16 March 2010, Tuesday

The school ... newly renovated

WHEW! What a day. Hector agreed to pick us up at the hotel today and take us to Sabana Perdida, where we began a second day of teaching. Our first order of the day was to have the McDaniel students observe some of the teaching styles in several of the classrooms while I began my day introducing the concept of electricity to 10 students in the grade 3 class (ages 14-18).

The lesson was a challenge since I was not prepared for this but the general idea was laid out for the students and there is now a starting place for the teacher to begin building concepts.

After the Lesson

Sure was hard to explain about electricity when the school’s electricity is shut down every day from 9:30-3:30! This not only happens at the school, but apparently this is standard practice across the country. Luckily, one has to revert to the skills of the chalk and blackboard to introduce a lesson .. smile!

Next, we had to set up for our lesson on Natural Disasters but unfortunately, this was a disaster. Though at first we decided not to include the first grade class, the teacher wanted the kids to know the information. So, the first grade class (ages 7-10) joined the second grade class (ages 9-12). We ended up with 21 students and 8 were unruly. Discipline was a major issue and the teachers were not aiding in the supervision during this time. We were able to break out into two groups but the ‘unruly’ ones were still a hand full. Luckily no one was injured. Wish we stuck with our first inclination which was to not present to this group of students .. or at least do it in two groups.

The school cooked our lunch again today and it was nice not to worry about what to eat since it was provided. During this time we began discussing the plans for the afternoon. I was to present a workshop on bilingualism to the teachers but I had to do this in two different sessions … 3 teachers an hour, twice. The McDaniel students were being split up as they were going to assist the teachers in the rooms during the afternoon sessions while teachers attended the workshop.

I find it very difficult to teach in the afternoons, here, for the heat is intense and there is no air conditioning in this particular school. In addition, even if there was air conditioning, it would not work for the electric is out. I can easily see why some schools conduct only morning classes, however, Sabana Perdida is an all day school. The students at the school are hot and asking for water constantly due to the situation. In addition, there is very little room to play and the play area is completely exposed to the sun, adding to the hotness. Everyone is trying to find what little shade there is. Consequently, tempers do flare due to the heat and this particular afternoon was no exception. By the time the workshop was complete I think we were all ready to depart. Jeremy, our driver, arrived as requested and we found our way to the hotel and air conditioning, followed by pool time. Ahhh!

Finally at the Pool!

The workshop went well. I used material from Johnson, Liddel, & Erting’s Unlocking the Curriculum: Achieving Access in Deaf Education (1989). This information generated great information and discussion as we talked through the material and its implications to the teaching profession. Our discussion centered on reasons as to why Deaf children are being “locked” out of the curriculum: 1) Low Expectations; 2) Signing Skills of Teachers; 3) Lack of Language Foundation; 4) Inappropriate Teaching Methods; 5) Lack of Deaf role models; and 6) Major Focus on Speech and Hearing. As you can imagine, these issues can be a bit sensitive when discussing these issues with individuals who may still need exposure to a signed language and the Deaf community. Overall, we discussed the issues in a very open manner and I hope seeds were planted that will benefit the students. Ms. Juana Quinlan was my interpreter and she was able to follow me, translate into Spanish, take the spoken Spanish and sign back to me in Dominican signs, which helped facilitate the communication. She actually made the workshop very fun.

As I stated earlier, the McDaniel students did above and beyond the call of duty this afternoon and so I took them all out to dinner … my treat. Across the street is the ocean and there is a restaurant with part of it’s deck extends over the waves.

Our hotel and the street we had to cross!

This is where we were able to sit and relax and process the events of the day. Crossing the street is an adventure in itself but I learned from my last visit how to cross this potentially hazardous road. We kept together, I stuck my hand out, help up traffic and went for it. There are plenty of crosswalks but the walk signs are not to be found. You are on your own, baby! As I said when I opened this report … WHEW!

Another day and we are now on the back side of the trip. We ended the day with an exchange of photos and so you are now able to see what we are experiencing. Do go back to the to the other days and view the new photos I have uploaded.

M

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