008 I never dreamed of 500.000 hits or page views. In this day of YouTube videos getting a million hits in a day or an hour, this half million in three years eight months, an average of 300 hits a day with 2,900 in one day in 2010, does not seem like much in the virtual scheme of things. Yet it provides me with a motive of thanksgiving for the Internet and the gift of communication between God’s people the world over and who knows? Maybe the universe. (We don’t know who might be listening, do we?)

WordPress sent me an analysis of that best day: March 9, 2010

Thank you for your visit, your time, your interest. Be assured of my prayers.

 

Waiting for Superman – DVD release today

I am reposting my review … the DVD came out today. REally too bad it was not nominated for an Oscar. One of the most important films of the year – the decade.

‘Waiting for Superman’

by Sr. Rose Pacatte

Davis Guggenheim got the idea for Waiting for “Superman” one day as he drove his kids to an expensive private school. He passed a downtrodden public school and wondered about kids who didn’t have a choice. The film’s concept was formulated in early 2008 and Waiting for “Superman” screened at the Sundance Film Festival last January where it won The Audience Award.

The film’s title comes from’ a comment made by Geoffrey Canada, founder and CEO of Harlem’s Children Zone, a consortium of three charter schools and other educational entities, for poor families. “One of the saddest days of my life was when my mother told me ‘Superman’ did not exist. ‘Cause even in the depths of the ghetto you just thought he was coming…. She thought I was crying because it’s like Santa Claus is not real. I was crying because no one was coming with enough power to save us.”

The film follows five children as they seek an authentic American public education. Daisy is a fifth-grader from Los Angeles; Francisco, a Bronx first-grader; Anthony, a fifth grader from Washington D.C.; Emily, is an eighth-grader in Silicon Valley and, unlike the others, from a economically sound family, and Bianca, is a kindergartner from Harlem. These children are determined, as are their parents. The kids all end up in actual lotteries for places in schools that have chosen children over everyone else. The film affirms parents of every social and economic class and region who work hard to prepare their children for school and support them, as well as teachers who do care. But the few stories about teachers who do not, are chilling.

I will tell you now that I was in tears at the end, happy for a few, but desperately sad for the many. I went to public school until my junior year in high school; I know what it was like to be “tracked.” We kids figured out that because my brother and I were in the same grade he got all advanced classes because he must have tested higher. I instead was in large, experimental 120-student “team classes” where I earned straight A’s on my history tests and papers and A-‘s in English. When my first quarter report card gave me a B+ in history with a comment that I had earned the highest mark in the class, I questioned it and was told that they graded “on the curve”. Without even asking my parents first, I marched out of class to the school office and demanded to be changed to advanced classes. The counselor said I could not do the work. I said, “Try me.” I was in 8th grade and made the National Honor Society the next year. That was public education in California in 1964 and, truth to tell, I remember all my teachers well and liked all of them. I was so lucky. It wasn’t the teachers; it was the system. The film’s premise is that today it’s pure chance for a child to get a good education.

Besides Geoffrey Canada, Waiting for “Superman” profiles Michelle Rhee, education reformer and School Chancellor of Washington, D.C., who took on the NEA for its role in maintaining the status quo by refusing to reframe contracts and teacher tenure. To be fair, the film also looks at restrictions placed on creative teachers by standardized testing and teaching-to-the-test.

Production notes given to film critics state that “Eight years into No Child Left Behind, the U.S. has four years left to reach the landmark education act’s goal of 100 percent proficiency in math and reading. Most states currently hover around 20 or 30 percent proficiency. Seventy perecent of 8th graders in the U.S. cannot read at grade level.”

As other workers in the early 20th century, public school teachers unionized because they were paid a pittance and had no benefits or rights. Now, however, the teacher unions function like any of those in the AFL-CIO (the NEA is an AFL-CIO union and the AFT is a partner) Teaching children is considered the same as a forty-hour a week job on the assembly line, office or in the restaurant industry. The definition of a teacher and of education needs to change because the current system is not working. Education has to be about students first, not teachers and school administrators and their benefits.

Rhee sums this up best when after the teacher union refused to vote on her proposal to remove automatic tenure from contracts and pay six-figure incomes to teachers who deliver, she said, “There’s this unbelievable willingness to turn a blind eye to the injustices that are happening to kids every single day in our schools in the name of harmony amongst adults.”

Is there anything we can do? The film tells viewers to celebrate teachers, ensure world class standards, invest in great schools (not great prisons), and raise literacy rates. Families and communities must let their voices be heard.

