Monday, December 17, 2012



This post has four reasons for being:

1)      its an act of desperation

2)      to remind those who would like to be reminded

3)      to remind those who would like NOT to be reminded

4)      to inform those who might not know.

^^from one of my favorite poems of all time and also might serve as my new year’s resolution

Lately, I have been gearing up to write my final paper for the semester. It’s a 15-20 page paper for EDUC 723: Multicultural Issues in Education.  It’s a research paper in which the topic for myself keeps fluidly changing as I navigate the texts available regarding the interrelatedness between critical race theory and education. There’s the general critical literature review that I could do right….but that’s just too easy.  

Funny how I asked for an extension just so I can have the opportunity to get my thoughts right on this one—like Christmas isn’t next week.  One part of my mind says nothing would give more pleasure than to be able to return to my borrowed NetFlix on-demand IPad app.

But the other side…the deeper, darker side is perplexed.  I’m finishing up my first semester at Penn GSE.  For all intents and purposes, its been a great ride.  I’m over-satisfied with the direction of the RWL program and overjoyed at the faculty connections I have made.  My advisor is Dr. Gadsden—don’t let me forget that I owe her this 15-20 page monster paper.

Why the build-up?  While working on my final class portfolios, I realized something about my work at Penn.  I was doing the assignments. I handed them in on time with proper citations and all the academic jargon that you need.  However, I totally forgot about pleasing the most significant portion of this entire experience—myself.

All these things that I have written, did I write them for me?  At the end of the day, what did I get out of it? What did I learn?  Most times I have no idea.  Of course, I retain some information.  I can spit a couple quotes from Lisa Delpit, I understand New Literacy Studies as formulated by James Gee, but what about my own theories, have I challenged them?

It all started when I found this document that I created two years ago to begin this journey into literacy.  Program Proposal for Chester Community Publishing.  Coming off of a solid year where I founded and administered the Chester High Entrepreneurship Club, Chester Community Publishing would be the next step.  As formulated, Chester Community Publishing sought to incentivize reading and writing in Chester, Pennsylvania by creating a community-owned publishing house where profits were split 50/50 between the program and the author.  What is a book anyway? Just a couple of PDF’s and maybe some scanned artwork.  I could do that.  Next thing you know, I had an entire proposal written.  Awesome period in time. Sadly, I can’t remember the feeling that compelled me to do it and that’s what caused me to begin the internal conversation of where my current motivations and passions lie.

Jump back to paper preparation. Now I’m trying to find articles that will work for this paper.  I come across this monster effort by Charles Lawrence: The Word and the River: Pedagogy as Scholarship as Struggle.  Man, I was in church when I read this—check it:

“I press on, despite my fears, with the sense of exhilaration and fatalism that one experiences in battle.  Perhaps I have the skill to walk the tightrope, to tell just enough of the truth to be bought out instead of wiped out….”

“It is the work of those [scholars] who remain cool and distant in the face of suffering because it is not their liberation, their humanity which is at stake…”

“Even when I managed to remain true to my convictions, professional pressures required that I employ language and references that threatened to make my work inaccessible to a large part of the audience I hoped to reach.”

“The disguises of abstract argument, hypothetical case, theoretical construct, and polite form have been removed. The full force of my feelings has been recaptured and expressed”



…And there’s more.

There’s just so much to this picture.  In many ways, I have been avoiding my own voice to embrace the so called academic cocktail party. Cite this here. Include a quote from this. The word “capitulation” comes to mind.  I feel lost at times. I don’t have that feeling that I started with. I’m here to uncover some truth and bring it back to Chester.  So I ask myself again…what did you learn?

The great part about it is now I’m beginning to have that real conversation with myself about exactly what do I want and I’m seeing that critical race theorists are bringing in what I’m searching by the truckload.  I then read more unassigned articles in the past week than the rest of the semester.  I have no idea what I am doing—well, actually I do—but I need to get writing on this paper.  You can’t be having life realizations during finals season. But yo…Check this jawn out from Charles Lawrence:

1. Speak simple truths to power.
2. Making our own communities our first audience.
3. Creating a homeplace for refuge and hard conversations.
4. Defining boundaries (knowing who is us and who is them).
5. Starting small (knowing that small is important and good).
6. Remembering that we are beautiful and that we are bad (or "the bomb").

I’m on this new mission to really embrace the ME first in my education.
Enjoy the Christmas break everyone and look forward to returning next semester ready to dig in.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


"This guy is the hardest worker at GSE. He lives in the computer lab. This man right here knows everything about this place. Mr. Rogers is the kid you want in your project group- to get that A, lol"
--Kevin B.

