Day 1: A Tale of Two Neighborhoods

One day in Baltimore has already left an impression on me. Driving into the city through slums even before we arrived at the hostel, made my mental images from our class readings on inner city environments come to life. I can’t imagine having to grow up in such a broken down neighborhood with  trash and impoverishment everywhere; it makes me appreciate my grassy backyard a lot. Yet, I recognized that my mind  was having a conflict: many of these streets reminded me of those I have walked across in Manhattan several times before in my life, yet this was different…they were not overflowing with the wealthy tourists, businesspeople, and artists that give the Big Apple life. These streets cried out for a pick-me-up. As our class made the walk from the hostel to Midtown Academy, there was a notable shift to clean streets, larger buildings, and colorful eateries. We really found Baltimore’s wealth around the inner harbor, the tourist trap, where many of the people passing through may never know of the dirty neighborhoods only several blocks away.

Also, Eutaw.

Soph Spring 2 001Group 8A’s classroom



Who are you? (Day 1)

It was pretty hard to get up this morning, but once I was up, I was running around getting everything ready last minute. The class was meeting at 9:30 in Constitution Lot and I got there right on time. I usually hate driving more than an hour anywhere, but the trip went by a lot quicker than I expected. We got to the hostel and after putting away our stuff, most of the girls went to Lexington Market to get some food. Then we went back to the hostel to get a review of what we had to do and then decided to walk over to Midtown Academy together. I noticed that the two sides of the hostel seem like completely different neighborhoods. The neighborhood around Midtown seemed much wealthier than the area around Lexington. It was really weird because it seemed like there were two different worlds within 20 minutes of each other.

Anyway, so we finally get to the school (I really hope I never have to walk there by myself because I’d probably end up getting lost) and the assistant principal talks to us for a bit. Then we went around and observed a couple classrooms. We went to see kindergarteners, first-graders, third-graders and a drum beat class. The kindergarteners didn’t sit still very well, but they were so eager to participate. I was really impressed by the presentations by the third-graders. We only got to see one full presentation, but she was really knowledgeable about her topic. She was talking about Dr. Ben Carson and at the end, one of her classmates asked her how he did the brain surgery, and she explained a step by step process of how he separated a Siamese twins. Overall, all the kids were very willing to participate in their class, which surprised me.

Then it was finally time for the College and Career Institute. Our theme for the day was ‘Who are you?’ and we did activities that focused a lot on their activities. The kids were really well-behaved and listened well, but also funny. Here are some first impressions of them: Maya likes to make people laugh. She seems close with Jasmyne and also talks a lot with Taylor. Ivan participates a lot, but he doesn’t seem as confident in himself as he should be. Kalyn is still pretty quiet. Rodney is pretty laid-back. They’re all so fun loving though, which is evident by the picture I took today. They really loved the photo thing. We gave them their cameras today and they had some pretty good creative ideas about what to take pictures of. I’m also just really glad they all seem to get along well with each other. They also got really excited when we had them show us around the school and it was really awesome to see how much they got into it. I’m really excited to see what their pictures will develop into!


First Day…One Love…

Driving to the school, I didn’t really know what to expect.I wondered if we were going to have aggressive, loud, disobedient children; or if we they were given a prep talk before this week, and told to behave. Something must have happened because the children were more behaved than expected.

I loved how the children respected each other when one was speaking.

I loved how they raised they’re hand and waited to be called on.

I loved that they did their work in complete silence. (It was so quiet when they worked that I had to ask if they were willing to talk and work at the same time. They said they didn’t mind, and I was able to just get to know about why they signed up for the program, and what their school is like.)

I loved how honest my kids were!

I loved how engaged they were and how they made sure to pay attention.

I loved their humor.

I loved getting to know them based on our them of “who are you?” for today’s lesson.

I loved the questioning.

I loved talking to them on a more personal and informal level.

I loved how I was able to connect with a lot of them because of the TV shows they watched, and things they were in to career wise.

Ivan, Maya, Rodney, Jasmyne, Kalyn, Taylor…One Love!

I’m excited to see them tomorrow. I’m excited to get to know them more and to fill them up with lessons from my teachings, and my experience.

Day 1: Breaking the Ice

Today we arrived at our hostel in Baltimore at around 11:00 AM.  Staying at a hostel is a first for me but goes along with my trip theme of trying new things.  I have to honestly say sleeping on a bunk bed and sharing a single bathroom with eight other guys is less than ideal for me, but I have definitely woken up in worse places in the course of my four years at Gettysburg.

