Grant Brings World Of Harry Potter To Tony Goetz Students

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Cheri Fite is bringing the world of Harry Potter into her classroom at Tony Goetz Elementary School.

Fite, resource room teacher, applied for a grant from Fund for Teachers that allows her to bring the magic of Harry Potter into her classroom.

“When we come back in January we’ll start reading ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,’” Fite said. “When we read certain parts I’ll bring out photos to show them where the scene is in real life.”

Fite can do that because the Fund for Teachers grant helped her travel to England over the summer – where she went in search of Harry Potter armed with a list of questions from her students.

“I found everything and more,” Fite said. “That’s what they want you to do – experience other cultures so you can share that with your kids.”

Fite said her students were full of questions about Big Ben, bobbies and palace guards.

They wanted to see Platform 9 and 3/4, Hogwarts and Diagon Alley too.

“In the dining hall, I got goosebumps when I walked in there,” Fite said, showing a photograph of the room in Hogwarts where the magic begins. “It was so cool.”

She found Platform 9 and 3/4 in the train station where Harry Potter and friends disappear into a brick column to board the train for Hogwarts.

She took lots of pictures everywhere she went.

Fite hasn’t shown her students everything she brought back – yet.

She wants to pull out some surprises while they read the book.

Blayne Allen, 11, said the Harry Potter lesson plans are “awesome.”

“I’ve seen all of the movies and read the seventh book,” Blayne said. “I can’t wait to see the pictures when we’re reading. I can picture the scenes in my head, but not a strong picture.”

Fite put Harry Potter costumes out for her students to explore Friday morning.

The kids of all ages tried everything on, waved wands at one another and said, “Levioso!” and “Abracadabra!”

Each student compared him or herself to a character from the book and talked about scenes they liked from the movie.

All of the activities the students have done so far are preparing them for reading the first book in the series.

Fite’s lesson plans while the class reads include students dressing up and acting out scenes, mailing letters by “owl” and putting on the “sorting hat” and finding out which “house” they’re in.

Russell Bingham, 12, is a redhead – naturally everyone thought he’d make a good Ron character. But Russell said he’d rather play Malfoy, Harry Potter’s nefarious classmate.

Regardless, Bingham can’t wait to start reading the first book.

“I’m looking forward to it because I know the books are better than the movies,” he said.

Young Entrepreneurs Learn Their Craft at English

The high school’s Entrepreneurship Class hosted a community-wide Holiday Bazaar.

Wagner Ríos
Jamaicaplain.patch.com

On Thursday, 22 English High Entrepreneurship Class students tested their newly-acquired business acumen by offering a variety of items for sale at the high school.

There was a festive atmosphere with dozens of youths — either Entrepreneurship Class participants or organizers and helpers — exhibiting a variety of items in colorful displays, and encouraging the public to make their holiday purchases. Class participants where distinguishable by their business attire.

Program organizers Meredith Innis and Wendy Lai lived and studied micro entrepreneurship (business initiatives funded with very small amounts of capital) in the Dominican Republic as 2010 Fund for Teachers Fellows.

The Fund for Teachers provides resources for educators to investigate their own areas of inquiry and then share their research and discoveries with their students. Both English High Entrepreneurship Class founders are now applying their learning to help students explore business opportunities.

Shortly after 10:00 am customers begun trickling in.

Lai explained that “A group of 22 students received a $50 loan each from the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, and after a careful market analysis purchased season items such as warm cloths, sports memorabilia, jewelry, gadgets popular with high school students like phone chargers, etc. The goal is to make a profit from the sale of the merchandise, part of which will be invested in micro entrepreneurship programs in developing countries.”

“I enrolled in the program” said student Armando Cruz, “to explore career choices: to decide whether I want to go into business by myself or into management; to look into different possibilities.”

The program provides a combination of classroom instruction and real world experience. The class studied business principles during the fall, and then traveled to New York City’s Garment District to purchase the items that were for sale at the bazaar.

The Entrepreneurship Class runs a store at English High where students and faculty may purchase refreshments and other convenient items. The outlet provides students with hands-on experience in the basics of running a business.

The public had an opportunity to see future business leaders of Jamaica Plain and other areas of Boston in action, displaying their recently learned business skills and polished professionalism.

