Ho Sharp, Ho Joang?
Summer is here and the semester is winding down ahead of Christmas break. The students have the entire month of December off and return the 2nd week in January. I’ve been busy creating a computer curriculum from scratch; basically taking it day by day as I teach my only class of 85 eighth graders. Thanksgiving marked the second major American holiday to be celebrated here in Lesotho which happened to fall under Phase III training back in our training villages. Much like 4th of July, our group had a wonderful afternoon at the country director’s house alongside the newly arrived ED ’14 group.
I began teaching at Thaba Tseka High School in the middle of the semester therefore it was rather difficult to slot me into the already full schedule. The principal managed to find a 40 minute timeslot every Monday from 12:20-1:00PM teaching Form A (8th graders). TTHS has never had a computer class before, so the students were eager to pilot the new course. Just the same I was excited to begin laying foundation of knowledge that will hopefully lead to a successful computer program. I began creating lesson plans starting the first week with the intention of introducing the absolute basics of computers. Over the course of 6 weeks we covered topics such as the different components of a computer and what their purpose is. I knew this was going to be very difficult for the students since we are mandated to teach in English. Not only do they have to learn the material in their 2nd language, but the actual computer related parts are all new words for them. Imagine the confusion when trying to explain the “mouse” is used as a pointing device. Every week I would discuss one or two new components but would always ask the class first to assess prior knowledge. Often times it was difficult to get them to respond, most likely because they were very shy. I was taken aback when I asked “What does CPU stand for?” and a student raised his hand and said “Central Processing Unit”. Keep in mind most of the learners have never touched a computer before so needless to say I was surprised and delighted to hear this.
The semester officially ends on November 29th for all students. Given the tight schedule, I was only able administer one test which also served as the final. I spent a few hours creating it to cover the presented material while also making sure it was balanced enough as to not be too confusing. Have a look:
Form A2 – Test 1 (PDF)
Grading 85 tests took far longer than expected. I already had much respect for the time and effort teachers put in to their work; doing it myself only furthered that appreciation. I was expecting a class average in the mid 70 percentile. However, they managed to average 83%! I gave them extra incentive to study hard by promising a piece of candy for an A. I also promised a 2nd piece of candy if the class average was 80% or higher. Candy — known as “sweets” here—are great motivators. I created a spreadsheet with a fellow friend to track score and provide some data analysis. Check it out:
American Independence Day was the first major holiday we celebrated on the other side of the planet. It fell during Pre-Service Training and Peace Corps Lesotho provided a day of relaxing, football, and burgers. In much the same fashion, they went all out for a festive celebration for this year’s Thanksgiving Day at the Country Director’s house in Maseru. Our group was invited to join the new Education ’14 group of volunteers. Due to the Phase III workshop, we were all located just outside the country’s capital in our training villages in Berea. The day started off with introductions and appetizers followed by some backyard football and a delectable feast consisting of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pecan pie.
The weather was in the upper 70s and very comfortable. Unsurprisingly, a storm came out of nowhere but luckily it hit while the festivities were winding down. What did take us by surprise was the half-inch size hail that began to pelt the area. While I certainly missed being at home to partake in the annual Thanksgiving traditions with family and friends (such as the Turkey Bowl), the staff here did a great job to bring us together for a wonderful celebration.
Since break has arrived, I’m really looking forward to getting some hiking done in the local area around my camptown as well as the forthcoming trip to Cape Town at the end of the month for New Years. The thought of a Big Mac and Oreo McFlurry is oh-so tantalizing.