I know it’s been a while since I’ve updated. We got back to Manu’a on January 3rd. School started the next day–on a Wednesday–and it’s been full-speed ahead ever since.
I got a new student this semester who doesn’t really speak English at all. At first I was a little disheartened since I spent all of last semester working on language skills, but I’ve managed to pull some one-on-one time out of thin air so I can conduct a real honest-to-goodness ESL class in the middle of my regularly scheduled programming, and he loves the attention! (Makes since–he was probably in a class of 25-35 students at his last school, so I’m sure nobody noticed that he couldn’t read, or count, or identify shapes). So far this semester has been loads easier than last. I think I’ve really gotten into a rhythm with my students and it’s been smooth sailing for the most part.
Our school-wide science fair was held on Thursday. One of my students and two of Erin’s placed and will be flying to Tutuila in March for the island-wide science competition. Six students competed in the lower-levels, and there were thirty students in the upper-level competition. My kids worked really hard on their experiments and their poster-boards; I felt like a proud parent watching them all demonstrate for the judges!
This is the winning project for my class. It’s actually pretty cute and the kids were amazed. You just put a glass bottle in the freezer for a few minutes, then take it out, wet a quarter, and cover the mouth of the bottle with the quarter. As the air inside the bottle warms up, it expands and tries to escape the jar, which makes the quarter on the top of the bottle bounce up and down. Cuteness. (The bottle she used for her presentation is probably the most common object you’ll see on our island–a 24oz Vailima bottle.)
I loved this project. He just counted the colors of M&Ms in several packs to see if one color is more prevalent than another, then made some charts of his data (a bar graph and a “pizza” chart). Very simple idea but super fun for a kid. Plus, you get to eat your materials when you’re done! (Green 20%, blue 18%, brown, yellow, and orange 15%, and red 13%)
Her project was about static electricity and balloons. It was a good idea but a little too advanced for second grade (their parents typically chose their projects).
Another cute kid with a cute board! She tried to figure out if it’s easier to see red and black ants in red or black soil. (I know, very simple, but it’s still a lot of confusing work for a kid!)
I am so proud of my kids for all the effort they put into their projects. They had a lot of fun doing it and I’m sure they are going to participate in the science fair next year, which is the whole point. I never liked science when I was a kid so I’m very happy to see them getting so excited about science.
We also had a fire safety assembly on Thursday. The kids got to talk to real firemen and were showered with cute fire-themed erasers, pencils, and tshirts. (The best shirt, which I sadly did not get, had “Watch what you heat!” printed on the back. Hehe). One of my boys was selected to try on the fireman uniform. He has written several times in his journal that he wants to be a fireman, so I was thrilled that he was picked.
It was actually a really difficult week and I’m glad it’s over, despite all the fun of science fair. I think we got out of school early three different times this week, which is confusing and makes getting through the lessons kind of hard. Plus, I had tears every single day this week! My kids really don’t cry that much but this week it was non-stop. There was a huge issue at lunch over sharing some cookies, then one of my students got in trouble with another teacher and got a pretty severe beating (not really prepared to write about that at this time…), then there were the kids who didn’t win science fair, and on Friday one of my kids got to school crying because his brother yelled at him. It’s so funny that this is my life now, eh? Right before we left I talked to a guy who had majored in education about what I’d be doing in AmSam. When I told him I would be teaching elementary, he said that with the little kids you’re really just wiping noses and making sure they aren’t peeing on each other. That is what I expected, but it hasn’t been like that until this semester, haha. I actually had one student pee into a broken eggshell and toss it on another student the first week week of school. Really? I mean, what is happening here? But when it’s all said and done, I don’t mind the tears and the silly arguments or their ridiculous obsession with poop jokes. The are just so sweet and funny and eager to please. I love love love teaching elementary.
Next week I hope to spend more time at the high school so I can use the internet. We do not have internet (or a printer…) at the elementary school right now, so I haven’t been able to update here or check my email. I miss everyone at home and can’t wait to see you all in oh-my-stars four months!