This summer, through a partnership between the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) and Change For Children, a team of six Alberta teachers traveled to indigenous communities in Comitancillo, Guatemala, to collaborate with local educators. During this, our third collaboration with the ATA, the focus was on numeracy and literacy, as well as the use of technology as a tool for learning in both areas. The Albertan teachers worked in four elementary schools and one junior high school over a two week period, collaborating with local teachers to explore effective teaching techniques in a unique context.
The partnership culminated in a Professional Development symposium for all teachers in the surrounding area led by those local teachers who had participated in the previous two-week sessions. They shared strategies and resources that they had explored with their Albertan counterparts. They explained how these strategies worked, how they might assess student learning and how they could adjust their teaching accordingly. It was exciting to see purposeful, animated teacher engagement as they connected new knowledge to current practices.
We SEE THE HOPE.
Beans, Bottle Caps, and Computers
(Reflections by Adrienne Wiebe, CFC International Projects Manager)
The grade 2 class in Cuatro Caminos School is learning about two-digit addition – using beans, bottle caps, corn kernels, and computer tablets. Sandra Lara, a teacher from Calgary, Alberta, is working with the two grade 2 teachers to utilize learning centres to teach math. Three groups of students are rotating at three learning centres: At one table, students use dice to play an adding game. At another table – students manipulate corn kernels to practice addition. And at another table, students use the tablets to try-out their adding abilities. In another classroom, Paul Jespersen, a secondary teacher from Edmonton is collaborating with the grade 5-6 teacher to pilot the use of a computer game to learn long division.
There is a quiet hum as students work intently on their activities. At the computer table, a very shy boy grins up at me as he shows me that he answered all 10 questions correctly. At the corn kernel table, two girls pull me over to show me their work putting corn kernels in the tens column and in the ones column to illustrate various two-digit numbers. At the dice table, I participate in a fun game of tossing the dice, creating two-digit numbers, and then adding them together. The eagerness to learn is tangible in the room – the students are so engrossed in their activities that it’s hard to get them to move to the next table after 15 minutes!
Stories and Surroundings
(Reflections by Isabel Panrucker, Calgary AB)
Together, teachers could be seen inside classrooms setting up literacy centers; outdoors in the schoolyard exploring phonemic awareness by forming letters with dirt, rocks, sticks and plasticine; walking in the mountains to listen to birds after reading a digital book; discussing the Legend of the Corn surrounded by a cornfield; experiencing the joy and excitement of having an authentic audience when writing letters to Canadian pen pals.
The Guatemalan teachers shared that this experience inspired them to promote more opportunities for the students to tell and write their own stories. For us, it was a great chance to reflect on the importance of relating learning to our environment to keep it relevant.
Pen Pal Poetry
(Reflections by Jessica Kornder, Edmonton AB)
The literacy team was working in a mountain-top school in the community of La Florida. I worked with teachers on developing a few learning strategies for letter writing. This included some group-work, hands-on activity and accommodating for learning challenges, as well as searching the RACHEL for some digital examples.
As a “final project”, students had the opportunity to write back to students who had written to them from a school in Edmonton! They loved the idea that somebody wrote a letter to THEM and wanted to make sure that their letters would be delivered DIRECTLY to their new friends!