April 29, 2008

Green Central 4-28-08

Today I was back with Becca, and the fourth graders. the kids were really inatentive today, unfortunately. Becca had trouble keeping their attention. I probably could have done more to help. we did some homework to start off, as usual. math again. once that was done, I quizzed Julio on his multiplication facts until he got bored, and started coloring a picture of Curious George. Then Becca called us to the center of the classroom to sit in a circle. we were starting a unit on the environment, so she tried to get the kids to tell her what they knew about global warming and the greenhouse effect, etc. they didn't seem very interrested, and David made a lot of distracting noises and snide remarks. he had to go take a break at least three times. Jordan, who was new to the group seemed to like the way David was disrespecting Becca, so he started interupting and disrupting as well. finally, in frustration, Becca tried drawing a picture of the earth and it's atmosphere in an attempt to regain the attention of the students. she made it clear several times that they would lose choice time if she had to drag the lesson out longer because of their interruptions. Once we were done talking about the greenhouse effect, Becca started explaining an expiriment that the students were going to do to learn more about global warming. she instructed them to split into two groups, and gave each group a jar. they put dirt, seeds, and water in the jars. one jar was covered with plastic wrap, the other left uncovered. each jar had a thermometer in it, and Becca explained that the group would be observing the jars for the next couple days to see what changes would occur in each. It sounded pretty interresting to me, but the kids focused on messing with the dirt, making comments on how to separate the groups, etc. Then came choice time, and not a moment to soon! the kids were about ready to explode with energy. due to the cold weather, the activities were Typing, Gym, and DDR. I went with Julio and Julia to Typing, where they played a Typing game on the computers for fifteen minutes before they were allowed to play other games. Julio tried to quit typing early, and I had to tell him he wasn't allowed to yet. Julia would try to open other programs while I had my back turned. I made it clear to her as well what was expected. once their fifteen minutes of typing were up, they started playing a game involving moving a marble through an obstacle cours using the arrow keys. there were many levels, and they seemed to be racing to see who could finish the most levels by the time choice time was over. Julio got frustrated several times, and I tried to help, but sometimes I messed up. His sister came over to do levels for him when he got stuck. It was rather fun to watch. the day came to a close, and when I left the other volunteer with the kids, they were still playing on the computers, waiting for their bus to be called.

April 25, 2008

Blog Prompt #7

These are my proposed coverpages for the Millenium goal 6 term project. our focus is on relating personal stories of AIDS victims to the most relevant global issues regarding this epidemic.

Cover page.jpg

AIDS cover 2.jpg

AIDS cover 3.jpg

Blog Prompt #6

One of my favorite magazines is one that I have subscribed to for years, National Geographic. It is a very well know magazine with a proffesional look. it often features articles on topics similar to those discussed in our term projects. the artistic combination of excellent photography, well researched articles, and graphics in a very sensible layout gives this magazine its eye enticing effect. I think the following examples would be helpful when designing the format for our final document for our term project.

National Geographic Contents.jpg

National Geographic Behind the Scenes.jpg

Boreal Forest complete.jpg

Green Central 4-21-08

Today wasanother beautiful day. we worked on homework in the cafeteria, because there was a special visitor coming. worked on some math again, but with another group of kids this time. they wer apparently 4th graders, but I didn't recognise any of them. there must be lots of 4th graders! anyway, homework went slow, because the boy I was helping didn't have the best english, and he seemed to think he had to do a particular problem in his workbook that required dividion, but claimed he didn't know how to divide. I had to back track to multiplication and explain its relation to division, and draw out all the ways a division problem can be represented. finally he caught on. I think he wanted me to just tell him the answer. don't we all want that! We then went up to the classroom where we met a woman from the raptor center, and a great horned owl named lois. she had a lot of interresting information on owls, and I was amazed how quietly the kids sat and listened for the relatively long presentation. It was my job to make sure they stayed quiet, and didn't get to close to the owl and startle it, as it could potentially harm them. the kids were really engaged, asking questions, and passing around samples of feathers and claws. Choice time was outside again, but this time the boys introduced us to a new form of soccer that they calle knock out. basically everyone was trying to get the ball for themselves and score a goal. if you made it in, you left the field, the last one still on the field at the end lost. boys love competition, i guess that's why they are so into sports, and why ACES focuses on this free time to interact and learn positive lessons from sportsmanship, fair play, and accomplishing set goals. lets just call it fun!

