Monday, April 9, 2012

Week Four


Week four was one to remember. On Monday we were all at our schools continuing to prepare our students for their upcoming exams, scheduled from Tuesday to Thursday. Both students and teachers are anxious about the writing of the K.C.P.E. test, as these are a representation of the students learning and the teacher’s ability to convey the designated curriculum. Having only seen the students write the practice exams the previous Monday, all of us are interested in seeing how the student do with this type of formal assessment.

When Tuesday morning finally arrived we all had butterflies in our stomachs for our students. When distributing the very first exam I wished them all good luck, reminded them to leave no question unanswered, and to print their name clearly at the top of their answer sheet. The K.C.P.E testing had begun. On Tuesday the students wrote three exams in total. Writing started at 8:20am and would run until the end of the school day. Once the students complete the tests it is the teachers’ responsibility to grade and record the test scores. It is important that this is done accurately and recorded clearly, as a simple mistake in either aspect can have a drastic impact on the students overall grading. The first day of testing proved to be exhausting and we weren’t even writing.

Wednesday was scheduled very much like the day before. Students were to begin writing at 8:20 am and were slatted to continue in the same classroom until the end of the day. The K.C.P.E. tests have a certain amount of time allocated, depending on the length, difficulty, and subject. Some of tests are finished earlier and students are allowed to study for the coming examinations. Wednesday was as equally as straining as the previous day. When the day was complete there was a clear light at the end of the tunnel. I think we all agree that seeing this type of assessment is a valuable experience, but our time spent interacting and growing with the students has been the most rewarding of our days at the primary schools.

On Thursday the school was a buzz. With only one exam scheduled for the day the kids could sense the end was near. With the long Easter weekend looming just around the corner, students had added incentive to put their nose to the grindstone and finish their exams with a strong performance. Testing began as it had on the previous two days at 8:20 am. Students were wished a final good luck and the testing was underway. Assessment, recording, ranking, and proofing of the exam grades would prove to be a challenge. All of the total testing scores needed to balance and the mean scores for each class needed to be calculated. With a final copy of the scoring scheme handed to our Head Teacher our experience with the Kenya Certification of Primary Education testing was complete.

Friday marked the beginning of our safari weekend at the Samburu National Game Reserve. We departed the house at 9am, arriving at the hotel shortly after 1pm. During our drive into the reserve we were greeted by a mother elephant and her calf. Based on this grand welcome we were all aware that this was a trip we would not soon forget. Over the next two days we would encounter a variety of animals on the reserve including: female lions, giraffes, elephants, ostriches, jackal, baboons, crocodile, camel, monkeys, impala, waterbuck, gazelle, gerenuk, a variety of birds, warthogs, lizards, and much more. The weather could not have been better for the trip, as we experienced only a little bit of rain during the day. The park is an amazing vast stretch of land that seems to go on forever, with some of the most amazing views we have ever seen. Overall the trip provided us the opportunity to see some of these animals in their own habitat, a chance which many of us might not encounter ever again.

This past week has provided us with amazing opportunities and experiences. Our hopes are all high for the weeks ahead. Our departure date from Kenya is coming all too soon. Hoping all is well back home!


Monday, April 2, 2012

Week Three

Hello everyone,

Week three was once again...great! Monday-Thursday we were all in our schools teaching, preparing students for the upcoming K.C.P.E. (Kenya Certificate of Primary Education)tests that will be written during April 3-5. Throughout the week our schedules needed some reconfiguring due to the students tests, however, like any other day we simply coped. Throughout the week and into the weekend we had terrific weather. Each day sunny and warm, so nothing to complain with regrds to that. Friday was a big day. Each of us had the opportunity to showcase where we had been teaching for the previous few weeks, and introduce one another to the rest of the staff and students. Trip began with Shannon and Emily taking us to Ithanji Primary. Very nice school with amazing staff and students. Paul, their head teacher, accompanied our tour before taking us on a walk around the school grounds, showing us the many projects that Farmers Helping Farmers has helped fund over the years. Next stop was Matuto, where Doug and Amy have been teaching for the past few weeks. Like Ithanji, very lovely staff and student body. Very nice school which seemed to be situated on the top of a mountain, absolutely beautiful views. Each of the classes, like at Ithanji, sang us a song or played a game with us. It was nice to see what amazing voice they all have and the level of participation is incredible. Seems everyone wants to sing and is always smiling. The final stop was Tambaya, where Ashley and I have been teaching. We arrived just shortley after 1 pm, where Stanley, the head teacher, and his staff had prepared a very nice lunch for us. I don't think any of us expected this, however I think it was well recieved. Afterwards, Stanley allowed Ashley and I to take the rest around to each of the classes and briefly introduce them to each of the teachers and their students. One of the major differences between Tambaya and the other two schools is the number of students in each of the classes. Tambaya is one of the larger schools in the area, so student introductions were replaced by a class song. After a brief visit to each of the classes it was time for for us to head home. Great way to meet the rest of the staff and students at each of the schools, and a great way to see just how amazing all of the kids here in the Mukurwe-ini district really are.on Saturday, the six of us went to Nyeri to visit the very lovely Green Hills Hotel. This involved some much needed relaxation along side the hotel pool, taking in as much sun as we could...sorry not trying to make you jealous...but it was beautiful! On Sunday, we attended a Church service next to the Ithanjo Primary school, which was very nice. Afterwards we had lunch at Paul's house(Matuto's head teacher). Beatrice, his wife, had prepared a very delicious lunch, while his daughter Hilda, who could barely contain herself with excitement, served us a very special dessert she had picked out from the grocery store the day before. Hilda is in Grade 2 and is very cute. After a visit with Paul and his family it was time for us to head home. I think we were all pretty tired after a long yet productive week 3. Hope all is well back home! Take care.