Monday, March 4, 2013

The end of "summer".

I know it might be a little strange for my infinite fans living in the northern hemisphere, especially in Alaska, but the last 2 months we've been on summer vacation here in Peru. Those volunteers on the coast of Peru are suffering through the mind blowing heat, while volunteers like myself,  in the high sierras are dealing with daily rainstorms. The one thing most all of the Youth Development volunteers throughout the country have in common, is that we are all now just finishing teaching summer school classes.

For me, I feel like my classes we exceptionally better than the year before. Which is good, because summer school is where I gain most of my street credit with the parents, allowing me to ask for favors  throughout the rest of the school year. The parents love that my summer classes are free. They usually expect to pay for such services and have to send their kids to Caraz (Most can't afford it, and therefore don't think summer education is an option).

As for this year, I broke the kids up into small groups based on age and academic skill level, and then taught 4 days a week 9am to 5pm with a two hour lunch break (1-3pm). The first group, the reading group, was my most frustrating challenging group. My first 6 weeks of classes were spent teaching the kids that they needed to show on time, and bring a pencil. Most got it by the last day of class. However, the star of the group was our hero, Yeferson Pachacamac, who showed up 30 minutes early everyday... it helps if you live with the teacher. This little guy has got a fire in his belly when it comes to anything related to reading. I'm proud to say that he's gone from little, to no understanding of the alphabet, to being a very impressive emergent reader (he still confuses 'd' and 'b', 'a' and 'e', and is shaky with 'z','j','k', 'c' and 'f'; but I think this is age appropriate). In fact, he's advanced so much, I'm taking him to Lima next week as a reward (he'll get to see the ocean for the first time, ride the electric train, go to the zoo, and do much more... I'll keep you posted).

At 10:45 the little bit bigger kids (ages 9-13) showed up for English and Chess classes. I've grown very fond of chess, as it's a great tool to teach kids things like: planning, taking turns, following rules/directions, pattern recognition, confidence, and sportsmanship. In fact, thanks to how well this group took to chess, I've decided to start a Yuracoto chess club (shout out to Mr. Gilbertson, Herb, and the Octopus).

After lunch, was my big kids (ages 12-19), and we focused mainly on English; however, it interesting how charlas (chats) about alcoholism, bullying (shout out to Kyle "The Story of Kyle" ...a good story, even if it might be fiction), and taking care of the planet seemed to get slipped into the fold of English verbs, the simple future, etc.

In my reflections on this year's summer school, I'm happy with the results. This year was better, as I had a following from last year to build upon, I broke up the classes into small groups, and I took the intuitive to make a copy of the classroom key (instead of waiting for the director to show up everyday late, or sometimes not at all). Also I feel like I got the taste of what a small school/one-room school teacher felt (feels) like (shout out to Margret Farrell). It's not easy, but it's definitely fun to work with all the kids.

And now some visual aids:

Here are the kids making their own chess boards:

The kids making their chess boards.

Milagros (bottom left), age 5, was way to young for this class, but she didn't think it was fair that her brothers, Jesus and Junior, got to make a chess board and she didn't... so we struggled along.

The final product.

To reward the reading class, I saved the best for last. We read a book about a dog that paints himself various colors using the primary colors. Then we used mixed dyes to make different colors and tie-dyed our own shirts:

Starting with red, blue, and yellow, the kids successfully made purple, green, and orange. 

Beatriz putting the rubber bands on her shirt.

L to R: Beatriz, Yeferson, Junior, and Anali. 

Yefer and few shirts drying.

Final products.

Yefer's shirts are on the left, mine are on the right. 

 Here's a video I made after our movie night got washed out by heavy rains (we watched UP!).