Monday, February 27, 2012


                                                                  Choosing teams

Today's tutoring session was wild. The kids were really wound up for some reason - all talking at once, teasing one another, acting silly. They just wanted to play. We had 11 kids in 3 different grade levels in one room, and I couldn't help but wonder how teachers in one room schoolhouses kept their sanity.

The seventh graders had ten spelling words in English. I drilled them, and they took turns writing the words on the blackboards. They just can't keep from prompting one another. They're trying to be helpful but I told them that unless they were planning to take that person's spelling test for them, they needed to shush and let each person figure out the spelling on their own. They struggle with the pronuciation when the word is sounded out. In Spanish, v is often pronounced as b, so when I would sound out a word containing a b, they would write it as a v. In Spanish, e is pronounced i, i is pronounced e, and a is always ah. You can imagine how confusing our vowels sounds are to them.  Some of our sounds have no comparison in Spanish. Then there were the silent letters, like e at the end of a word. They'll just have to memorize those words. Julisa proudly showed us her spelling test from today; she got 10/10 right!

The fifth graders had math homework. I looked over Leidy's shoulder as she worked on her division problems. She was answering them all correctly! Don worked with Julisa some more on fractions.

Susan wants to modify the schedule a little bit and encouraged all of them to be on time. Their typical homework/tutoring sessions run from 1:30-2:30, and then they all run out to the church courtyard to play soccer with one of our pastor's sons. Susan wants to modify the schedule a little bit and encouraged all of them to be on time. They'll have 30 minutes for homework help and then 30 minutes of work on English. Their English teacher at school has told Susan that they all need lots of practice. Susan had a nice lesson planned for today, but they just wouldn't settle down enough to get through all of it. Today we worked on using who, what, where, when, how in questions. Some of them were very reluctant to get up before the group and ask a question using their word. Some of them were just being silly. Susan finally had enough, gave them a little lecture about why this is important, a reminder to show up on time tomorrow and then shooed them outside to play.

While this was going on, Don was helping Juan, a high schooler,  with his physics homework out on the deck. This proved to be a bit of a challenge because all the questions were in Spanish and Don doesn't read Spanish well enough to fully understand what is being asked. Juan had to translate and he didn't fully understand either.

 Don and I hung around for awhile, watching the kids play. I thought they were going to play volleyball, but no, they were playing futbol (soccer), running back and forth under the net and somehow managing to not get caught in it. Pastor Chuck finally took the net down before they tore it down.

We noticed that Karla and Leidy (above) love to pick on each other and chase one another around, right in the middle of the game. Not that it mattered; no one was keeping score. They just love to kick the ball and run.

Don noticed that Julisa was still wearing her uniform; the other kids had all changed into play clothes. Obviously, she hadn't been home. She has a long climb up the hill to her house, lugging her heavy bookbag (which Don estimates weighs about 30 lbs!). We guess she doesn't want to make the extra trip up and down. In my American way of thinking, I wondered why she didn't go home for lunch. Surely she would be hungry. And then I realized that these kids aren't used to three meal a day, sometimes they only have one. A sobering thought.

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