Selling Racism

March 4, 2011

It seems to me that if you can’t see a man’s character without first seeing the color of his skin, then you prioritize your judgments of his character based on his skin tone. That racist people can look at a man and cloud their judgment, all because they misled their selves on prejudgments.
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For example, if I asked you which would you rather have kill you, a black man, a white man, a Latino, or an Oriental? Well, which would you prefer? Think about it for a second before you continue reading. Now, some of you answered that pretty quickly with a specific race, but everybody should conclude that “none of the above” should have been an option. The truth is, it doesn’t matter what race the person who killed you is, you’re still dead.

Yet, we somehow treasure the life of an African-American who happens to be killed by a white guy, and treat the countless black lives as if their lives were not as meaningful because they died at the hands of African-Americans. If a person gets killed by a person of another race, then maybe it will be treated as a “hate-crime”.

It seems to me that most murders throughout the world are some how hate related. Still, some people think some murders should have different punishments than other murders, based in large part on the color of skin of the individuals involved.

I was once asked it bothered me that we’ve “never had a Latino President in the United States” and my response was simple. “No, why should it? I want a good President, regardless of his race. Would we want a horrible President like Fidel Castro all for the sake of having a ‘Latino President’, or would we want a good President?” Give me the latter 100% of the time. Being a Latino doesn’t make you a great leader, nor does it prevent you from being a good leader. It means nothing, in the end.

Yet, throughout America, we have thousands of people who look at our President and see his black skin, depending on their sentiments, and make judgments of him. Those judgments are not based on the content of his character, but based on his skin tone. In reality, when you judge a person based on his skin color, and not the character, you deprive yourself of making the best choice. Obviously, too many people in America saw Barack Obama’s skin color and voted for him, despite his promise to increase energy prices while gas was at $4.00 a gallon, despite his refusal to acknowledge potential threats from rogue nations, and despite his obvious incompetence on economic issues, all of which are clearly visible today.

During the Presidential campaign, I looked at both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as two white men. I did this to ensure that I separated the race and gender of the two individuals from the character. To me, Barack Obama is still just another white guy. I did this intentionally, to guaranty that my judgment of both Obama and Clinton was equal as compared to the other guys on the stage. What they were saying mattered much more than their skin tone or gender. What Obama does as President still matters more to me than the silliness of celebrating a black man in the White house.

I get why so many black people believed that it was important for Barack Obama to become President. It wasn’t so much about Barack Obama, nor did it have anything with getting even with white people, or that black people now ran the country. It had everything to do with a glass ceiling being shattered. A black President wasn’t supposed to be elected in our lifetime, and now it has happened. It wasn’t about having a black President, it had everything to do with black people finally becoming a full part of this country. A person of color can now do anything in this country, even become President.

Still, there is a new breed of racism that’s being sold to us. Trying to make us buy into it, trying to make sure they have something to point at and say “See, minorities still need us”. It’s a condescending tone, but it’s intention is clear. It is intended to reiterate to minorities that they are still being held back by some white people.

The truth is, these same people look at Barack Obama as somebody who needs extra help because he is black. That they need to fight for him more than any other President, because in their view, black people are still an inferior race. It’s a racism not based in hate, but they still believe in the superiority of the white man. More to the point, if a white guy can be President and handle criticism, why then can’t a black guy? Certainly Barack Obama is just as capable of handling criticism just as every President before him did. Or do you think color of skin dictates Obama’s ability?

What many people in the media don’t understand is that despite being sold racism in media and politics, racism is a dying thing. Recently, I had a conversation with a gentleman who said he thought the next civil war was going to be black against whites. My answer was simple, “racism is dying in this country, how are you going to convince a black kid to hate his best friend based completely on his color of skin or vice versa?”

The new generation of kids simply do not understand the relics of a racist era gone by. Each generation brings with it a new tone and better tone in race relations in America. The color of Barack Obama’s skin does not matter as much to a black child raising up in the United States today nearly as much as it does to Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, or Keith Olberman. Kids today are going to hear how opposition to Barack Obama equates to racism, and these young kids are going to listen to the selling of racism, then look at his best friend who doesn’t like Obama, and realize that Chris Matthews and others are wrong about the Tea parties. In the process, those who judge Obama based on the color of his skin will not understand when the new generation rejects Barack Obama.

