A Truly International Experience

Friday, June 29, 2007

Today we got our first taste of fear that can strike a major city. Two attempted bomb attacks were thwarted not by government personnel, but by common citizens. Coincidentally, we happened to be in both places where the bombs were located within a half an hour of their discovery. Needless to say, we've become glued to the BBC news in our hotel lobby, but will venture out after this brief lull in our hectic whirlwind trip. ----Jennifer, Ali, and Nicole

An Architecture Lesson on the Tower Bridge

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Adrienne: “I would ask students to break into pairs and construct a timeline covering before the Tower Bridge was built to the current day. I would outline enough topics so that students would not have to come up with the topics on their own. I would like to see one group study all the architectural designs that were entered into the competition and the board who researched the architects’ design entries. I would also have a group study the hydraulic system, and I would ask one group to study the change over from hydraulic to electric. I would also ask each group to study the opening day and to ask one group to study the time that the bridge was raised. I would present this lesson with a PowerPoint which had a slide with a title and date and then a slide of one photograph of the topic. I would ask the students to pick which topic each pair would like, then to collect 5 images and create a 5-slide PowerPoint presentation without text. I would collect all the slide presentations the day before and then create one complete presentation with all the student work, and then the next class I would ask the pair to stand and present their learning as we flip through the slides.”

A Wet Day

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Although the day in Stratord and Oxford was a rather wet one, we still felt a thrill from seeing Shakespeare's birthplace, grave site, and commemorative statue. We had to do a bit of power walking to fit it all in, but being English teachers, we are devoted to our FATHA WILL. Last night was also amazing! We got an exclusive tour of the National Theatre and then saw the production of Tennessee Williams' The Rose Tattoo which was extraordinary!!! That's all for now. ----Ali Jen and Nicole :)

Memorable Afternoon as a Groundling

Monday, June 25, 2007

Ali: “Today definitely goes down as one of the most memorable for me as a practicing English teacher. I’m thrilled that we were able to go see the Globe Theatre on the second day of the trip since it was the place I looked most forward to seeing. The experience of actually standing as a groundling and seeing a production defied my expectations. The experience was one that most teachers of Shakespeare can only dream of. In reviewing my pictures, I’m thinking about how I want to revamp my introduction to our Shakespeare unit…While I don’t teach Othello, I enjoyed the production more than I ever imagined. As we discussed at dinner, I will never forget Othello’s passionate voiced filled with power. He was cast exactly as I’d pictured—strong, large and overpowering—a perfect match to the noble and angelic Desdemona. Having never before seen a production of Othello, I can safely say that this one satisfied my appetite for a strong Shakespeare production.”

Othello at Shakespeare's Globe

Janine: “Today was truly a once in as lifetime experience. To stand in the reconstructed Globe Theatre and see Othello played out up close, the way Shakespeare envisioned it was magical. Even though I am not an English teacher and was not familiar with the story of Othello, it still felt special. As a groundling, it was neat to see the actors walking through the crowd and on to the stage. There were just so many extraordinary components to this experience and it is something I know I will carry with me from this trip.”

Pondering Study Abroad along the Thames

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Ali: “I’m sitting here drinking a Strongbru Cider at a point along the Thames River. I’m so excited to hear more of London’s lush history and educate myself…To me, Europe offers so much fascinating architecture, history, people and places that I feel as though 10 days won’t be enough to squeeze all of London, Stratford, and Oxford in, but I know that what I learn here will certainly make me a more educational classroom teacher. How enticing it will be for students to have an English teacher who can educate them about all the wonders of England (and possibly give them a history lesson in the process) so they can maximize their experiences and learn vicariously through my eyes (or camera lens.) I am so eager to beg imagery activities with the photos I’ve already taken and prepare students to possibly accompany me to this same surreal world beyond ours.”

Nicole's Surreal Experience

Nicole: "The bus ride throughout London was surreal. At first, I snapped photo after photo, but then I decided to stop and just observe. I wanted to cry! I never thought I would be so lucky to visit a place I have read about as a student for so long. Buckingham palace! Trafalgar Square! (to the right) Piccadilly Circus! Tony Blair’s Residence—at least until Wednesday when Gordon Brown becomes Prime Minister! The Changing of the Guard! Tower Bridge! The London Eye! The churches and cathedrals! The Thames!... I can’t wait to further explore these places, particularly the Globe. However, it was 8 p.m. (1 a.m. your time), and we were jet lagged and needed to rest, so we went to bed. To the theatre tomorrow…"

Glad To Have Done My Homework!