That being said, It's nothing like blasting your favorite new mixtape through the GSE computer lab at 2:45am.  When everyone leaves, the building is mine.  Is this because the workload at GSE is that much to have me up that late at night? Partly.  I like being at GSE.  Being home sometimes can be very distracting...

The GSE Computer lab is open 24 hours with PennCard access...with a water cooler down the hall...and also access to the first floor classrooms.  In preparation for a presentation last week, I borrowed one of the classrooms for an impromptu movie screening.

My advice: Your paying top-dollar for it, you better take advantage!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

12:57am. Friday

Sorry folks, it's been a while.  The semester is coming to a close...And the work is stacking up!  With 5 classes, I have to manage my time more effectively.

About that 5 classes, the way Penn's cost structure is set up---it's BUY 4 get 1 class FREE.  Awesome right?  Save a good amount of money!

Except word around GSE is that the RWL program isn't really set up for someone to be full-time 5 classes. What does that mean?  The work is at a premium. I'm constantly working on some project.

No one says it can't be done. But are going to be pushed to the limit.  And this end of the semester is going to have me on the plank.

--15-20 page paper due for Multicultural Issues in Education
--A GIANT Curriculum-as-Inquiry Project for Elementary RWL with Campano
--Inquiry #3 and Inquiry #4 due for Secondary RWL Curriculum
--Program Plan and Literature Review due for Community + Art Partnerships
--Restructured Service Framework? due for Psychoeducational Interactions with Black Males.

A whole lot of late nights and early mornings. Will be worth it come Winter break. But for now...

...and the best advice I ever got was keep writing, and keep living, and keep loving...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Why I'm Not Thankful for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, like much of American history, is complex, multifaceted, and will not bear too close a scrutiny without revealing a less-than-heroic aspect. Knowing the truth about Thanksgiving, both its proud and its shameful motivations and history, might well benefit contemporary children. But the glib retelling of an ethnocentric and self- serving falsehood does not do one any good... 

Read more here.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Yes. RWL is all about the circle. No rows here.

[currently in EDUC 533: Reforming the Elementary Reading/Writing/Literacy Curriculum]

Sunday, November 11, 2012


It's hard working on what you love. It's hard when you care. I'm at a point where I'm expected to write sooo much but I don't think I have a full grasp of what I'm saying.  But time doesn't stop. Assignments are due. There's new reading. One of the Ph.D RWL students once said this:

"I'm overwhelmed with work.  But I'd definitely appreciate being overwhelmed than underwhelmed."

In many ways, that's a nugget for those interested in Penn GSE.

On that note, I have something else to share. I had this on repeat as I keep type, type , typing away.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Do you know where you're going to?
Do you like the things that life is showing you?
Where are you going to?
Do you know...?

Do you get
What you're hoping for?
When you look behind you
There's no open door
What are you hoping for?
Do you know...?

It's that time of the year. Semester ending papers are coming up. Class readings are that much more harder to get through. Questions come through your mind. Why are you here?

GSE can be arduous at times. You need to have your heart anchored somewhere. What's your motivation?  What's your long-term goals? What legacy do you want to leave?
These are the ingredients to making a bomb personal statement.

Make your personal statement something that you can reflect on when times get rough.  Make it your anchor.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I'm ready to go home.--Chris, whose stuck in NYC.

(spot the connection to Penn GSE)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Multicultural Issues in Podcasting.

Comedian W. Kamau Bell steps into the garage for the kind of conversation he says doesn’t happen enough - an honest discussion about race. Marc and Kamau try to deal with racial identity in comedy and they explain why it would help if white people would be more open about their whiteness. Plus, Kamau explains how he got hooked up with Chris Rock, leading to his show Totally...

Episode 325 - W. Kamau Bell

Class Assignment.

"In the next 20 minutes, we would like you to create a digital story using the devices at your disposal to relate to your poem." Dr. Amy

Paul Laurence Dunbar, Sympathy.

I KNOW what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals —
I know what the caged bird feels!

I know why the caged bird beats his wing
Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting —
I know why he beats his wing!

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,—
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings —
I know why the caged bird sings!

Monday, October 15, 2012




and when you finish inquiring...

Inquire some more.

