Friday, May 20, 2011

Spring Semester 2011

Spring 2011... what a crazy semester. I have finally finished three important classes in my academic career: Curriculum and Assessments, Technology Applications, and Elem. & Sec. Observations. By far, the Curr. & Assess. class was the hardest. It was the final project that did me in. I had to create a Scope and Sequence for a high schoool Digital Media II class. What that means is, I had to plan a curriculum for the whole year, six 6-week units. To be fair, I was the one who picked Digital Media, which is not necessarily my forte, but I have a great interest in digital media being used in the classroom.

For the first six weeks, I had to create four lessons, each culminating into an art project, that included all the PowerPoints, rubrics, handouts, and any other additional material needed to conduct those classes. These lesson plans included the day to day planning, including questions for dialogue. Since this was for a Digital Media II unit, I decided to create a website instead of handouts. Talk about time consuming. There are essential questions for dialogic interactions among the students and teacher. These units have been designed to be student-centered, meaning that students identify and create responses to issues that affect them in their lives. All the while, students will be taught to reflect critically on those issues with the hopeful outcome of instilling and promoting students to become active citizens in local and global communities with a heightened awareness and sense of responsibility.

Who said art class was an easy 'A'?

I think a lot of people feel that way about art, but honestly, if you have ever taken an art class with a good art teacher, there is way more to art than cutting and pasting. Art is not about the materials, it is not about painting 'happy trees' (Thanks, Bob Ross), there is more to art than the splattering of paint or the drawing of lines. Art is about something.

Have you ever tried to just sit down and create something? Anything? Try it. Sit down right now with a blank sheet of paper and pencil. Now, CREATE!

It's not easy... is it? There is a lot that goes into an artist's process. There are source materials, reading, viewing, experiementation, etc. Being an artist is a never-ending process. We are constantly putting ourselves through professional development everytime we go to an art museum, everytime we pick up a newpaper or read an article, everytime we talk to people or other artists. I digress...

The point is, we teach children art so that they may see in different ways, become creative and innovative thinkers, have a voice that can be expressed visually (or otherwise, the arts is a huge category!), and become critical thinkers in today's society. Not everyone is cut out for art class, some students would rather read or play sports, but for those that need something else, WHY NOT ART?!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

This makes for some good reading...

The tragedies that continually befall the people in Gaza and all of PALESTINE are attrocious, whether the victim is Palestinian or Israeli. Goldstone, who headed the UN reporting team, is an international jurist and JEWISH. In an address to the Jewish community on May 4, 2010, Goldstone said, "I have spent much of my professional life in the cause of international criminal justice. It would have been hypocritical for me to continue to speak out against violations of international law and impunity for war crimes around the world but remain silent when it came to Israel simply because I am Jewish."

This article is regarding the US response to the war crimes that were cited against Israel, which greatly outnumber those cited for Palestine.
US House Rejects Goldstone Report

This is Israel's response to the Goldstone report.

Israel Prepares to Fight War Crimes Claims After UN Gaza Report

This is an excerpt from a Wikipedia article regarding the Goldstone Report.

The United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict was a team established by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) during the Gaza War as an independent international fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in connection with the conflict.[1] The mission was established on 3 April 2009, by the President of the UNHRC. Richard Goldstone, a respected international jurist from South Africa,[2] was appointed to head the mission,[1] accompanied by Christine Chinkin of the United Kingdom,
Hina Jilani of Pakistan, and Desmond Travers of Ireland.[3]

The mission's final report was released 15 September 2009, and accused both Israeli Defense Forces and Palestinian militants of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity. It recommended that the sides openly investigate their own conduct and, should they fail to do so, that the allegations to be brought to the International Criminal Court.[4][5] The Israeli government rejected the report as prejudiced and full of errors.[6] The militant Islamic group Hamas, deemed a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, and others, which governs the Gaza Strip, initially rejected the report's findings,[7] but then urged world powers to embrace it.[8]

The controversial[9][10][11][12] report received wide support among developing countries in the United Nations, while Western countries were split between supporters and opponents of the resolutions endorsing the report. Supporters argued that the findings were accurate, that Goldstone was a fair, credible figure, and that the recommendations of the report should be implemented. Critics argued that the report was factually and/or methodologically flawed, and motivated by anti-Israel bias in the UNHRC.[13]

On 16 October 2009, the UNHRC passed a resolution endorsing the report and criticizing Israel, and on 4 November 2009, the United Nations General Assembly passed a non-binding resolution calling for independent investigations to be conducted by Israel and Palestinian armed groups on allegations of war crimes described in the report. On 3 November 2009, the United States House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution denouncing the report as "irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy." In contrast, the European Parliament passed a resolution endorsing the Goldstone report in March 2010. The resolution called on the bloc's member states to "publicly demand the implementation of [the report's] recommendations and accountability for all violations of international law, including alleged war crimes."

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Imam al-Haddad on Giving Good Counsel to Fellow Muslims

I have met a few new Muslimahs (female Muslims) over the past month or two. Inevitably, I am asked questions regarding some basics of Islam, such as prayer. Even though I have been a Muslim for over two years, I know I am still young in Islam. I am learning still, and I hope I will always be learning.

It's not easy to give someone a helping hand, or advice, when you are sometimes unsure of your own foothold. It is always a good idea to be cautious when giving advice, but lend yourself to your brothers and sisters, if you are able. I think this will create a sense of community and further the bond between us all. It feels good to help someone.

