Day 4

Today seemed to blow by for me, literally. From the morning I left for our newest charter school visit to the last moments of our final “teaching” session with Midtown, the unbearable amounts of wind played a huge factor in how I felt the whole day. Because of this, it was hard for me to pay attention during the outdoors parts charter school tour. Regardless, I was able to find some peace whilst indoors. While inside, I found that the students at this particular school were not only very engaged and excited to learn, but also extremely intelligent as well. I could tell the programs this school implemented were working quite well.

After the charter school visit, I had some time to grab a quick lunch, and then I was off to Midtown for the final day of our pre-designed curriculum. Today was interesting in that the students spent much of the day working on their life maps, which they seemed to enjoy quite a bit. One thing I thought was very impressive was that some of the girls in my group actually began to give constructive criticism to another student based on what they had been taught previously in the week. I found it extremely rewarding to know that some of what we had been preaching this week actually stuck with the students; a testament to how we are actually making an impact on their lives.

After Midtown, the class had a chance to eat as a whole, which, aside from some payment complications, was a nice change of pace. This was the only point throughout the trip where I felt like everyone had a good chance to bond/socialize as a whole, which I thought was fun. The Afghan food we ate was incredible, and relatively cheap as well. Our teacher did a great job of picking the food tonight!

3 down, 2 to go

Being able to wake up at 11 AM again today was nice, and not having to go anywhere until 2 was even better. The day officially began at 12:30, and first on the agenda was a talk session with another charter school representative right here in the hostel lobby. I was surprised to find that in this particular charter school, the students were held to much higher standards not only academically but behaviorally than some of the other charter schools we have learned about. I was particularly surprised to find that the students who failed to complete their homework were openly criticized by the rest of the students who did do their homework, all as part of the curriculum at the charter school.

After the session, we made our way right to Midtown for day 3 of our curriculum. This time around, my group focused on “where are going” as a theme for the day, and the students seemed to get very into it. One particular activity which the students really enjoyed was the job fair marketing game. The students used their newly created business cards to go from group member to group member trying to sell themselves to different job titles. They laughed and had a lot of fun with this, which I thought made them enjoy it that much more.

After Midtown, I went to Chaps Pit Beef with some of the classmates and had probably   the best Baltimore food experience of the trip. Going into the endeavor, I knew this particular restaurant was on the Man vs. Food show and was ranked best Pit Beef in Baltimore, so my expectations were very high. After I tried the food, I wasn’t disappointed, and although my stomach was a little restless on the bus ride back, I would still say it was worth it. Looks like I’ll be going to bed well nourished tonight!

Day 2

Coming off of a 4 AM wakeup yesterday, being able to sleep in until 10 AM this morning was a nice change of pace. After making my way down to Dunkin Donuts for a nice breakfast and a crucial cup of coffee, I was ready to embark towards the Elementary School. It was a little rainy to start the day, and the fact that the bus was 20 minutes late didn’t help. Eventually, the bus did come and our group made it to the elementary school. Upon Arrival, I was a little surprised to find that the principle of the school was not expecting us. After a phone call, we met up with our contact, who also seemed a little surprised to see us. We walked in on a class of fifth graders finishing up standardized testing, which was common throughout the elementary and middle school. I was a little discouraged that we didn’t get to see a lot of actual teaching, but what I did see was very humbling. Two fifth graders escorted me and mike to a class of seventh graders in science class, and I was shocked to find at least 30 students being taught and “baby sat” by a 22 year old girl. Personally, I have never had a teacher under 30, so this was a little different for me. After observing the class for a little, I found that not only did the teacher have a hard time teaching the class as a whole, but the students themselves had a hard time approaching the teacher as well. Because the class was doing group projects, many of the students approaching the teacher for questions would have to wait for sometimes up to 5 minutes, which seriously took away from their learning time.

After observing the seventh grade, I found my way to the second grade where the students seemed extremely excited to see us. It was here that we met up with several fifth grade tour guides that seemed very excited and anxious to show us around the school. After the second grade class, we toured the school for a while before we found ourselves lunchless and due back at The Midtown Academy in less than an hour.

Arriving at Midtown was a lot less stressful while already having a full day under our belts. Not surprisingly, that relaxed attitude correlated with our group performance in the class room. Today, our theme was “Where are you From?” and it seemed to go really well with the students. They were all much more relaxed (which says a lot) this time around, and I could tell our group was more relaxed as well. The interviews we conducted seemed to go well as well, as the students all seemed very interested and excited about what conducting an interview would feel like. Still, the most rise we got out of the students was when we told them Gettysburg was ranked 9th in the nation for college campus food. Hopefully we can shift this excitement towards more productive things by the end of the week, but overall things went very well today.

And so it Begins…

Well the trip started off on kind of a rough note for me; I-83 S was conveniently closed on my way in to Gettysburg early this morning and I was barely able to make it in before the bus left at around 9:45 AM. In the middle of my rush to make the bus, I left the cameras I had purchased for my group in my car, realizing this only as the bus was well on its way to Baltimore. All this did was add one more errand to my list upon arrival, and before I even had a chance to unpack my bags in the Hostel, I was already racing through midtown Baltimore looking for a place to buy disposable cameras. In doing so I got a good feel of the area we are staying in, and even found a good sushi place to grab lunch before we left for our first Midtown Academy visit.

Upon arrival at the Midtown Academy, the assistant principal did a great job of introducing us to the curriculum and ways of life at Midtown. Next, we broke into groups and got to observe the kindergarten, 1st, 3rd, and middle school classes for 20 minutes each. I thought this part was very interesting, as I have not been in or witnessed teaching methods for these grade since I experienced them first-hand. It was interesting observing these methods from another perspective, as I was able to note specifically how teachers taught and even disciplined the students if need be.

After the observation period, we got into our groups and made our final preparations for teaching. To my surprise, the students were incredibly well behaved, and were still very well engaged and cooperative when asked to be. They were a little shy initially, but it was nothing a few ice breakers and name games couldn’t fix. I was particularly surprised how much the students loved food and video games, two things I don’t quite remember loving that much at that age. By the end of the day, I can safely say my group did better than expected, and succeeded in getting the students to become more aware of who they are as people and of the paths they might want to start carving for themselves. In addition, they all seemed INCREDIBLY excited to visit Gettysburg. I cannot wait for day two tomorrow! KEEP READING!

Sup Baltimore

Hello, my name is Michael Curland and I am a Junior at Gettysburg College. I am a Political Science major and unfortunately have not taken any previous EDUC classes before this one (EDUC 220). I am from Franklin Lakes New Jersey, and have attended schools in New York since the fifth grade. Because I stopped attending public schools after fourth grade, I have always had a keen interest in what their curriculums provide students with in terms of Imagesecondary school and college preparation. So far, the readings and class discussions we have had in class have been quite thought-provoking, so I am very much looking forward to the first-hand experience this Baltimore trip will provide me. I am very excited to meet the students, as myself and my group have spent a lot of time preparing and editing our curriculum. It will be interesting to see how they react to what we have created!