You see, white guys are dating black girls more often, kids today have best friends from a different race, and color of skin no longer dictates your destiny. Those people who want to bring up race, have a national conversation on race, try to hold on to the relics of racism, and they do this in a world where people care less and less about the race of the individual, and care more about the content of their character. In the world that is beginning to exist, those who still see color of skin will be thought of much like we think of those 1950s relics of racism.

Using Animation in Microsoft PowerPoint to Enhance Engagement and Learning in Young Learners With Developmental Delay

Teaching Exceptional Children March 1, 2011 | Parette, Howard P; Hourcade, Jack; Blum, Craig Over the past decade, a wide array of instructional technology applications have found their way into early intervention settings (Anderson, Grant, & Speck, 2008; Parette, Blum, Boeckmann, & Watts, 2009; Siraj-Blatchford & Whitebread, 2003). Of particular importance to young learners who evidence developmental delays or are at risk for school failure are those technologies with the potential to more effectively teach basic emergent literacy skills such as the following:

* Phonemic awareness (Torgesen, Wagner, Rashotte, Herron, & Lindamood, 2010).

* Alphabetic principle (Travers, 2010).

* Word recognition (Hitchcock & Noonan, 2000).

* Alliteration (Blum & Watts, 2008).

* Comprehension (Blok, Oostdam, Otter, & Overmaat, 2002).

The classroom use of computerbased applications with instructional features has increased dramatically in recent years (Travers, 2010; Van Laarhoven. Chandler, McNamara, & Zurita, 2009). Today teachers can access a variety of specialized educational software applications designed to support the development of emergent literacy skills. However, several barriers may inhibit the widespread utilization of these applications in early intervention programs.

For example, the time that is required for a teacher to learn and develop the unique skills necessary to implement an unfamiliar piece of educational software can appear challenging to the already overburdened educator. The cost of these specialized software programs may also be an issue in these economically challenging times for the schools. Fortunately, many applications are already widely available to teachers that, although not specifically designed with emergent literacy instruction in mind, possess a variety of features tha?? lend themselves wonderfully to this purpose. The presentation software of Microsoft PowerPoint (Microsoft Corporation, 2011) is an example of just such an application.

PowerPoint allows users to create anything from basic slide shows to complex presentations. Each slide in the presentation may contain text, images, audio clips, and movies. Sound effects and animated transitions can add additional appeal to the presentation.

The development of a PowerPoint presentation usually begins with a blank template slide. The user then selects a specific template to use in the presentation. A template usually includes a background color or image, a standard font, and several slide layouts. To keep a uniform look, the template is kept the same throughout the presentation. The presentation may be set to move automatically from slide to slide at preset intervals or the presenter may advance the slide show manually.

PowerPoint is widely accessible by education professionals because of its inclusion in Microsoft’s ubiquitous Office that contains interrelated desktop productivity applications and services. As of 2009, approximately 80% of computers used some version of Microsoft Office (Montalbano, 2009), making it likely that most teachers will have access to PowerPoint on their classroom computers without having to buy it.

Using PowerPoint With Early Childhood Special Education Students PowerPoint holds particular promise for young children with learning issues because it contains a variety of special presentation features likely to enhance the learning experience. Features such as pictures, colors, sounds, animation, slide designs, or slide transitions can be easily customized within an emergent literacy lesson. The fundamentally sequential nature of a PowerPoint slide presentation makes it easier for teachers to develop and deliver instructional content in a clear, structured, and systematic format while keeping young learners engaged in the lesson (Grabe & Grabe, 2007).

