TTS20 on Safari

Friday, October 5, 2012

Academic Updates from the Teachers

Dear Parents and Friends,

I just got off the phone with the teachers, and the girls are enjoying Family Fun Night this Friday night. That means they're relaxing, watching a movie, playing games or just hanging out. They've had a busy week with their scuba activities and are preparing for their upcoming midterm exams and projects that start next week, Monday-Thursday. I hope you all get an opportunity to talk with your daughters this weekend and hear for yourself about the beauty of the Mozambican coastline and the marvels of the ocean! You should expect academic comments and midterm grades (we will mail out the midterm transcripts to you and your daughter's school) soon after midweek, the week of October 22nd.

There is never a dull moment during a TTS20 gym class!  While completing plyometric exercises at the Eureka Camp in Lusaka, students were joined by several zebras and a whole family of giraffes.  An aquatic aerobics class quickly evolved into a human whirlpool exercise resulting in such fast currents, the students were able to pick up their feet and ride around in circles.  While running in Chipata, the students were accompanied by an excited group of young children eager to link hands and jog with our group.  Throughout exercises on the beaches of Mozambique, the students are learning about the local fishing industry as the fisherman bring their morning's catch of tuna and rays to shore.  Recently students began taking on the role as teacher and started to present their own lesson plans.  A beach scavenger hunt was a perfect way to start the day, as the group was split into two teams, then raced to find the roundest coconut and longest palm frond.  As the student workouts continue, there's no guessing what other surprises are in store for the TTS20 group.

iLife class continues to be the space for students to learn techniques for living independently and to collect strategies for living and traveling with a large group. Our recent discussions have centered on nutrition and self-care, with ideas for how students can make healthy choices not just at TTS and in high school, but also in college and beyond. Students have also worked on devising organization tactics specific to their needs, to ensure that they can navigate the tricky blend of 'real life' and 'school life' that comprises TTS. As we approach the second half of our semester, students are also stepping into assigned leadership roles. Students work in teams as chieflets and are responsible for ensuring that the day's schedule runs smoothly. To best support them in these roles, we have had classes on different leadership styles (including a huge human leadership grid in the middle of a park) as well as continue to work with them individually to help them discover the best tactics for them as they lead a group of peers.

Students have completed their extensive unit on graphing and have begun to study algebraic expressions, solving for variables and using proportions.  The class has also enjoyed continuing to expand their “crazy class locations” list by recording several new additions.  While passing through Customs into Mozambique, the class took advantage of a delayed Visa process and completed a full hour of study literally on the Zambia-Mozambique border.  Since we had already passed the Zambian border, and had not officially entered Mozambique yet, the students were thrilled to complete a class while physically located in the space between two countries!  Does that count for being in two places at one time?  The class also enjoyed reviewing for a test with their toes in the soft sands of Vilanculos, as well as work on solving ratios while sitting alongside the infinity pool.  As the midterm exam is fast approaching, students will continue to work hard as they review for the upcoming test.

During the second quarter of TTS 20, the Precalculus class developed their catch phrase, “keepin' it real! Numbers”.  The three ladies have formed an interactive community in the class and work together to challenge and support one another.  They offer different ways to explain topics and theories if a peer  hasn't fully mastered a topic.  In class, they make connections between previously learned concepts and current topics thus challenging me to make further connections and real world explanations.  It is quite amazing to teach this group of ladies who are curious enough to go beyond the textbook.  The ladies also make small study groups to work through nightly homework together.  In the past few weeks, the students finished chapter one and the study of the most basic forms of each type of graph and the transformations that happen due to different addition, subtraction, multiplication and division operations.  The class is currently studying polynomials and how to find roots, determine end behavior and general shape based on the leading coefficient test.    

The class is currently engaged in the interviewing process.  Each student chose a topic pertaining to diving, marine ecology or the pros and cons of working in a foreign country to interview one of their dive instructors.  Students are quickly learning how essential it is to write down observations and have notebooks ready during conversations with locals to gather story-telling quotes and set the scene for their journalistic pieces.  Throughout the semester the class has been focusing on understanding the differences between journalistic writing versus thesis writing.  Travel writing is a challenging skill to master as it encourages the writer to write in first person and bring the reader into the story by creating images through vivid wording and sharp images.  The class is also building their individual photographic portfolios by playing with perspective and angles to highlight different subjects.  Students are preparing to start their second major article of the semester in the upcoming week.

Throughout the past couple of weeks, the Global Studies students have focused their coursework on  conservation and sustainability.  The class held several discussions on the need for a balance between conservation efforts and supportive programs for local villages in order to sustain any type of environmental movement.  Students then took center stage while at Wildlife Camp performing  commercials they had created to promote the different components of sustainability.  Advertisements for tourism, fire, hunting, national parks and wilderness areas, and even natural population controllers such as the tsetse fly were all equally entertaining as educational!  Before visiting Gorongosa National Park, the class created a historical book of illustrations which portrayed  the park's development as well as its recovery following the recent war of Mozambique.  The class then visited the park and the Community Education Center where the students saw all the components of sustainability in action.  As the students continue their travels in Mozambique, they will be studying the local current events and continuing to create their language journals for the upcoming midterm next week.

Recently, the Math Concepts students began the unpredictable game called, The Game of Life, to address the ever-changing economic aspects of adulthood.  Each student was assigned a character profile including: the name, age, city of residence, career, family description and a list of hobbies and interests.  From this given information, each student created a family portrait for their character, and introduced themselves to the class in character with convincing accents or personality changes.  Each student determined a monthly budget based on their character's fixed versus flexible spending goals based on their personal living standards.  As The Game of Life continues, the students will face various  challenges and benefits simulating financial possibilities in real life.  For example, a character's pet gets sick and she needs to adjust her monthly budget for vet bills.  Or, a bonus may be given out at work allowing students the opportunity to decide to spend the extra money or put it into a savings account.  Other topics covered in class and used in The Game of Life include: saving versus checking accounts, debit cards, credit cards, and the pros/cons of buying a home or renting.  As midterms quickly approach, students will finish up The Game of Life and begin constructing an informational survival guide to living on their own.

As our big blue truck trundles from savanna to shoreline, we are moving through novels and writing styles in our Literature and Composition class. The students are immersed in a Mozambican book entitled Sleepwalking Land. Written in a blend of magical realism, oral narrative, and historical storytelling styles, it is an excellent introduction to alternate forms of narrative, and the students are taking it on with gusto. In addition to gaining insights about Mozambique's national  psyche and recent history from Sleepwalking Land, the students are using it as springboard for their own magical realism narrative writing. In writing their piece, students will have the chance to push literary boundaries, describing commonplace events and objects using magical elements and expanding their skills as writers.

Our South-East African History class could not be luckier. Everywhere we turn, hands-on learning opportunities present themselves. A couple of weeks ago we were traveling through a city and came across a 100 foot mural depicting Mozambique's war of independence—time for a history lesson on independence struggles and on how art can tell history! Last week we were stopped at a small coastal town known for its unique blend of architecture—time for a history lesson on all the different cultural influences in Mozambique and on how our sense of place is shaped through historical events! These experiential opportunities are a great supplement to our lessons on recent Mozambican history and all of the tumultuous events this country has undergone in the last 37 years since it gained independence. We are finishing up our unit on Mozambique's history with a discussion of current events and of how Mozambique is ever more entwined in the global economic and political scene. As we discuss how events across the world are linked, students are coming to the realization of how their individual actions and choices can play into making history.

1 comment:

MARY said...

It is wonderful to get these updates!! It's like back to school night but I can read it in my jambes!!