Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ripple Effects

This visit was special. The neighboring home based ECCD teacher, also the sister of the assistant teacher, wanted to join the community center based ECCD that I've featured on this site, in order to learn more about centers and curriculum development. She observed, participated, and collaborated.

I arrived to join in the morning routine. The children continue to sing the morning songs, learn the days of the week, select the weather, and count the attendance of boys and girls.

The head teacher leads the learning center on left and right sides. There are outlines of the left and right hand on the cardboard box, and on either side are boxes to put different items into depending on the directive. The hokey pokey was our transition song during centers :)

The assistant teacher led the read aloud center. She gave a picture walk through this Sesotho picture book, donated by Biblionef South Africa.

The visiting teacher was in charge of the arts/writing center. Today, the children trace their left hands on the 'left hand' poster and their right hands on the 'right hand' poster. At the end of the learning time, the posters are displayed. This follows up the week theme of left and right.

At the math center, children put together puzzles. The puzzles feature wild animals - pictures from magazines glued on to the back of cereal boxes and cut in to two pieces. Learning about animals and environment is part of the ECCD curriculum.

In these two pictures, after center time, the assistant teacher shows the visiting teacher the weekly planning and daily schedule. They talk together about scheming and lessons.

At the end of the morning, the visiting teacher pages through the read aloud book from the literacy center. Later she comes to ask me about the math manipulatives, and we experiment using them together. We agree that next time, she'll welcome us to her site so that we can begin working together. Meanwhile, the head teacher agrees that he will host his first regional workshop on March 31st. The ripple effect is in effect!

Recess Time!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Flooding Prayers

The rain is merciless. I climb in the taxi, and the driver turns to me, "Ach! This rain!"

"Yes, ntate," I agree, "It is too much. That rain needs to stay in the sky now." The urgency and magnitude of the drops are overwhelming. They are a massive migration, a giant celestial climate change protest.

Three months ago the most common greeting in my village was, "But where is the rain? Let us pray for rain. It is too dry." Now I want the droplets to stay put, nested in the clouds. I imagine the garden as I left it, carefully hoed and weeded each morning. Every evening my Ntate and so many children tirelessly and repeatedly carried water buckets up the mountainside to keep those seedlings moist. Now I pray that garden is not mud.

We travel down the paved road in Maseru, where I've been stuck for three weeks because of flooded rivers. Underwater bridges and washed out roads make it impossible for me to return to site.

Ntate Thabo begins to drive, saying, "It is ruining our people. It is destroying our crops. It is preventing us from reaching our families. It is making it so that we cannot work. It is damaging our cars, and creating pot holes. It is hurting us, everyone." He is emphatic, his hands grip the steering wheel. He is shouting back at the loud drumming on our vehicle.

He's right. There are stories of houses being swept away, daily drownings, and, Ntate continues, "They say that there is a bridge, it has collapsed. But I'm not sure where. I heard that on the radio this morning."

This morning I tried to go to the post office, arriving 30 minutes after opening time to allow for delays due to rain. Instead of finding the doors open, there was a line of people that wrapped around the building. It never did open.

We drive on towards where I am staying. Suddenly the other side of the road is underwater, and as the truck driving the opposite direction speeds by, our small toyota is doused in water. We can't see anything but brown water streaming across the windshield.

We look at each other. Ntate Thabo raises his eyebrows and shakes his head. "These people, they do not even slow down. They are dangerous. They are just speeding." He expertly navigates the remaining block on paved street and turns down my dirt road where pot holes collect water like small bathtubs.

I pay him. "Be careful, Ntate. Please keep safe." I'll soon be inside shelter without leaks, change into dry clothes, and put on tea. He'll stay steering through the growing rapids to make his living.

"Yes, Mme. I know that this is the time to be careful. And it is the time for us to pray for the rain to stop."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

First Day of School - Centers at Work


Hello, Lumela, Welcome here to our school!
Hello, Lumela, Welcome here to our school!
Say hello to your brothers,
Say hello to your sisters,
Say hello to our teachers,
and get ready to learn!




Students each get a stone. When it is their turn, as a boy or girl, each brings their stone to place in the container. At the end of attendance, we count the boys and count the girls. As the year progresses, this integrated math will be expanded to compare quantities and use more operations, symbols, and math thinking.

When they come forward, students share their names and say 'I am present' in Sesotho and English. The head teacher holds up cards to help encourage reading the phrases.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

ECCD Classroom: Set Up for a New School Year

Every teacher knows that a new school year means taking a fresh look at classroom space. After the previous math workshop, this ECCD director requested support to redesign his classroom. He wanted literacy and math centers for child centered learning. We spent one recent Friday cleaning and preparing the space. Our goal is that after we work together for several months, the ECCD site can become a regional host for ECCD workshops - and he and his assistant will be the workshop leaders and organizers.

Literacy Center
-Alphabet Letter Strip
-Vowel Letters to match to the Alphabet Letter Strip
-small loose alphabet letters to use for phonics, spelling, name writing, etc.
-'Can You Spell?' activity [Each card states 'Can You Spell' and a simple word, then blocks in marker to outline the lower/upper case letters. Children use alphabet letters to find the correct letters and spell the word printed.]
-Jumbo crayons
-Colored pencils

Math Center:
- Number Line w/an additional set of matching digits separate for children to place in order or match
- Digit Poster
- 'Count to Five' Boards
- Digit cards with quantity dots
- Matchbox Counting
- small yogurt containers that hold stones for counting, etc.
- number wheel adding
- Memory match puzzle boards [Each playing board has a grid of pictures, the child matches 'picture cards' to the correct image on the board until the board is replicated.]

Community Meeting Space

The Process: In The Beginning...

Next Steps:
- simple alphabet books/number books
- Eric Hall hard cover books
- Eric Carle hard cover books
- Preschool picture books [culturally relevant]
- Educational Posters
- Blocks
- Preschool Puzzles [6-8 large pieces]
- Pattern Blocks
- Unifix Cubes
- Shapes
- Jumbo Pencils
- Coloring Books
- More phonics activities
- Mirrors
- Plastic play toys for 'make believe' [animals, foods, dolls]

If you have any of the above gently used or know of someone who does:
Tamara Weiss, PCV
Peace Corps Lesotho
PO Box 554
Maseru 100 Lesotho
Southern Africa

Print 'Educational Materials' or 'Materials for Teachers' on the package.