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Update from Meg – March 10, 2016

DSCN3155Maureen Plaisimond, MCLC’s newest long-term volunteer, arrived in February and has quickly taken charge of our computer lab and elementary computer classes. As well as being open for regular classes, the lab is now open during recess every day for elementary students to learn, play, and explore on laptops.IMG_2966

DSCN3146Each class has a day of the week to spend recess in the lab, and students who have been respectful and engaged in class that day are allowed to come. Students are very excited about this privilege; Maureen says that the entire school learned which class was assigned which day by word of mouth almost immediately. IMG_2958

DSCN3157The lab is full every day. Students choose to play educational games, write stories in Word, or just explore the computers and what they can do. Some of the younger students are still figuring out how the computer works, how to move the mouse and click, how to open and close windows, and so on. Older students are more advanced, and one or two students come regularly after school to work on computers and are picking up new skills even more quickly.DSCN3153

DSCN3147The students have access to educational games in Kreyòl developed for MCLC by MIT professor Michel deGraff and the MIT Haiti Initiative. These games, which teach math through soccer, cooking, and other fun activities, are favorites for the students. Here, a fourth-grader plays “Machann Manje” (Food Merchant). DSCN3142

We’re all having a great time in the computer lab with Maureen!IMG_2962

Profile of Roberne – by Meg

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I’m continuing to profile an LKM staff member, so you can get to know us better. This week’s staff member is Roberne Magloire, a member of LKM’s Direction Committee.

DSCN2827Roberne was born in Matènwa and has lived here his whole life. He finished eleventh grade (in the Haitian system, “segond”) in the nearby community of Gran Sous, but was unable to complete the last two years of high school because he needed to work and support his family. He worked as a community health agent for World Vision, and later directed a small school in Matènwa. He has worked at LKM since its founding in 1996. Over the years, he has played many roles at LKM, including writing a school/community newspaper called “Kominote ap Pale” (Community is Speaking) and teaching health classes. 

This fall, Roberne became a member of the Direction Committee. He describes his role as “making sure the school is working well, and that the administration of the school is done well, in a spirit of respect for each other.” One of his favorite tasks in his new position is making sure that each child gets a hot breakfast each morning.

Roberne says that he has two visions for the future of LKM. The first is for the school to continue to add higher grade levels, and to continue to be a model for the country of Haiti, possibly even arriving at the university level. The second is for the school library to continue to be expanded and deepened.

UPDATE FROM MEG

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Last week we had three days off school for Kanaval (Carnaval). During the break, Cenel Louis, Chris Low, and I attended a workshop for English teachers in Ansagalè. Cenel is the English teacher for LKM’s secondary school, and I often work alongside him in the secondary English classes. The workshop was led by two American teachers and trained us in a language-teaching method called TPRS (“Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling” or “Total Physical Response Storytelling”).

DSCN3094In TPRS, teachers create stories together with their class in the language being taught. The stories are intentionally funny, engaging, and use students from the class as characters. They use repetition, question words, and physical gestures to help students take in the language. Some goals of TPRS are that all students understand all language used in the classroom, that students produce language at their own pace, and that students grow comfortable with understanding and speaking before being asked to read and write the language– all qualities that are unfortunately rare in foreign language teaching in Haiti. We hope to make them more common with our use of TPRS at LKM!

About 25 Haitian English teachers participated in the workshop, along with 10 adult English-language learners. Each day, the workshop began with the workshop leaders teaching a TPRS English class to the 10 language learners, so that we could all observe TPRS methods in action. In the afternoon, we discussed the methods and practiced. Here is Cenel teaching some of the other English teachers using TPRS:

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We have already begun putting our new knowledge into action at LKM. Last Friday, ninth-graders learned words for feelings and actions along with gestures. Yesterday, seventh-, eighth-, and tenth- graders began to create stories in their classes. Here are some photos:

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Update from Meg – February 5, 2016

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This week, tenth-graders in Matènwa have started to learn a new subject! In our secondary-school teacher meeting last Saturday, we discussed a scheduling problem that had led to our tenth-grade class having a two-hour block on Fridays with no teacher. Some of the other teachers asked me if I would consider teaching a geography class during part of that time, since I had led a map-skills teacher training in the fall that many teachers really enjoyed. 
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I accepted, and we had our first class today. Tenth grade is a wonderful group of 13 students. I’ve often worked with them together with Cenel, the English teacher, but today was the first time I have worked with the class by myself, and they were really excited about learning and asking questions. Since this class isn’t part of the Haitian national curriculum, we are free to explore what the students are most interested in, and answer as many of their questions as we can.