The potential for using PowerPoint for instruction in early childhood special education settings is receiving increased attention (e.g., Forcier & Descy, 2008; Parette, Blum, & Hourcade, 2010). Although the research base establishing the efficacy of PowerPoint in teaching literacy skills to young learners is still emerging, a growing body of work is promoting its instructional utility (e.g., Blum, Parette, & Watts, 2009; Parette, Blum, Boeckmann et al., 2009; Stephen & Plowman, 2003; Voelkerding, 2002).

Given the ready availability of PowerPoint and its substantial potential to support early childhood emergent literacy curricula, it would be useful for more early education practitioners to learn about this software.

Developing PowerPoint Presentations Once a teacher has developed basic skills using PowerPoint, the next step is to begin to access those additional features of the software that can further enhance student learning. These features include such things as allowing a teacher to add instructionally powerful animation features when developing literacy lessons for young learners with delays or at-risk status.

Animation Historically, teachers prepared educational materials for their students using static graphics (words, numbers, and pictures). Few teachers had the time, ability, or resources to develop graphic materials that incorporated animation or movement. However, as computer-based instruction came to play an increasingly larger role in educational programs beginning in the 1980s, animation became popular in the presentation of technology-based lessons (e.g., Alesandrini, 1987; Caldwell, 1980). Perhaps the two main contributions of animation in instruction aie the ability to (a) elicit the attention of the learner to important features of the lesson, and (b) prompt the learner as appropriate to ensure correct responding.

Eliciting Learner Attention Through Animation To better elicit learner attention, teachers can populate literacy lessons with attention-grabbing elements such as moving graphic images (e.g., pictures or text). These animations, which cannot be provided through traditional paper-based literacy instructions, offer a visual and powerful contrast to a static visual background. Blinking and movement are considered to be dynamic stimuli, making it more likely that the user will visually attend to the moving or blinking object (e.g., Pinto, Olivers, & Theeuwes, 2008).

In developing a PowerPoint slide, the default presentation has all graphic and text elements in a slide appear at once. However, the teacher might wish to have different elements of the slide appear in different ways and/or at subsequent times, to sequentially direct the student’s attention from one element to the next in a planned and systematic fashion. For example, a teacher might be targeting the initial /d/ sound in the word “dog” as an instructional goal in emergent literacy instruction. To prepare a PowerPoint slide for this skill, she might first do a Google Images search to find an appealing picture of a dog. She copies that image and pastes it in the righthand portion of the slide.

The teacher then selects three possible letters to represent the initial sound in dog: the letters /b/, /c/, and /d/. She places these on the left-hand side of the slide. Finally, she decides that first the picture of the dog should appear followed by each of the three letters which appear sequentially when she clicks for them, after she asks the students what letter they think dog starts with (see Figure 1 ) .

To elicit and maintain student interest, basic entrance animation can be applied to any text or graphic element of a PowerPoint slide by the teacher double-clicking on the element to appear first. Then the teacher clicks on the Animation tab (fourth from the left on the top of the screen) , then on the Custom Animation tab (at the top left of the screen). This click will produce the Custom Animation bar on the right side of the screen (see Figure 2) . These procedures might vary based on the platform or if using a Macintosh-based computer.

By clicking on the Add Effect tab at the top of the Custom Animation bar, a drop down menu of four options Entrance, Emphasis, Exit, Motion Paths) appears. Then the teacher selects Entrance, which reveals another pull down menu with multiple Entrance options (e.g., Bounce, Curve Up, Fly In). After experimenting a bit with the various options, the teacher selects the desired type of motion that element should use upon its entrance.

The teacher can then check to assure that the discrete elements of the slide appear as desired by clicking on the Slide Show > From Beginning tab button on the top of the screen. This review assures that the animation indeed maximizes student attending to the slide and guides the learner’s attention in the sequence the teacher chooses.

Visual Prompting Through Animation A powerful behavioral instructional technique used for many decades with learners, especially those with disabilities or who are otherwise struggling, is the use of prompts (e.g., MacDuff, Krantz, & McClannahan, 2001; Odom, Chandler, Ostrosky, McConnell, & Reaney, 1992). Prompts are additional cues or stimuli contained within the instruction that make it more likely that the learner will respond correctly (Alberto & Troutman, 2009).

