Student Voices

mandelareflections

Tiana, 4th Grade

Tiana-Updated

Marlon, 4th Grade

Marlon Watkins-Updated

 

About Student Voices: We have invited some of our students to contribute their ideas and thoughts about what they are learning. They are also willing to share some of their work. Continue to check out the minds of tomorrow’s inspiring young leaders!

IMG_23516th Grade 
January 29, 2013 
Essay in response to Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

The Nigerian Story 

            The English colonized and oppressed the Ibo by using religion, kidnapping the leaders of the Ibo, and sending their soldiers to force the Ibo to change their way of life. The English used their religion by bringing Christianity, building Christian schools, and convincing people to come to their schools and convert to their religion. The English kidnapped the Ibo clan leaders and told them to pay to get their leaders out. They used their armies to destroy any Ibo clan that challenged or tried to battle them in war. The English used religion, kidnapped the leaders of the Ibo and sent their soldiers to enforce their laws in order to colonize and oppress the Ibo.

The English used religion by administering different techniques to convert the Ibo to Christianity, which helped them colonize and oppress the Ibo. When the English arrived in Nigeria, they came as missionaries. They were going to different villages to spread the word about Christianity: “The missionaries had come to Umofia.” (Achebe 143) The English also proved that anyone could join them when they accepted the osu. The osu are people who aren’t considered clean with natural locks and who are committed to serving the Ibo gods. They’re something like Ibo gods’ servants. The English also built Christian schools. They created the schools for the people they converted so that they could learn more lessons, which would keep them hooked to Christianity. On page 156, a convert says, “He was a person dedicated to a god, a thing apart- a taboo forever.” (Achebe 156) The English used different techniques to convince the Ibo to convert to Christianity, their religion, which helped them to colonize and oppress the Ibo.

The English kidnapped the Ibo leaders in order to colonize and oppress the Ibo clans. The leaders needed to get bailed out by their villages. When the leaders were captured, the only way they could be released was by their villages bailing them out. Some of the villages paid and some had no money: “It happened so quickly that the six men did not see it coming. There was a brief scuffle, too brief even to allow the drawing of a sheathed machete.” (Achebe 194) On page 194, the District Commissioner said, “You will be released as soon as you agree to this and undertake to collect that fine from your people.” (Achebe 194) The English used kidnapping when the leaders were locked up; the Ibo armies had no one to lead them. The Ibo armies were unorganized. While the Ibo leaders were in jail, they were treated with disrespect. The English beat them and shaved their heads. The Ibo leaders were kidnapped by the English and needed to get bailed out by their communities and this helped the English to colonize and oppress them.

The English sent soldiers to change the Ibo’s way of life, which helped them to colonize and oppress the Ibo clans. When the Abame clan used violence, the English retaliated by destroying he whole village. The Ibo were attacked at an unexpected time: “And they began to shoot. Everybody was killed.” (Achebe 139) The English also have the kotma, who are Ibo that converted to Christianity and are now messengers for the English. The kotma disrespected and taunted their people in a way that made the Ibo want to hurt them but, if the Ibo had done so, the English army would have retaliated with death: “In a flash Okonkwo drew his machete. The messenger crouched to avoid the blow. It was useless.  Okonkwo’s machete descended twice and the man’s head lay beside his uniformed body.” (Achebe 204) The English soldiers also made war with the Ibo that offended their religion and their leaders. They destroyed anything that disgraced Christianity. The English soldiers used war and disrespect to force the Ibo to change their way of life and this helped the English to colonize and oppress the Ibo clans.

By converting the Ibo, kidnapping the leaders of the Ibo communities, and using soldiers to force the Ibo to change their way of life, the English were able to colonize and oppress the Ibo clans. The English used their religion by bringing Christianity, building Christian schools, and convincing people to come to their schools and convert to their religion. The English kidnapped the Ibo clan leaders and told their communities to pay to bail them out. They used their armies to destroy any clan that challenged them in battle or war. The Ibo were oppressed and colonized by the English who used religion, kidnapped the leaders of the Ibo, and sent their soldiers to force the Ibo to change their way of life.

Armani Haggard6th Grade 
January 29, 2013 
Essay in response to Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
 

How Nigeria Was Colonized

The English were able to colonize and oppress the Ibo communities of Nigeria by converting them to Christianity, by destroying Ibo buildings in order to build their churches, and by using force. Converting the Ibo to Christianity was a way for the English to colonize and oppress the Ibo because almost everyone believed in it, like Nwoye. Destroying Ibo buildings was another way for the English to colonize and oppress the Ibo because the English destroyed  the Ibo buildings on Ibo land in order to make their own buildings. James Smith, an Englishman, tried to force his ways of life onto the Ibo. The English were able to colonize and oppress the Ibo by converting the Ibo to Christianity, by destroying Ibo buildings to build their churches, and by using force.

