Day 1 and 2 of teaching

Today was our second day of teaching (yesterday was our first day, but I had internet connection issues, so I wasn’t able to write anything). Although the children come from two different camps, we all meet and teach in a building-turned-school in a small city called El Marj, in the Beka’a valley in Lebanon.

So far, it’s been a very good, fun, and fulfilling experience. The children are learning quickly and we enjoy teaching and interacting with them. They seem more enthusiastic and definitely much better behaved than last year. One thing we quickly realized last year was that most of these kids had never been in school, so the idea of sitting still for even an hour, being quiet, taking turns answering questions, and mustering up the courage to try something new, even if they were bad at it, was very foreign. This year, there was definite progress and everyone seemed more comfortable with the school-like atmosphere.

We have been spending 7 hours each day with the kids. They have 4 hours of core classes, an hour of outdoor playtime, an hour of arts/crafts, and an hour for lunch. Their core classes are: music (taught by my mother, Elena), computer skills and basic programming using Raspberry Pi’s (taught by my father, Peter), geography (taught by my sister, Xenia), and English (taught by my brother, Vadim, and myself). We all have translators and so far, it’s been going quite well!

So far, Elena has been teaching the children about the names of different notes, as well as note values and the names/sounds of various instruments. This includes listening to and basic analysis of musical excerpts. Peter has been teaching the Cartesian coordinate system, basic programming language and terminology, and the children had to apply this knowledge in a program called Scratch. The children created a game that consisted of a movable/controllable cat and a ball bouncing off surfaces, and the object was to make sure the ball doesn’t fall on the ground.

Xenia has been teaching the basics of the world map. Today, she focused on mountains throughout the planet, as well as the animals and geographical features of Asia. My brother and I reviewed the alphabet, worked on the meaning, spelling, and pronunciation of short words ending in -at and -et (such as cat, bat, rat, fat, pet, jet, and net), and started dissecting and reading a very short book “Big Pig can jump.” Most of the children are picking up words and sentences quite quickly!

And in arts and crafts class, the children played some games, put together puzzles, and made art.

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Some of the children line up for roll call on the first day
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The students are using flashcards to learn “-at” words
“Rat” and “Bat” flashcards
Hajar is helping Omar write words
Rafif is practicing the word “Jet”
I am helping Nourhan improve on her spelling and handwriting
Vadim is constructing and teaching sentences from the “Big Pig can jump” book
The children are coloring in maps in Xenia’s geography class
Xenia is teaching about the animals in Asia
Peter is teaching about the Cartesian coordinates system
The Cartesian coordinates system drawn on the floor
Elena is teaching the students about notes on the piano
The children are playing a game during their arts and crafts class
The children made personalized cards with many stickers on them

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