Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I have to leave you in suspense about what the F might stand for… I am sure you’re wondering. At least I hope you are…

My youngest daughter is in the 7th grade this year. She has spent her entire school career in our district at the same schools that all of the kids in our neighborhood attend. Depending on a bunch of variables her services have looked different ways in different years, but she has always had some level of inclusive education (with supports!)

Last year there were several folks who had misgivings about her programming, but when the rubber met the road amazing things happened.

Like every other 6th grader, in Social Studies last year my daughter learned about Ancient Rome and Julius Caesar, Ancient Greece and the pyramids and the Age of Chivalry along with her peers. Her teachers and her paraprofessional were excellent about finding and crafting materials so that the information was accessible and the background knowledge has been great for her.

(A while ago my son was watching something on TV that showed the pyramids, Jenn pointed out the pyramids and told us, “That is in ancient Greece—there’s a dead guy in it, they miss him.” Without background knowledge that show and so much more would be just another discrete event that drops into her life without context… but I digress…)

When they studied The Age of Chivalry the kids were divided into teams of three to build their own society—one to make the castle, one to write the Code of Chivalry and one to make the coat of arms. My daughter was on a team with two boys from her class and she was assigned to making the coat of arms.

Just like all of the other kids who had to build coats of arms my daughter had to pick pictures out to use, use the computer to look up the symbolism of those pictures and get agreement from the team on the choices she made. Then the team had to choose a phrase from their Code of Chivalry to be their motto. Once this was done she needed to make it into a shield and write up the meanings of the symbols they’d chosen, and adhere it to the back of the shield so that she could present it to the class as part of the team.

Jenn picked out a bunch of pictures and discussed them with the guys. She had picked out a panther which was a feminine symbol. Apparently the guys agreed that since there was a girl on the team the panther would be ok, as long as they could also include a fire-breathing dragon. My daughter agreed including a dragon would be fine.

So she set to work making the shield—it was decided that it was fine for her to have help drawing the pictures, especially since many of the other kids were using computer images. Jenn colored the pictures and glued them to the cardboard shield (she also had help with the cutting.)

When she presented to the class she stood in the front of the room with her team. She read her presentation from the back of the shield and when she tripped over a word her paraprofessional, who was in the back of the room, whispered the word into her FM system so that only she could hear it. This way she could continue smoothly with her presentation (this was a coat of arms presentation, not a reading test!) The castle was great, the code of chivalry was chivalrous and the team got a good grade.

The day of her presentation she brought the shield home. My older daughter had an early dance class that day so they got off the bus and right into the car. While I drove and made a mental grocery list my daughters discussed school.

Suddenly my older daughter said, “Hey Mom, listen to this—listen to what’s on this coat of arms Jenn made.”

Here is what she read:

The cross is white. It stands for peace and protection.
The shield is blue. It stands for loyalty and truth.
The panther stands for a beautiful woman, fierce but gentle to her young.
The dragon stands for a most valiant defender of treasure.
The flaming heart stands for ardent affection. (“Just love, that’s all,” my daughter told me later.)
Its purple color stands for royal majesty and justice.

We joked that she had made us all a coat of arms. Then Amanda turned the shield over and said, “Oh my gosh, wait til you hear this!!!”

On the front of the shield (it came out backwards in the picture somehow) were the words the team had chosen from their code of chivalry:

Fight for All or Fight for No One!
No doubt about it, she had made our coat of arms!

There’s your F!


seasoned said...

Fight for all or fight for no one!
I love it! this motto is the cry of advocates everywhere!
I am happy to read your updated blog, keep up the good work!

There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. - Elie Wiesel

Terri said...

Thank you Kathy, I agree, Fight for all or fight for no one does say it all (I like your Elie Wiesel quote as well!)