May 8, 2008

5/7/08 Service Learning...The End of a Great Experience

It's official: I have completed my learning experience at Augsburg-Fairview Academy for ARCH 1701H. With approximately 11 hours of service in total, I have fulfilled the course requirement for service learning, which is a nice relief for a busy college student. But I really viewed my experience tutoring high school students at Augsburg-Fairview to be much more than a required assignment for a college class; I viewed it as an OPPORTUNITY to give back. This positive mindset has gotten me up an hour earlier than usual on Wednesday mornings this semester fired up and ready to go out and make a difference.

It was a relief to wake up knowing that I would be finishing my service learning requirements, but it was also sad to think about the fact that I would probably not be working with the good people at Augsburg-Fairview again. IThis semester, I had the tremendous opportunity to work with an extremely grateful, welcoming, kind staff and student body. Each morning, I was welcomed by Mr. Matuseki and the students with a smile and immediately brought up to speed on what the class was working on.

This morning was no different, as I was promptly welcomed and thanked for coming. The class was small today; only five kids. It was a new rotation, so they were just getting started on a new unit. Mr. Mat had the kids working on yesterday's homework assignment during the first half of class. I helped a guy who didn't do much of the assignment at home and was scrambling to get as much done as possible before Mr. Mat collected the assignment. I tried to slow him down a bit and convince him that it would be best to do a few problems correctly than all of the assignment wrong. The assignment was dealing with finding the domain of functions, so I tried to explain the process in as simple of terms as possible (such as defining domain as "what "x" cannot equal for the function to remain a function) He began to slow down and try to understand the assignment, even though he only finished about 1/4 of the assignment and didn't receive much credit.

May 1, 2008

4/30/08 Service Learning

Today was one of the last days of class for the current rotation in Mr. Mat's class. The kids were working on their final project on the laptops and on finishing up homework assignments. Most kids were working on the projects and didn't need much help. I spent the hour today helping a girl on a homework assignment from a few days ago which was assigned a day that she missed class. Since she missed class, I taught her the material she missed, dealing with statistics and its representation through circle and bar graphs. She was a little rusty when it came to compass and protractor use for drawing the circle graphs, so we spent a good portion of the hour working on angles and their measurements. Just before I had to leave, she finished the assignment, though. It was really fun teaching her an entire lesson on my own. I am used to just clarifying information they had already been taught in class and helping them problems with little details, but today offered me the unique opportunity of doing some actual 'teaching' rather than just helping. It was really a rewarding experience to know that I helped her get caught up so that she will do well on the final exam and project. If I hadn't been there today, she probably wouldn't have gotten the one-on-one attention that I was able to give her, as Mr. Mat was very busy jumping around answering questions about the requirements for the final project.

April 23, 2008

4/23/08 Service Learning

I returned to Mr. Mat's classroom this morning after a week away due to Augsburg-Fairview's schoolwide testing last week. A different rotation of kids was there today. I recognized many of them from earlier in the semester; I think this may have been the first group I worked with back in February. Since they were a new rotation, they were just starting a new unit on statistics. Today, Mr. Mat spent most of the period lecturing on box plots. The kids did a short hands-on penny data collection activity, for which they had to record the dates of a handful of pennies and then translate this data into a box plot. Mr. Mat let them work on their homework toward the end of the period, and I jumped around from table to table offering help getting started. They really seemed to grasp alot of the content well, however, needing very little extensive explanations.

April 9, 2008

4/9/08 Service Learning Journal

This morning, Mr. Mat's class was working finishing up their trigonometric graph project that they had just been starting last Wednesday during my tutoring time by using computer-aided graphing software. Today, they were working on hand-drawn graphs to turn in for a final grade. They also have a test tomorrow, so it was critical that they understood all six of the trig graphs thoroughly. I worked with the same table as last Wednesday. They were relieved to see me walk into the room, as they were struggling with getting their paper graphs started. I helped them along, showing them with a graphing calculator what the graphs were supposed to look like if ideally drawn. After some review pointers, they caught on really well and were eventually able to complete the assignment on their own. As always, their kind and appreciative attitudes were uplifting. It certainly makes the pains of rolling out of bed a few hours earlier than normal well worth it to see the real impact you're having on these kids' lives.

April 2, 2008

4/2/08 Service Learning

This morning I returned to Augsburg-Fairview after two weeks of leave for my spring break followed by theirs. It was nice to get the warm welcome from the students and teachers who hadn't seen me in a while. Mr. Matt's class was preparing for a final project dealing with the graphs of trigonometric functions. He issued laptops to students, allowing them to use a program called the Geometer's Sketchpad to sketch and analyze graphs. He went through a tutorial first and then allowed students to work on their own. I helped a table who needed a little help getting the program down and then helped a very polite and eager student compare her graphs and discover what happens when different variables in the 'sin' graph change.