Green Central 4-14-08

Today I worked with the Exercise and Nutrition group. I met some new kids, and had to become familiar with them and their behavior issues. it didn't take long to figure out who really wanted help with their homework. we worked on some math problems in their workbooks, and I did my best to explain common denomenators. once homework was done, we started working on the nutrition exercise for the day, a worksheet about minerals. the students had to use highliters to mark the key words in the descriptions that explained in what foods each nutrient was found. this required some guidance, but mainly keeping them on task. some finished quickly while others took longer, and were less interested in getting everything right. one of the boys was clearly smart, because he would offer answers rather than try to get me to tell him what it was, but when his buddies would start to distract him, he would goof off. I tried to make it clear that they had to work first, and play later. i think some of these kids just need a positive role model or a little encouragement, and they are going to succeed. ohters seem like they could be harder to get through to. I guess all we can do is keep trying. The beautiful weather today meant that we went outside for choice time. the main activity was soccer. it amazes me how good some of these kids are at soccer, especially compared with how bad some of us volunteers are. it was obvious they had a lot of energy to burn! It was another fun day, and I feel the kids I met have great potential, they just may not see it yet.

Green Central 3-10-08

I was with the fourth graders again today! we worked on homework to begin, and there was some dificulty with staying focused, but I was able to help one of the kids with his writing assignment. There was a visitor today, I'm not sure if he was a parent or a volunteer, but he was hispanic. this really seemed to be meaningful to the hispanic children, and they worked a lot with him on their "Fish Tales" which is what we were learning about. they were really well behaved when he was around. they probably knew that he could understand whatever they might say, and they also likely just appreciated him coming to help out. they could identify with one another better. I worked with one of the boys who had already written his story, but needed help revising it. I involved him in the correction of his spelling errors, and explained how he could improve some of his sentences by adjusting certain arrangements of words, etc. Finally it came time for the kids to share their fish tales. some of them were very clever, and everyone contributed. the team lead explained to the kids the structure of a story through the elements of plot, while students held up signs labeled with each component. it was a fun exercise, but by this point the kids were getting rather antsy. i acctually left early that day, so I wasn't around for choice time, but I had fun hearing the stories the students had written.

March 5, 2008

Blog Prompt #5

BLOG PROMPT #5: Explore through image and text how the built environment affects (supports or
detracts) who you are. Speculate in terms of frameworks, clockworks, phenomena and

I have noticed that certain types of buildings make me feel different ways. I don't think I've ever come across anything that has been an affront to my personality, or my sense of self, but there are definately things that I don't like. I like Minneapolis a lot more than St. Paul. I think it's the height and modern style of the buildings that appeals to me. The buildings in St. Paul as a rule are more classical in style, and these don't impress me as much as the structures that break the rules, test the limits, you know.


on another note, a building that has influenced me for many years is the church that I've gone to since I was a child. The massive wooden construction is very impressive, and the curvature of the beams and the stained glass windows evoke particular emotions in me of awe and wonder. This building is one that I feel comfortable in, that I enjoy to visit, and holds memories for me.

February 28, 2008

We often view celebrities as self-serving ego maniacs who only care about their money and their fame. In some cases, I would say this is true. There is however, a great potential for those celebrities to impact the world through their audience. They may not realize it, bu twhen they start to care about issues of Global importance, they influence ordinarty people to attempt changes in their daily lives that can help others. This is something that I see in the life of U2 singer Bono. I admire him very much, and if I were a musician, I would do the types of things he does to influence the world around me.


