From the Perspective of Chicago Semester Student Teachers

Monday, February 8, 2016

Student Teaching Blog #1

Erin Walters - Irving Park Chicago International Charter School

Hello, fellow and future Chicago Semester students! My name is Erin Walters, and I will be blogging for CS on my experiences while I am student teaching this spring. I have already been in the city for about four weeks and have fallen in love with the views, the people, and the pace of Chicago already.

While I am here, I am living in Canterbury Court Apartments, which are conveniently placed in a nice area close to the heart of Chicago. There are so many amazing things happening just outside my door at every moment of the day, and I love that I can hop on the L and go just about anywhere easily. I am a runner, and I have already gone to the lakeshore trail a few times to run along the water, despite the 20-degree, and colder, weather.

My apartment is small, but my roommate and I did some rearranging and decorating as soon as we arrived, and it has made a world of difference. It’s comforting to look at pictures and paintings from home and know that even though I am enjoying myself here, I still have pieces of Holland to keep me company. Living in basically one room with another person sounds like a nightmare, but I’ve found that with school, events in the city to attend, and other friends to visit, it’s actually quite nice.

As for my placement, I am working in a 3rd-grade classroom at the Irving Park campus of Chicago International Charter Schools. I have 29 students in my homeroom, and they are all enjoyably energetic, happy to be learning, and overall a wonderful group to work with. My teacher has actually taught this group for two years now, and I can see how this has strengthened her relationship with her students immensely. I haven’t done a lot of teaching yet, but what I have done has been great and I have learned so much already on how to adjust my plans to tend to the needs of my students, even while I am teaching them.
For the most part, I have adjusted well to living here. The early mornings and commuting to school isn’t always fun or easy, but even that has simply become routine and hasn’t phased me too badly. I am lucky to have another student teacher from CS in my school, and we are able to commute together each morning and evening. I love having someone to share stories and experiences with as we’re taking buses and trains to and from Irving Park.

I look forward to posting more about my experiences while I am here, and hope that you will enjoy reading more about them! The Lord has blessed me with this amazing opportunity, and I am honored to be able to share it with you all and to also record all that I am able to do while living in Chicago.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Mall Elves and Glitterland

Jacob Ward - Franklin Fine Arts

Mall Elves and Glitterland

Greetings and salutations again, dear reader!  Here’s the skinny on what’s been happening this week in the life of Jacob Ward!  This week is a little different since it is my last week of writing a blog… Don’t worry! Next week won’t follow the normal format but will be pretty much just “Jacob’s list of Chicago things” so stay tuned!

At Franklin Fine Arts:
The school is in utter controlled chaos as we get ever closer to the Annual Winter Showcase.  The fine arts (specifically music, piano, & dance) hold precedent over everything else this week and next week as students rehearse for the big day!  That being said, the art room has had students being pulled for rehearsal left and right leaving Kindergarten as the class I have taught most consistently.  The spare class time has been spent getting some housekeeping done, including tack-firing the 7th grader’s glass pieces.

With the students who aren’t in the Winter Showcase, Ms. Koreman and I have taken it upon ourselves put them to work to help create the scenery for the show.  This has meant carving and painting 8’ tall foam core panels into evergreen trees and the skyline of Chicago, painting 50 feet of canvas to look like Van Gogh’s Starry Night, and GLITTERING EVERYTHING TO MAKE IT SHINE!  I went home with glitter in my hair, up my nose, caked on my arms, and permanently embedded in my pockets.

This upcoming week will get even crazier as the clock ticks down to show-time and my eminent departure from one of the coolest schools I’ve had the pleasure to teach in.

In Chicago:
Things are coming to an end so it’s time to cram in all that I can!  Goals for the next week and a half:

  • Ride the CTA Holiday Train (which is a subway totally dressed to the nines in festive cheer)
  •  Go see the Christmas lights show at the Lincoln Park Zoo
  • Shop at the Christkindlmarket (The annual Christmas-time German Market)

·         These on top of my usual weekly goings-ons.

