Wednesday, May 30, 2007

School's out for summer!

The 'last bell' rang on Friday the 25th signaling the end of the school year and the beginning of summer fun in Armenia. What exactly does a health teacher do with her time off during the summer?

My mornings recently have consisted of long runs in the countryside in preparation for the Athens marathon in November. It's the coolest time of day and the most peaceful now because most people aren't in their farms or orchards until at least 7 a.m. On Tuesday I got home and was informed that I was late for grape leaf picking with the host family so we gathered our plastic bags and spent the morning in the farm collecting leaves for sale and dolma preparation (dolma is a lot like cabbage wraps but sometimes they use grape leaves).

Between final staff meetings and grant-writing preparation I've found my days pretty full. Here are some of the projects I'm looking forward to:

This summer I look forward to working on health newspapers for my eighth and ninth grade students. The idea came to me when I was thinking about ways I could get important and detailed information to the students in an appealing way. The entire year, particularly in the eighth form, my counterpart would make copies of handouts, split the class into groups, assign one student to read, and then one group member would have to be prepared to explain the reading to the rest of the class. I found the in-class reading to be a waste of teaching time so I asked if we could make copies for the students to read before they come to class. My counterpart informed me that students would never read text book material ahead of time. One day I was sitting in the classroom and I saw that the school newspaper had just been distributed. The newspaper costs 100 dram and yet almost all of my students had a copy. I wondered what would happen if I created a healthy life styles newspaper for each of the three or four themes that could serve as a text book. I could include pictures, testimonies from students who have already taken the class, important vocabulary and statistics. I think that if we’re organized and tell all of the students that they are expected to bring their healthy life styles newspaper with them to class each week we could save time reading and use class time for discussion and questions.

I realized in the end of the year review in the seventh grade class that the students don’t commit to memory any of the lessons we teach in healthy life skills. In an effort to create some sort of classroom routine for the seventh grade class I would like to create a draft healthy life skills copy book for my counterpart to reference and assign to the students. Every day when the students enter the classroom I would like for there to be a vocabulary word written on the board for them to come in and copy. They will copy the word and definition at the top of the page and thereby be occupied during the time when my counterpart is out of the classroom or completing the attendance sheet. This entire year students would come in and run around the classroom hitting one another and yelling until my counterpart entered to quiet them, but I believe that if there is a classroom procedure established from the first week of school the students will know what is expected of them from the minute the bell rings. Another important aspect to the healthy life skills curriculum for the seventh grade is self-reflection. The students spend nearly eight weeks thinking about who they are, what they hope to become and how they see their place in the world. I would like for the students to use their healthy life skills copy books to write a short (1-5 minute) journal entry at the end of each class or at home after each lesson. If the students collect their topics of study and reactions to the lessons throughout the whole year, at the end they will not only be able to remember what they did in healthy life skills, but they will be able to reflect on the progress they’ve made in character development.

In June I hope to finish translations of our the healthy life skills text book for grades 1-7. We'd like to provide the translations to the new volunteers so that their transition into the school is a little bit easier.

I am currently working with a teacher in my school to write a SPA proposal for a new playground/recreational area near the school. The June 15 deadline marks the beginning of the project timeline and we have very high hopes that we will be able to win the grant funds and finish construction by the beginning of school.

My site is hosting a summer Green Camp at the end of July. We'll study animals, plants, trees, conservation, etc... for five days with 11-13 year-olds. It'll be hot and the mosquitos will be in full force but I'm looking forward to the opportunity to bring an educational opportunity to the kids during the summer.

I plan to be a counselor for the first-ever International Outreach Camp in Armenia. I have been writing lesson plans for the civic leadership lessons and am anxious to teach community service to 'youth' ages 18-25.

A business volunteer in Vanadzor, contacted me for assistance this summer with a group of orphaned teenagers at his site. I have offered to do a short series of outreach projects related to drugs, alcohol, and HIV/AIDS for the youth.

I have a friend who is a graduate student in the village who would like to create information seminars/lessons about medicinal, culinary and endangered plants in Armenia. I’ve recruited EAI initiative members to help in the research portion of the project and we hope to write lesson plans for classroom or community seminars in July or early August.

I have applied to teach a few lessons/ lead discussions at PST 2007. I would like to continue my work as GAD Initiative co-president and member of the PC public relations committee.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Sarah,

All I can say is "WHEW". You are going to be busy and doing so much good. I'm so glad all of this is coming together for you......patience right?:)
Love, Mom