Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Maths lesson for standard 4: sweet dream or a nightmare?

Mr. Luke
First step: lesson planning. At the exact moment you grab the pen to write the lesson plan all the questions start to arise: What is their Maths level? What have they covered in the past lessons? Which language should we use to explain the topic? But, wait! We haven’t even decided a topic for the lesson! Thankfully we have Mr. Luke to answer all our questions. With patience he shows us their Maths book and explains to us how other teachers had planned the lessons and which topics would need reinforcement. After the constructive explanation we finally planned the lesson, which included rule reminders (you are new teachers, they want to know how far they can push you), times tables reinforcement, more complicated multiplications, 2 different games, odd numbers, at the end we had our 1 hour and 15 minutes lesson plan ready.

Monica (left) busy planning for an epic hour long maths class.

The troop
Next day, 11:00 o’clock we walked to the school with mixed feelings: excitement, nerves, anxiety, fear… I had the feeling I wanted to turn back, run to my room and hide under the bed. 11:05, we are in the standard 4 classroom, Laura and I are supposed to give the lecture; Mr. Luke and Madame Olivia are our assistants (you need a little troop to keep the kids calm). We had to start the lesson. Laura steps to the front and starts talking; she introduces us (Madame Laura and Madame Monica) to the class, she reminds them about the rules, which apparently they knew, because they were not paying attention at all, but we had our support squad doing its job. She starts a warm up with the 2 times tables and finally she gets their concentration, they are answering fast and most important: correctly.

The girls team
We move to the 8 times tables and our happiness starts going downhill, they are guessing the answers. Patiently Madame Laura goes over and over the times tables and they start telling the correct answers, after a while we are losing their attention again, but… it is game time! We split the class in two teams (actually the class is split in boys and girls), we encourage two boys to go to the girls team. We thought: we are winning this round. They look excited about the game and they understand the rules. The game starts, I’m supporting the boys’ team. They all start running to the board (one of the rules was only one at a time), but there is no point, they want to write the answers; they are not interested in the rules. The same boys are coming over and over to the board (other rule was only one exercise per student). While I’m trying to control the situation on my team, Madame Laura is almost begging the girls to come to the board. Boys finish first, they have the correct answers they have won but girls get a point for organization and following the rules that means they are even.

Monica in the classroom
We still have 30 minutes left so we continue with our lesson plan. Laura starts explaining more complicated multiplications like 23 x 8. She has done 4 different examples and they haven’t understood the method. I’m sitting while Madame Laura is explaining and I have this bad feeling, she is making an effort and I’m just sitting, hoping that the kids will understand at some point, but it is not happening, they start to get bored and start talking. We want to change the topic to keep their attention, but Mr. Luke comes up with a great idea: writing an explanation for every step in the multiplication. It’s my turn. With all the feelings revolving inside my body I step to the front and start writing an explanation for each multiplication step. Each multiplication step must be accompanied by an example. After writing the first example for the first step, they don’t seemed to have understood the step, neither after the second, third or forth… I want to give up, but …  seventh example, they are understanding! We can move to the second, third and even forth step! At the end of the lesson they were capable to come to the board and solve all the problems we gave them.

Monica teaching Spanish at Mkwiro Primary 

Being a teacher could be challenging, but after you see the results and you see you had a positive impact on the kids, you feel satisfied and gratified. I’m glad I didn’t hide under my bed, it is an experience I will never forget.   

Monica Marino - Conservation Intern