One commonly used prompt is a pictorial or visual prompt. These are pictures or line drawings added to preexisting task stimuli that graphically illustrate or otherwise help the learner understand what is expected or how to perform the skill (e.g., Smeets, 1992; Wolery, Holcombe, Werts, & Cipolloni, 1993). For example, when young preliterate learners are unsure what school restroom to use because they have not yet learned to read the Boys and Girls signs on the restroom doors, a picture or line drawing of a boy on the Boys restroom door and a picture or line drawing of a girl on the Girls restroom door make it much more likely that these young learners will respond correctly. Similarly, a visually presented number line on a math worksheet is a visual prompt designed to help young learners acquire and demonstrate addition and subtraction skills (Alberto & Troutman, 2009). go to web site microsoft powerpoint templates

Visual or pictorial images in computer-based instruction with prompting capability significantly enhance the introduction of such animation features as blinking and/or movement. Movement and animation in video clips used as prompts have helped to teach a variety of academic and functional skills to learners with autism (e.g., Bellini & Akullian, 2007) and those with intellectual disabilities (e.g., Cihak, Alberto, Taber-Doughty, & Gama, 2006).

Teachers typically begin a lesson by offering some initial instruction and then present a task or ask a question of the learner(s). If the learner does not respond correctly, after a short delay, the teacher may offer a hint or a prompt to make it more likely that the learner will respond correctly. An effective prompting process through animation can be implemented with PowerPoint. Visual and pictorial prompt animations for the correct response the teacher wishes the learner to select on a slide can be created by clicking Animations > Custom Animation >Add Effect. The Animations tab is located in the upper left of the tool bar and Custom Animations appears after this the tab is clicked. Add Effect appears in the Custom Animation panel presented to the upper right of the screen (see Figure 3).

Usually a prompt is presented to a child after an instructional stimulus is presented. For example, the teacher might present the slide with the dog picture on it and say, “Dog begins with ‘d.” What letter makes the ‘d’ sound?” If the student does not correctly respond within 3 seconds, the teacher might click the mouse to begin the preselected prompt by animating the /d/ element.

Alternatively, the animation may be set to begin automatically after some predetermined time period (e.g., 3 seconds). This function is set up by the teacher accessing the Custom Animation bar on the right side of the screen. The /d/ element is then highlighted with a double-click of the mouse, with the teacher accessing Add Effect > Emphasis. Several emphasis options are listed there. The teacher then selects one (e.g., Flicker as shown in Figure 3). Once an effect is selected, it appears in the Custom Animation bar. The teacher clicks on a tab to the immediate right of the effect and a drop down menu appears that enables Timing.

The Custom Animation bar on the right shows a large white box in the middle of the bar that lists each element on the slide. To introduce an automatic time-delayed visual animation prompt for the correct response element, the teacher clicks on that element (e.g., Flicker), and then on the small box to the right of that element in the Custom Animation bar. One of the options listed there is Timing. The teacher selects the Timing option, which leads to a new set of options, including Delay. The teacher then selects how many seconds the student should be allowed to look at the three possible response options (/b/, /c/, /d/) before a visual animation prompt is provided for the correct element of /d/ (perhaps 3 seconds), and then selects that time amount Delay.

Then each element of the slide, including the three response options of /b/, /c/, and /d/, will show up on the slide as the teacher has planned. After 3 seconds the correct response of /d/ will begin the flickering visual prompt. It may be useful for the visual animated prompt to continue for several seconds to more effectively elicit and maintain the attention of the learner. The duration of the animation feature is controlled by clicking on the tab on the right side of the feature listed in the Custom Animation toolbar and selecting the Timing option. A window appears allowing selection of several aspects of the emphasis feature, including Repeat (2 to 10 seconds. Until Next Slide, or Until End of Slide; see Figure 4). here microsoft powerpoint templates

Once a feature has been applied, the teacher can check to make sure that the animation is working as intended by clicking on the Play button in the lower right hand corner of the Animation toolbar (see Figure 4), or by running the slide show from the Slide Show > From Current Slide. To remove an animation feature that has been previously assigned to a slide element, the teacher simply clicks on the feature to highlight it and then clicks the Remove button (see Figure 2). At that point, a different Emphasis feature may be added if desired.

