Monday: Hello, Goodbye and Somewhere There’s a Snake

The day started out early. I woke to prepare more of the foldables, 20 just in case the children of 4C didn’t have them. I then prepared “I was here” on the different iPads and confirmed that I had the story book on three of the iPads for the grade 4 children. Glad I did that, as I found out that I had it for only 2 of the 3 iPads.

Breakfast was quick and short before Liz and I were off to see the Macbeth students. Of course, by the time they were ready to start, Liz had to go, and even then, they didn’t start until sometime after I left for my first class, itself later in the day because of an assembly. Mondays and Fridays seem to be assembly days. I want to say that they also had one on Thursday last week as week. So many assemblies!

11C was again a terror class. We worked on “I was here”, and while the students said that they understood most of the words, I still hadn’t managed to prompt them to speak in English about it. I never found the engaging lesson for that group. They were so fascinated by the iPads that they were unable to focus on the text. I wish that I had had a clearer idea of the students I would be working with and their levels before I came. I saw this group less than any other, I think, or maybe the same number of times as 4C. I could never catch their rhythm, although I tried. I could have done better, I think, with more time. I think that some of them learned some things, but I don’t think that I was very effective with this class. I will own that.

4B: In this class, I had wanted to get to a final project with Sock Puppets, but knew that I would never be able to do this as today was my last day. I had thought that I would have one more day, but Tuesday we are leaving. I had to scratch the sock puppets and go to games. We started out with word games: 10 words that begin with a certain letter for a prize, 30 words that begin with a certain letter for a prize for you and your partner, then sentences from those words for a prize, then a story. I ended up mobbed by the students for the prizes, fruit and hamburger shaped erasers, at the end of the class. They were all demanding something, but I didn’t know what it was. In the end, they sat in their seats to receive one eraser each. I do think that they learned something. They worked very hard on their sentences, and there were some who did a great deal of speaking in the class, but the role-playing that I wanted them to do was totally scratched. I think that they would have learned more with that and had more fun. I wish that I had had brown paper bags and decorating supplies for the students. We could have built a stage for our play and made many plays … if I had had more foresight and more time. Seems to be running themes.

12th Grade Math English was a success, though! We continued with our trigonometry problems from the class before. I redefined the words that challenged the students. They solved the equations and then presented their proofs and solutions to the class … in English. I found out that they know much more than they give themselves credit for. One student did a full solution in English with only minor help from me. I think that the 12th Grade Math English class, the class I was terrified to teach, ended up being one of my strongest and most effective.

10E: In this class, we were working on learning how to use iMovie to make videos about pictures. For some reason, recording their own voices and listening helped them so much more than my corrections. They were able to hear the errors and made choices about re-recording their descriptions of pictures. They then made music videos for “I was here” using pictures and video. Great movies. If we had had one more day, we would have talked about why we made the choices we made with the pictures and then written an essay on the production process. It would have been a great preparation for writing our own stories and crafting them into movies. More time.

4C was my next class. This was the class that I had spent the least time with over the past few days. There was no hope of doing the Sock Puppet activity, so words, sentences, Simon Says. I tried to read the story, but none of the iPads were working. I made up a story about a Giant, a boy who stole a flower, and his mother who gave it back to save the town. We learned some emotion words and the actions that go with it. I learned only to give prize winners and at the end to give the erasers, although they were still a little rowdy. It would have been better to have the erases individually wrapped for the students, already placed on their desks, on in a dark bag where they had to shake one out for themselves. I had better classroom management, and I do think that the students learned some things. I still think it could have been better. I would have liked to plan more, especially with primary teachers.

11E: In this class, we worked on auxiliary verbs. The materials required that I do dictation. Explaining them aloud with no writing would not have helped the students, so by the time we finished with dictation, we weren’t able to get to the main lesson. Still they were very attentive, asked great questions. They used the auxiliary verbs when we did the examples. I gave them a worksheet to finish and I hope that they email me their answers through Facebook. We would have gone from there into conversations and essays about what we would do to change the world … but … time.

