Apr 14, 2010

A decent day teaching

 Today I didn't do terribly in school, which is almost a first. Of course, it wasn't with the intermediate phase, which is always a trial. Today I taught Grade 8 English, using some copied textbooks the Kalahari Experience folks had left here during their stay (good on them for doing that, it's huge help). The story was a pretty simple one about whale-watching--how a whale is different from a fish, how whales have been protected by international treaty, etc. Most of the kids didn't quite get it at first, but as we went through some of the vocabulary and concepts, they got curious.

Of course, none of them had seen a whale before, so I had to do a quick improvised lesson on the difference between whales and fish, how gills work, and how a whale can breathe when its mouth is underwater. They got downright incredulous when I told them about how big a whale is:

ME: See, in paragraph seven, it says this whale is fifty tonnes. Do you know what a tonne is?
STUDENTS: No.
ME: A tonne is 1000 kilograms. So how many kilograms is the whale?
PALESA: So...[I can see the gears turning in her head]...fifty, fifty thousand kilograms. Eish!
GOMOLEMO: This whale is fifty thousand kgs? How can he be so big?
ME: The whale eats a lot.
GOMOLEMO: Ee, monna! [general expression of incredulity or surprise]
PALESA: How long is this whale?
ME: At least as long as this school building.
PALESA: Eish!

I really enjoyed the lesson. It felt like I was getting something across, and the kids were paying decent attention. Of course, it's probably because there are only twelve students in Grade 8. But still, small victories should be celebrated.
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