Davis Guggenheim has delivered another inconvenient truth, but no one can argue with the facts that this film illustrates so clearly. “Our system is broken, and it feels impossible to fix, but it can’t wait.”

Don’t miss this one, even if it seems a bit long at two hours. It’s classy and artfully produced. Stay through the credits and listen to the lyrics of the song “Shine” by six-time Grammy winner John Legend. Public education is everyone’s business. I usually advise responding, rather than reacting, to films. This film, produced under the banner of Paramount, Participant Media and Walden Media, calls for both. Check your local drop out rates and this will be proof enough.

Waiting for “Superman” releases on DVD Tuesday, February 15.  For more information visit www.waitingforsuperman.com.

 

 

100 Inspiring Ways to Use Social Media in Classroom

100 Inspiring Ways to Use Social Media in Classroom

Cannot recall if I posted this before, so just in case!

Introduction to Media Literacy & Church and Communication Online Courses Registration deadline May 26

If you’ve ever been frustrated at how to engage in our media culture in meaningful ways, consider taking one of these terrific online courses offered by the University of Dayton’s Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation.

Click here for the course description for Introduction to Media Literacy

Click here for the course description for Church and Communication

I am the course facilitator for the intro to media literacy course; another fine catechist will facilitate Church and Communication.

If your diocese is a VLCFF Partner (click here to check) the cost for each five week course is only $40.00 (otherwise $75.00).

In terms of time, there are five week-long sessions for each course. On average you would want to reserve one hour a day to complete the work that requires some reading, interactive exchanges, and responses to the reading and each week’s material in semi-essay form. The fruit of your dedication will be renewed energy in your faith life and ministry. And it’s not only what you will learn; your contribution will enliven the interaction and your experience will enrich us all.

The deadline for registration is May 26th. Don’t miss this opportunity! Five weeks goes by so swiftly.

Feel free to contact me here if you have any questions or go directly to the  VLCFF website.

NAMLE: National media literacy education association membership campaign

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Got media literacy?  Our organizational partner, the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE), is having a special membership offer through May 31st.  Join NAMLE today and…

– Your name will be entered in a drawing to win one of several fantastic prizes!

– Your membership payment will be matched by a generous donor!

–  Enjoy new membership benefits, including a FREE one-year subscription to MediaEdu and a 20% discount on an annual subscription to School Library Journal.

NAMLE is the leading organization in the United States dedicated to advancing media literacy education, outreach, and professional development. Join today!

For an example of an organization that is already promoting the NAMLE drive, check out Gateway Media Literacy Partners

The Pauline Center for Media Literacy is a founding organizational member of NAMLE. It is one of the best organizations that I belong to. If you feel frustrated about the media world, NAMLE is an organization that can offer authentic educational skills and practices to aid parents and teachers prepare students for our media world.

In both the books written by myself and Sr Gretchen Hailer, RSHM, we suggest NAMLE as an organization that can really assist parents and teachers in this digital universe.

To order click here http://www.pauline.org

To order click here http://www.smp.org

Storytelling for Life: Character Education in the Digital World

Click here for an article I wrote for the September-October Today’s Catholic Teacher:

Catholic teacher

 

Storytelling for Life: Character Education in the Digital World with a nod to  Film Clips for Character Education

film clips banner

film clips banner 2

Study guides are avaiable online and a new series of study guides integrating media literacy and faith formation will be posted soon.

Graduate degress in combined areas of media, religion, culture, education

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I am often asked about graduate programs in media, media literacy, culture, and religion. Here are some programs that I am aware of. This is not an endoresement – except for the Unviersity of London’s Institute of Education where I received my MA in Education in Media Studies in 1995. The program does not have a theological component, however. I went there for the media (literacy) education focus and though challenging, I loved the program and the school (faculty and international students; several of us keep in touch still.)

This list is only a starting point for those of you seeking degrees in these combined areas.

Catholic University of America http://mediastudies.cua.edu/

Center for Media Religion and Culture             http://www.colorado.edu/journalism/cmrc/index.html

 Boston College The Institute for Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry (not sure if they have a focus on media but it would be worthwhile to inquire http://www.bc.edu/schools/cas/theology/graduate/special/irepm.html

University of Edinburgh (Scotland) School of Divinity: Religion and Media  http://www.div.ed.ac.uk/mediaandtheol

University of Southern California: Media and Religion http://uscmediareligion.org/  

University of London-Institute of Education (a state university so no theological component) The degree title changed since I was there but content is directed toward media literacy education (and other areas) http://www.ioe.ac.uk/study/masters/PMM9_MCC9IM.html

If you have more suggestions, please post them.

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