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Photos: Food for Thought Luncheon 2010

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Newsletter – Volume 6, Holiday 2010

In This Issue:
The Gift of Exploration
The Gift of Peace
The Gift of Self-Reliance
The Gift of Creativity

Read our recent newsletter, Odyssey.

 

For Pius teachers, administrators, trip to Rwanda becomes pilgrimage

Margaret Reist
JournalStar.com

The trip to Rwanda was supposed to be an academic journey for two high school teachers, a way for them to improve how they taught about genocide.

That isn’t exactly how it turned out.

The trip the two teachers, their principal and superintendent took last summer to prepare for a visit from a survivor of the 1994 genocide that killed a million people in three months became something much more personal.

Ilibagiza survived, unlike most of her family, hiding in a 3-by-4-foot bathroom for 91 days. Her faith — and a rosary given to her by her father when he told her to run and hide — helped her to not only survive, but to eventually forgive those who killed her family.

It was, in part, that message of forgiveness that turned a professional development trip into a spiritual pilgrimage for the Pius group. That, and meeting the people of Rwanda, seeing the poverty in which they live, and getting to know them and their giving nature.

“When we got there and saw the needs of the people and the needs in our hearts to reach out to them, it became a pilgrimage,” said Jane Connealy, who teaches English and psychology.

“What turned it into a pilgrimage for me personally was recognizing the need for forgiveness in my life.”

The idea for the trip began the summer before, when Pius staff got an e-mail from a member of a Catholic business organization planning to bring Ilibagiza to Lincoln to speak and asking if they’d like to have her speak at Pius.

The school was interested. And since both Julie Schonewise and Connealy teach a social literature class that covers genocide, they were particularly interested.

“I said, as a joke, I guess we’ll need to go to Rwanda and study genocide,” Schonewise recalled.

They applied for and got a $10,000 grant from the Fund for Teachers, which provides professional development money to teachers who want to expand their global awareness.

They decided to include Principal Tom Korta and Superintendent Jim Meysenburg to help make their trip something that could benefit the entire school.

Through a colleague who works for the U.S. Holocaust Museum, Schonewise learned that Ilibagiza takes visitors on tours of Rwanda.

Some months later, the four were on a plane to Kilgali, the capital of Rwanda.

They visited the Genocide Memorial, but that really wasn’t the heart of the trip.

“It was the jumping off point,” Connealy said.

From there, they bused to a tiny village called Kibeho, where Catholics believe Mary appeared to visionaries in the 1980s and foretold the genocide. On the way, they visited an orphanage and the Cana Center retreat, where they saw the shrine to Mary, and spent time at an elementary school and a school for the blind.

Kibeho was very poor, and the Pius travelers had no running water for two days. But they found it a place of peace.

“What it was all about was building relationships with the kids of Kibeho,” Connealy said.

The trip really didn’t focus on the genocide as much as it did on the people and culture of Rwanda, Connealy said. But the teachers already knew the ruling Hutu tribe had killed nearly a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 100 days.

Left: Pius X teacher Julie Schonewise looks on while a blind student reads Braille in Kibeho, Rwanda.

Right: Pius X Superintendent Fr. Jim Meysenburg, teachers Julie Schonewise, Jane Connealy and Principal Tom Korta (back) sit with children from a nearby village during their stay at the Cana Retreat Center near Kibeho, Rwanda.

Walking down a dusty road, Connealy said, she could almost hear the killers using the codes for their slaughter: “Cut down the cockroaches. Cut down the tall trees.”

The travelers did hear stories and visited Ilibagiza’s home, which was destroyed during the genocide but has been rebuilt as a place of prayer.

Ilibagiza’s family traveled with them from Kilgali to Kibeho, and Ilibagiza’s sister-in-law talked about how she survived the killings.

She told the travelers how she and her family were taken from their home, forced to lie in the dust while the killers fired at them. The bullets missed her, and she pretended to be dead.

Later, the 17-year-old girl was warned to flee by a boy who was among a group of killers but ran ahead and warned her they were coming.

That was something the teachers learned on their trip — that there were those among the killers who tried to help.

Throughout the trip, the Pius group learned about Ilibagiza’s ability to forgive. And they brought that message home to Lincoln, deciding forgiveness and reconciliation should be a yearlong school theme.

