Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bowling bonanza

Some good moments from today:

I arranged a surprise field trip to Zodos Bowling Ally and Arcade. They have been obsessing over Zodos for days - ("Amber, when are we going to Zodos? Amber!!!" ) I now have an "I dont answer questions about future field trips" policy. Anyway, we load up into the van, and as we pass various hotels and gas stations, I would joke, "We're going... to the gas station! Yay!" Or "We're going... to Motel 6! Woohoo!" They were bursting with excitement, and when they saw the sign for Zodos they all screamed.

I told them how proud I am for all of their hard work. We have a new computer program called Reading Plus that they do in the mornings, and they have been writing articles for our future blog for our service learning project. This trip was purely a reward!

They surrounded me with a big group hug and chimed "You're the best leader ever!!!" They were so happy at the bowling ally. We got a good deal for shoes and lanes (I have a small budget for the summer.)

I gave a prize to one kid who had NEVER been bowling before but got the highest score out of anyone! He scored 131 (with bumpers).

Afterward we went to the arcade and I gave them each 5 tokens. Most of the boys spent theirs almost immediately, but a lot of the girls saved up their coins and used them strategically on the games that give out the most tickets. Then they had more tickets to spend on prizes! You go girls!

A great day at Fun in the Sun!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Parade!

"And those who were seen dancing where thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." -Nietzche

Opening number, sexy Brazilian dancing

This guy made "waves." So creative!

A fish, one side oil spill.

World Cup capoeira!

She has a tiny baby!

My campers helped paint this chair in the workshop!

Family at Solstice

Waiting for the parade to start.

Isaiah and Dad!

Grandma Jeney and her daughter Jeni

Chalk drawing with Osiris! Do you like my outfit? :P A few people on the street gave me compliments on it.

Walkin to the parade!

Check out my cute cousins.

Exploring with Cassie

We drove around and ended up at Tunnel Road.

Cool frog mailbox!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Week 2 of FITs

Oh my gosh. Where to begin.

What a topsy-turvey emotionally, physically, spiritually demanding week I've had!

"Fun in the Sun" sounds like fun, right? Surprise: it is the most challenging job I've ever had in my life. But at the same time is it enormously rewarding.

I've been 100% responsible for 13 low-income sixth through ninth graders this week, ages 11-13, mixed boys and girls. They are all Hispanic. I plan all of their activities and am expected to teach them a myriad of subjects from reading to self defense to environmental awareness.

I'll run you through my average day:

8 to 9 - Informal Activities. I arrive at camp and figure out an inside activity for 20-25 kids. I've done cartoon drawing, where I draw something on the board and they try to copy it. Sometimes we just sit and color, do oragami, or play board games or twister. The boys usually play soccer outside (a few girls play with them) and the younger girls come hang out with me. They are sooooo cute!!

9 to 9:30 - Morning celebration, where the entire camp gathers and we sing songs/play games together. The camp is run by 4 women, 3 of us young college kids. We take turns leading songs. The popular ones this year are "The Weenie Man" and "The Milk Song." I really enjoy the Milk Song but the Weenie Man is really annoying. We play sharks and minnows or tunnel tag, where we get the blood pumping. Chasing kids is good exercise! They're fast!

9:30 - 10:30- Reading time. Last year when I had 4th grade boys whose reading skills were iffy, I made up lessons plans (usually on the spot) teaching them grammar and reading skills through games. This year, though, everyone in my group can read (YAY!) so I brought some books from home and give them free reading time for about 20 minutes.

If I had a class set, I would love to read aloud to them. I tried reading aloud from one of my favorite young adult books called The Hunger Games but its too hard for them to follow along without seeing it in front of them.

For the last half hour of reading, I do different things. One day I divided them into teams and had them play a competitive rhyming game that I made up - its pretty fun! Today they read to the little kids in a younger group, that was cute. If anyone has any suggestions for reading activities for 6th grade/junior high school students, let me know!

10:30 - 11- Snack/Recess. Here's where I get to take a little break, gather myself, figure out what I'm going to do next, and play with the kids. The girls play handball and the boys play (you guessed it!) soccer. The little boys whack tennis balls with plastic baseball bats. It's empowering for them because they're so tiny yet the ball goes so far!

11 to 12 - Service Learning. So if you read my other post you heard that if the kids complete 100 hours of service learning, they each get a $500 college scholarship. This allotted time is where we figure out what we're doing for our big project. So far we've had a few successful brainstorming sessions, and the kids decided they wanted to focus on the oil spill.

I asked the Santa Barbara News Press to donate newspapers for this week, so we read the stories about the Oil Spill. They have a really hard time understanding news stories unless we read them together and I stop after every paragraph to ask comprehension questions/explain. So I can simultaneously teach them about journalism (I had them use different colored crayons to identify the headline, the byline, the lead, etc) and have them learn about the spill.

12 to 1 - I get a lunch break! Yay! Sometimes I go to the beach with my coworkers (its right down the block) or downtown. Usually I bring a homemade lunch and eat it across the street in the park.

