Thursday, July 06, 2006

Algebra in Kiswahili

Today we went to a primary school down the road a bit and we each taught a class in Swahili (for 40 minutes). We visited the school yesterday and met some of the teachers and discussed with them what we might teach. After having taught 7th grade math in Kenya (in English), I thought it would be fun to try try teaching math in Swahili. I spent a few minutes with the 7th grade math teacher learning some VERY new vocabulary - exponents, raising a number to a power, simplifying, multiplying both sides by 10 to remove the decimal, simple fractions, mixed fractions, etc. As I was preparing the lesson, I started to think, "What in the world was I thinking when I agreed to teach about dividing variables with exponents in Swahili?" As I went to bed, I was still repeating over and over the word for saying "raised to the" like "a to the third," which I couldn't remember for the life of me. When I woke up this morning, though, the first thing that came into my mind was "kipeocha" and I remembered it the whole time I was teaching. The class actually went really well and I think they understood most of what I said. I was even able to explain how to approach a math problem - identifying what you're looking for, identifying what you're given, and then using what you know to find what you need! It felt a lot like teaching in Kenya., and I think I was able to teach better in Swahili because of having spent a lot of time at a school in Kenya. I knew the flow of teaching, plus the appropriate questions to ask to get responses from the students. It really was a lot of fun. I really do enjoy teaching.

During the students' break time, they asked me to come play a ball game with them - rede (2 syllables, like ray-day) - which I did. You have two people on the ends and one person in the middle. The two on the ends throw a small (pretty soft) ball back and forth trying to hit the person in the middle. They had me both in the middle and on the end. Then came the group versi0n. There are still two people on the end, but many people in the middle. Each time someone gets hit, they are out. But, if someone in the middle catches the ball, everyone else has to squat down and the last one to squat is out. This continues until there is only one person left. It took me a few tries to figure out what exactly was going on and when to squat, but the girls were very gracious and the ones on the end were trying to make me the last one out (I did understand them saying that in Swahili!). I also took a turn on the end throwing the ball. I learned the first version of the game when I was in Kenya and used to play with some neighbor girls and with the girls at the schol where I was teaching.

After the break, we had chai and snacks with the teachers and we presented the supplies we had brought (pens, pencils, books, paper, crayons, pencil sharpeners, etc) as well as a small monetary gift to the head teacher. This is the last week of the school holiday, so only the 4th and 7th graders were there, preparing for national exams coming up. Many of the teachers came, though, to meet with us today. There are 30 some teachers in the school. All but 3 are women.

After tea, we went back to the 4th and 7th grade classes to talk to the students a bit and to let them ask us questions. It was fun, but we had a little trouble understanding some of the questions. Before we left, we took a picture with the 7th grade students. I was trying to post a picture, but it's not working right now. I'll try to add one later.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you had a great time at the school. I couldn't teach math in English much less any other language but I can definitely imagine you in front of the classroom giving an animated lesson! But I am sure you had even more fun playing rede with the kids! It sounds like a variation of "monkey in the middle". I am enjoying reading your posts - it's fun to hear what you are experiencing. Keep them coming! Love, Cheryl

Anonymous said...

Good Job Sarah!...Julianne and I are reading your endevours.... Keep up the good work.

Joe and Julianne

Anonymous said...

Sarah, we always knew you'd be a great teacher! This opportunity to teach in Swahili sounds fun. I'm sure your students appreciated your skill & enthusiasm & probably learned a few new tricks for solving math problems. Ms. Stewart would be so proud!!

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