The teachers, with Schonewise leading the effort, had already developed curriculum ideas teachers could use to tie into Ilibagiza’s visit.

To some extent, the trip was always grounded in religion, because the travelers are all Catholics who teach at Pius.

And Immaculée Ilibagiza — who will be in Lincoln this week to talk about how she survived — is also a devout Catholic.

  • Family Consumer Sciences classes are making sundresses to send to the school in Kibeho.
  • Art classes are making Seven Sorrows rosaries.
  • Industrial arts classes are talking about building codes so they understand just how small the bathroom where Ilibagiza hid was.
  • Language classes are learning Kinyarwandan.
  • Social studies classes and social literature classes are studying the genocide.
  • Theology classes are learning about the visionaries in Kibeho.

On Wednesday, students from the 10 Catholic middle schools will join Pius students for an assembly with Ilibagiza.

Being able to reach that many students is important to the teachers — to help spread her message.

“It’s really about forgiveness,” Connealy said. “The power of forgiveness. To forgive others, and ourselves.”

Reach Margaret Reist at 402-473-7226 or mreist@journalstar.com

Teachers in African history lesson

Rob Sgobbo
NY Daily News

With the help of a fellowship, two South Bronx high school teachers jetted to Africa—and brought a taste of the continent back to their classrooms.

Catherine Mitchell, 29, and Wendy Eberhart, 32, English teachers at the East Bronx Academy for the Future in East Tremont, were awarded a fellowship grant last year from the Fund for Teachers, a non-profit that offers cash for educators to travel around the world to conduct research of their choosing.

The duo flew to Ghana and Senegal in the summer of 2009 to study the traditional art of storytelling—an experience they’ve brought back to their Bronx students this fall.

“Teaching in a high-stakes testing world, speaking and listening skills get short-shifted,” said Eberhart who teaches ninth-graders.

“Going on this fellowship totally blew up how I teach.”

The fund gave the teachers $7,500 to travel to the West African countries—where they spent three weeks asking locals to share their favorite ancestral tales.

“Everyone we spoke to had something to share and tell us,” said Mitchell, who has her 11th and 12th graders act out traditional African folklore.

Catherine Mitchell, an 11th-and 12th-grade teacher in the South Bronx, uses her experiences from trip to Africa in the classroom.

“This experience taught me how to bring something engaging back to the classroom to help my kids.”

Mitchell and Eberhart said the experience was “life-changing,” and since their trip, the two distilled their experience into a set of lessons to teach storytelling skills, while also breaking down misconceptions their students may have about the faraway continent.

“People talk about Africa like it’s a country,” said Eberhart. “A lot of our students don’t know much about it.”

Mitchell began her lessons last week, using photographs of African landmarks to spark conversation about her travels.

One particular photograph of a Senegalese “slave castle” where African slaves were kept in dungeons beneath a European mansion, particularly hit home with the young Bronxites.

“I was just so surprised,” said Monique, and 18-year old senior in Mitchell’s class. “It makes me want to go there and see this stuff for myself.”

Mitchell also brought in drums, rattles, traditional African garb and statues used in Ghanaian storytelling.

“You only hear about the bad stereotypes about Africa,” said Pablo, a 19-year old senior, who said a lot of students only think of Africa as poor and disease-ridden.

“You just don’t know these things until you learn about it.” But it wasn’t just the kids who benefitted—Mitchell said sharing her experience has changed the way she views teaching. “It keeps things more interesting, and pushes me,” she said. “I’m learning alongside them.”

“Switched on Physics”: FFT Fellow and Students Build Robot

Kristi Nix
The Journal of Pearland

Dawson High School’s Switched-On Physics program offers students creative new ways to learn about science. It’s a unique approach designed to allow students to explore and discover new ideas in the classroom.

Some say the program’s success is driven by the enthusiasm and down to earth approach of physics teacher Alexander Graham. It seems his love of learning and physics is contagious.

“Mr. Graham told me the program wasn’t too heavy on the science side of things and I wasn’t much of a science person,” Dawson High School student Jason Ko said. “But, the project turned out to be a real world application in physics. It was really fun. I had a good time.”

Last year Graham applied to Fund for Teachers and won a $5,000 grant. He used the funds to travel to the Philippines to study the Las Pinas bamboo pipe organ. It was an experience that inspired him to tackle new classroom projects such as an alternative energy-driven digital pipe organ and a student driven robotics project.

