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Posts tagged ‘peace corps students’

Remember “that one kid” I told ya about?

After I edited his stories, he rewrote them into a new notebook I gave him. He decorated the cover – how neat, right?! I wasn’t even expecting that.

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I think that’s supposed to be both of us; I’m always doing library stuff on my computer when he comes to see me

The stories are the same, just with some grammar and punctuation changes from my editing.

Then I read this:

“Miss Mathebula this is for you now. Thanks to believe me about these stories, other people don’t believe me. Miss you’re the best person in my school. And you’re kind of like my mom. Give me a name that you like best.”

Awwwwwwwwwwwwww – awww, aww, aww. Once again, it’s the little things that show me why I’m here – even if it’s just editing a kid’s stories during my free time. May I add – I unexpectedly play the “mama role” again in my service work.

So, what English name did I decide to name him? I had to hold back from naming him after my favourite American author, J.D. Salinger or fictional character Holden Caulfield. Salinger is a recluse and a very strange man, but a brilliant writer. Then, there’s my favourite fictional character, Holden Caulfield of the Catcher in the Rye. Slight problem: probably shouldn’t name him after a love-or-hate controversial American writer or my dog, Holden the pug. Slash that thought.

After consulting with my English major and literature loving friend Lauren, we decided to go with Ralph. I wanted to name him after a famous and brilliant American author – something that he’ll remember throughout his school years. Ralph is related to two people: of course, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Ralph Ellison, the author of Invisible Man. I didn’t want to name him after just a white guy because he needs to know that there are famous black authors out there too.

When he gets older and can understand such literature, he can read Emerson and or Ellison’s work and see why they are such valued authors in America. The themes of the works – especially Invisible Man – may resonate with American culture, but this kid is smart and will be smart enough to relate it to his life, eventually. I plan to give him a book or excerpts of these author’s written work when I leave in a long year and a half from now.

Yours in service,
Small heartLiz

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Meet my 2013 grade 5 learners!

For the first graded assignment in my English class I had the learners make “Who Am I?” books — an idea I borrowed from my City Year partner teacher from last year. Each of the learners got to decorate the front and the inside pages.

Each page had a different subject:

  • All About Me: Their names, age, date of birth, what their names mean in English, etc.
  • Friends: A “descriptive” paragraph about their best friend using adjectives to say what he or she looks like and what they like to do. I had to use sentence starters for this one because writing a real paragraph at this point would be far too hard for many learners.
  • Home: Write about their home and draw a map of how they get home from school
  • Favourites: Food and music they like and dislike
  • School: Favourite subjects, what their school looks like, what they do after school, whatever they decided to write about school
  • Goals: What they want to be when they grow up

This project took far longer than expected (I’m running on African time over here), but it helped me associate names with faces and learn the age/home life of my students. After they were done I had them present the book to me as a speaking task and I asked them simple questions about their books. I was able to knock out two of the “curriculum” examination standards for the first term with this assignment!

All the books!

All the books!

Some were pretty funny, like this one:

Hmmmm... guess someone doesn't like to eat shark?

Hmmmm… guess someone doesn’t like to eat shark?

Now, meet my grade 5 2013 English learners! Favourite thing they’ve asked me so far? “Miss, do you have a mom and dad?” “Miss, do you have a baby?”


Small heartLiz