Tuesday, February 2, 2010


This morning I taught the girls in training the ancient American art of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They thought it was weird. Well I thought it was weird when my host family would eat French fry and mayonnaise sandwiches, so I guess we’re even.
One of the girls from the orphanage came to me for help on her homework this morning at 6:25am. I asked her, why didn’t you ask me on Friday, Saturday, or yesterday? But when she returned from school today she asked me right away for help, so, progress.
In all of my classes I have asked the students to write their names on paper tents to place on their desks. While walking around the classroom while the students writing, I noticed one boy’s tent said on the back “big boiss” which made me laugh out loud. After class I asked him if he mean “boys” or “boss,” explaining the difference between the two. He meant “boys” so I helped him spell it correctly.
This afternoon I watched two of my colleagues give lessons to 11th graders, the first a geography lesson. I had never really given much thought to it, but how do you teach geography when nobody has a book and the school doesn’t even own a map? I am pretty sure Ann, Emma, and I own the only three maps in Inharrime. The second lesson was Psychology (fun fact: in Portuguese, in words like psicologia and pneumonia, the “p” is pronounced. Try it, it’s kind of hard to do). In both classes, for much of the lesson the teacher read aloud notes while the students furiously scribbled ever word, and occasionally the teacher would stop to write a new word on the board and explain it. When I was introduced in the Psychology class, one boy stood up and said “I would like to know if our new teacher is married.” After the note-taking, the psychology teacher led a discussion on the philosophy of psychology. She asked the students if they thought that animals had “almas,” which translates literally as “souls.” All of the students immediately responded “yes.” I wondered if a class of 11th graders in America would feel the same, so universally and so adamantly.
I introduced a new word for the number line in class today: “eixo” (pronounced kind of aayeejshuu), which caused a chorus of giggles every time I tried to say it during my first lesson. So I developed a new method for my following lessons. I would tell them they were learning a new word, write it on the board, and then say “now let’s say it together.” Problem solved.

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