1 to 4:30 - Afternoon Activities/Field Trips. Here begins the hardest part of the day, where I am completely responsible for entertaining them. Most of this time should be allocated for service learning activities, since to complete their 100 hours they have to average at 3 hours per day. This week I've done pretty well, taken them on 4 field trips, which is great considering its the first week! I'm only supposed to have one per week, but I figure if the van driver is available, might as well get em out on the town!

On Tuesday I took them to the Summer Solstice Workshop, where they got a complete tour of all the floats, learned how they were constructed, and even hepled paint/paper mache a few floats! It is such a bright, colorful, artistic setting bustling with creative energy. Later in the week we read an article in The Santa Barbara Independent about it, and we had seen most of the floats they had mentioned!

On Wednesday we went to the Library, where I had them watch youtube videos and look at photos online about the oil spill. We looked at a few magazines with info about the spill in it, and then I gave them 10 minutes of free time. During their free time at the library, the boys played virtual soccer. I'm not kidding.

I also signed them up for the summer reading program, where they get prizes for reading. Yay!

On Thursday we went to the Watershed Resource Center near Hendrys Beach, listened to a presentation from the woman there, and then spent an hour playing at the beach. Responsible for 13 energetic children near the ocean, I would have been completely overwhelmed had I been alone. However, my parents stopped by (yay mom and dad!) and helped me supervise. Last year we had high school kids, Counselors in Training (CITs), who would come on field trips with us, but this year we don't have any yet.

Today (Friday) we went on a surprise field trip. Iimagine a whiny voice asking "Amber, where are we going on our field trip today?" 800 times. But they were excited when we arrived at the Arabian Horse Show at Earl Warren Showgrounds! We got to watch a few of the competitions, walk around and look at the horses up close, and talk to a few jockeys. They had a really good time!

So this is my life for the next 6 weeks. I'm kind of obsessed with it. There's a lot of planning/outside research/phone calls/thinking/emotional baggage that I carry around during this time of the summer, so I apologize if I can't talk about anything else.

Please, please, please let me know if you have any ideas! Here's what I need help thinking of:

  • simple informal activity ideas using as few materials as possible.
  • reading time (easy reading games to play? where to get a class set of books?)
  • our service learning project. It's loosely focused on the oil spill, but as long as its related to the environment/disaster relief we can count the hours. What can we do to help the community? I'm thinking about making a newspaper, considering my experience in journalism. (teach what you know, right?) I hope for them to include photos, interviews, drawings, and stories related to the environment... any more ideas?
  • fun, inexpensive field trips around Santa Barbara. We have a van driver who can take us anywhere. Related to the environment/disaster relief is preferable so we can count it towards their service learning hours, but anything is great!
  • How I can word the Arabian Horse Show to count towards our Service Learning hours... helping the environment by relying on horsepower instead of cars? hmmm....

Well if you've read this far, thanks so much! I really appreciate it. Happy Solstice!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Family at Shoreline Park

Nancy visits SB!

We saw starfish

And lots of dogs

And we played frisbee

So cute!

Kim's Grad Party

Baby Ajala

What did the UCLA college graduate request for party entertainment?
A bouncehouse, of course!

Kim with Desa Mandarino, 9th grade English teacher

Family from across the board!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Kim graduates from UCLA!

Proud mom!

Ceremonial flags for John Wooden.

I snuck on to the field to take these close up ones during the ceremony...

Grandad took us to a fancy restaurant with an indoor stream

And then Kim and I cruised Beverly Hills.

Kim with her co-RA (residential adviser)

Pre-grad excitement!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fun in the Sun: Week 1

This week I've been in training for Fun in the Sun (FITs). Its a summer program sponsored by Girls Inc and United Way for underprivileged kids in Santa Barbara. I did the program last summer, but this summer we received a different grant and the program is VASTLY different.

The main difference is that our grant this year is centered on 6-9th grade (last year I worked primarily with 4th grade boys) and focuses on service learning. The kids will plan, organize, and participate in a community project. The details of the grant require that our project be about the environment and/or disaster relief. Through the project, the kids will be learning by doing.

If the kids complete 100 hours of service learning, they receive a $500 college scholarship! And that's not restricted to a 4-year, it can be any vocational school, massage school, beauty school, or veterinarian school - any type of college program they want.

So now its my job to help my group of 13 teenagers think of/complete a fun project that will fulfill the requirements of the service learning grant!

I want to do some kind of newspaper, maybe with articles about how to better the environment. We'll go out into the community (we're going to volunteer at the Solstice Workshop on Tuesday!) and they can report on it.

I've been asking my friends and family for help, and here are some of our ideas:
  • paint over graffiti
  • spray paint storm drains
  • pick up trash at the beach
  • make educational youtube videos
  • educational, environment newspaper
  • with cartoons, articles, pictures, opinions, etc

Also, I can take them on a field trip every Wednesday. Here are some ideas:
  • Solstice Workshop
  • Teen Center
  • Beach
  • Santa Barbara Independent
  • Santa Barbara Daily Sound

If you have any ideas, let me know! Were trying to focus on the environment or disaster relief. Thanks!

Here are some of my campers from last summer!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Lindsey graduates!

My little cousin Lindsey graduated from 6th grade!

Isn't she cute?

And confident and intelligent and amazing!

And her whole family is awesome too!