Saturday, August 4, 2012

School Week in Uruguay!

These will a hodgepodge of different things that happened during the school week.

Tuesday - Visit to Escuela Primaria Simon Bolivar

In the morning, we went to visit a local primary school which teaches grades 1 through 6. My host chose this school because it was the primary school of most of her students. We sat with the principal, and she told us some interesting things about the school. After, we got a tour.

The thing I will take away from her chat is the involvement of outside actors in the school. The most important group is the parents. It's kind of an interesting topic for any teacher in any part of the world to discuss. Parents run the spectrum of being too involved in school to not being involved enough. What it seemed to be here is that parents at the primary school level were very involved, but in a positive non-overbearing way. For example, while we were talking to her, a parent came in with some money that she had collected from the parents in the neighborhood. She does this on a weekly basis. The money can go to a variety of different things that are going on at the school. My host said she wished her parents were more involved at the secondary school level.

Although the school is secular, there was a minister that got involved in helping the school especially with maintenance and things of that nature. Also, Venezuela has also helped the school out because well it's name after Simon Bolivar, a Venezuelan military leader. Kinda of shocking that the country of Venezuela would take such an interest in a little primary school at the other end of the South American continent.

These three actors have allowed the school the chance to give the students a good education. The students in one math class, we saw were so cute and enthusiastic. I saw that this elementary school teacher is no different than any American teacher. You could tell she loved being there, and the students showed her the same love back in return. These kids were just so excited to learn which is sometimes is an energy not always found in teenagers.

I love this one!
Love the tunics!

Explaining angles and lines to 3rd graders

One thing that is different is the heating. Sadly, most of the schools in Uruguay do not have heating in the school. Most of the students (and teachers!!) in these pictures are wearing many layers to keep themselves warm. Before the trip, I was so concerned because I had been warned of that, and I am glad I listened to the advice and bought the boots. My Uggs came in handy! (Now, that I look at my suitcase, I wish I never brought nice shoes, I didn't need them!! I'd much rather have art or books or more alfajores to bring back than shoes I never wore which take up way too much space.) Again, I take my hats off to these teachers in Uruguay. They are very special people.

I had worked hard to prepare the presentations I was to give to the students. I gave one about a day in the life of a typical teenager. After, my first one my host said, that it was probably a little too over the heads of kids in ciclo basico, and to rather spend more time on New England instead. I made one about the New England region on Prezi primarily using photos so then I could use it in either language. Plus, I think that the students have only a general concept of what the United States is like. We, Americans, know that there is a cultural different between Northeast, Southwest, Mid-West, South, and Northwest, but the students don't know that. It was much more interesting for them to learn about the US at a regional level. Later, they said they loved the part about the snow, how big the apples are that you pick at an orchard, and carving pumpkins for Halloween.

Click on this link to see pictures of me giving my presentations.

English classes

My host is an excellent English teacher. She speaks in the target language as much as she can to make the class communicative. We are very similar in our approach and thoughts on teaching languages. We enjoy working in themes, try to make all the activities connect to each other, and maintain a high expectation of the students. She also likes to use music and culture to motiva

Our big difference is technology. Although her students do have computers, unfortunately, the internet is not so stable and can not support so many computers at one time because of the bandwidth I'd assume. There are no language labs with recording software and Smartboards.

Also, she struggles with the textbook because it is very outdated. The pictures are from a long time ago and she has to use an audiocassette tape since there are no CDs. If there is nothing in the book that she can use, she has to make up a lot of it on her own which is difficult when she has over 230 students and long days.


What else I enjoyed was participating in her classes. I would walk around helping to answer students' questions or help correcting their work (or just correcting them in general. I can't help it I'm a teacher) After being in her class, I felt excited about returning to my classes in September and incorporating all that I have learned into my lessons. I'm glad I have a month before I see my students so I can really do justice to what I have experienced in this program.


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