Converting the Ibo to Christianity was a way for the English to colonize and oppress the Ibo. Nwoye was someone who converted to Christianity: “Although Nwoye had been attracted to the new faith the very first day,…”(Achebe 149) Okonkwo was very upset when he found out Nwoye converted to Christianity. Whenever someone else is converted to Christianity, the English have a better chance to oppress and colonize the Ibo because the Ibo will believe in what the English believe in. Some Ibo people tried to defend their religion and others tried to change it: “The women began to talk excitedly, but Okonkwo sat unmoved.”(Achebe 151) The English told the Ibo that their gods and goddesses aren’t real so that the Ibo would believe in Christianity. The English said that there was only one god to believe in. One way the English colonized and oppressed the Ibo was by converting the Ibo to Christianity.

The English were able to colonize and oppress the Ibo by destroying Ibo buildings to build their religious churches. The English would find Ibo land and tear down the building that was there and build their churches: “The missionaries had come to Umuofia. They had built their church there,…” (Achebe 143) They took the Ibo land that the Ibo called the “Evil Forest.” The Ibo told them not to build their church there, but they did anyway. The Ibo said the “forest” was bad, but they didn’t listen. The clan was worried about the English and thought they were undesirable people and the “Evil Forest” was the right place for the English: “When one came to think of it, the Evil Forest was a fit home for such undesirable people.”(Achebe 154) The English would take land from other Ibo. If the Ibo got mad and tried to do something about it, the English would kill the Ibo. Destroying Ibo buildings was a way for the English to oppress and colonize the Ibo.

Using force against the Ibo was another way for the English to colonize and oppress the Ibo. James Smith was an English man who forced his ways of life upon the Ibo. For example, Mr. Kiaga was an Ibo man who converted other Ibo. He told the Ibo that they are all children of the only god there is: “We are all children of god …”(Achebe 156) James Smith thought the Ibo were evil and      treated them like animals. He saw things as being black or white; black meaning bad and white meaning good: “He saw things as black and white. And black was evil.”(Achebe 143) The English forced their religion of Christianity upon the Ibo and if they weren’t Christian, they would be pressured to convert. A way the English colonized and oppressed the Ibo was by using force.

Converting the Ibo to Christianity, destroying Ibo buildings, and using force were three ways the English colonized and oppress the Ibo. Nwoye was a person who converted to Christianity and converted other people. The English destroyed Ibo buildings to build their religious churches. James Smith was an Englishman who forced ways of life upon the Ibo people. The English were able to colonize and oppress the Ibo by converting them to Christianity, by destroying Ibo buildings, and by using force.

Stephany Arroyo4th Grade
GRC Reflection-Homelessness
November 29th, 2012

Before learning about homelessness, I used to think that only adults and teenagers were homeless.  I thought homeless people didn’t have jobs.  I even thought children couldn’t be homeless.  I also used to think that families weren’t homeless.  I also believed more things about homelessness that aren’t true.

            Since beginning research for our grassroots campaign on homelessness, I’ve learned that many students are homeless.  Now I know that domestic violence victims are homeless.  I also know that entire families can be homeless now.  Youth without parents and low-wage workers can also be homeless, which means even people with jobs can become homeless!  I found this very surprising.  We also learned that some ex-offenders also become homeless.

            I think homelessness is a social justice problem because it is simply unfair.  Also, when people are homeless, it means their basic needs may not be met.  Many homeless people also need food and a home.  We need to help solve this problem.

            I would like to help people who are homeless by volunteering at a homeless shelter.  I would also like to organize a food and clothing drive at our school.  I want to give people in our community what they need.

Orlando Escamilla5th Grade
GRC Reflection-Homelessness
December 5th, 2012

Before learning about homelessness, I used to think that people who were homeless did not have jobs.  When my dad would tell me that homeless people were weak and bad, I would feel a bit sad.  I thought homeless people didn’t have jobs because they did something very wrong or committed a crime.  I also used to think that homeless people with carts were just recycling things because their carts often had a lot of things in it. 

            Since beginning our grassroots campaign on homelessness, I’ve learned many things about homelessness in Chicago.  I’ve learned that parents with children can be homeless.  I’ve also learned that runaway teens can become homeless because they don’t have anywhere to live or enough resources.  Also, some people who get out of prison become homeless because they don’t have relatives to help them and they sometimes don’t get paid enough money to make a living.  I told my dad about all of our research and shared this information with him.  He apologized for saying that homeless people were just lazy.

            I think homelessness is a social justice issue because everyone should be able to afford housing.  If some people who work don’t earn enough money to meet their basic needs, that means they might not have enough money to buy food for their children either.  Homeless people are people just like us, so we should respect them.

            I would like to help the homeless population of Chicago by creating a food drive.  We can also become allies with other people to help us.  We can ask people who are homeless what they need, and we can either donate the items or raise money for them.  I think people will be a lot happier if others helped them.

