Saturday, April 17, 2010

Still teaching

This past week was a microcosm of why teaching in La Fortuna has been so difficult yet also rewarding.    On Thursday, my lesson for 3rd grade science did not go at all as I had planned.  I had trouble conveying the point about the digestive system that I wanted to get across.   The students eventually understood my points, but I struggled to figure out how to keep my explanations simple while still being correct.  I had planned it out beforehand, but its so hard to predict how the students will react.  I certainly never learned science in a foreign language.

That struggle paid off on Friday though, when I taught my other group of 3rd graders.  I had already figured out how I wanted to teach it and thus my lesson yesterday went much better.  I still need to work on filling the full 80 minutes better, but at least the students understood what I was attempting to teach them about the digestive system.

I understand why the classes are 80 minutes long because it allows us to get a lot done.  My difficulty is that after about 50 minutes the students lose steam and start to act up more and more.  I managed to work in a little game yesterday which helped the students work on English, but gave them a short break from the science.  This worked well, since I then returned to the science for the final 20 minutes and was able to finish everything I had planned on covering.

The idea behind my teaching is that I teach the same material which the students have already seen in Spanish.  The first couple of months this only happened infrequently because of miscommunications and other issues.  However, now for most of my classes I am on the same pace as the regular classes and this is really helping me.  For instance, my students immediately understood what salivary glands are, because it is close to the Spanish, glandulas salivales.  That meant I could spend more time making sure they knew that in English hígado was liver.

Today I hope to be able to watch at least some of the NBA playoffs, though I have no idea if they will be on anywhere in town.  If not, there's almost always soccer on somewhere.

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