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We began today’s class by talking about what geography is. The students have done geography before as part of social studies classes, but many of them thought of it as having more to do with physical land forms than with people. Before class, I had found a definition of geography online from the National Geographic Society and translated it into Kreyòl. We used this definition to discuss the way geography deals not only with land, but with the people and societies who live on that land, and with the relationship between the land and the people.
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We talked a little about maps and globes, and then I gave the students about half an hour to explore some of the geography materials LKM has: an inflatable globe, maps of the world and the Caribbean in Kreyòl, and geography books in Kreyòl, French, and English. 

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At the end of the class, we came together again, and I asked students to share their questions. I had each student write a question on a piece of paper, and some students asked other questions as well. Here are some of the questions I got:

-How do we know that the earth is round?
-Why can’t we feel the earth turning?
-Why does the sun not set at all at the North and South Poles during certain seasons?
-What gods do people worship in Thailand?
-What is the largest forest in the world?
-Why do many maps have different shapes from each other?
-What foods do people eat in New Zealand? What language do they speak?

 

I’m thrilled with the curiosity of these students, and I’m excited to explore geography with them over the coming weeks and months.

 

MEG’S UPDATE – JANUARY 15, 2016

This has been a busy week in Matènwa. On Monday, LKM hosted a group of four visitors from the University of Puerto Rico: a linguistics professor who specializes in creoles, a Haitian graduate student in linguistics, and two undergraduates who are also studying linguistics and Kreyol. The group is hoping to start a project connecting Haiti and Puerto Rico to increase mutual understanding and break down prejudices against Haiti.

The visitors spent Monday morning observing elementary classes, both in classrooms and in the garden. They also spent some time looking around the library and the school bookstore.

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In the afternoon, the group visited the Atis Fanm Matènwa (Women Artists of Matènwa) arts center. They talked with artisans painting silk scarves and doing embroidery, about the processes of their work and the history of the arts center. On the walk back up to LKM, the visitors and I talked about the importance of mother-tongue education. They compared Haiti to Puerto Rico, which also has a tradition of education in a colonial language (English) rather than the students’ native language (Spanish). The visitors said that although all public school in Puerto Rico is now in Spanish, many of the private schools, which are more prestigious, teach in English. All the visitors talked about how impressed they were with LKM’s mother-tongue teaching and learning.

Back at the school, the visitors met with Abner Sauveur, LKM’s co-founder, and Vana Edmond, who has taught at LKM since it was founded, to talk about the history of the school.

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We are very happy that we’ve made this connection, and hope to have more visitors from the same group in the future!

Tuesday of this week was the sixth anniversary of the catastrophic 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Many schools closed for the day to commemorate this. LKM chose to stay open, but to cancel classes. Instead, both primary and secondary school spent time learning and talking about the earthquake.

Here are some photos from the high school gwo wonn (large-group meeting). Both students and teachers shared stories of their personal experiences of the earthquake. They also talked about the significance of the earthquake for Haitian history and its meaning for Haitians today. A teacher invited me to contribute, and I shared my experience of the 2010 earthquake from the United States, even though I was far removed from it and only heard about it in the news.

The Tuesday gwo wonn was an emotional and important meeting for all of us.DSCN2801

JANUARY 2016 UPDATE

Dear friends of Matènwa,

1Happy 2016! May this new year bring you success, health, and prosperity. Because of your support, we had a great 2015. Our students and teachers had all the didactic materials they needed to work. Students had a nutritious breakfast every morning enabling them to focus on learning throughout the day. Matènwa teachers participated in monthly workshops to hone their teaching skills. Many school teachers and principals across Lagonav and from the mainland came to Matènwa to receive training in our educational methods. You are really making a difference in how more and more children are having a positive education experience in Haiti.

At our annual year-end party we celebrated our successful semester. On December 24 each class performed a song, dance, or a play for their parents and family. It was very festive! After the performances, parents received their students’ report cards with pride.

Training Update

2December 13th a group of 5 people from Kenscoff sponsored by the Alliance for Children Foundation arrived for a one-week training. After observing the MCLC classrooms, a participant commented: “In my opinion, a school like MCLC is very important. I like its methods because the children and teachers work in collaboration. The school gives students a sense of responsibility. For example, students have a list of jobs to do in their classrooms. I like how the classrooms are structured. The children are learning in Creole, which is fantastic! I also like the class morning meetings: they get to express what is making them happy or sad. This teaches students how to socialize. What I liked most was the breakfast program where they give children a meal every morning before they go to class. To me, this is fundamental.”

As a component of our partnership with Beyond Borders, 3MCLC’s Institute of Learning has been training a small group of teachers in an accelerated education program for overage students. These students had never attended school before either because their parents could not afford to send them or because they were Restavèk (child servants). The teachers in this program came to Matènwa to work together for two days to prepare and review the materials they will be using in their classrooms starting this January.

Samila Edmond, MCLC Direction Committee and Chris Low, Executive Director FOM