We arrived at Midtown Academy at around 12:15 PM.  I have never been to a charter school and I was very surprised to see a K-8 school established in such a small building.  I learned that the building was originally built as a church and was later converted into a charter school.  The building itself is beautifully designed but less than ideal as a school for 180 students.

Midtown Academy: Front of the building

Midtown Academy: Front Entrance

The photo above illustrates the school’s elegance and previous history as a church.

Whatever Midtown Academy lacks in space, it more than makes up for it with a talented staff that makes the most of all of the school’s resources and motivated students.  Today our group did our best to break the ice with our group of 8th grade students.  We prepared the room and played many different games like College Jeopardy in order to both entertain and educate the students at the same time.

Preparing our teaching environment

Preparing our teaching environment

The picture above shows Phellix and Maddie setting up the room before our group of students came up for the college institute.  I believe that our first day was very successful and what I took away from a teaching perspective is that preparation is the key to a successful lesson.

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!

More Baltimore DAY ONE!

Day 1: Completed! Today, I woke up early in the morning packed my things last minute and met up with the class. Got on the bus, and just like that, I was in Baltimore. We got set up at the Hostel where we were staying at and grabbed a quick lunch. After that we immediately took off to Midtown Academy Charter School. Assistant Principal Penny greeted us. She gave us a warm introduction and answered some questions. We then observed a few classrooms. Midtown Academy is a small school, number-wise and space-wise. However, you can sense that it is a close community. After out observation my group and I went to the Math room and prepared for our first class.

I was leading this day. The objective of the day was to get to know each other, set the tone for the week, and get a sense of their general knowledge regarding Colleges and applying for them. We started off with introductions, as we went around I noticed we only had four students, which means one was absent. I also sense that they seemed drained from going through a whole school day. After introductions we did an ice breaker call “Never have I ever”. They seemed to enjoy the questions that they were asked. After we loosened up we played College Jeopardy. I spilt the class into two teams and we played jeopardy. Team “_HotStreak” beat team “#TeamAwesome”, however it was a close one. After jeopardy I realized that I was moving faster than the planned schedule. So we took a snack break and talked about our interests, mostly music. After that break it seemed that the students became more comfortable with us and they started to become more active. Next, we each wrote a poem about our dreams. I was happy to see that everyone participated. After all poems were read we had an open discussion on what they want to learn. Today was a successful day, although we did a lot of things on the spot, it all came together. I am ready to go back at it tomorrow.

Our first day in Baltimore

It’s only been one afternoon and I’m exhausted- but in a good way.  We arrived to Baltimore around 11:30 this morning, checked into our hostel, found lunch, and then walked to Mid-Town Academy for the first time!  We spent our afternoon talking with Ms. Penny (the assistant principle), observing classes, and then running day one of our college and career institute.  Midtown Academy is a k-8 charter school in an old church that has 180 students total.  Given the small school environment, teachers know their students and parents of the students very well.

This was clear when watching the students and teachers interact.  I observed middle school humanities and science classes and then observed kindergarten and first grade classes.  It was quite the juxtaposition, but I loved seeing such a large range of ages in the different classrooms.  I especially liked sitting in on a Humanities class, where the kids were in small-group book-clubs.  The three students that I was sitting with were discussing “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” and having a very thoughtful conversation about the book and quotes they found that they felt related to their lives.  It was so cool to see kids so enthusiastic and engaged about the literature they were reading.

The first day of our college and career institute went very smoothly.  Four of us Urban Ed students were leading a group of six 8th graders from Midtown Academy.  The main point of today was breaking the ice and getting to know the kids in our group!  We played some games, and then talked about what the kids already know about life after highschool and what they want to know.  They asked us some thoughtful questions about life in college, such as what our schedules are like, how much time we spend on homework, etc. We, then made goal collages, where the kids cut pictures out of magazines to represent themselves and what they would like to do in the future.  It was exciting to see the kids so engaged in the curriculum that my group spent so much time planning.  We were also slightly nervous because we found out a few days ago that we have a girl with down’s syndrome in our group and none of us had previous experience working with kids with down’s syndrome before. We were told that she has an aide with her and the kids have been in school with her for a while.   The girl was very animated and clearly excited from the beginning and it was really cool to see other kids collaborating with her and helping her out by finding pictures she might be able to use in her collage.  Overall, it was a great day and I’m looking forward to the rest of the week!