Friday, July 4, 2014

Week One: Monday - Friday

In the morning, we did the Lusaka tour with the rest of Camp Life.  We piled on buses and toured the city, and Kathryn was our wonderful tour guide.  This video is just a sample of what you see riding through the city.  
I was familiar with most of the tour from last year, but we went to an area I had never been in before called Buseko Market.  It is one of the poorest compound areas.  You look out the window, and it is literally a sea of "houses" made of black trash bags.  The sadness I saw as we passed by just overwhelmed me, and I started to cry, feeling so much heartache for those children.

These are a few pictures I took as we stopped in Chaisa.  

We also got a chance to tour the school in Chaisa.  It used to be a bar and brothel.  The upstairs is not being used, so it is empty rooms.  Walking into those rooms, knowing what took place there, then hearing the redeemed children's voices from the classrooms down below is an overwhelming feeling.  It is amazing to see what God is doing there now!
Chaisa Lifeway Christian Academy 
On the tour, Kathryn told us about 2 little boys that had just been discovered last week.  Their names were Jacob and Esau, and they were found by one of their field workers living in a drainage ditch.  They had been there for a couple of months because they had been "chased out" of their home.  Their parents could not afford them anymore.  They are now at the transition home, and their names have been changed to Isaac and Israel.  There are many, many stories of rescue like this one.  However, for every story, there are thousands of children just waiting for something to change.

After the tour and lunch at Mint Cafe, we visited our school, Kamanga.  I met my teacher, Chewe and learned a little bit about his background.  I could tell that he really has a love for those children and cares for them well.  I observed the lessons as he taught Grade 2 in the afternoon.  It was hard not to jump in and take over right away!  I did interject some and worked with individual kids.  One thing that made me smile was them using bottle caps/beer caps for counters in math.  They know how to be resourceful! :)

Another thing I noticed quickly was how many of them could not read/identify letters and sounds.  They memorize words, but they do not hear the sounds of letters and apply that to reading words.  I was looking forward to teaching phonics and reading.

When we came home that night, we were all eager to start implementing new ideas.  We spread all of our stuff out all over the living room floor, brainstormed and planned together, and worked for hours to come up with strategies and small tips we could show our teacher that week.

We were at the school all day, and I taught a phonics lesson with Grade 6 and Grade 2.  It went really well!  The grade 2 students have been having a hard time identifying letters, so I brought alphabet cards for them to use.  I wanted to introduce simple "making words" activities and create a word wall with sight words.  They have a difficult time decoding.

I continued to teach reading and phonics and began to show him how to use the basal reader for reading/comprehension and integrating it into his English lessons.  He was very caught up on having to do the exact exercises from the English book instead of just focusing on the objectives he needed to teach.  One of my favorite parts of the day was letting a little girl read a small decodable book after she finished her work.  Her eyes got so big, and a huge smile came across her face.  When I read it with her, you could almost hear her saying, "I'm reading!!"  They don't get many opportunities to hold books or read for themselves.  As the week progressed, I started seeing many of them truly read words for the first time.  It was so rewarding!

At the beginning of the week, the kids sang us a special welcome song.  There was not a dry eye as they sang about their school being their "second home".  It was so special that we told Kathryn the Camp Life tour that comes on Thursdays HAD to see it!  The teachers did a great job getting them prepared and ready for the performance on Thursday.  They even added a song by the choir and a poem.  I could have listened to them sing this song over and over.

Thursday night, we went to the Tree of Life to see the special performance by the kids.  We heard a little bit about the school there, and I got to see Mwangala, the teacher I worked with last year.  That was a special treat!  She seems like she is doing well, and she just got back from maternity leave....tiny as ever! :)

We got to watch the Tree of Life children do a flash mob.  Paulina hung out with me most of the afternoon, and it was good running into a lot of kids I met last year.  I wasn't sure if they would remember me since they have so many people coming through all the time, but I heard a lot of "Teacher Ashrey!!!"  It warmed my heart, and I loved getting all of those hugs!

These are just a few of the simple strategies/new techniques I implemented during the first week. My teacher friends from home will look at this list and see things that are very common sense or basic.  Adding this many new ways of doings can be very overwhelming to the teachers.  We have to start small.  These teachers, however, were very eager to learn, and they did a great job applying their new knowledge.

-making words using alphabet cards
-creating a word wall with one bulletin board
-table numbers to help with organization
-stating 3 positive things at the beginning of the day
-stating the rules (and adding motions) at the beginning of class
-stopping to ask comprehension questions during a story
-letting them keep the books at their desks after English for them to read when they finished
-using a timer to help pace the independent work time
-group work:  using whiteboards for the groups to record and answer to be held accountable for on-topic discussion
-skip counting in math and using it to help with multiplication
Chewe using the new Word Wall 

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