February 27, 2008

2-25-08 at Green Central

Yet another day in the life of fourth graders at Green Central. I had lots of fun today, as a matter of fact. Not many of the kids had homework to work on, but there were several different activities to participate in. I actually got to work one on one with a hispanic boy who doesn't speak much english. I quizzed him on his multiplication facts. To start with, he tried to say some of the answers in spanish, and some of those he did say in english he was getting wrong. I wasn't sure if he was just saying the wrong numbers because he wasn't sure of their translation into english or because he didn't know the math problem. I encouraged him to try to say the answers in english, and for some of them, he wrote the answers on paper, asking me for clarification of the english words for the numbers. He eventually was giving all of the answers in english, and getting most of them right. I got really excited, to be honest. Later, he started asking me questions about myself, and I gently corrected his grammar, and had him repeat his questions agian correctly. I don't know how much I actually taught him, but I think my encouragement helped him to have a desire to learn and use his english. At one point, he discovered that I speak French, and he started asking me how to say this or that phrase in French. What a desire to learn! After several minutes, and a page full of words in french I had written out for him tucked in his backpack, I kindly suggested that we work on his English first. He just smiled at me. After study time, I went down to the gym and played three on three basketball with some of the older boys and some other volunteers. we had a blast, and I think some good connections were made. Kids really appreciate volunteers playing with them. It forms a bond that they wouldn't have if all we did was tell them what to do all the time. that is one of the strengths of ACES in my opinion. Well that's it for now, Matt Out.

February 24, 2008

Blog Prompt #3: My Evil Plan to Save the World

This is an image of red candles lit in honor of the memory of AIDS victims

Download file

This is a song by one of my favorite christian bands, Five Iron Frenzy. It is intended to make a bold statement about how we approach huge issues like povery and world hunger. In escence, if we try to develop a solution that is intended to bring ourselves money or fame, we are approaching the issues with wrong motives, and will ultimately fail in accomplishing our objective. the only way to go about "Saving the World" is out of true love for the people who are suffering, and a self-sacrificing attitude in our work to help them. Idealy, we will recognise that our own feeble efforts amount to very little, and we must pray to God for help in everything that we do. Only with God's power backing us can we truly make a difference for good in the world, because we can only truly be working with the right motive if we let God's word guide our actions.

This is the website of a christian organization for which I have a lot of respect. They are one of many organizations trying to end the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Check out thier website by clicking below:

Fighting AIDS: Get Involved

Being a Christian, I looked in the Bible to see what it says about my involvement in fulfilling the Millenium Goals. Below is a passage that speaks specifically to God's call upon us to help those in need.

Matthew 25:34-40 (New International Version)
"Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’"

In the passage above, Jesus Christ is speaking to people gathered before him awaiting entrance to heaven on judgement day. He explains that we are to treat the least fortunate people on earth in the same way that we would be expected to treat God if he were to cross our path. This demonstrates how important it is to take action, and help those who are hungry, thirsty, sick, or in need of clothing or shelter. Think about your life. how often have you clothed, fed or comforted "one of the least of these"?

February 13, 2008

Volunteering day 1

Monday was my first day volunteering with ACES this semester. I went to Green Central like I did last semester. I was able to find a bus that would get me to within walking distance, so I don't have to carpool this time. It was nice to see some familiar faces of volunteers I met last semester, and some of the students too. I helped Jen with the fourth graders. I must say they were a handful. most of them claimed to have finished their homework, so we put them to work on a nutrition packet provided by ACES. some of them were having fun figuring out the answers, but others had trouble focusing. I tried my best to keep the kids under control, but one of them just could not sit still and work quietly, so Nancy (the team lead) had to have a talk with him in the hall. I feel bad that I wasn't able to help him, but overall I'd have to say I had fun. I think this is going to be a good semester.

Blog Prompt #2:

Prompt: Find a social-design issue here in the Twin Cities. Document it. Become an advocate for it.

I've been having trouble finding an appropriate response to this prompt. It is likely due to the fact that I don't spend very much time downtown, so I am not aware of most of the social-design conflicts that may be present. what I have seen of the city tells me that it is very diverse, and tries to deal with many social issues.

I was struck by how dificult it is to drive in the city compared to in the suburbs where I am from, but conversely how much more convenient the bus routes are. This may speak to the economic status of those living downtown, but it may also represent their concern for the environment. I must say that I appreciate the mass transit system for its ease of use, and availability to everyone. the city is rather old, and most of the streets are narrower than those in the suburbs, and there are lots of one-way streets. this makes it difficult to know where you're going, and I have gotten lost on more than one occasion. I could see a benefit in reorganizing the city streets to be more easy to navigate, and maybe providing more parking. on the other hand, it may be better to focus on cutting back on the number of cars in the city. they make for congestion, and pollution, both of which are undesirable. I guess what I'm trying to say is that Minneapolis/St. Paul were not designed for driving, but maybe that is a good thing.