Which brings me to the list of shows I saw as a Saint this past week and those to come next week:

  • David Ives’ The Heir Apparent (an adaptation of a French farce about one man’s efforts to become sole inheritor of his uncle’s fortune) at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre.
  •  David Sedaris’ The Santaland Diaries (about what it’s like to work as a Macy’s Department Store Elf) at TheaterWit.
  • University of Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert.
  •  Domesticated (What happens to a politician’s family after a sex scandal breaks the headlines?) at Steppenwolf, written and directed by Steppenwolf ensemble member Bruce Norris.
  • Treasure Island (Yes, that Treasure Island) at Lookingglass Theatre.
  • Barney the Elf (an original musical parody of the movie Elf).
  • Bernarda Alba and her House (a woman locks her five daughters and mother in a house for a mandatory period of mourning and emotions unleash) at Red Twist Theatre

Until next time, peace out!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Celebrities and MORE STABILIZERS!

Jacob Ward – Franklin Fine Arts

Greetings and salutations again, dear reader!  Here’s the skinny on what’s been happening this week in the life of Jacob Ward!

At Franklin Fine Arts
This week was parent teacher conferences (not that exciting in the art room… the whole operation was open-house style with about six parents stopping in the timespan of 11 AM – 4 PM.) but I managed to spend some of that downtime researching and reprogramming Ms. Koreman’s kiln to be able to fuse glass as well as fire ceramics.  Other exciting things this week were the new projects we started!!!

The portfolio class set aside to help students get into arts high schools began working on self-portraits so I had to make an exemplar for the students to look at.  Not too shabby for 20 minutes of work.  2nd grade had an off-day after finishing their Oaxaca animal project so they got a chance to build towers using cardboard slats that Ms. Koreman keeps for just such occasions.  The funniest moment of the day was when one student, whose mother is an architect, noticed his group’s tower was starting to fall and he started yelling to the other 2nd graders “WE NEED MORE STABILIZERS!!!”  Definitely not a phrase you hear out of every 2nd grader, but totally brilliant.

In Chicago
This week was all about Mount Union friendship time starting with a trip to The Second City comedy studios for an original musical sketch show with former fellow Raider, Cory Merriman.  That was followed by a Sunday afternoon adventure with Mount Union Chicago Semester Intern, Lauren Klonowski, to one of the famous “Before I Die” walls.  It’s located within walking distance from Canterbury Apartments… I won’t tell you the exact address because that would take the fun out of the hunt, but I will tell you it’s on Sedgewick Street.

Additional adventures included going to Story Club Chicago’s monthly south-side storytelling event where people just get up on stage and tell stories based on the month’s theme. The most memorable story was from an older woman who stepped up to the mic for the first time to tell her own life story of growing up in the Philippines during WWII.  If you can’t make it to the event, it’s broadcast live on WLPN every month.

I saw a killer adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984 at Steppenwolf, home to ensemble member Tracy Letts who happens to be the husband of Mount Union alum Carrie Coon (Gone Girl & HBO’s The Leftovers).  Once again being a Saint has paid off… I had a third row seat FOR FREE!!!  Like I said, 1984 was great but the real gem this weekend was Burning Bluebeard at The Den Theater.  Words cannot describe how incredible this show was (this is the 3rd year it has been resurrected if that is any indication of how popular it is).  The show, a tragedy about the disastrous fire at Chicago’s Iroquois Theater that killed 600 people and changed fire code/safety precautions for theaters across the nation, was brought to life by the least expected type of performers: clowns.  A tragedy performed by clowns… may sound odd but it works, it works really well.  The Ruffians (the acting troupe) are comprised of trained clowns, tumblers, and acrobats and if for some reason Burning Bluebeard doesn’t return next season, make any effort to find out what they are doing and go see one of their shows!

BONUS:  I saw Bluebeard on opening night so there was this super high energy and representatives of the press all over.  Also in attendance were familiar faces (celebrities in my mind) from other shows I’ve seen including the actress who played Miss Buncle in Miss Buncle’s Book and two of the actors from Story of a Story: The Untold Story. Totally radical evening all around!

Until next time, peace out!