Adrienne: “As an architecture student, I was fortunate enough to have learned about Christopher Wren and the history of the building development over time and about the Great London Fire of 1666 but these elements were all just tiny memories from a class…I remember reading about the government of London in my high school history classes, but nothing comes back to me in detail. I also learned about the Roman influence in the creation of London from my 8th grade Latin class. [Thanks to the reading we did before leaving,] I learned a lot of new information and re-learned a lot of “old” information. When we were sitting on the bus tour and listening to our tour guide, I was able not only to follow along but to predict what he was going to say!”

Thoughts on Our First Above Ground Tour...

Elise: “Seeing London firsthand as a future teacher is just incredible. Looking at pictures of a place is never the same as actually being able to go and walk in the footsteps of famous, influential people…I look forward to getting out on the city streets and taking photographs of the amazing architecture as well as the fun, playful signs that the kids might find more exciting.”

Initial Underground Encounters

Jen: “It is easy to anticipate events like seeing Big Ben or standing in the Globe Theatre, yet the unexpected or unanticipated events are those that stand out as most authentic. Our mad maze through the London underground will serve as my first taste of London. While anxious to see the sights, we were confined by unexpected detours under the most historical and exciting streets of London. Yet, as we sat wearily, luggage heavy, and tired, we were taking part on what makes London, London. I noticed many people from all over the globe and many Londoners giving us a sideways glance—no doubt amused by Americans with logs of luggage…I also noticed an interesting etiquette that New York subway users don’t have. No one pushed or shoved and while everyone was on the go, no one seemed to be impatiently rushing. Two gentlemen even paused to help us carry our bags up the stairs. I found these initial underground encounters (while cumbersome with luggage) very telling of the city that sat above us. The unexpected detour of the underground w ill always be my first taste of London.”

Friday, June 22, 2007

Well, we are finally here! Just kidding. It's 9:34 and we've been at the airport for 6 hours now. I'm really getting excited, and I wish they would board us already. I can't handle another game of "Crazy 8s." Hopefully we can all sleep on the way so that we are energized for the day tomorrow! I think they are FINALLY boarding. The next entry should be from London! Hi Mom and Dad!

Flight Delayed

Ali, Janine, Jen, and Nicole pose for the Photo Booth on the MacBook after learning that our 30-minute flights delay is now a sixty-minute delay. We figure we may as well take advantage of the downtime to add the first pictures to our blog. Janine is now quite pleased that she has brought a firewire cable with her, and Jen can't wait to try out her brand new digital camera. Now we're keeping our fingers crossed that we press send, you'll actually see our airport shots. Here goes...

Ready, Set, Go!

Hello everyone! Ali, Jennifer and I were so excited for our trip that we arrived at the airport a little after 4 P.M. I still cannot believe that I will be touring Europe in less than 24 hours! I have been looking forward to this experience all of my life, and I am even more excited to share this experience with some fellow teachers. I bought a new digital camera for the occasion, and I plan to take as many pictures as possible so I can create an iMovie and/or PowerPoint of my experiences to share with my students. I'm a bit apprehensive about the seven hour flight! Hopefully Ali and Jennifer and the other girls can keep me entertained! I look forward to sharing my experiences with you!

Growth through Blogging!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More than a generation ago, British educator John Dixon offered a critique of skills-based language arts curricula devoid of meaningful context for student learners, one that paid “fatal inattention to the processes involved in such everyday activities as talking and thinking things over, writing a diary or a letter home, even enjoying a TV play. Discussion was virtually ignored, as we know to our cost today on both sides of the Atlantic. In other words, the part of the map that relates a man’s language to his experience was largely unexplored.” I can’t help but think that John Dixon would be ecstatic with the educational possibilities afforded by blogging as students share what matters to them with an authentic audience of interested readers and fellow writers. How different Dixon and his colleagues’ vision was following the Dartmouth Conference in 1967 compared to the reality of so many empty classroom writing experiences today—what fellow English educator Jimmy Britton would doubtless call “dummy runs.” I’ll be eager to learn over the days ahead, how your own experiential learning and your opportunity to discuss that learning informally in a study abroad setting will impact your future classroom teaching. Happy blogging, my friends, and see you at the airport on Friday! Don't forget your passports!!