Categories: Bill Babbitt
Today our work at the Ayeduasi school required us to have the students fill out photo and research releases. It’s not always an easy task to accomplish, especially across a language barrier however, with Enoch the tech teacher and our local assistant Gyasi (pronounced like Jesse) we were able to pull it off. Once the formalities were out of the way we started the Pre-test which we use to validate the effectiveness of the software at teaching the math concepts. It’s four pages that assess the students current knowledge of the topics the software will introduce them to. In addition, we also included questions about identity, like ‘Who are you?’ and also ‘Who would you like to become?’. Questions that will be more useful for Dans research (another Fellow), especially when we ask the same questions of the Hackett Middle School (Albany, NY) kids in the fall.
Once the Pre-test was done, we moved into the History of the Cornrows hairstyle. There are four sections on the website so we broke up our 20 students into 4 groups to begin reading through the material. Each group was assigned a section and upon completion we asked each group to have one student stand up and say one thing that they learned. I had a suspicion while I was reviewing the material the evening before that the phrasing and level of writing was not at this grade level, add to that language issues and that only increases the challenge. Three groups were able to say that they learned something new and their efforts were well appreciated. The task now falls to me to re-write the material so that it is at the middle school level. Even though the students had difficulty with the assignment and were somewhat reluctant to stand and state an answer to ‘What did you learn?’ their willingness to try was just amazing.
Once the history portion was completed, we began the math software tutorial. Working through the screens that explained the geometry concepts of rotation, dilation, translation, and reflection. In addition, I explained the Cartesian Coordinate system on the black board, which it seemed only a few of them had seen this material before. I thought this was going well, however when the time was winding down and I organized a review of the material it was very difficult to get a correct answer for each concept, which confused me because I had the opposite impression in observing the students working on the tutorial. It then struck me that understanding the concepts was not the problem, but again it was the language barrier as they tried to come up with the words to convey their thoughts. An Ah-hah! moment followed in which I was determined to find the Twi (Twi is the local language pronounced somewhere between Tree and ‘Shree’) equivalent for those words.
Their hard work and enthusiasm were much appreciated and thanked them for it ‘Medasse’.