Dispatch from The Philadelphia Urban Seminar: The last two days

May 30, 2008

Editor's Note: Rachel Mountz just completed her freshman year at Penn State University Park, studying elementary education. This summer, she is one of roughly four dozen Penn State students taking Curriculum and Instruction 295 A, Philadelphia Urban Seminar, with Dan Thompson, assistant professor of education in the College of Education. Thompson's students have joined hundreds of students from universities throughout Pennsylvania at LaSalle University in north Philadelphia for a two-week, intensive experience observing and teaching in urban schools. Mountz is chronicling her experiences for Penn State Live and the Newswires.

The last two days:

On Wednesday we started the class by making Chinese paper lanterns. The kids had to practice drawing fancy designs such as animals or flowers that might be found on Chinese art and then they drew and colored their design on a big piece of construction paper. Urban Seminar Tip #18: Get involved with the activities that the kids are doing, it will make it more fun for them and for you. Once we finished the lanterns we put tissue paper and ribbon in them and hung them all up.

By this week not only was I much more familiar with the school and how everything works, I also was getting to know a lot more people participating in the seminar. Urban Seminar Tip #19: Get to know the people in your van, if they’re in the same school as you they will probably know a few of the same kids you know. Plus the van rides are so much more fun if you know the people you’re with.

Wednesday was our field trip day again, and this time my group went to the Constitution Center. Even though I had already seen it before it had been a few years and I thought it would be cool to go back and see it again. We left the schools at 2 p.m., right after I finished my math lesson on metric measurement, and I was a little nostalgic knowing that I only had one day left in the classroom. That evening I went out with a couple other girls to buy little treats to give to the kids on Thursday.

Thursday I finished up my metric lesson and we had an ice cream party after lunch. It was the cutest thing ever -- all the kids got to have seconds on ice cream, one kid who had been switched out of our class got to come back and hang out for a little while, and most of the class was dancing in the middle of the room where we had cleared the desks away for them. They danced to everything from High School Musical to Chris Brown. They kept trying to get me to dance with them, saying “Come on Miss, dance with us Ms. M!” So finally I gave in and we all did the Electric Slide.

When it came time for dismissal at the end of the day I gave each kid a treat bag with a pencil, two erasers, stickers and a lollipop inside and I asked them each for a smile and a hug in return. Some of them were so shy all of a sudden, and others didn’t want to let go. I promised them that I’d come back and visit next year, and I intend to keep that promise. It’s nice to be back home but I really wish I could have spent more time in room 300 of Fairhill Elementary.

For the full series, visit http://live.psu.edu/story/30949 online. For photos, visit http://live.psu.edu/stilllife/1707 online.

  • As part of their unit on China, students made Chinese paper lanterns. For more photos, click on the image above.

    IMAGE: Rachel Mountz
Last Updated January 12, 2011