Friday, December 13, 2013

Cooking food from my culture

Making Zaatar

I have volunteered to be a mystery reader in the school of my two kids, The Children’s school. I have signed up to read for the second graders a story on Friday Dec 13, 2014. The story introduces to students a middle eastern powder, Zaatar. The story began by telling the students about how does a boy likes Zaatar and ate it always. I followed reading the story by mixing Zaatar powder with olive oil and spreading it on a ready pita bread. I then heated the pita bread and the students ate it.
It was a nice experience, the students were happy and willing to taste it and some students cared to eat another piece. I was also happy to students reactions and conversation while cooking. When I placed the pita on the cooking sheet, they imagined it as a mickey mouse face and they started commenting, one of the comments was that they do not like mickey mouse song. Another interesting thing to see, is when I dropped oil on the table accidently. I was busy making Zaatar and would clean it latter. But it was amazing that one student felt responsible and brought tissue and cleaned the table.
This experience also made me know other people in the school. When one of the parents heard that I made Zaatar, she told me that her husband love Za’tar but he is not finding it now baked on a dough. I then showed her the ready pita I brought and told her that this kind of pita has the same taste of the dough she is talking about. I also had an extra box of Zaatar so I gave it to her.
I believe that it is important that students know about other cultures and know about their lives. Sharing with students other culture will raise their cultural awareness and make them respect people who speak, live and even eat things that are different from their own.

showing the ingredients

adding honey to students who want to have it on their Zaatar

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving volunteering experience

Michelle, a parent of a student who was in the same school as my children (The Children’s school) was the one who introduced me to the service opportunity. In addition to my two children attending this school, I also spend time there doing my practicum. One day while I was observing the 8th grade class for my practicum, Michelle came into the class and introduced the students to a volunteering event that was to be held at their school Sunday morning Nov, 24 at 9:30 am. Although I have experienced several volunteering activities in Kuwait I have not been able to volunteer in San Diego because it is hard to manage, school, family, and am not sure of places to do charity work. Therefore, I was excited to be part of an event in a place that I am familiar with.

One Nov, 24th, I took my two children Yousif and Zaina with me to The Children’s School. It was challenging to have to get up on a day that I would normally be relaxing or studying on. I went to the school and when I got there, there was about 30 adults working like bees. There was boxes lined in rows on the ground and stocks of food that are needed to be put in each box. For example, the coordinator will say its time for a stuffing and you will see that people will grab stuffing and put stuffing in each box. After the boxes were filled with food, we closed them and the people who were distributing them loaded them to their cars. They were to be delivered near the Mexican border.

It was a nice experience especially for my little ones. I thought it was a good time to teach them the meaning of giving and volunteering. To be honest, they did not help much and went to play with a boy they knew, but I tried to make each one of them to do one task. For example, I told Yousif to distribute bread and Zaina to close the boxes. They were happy to do those tasks. They also volunteered in their own way; they took care of a two year old boy. I was surprised when I told them to come to take a photo with the volunteering team they told me that they could not because they were babysitting that boy. I liked how they felt responsible for this boy and for the task assigned to them.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Indian visitor

In the children's school in La Jolla, the seventh grade are studying cultures. One of the cultures they are studying is India. 
An Indian man who was born in India and moved to the California came to share with the students his Indian culture.

He started by telling the students the geographic of India and its different parts. He also talked about the different religions in india. Hindu, Muslims, Christian and Buddhists are people who are living in India. The government gives holidays to each special festival of each religion. For example, all the country will get a holiday in the Muslims festival Eid.

Due to this diverse society and different cultures and believes in India, people are more aware of cultures that are different from their culture. This diversity made them more able to assimilate with others and accept other people.

Marriage in India is arranged, which mean that families would give the name of their son or daughter that are in the marriage age to an older person in the society. This person would try to match those people depending on their characteristics. Then the families with the boy and girl will meet and those boy and girl will see if they are a good fit for each other.

