Monday, October 26, 2009

Highlight: Kid's English

Children’s English is a bi-weekly class led by PDs Leah and Jan Margaret with a great deal of support from Anina. The attendance has remained fairly constant and catered to our neighbors from 13.5 (“thirteen-five” - the folks who live right down the road at kilometer 13.5) and Chiquilistagua, the neighborhood surrounding El Salero. The rambunctious 10-or-so year olds always bring a lot of energy and sass to every class in the El Salero library. After completing units on the City and Transportation, Children’s English courses during the month of October focused on learning Animals. From zoo creatures to common ones such as dogs, cats, and geckos, we’ve introduced the children to the wild wonderful world of animals in English. The children seem to enjoy the fun activities that accompany classes such as Bingo or Memory, while as a teacher, I enjoy the interesting things we discover such as the fact that one student can do a perfect imitation of a cow moo. Moreover, the children have taken to yelling out the names of the animals we pass every day on the way to and from class: “Dog! Dog!” “Cow!” “Horse! Horse! Horse!” Little moments like this, when we catch them using and practicing what they’ve learned in class, always bring a smile to my face.

After a few months of transitioning, Leah and I have been able to make this class our own with an established structure for each day. We begin every course with the reading of the rules. Although our chavalos continually fight over who gets to read each rule (the “última” or last one being the class favorite), it seems like the constant repetition of classroom expectations helps the children focus and know what is to be asked of them. We continue by practicing introductions, common questions, and pronunciation. After our introduction, we introduce new words and review the old. An appropriate worksheet follows, and finally, the hour concludes with a game of some sort to captivate their attentions and engage their minds and memories. Provided that each child is well behaved and participates, they receive a sticker for good attendance - a prized item counted towards the attendance party held at the end of each unit/month. This month, we are also hoping to surprise the children with a trip to the local zoo in order to practice what they have learned thus far: city, transportation, and animal vocabulary.

Jan Margaret Rogers
Program Director
MPI Nicaragua

Monday, October 12, 2009

Highlight: Creative Arts - World Tour

Literacy's (Cedro) weekly trip to the library at El Salero has brought with it exposure to a certain learning device that, while regarded as a typical school wall decoration, is sadly lacking in many Nicaraguan classrooms. That tool is... a world map. I had been very grateful for it and the other Central American and Nicaraguan maps that hang in the August's library, and smiled to see that our students often gazed at them. However, I became slightly less hopeful when at one point I walked up to two of our 14 year-old girls and asked them to show me where Nicaragua was.

After a full minute of moving through Asia, Europe, and Africa with their index fingers, glancing expectantly back at me for my withheld affirmation, I laughed and pointed to Nicaragua for them.

Manna has both Literacy and Mathematics classes to address illiteracy and innumeracy, but an oft forgotten basic functionality is map literacy. In an attempt to meet the needs presented by map illiteracy, and with the added bonus of expanding our students' exposure to world cultures, Kelly and I have incorporated a world tour into MPI's Creative Arts program in Cedro Galan. To help in this venture, Manna has purchased its own world map that now hangs in El Farito, our classroom building.

Kelly's Continent Showdown has been a hit with the kids

In an introduction into geography in which we colored our own maps by continent and made paper machê globes. Our study of art around the world first took us to France, where we painted in the styles of Van Gogh and Monet, and also built our own Eiffel Towers from marshmallows and toothpicks. Our next stop was the U.S., where we studied Native (North) Americans, making headdresses and dancing along with a pow wow video.

Ulises concentrates on painting the continents on his globe

The United States also presented the opportunity to introduce our class to abstract art, something Kelly and I had been looking forward to, because what better way to express creativity and originality? After a slide show of paintings by Rothko and Pollock, we followed the style of the latter to create our own action art.

Samuel and Geral took a particular liking to the new style of painting

Our world tour through art will next take us to Spain, which will see our Creative Arts class act our bull fighting, the running of the bulls, and bring us to draw our dreams like Dalí and our self-portraits in the cubist style of Picasso.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Highlight: Chureca - Love Light & Melody

Manna Project is relieved to know that it is not the only organization working to dampen the harsh effects of life within Chureca's grip. Among them is Love Light & Melody, an NGO seeking to spread awareness of Managua's city dump and its residents. Their most recent video showcases Dia de Luz, or "Day of Light," a March concert organized by the organization and put on in the community. The video is a telling view, or as telling as a digital stopover can provide, of one of MPI Nicaragua's focus communities.