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

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.

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 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.