The food in India is diverse. It depends one the region of the people and their believes. For example, Hindus are vegetarian and Muslims eat a dish called Berianey. South regions eat rice and spicy food. The north region eats wheat and mild food. The people in the middle do get both rice and wheat.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Minni lesson

This is a link to a mini lesson that I taught to the 7th grade in my practicum placement.
It is about Volunteering and I have gave examples of Kuwaiti volunteers.

My practicum's journey # 4 "writing"

There are several ways that writing happens at The Children’s School. It takes place often, but in different forms. For example, they might write a long formal essay, a topic in their journal, an answer to a grammar question, etc. In this response I will visit these forms of writing in depth and other aspects related to writing in class.

The teacher uses the whiteboard for his mini lessons where he will write, for example, a sentence and ask the students to correct it on the board. I think that this is a good way to refresh previous grammar skills that the students knew before. The teacher also writes a sentence from a student's essay and asked the students to reconstruct it. The teacher also writes the reading options that the students have to choose from. Moreover, he will uses the board to write the responsibilities of the students when they have special events, for example, when organizing the pizza social event

In the 8th grade, students are writing a persuasive essay. I like the process in which the students are going through to write their essays and the time given to them to complete that task. The students are given about four days to write these essays. The students can work on this assignment at home and it has to be typed. They can use the internet to support their point of view and thoughts. The teacher encourages them to do so without plagiarising or copying others work. He made it clear at the begining that he will know if anyone borrowed others ideas. This is because he knows their style of writing and because he has an application that will show him where a text exists if you type five words into the application. I think that by through this writing process the students are being prepared to what we, as graduate students, are experiencing. After the students write their essays, they will switch their papers with another student so the student will edit the paper and give feedback to improve their peer’s essay. After the students submit the papers, the teacher grades them and gives them back to the students with his comments and feedback. He then asks the students if they can do another draft that would improve their grades. The teacher also told the students that they have to be careful to whom they choose as their editor. This way of collaborative writing embraces how professional writers write and publish their work.

Another piece of writing is writing a personal statement. Since that the students in the 8th grade are moving to high school, the teacher wants to teach them how to write a personal statement and be ready to this requirement in some schools. Before asking the students to write the teacher gave the students a handout with good and bad personal statements. They discussed the good and bad characteristics in those personal statements. Then he asked them to write one.

Another type of writing is writing vocabulary flash cards of the words they are being tested in. The teacher told the students to begin writing few words everyday at home. HE also gave them time to write the words for those who did not finish and for the ones who finished they were practicing their words.

Students also write in their journals that they will write in from time to time. For example, one time the teacher asked the students to write a piece of  advice that they value. He suggested that if the advice is so personal that they write it in a third person perspective.

The students that I am focusing on differ in their writing needs, some has punctuation issues, some are redundant, some have organization problems and some does not like to be limited by a prompt. Overall, I think that they are close to the writing expectation. For example M got in his writing score was 4 out of five, which  think is acceptable.

To help students in writing I suggest to to pair students that has less writing ability with experienced students to help them correct their mistakes and know the writing process. I also think that students might discuss what they want to write and talk about t it before writing.

My practicum's journey # 3

In the 8th grade the students are studying about the American revolution, the book that they are using is History of U.S. ( The new nation 1789 - 1850 ) By Joy Hakim. The students  do not use this book every day. The teacher will hand out copies of the book when they need it. The book includes pictures and primary texts that reflects the genre the book is talking about. Some of these pictures comes in  transparencies, which the teacher could use on the projector. The teacher told me that this book as well as most historical books are written for older kids. This book is written for students in  the 9th grade which will cause some difficulties in understanding its language. While using this books students take notes and for those who struggle the teacher will give them his notes and they have to track them with a highlighter. The teacher said that this allows the student to comprehend the text and to participate making them more confident in themselves. In the past, when the teacher gave a struggling student written notes he was still struggling with the text so the teacher scaffolded this student with an audio DVD that comes with the book. The teacher told me that the students will also go sometimes to the poster s of the American revolution on the wall and have a small discussion of  the picture that he is referring to.

