…I went to a homework help session in Antonio Raimondi, although Wednesday is usually my day off. After practicing my violin at the music school as I do every Wednesday (some Bach and then some Peruvian music, plus sight reading a contemporary Brazilian piece a friend handed to me), I chose to go the session.
Why? Because on Monday Silvia and Edgar (sister and brother in Grade 4) arrived for the very first time, clearly needing some help with multiplication, something which cannot be learned in two hours and which I felt morally obliged to continue teaching them. Although shy, they were attentive and each managed to fill in a blank chart of the time tables, up to 12 X 12, with help from each other, and myself when necessary. They knew more than they thought they did. Then they began colouring their individual charts and at the end of the session they promised they would could to Wednesday’s session and we gave each other the usual kiss good bye before departing.
[How would it be possible to not love my job? Each time I arrive at a session, it just takes one kid to notice that I have arrived to almost instantaneously get a mini-swarm of kids coming up to hug and kiss me saying: “Buenas tardes, profesora Ciera“, “Hola, maestra Ciera“, “Hola, señorita Ciera“. It takes a couple minutes to receive/give my hugs and kisses and then we all settle down to get to work.]
So back to today: I figured it just wouldn’t be right to expect Silvia and Edgar to attend the homework help session and not show up myself. I figure that Project Chiclayo is just as much about teaching good values and life skills as it is as teaching ‘practical’ skills like multiplication. By chance, I also met their mother yesterday morning after offering my second English class with some of the older kids at Raimondi; she was helping to cook the meal to be served in the nutrition program. (Side note: I heard yesterday all the kids in Raimondi have enough iron intake to be declared anemia-free! So the nutrition program must be working…). I told her that her children would really benefit from coming to the sessions and she assured me they would attend.
Attend they did, with muchas ganas (lots of enthusiam)…and homework to reduce fractions to the lowest common denominator, a challenge indeed when one does not know basic multiplication. With Silvia on my right and Edgar on my left, we first reviewed some times tables, orally and with some simple written questions. Then, although they looked quite terrified at first, I walked them through the steps to reduce a set of fractions to the LCD using two examples.
[Another reason I love my job: I get to renew my math skills. It is especially good to recall how to do high school level math, to know that while it didn’t serve me much during my undergraduate degree, it is serving me now. Remembering and learning math terminology in Spanish is a special treat].
Next, I told Silvia and Edgar to take a break to finish colouring their times tables charts. And then little Christopher appeared in the middle of Silvia and I, asking me to help him with his English homework, learning vocabulary (the family and body parts). His excellent memory for both the translations of words and for their pronunciation impressed me.
Then I helped Silvia and Edgar each individually work through reducing two sets of fractions, using their times tables charts. They were hesitant at first, but realized that it was just a matter of working through the steps. They finished with the correct LCDs and what appeared like a lot of relief. To my surprise, Silvia begged for me to write more multiplication questions in her notebook as homework. Really? And of course, then Edgar begged me for some too.
I wish I had had my camera with me to take a picture of them with their rainbow-coloured times tables charts. They were pretty proud of them. And even promised to stick them to their bedroom wall to help them memorize their times tables.
We’ll see how they have progressed come Monday. 😀
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Here is a picture of my lovely co-teacher, Bety, a elementary/high school math teacher who has been working with Centro Esperanza for almost three years. I took this picture during the homework help session with the older students on Monday morning; Bety is helping Janet, on the left, and Isabella, on the right.
This is building the sessions are run out of:
And this is the view from outside the door to the street (behind the building you see in the previous picture). I love the urban garden scene in the district of La Victoria, unlike any other district in Chiclayo that I have seen, where residents make the most of the few square metres of land in front of their homes to plant flowers, fruits and vegetables.