Saturday, March 08, 2008

What's been keeping me busy....

So the new trimester started off with a few changes. The Mozambican Ministry of Education changed 8th grade science to 2 lessons per week instead of 3, last year i had seven turmas x 3 =21 plus being director of a turma which is +2, so I had 23 "hours" and 24 is the technical limit (tho Moz teachers teach extra for more money). Because of the new rule my school made me take more turmas, so I have slightly fewer lessons, but I have a ton more kids. I have five eighth grade turmas with between 77 and 100 kids, with an average of 90 each. And I have three tenth grade classes with an average of...wait for it....130 kids (no that's not a typo), and a maximum of 137 in my decima tres (tenth grade number three)....I thought I had a lot of kids last year with around 550, now I have about 800. Oy. The grading is really killing me, and I need to come up with new strategies, cause it's really stressing me out thinking of all the evaluations I would like to do.

I just found out at the conference (from a fellow PCV who has a very organized/on top of things school) that they are changing the 10th grade exam (national exam they need to pass at the end of the year) so that it is all multiple choice/scantron and will be graded in maputo, so no grade corruption in the school. While nice in the last respect, we have no way of knowing how they are going to set it up, so we can't really prepare our kids, and all the plans we had for practicing for the exam need to be drastically revised. Though I won't feel as bad giving more multiple choice tests to my 10th graders....

The other big stresser this trimester was Victoria (the girl who lived with me last year, who came back to transfer but they're making her wait until the end of this trimester). One day during dinner she just collapsed and every minute or so had some strange type of convulsion that looked like she was being shocked in the chest with some voltage. Weird, and scary, but we managed to get her to the hospital where she stayed for the next five days. So, then running back and forth between school (i was giving a 10th grade test) and the hospital to check on her, bring her meals, bring her water (we even carried it on our heads!) to drink and bathe, etc. She's ok now, but she'll have to go eventually to the central hospital in Nampula for some more sophisticated testing.

Other things occupying my time....
I'm ridiculously excited about my science fair club. I started it off as a Ciencia Practica (practial science) club, and to my surprise several of my fellow science teachers were enthusiastically participating! The first meeting two of them came, the second meeting three of them came (7:30 on Saturday mornings!!!) and yesterday while I was at this conference they were supposedly running a meeting without me! The first week we did a basic baking soda vinegar experiment, the next week pendulums, the third week the mathematics of pendulums, yesterday they said they were building a circuit for the kids, and next week I want to teach them how to use a microscope (our school has a basic light microscope!)--I even found some little microorganisms in our water, that will hopefully stay alive until then! So things are going really well, and I'm very optimistic about the group. It really helps having tenth graders--they're a lot more motivated and interested than the 8th graders, and have slightly more experience with critical thinking.

There's also a group of boys who just through self initiative started a "Nucleo" (nucleus) to coordinate groups of students to to HIV skits, community clean-up, a radio program, etc. I was really blow away by their ability to come up with this by themselves, and will be doing my best to help facilitate and help them with access to resources. We showed them our life skills manuals along with the peace corps girls REDES and boys club JOMA manuals (all in portuguese) and they were really excited. There's also a JOMA training in nampula in April during the school break, so I'm going to try to take some of them there for some capacity building. We shall see how things go....

That's mostly what's going on. My garden is booming--already eating cucumber and pumpkin/squash, and my watermelon and tomatoes are setting fruit! Other seedlings are popping up to. Very exciting. The best thing I brought back with me was my beautiful new ipod. Thank you everyone who gave me accessories and itunes gift certificates. Watching a movie or an episode of scrubs is a fantastic way to decompress, and my FM converter makes my shortwave radio (which uses practically no batteries) into great speakers! Having more music has really made grading a lot more bearable. The ipod battery is also pretty impressive. I use it quite a lot, but only really need to charge it (at my ngo neighbors) about once a week.

That's the main news of the moment. Keep the letters coming. Miss you all but this year is flying by, so I'll be home before you know it!



At 8:40 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

Wow! Your life sounds pretty exciting. I'm putting together a package for you, so I hope that will make up for my terrible lack of letters of late. You are amazing! I love you!


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