The 8th grade students are  reading one of Shakespeare’s plays, which is authentic to the discipline of literature. They are reading now an adapted version as an introduction to this genre, but as they finish it they will read one of Shakespeare's original plays.

Since in the 7th grade history class the students are studying about different cultures, the teacher will expose the students and give them different texts and articles. I find this ties with what Latter is discussing in his book. He encourages teachers to expose students to multiple sources and contexts.The teacher also told me that he will showing them videos to more support their cultural learning.

Moreover, in the 7th grade the students have to choose a novel that is related to the culture they are studying to better understand the culture through literature. I think some of the novels do not reflect exactly what the culture is about. The teacher’s first assignment for the students is to read the front, back, and introduction of the book. I liked the assignment because usually we tend to read the first page and skip the introduction which tends to be an important piece of the book. He also wanted to open up their imagination and make them sense what  the book is going to be about. Following their reading of  the assigned chapters at home, students have to answer some questions of those chapters.

As for grammar, the teacher is using the Write Source 2000. It has the teacher version and student version. The students’ books did not arrive yet so the teacher is photocopying the practices from his book until they receive their books. The teacher practices will only be used for quizzes.

Another tool that the teacher uses for both classes is the class blog post. The teacher posts academic knowledge to the class blog post.  For example, he posted the instructions that students should follow when they write their  persuasive essay assignment.

To give the students more support understanding the context I suggest that the teacher will first give a brief explanation of the context of the piece they will be reading and then start reading it. This will help students to comprehend the information more. Another way is to read an idea from the book and then ask the students to discuss the book’s idea in pairs. After that the information they read will be discussed with the whole class.

My practicum's journey #2

When I first started my practicum I had a little conversation with my master teacher about academic words. He told me that whenever he says “Do you know what (this word) means?” then that means this word is important and it is one of the academic words. This made me aware of the context that he will put these academics word in.
The 7th grade academic words differ from the 8th grade academic words. In the seventh grade, the unit is about culture, so the academic words include culture, stereotype,etc. The teacher explained the word stereotype by telling the students a story of him playing Bridge with a lady from China. He assumed that she would win simply because Chinese are believed to be good at numbers. He asked the students to name the word for when people make assumptions of other cultures. I could see that the teacher was trying to engage the students into the conversation by getting examples from them. For instance, he asked for examples of stereotypes. Students responded by saying that Chinese moms are mean and that Singapore is clean.  The teacher also taught the students the word convert by asking, “ What do we call it if we change our religion?” Moreover, I noticed him using the technique that we talked about in our second lecture at USD: he said an unfamiliar word, and waited to see the students’ reactions and assess whether they understood it or not.

In the 8th grade the students were studying about writing persuasive essays. The teacher explained the academic word plagiarism when he asked the students to give him the word that stands for “when people borrow the same exact words from each other.” He also explained the word “master degree” as he introduced me. This word might be obvious to adults but may not be clear to 8th graders. I can also see that the school is building their vocabulary from year to year. For example the word “persuasive” is no longer an academic word for the 8th graders because the students were introduced to it in the 7th grade. In both classes the students learn the academic words over the course of the semester by using the previously-mentioned techniques.

Furthermore, David also uses visible academic assistance for his students. For example, he told me that he will be using  note cards and games later on in the year before the students take their vocabulary test. He also hung posters on the wall. Some of the posters were world maps. He uses them to teach students the countries’ locations as they are learning about different cultures. For example, in the seventh grade, the teacher asked the students to walk to the map and locate Kuwait. Another group of  posters was for the 8th grade. It included pictures related to the American revolution and related articles such as “Colonial Kids” and “Liberty for All”. The teacher might use them as he explains the units that they are related to. Additionally, a group of posters that was for both classes had pictures and articles that were related to Shakespeare. I would like to suggest an additional way that can also help students to better understand the academic words, is divide the students in subgroups, give each group the  academic words that they have trouble with and ask them to teach us more about it. Either by showing us a youtube videos or making a short movie explaining it,etc.