The robotics assignment offered his students a lesson in physics and computer software engineering, as well as a lesson in creative ingenuity.

Last week, his students held a demonstration of their new robot (ALFRED). The life size machine was mounted on wheels; its motion was controlled by a computer engineered and installed by the students. During the demonstration, the robot roamed the classroom. It then rolled out into the halls of the school, only occasionally crashing into the lockers.

Students also demonstrated the robot’s ability to speak. Future modifications are in the works to program the robot to speak more than one language, students said.

About Funds for Teachers:

Each year, Fund for Teachers awards grants to individual educators across the county to fund a unique, once in a lifetime professional development experience.

Fund for Teachers gives fellowships for self-designed professional growth to PreK-12 teachers who understand the value of learning and their ability as educators to make a difference.

“We recognize that the teacher is the decisive factor in students’ learning,” said Karen Kovach Webb, Fund for Teachers’ Executive Director. “We are deeply committed to the growth of teachers through strategic investments in their own areas of personal and professional interest. We’ve seen firsthand the impact Fund for Teachers fellowships have as a transformative resource for teaching and learning.”

Since 2001, 4,000 teachers have been awarded $14.2 million in Fund for Teachers grants-up to $5,000 for individuals, or $10,000 for teams. Fund for Teachers fellowships have taken place in 113 countries on every continent, empowering teachers to explore countless ideas, terrains, and cultures.

For more information about Fund for Teachers, visit www.fundforteachers.org

Having a blast …off!

10 Jefferson teachers walked on air while at space camp

Dan Benson
Sheboygan Press

Ten teachers from Jefferson Elementary School have returned to Earth after a week at NASA Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala, and are starting the new school year looking to launch new classroom initiatives using what they learned there.

“We gathered a lot of information we’ll be able to use in our classrooms this year. …For years to come, actually,” said second-grade teacher Deb Ericsson.

Jefferson school reading specialist Ann Rodewald completed her tour of the Davidson Center for Space Exploration by studying the restored Saturn V rocket.

The 10 teachers attended Space Camp for one week in early August, thanks to a $10,000 Wisconsin Fund for Teachers grant. They could have applied to go somewhere else, Ericsson said.

The teachers became eligible to apply for the grant after Jefferson was recognized as a 2009 Wisconsin New Promise School, which is given to schools that demonstrate a learning climate that supports all students.

“We chose Space Camp because of what’s happening at Spaceport in Sheboygan and we don’t really do anything with space science at the elementary level,” she said. “And this experience allowed for 10 of us to go. Some others would only allow us to send one or two. Being able to send 10 allowed us to make it a building-wide experience.”

That means students at every grade level will benefit from what the teachers learned and are bringing back.

“I learned so many new applications that I can use in my classroom. I plan to incorporate new ideas to help young learners understand big ideas,” said Jeanine Roseberry, an ELL kindergarten teacher.

“During the week I attended Space Camp, I thought of ways I could integrate space science activities into the art classroom,” said art teacher Connie Berken.

At Space Camp, the 10 teachers put in 45 hours in various activities that included astronaut training simulators and two simulated space shuttle missions. They performed the duties of flight director, pilot, mission specialists and members of mission control, they said.

“I’m amazed at everything that has to happen in order for a successful launch, mission and safe return to Earth to occur,” said second-grade teacher Julie Versey.

Hundreds of students from all over the country were there, but just 33 teachers, Ericsson said, making the Sheboygan contingent the largest by far.

“We were a huge part of it,” she said.

The teachers brought back materials they can use in their classrooms, resources such as websites and a list of contacts whose knowledge and expertise they can tap into, Ericsson said.

“Many of them are other educators around the United States and even around the world — Australia and Morocco, for instance,” she said. “We’ve set up Facebook accounts where we can continue the conversation and learn how they are using what they took back to their buildings.”

Fifth-grade teacher, Vicki Kulhanek said, “This experience demonstrated what is needed to be done in our classrooms to pique students’ interest in these areas.”

An all-school “space event” is in the works for next May, Ericsson said, and plans call for making a trip to the next space shuttle launch in June 2011 in Florida, she said.

“Our hope is to use our experiences at Space Camp to motivate our students to be future scientists, engineers and astronauts,” Ericsson said.