March 5, 2008

3/5/08 Service Learning

It was snowing this morning; the sidwalks and roads were covered in a slushy mix of mud and snow. But it wasn't unbearably cold, so it turned out to be a nice walk down Hennepin Avenue this morning. Mr. Mat's class was studying scientific notation this morning. Today's class was building on a previous lecture on the topic, so the second half of the class period was devoted to working on homework. I enjoyed having a larger block of time to work one-on-one with the kids. They weren't at all shy this morning, as I was jumping all around the room to help where I could. I had the opportunity to work with nearly half of the students in the class today, which was a nice change from having just a couple wanting help. The kids were very well behaved and polite today, thanking me for my help and sharing my help among each other respectfully.

February 27, 2008

2/27/08 Service Learning

This bright sunny morning marked my fourth service learning experience at Augsburg-Fairview. The weather was a pleasant 15 degrees at 8 AM--a nice change from the last few times. Mr. Mat had a new set of kids today; I believe their rotation has taken effect since my last visit. They were working with percentage increase/decrease over time; using graphing and scientific calculators and learning to plot practical application problems on the cartesian plane. The new group seems very eager; I was greeted very warmly by a number of the kids and sat with four of them at a table near the back of the classroom. Mr. Mat went through a number of problems on the board. As he did so, I clarified certain key points that the kids at my table had trouble grasping right away. While many of the kids were great with this new group, there did seem to be more disinterested and disruptive kids in the class than with the previous rotation. One, in fact, had to be asked to leave. But all in all, the new group seems like a great group of kids. I look forward to working with them.

February 20, 2008

Service Learning 2/20/08

This chilly Wednesday morning marked my third service learning experience at Augsburg-Fairview Academy. I worked with the math class once again, which today was preparing for tomorrow's chapter test. Math teacher Tom Matuseki led the class, which had a pretty good turnout today, in review problems on the board. I had the chance to work one-on-one with a guy who had missed alot of class and was a little behind the rest. The class worked a bit with the electronic multiple choice buzzer system again. The increased level of interaction and unique nature of these types of questions seems to engage the kids in a much more effective way than traditional paper and pencil math problems. In fact, Mr. Matuseki announced to an eruption of cheers from the kids that the test would contain some electronic questions. It has been interesting seeing which learning techniques work for the kids and which don't. Coming from a rural, all-Caucasian, traditional public school, I really had no idea how other schools were set up. Coming to a diverse inner city alternative high school has opened my eyes to a whole new realm of education. So far, service learning has been a great experience for me; not only as an opportunity work with kids, but in the new culture, education style, and environment I have experienced in doing so.

February 14, 2008

Service Learning 2/13/08

Today was my second service learning experience at Augsburg-Fairview Academy in downtown Minneapolis. The initial first time jitters were long gone as I rode the 16 from Willey Hall to the corner of Hennepin and 4th Street and then walked through the architecturally rich Hennepin Avenue Theater District. The historic stone buildings really stood out to me this time, especially in their juxtoposition with the new steel high rises overshadowing their once great height. I was surprised to see so few kids in the math class today. There started out with just two guys. A few other students joined over the course of the class period. I was the only tutor today. The math teacher was preparing the students for an upcoming test, so they played a multiple-choice trivia game with electronic remote control "buzzers" containing questions on conics and their equations. The few kids that were present didn't seek much help from me or the teacher today, as it was a casual review day for them. Still, it was nice to get a feel for how they learn by observing their game.

February 7, 2008

2/6/08 Service Learning

I began my service learning experience this morning at Augsburg-Fairview Academy in downtown Minneapolis on Hennepin Avenue. Having already met with Heidi, the coordinator, and the teaching staff at my orientation session last Wednesday, I was comfortable and had no apprehensions going into my first tutoring session. Today, I was to help struggling math students. The math teacher introduced me to Ryan, a volunteer former math teacher who tutors during the same 8:30-9:30 time slot. Their math class was primarily lecture today, so Ryan and I took in the lecture and got a feel for the math program and the curriculum of the class. Towards the end of class, the kids got time to work on homework problems pertaining to the lecture. I worked with a group of girls who were extremely friendly and polite. I could tell that graphing parabolas wasn't the most exciting or easy topic for them, but they had a very positive attitude and were determined to learn the material. During the course of the class period, they thanked me about a dozen times for my help, which was very cool to hear! They were also very curious about the University of Minnesota and the reason for my being there to help them. I explained the course and the field of architecture a little bit to them, including our desire to define architecture as a service. They were all extremely interested in the university and treated me like an ambassador from some great nation or something. I left today very satisfied and uplifted. I look forward to future opportunities to help these kids succeed in academics and in life. After just one day of service, I truly believe what Heidi told me during the orientation; over time, amazing results will be seen in working with these kids.