It’s amazing how much a classroom can change with the addition of a few flashcards! For the past month or so, other volunteers and I have been working with the local teachers on bringing more variety and stimulation into classes at AMAP. We have made new teaching tools, influenced by the Montessori method, including individual chalkboards and alphabet and number flashcards. As a part of this effort, we also made a new daily timetable.
The old schedule had only two very long classes each day (Swahili, English, math, or art), with a break in between for porridge. The new timetable has three half-hour classes each day, which is so much better, particularly for the younger students.Thirty minutes is enough for the kids to settle and the teachers to engage them, but not so long that they get bored and antsy.
The old classes were often very dry for the students, with them having to sit at their desks and watch the teacher write on the board. Now there is so much more life in the school! A few days ago, I was watching the oldest students race to write the answer of addition problems on their little chalk boards. As soon as they had their answer, they would hold their board over their head, eager for their response to be checked.
From the neighboring classroom I heard the little kids yelling, “ROARRRR.” Confused, I looked over and saw a student holding up a flashcard with the letter L. How much better are the kids learning that “L is for lion” when they get to lead each other and roar than when they just repeat after the teacher? I see such a difference with the students when they are handed flashcards. Instead of zoning out or fidgeting, they excitedly wait their turn to go to the front of the class and lead. They look around at other kids’ cards to see who has the next letter or number.
They are given responsibility to lead each other, holding a card and yelling the Swahili syllable “ka!” for the others to repeat, and they couldn’t be happier!
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