The UPAVIM 2015 school year is off to a great start!
As you make your way through the school every day, you can hear the sounds of learning and fun reverberating throughout: laughter, singing, kids answering questions, counting in both English and Spanish, the chants of the alphabet in English.
Classes resumed in mid-January after a week and a half of teacher training and a lot of preparation. This year we have an amazing team of teachers, with two new Guatemalan teachers, one in third grade and one in fifth, as well as two new English teachers. One of the new English teachers is a Guatemalan woman named Guisela and we are all quite excited to have her join the ranks.
Another notable change this year is an expansion to the English program. Every grade in the school now receives at least two hours of English a day, either in the morning or the afternoon, and pre-school (Montessori) students receive 30 minutes a day. Students in kindergarten through 2nd grade also receive an additional 30-minute story time twice a week.
The program coordinator from last year and this year worked tirelessly at the end of last year to develop a standardized curriculum for each grade level including curriculum themes and vocabulary, conversation sets, linguistic goals for each grading period, and a universal grading system. We are all so happy with the curriculum and program changes and are all finding it helpful in guiding our classes.
Lesson planning has been going really well and the kids are enthusiastic about learning English. On any given day, you can walk through the different classrooms and find the English classes engaged in a variety of activities. First and second graders have been working on the alphabet and have created very cute alphabet banners and posters that proudly hang in their classroom. 3rd grade recently did reading buddies with the kindergarten class. The third graders selected bilingual books and practiced reading in both English and Spanish to prepare for the big event.
The kindergarteners have been working on learning to be students for the first time and are starting to write their names, learn letters, and answer basic questions like “What is your name?” Fourth, fifth, and sixth this year have three 50-minute English classes focusing on different topics: Math, Reading and Writing, and Listening and Speaking. So far, they have done an assortment of activities including math games, working on literacy using fairytales, and creating “All About Me” banners and giving presentations to the class.
At the beginning of February, we had a local politician generously donate backpacks to all of the students in the school and in Montessori. The kids all made signs and posters for the group’s arrival and the air was filled with anticipation leading up to their arrival. Rumor has it, there may be a donation of shoes headed our way in the near future, but we shall just have to wait and see!
Everyone is eager to see how the rest of the year unfolds and for all of the learning that is to come.