An alternate way to provide an animated visual prompt is to introduce a new graphic element (e.g., a pointing hand or an arrow) several seconds after all other elements of a slide have appeared, and then have that new graphic move and point to the correct response. For example, in Figure 1, after a learner has looked at the slide for a few seconds without responding correctly, it might be effective to introduce a pointing hand or some other graphic element (that might also flash, rock back and forth, rotate, etc.) to move to and draw attention to the correct response (the letter /d/). To create this type of prompt, the teacher uses two primary features that are listed under Animations > Entrances and Exit.

Figure 5 illustrates how the teacher can implement and customize a pointing cue by first selecting how it will first appear by using the Entrance feature of PowerPoint. Any interesting graphic image (e.g., a hand selected from Google images, a digital camera image, or a shape created using Insert > Shapes) first is inserted on the slide adjacent to the correct response. As with the use of the previously discussed Emphasis features, after the graphic is selected, the teacher clicks on Custom Animation > Add Effect > Entrance. The entrance and animation of this visual prompt should be delayed for a brief period (2 to several seconds) to allow the student a chance to respond before the visual animated prompt appears.

Fading Visual Animation Prompts In using prompts, after a student begins to respond consistently and correctly to an instructional task with the use of a prompt, that prompt should then be gradually faded out. Removal of the prompt ensures that the student is increasingly attending to the relevant dimensions of the learning task while continuing to respond correctly. When fading out visual animation prompts, the teacher might have the correct response blink only once instead of repeatedly. Similarly, these visual animated prompts may have their levels of assistance reduced by making them smaller, less noticeable, or of shorter duration. Each of these is controllable to varying degrees through the previously described PowerPoint functions.

An additional prompt fading strategy is the use of time delay, wherein the presentation of the prompt is increasingly postponed. This gives the student more and more time to respond, presumably as he or she gains competence in that task. These delays usually last only a few seconds, and may be constant (the delay remains the same over multiple trials) or pwgressive (the amount of time before the prompt is provided becomes longer; Alberto & Troutman, 2009). The amount of time allowed to pass before a visual animated prompt begins is controlled through the previously described Timing option.

Related Software for Visual Presentations in literacy Instruction Discussion Technology holds great promise in enhancing the skill sets of young learners with developmental delays and disabilities because of, in part, the ability of specialized computer applications to effectively attract learner attention to critical dimensions of a lesson through animation and to provide powerful visual prompts for correct responding. Unfortunately, today most early intervention and school programs are facing extraordinarily challenging economic situations. Few intervention programs or schools are likely to have the financial resources to be able to purchase extensive specialized computer software programs that target emergent literacy or other skill sets for young learners. Thus, it becomes especially critical for early childhood educators to use existing resources, such as the PowerPoint program found so widely in school computers as part of Microsoft Office. Of particular importance is the capability of PowerPoint to animate pictures or text in instructional slides, including the entrances of these elements and their subsequent movement. The many graphic editing features of PowerPoint enable education professionals to specifically tailor the visual animation of the instruction to the specific needs of their unique learners.

The multiplicity of potential presentation features available through PowerPoint has the potential to be overwhelming. Many teachers have found it best to begin by exploring its many features in order to learn more completely these animation functions and embedding them as appropriate into classroom learning materials and activities. As these skills develop, the early childhood education professional is truly limited only by his or her personal and professional creativity when developing animations in computerbased classroom learning materials and activities (Carson & Kennedy, 2006).

[Sidebar] The fundamentally sequential nature of a PowerPoint slide presentation makes it easier for teachers to develop and deliver instructional content in a clear, structured, and systematic format while keeping young learners engaged in the lesson.