My last class was with the Fast Learners. In this group, the students had written their personal stories and they were creating their digital stories. They all managed to complete them in time and to then start on an essay on environmental degradation and its effect on their lives by using a personal story rich with figurative language. We had worked on personal stories, the 5 paragraph essay elements, and figurative language. I wish I had brought some examples of digital stories that I could access on my computer and examples of essays to share. They needed more of those. While rich, I think that they would have had even greater depth if I had had more to offer them.

Some successes, more things to consider for the future. I learned so many lessons from my time, and it was sad to end my time, but I do want to come back. I will be hoping and planning to do so as soon as I get back. I have relationships that I will maintain via email or Facebook. This is how I manage the emotions and the desire for more time.

After lunch and a rest, Liz and I headed out to walk Mannar town. She bought a scarf. I bought a beautiful dress for Jenny, Donald’s little girl. I really hope she likes is as I paid way too much for it. 🙂 At least, she can play dress up in it. It’s pretty sparkly.

After that trip, hanging out with the UK group, and waiting for the Brothers to return from a funeral of a friend and priest, we all went over to St. Anne’s in Vankale on the mainland and the school there. We saw St. Anne’s Church where Father Bastion was shot and killed by the army although they still report that he escaped to Indian. He was shot through a window and when he came out with his hands up, he was shot, point blank, dead. Two boys who were there in the house were also killed. One immediately, as the army entered, and another ran away but was dragged back and shot. The body of Father Bastion was burned in the nearby woods. This I learned from one of the Brothers. The parish priest told us that the reason was that in the 1990s a road was bombed and one army soldier was killed. In retaliation, army soldiers stopped two buses on that road, separated the men from the women. The women they ran off and the men they ordered to lay down on the ground. They shot them there. Others simply went to shops and killed who they found. And others rounded up people, lined them against a wall, and shot them execution style. In one day, over 100 people were killed for no reason other than being Tamil. Father Bastion took a doctor to the site of the execution style killing and a photographer. Two people survived that day as other bodies had fallen over top of them. The photographer took black and white photographs and these Father Bastion shared with organizations like the UN. He was killed soon after. The parish priest himself is an activist, having spoken at Geneva to a gathering, reporting on what he had seen of detention/concentration camps of those people who left the besieged area for army territory (for safety) and were isolated in camps. While he had not been openly harassed, he noted that the government had stated that he was against the country. While at the meeting – I believe he said it was in 2008 at the height of the war – the government made a statement that rebutted what he had said and the data he had gathered, noting especially that it was informed and paid for by out-of-country/foreign parties and therefore invalid. I learned a lot over ginger tea.

After the visit to St. Anne’s, we went back to the school for a snake show. A man danced with cobras. We were crowded in on all sides. I still haven’t formulated my thoughts on this. There was a lot of danger. At least three times, he threw a snake onto the ground and let it writhe towards the crowd. At one point, he stumbled into one of the UK group covered in snakes. One of them crawled up the man’s stomach, loosed for a time. There was this dance of people scooting to see the snakes closer and jumping back when he brought the snakes out of the enclosure where he danced. At one point, he himself was bitten in the leg and had to leave the enclosure to put on a salve and bless himself three times. It was a nerve-wracking experience, but when he threw the snakes onto the floor, I jumped only the first time. If the snake would come for me, there was nothing I could do. There was only one exit from the room. We were at the front of a crowded space, people standing on chairs, sitting in chairs, layered over top of one another. There was no real escape. One of the students thought that the work he did was cruel. It did not seem this way to me as it was mostly him dancing or charming the snakes not to bite him. We didn’t see any preparation of them. That might have been cruel. Of course, should any animal be in a show for the entertainment of human beings? Is it right to put anything in an enclosure/cage and bid him dance? If you take it that way, it was cruel, but so are zoos. I wonder now if the person that calls what I saw cruel goes to the zoo. I am thinking of my own attendance at both the show and zoos.

After that, it was a low key dinner. Liz and I presented the coordinators of the Hostel, John and Douglas, with small gifts, and then the Brothers Johan and Nelson. Brother Augustine had left for Colombo for a principal’s meeting earlier in the day. Brother Selvidas was not feeling well and had gone to sleep. We ourselves went to bed around 11, our bags already packed.


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