February 4, 2008

Blog Prompt #1: Tracks

Prompt: Inspired by Andy Goldsworthy (and our discusions today), document and investigate, through text and image - this idea of energy, flow and transformation through the city.

I was contemplating how to respond to the above prompt today, when it began to snow. I began thinking about Andy Goldsworthy's connection with nature, and decided to take photos of the tracks that I began to see appearing in the snow that was accumulating on the ground all around me.


As I walked, I noticed that there were different types of tracks in the snow that represented different relations between time and space. For example, there were footprints, obviously left by people walking, but there were also tracks from bicylcles, and of course cars. Each of these types of tracks represent a different rate of travel, a different flow, but they also speak to the values of the person that left them. Were they in a hurry, were they conserving energy by biking or walking instead of driving? the energy of the people that had been there could be seen in the marks in the snow. shuffling, running, or just strolling, the attitude of the markings changed.

I then became interested in patterns. Most of the tracks from the various modes of flow were grouped together. It seemed that design drove the paths that most individuals chose to take. Car tire tracks stayed in the road. Bike tracks stayed in the bike lanes. Footprints stayed on sidewalks and in crosswalks. There were a few exceptions. sometimes I found footprints over bike tracks, or deviating from the sidewalk, or crossing the road where tere was no crosswalk. these were the free thinkers, or were they deviants? you decide.


There is so much we can learn from the seemingly simple tracks left in the snow. as a classmate pointed out to me, you can tell where the slippery spots are due to the long skid marks that end in footprints. the places where more people go, the snow was packed down. It was even melting away in the highest traffic areas. It can only be described as the energy of people passing by left on the pavement.


In some places, only a few indentations were made. in one case, on a stairway, I found a set of fresh prints over top of a group of older ones that had been softened by the continuing snowfall. this demonstrates the passing of time and its effects on the record of flow in the city. as time passes, it becomes harder to dicover the energy of the past.

January 30, 2008

Louvre Lobby

Paris 451.jpg
This is just a photo I took in the louvre. I liked the upward motion of the staircase and pyramid

Falling Up

I admit this is a reference to another author's work, namely Shel Silverstein. I love the poem by this title. However, I find this combination of words has many potential meanings, some of which could relate to my field of study.

The erection of buildings often seems to be an unstoppable force, one that is constantly moving, constantly creating, seemingly without effort. This is clearly an illusion, because as we know, buildings are designed and constructed only due to the hard work of many people for many long hours, and I hope one day to be a part of this process. Thus Falling up could mean an unstoppable force opposing gravity. Closer examination of the words and their connotations can bring other meaning to light.

Falling is something that takes place naturally, without human intervention. It is used metaphoricaly in the phrases falling appart, falling in love, and falling out. In almost every instance it describes forces beyond one's control, obviously referencing gravity in its most literal sense.

Up is a direction, but also a word seen in metaphorical use. It is generally associated with improvement, advancement, or happiness. It references movement in a direction typically seen as oposite that of falling, but pairing the two gives the new meaning to each.

My favorite potential meaning of Falling Up is the spontaneous and uncontrollable improvement of one's situation, even one's life (this could also be related to the word eucatastrophy invented by J.R.R. Tolkien). If you have ever felt this happening to you, you know that it is one of the most wonderful experiences you will ever have. Most often, when left to itself, one would expect ones life to fall apart, for things to unravel. But I have witnessed that sometimes, when you let things happen to you, when you let ideas come to you, things can turn in your favor without warning.

I hope that mine and your academic experience will be full of such turning points, and that we will let ourselves be inspired, and be touched, rather than chasing after things we will later discover were not worth chasing. I by no means suggest that hard work is pointless, only that I relish in those moments that the wonderfully unexpected happens, and makes my work load that much lighter.

So here's to Hard work, Sucess, and Falling Up!