Thursday, September 17, 2015

Dani Longowski Shares Her Student Teaching Experience

I started out my student teaching experience at Ellis Elementary in a 5th grade classroom. I chose to complete my student teaching in Denver because of the diversity that the experience would provide me. I asked Bonita for placements with extreme amounts of diversity.

Being in an urban area, linguistic diversity is incredibly prevalent, and Ellis is abundant with it. I had one student, Abdu, for the purposes of this blog that emigrated from Libya a month before the end of the school year last year. Abdu came to the United States speaking no English. At the start of this school year Abdu spoke limited conversational English. I found myself trying to teach a young boy who spoke no academic English with extremely limited support in the classroom. Even with my special education background, I had no idea how to begin differentiation with Abdu. I asked my mentor teacher and she told me to just forget about him, that there was nothing we could do to support him. That struck a chord with me. I went back to my apartment the night after she told me that all fired up to figure out a way to reach Abdu.

I told my fellow student teachers about Abdu and my struggles with reaching him. Wes, a high school Spanish student teacher, gave me extremely helpful advice. He told me the key to successful immersion is pictures and overuse of specific vocabulary. I went to school the next day and tried Wes’ technique. It worked. Instead of spending 20 minutes getting him to understand the question, “Where do you want to travel?” it only took me 5 minutes to ask him what the temperature in Turkey (the place he wanted to travel to) was. I did this by describing clothing you would wear in cold versus warm temperatures.

I left that student teaching placement before I got the chance to figure out how to provide ongoing differentiation for Abdu while teaching the rest of my students full-time. I’m still curious as to how and I intend to have those conversations at my upcoming placements.

This urban teaching experience has proven difficult, but I’m appreciative for the opportunity to be here and to challenge myself professionally.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Madelyn Carlson Writes About Leadville: Adventures in Friendship

Leadville: Adventures in Friendship

This weekend we took a trip to Leadville for some bonding activities with all the students. This was a nice experience because it’s usually so hard to get everyone together at once, since we all have different schedules with our field experiences, internships, and student teaching. Not to mention all our classes and homework.
We arrived at the Leadville Hostel on Saturday afternoon, and we were welcomed to a cozy house with friendly hosts and fellow guests. When we were all settled into our rooms (I chose the bunk bed with the Care Bear sheets, because why not?), we did an activity to help acquaint ourselves with one another, which was valuable to start placing names and faces with personalities. But let’s be honest, we were all just really hungry.
Luckily, the owner of the hostel, Kathy, was an amazing cook. Pork (veggie burgers for the vegetarians, of which I am one), an amazing homegrown salad, mac and cheese, and potatoes all made our stomachs enormously happy, and we ate as much as we could.
After our delicious meal, we broke into two groups and got to know each other even better: discussing deeper, more personal aspects of ourselves. This activity helped us see each other for who we really are, and it was exciting to get to know everyone this well!
I ended the night by playing Scrabble in Spanish with one of my new friends. We determined that English Scrabble isn’t very well equipped for the functionality of Spanish words….
Sunday morning, half of us hiked Mt. Elbert, and the other half went white water rafting in Buena Vista, each of which were just a short drive away. I participated in the hike. Mt. Elbert is the tallest mountain in Colorado, and we could see it from our hostel. We left around 7am, and reaached the summit at about 2pm. It was a long and exhausting trip. We all wanted to give up multiple times along the way, but the view at the top was incredible. Not only that, but we got to know each other during the hike, and you’ll be surprised by the strong bonds you make encouraging your friends to climb a mountain. Or, more realistically, by sharing in complaints about how much our bodies hurt, how little oxygen there was, and how exhausting it was to climb this stupid mountain.
We ate another delicious home cooked meal that night when we returned, and ended our night celebrating one of our classmates’ 21st birthday at a karaoke bar. Everyone had a great time (including Nelson and Bonita!). Another unintentionally great bonding activity was singing songs together by the Spice Girls, BeyoncĂ©, and the Fresh Prince.
Overall, our weekend was a giant success. Though conquering the tallest mountain in the state was rewarding, the best part for me was getting to know my partners in crime for this semester. I know I can rely on any of them for encouragement, adventure, and most importantly, a good laugh.
Cheers to Leadville, to Wartburg West, and our weekend in the sun.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Jamie Harrings Explores Denver and Turns 21!

Hello all!
I successfully survived my first week of student teaching with students! I felt that meant to get out and have some fun over the weekend, which isn't hard to do in Denver. Despite being a little worn out from the week, I found the energy to get out and experience some of what Denver has to offer without going too far.Two other students and I, Madelyn and Alison, went to check out a few of the different events going on over the weekend.
Saturday afternoon we made our way to the downtown area to check out The Big Wonderful and PalletFest. We weren't exactly sure what we were getting ourselves into but it was a fun adventure. The Big Wonderful was basically an experience that any hipster would love. There were foodtrucks, vans filled with vintage and boho clothes for sale, crafty and vintage knick-knacks, and lots of music and beer to go around. While there we ran into quite a few Wartburg alums and one stranger who said, "Wartburg, I got my butt (or maybe another word) kicked there playing lacrosse once," to which I kindly responded go knights. You never know what you'll get or who you'll run into when you wear a Wartburg shirt I suppose!
PalletFest was another enjoyable experience, but a little more on the tame side compared to The Big Wonderful. We got to explore the various creations people made, a pallet maze, try our hand at walking on stilts, and hula-hoop, we're kids at heart really. It was incredible to see how this festival embraced the sustainability movement. While we walked around we could hear an environmental activist band playing on the stage, there were many tents around that housed recycling centers, and a water barrel type contraption to fill up your water bottle. After we purchased some delicious cupcakes and caramel apples from Cupcake Cabin, we headed home with a pit stop to Prohibition for some dessert (that makes a nutritious dinner right?) After we logged over 7 miles of walking around we figured we deserved the dessert and the rest of the evening in.
Madelyn, Alison and I got to show off our skills
It was a little trickier than we thought

On Sunday we took off for the Colfax Farmers Market. Alison and I made the trip there the Sunday before and had to make the trip back for some more peaches. I love that despite being in the city I can walk a mile up the road to purchase fresh, organic fruits and veggies. After working on the Faux Farm in Tripoli, IA over the summer my appreciation for fresh produce has grown immensely and I'm glad I can still have that here in the city. When we came home I decided to head into the mountains to visit my aunt and cousins in Keystone. It was nice to get out of the city a bit and make the trek to get some hiking in and visit with family. 
My haul from the farmers market!
There were some incredible views of Lake Dillon on the hike we took.
We had to try out my aunt's selfie stick!
Tammy Tom Jamie Mark Kathy Dillion overlook
My aunt, her husband, me and my cousins from Iowa.
 Its back to school tomorrow for me but I can't wait to see what this week holds and the adventures that we will have on our retreat to Leadville this weekend! Plus I get to enjoy my 21st birthday over the weekend at the retreat hiking to the top (hopefully) of Mt. Elbert!