The RWL department of Penn GSE breathes practitioner inquiry. It is the life-blood of the program. It is our filter.
  • It is the ham to our burger... 
  • It's the butter to our popcorn...
  • It's the paper to our printer...
  • It's the electric to our computer...
  • It's the sugar to our Kool Aid...
  • It's the tires to our car...
  • It's the battery to our phone...
  • It's the carbon to our molecules...
  • It's the dipping sauce to our chicken nuggets...
  • It's gravity to our earth... 
  • It's the lead to our pencil...
  • It's the ink to our pen...
  • Its the ....I must inquire for more.
Yes, practitioner inquiry is that important to our program. You will unlearn what you know and relearn through it. Unfamiliar with Practitioner Inquiry?  Please read up on the "mother of" Practitioner Inquiry: Dr. Susan Lytle.

Practitioner Inquiry and the Practice of Teaching: Some Thoughts on Better

By: Susan Lytle
Date: February 2008
Summary: Susan Lytle, founding director of the Philadelphia Writing Project, observes that teacher-researchers aim primarily to teach better, a theme she finds illuminated in a physician-written book about the practice of medicine.

Friday, October 12, 2012


Last night was awesome. Mayer Hawthorne gave us a great $10 concert.
(his tickets are usually close to the 20$ range so I feel his effort matched the decrease in price) watch the BEST VIDEO EVER.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Writing Ritual.

My writing ritual.
  1. Log on Computer.
  2. Open water bottle.
  3. Visit Facebook.
  4. Check my Flipboard.
  5. Go to the bathroom.
  6. Open Microsoft Word.
  7. Close Internet Explorer.
  8. Find perfect mix from RBMA Radio.
  9. Check my Facebook from the Phone.
  10. Take a sip of water.
  11. Customize Microsoft Word.
    1. Set Font to Times New Roman.
    2. Set Zoom to 90%.
    3. Set Line Spacing to 1.0.
    4. Set Paragraph Spacing to 0 pt.
  12. Open Internet Explorer.
  13. Check SBNation.
  14. Close Internet Explorer.
  15. Open PDF's on IPad Adobe Reader.
  16. Look outside.
  17. Type name on top right-hand corner.
  18. Hit the Enter button twice.
  19. Find assignment directions.
  20. Take a sip of water.
  21. Begin writing.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


The Weingarten Learning Resources Center provides academic support services and programs for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students at the University of Pennsylvania through its two offices.


I have my 2nd appointment with Brian Cuzzolina tomorrow to work at becoming a better writer. Our first session was OK. --He didn't understand what my problem was. My writing was "fine."  Tomorrow, I want to break through this "fine" with him. Fine is something you tell a student when you just want them to be done. Not really something that you are excited to see. I want people to be excited to see what I have to say.

One of my major goals this year is to improve my writing.  I know I can get across a coherent idea.  I just don't think it's me when I'm writing.  I want to be able to hear my voice when I write and still be able to play the academic cocktail party game.

The Academic Cocktail Party = citing theories from all those important people in your field.

It's great that Brian went through the same RWL program that I am going through now and can tell me some of the favoritisms of my professors.  I would recommend everyone that goes to Penn to check out the Weingarten Learning Resources Center.  The appointments do take a while; undergrads keep it booked. However, your sky-high tuition pays for them to help you. Take advantage. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Golden Moment. make a comment during class...and it goes over with eyes turning up to meet you. uh-oh.

[internal debate] What just happened? Why is everyone looking at me? What did I say? *stomach tenses a little*...Do I really believe it? Why? Where did it come from? I know I can explain it we go...*gestures to continue*

Class which started off very somber ended with Dr. Thomas asking a student to hold on to her reading until next week because our current discussion was "too important." It was one of those moments where you break out from the routine reflection and recitation of what you highlighted and actually engage a topic.

Exciting! You are working on your toes. Navigating personal identity, academic theory, and inquiry.  These are the golden moments of learning.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Today, I met with Dr. Amy Stornaiuolo. (check out her in action with this faculty colloquium).

“Composing For Global Audiences: Opportunities and Challenges for Literacy Instruction in a New Media Age”Amy Stornaiulo,  Ph.D.
Faculty Search Colloquia: Scroll down until you see this heading. 

She's awesome. She has a research specialty of Digital Literacy and is teaching a class next semester on the subject.  I'm so excited!

She's one-half of the duo that teaches EDUC 629: Teaching English to Adolescents which is a core requirement of the Reading/Writing/Literacy course of study. For class, I have Dr. Ebony Thomas.

Dr. Amy and I went back and forth about our interests and synergies which proved to be quite the intriguing conversation.  Dr. Amy is new to the area, coming from California's Bay Area. Being a local who's very familiar with the rich arts (and arts education) scene of Philadelphia, I was able to share a lot of guiding information to her.

