25 July 2010

Science Fair Weekend

Science Fair at St. Theresa, P7 girls giving a chemistry lesson

Spelling Bee at Nkumba Quran P/S

Vale, Pauline and Mbabazi washing on my porch

It was called a science fare and St.Theresa's has been buzzing with activity for a month trying to prepare for it. The girls aren't allowed to recite or give presentations reading from their papers, so all the exhibitors, from the P1s to the P7s memorized sometimes over 10 minutes worth of information. We had 3 practice runs throughout the week and believe me, they recited the same thing every time. I'd usually be irritated with the forced and droning memorization but because they experimented and had to find information on their own, i think they actually had a fun time learning! Wunderbar!

I read a book by Michael Chabon called "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay" and found myself refusing to go to sleep or pretending i wasn't home so i could finish a chapter! Its about comics, New York City in the 40's and 50's, and 2 characters that are so so very interesting.

Thank you Tia, Vicente and Lucas for the package with TUNA FISH! Thank you Monica for photos that i hadn't seen and stickers! Thank you Ms. Clack for gifts for the students! Thank you Mrs. Villanueva for colors for the kids! Thank you Matre for everything! Thank you Tia Janda for the soap! Webale nnyo...

06 July 2010

Its July...

St.Charles Lwanga School Spelling Contest

The last spelling contest at St.Charles Lwanga (named after one of the Ugandan Martyrs, go to http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=35 for more information) was really exciting. It was to determine who would represent their school at the catchment area contest at the end of the month so they invited the entire school (minus the fidgety P1s and P2s) to watch. I was nervous, but the students did really well under pressure.This was also another instance of supportive teachers giving their students positive encouragement and kind words when they were incorrect. I enjoyed seeing the students who were watching the contest mumble under the breath the spellings or write them down on scraps of paper.


Nkumba Coordinating Center Madrasa Workshop

Making a book, "on Friday I saw 5 green bicycles..."

Last weekend I went to a workshop on making instructional materials. (Faithful followers..haha.. of this page may remember I attended one last year when I was first at site…)We were about 12 teachers working together over a 3-day period, talking about the challenges of large classes with few resources, about why students shouldn't be caned or beaten for their misbehavior or class work mistakes, and laughing about the day-to-day rituals of work. It was invigorating to be in a group of teachers that love their students and want to run the system in a different way.

The organization that led the workshop is called Madrasa. They began in Mombasa, Kenya in the 90's and then a group of teachers from Uganda saw their work and brought the ideas this way. Madrasa is based in a suburb of Kampala called Mengo and they work with schools in Wakiso, Kampala and Mpigi Districts, helping them learn how to use locally available resources to make materials for their lower primary classrooms. Along with "How-To" instruction, Madrasa facilitators also talk about the importance of alternative teaching and discipline methods. So as we made our books and painted pictures, we heard great ideas on how to convince other teachers why it's insufficient to only lecture to young students. They also discussed why beating students does nothing but reinforce misbehavior and misunderstandings and if teachers want to change the trends in Uganda's school system they need to talk with their students, explain, discuss and leave behind the hierarchy that allows teachers to feel more important than their students. That’s revolutionary.


For Lydia's 25th birthday, we went walking to the restraunt down the road called "Cabana." It's named after one of the first Italian priests who settled in the area and it's run by the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Reperatrix. (The same sisters i stay with at St.Theresa) Pauline and Valentino started the walk excited to get chips and chicken... then the walk got a little too long for their liking..By the time the camera was pulled out, the smiles were gone. :) Dont worry though, their spirits were revived with food!