Sunday, February 9, 2014

You are on camera

"The cell phone is lifted up and poised unmistakably towards me to take my picture. I can see the small round camera lens rotating slightly as I move past the young photographer. I am walking at the outskirts of town just returning from my first trip to the market. She leans against the wood frame store front for airtime, and also balances on her small companion. She is likely less than 13 years old.

I don't know why this small movement catches my eye from the right side, while the speeding vehicles pass on my left and I try to walk carefully in this space where the tarmac meets the mud walk way. The children stand more than 20 feet away from where we are passing, and there are people flowing between us. One family looks like they are returning from church, and I see the father’s granite colored suit shows a sheen from the sun on the arm that takes the hand of his little girl, her bright purple skirt sways to the rhythm of her magenta patent leather shoes. Perhaps it is because this photo is only one of a very few familiar motions that surrounds me, for this reason I am drawn to my small reflection of home. Or that I am not expecting to be the one on camera, much less on one that is eyeing me from the back of an iphone.

I smile for the camera and give as much of a one handed wave as I am able when my arms on either side are being pinched at the elbow by the handles from my bags of produce. The child's head pops out from behind the cell and widely smiles back in surprise, then covers her mouth to giggle with her friend. But truly I don't mind. The opposite circumstance I know, when the stranger has a trophy camera snapping away at each of his or her perceived novelties. The tourist takes a picture of everyday life to bring as a souvenir of a strange and unfamiliar place. Instead, today, the local can capture this unusual scene at home to remember the day the pale speckled woman in the ugly hat walked by with all of her fruit and vegetables for cooking."

Saturday, May 7, 2011

But What Ever Happened To The Library?

The library is doing great :)

Because of extraordinarily generous donations, the library now has excellent resources: science, math, and Lesotho history books for students and teachers. More materials recently arrived for the children... puzzles, coloring books and crayons, alphabet learning tools... everyone loves learning phonics! Below are some recent photos of student teachers working on their assignments and the children enjoying the library.

Thank you again, Mom, Dad, Jed, Ilana, Marlene, Bill, Emma, Valerie, Ryan, and many more... everyday your materials are enjoyed and make a tremendous difference in the learning here!



Tuesday, May 3, 2011

You Are Welcome

Two mid sized rooms with cracked window panes and dung smeared floors sit on a ledge overlooking the Senqu river. Six primary classes are taught within these buildings. Three teachers. The nearest camptown in this remote mountain region is about three hours walking. It doesn’t seem like a recipe for success. And yet…

“You are welcome,” Ntate shares his soft smile with me. I’ve just asked about our schedule for next Tuesday. We are talking outside his class room after one of my weekly visits. I come to work with his classes and the classes of the principal. This week I observed an English class and taught rounding decimals. Next week we rotate – I’ll watch math then teach English.

“Ok, so next week I will watch your lesson on percentage? You can use that same game we used today, it should be ok.”

“Yes, Mme. I have seen how they show fractions and decimals, and percentages, they are all related, so…” he pulls the concepts together with his hands in the air in front of us. “Yes Mme,” he repeats as he turns back to me, “You are welcome.”

“Thank you Ntate! And thank you for today! I think the children had fun too.”

“Yes, I have seen that they have somehow understood, they have somehow gotten this concept.” He pauses, and I’m waiting for what I think will be his goodbye.

Instead he looks back at the classroom door, and when he turns back he has a huge grin. He begins to tick something off on his large chalk dusted hands.

“You know, this school, we have gotten best results in math,” he glances up at me from this statement symbolized by his pinky, and then keeps going by taking another finger, “Best results in English,” and he quickly grabs a third finger, “and best overall results for this region.” He beams.

“What!?! Ntate! This school?”

“So you see, Mme. We are somehow listening. And we are somehow not just listening. We are doing.”

“Fantastic, Ntate! Hantle!”

“Yes, Mme. This school. Our school. Next Thursday we will go to pick up the trophies.” He holds up his three fingers again. “Those three trophies.”

