Monday, November 19, 2012

Poetry at Emfundweni

On November 15, 2012 I taught a poetry lesson to a class of fourth grade students.  I chose to teach poetry because my partnership teacher told me the students had not been exposed to poetry all year.  I began the lesson with the question "What is poetry?"  None of the students attempted to answer my question.  I shared the definition of poetry with the students.  After learning that the students were not familiar with poetry, I decided to begin with Haiku poetry.  I informed students of the characteristics of an Haiku poem.  Students were quick to participate in using their fingers to show "5,7,5".  I shared a Haiku poem that I wrote about an afternoon at Summerstrand in Port Elizabeth.  Sharing poems that the students can relate to helped them maintain their focus. 

I decided to end my lesson with reading a book of silly poems.  I was able to integrate rhythm in my reading.  The students quickly pitched in by clapping their hands and beating their desk.  I was pleased to see the students improvising; using their desks as drums.  I was moved to see the look of enjoyment on all of the students' faces. 

I have found that music and dance are the best tools to use in keeping students engaged at Emfundweni.  The students learn best when they have an active role in the lesson. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

School Lunches

Lunch at Emfundweni Primary is rather different than American school lunches.  At Emfundweni, the students are served a fresh hot lunch which comes from their very own garden.  The lunch at Emfundweni is far more healthier than the preservative packed processed lunch in American schools.  Community volunteers come out early each morning to prepare the fresh lunch for the students.  Most of the volunteers are parents of students who attend Emfundweni.  The meals mainly consist of fresh vegetables, porridge, and fish.  Fish is the only meat that is served on a consistent basis.  This photograph depicts a typical lunch served at Emfundweni.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Township Tour

Touring the township gave me a better sense of the challenges the students face at Emfundweni Primary.  Banks Gwaxula, Senior Advisory and Founder of Jubuntu Education Fund, accompanied us on the tour.  I was impressed with the assistance Jubuntu provides to the township.  They have a structured day care facility  which was designed with the aid of master teachers from the United States.  The centers were very similar to the ones at For Kids Only.  We were unable to take photos of the children in the day care.  Jubuntu also provides medical treatment to those who qualify for it.  TB and HIV are just two of the medical  issues in South Africa.

Another highlight of the township tour was visiting the market.  I saw the township people cooking sheep heads (smileys) and plucking chickens.  The people prefer to pick out a chicken and have it butchered fresh instead of purchasing a frozen one from the grocery store. They also purchase their herbs for medicine from the market too.  Mud and clay are used for sunblock protection and costs far less than sunscreen at the store.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Religion In Schools

Christianity is accepted as a part of Emfundweni Primary School.  Each morning, the students pray before their classes begin.  I was relieved to walk in a class room and see the Lord's Prayer written on the chalkboard.  The students also sing religious songs too.  My highlight of teaching at Emfundweni Primary was singing "Jesus Loves Me" with the Kindergarten class.

Monday, November 5, 2012

My First Day Teaching at Emfundweni

Today was my first day teaching at Emfundweni.  The students are just like kids across the world.  They like to socialize as they arrive to school.  However, the majority of the students settle in to learn once class begins.  I taught a literature lesson on making predictions.  There are very few resources for teachers to use so I chose a short story from the students' English workbooks  I managed to keep the students engaged through an echo read of "The Goats Who Ate Gogo's Garden".  I must admit that I was impressed on how well the students read with fluency.  I also used the "turn and talk" with the students for the purpose of them brainstorming their prediction in regard to the ending of the story.  The students enjoyed talking to their peers.  This is a technique that was fairly new to them.  Unfortunately, I determined that the majority of the students copied the story verbatim from the passage.  The students are not accustomed to putting writing in their own words.  Once I concluded that the majority of the students "weren't getting it", I stopped my lesson and reviewed the meaning of a prediction in relation to literature.  Still, some of the students continued to copy the passage word for word.  I have concluded that the students have been conditioned to write only what they see in their workbooks instead of thinking independently.  My goal is to teach each and every student in my classes to think independently.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Emfundweni Primary School

Emfundweni Primary School is a township school.  This school has been around since 1980.  Unfortunately there haven't been any upgrades to the class rooms since 1980.  However, the class rooms are full of children that are eager to learn.  This school faces some of the same challenges as public schools in the United States do.  Some of these challenges are standardized testing, budgeting, and staff development.  I have included several pictures of the learners at Emfundweni.  My favorite picture is of the Kindergarten learners practicing for their graduation.  Song and dance are highly regarded in their culture.  

International Traveling

On October 29, 2012 my class mates and I began our journey to Port Elizabeth, South Africa.  Our total travel time was approximately 24 hours with 15 hours spent on one flight.  We flew from Wilmington, North Carolina to Atlanta, Georgia.  Then we flew from Atlanta, GA to Johannesburg, SA.  Finally, we flew from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth, SA.  With exception to Dr. Huber, this is our first trip to Africa. This is a photo of Chanthou Lupton and Ashli Edwards; my class mates.