Sunday, October 7, 2012

Invisible Children Assembly & Reflection

D.A.T.A. students attended a school-wide "Invisible Children" assembly to learn about the child soldiers in Uganda and what they can do to help out humanity in need.  Students were exposed to an informational movie about the "Invisible Children", listened to the story of a real-life escaped child soldier who traveled to America to speak from first-hand experience, and even wrote letters to the government expressing their concern and support to put an end to such horrors in Central Africa.  Visit these sites to read more about "Invisible Children" and "Kony 2012."  

The following day, students in Room A-4 reflected on what they learned from the assembly.  First, they journaled on a photo of a new school being built in Uganda for escaped child soldiers.  Then, they read and annotated a nonfiction article on "Daily Life and Food in Uganda".  Their annotations included the VTS (Visible Thinking Strategy) strategy called "See, Think, Wonder."  They highlighted things they saw in the article and annotated in the right-hand margin what they "thought" and "wondered" about.  Finally, they gave an "invisible child" a voice by writing a first-person narrative as a Ugandan child (based on a photo of their choice).

Julia F. - Imagine a life,
Where everything goes well.
Everything is good,
And it has been a great day.
You go upstairs,
And you plop into bed,
And fall asleep.
Imagine a life,
Where your whole future could change,
Just overnight.
Imagine one man,
Doing this to you.
Kidnapping you,
And making you a soldier.
This man is real.
This man,
Is Joseph Kony.
Now imagine a life,
Where you become rescued,
By nice people
Who want to help.
Imagine getting to go back home,
Going back to school,
Back to your life.
This can happen.
But just remember,
Although we want to forget,
You will never forget those moments.
And you will have those memories,
Glued to your head,
Just remember,
That no matter how things were before,
No matter how much those memories are stuck to you,
Just remember,
You are safe now,
And you cannot be hurt again.



