Monday, June 2, 2014

When Will I Ever Use This?

The third semester of classes begin tomorrow! The four classes these 8 weeks are "Exodus through Deuteronomy", "Gospels", "Speech", and "Bees and Fish." Juan is teaching the first 2 and Jimmy is teaching the others. 

The first semester Jimmy chose the easiest classes for them as a kind of gentle warmup. They all got A's! Second semester was a different story. There wasn't a single A. Each semester gets progressively more challenging and there are more responsibilities placed upon them at the farm. 

We are learning a lot about exactly what all a seminary entails. There is a lot more into it than just teaching the material. There are tons of other jobs that just Jimmy and Juan are doing - groundskeeper, dorm supervisor, academic dean, disciplinary dean, nurse (haha), farmer, head of recruitment. Beyond that they are their pastors and mentors right now. The only other people helping are the cook and the guard. It gets tricky. They conquer a problem, just to have another come along! It's all well worth it though. We are grateful for this opportunity.
This last semester I got to teach Basic Math. It was an intro class to prepare them for other classes like Personal Finance.
We have a lot of resources for the classes we are teaching, but the things that would actually be practical for the students are very specific, so it takes a lot of editing through and hunting for supplemental resources to help make things meaningful and useful to them. 
As a math teacher in the States I always got the question, "When will I ever use this?" Now I realize just how vital that question is. Every student should ask that! The application should be taught with everything you learn. 
 They liked facts to memorize and reproduce, but it was completely separated from their everyday life. This was a challenge for me, how to get them to see the connection between the numbers on their paper and using it in everyday life. If they couldn't do that then this class was a waste.
We started with simple manipulatives like Skittles and Twizzlers (the Twizzlers I shared from our little imported stash!)
and eventually worked our way up to finding how many gallons of water our cistern holds just by measuring it ourselves.
We also divided land up and determined their profit based on what crop they planted. We also used fractions and mixed up fertilizer and pesticides. Math is everywhere!!! I love it!
{Their final exam}
These guys are super smart, but they were missing necessary pieces in their math education... and all of them were missing different pieces! I learned so much about where to start and how to present material to them. We covered things like place values, decimals, number lines, fractions, percentages, word problems, geometry, roman numerals, and basic algebra... in 8 weeks! They had to learn in 8 weeks what the rest of us have the opportunity to digest in the course of several years. They are superstars! I can't wait to teach this class again to the next group of students. Hopefully I will be a better teacher each time.

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