Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mid winter

Wow. It is so much easier to write about school when I'm on vacation. I just took a hot yoga class at Core Power Yoga and am drinking a cup of super smoky tea in a coffee shop in Denver. Slippery People, by the Talking Heads is playing and the sun is out. Life is good.

We have been in school for 103 days. To celebrate the 100th day of school, my class created a model of the Empire State Building using 100 milk cartons. Though it is not to scale, it was fun to make. In the process, I might have held up my coteacher at hot glue gun-point. Inappropriate? Probably. The kids won't tell though.

Check out the muscles on LeBron.
Muscles, not warts. 

For those of you who don't remember, February is Black History Month. We have been discussing people who inspire us, black leaders, the civil rights movement and the way that the work done by those who came before us have made things possible that we often take for granted. One way that we did this is by creating a time line and looking at the different time periods, the job opportunities, and educational opportunities available for different races and genders.

<3 colored duct tape

"Everyone got an education, they just got it different ways. Like Harriet Tubman had to get hers in secret, and Rosa Parks got hers in a school just for black kids and Michelle Obama got to go to any school she wanted." -student

By starting with the question "Who inspires us?" we worked backward to look at what had to be in place for their success. When we started the unit, my students were not understanding that Beyonce was significant beyond being a superstar with a great voice and great style. She is bagillionaire, a world traveler, a household name and there was a time when her fame and success would not have been possible.

Ben Carson separates conjoined twins. The student
who wrote about him is a twin. The match was perfect.
On a different assignment she wrote, "I want to be a
doctor like Benjamin Carson." YES. It worked!

"Ms. Morrison and Ms. Anderson couldn't work together if they didn't stop the segregation. I am so very glad and proud that ended because if it didn't happen, I couldn't have the most wonderful teachers in the world. I hate segregation." -excerpt from kid's writing notebook :)

They got it. It took awhile, but connections were made. Over the course of the unit, the "people who inspire us" moved from those who simply have fame (Lil' Wayne) to those who have overcome obstacles and have had to work hard for their success (Michelle Obama, Ben Carson). Valuing and admiring hard work. I suppose that is one thing that I attempt to teach my kids ALL YEAR LONG.

Of course, there were some misunderstandings that needed to be cleared up along the way:
"Thurgood Marshall was an NAACP Chef Lawyer." 

Leaving out that "i" makes quite a difference ;)

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