     Hello, I am Bakari. My Mother and Father gave me my name because it means promise. I live in Uganda, Africa. I will tell you the story of my life as a child soldier. I lived at home, with my Mother, Father, and few day old sister. I have been living in fear of the LRA for 12 years now. It was just a normal night. I went to bed in fear of what would happen to my family and I, just like I did every night. But for some reason, I felt different. I wasn’t sure why but I had a feeling that something was wrong. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know if I should tell my Father or if I should let it go. As I drifted off to sleep I decided I would let it go…and now I know that that was the wrong choice.
     “Bakari! Run! Run!” I woke up petrified of my Mother’s scared and helpless voice calling for me to run. I wasn’t sure what to do. I was going to run but then I saw my sister, Kamaria. I gently but swiftly put her in a basket, covered her with cloths, and ran! I ran into the mysterious jungle, not knowing what would happen next. I soon ran out of breath and decided I was okay to rest. I climbed a tree and fell asleep. I was not prepared for what came next. 
Bam! Everything went black. 
     I woke up in a mud hut with children Soldiers all around me. In a panic, I immediately stood up and tried to run but two of the kids grabbed me! “Help! Help!” I called. Someone covered my mouth. I wasn’t sure what to do. I was terrified! A boy looked at me; he talked to me softly and comfortingly. He told me not to run, not to yell, not to do anything but listen and do as I was told. He told me that Kony acts like a god. He tells us that he knows when we are planning to escape, planning to kill him, planning anything that we should not be doing. Then we heard a voice telling us to come out. All eight of us came out of the hut. A man with red eyes and body guards all around him were standing there right in front of me. It was Kony. 
     I had heard all about him. I have always been terrified by him. I had seen my cousins getting taken away by the LRA. And now he is right there, standing right in front of me. What can I do? Nothing… or so I’ve been told. I am just his prey, waiting to be pounced on. I stand there quietly, afraid to breath, scared that this might be the last thing I ever think. Kony begins talking but, I am not listening. I am day dreaming of all the things he could do to me. I don’t realize what is going on until I hear, “You. Come with me.” I look up to see who the poor fellow was that Kony was talking to. Then I realize, he is looking right at me. 
     I followed the soldier to a bigger hut. He invited me in. He seemed nicer than the other soldiers I have seen. He is big, dark, strong, and has a soft face. He almost looks sad instead of mad. All the other older soldiers always look mad, like they have been turned into monsters that have to follow everything their leader says. The room is full of weapons and clothes. I look around, amazed at how many weapons there are. The man shows me to a very beautiful woman. The man blushes as he tells me that she will help me into some clothes and find a weapon. The man winked at me and walks away. Instantly my spirit was lifted! I looked at the woman. She had a stern face but had kind eyes. She helped me into some clothes and gave me a gun to carry. Then, she sent me away. 
     The week I arrived slowly went by. You won’t believe all of the terrible things Kony made me do. I was kind of in training; I guess you could call it. But it’s worse than anyone could ever imagine. I had been there a week and had already been forced to the unbelievable. It was the worst feeling ever! I wanted to cry myself to sleep every night but I knew I couldn’t, I would be killed because they will think I am not strong enough. I need to get out of here… and I will, I thought. 
     I continued to train.  I continued to pray for hope. It had been almost a year when my ticket home finally arrived, unexpectedly. I was walking through the jungle one afternoon when I heard something. I immediately got down and hid. I felt something tap my shoulder so I quickly turned around, gun locked and loaded. To my surprise, I found the man I had met on my first day in this terrible place. He told me to run. I was confused. He had helped me through hard times, even saved me once when I tripped and fell while marching. Kony would have immediately killed me, but thank goodness the man was there to help me. While everything was running through my head, I still had the question, why should I be running. Then I saw it, a man with a large camera. Staring straight at me, calling me to come, and hurry! 
     I took off running! Knowing that this was my only chance of making it out of there alive! The rush I felt was pure terror. Knowing the man and me were taking a huge risk. I finally reached him, feeling as if I had been running for miles. He told me to come with him and to come quickly. I followed him to a big car thing. Not exactly sure what it was because I don’t remember seeing anything like this at home. It was big and camouflaged. I hopped in it and we started to drive away when someone called, “Bakari!” I turned to look to see who was calling to find that it was the soldier, the one that has always helped me. . I wondered why he wasn’t following me. Doesn’t he want to get out of here too? I scanned him over to make sure he was alright before we bolted away, on our way home. He looked alright, but then I saw the blood dripping from his leg. He had been shot! The camera guy and I jump out of the car to help him. We quickly put him in the car and drove away as fast as we can as bullets came shooting all around us. The soldiers chased for a little while but soon gave up. We drove into a small village. And that’s when I realized what just happened, I had just escaped. 
We pulled into the town seeking immediate help for the injured soldier. As two men carried him to an older woman, I realized that I didn’t know his name! I tried to call goodbye but he was in shock, so I doubt he could hear me. The camera guy returned and we drove off. On my way home, to see my family, if they are still there. 
     We pulled into the crowded streets, everyone looking in shock and then realizing who I was! They shouted for joy and a small girl ran to get my family. I jumped out of the car and leapt into my grandparents arms! Overjoyed to see them! Then I saw my Mother, all teary eyed and in shock that her little girl is home. I ran to her and jumped into her arms! My Father and little sister joined us in a family hug! We hugged and greeted each other for a moment and then disappeared into our home, my real home. We celebrated with what little we had. The photographer joined us. We ate and talked and they filled me in on what’s been going on. I am so happy here! I am so glad to be home, but I will never forget the horrible things I saw, and even did. 
     Now I am old. I have spent my life traveling the world, telling others about my experience. Explaining why they should be grateful for what they have. Be grateful for their family. Be grateful to live in such wonderful places. I hope everyone who I shared my story with, will think differently about their homes and family and will want to help stop Kony.


Monday, October 1, 2012

To Fall or Not to Fall? - PBL Presentation Day!

D.A.T.A. scholars in Room A-4 did a phenomenal job today giving group oral presentations answering this driving question to our "Fall of Rome" Project-Based Learning unit:  What factors cause a civilization to fall and how can it be prevented?  Performing in collaborative teams, students reported on their top three reasons Rome fell, they encouraged the audience with a community service project idea created by their team, and finally they reflected on how this project could help prevent America from a fall like that in Rome.  Presentations included skits, puppet shows, artistic posters, business cards, brochures, community service flyers, VTS discussion, audience interaction, PowerPoint presentations, and Movie-Maker movies (with music, videos, news casts, narration, skits, commercials, and more!).  What a fun day and a great way to celebrate and share student learning and success!  Enjoy a couple presentations below:

GROUP #1 - "The Pen Pel Princesses" (Connecting with foster children):
Click here to view:

GROUP #2 - Let it go! (Anti-bullying campaign)
Time-traveling news:
"Let it Go!" Anti-bullying brochure and business cards:


GROUP #3 - "Cubs for Cancer" (Helping children who are ill):
VTS Discussion with Images:

News Cast for Top Three Reasons for Fall of Rome:

GROUP #4 - "Getting Back in Business" (Helping the homeless find jobs):

GROUP #5 - "We've Got the Whole World in Our Hands" (Public Awareness):
Interactive PowerPoint and Live News Cast:

VTS Strategies used by other groups too!

GROUP #7 - "T.R.Y." (Tutoring Responsible Youths):