The students were being productive most of the time as I was observing. They had the time to speak out and say what they were thinking of even if they were in the middle of writing. I also like that they were taking enough time to be productive in writing as David gave them four periods to write a persuasive essay.while writing the essay they were allowed to use other resources and get help from online research to support their point without plagiarism. Allowing them to use these resources prepares them to develop their writing abilities and teach them how real writing is done making it authentic. As for the receptive part the teacher is doing mini lessons which are about 10 min. These mini lessons are about important grammatical rules the students need to know.  As for reading they will be reading novels and shakespearean plays. The strategy of the children’s school is to make learning collaborative and to engage the students.

My practicum's journey # 1

I am doing my practicum in the Children’s School at La Jolla. It is a private, project-based school. Last semester, I did my practicum in the second grade class at the same school. This is also the school where my two children attend which makes it both convenient for me to be there and makes them happy to have me be part of their school. Moreover, the school does not follow a dress code. The students also called their teacher and even the principal by their first names.
The children are encouraged to experiment and discover. In the process of learning, they are also surrounded with love and care. The school works to build both students’ academic skills and personality. Teachers talk to students with respect as if they were almost their peers. I was told that if a new teacher comes to school they would tell her the way that she should talk to the students in this school. Teachers also demonstrates empathy to students. One example is what I have heard from the teacher who I was working with when one of the students hurt his knee, “ I can understand your pain...” Showing such empathy and respect would make learning more valuable and appealing.  It helps make the school a safe place to learn and grow. Furthermore the caring culture extends beyond the teachers and students to include the students’ families to help make them part of this school community.
The school’s demographic population is 33% students of color. Being at the school I have seen students from different countries or are originally from these countries: Egypt, Kuwait, Syria, Pakistan, Iran, Norway, China, Korea, etc. From what I have experienced, the students that have different backgrounds from the majority of the students are encouraged to share out their culture and religion practices with other students.
In my practicum I am observing the 7th and 8th grade  humanities classes. I am happy that I am observing both of his classes. It is a good opportunity to observe how he deals with and teaches different grades. For example, in the seventh grade he  gave the students a lot of time to get to know me and learn about where I came from because this might support the cultural unit in which they are learning to appreciate and respect other cultures and religions. However, in the 8th grade he only introduced me briefly because they were about to discuss persuasive essays.
David’s class consists of two big comfortable couches where they discuss issues and talk about things they need to do. The other part of the class consists of two big tables(students will change positions as projects are introduced) where students work on their essays and papers. In addition, the school has a big emphasis on developing not only the academic part of the students but also their character development and life preparations. One of the activities that helps  students to reach these goals is asking the students to plan for a multi-day trip outside of San Diego. They have to raise money, book hotels and even learn to ride public transportations.
David gives the students real choices. He lets them choose to study what they are interested in, within reason. For example the students have to study eight cultures in depth. In this activity the teacher did not force his opinion. He listened to the students’ interests and the class created a Google doc to facilitate making their cultural unit choices.
Both classes use technology and have access to internet. They are allowed to bring their cell phones. I think it is a good opportunity for them to practice self control because they learn when it is appropriate to use their phones. They also have a class blog in which they receive their assignments and homework.

I am questioning how they would raise money for their trip. I am also so excited to see how learning occurs in a relaxing environment. I would like to learn how the teacher gives the direction to the students without monitoring them constantly. I would also like to learn how he controls his class and corrects behavioral mistakes by giving the students gentle reminders such as “ do you need to take a break?” “Thank you for raising your hands.” Lastly, I am questioning what is the way that the teacher will address reading in the class.