[Sidebar] For examples of teacher-made animations in instructional PowerPoint presentations please go to http-.// ~ hpparet/Pu blication2.htm The many graphic editing features of PowerPoint enable education professionals to specifically tailor the visual animation of the instruction to the specific needs oi their unique learners.

[Reference] References Alberto, P. A., & Troutman, A. C. (2009). Applied behavior analysis for teachers. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

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Cihak, E., Alberto, P. A., Taber-Doughty. T., & Gama, R. (2006). A comparison of static picture prompting and video prompting simulation strategies using group instruction procedures. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 21, 89-99.

Forcier, R. C, & Descy, D. E. (2008). The computer as an educational tool. Productivity and problem soaring. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Merrill/ Prentice-Hall.

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Odom, S. L., Chandler, L. K.. Ostrosky, M., McConnell. S. R., & Reaney, S. (1992). Fading teacher prompts from peer-initiation interventions for young children with disabilities. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 25, 307-317.

Parette, H. P., Blum, C, Boeckmann, N. M., & Watts, E. H. (2009). Teaching word recognition to young children using Microsoft PowerPoint coupled with direct instruction. Early Childhood Education Journal, 36, 393-401.

Parette, H. P., Blum, C, & Hourcade, J. J. (2010, January). Using PowerPoint prompting strategies coupled with direct instruction to teach students with developmental disabilities. Paper presented at the 12th International Conference on Autism, Intellectual Disabilities & Other Developmental Disabilities, Maui, Hawaii.

Parette, H. P., Blum, C. & Watts, E. H. (2009). Use of Microsoft PowerPoint and direct instruction to support emergent literacy skill development among young at risk children. In A. M. Vilas, A. S. Martin, J. M. Gonzalez, & J. A. Gonzalez (Eds.). Research, reflections and innovations in integrating ICT in education (Vol. 2: pp. 864-868). Badajoz, Spain: FORMATEX.

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Smeets, P. M. (1992). Prompt-aided instruction of mirror-image discriminations: Abrupt prompt removal, time delay, and self-evaluation. Journal of Behavioral Interventions, 2, 87-104.

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Torgesen, J. K., Wagner, R. K., Rashotte, C. A.. Herron. J., & Lindamood, P. (2010). Computer-assisted instruction to prevent early reading difficulties in students at risk for dyslexia: Outcomes from two instructional approaches. Annals of Dyslexia. Retrieved from hup:/ /www. 3812q860h8188632/fulltext.pdf Travers, J. C. (2010). Emergent literacy skills of young children with autism: A comparison of teacher-led and computer-assisted instruction. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

Van Laarhoven. T, Chandler, L. K.. McNamara, A., & Zurita, L. M. (2009). A comparison of three prompting procedures: Evaluating the effectiveness of photos, AAC, or video-based prompting tor teaching cooking skills to young children with developmental disabilities. In K. Spence-Cochran (Ed.), Autism spectrum disorders: Research-based practice and innovation in the field (pp. 1-17). Normal, IL: Special Education Assistive Technology Center at Illinois State University and Assistive Technology Industry Association.

Voelkerding, K. A. (2002). PowerPoint as an assistive technology tool. Closing the Gap, 20(6), 1, 14-15,28.

Wolery, M.. Holcombe, A., Werts, M. G., & Cipolloni. R. M. (1993). Effects of simultaneous prompting and instructive feedback. Early Education and Development, 4, 20-31.

[Author Affiliation] Howard P. Parette, Jr. (Illinois CEC), Professor, and Kara Peters Endowed Chair, Department of Special Education. Illinois State University, Normal. Jack Hourcade (Idaho CEC). Professor, Department of Special Education, Boise State University, Idaho. Craig Blum (Illinois CEC), Assistant Professor, Department of Special Education, Illinois State University, Normal.

This article is based on a presentation at the 12th International Conference on Autism. Intellectual Disabilities & Other Developmental Disabilities, Maui, Hawaii.

TEACHING Exceptional Children, Vol. 43, No. 4. pp. 58-67.

Parette, Howard P; Hourcade, Jack; Blum, Craig


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