The above link will take you to an article I just read. It is short and concise. It really drives home the point of being truthful with our brothers and sisters when giving advice, and to not be envious of others. I enjoyed reading it.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Finals are over!

Thank God! No more tests to study for, or essays to write. No more assignments due and extra credit. I feel like I have been released from the grinding stone. Now I just need to get this apartment in order. I have all summer to go through my possessions and give away what I do not need or want anymore. It will be great to downsize and donate goods to someone who could use them.

I can get to some serious reading, start some exploratory art this summer, and refinish a chest of drawers. The reading will be from Moez Masoud's website. There are a lot of interesting topics. For example, there is a topic about the proper way to carry out Jihad, which is not the extremist factions' perverted meaning of Jihad. There are also some suggested books that pique my interest as well.

I have some new media that I want to try out. I bought a material called Dura-Lar, which is like a cross between acetate and mylar. I am going to work on incorporating that into my art. We'll see how that works out.

This chest of drawers was given to me by my last landlord. It's a horrible green and off white. I am going to strip it of all its paint and repaint it. I am putting together a wildlife theme for my baby's room, so I want to paint the body of the piece black and the drawer fronts white. The handles on the drawers are a long horizontal piece of wood that is hollowed from the underneath. Those I will probably paint black since our hands will constantly be grabbing in that area. I do not want to see the oils and dirt from our hands discolor the handles.

There's my summer in a nutshell. Now, if I can stay motivated...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Too Much Stress...

I am attending graduate school. This is my first semester and thankfully I had decided on taking internet courses this Spring. It has been hellish trying to get back into the swing of completing assignments, cramming for tests, and studying for finals (which I am currently engaged in now). Saturday will be the end of my misery. I have one on-campus final left and an essay to turn in tomorrow night. The subject? Educational psychology.

I have returned to school to get my Master of Arts in Art Education with a certification in teaching. I am excited about teaching art. When I was living in Alexandria, Egypt I had an opportunity to teach art in 1st-8th grade. Although then, I knew nothing of lesson plans and multicultural education. After this semester of school, I can retrospectively look at the myriad mistakes I made and a few good lessons I had. It was hard to teach and have fun with art in a culture that did not seem to value art the same way I had grown to love it. It was hard for the students to connect to the purpose of art. They could not see the value and I was ill equipped to change that. Hopefully, now that I am more prepared, I will be able to touch the lives of students where ever I happen to be teaching.

Moez Masoud

If you go to the above link, a short presentation given by Moez Masoud will download in a RealPlayer media box.

The first time I saw this presentation, it was completely by chance. My husband had downloaded it from YouTube. Ever since that day, nearly a year ago now, any time I feel weak in my faith I think of how Moez spoke in that presentation. I think of the words he said, and the way he said them. He has love in his heart and it spills from his mouth. I want that. I want to feel what he feels.

Having faith and remaining true to that faith are two different paths. I can have faith that Allah is there; that He is watching me. I can have faith that he only wants the best for me. But that does not mean I will always acknowledge the attention Allah gives me. That does not mean I will always pray fard (the obligatory five prayers). Only having faith guarantees passivity in faith. Remaining true to faith is an active path that I need to walk. Remaining true to faith means I am compelled by that faith. that love of Allah to continue to fight the good fight, and actively acknowledge Him who created me for worship.

I am not perfect. I do not always pray. I do not always do as I should. I know this sometimes before I act, other times in reflection of the day's going-ons. If I could only live in the present and be fully aware of my mind-body, I feel I could shed my bad behaviors.

I listened to an interview with Moez Masoud that was aired on a public radio broadcast from WUNC in North Carolina.

The above link is that broadcast. It has given me hope that I can change my path of passive faith to one of active love-faith. Moez had his ups and downs and had a beginning like most contemporary youths. He definitely had a life that I could campare to my own. He even spoke about how he did not pray, and after a life changing "awakening," how he dealt with certain issues of expressing his faith. He stated that he put an injunction on himself that he would not sleep until he made sure to say all his prayers, even if he had to lump them together. Since my slip ups consist of not always praying, this really stood out to me.

He changed. He changed not because he was embarrassed or worried about his reputation as a Muslim. He changed because he realized Allah gave him a chance to change his behavior. Allah loves us so much to give us another chance. Even me. Alhamdulillah rabbil alameen arahman iraheem.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Learning to Read and Write Arabic

I am learning to read and write Arabic now. It is important as a Muslim to know certain things in Arabic, such as prayer and praise for God (dhikr). I am not downgrading praises in any other language, because we go to God as we are. Although, it is nice to be able to praise him in another language. The best book I have found is "The Arabic Alphabet: How to Read and Write It" by Nicholas Awde and Putros Samano. It's a small book, but it's powerful. I have only sat down with this book 4 times and I am already writing words in Arabic and reading a little. It's kind of funny, because I can read the letters that are typed and I can't understand a thing I am reading. It is like reading a scientific journal on quantum physics without a science degree. You read the words, and you might know what one or two words mean, but you can't make heads or tails of the information in a cohesive body.

Just like learning to ride a bike, it will take practice. I love to write Arabic. I am an artist, so I look at writing Arabic more like drawing. Another really nice book is "Arabic Script." Although this book isn't about learning to read or write, it shows the many different calligraphic fonts of Arabic. It even has great examples of the names of God and phrases in Arabic, such as Basmala (Bismillah) meaning "In the name of God."