I take his hand. “Ntate, I am not surprised. You have the most loving and dedicated teachers working here. And the students love to learn. And that is something, a love that they also learn from you.”

He grins and looks down shyly. We hold hands for a minute in the morning sun, listening to the light rustling of dry corn stalks tiptoe across the wind. The river flows far below us. The song of time passing and time standing still.

I remember my first visit to the school, when I saw only decrepit blackboards, students crowded on precarious small wooden benches or sitting on the floor, and teachers juggling two classes at a time.

I remember the warmth with which the principal welcomed me to try teaching, sharing with me her challenging topics with which I could assist, and carefully reviewing the lesson plans I brought before teaching.

I remember when we began co teaching to be sure students learned and that we learned from each other.

I remember my English lessons with children fascinated by my tape recorder replaying the voices of local Basotho telling a story, while they read the words printed on the chart paper behind me and the principal translated into Sesotho.

I remember teaching lessons and Ntate and I carefully going over what went well, what to improve, and making goals for next time.

“Ntate, thank you so much for telling me, but really I am not surprised. This school is a very special place. You must be so happy. Thank you for making me feel so welcome here, and for having me join your school.”

“Yes, you are welcome, Mme.”

We drop hands.

“See you next week, Ntate.”

“Yes, Mme.”

He returns to his eager students, and I walk the hour back to my village.

Multiples on the Hundreds Chart

These photos are taken during a maths lesson several weeks ago. We used hundreds charts, a large one hand made on chart paper and small ones made from a donated math workbook and cardboard, to look at patterns and practice multiples. The principal is guiding the children to find multiples and use the charts.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Follow Up Fruit

These photos are taken on a classroom visit to an ECCD teacher who has helped to organize the ECCD workshops in my local village at the Resource Center. She has made numerous math materials and recently established her math center.

For this visit, she requested that I assist her in teaching number sense during the Morning Ring, and then to demonstrate how those materials would translate into self directed constructivist activities. We co taught and managed centers together, then discussed how to observe student learning and begin to differentiate instruction depending on their demonstrations of understanding.

Hooray for Children!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Technology in ECCD: Transportation and Communication... We can move faster!

As arranged last month, this group of ECCD teachers met to observe at the regional host site during a day with the curricular theme: Technology: Transportation and Communication. Eight teachers returned to participate in morning ring, center time, music ring, and story ring. After school, teachers had the opportunity to make the materials that had been used.

Winter's arrival pushes off the next regional workshop until next September, since many of the teachers travel hours by taxi or by foot to join us on workshop days. Until then, the Regional Leader and I will work together on curricular ideas, materials construction, and classroom space improvements.

Thank you again for all of your support for these ECCD workshops! Lesotho Young Authors Program continued their support with donations of blank books. Multiple packages and small financial contributions have allowed the development of the host site and provided resources for the teachers to create their own materials. We have been able to buy food and hire someone local to prepare lunch for the teachers. Hooray for Children!

Morning Routine - Look! A Number Line!

Indoor Center Time:
Stories, Words, Keyboarding, Wheel Math and Puzzles..

Teachers Making Materials

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Lesotho Young Authors Program Visits!

Lesotho Young Authors Program has been supporting our workshops and the library in a variety of ways. This past week they visited the village. Their book project has now become a critical part of empowering the ECCD teachers to take ownership of the curriculum, and it has also given a voice to local oral histories. I have used the stories in classroom lessons, and in the following pictures you can see students hearing a read aloud of the picture book written by their own teacher.

Below are photos from the ECCD workshop. We continue to focus on how to establish a Math Center with constructivist materials. The women walked each other through how a topic might be taught during the Morning Ring using the materials, used by the children independently at during indoor centers, re emphasized in a song during Music Ring, and finally revisited in a book [that they author] during Story Ring. Our next workshop is May 26.

After the workshop photos, you will see photos from the second weekly field trip from St Theresa. The children enjoyed reading picture books and playing games. After the Easter Break, a different small group from the same class will return May 13.