She's poised to start a research group around digital literacy.  For those who are unfamiliar, digital literacy is all about merging technology with a multi-modal approach to learning.  Manipulating audio, video, computer programming, etc. to form new ways of forming, critiquing, evaluating, analyzing, etc. learning. Its a growing field and only looks to get more influential given our lives being ever more connected to devices and screens.

I want to play a big role in her research group.  I'm looking to see where I fit into this academia puzzle, determining if Ph.D is for me or not. We'll see.  It shall be fun.

Thursday, September 27, 2012



Just finished a one page reflection only to realize when uploading the document (Due Sunday) that there was a prompt to which I should have reflected upon.



(its a couple expletives...but its still the most motivational song I heard in a while...sing with me.)

I made it.

 It was a long week. Knocked out 4 papers. Did ALL the readings. Participated in class. Met  some new friends. Hung out with GAPSA--->[Penn graduate students given a university budget to look out for other graduate students academically, professionally, and socially.]. Shout out to Jolly's and 1/2 off flatbreads!

Life is long. Celebrate sometimes. Tomorrow night = 

 (that's right, that's a dance party in the art museum. I'm gonna make some paintings sweat.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Why American Students Can't Write

The Atlantic wants a debate. Don't worry, Penn GSE Reading/Writing/Literacy students will have the final say. And by final say, I mean a a well-read scholarly critique that you don't necessarily have to agree with, but be open to...

Why American Students Can't Write

In "The Writing Revolution," Peg Tyre traces the problems at one troubled New York high school to a simple fact: The students couldn't write coherent sentences. In 2009 New Dorp High made a radical change. Instead of trying to engage students through memoir exercises and creative assignments, the school required them to write expository essays and learn the fundamentals of grammar. Within two years, the school's pass rates for the English Regents test and the global-history exam were soaring. The school's drop-out rate — 40 percent in 2006 — has fallen to 20 percent.

The experiment suggests that the trend toward teaching creative writing was hurting American students. In a debate about Tyre's story, we asked a range of experts, from policymakers to Freedom Writers founder Erin Gruwell, to share their thoughts on Tyre's story. This page will be updated with new entries each day through mid-October.

Continue Reading at the Atlantic....

How would you respond?

I was passed this note during my Fieldwork today. (Ms? Oh ok.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Meet My New Undergrad Friends.

Check out the Penn Hip Hop Initiative on Facebook.


Here's a clip of an interview with the founder.

 Jon Iwry (J-Boy to his fans) is a hip-hop artist from right outside Washington, D.C. A sophomore in the College, this four-time winner of Penn’s Got Talent will be performing original music and freestyle rapping at this year’s Spring Fling in the Quad. He also has a radio show called “Check the Rhyme” that airs every Tuesday at 6. And Jon is starting an on-campus group called the Penn Hip-Hop Initiative, which he discusses below.
Q. Tell me about the club you’re starting. What’s it going to be like?
A. This semester I’m starting a music appreciation club called the Penn Hip-Hop Initiative (PHHI). We’re aiming to create on open community on Penn’s campus that appreciates the vast world of hip-hop and fosters the creative presence of talented artists on campus. We want to open it up to everyone as broadly as possible, and hopefully even beyond the Penn Bubble. We’d like to become a platform for making and distributing hip-hop music for the local community, including other schools and venues in the Philadelphia area. Commitment won’t be too demanding, but it’ll definitely be worthwhile and fun. It will get started in the fall, when people (including myself) aren’t busy with finals and flinging. We’ll probably start off with public screenings of hip-hop documentaries, graffiti tours through Philly, public speakers, and stuff like that; anything is possible, and based on the many creative ideas people have proposed so far, the Initiative has only good things in sight.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


(love the Discovery Channel. the reason you need to be 1080p HD.)

It could have been all over. 3 page analysis paper for EDUC 533.

I heard thunder in the foreground. I don't care about thunder. Let it roll. Then Bam!

House goes black. Surge protector sounds.


Initial reaction: What the Fudge!!! <----yup, I said fudge, not even censoring that. Blame the Christmas Story.

Lights come back on. Computer stays off.

Now I am on my knees.  "God, please let it autorecover"

Press the power button. Start Windows normally.


Open Microsoft Word.

Thank God. I guess now I have to go to church tomorrow.

Friday, September 21, 2012


(if you don't know Big KRIT....please do the knowledge)

She's printing, logging off and going home. I'm still here. I've been in this seat since 4:00 (It would have been 3:00 but I caught up with some of my friends in the IEDP program and we had one heck of a chat about present day US education v. the rest of the world).  I've been typing away at this ambitious paper schedule I have for next week. It goes:

Monday: 4-6 pages due of a critique to our Autobiographic Early Literacy Sketch to Elementary Reading/Writing/Literacy Curriculum taught by Dr. Campano

Tuesday: 4-6 pages due of an interview with someone who shares the same cultural/ethnic experience as us to Multicultural Issues in Education taught by Dr. Gadsden.

