We left Kampala about 10 for the ride to Jinja where we would be teaching. We used Paul, the driver who took us to dinner the night before. He arrived promptly at 10, so off we went. We ran into a traffic jam due to road repair so it took more than 3 hours to make the 2 hour trip. When we got into town, we asked many for directions to the Source of the Smile Guest House. What an oasis! I highly recommend it. It was on the small side but a tropical oasis. Ellert, our host, was gracious and chatted with us as he showed us to a really lovely room. The three of us, Katie, Demi and I shared a big room with beautiful artwork, tall ceilings, pretty bed nets and a nice big bathroom with HOT water! We also had electricity through beautiful light fixtures (although it NEVER got bright enough). We had our own outdoor porch and the main area was completely covered with typical African straw like roofs. There were many roofed sitting areas with really nice furniture and comfy seats. It even had a really nice swimming pool into the which the girls jumped right in. Again, I reviewed my lessons.
We met with Francis on Sunday to discuss the week. Found that the place that the Head Teachers selected was in Main St. School. When we went to visit, we found it dirty, with no electricity and no Internet as was expected. They were proud to show us the little room that would store the computers between classes but we were devastated at the condition. Francis was confident that we could secure electricity that evening and internet by the next afternoon. We were extremely skeptical. After all when would that happen in the US. As we were still talking outside, the electrician was summoned and he appeared. He said he could provide 3 circuits from the overhead wires and HE DID. Now we had enough electrical power to charge the computers and plug in if the batteries died during the lessons. We went back to the hotel where I reviewed my plan of teaching for the next day. On Monday, we were expecting teachers who had already had many lessons from Francis, so I planned a day that delved deeper into pedagogy and programming with Scratch
Best Laid Plans Monday:
We were supposed to have experienced teachers today but surprise, surprise, beginners came so we had to switch up the plan really quick and move to more basic skills.
Introduction – I started the presentation with a talk about 21st century learners and how children today should explore, discover, and learn to problem solve and critically think. We introduced inquiry based learning and I attempted to show a video of a teacher from Zambia using inquiry based learning and open ended questions. We did a brief exercise in determining whether a lesson was opened or closed. Unfortunately, my little project did little good in the bright light of day. So much of what I wanted to show had to be explained and demonstrated through walking around the room with my laptop or one of the XOs
I used as an example the Qualities book that was written and donated by Ambre Anderson and other members of my Landmark class. I modeled how to teach using what I learned at Landmark. I first read the book to the class. Then I invited one student up to the front to be coached. The point of the book was to point out all the qualities that different animals possess with the culminating activity to ask the listeners or readers to describe their own qualities.
First surprise, they do not use the word Qualities, they use skills or knowledge, so we had to explain.
Second surprise, they do not speak of themselves in a way that promotes their qualities. It took quite a while to get my “volunteer” to come up with any answers. For example, he would say “ I like animals” and I would ask how that made him feel. That was not good. He just kept telling me what he liked, so eventually I reframed the answers to get the young man and the audience to say “ I AM” instead of “ I like”. I then opened it up to the audience and asked them to share with each other and finally to share what they discussed with me. I wanted first to show them a strategy to use in teaching that would draw students out. It is very evident that Ugandans are meek, gentle, soft spoken and humble. They are not accustomed any self promotion, but I encouraged them to raise students to a level where they could express themselves, communicate well ,feel confident and solve bigger problems in the future when they interacted with the world at large. That time might come soon with the introduction of the internet. For the rest of the morning, through our lessons, I had the teachers saying, “I AM smart”, I AM brilliant, I CAN do it, I AM a good caretaker, I AM a good teacher, etc..
Believe it or not, before lunch, the Internet was installed!!! Unlimited access for 300,000 shillings a month (about 120 US), strength for 30 computers! Yay!!!!
We worked on the XO tablet and in deference to the more experienced ones, the class worked on Kingsoft, which we had downloaded and installed. It is a Microsoft Office look-alike. We worked on Word Processing and PowerPoint. Katie, Demi and I circled the class of about 20 to help.
Then taking into account we had many beginners, Katie and Demi introduced some xo tablet activities such as:
How to draw
Math exercises- quix
Science- nature experiment
We taught about Parental (teacher) control, student side, passwords, dream screen, apps side
We encouraged them to take more lessons at the Center. These would be offered after 5 each day and all day Saturday.
We had lunch
Scratch- too hard
Bounce – simplified it
Tuesday= latecomers so we started with exercise
Draw on laptop
Francis - picsart
Reviewed the screens, talked about taking lessons, bringing class
Many interjections about bringing students out, by modeling speaking out, communicating, thinking I am smart, having children be expert, teach the teachers, them being guide, helping each other. Skills children were learning how to solve problems, scientific method of making a prediction and drawing conclusions, learn, absorbing it, marketable skills like typing.
Reading for fun, interactive pango 1 storytelling
Genial writing. Inserted pictures and photos
Kingsoft PowerPoint, adding color, formatting, images. They needed more time
We had 4 new teachers and 5 returning teachers. African time prevailed as they came in at different times. I enlisted Francis to help the returning teachers finish what they worked on yesterday. I put an assignment on the board to write a letter using Kingsoft, telling what they learned and email it to me. One of the new teachers elected to work with the returning teachers and they worked with Francis. I took the new teachers and showed them the laptops in the morning and the tablets in the afternoon.
We were in the middle of typing a letter and the children arrived. We had a class full of children come and I did some introductory activities with them. Maze, memorize, implode, and of course the children loved it. Whenever someone completed, I had them show the others what they completed.
Francis and I gave closing remarks. The headmaster came to observe and the inspector of schools also spoke telling the students what a great opportunity this was. The children were happy which was the point!Type your paragraph here.