Ladjah Lock5th Grade
GRC Reflection-Homelessness
November 29th, 2012

Before learning about homelessness, I used to think that homeless people were just beggars, and I used to think that they were faking being homeless! I also used to think that homeless people stole things from other people because they didn’t have anything.

            Since beginning our grassroots campaign, I’ve learned many surprising things about homelessness.  I’ve learned that people can be homeless with a job.  People can also become homeless because they’re youth without parents.  Even young children can be homeless!  When I learned about this, I felt very sad because that means some children may not be in school regularly, and I think everyone should go to school.  Some teens that run away from home can become homeless too. 

            Something I’d like to do to help homeless people is have a food drive and go to shelters to ask what kinds of things are needed.  Maybe we could also have a clothing drive and donate clothes to a shelter. 

            I think homelessness is a social justice issue because everyone should have their basic needs met, and I don’t think people in the world should starve.  We all know fourth and fifth graders can’t end homelessness, but we can help the homeless population with your help!

Delshaa Smith5th Grade
Asia Unit – Informational Paragraph
January 24th, 2013

Have you heard of an ancient civilization called Sumer?  Well, around 4,000 B.C.E. a group of people formed an ancient civilization in Mesopotamia called Sumer.  Mesopotamia was located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.  If you look on a map today, Mesopotamia was located in the modern-day country of Iraq.  This area was also called the Fertile Crescent because of its fertile land, which meant the people could plant many crops.

If you are a Christian, you only believe in one God, but the Sumerians believed in over 3,000 gods!  The priests were very powerful because Sumerians believed that only the priests could talk to the gods and enter the home of the gods.  Sumerians believed they had to please their gods or they would be punished.  Sumerians were polytheistic because they believed in more than one god, and most of their gods were nature gods.  For example, there was a rain god and a sun god.

The social structure of the Sumerians was split according to class.  Only the sons of the rich could go to school to become a scribe.  A scribe was a person who was able to read and write.  They were respected too because they kept important records.  Also, women had to obey their husbands, but they could buy and sell property.  I did not like learning about the power differences between men and women in Sumerian society.  For example, if a husband owed a debt, he could force his wife to work for him to pay off the debt.

For the most part, I liked learning about Sumer and Mesopotamia.  I thought it was amazing how the Sumerians made their own writing form, which is called cuneiform.  I think everyone should learn about Mesopotamia because of its interesting history.

May, 2011 (Kindergartener, age 6)

“I learned about Native Americans in North America. This is what I think they thought when the boats came over. If I was there, I would try to help my people.” The Kindergarteners have been encouraged to start using their perspective taking skills. In every event, they stop to think about the voices that are not usually heard in history. Many of the lessons are driven by questions like: how does each group feel? what do they want? what would you do in that situation? What should have happened differently?

January 26, 2011

(fourth grader, age 10)

December 8, 2010

“This poem is from the All About Me Unit where we learned about ourselves and other people’s identities. I learned that just because you look different on the outside does not mean that people have a right to judge you or be mean. Don’t you know that everybody has feelings? We learned that everybody has an identity, and we need to get to know each other before anything… I mean, before you decide anything about them. I think we all have skin and it’s just skin. I mean, we all might be from different cultures or come from a different place, but that doesn’t mean that we have to treat each other so wrong. My teacher assigned us to write a poem about our life, who we are, and what questions we have and what we want to be. This is my poem. It is called, I am Poem.” (This was dictated to one of the teachers)

I am a young tall man

I wonder if my science teacher put pop in our experiment

I hear my godfather calling me from above

I see God and Micheal Jackson

I want to go to Japan with my uncle and go on the SWAT team

I am a young and tall man

I am nice and proud

I love me and my family

I feel strong

I worry about my uncle’s wife, Meladie

I cry for my family and myself

I am nice and proud

I understand that I’m a big brother of 5 siblings

I say I believe in God and I do

I dream that life is easy

I try my hardest in school

I hope my uncle, my cousins, and my aunt come home safe

I am more than a young and tall man

(First grader, age 6)

December 7, 2010

“I love social studies and I am good at it. We just finished our Africa Unit, and now we are learning about Asia. In Africa, we learned about history and ways people live and do things. It is not better or worse, it’s just different. My teacher says we can learn from everyone. I liked to learn about Nelson Mandela. I think he is a good person because he says that white and black people are really the same and we should treat them fairly. I also learned that Africa has 54 countries. Ms Ebacher plays a game with us every morning so we can find countries on the map. Here is my quiz. I can write 26 countries on a blank map of Africa. Can you?” (This was dictated to one of the teachers)

3 thoughts on “Student Voices

  1. This shows how VLA is turning the education system on its head and making education an amazing learning experience. You must be proud of your students!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s