Tuesday, August 26, 2014

English Classes are Growing!!

What began 2 years ago as English classes for the staff of the Children's Home, has grown quickly and is reaching out into the community. Each year new classes were taught that included women in the community and parents of our students, as well as summer sessions for students.

Kinyarwanda is the traditional language and English is the second language all children learn in school. Many teens, young adults and parents dropped out of school by 6th grade because they could not afford the school fees. Now they realize the importance of learning English and are thrilled to have this opportunity.

Felix came as a volunteer for the adult education program. He continued his part-time position teaching at a University so comes to our school with excellent credentials. It was decided that there were many more opportunities for him besides the adult education class so he was hired to also be in charge of the English classes at our school.

He is currently teaching our teachers in an advanced program daily from 11:30-12:15 during their lunch hour. This is to improve their English and teach them how to teach English to their preschool and elementary age students.

From 2:00-3:00 he teaches beginners from the community as well as our staff and from 3:00-4:00 there is an advanced class.

Weekly English classes were also added to students curriculum in our sewing and dental assistant training programs.

And most recently Mama Arlene was contacted by GT Bank, a local bank where she does her banking, to teach English after banking hours to their employees. She anticipates as word of GT Bank's program gets around more banks and some insurance companies will contact her to use Urukundo's English Program. Building relationships with those in our community is a high priority to Mama Arlene.

*Community classes
*Staff - Therese, our sewing instructor and Cecelia, our cook
*Some of our teachers
*Sewing students and trainers.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Magna-Tiles 1

Our teachers and children at the Urukundo School in Rwanda are using their imagination to play and create with Magna-Tiles!!! Thank you Valtech for your generous donation of a set for the school.

Founded in 1997, Valtech offers innovative tiles designed to hold a child's interest and attention, build critical developmental skills and promote imaginative play and creativity. The Valtech Magna-Tiles line of colorful building tiles have gained popularity among thousands of preschools nationwide and continue to enjoy strong responses from parents, teachers and children of all ages.

For children, taking flat objects and constructing 3-D objects is a new and exciting discovery. They are learning through creative play about construction, geometric shapes, math ideas and other real-life concepts with these colorful tiles.

First we had teacher trainings about magnets and several learning tools and how to introduce them to the children. After testing them out and discussing ways they can be used in teaching they began working with small groups of children. Most importantly the teachers knew it was about exploring and letting the kids learn through testing things out themselves. It was difficult for the teachers to observe and not tell the children "their" way of doing it. Or a different way.

I know the teachers had as much fun as the kids.

Magna-Tiles 2

So play continued in the classroom with this amazing learning tool. Children built flat on the table and some built up. Others used the same colors then decided to mixed them up. They discovered some sides would repel and others attract. Working alone and working together provided many opportunities to explore what worked and what didn't. Look at their beautiful faces!!!!

Valtech shared, "We are always glad to hear from parents, teachers and children about their experiences with Magna-Tiles. We were able to spend time reading your BLOG and would like to support you, your efforts, and the children in the community at the Urukundo Learning Center. We are inspired by the work that you do and the stories you share. We especially appreciate your consideration of Magna-Tiles and traveling with them to be used as a learning tool! We hope that together, they will enjoy, play and learn with Magna-Tiles."

I found Valtech listed as one of the top two teaching tools with magnets for young children!! You will love them as much as our children did!!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Fish Teach 1

Fish are teaching children to be creative and to give back (see MY Blog entry March 2014 Fish 1 & Fish 2) as well as teaching math and other concepts in the classroom.

The creative part was an idea that I presented to Amy Frank, an artist as well as a very creative sewing instructor who works with kids. Besides teaching art and sewing she is committed to providing opportunities for kids to learn about the world and the joy of giving back. So Amy offered a Kids Helping Kids Workshop at the Studio at Contempo in Boalsburg. Forty parents and children made felt fish to be used as teaching tools in classrooms at the Urukundo School.

The fish arrived in Rwanda where our elementary school teachers had the first opportunity to try their hand fishing with magnets. After lots of laughter we discussed how this could be used in the classroom as a teaching tool. They shared many great ideas and couldn't wait for the kids to come to the library and give it a try.

Fish Teach 2

Now it was time for small groups of second graders to try their hand at fishing. It was fun to see their eyes light up when they saw so many colors, shapes and sizes. This was something new and it was educational!!

The children learned about attraction as they used the pole with magnets to catch the fish. With the line and magnet swirling they learned to steadied it and drop down onto the fish. Soon they went from catching one at a time to seeing how many they could keep on the magnet at once. They all agreed this was a special gift from children in the US.

Thank you to all the kids and parents at Amy Frank's "Kids Helping Kids Workshop" for being so creative and bringing smiles to so many children's faces.