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Laura McEachran, Principal Teacher, Carmyle Primary School and Nursery Class

Sep 28,2018 MLOL Blogs

I can’t quite believe a week has passed already! The lovely Patricia visited us this morning before school! She is putting the finishing touches to my dress which I can’t wait to wear the weekend to a very special event! (All will be revealed in the next blog!) I can’t wait to wear it!

When we arrived at Kapeni, we headed straight to the Library. Today our trained Paired Readers were going to put their training into action as they worked with Standard 2 learners for the first time. We were joined in the library by two of their teachers. The older learners recapped on what we had done yesterday (which they were fab at!) before they chose a younger learner to pick a book with. It was amazing to see the older learners explaining the concept of front cover, back cover, blurb etc. They also tried to ask questions to check the younger learners understanding of the text using Who?What? Where? When? Why? Question stems. Outstanding! Once the books were returned to the shelf, one older learner asked if he could read something that he had written. It was all about how when he was older, he wanted to work with orphans. Very moving indeed. We had a wonderful first session and upon leaving the library, we explained that next week we hoped to work with more learners. This time, we would ask the trained Standard 7 learners to train more Standard 7 learners! Watch this space!

As we walked back from the library, Douglas explained that a Standard 7 girl who previously suffered from heart problems, had had a heart attack in school. Her parents had  been sent for and she was being taken to hospital. He also informed us that Stella (The specialist education teacher and Sign Language Interpreter) was absent. Her sister had unfortunately passed away.

I then headed over to Standard 7G with John, who is also the librarian. I had planned a Science lesson on flowering and non flowering plants and part of the flower. All 200 learners were packed into the classroom which had no desks. This meant the learners had to sit on the floor, but this did not stop every learner having a huge smile on their face! I introduced myself and where I was from and handed over my home made lesson plan to John. I had used the Malawian Teachers Guide to plan the lesson but had tried to incorporate many active strategies.

I started off by sharing the Learning Intention and Success Criteria with the Learners. We then had a discussion about what a flower was and where we would find them (building on prior knowledge). From then we looked at my home made poster (Thank you to Stephen for helping me to draw maize!) We looked at and discussed examples of flowering and non flowering plants in Malawi. After a while, I decided to give them a challenge. Poster hidden, hands on head of you think it is flowering, hands on shoulders if you think it’s non flowering. Lots of fun! I then used a ball I had made from Shoprite bags (tied together with a trusty hair bobble) to throw around the class and ask for examples of flowering and non flowering. Great strategy for ‘no hands up’. Before we moved on to the next part of the lesson, I remembered a song I had once done with a previous class in Scotland. ‘Roots, Stem and Leaves and Flower’ (to the tune of Head, shoulders, knees and toes). Everyone was up on their feet and I even chose a few learners to come out and be the teacher! They helped to lead the singing and actions and we all had a giggle when they said they didn’t think the class deserved a praise chant such as the dab or a new one courtesy of Fran - nice nice nice, soooooo nice! They didn’t think the class had sang loud enough!??

From then we moved on to the internal and external parts of the flower. I had created another poster with labels of the different parts. I made flash cards of the definitions of each part and we discussed each one together. I then chose pairs of learners to come up to match the definition flash card to the correct labelled part. I encouraged peer discussion and we used thumbs up and down to say whether we agreed or disagreed. Before we finished, I explained the concept of Think Pair Share. The learners worked in pairs to Give Me 5! They had to tell me 5 things that they had learned. John the teacher commented on how he had seen a variety of strategies and had even asked if he could video me in action on his phone. Before I left, I passed around some pictures of my family and school! The learners loved looking at them!

I was delighted to be invited to the Standard 1-4 Teachers TLC (Teacher Learning Circle). This happens once a month and gives the teachers a chance to follow the 8 steps of TLC. I observed a teacher modelling a lesson for her colleagues, which then led on to  a reflection and evaluation between her and her colleagues. I joined in and commended her on her excellent use of pupil praise and active game! The teacher chairing the meeting then asked some of her colleagues to identify a goal for this term and explained that they were starting to implement the use of Star Teacher observations and certificates. One thing is for sure, we have seen lots of star teachers in Kapeni already this week.

The Party Bus, along with our lovely driver Adrian, picked us up and we headed on back to Kabula. The group have been singing and dancing away in the mini bus (some more than others, eh Stephen?) and even some of the people on the street have been too! Fran, Laura and I are currently sitting in the cottage, blogging, sharing stories and munching away on chocolate. It’s been an outstanding first week and we’re all very excited about what is to come.

We have lots planned for the weekend! Stay tuned! Zikomo! 

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I had used the Malawian Teachers Guide to plan the lesson but had tried to incorporate many active strategies.
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