Wednesday: 4-6 pages due of an autobiographical sketch of our language and literacy experiences as adolescents to Dr. Thomas

Thursday: 3 pages due to Dr. Epstein on whether Penn should be involved in fixing the broken Philadelphia public school system in Community & Art Partnerships

Yup, there goes the weekend.  Except for one thing.

I'm not going to be here much longer because I got my study break. Two tickets to go see Big KRIT, Slim Thug, Mic Stew, and my Philadelphia hip-hop family at the Blockley.  

Then sleep. Then shower. Then back to this seat. Its going to be a long weekend.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Welcome to University City.

Penn Parking Wars!!

(yup, Parking Wars was taped in Philadelphia.  Everyone knows that PPA don't play!)

Hey everyone, I know this is no formal introduction but still I have to get this off my chest. I'm trying to figure out parking at Penn. I live in Chester, PA--on the other side of the Philadelphia Airport (my hometown, and the only town I have ever called home).  I have no complaints about living a drive away from Penn.  Its only 20 minutes. But what I do have fathom....PARKING!! 

The world is becoming less friendly to the drivers of the world. Gas this morning was 3.8-something everywhere I went. Still don't know how gas is priced other than "you are going to pay it anyway!"

It's not Penn's fault per se, as they have a number of options for student parking rather than it is my frugal-ness that says to me "hey, you don't have to pay that."  Read more about them here. 

There are a couple options that I have found so far...

  1. 40th and Spruce. Pass CopaBanana. On the other side of the light is paradise. Free on-street parking that is closest to GSE at 37th and Walnut. When I first heard about it, I thought it was a secret.  But when I pulled up, I realized it was very well known. IF YOU CAN FIND A SPOT, TAKE IT!!!
  2. 39th and Market. In front of the University Square Apartments.  This was my aha! moment.  12-hour on-street parking in front of a high-rise apartment building on one of the most popular streets in Philadelphia.  1$ an hour until 8pm where after 8, parking is free.  Not bad because I usually get here sometime around 1, and pay until 8. With spare time, I paid $6.75 to get my car until free time beginning at 8:00.  The parking meters accept cash, coins, and card. As well as this new SmartCard option. I personally just use my debit card everytime. Between Market and Chestnut on 39th, you can also find 4-hour parking for the same rate.  Not bad when the longest GSE course is 2.5 hours if you are just in-and-out.
  3. Right outside GSE-37th and Walnut.  Yup, you guessed it. You can park right outside the door.  Not exactly literally, but about 15 steps from the door. This parking is premium. 3-hour parking at $2.00 an hour. If you have 4:30-7:00, you could possibly get in at 4:15 and pay until 7:15 for $6.00.  But if you are like me and like being around GSE, that means that you must make it to your car before your parking expires because as everyone in Philadelphia knows too well: PPA dont play!  
Other options:

Get a bike!--If you live in the West Philadelphia area, perfect.  Biking gives you exercise and cost you nothing after purchasing the bike.  There are plentiful bike racks and even bike lanes on the streets surrounding Penn.  Hey, look out for the environment. Bike!

SEPTA-SEPTA is interesting, it has its pro's and con's for someone who lives outside the city. I took SEPTA in to Penn a couple times to see if it would be feasible. Here's what I came out with:  If you are good with wait time and being able to get readings done while on public transportation, DO IT!!  However, if you want to be home when you want to be home, take your chances driving.  It's not something that's an everyday commitment. Sometimes I ride; sometimes I drive.

(Plus about SEPTA: The entertainment factor.  SEPTA at any time, especially late is utterly hilarious for us people-watchers.  The personalities you run into are bound to create some good stories.)


Sunday, September 16, 2012


...I'm feeling like the Eagles did at halftime. time to make a comeback.

Would you like to be my follower?

 ...having the same last name as a famous man always gave me an icebreaker...even if their famous for being an elder White friendly neighbor and I'm a 24-year old Black heavily hip-hop influenced rising educator. Somehow our destiny's are intertwined. 

Welcome to my blog. I want to give you an eye into the Penn GSE experience from my perspective...DISCLAIMER: I won't type "IMO", I'll just assume you know that. (and IMO is  "in my opinion"--I assumed that as well.)  Look out for an introductory post in the next couple days when I get time. The Eagles played the Ravens today.  Sadly, there's no extra hours to add reading and papers so you can digest what a slip-by that was...