Training Day in Mandevu

Training Day in Mandevu

(The power has been out several evenings in a row so I am finally able to send this email a couple days late)

FRIDAY: Our day began early – we were out the door by 7 am and on our way to Mandevu where the training was taking place by 8. Our topics included student engagement in learning, teaching to multiple grades and a review of strategies for teaching mathematics. We have a small group of teachers (18) because only two have been sent from each school. Most of the teachers have had other trainings from me in the past which meant I didn’t need to reteach too much information from previous trainings.Kondwani, our friend who heads up the schools and is also a pastor, started our day with a devotional. She is quite a gifted speaker and I always find her talks uplifting and inspirational. I did get caught off guard by a remark she made referring to herself as “elderly” – especially since she is a year younger than I am. hmm. So now with Rebecca I’ve been making comments about “well I am elderly you know.”

Multi-grade Teaching:
Our presentation on how to teach many grades at one time covering the same topic really got our teachers thinking. Traditionally teachers in community schools teach many grade levels at the same time but students from one grade level sit and wait while the students from another grade level are being taught. If students finish their work early again they sit and wait. We brainstormed a list of topics that are taught in all grades. I had the group pick a topic – they chose transportation. We wrote a quick lesson plan together and then I modeled how to teach it by having the teachers take on the role of either a younger student or an older one and work together. I also showed them how to come up with an assignments for three levels. Then they worked in groups to come up with their own lesson on a different topic.

multi grades lessonOne group contributes to a plan for teaching a lesson to mulit-grades.




We also talked about what to do with students who finish early. Normally students just sit and wait. Rebecca calls these students “early finishers” so we used that term and asked the teachers to start a list of “early finisher” work. As groups finished their multi-grade lesson I asked them to to think of something for the “early finishers” to go with their lesson. The topic of communication was chosen by several groups. Two groups wanted to demonstrate an “old” way of communication so one group made a drum out of an empty paint can, a plastic bag over the top held on by wire. All these things they found lying around outside the church and school.

Another groups found a metal dish and some paper-like packing material and demonstrated sending smoke signals to the rest of us by lighting the material on fire in the pan right inside the church where we were meeting. I tired not to laugh as I thought about all the rules that would be breaking in the US. Rebecca and I were very pleased. I am hoping this will make an impact so students are not just sitting while the other grade is being taught.

shoes_fireIt difficult to see but what looks like dirt on the bottom half of Mary’s shirt is really smoke coming from the pan where she demonstrates how in the old times they used smoke to warm others about danger. Good the fire marshall was not around.  



The afternoon was devoted to engagement strategies in math. Rebecca worked with teachers who teach the older grades and I worked with the pre-school and grade 1 and 2 teachers. Rebecca’s information about using multiple representations for math was well received. I was really scraping my brain to remember strategies for the young ones especially since they have no materials other than rocks or sticks and singing and dancing. Many of the teachers who attended last year shared ideas they had gotten from Sarah (who accompanied Bob and me). It was reassuring to know the  previous training made an impact. (Good job Sarah!!!)

rebecca_upper gradesRebecca works with her upper grade teachers with enthusiasm!




The day ended – everyone was a bit tired but positive about the learning. Rebecca and I came home and planned for the next day after eating a wonderful homemade dinner prepared by our wonderful missionary host, Nancy.