#BlogElul 6 - Search: So I Went to Google...




The word search immediately makes me think Google. I am sure I am not the only one. I know that it’s Elul and this prompt is intended to inspire reflection and introspection, but I can’t quite seem to get my brain past the notion of an online search for ideas and images.

Maybe one reason for this is that I have finished reading the book “It’s Complicated: the social lives of networked teens” by Danah Boyd. To be honest, I have done little more than think about this book’s impact since setting it down. Yes, it really was that significant.

So I went to Google. I figured that if I was going to write a post about using Google to search, I should go ahead and do it myself.  I googled (yes, it is a verb) “inclusion” and the first hits were, as I expected, mostly education focused. I was also pleasantly surprised to see one of my own posts as the second hit. And yet, I realized that from the moment I pressed “enter” I was thinking more critically about what I might encounter online. I recognized that this search was tailored to my own biases based on my own past search history. Boyd elaborates on this in chapter 7 where she explains that, “most parents, teachers, and teens express reverence toward Google” and “many of the people I met believed that Google was neutral.” She further explains that most of the people she encountered failed to recognize that Google, a for-profit company monetized through advertising, is far from neutral.

This isn’t a bad thing, and it doesn’t mean that we should stop using the search engine. Rather, it illustrates that we have an obligation to teach our students and our children how to view and think critically about the information they access online.

That message is one of this book’s most significant takeaways. As Boyd states in her closing chapter, “Networked publics are here to stay. Rather than resisting technology or fearing what might happen if youth embrace social media, adults should help youth develop the skills and perspective to productively navigate the complication brought about by living in networked publics. Collaboratively, adults and youth can help to create a networked world that we all want to live in.”

As a Jewish Educator this speaks to me of tikkun olam; working as partners to repair and perfect the world.

As a teacher this speaks to me of directly teaching the skills of critical thinking and digital awareness.

As an advocate for inclusion this speaks to me of opening new doors and embracing new possibilities.

It’s Elul, so I am still processing, still reflecting, still searching for the ways that this book can and will impact my work and my students. I believe that this book is an important read for anyone who works with, lives with or cares about teens.

And if anyone has read “It’s Complicated: the social lives of networked teens” and wants to discuss, please let me know!

#BlogElul 5: Know – When You Know Inclusion Works


As we come to the “official” end of summer this Labor Day Weekend, despite being excited for the new school year and new Jewish year ahead, I’m not quite ready to let the joys of summer go completely. And so, I thought it would be the perfect time to take a look back at some wonderful examples showcasing Jewish summer camp inclusion written earlier this summer:
 

How the Micro World of Summer Camp Prepared Me for Full Inclusion in Society – Matan Koch is a “A Jewish Lawyer with a Disability who Blogs on Life, Judaism, Disability and Whatever.” His personal experiences as a camper at URJ Camp Eisner (a Reform Jewish summer camp) serve as a model of camp inclusion done right.


Havdala – The Best Time of the Week – This article, which ran on the Ruderman Family Foundation’s blog, highlights inclusion at Camp Ramah California.

Who’s Your Aaron? Finding a Community of Support at URJ 6 Points Sci Tech Academy – I had the good fortune of serving on faculty during the inaugural summer of the URJ 6 Points Sci Tech Academy and was deeply impressed. This article originally ran on the Sci Tech blog and was picked up by the NY Jewish Week’s New Normal Blog.

These examples broadcast to the world what those of us intimately connected with inclusion already know – inclusion works!

To celebrate successful inclusion opportunities at Jewish summer camps, The Ruderman Family Foundation, in partnership with The National Ramah Tikvah Network and the Foundation for Jewish Camp, introduces Tiptoe 2014: The Inclusion Project – Through Our Eyes.

I hope that many, many campers who know that inclusion works will take the opportunity to share their experiences. 



This post is a part of the month-long series #BlogElul. The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection. We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed. All month, along with others, I'll be blogging a thought or two for each day to help with the month of preparation...
- See more at: http://jewishspecialneeds.blogspot.com/#sthash.kGouz1Yo.dpuf


This post is a part of the month-long series #BlogElul. The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection. We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed. All month, along with others, I'll be blogging a thought or two for each day to help with the month of preparation...


This post is a part of the month-long series #BlogElul. The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection. We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed. All month, along with others, I'll be blogging a thought or two for each day to help with the month of preparation...
- See more at: http://jewishspecialneeds.blogspot.com/#sthash.kGouz1Yo.dpuf



This post is a part of the month-long series #BlogElul. The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection. We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed. All month, along with others, I'll be blogging a thought or two for each day to help with the month of preparation... - See more at: http://jewishspecialneeds.blogspot.com/#sthash.kGouz1Yo.dpuf




This post is a part of the month-long series #BlogElul. The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection. We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed. All month, along with others, I'll be blogging a thought or two for each day to help with the month of preparation... - See more at: http://jewishspecialneeds.blogspot.com/#sthash.kGouz1Yo.dpuf



This post is a part of the month-long series #BlogElul. The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection. We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed. All month, along with others, I'll be blogging a thought or two for each day to help with the month of preparation... - See more at: http://jewishspecialneeds.blogspot.com/#sthash.kGouz1Yo.dpuf
This post is a part of the month-long series #BlogElul. The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection. We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed. All month, along with others, I'll be blogging a thought or two for each day to help with the month of preparation... - See more at: http://jewishspecialneeds.blogspot.com/#sthash.kGouz1Yo.dpuf
This post is a part of the month-long series #BlogElul. The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection. We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed. All month, along with others, I'll be blogging a thought or two for each day to help with the month of preparation... - See more at: http://jewishspecialneeds.blogspot.com/#sthash.kGouz1Yo.dpuf

#BlogElul 4 - Accept: The True Measure of Inclusion




Acceptance is a prompt hand-picked for a post about disability inclusion, right? There are so many directions and I've written about ways to teach our children to be accepting of disabilities and the difference between tolerance and acceptance.

If you talk with parents of children with disabilities or read some of the many parent blogs, you will discover a common thread; parents want their children with disabilities to be accepted for who they are. (Really, it's what ALL parents want for their children...)

Our task as advocates of inclusion is to create spaces where people will be able to say, “Thank you for accepting me for who I am while giving me the courage to grow, explore and reach past my own perceived limitations.”

That’s it. That’s the true measure of inclusion.

At the end of the day it's really not about whether we have the right teaching strategies or the right classroom structure or the right supports. Those things matter, to be sure. I am not making light of the importance of these constructs. But what we most need to give our students, our congregants, our friends and our family members with disabilities is the gift of acceptance. We must accept each of them for who they are while giving them the courage to grow, explore and reach beyond their own perceived limitations. 
                                             
I know it is possible.  



#BlogElul 3 – Bless: Blessed is the One Who Makes Creatures Different



Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha’olam, m’shaneh habriyot - Blessed are You, Adonai our God, ruler of the universe, who makes creatures different.

Diversity. It’s what makes life interesting. How boring it would be if we were all exactly the same! Earlier this summer I used a metaphor of fireworks as a successful model for inclusion, illustrating the significance of diversity. There are many other examples out there and so much written about the value of diversity. 
 
We should be celebrating diversity. And to do so requires actively teaching it. The Egg Activity is one lesson that you might use. This Survival Kit is another.

I’d love to hear other ways that you actively teach diversity.


This post is a part of the month-long series #BlogElul. The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection. We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed. All month, along with others, I'll be blogging a thought or two for each day to help with the month of preparation...