M.I.P Essay Part 2: Multi-grade school Sanimlhala â€“ Coban Alta Verapaz Background: The school was established in the year 1988 and was initially regarded as a municipal school. The school had one teacher who attended to the first 3 grades of primary school. A year later, the school employed another teacher on a temporary basis. Teachers participated in training sessions and helped with the creation of self-learning guides. The inhabitants of the area in which the school is located, Sanimlhala are about 20 km away from the departmental capital of Coban. It is community which consists of up to 125 families. Majority of the community work in the agricultural sector, which includes both men and women. The catchment area for the school was roughly about 3 km, which means those who lived furthest from the school had to walk for about 30 minutes in order to get to their classes. The Members of the community maintain the schools infrastructure by providing unskilled labour to support to support the school. They however, provide little monitory support. Teaching Methodology: Students are organized into small groups in all classes. Tables are pushed together so that students are able to face each other and attain better communication. Students are allowed to sit in whichever group they feel comfortable in, within their respective grade and therefore not assigned to any specific seat in the classroom. Although, children seem to separate by gender which it comes to splitting up into these learning groups. There is not much interaction between the teachers and the students, children work and interact within their respective groups. Teachers write notes on the blackboard, and the students would copy it into their notebooks, or theyâ€™ll use the assigned Ministry of Education textbooks. Teaching in Sanimlhala is rather quite traditional, despite the fact that group work and self-instructional guides are encouraged at this school. The teacher is always in the centre of the lesson. The teacher informs the students of what work is expected of them individually, when given a task or assignment to complete. School described a success: Enrollment at the school has increased dramatically over the past few years. Pre-school students have learning corners with significant expressions that generated from the childrenâ€™s own vocabulary. This was used to teach initial reading and writing skills. The student government, which is made up of 6 representatives from the 3rd to 6th grade classes. The student representatives meet up every week to discuss various projects that students can get involved within the school. These things give students a sense of responsibility and accomplishment. Things which build character in students.
Las Vegas â€“ San Marco, Guatemala Background: Las Vegas was founded in 1968, and has been regarded as a multi-grade school since its inception. It serves children from 1st to 6th grade, in 3 classrooms. The school is situated in the hills, which is about 20 km from the urban centre of Coatepecque. The catchment area contains about 100 families, most of which live within the immediate surroundings of the school. However, some students live several kilometers from the school. All of the families served by the school, work in agriculture. Small plots at the homes of these families are used to cultivate subsistence crops. The school consists of 3 large classrooms which were orientated to face the playground. This playground also comes equipped with a basketball court. Smaller rooms are attached to each of the large classrooms. These smaller rooms serve as an office space as well as a storage room. The school also has electricity and running water. Teaching Methodology: In order to ensure that each of the 3 classrooms is more or less evenly split, different grades are hereby combined. Children are coordinated into work groups by grade in all classrooms, and are arranged in terms of the unit of guides with which they are working. All grades have self-instructional guides in sufficient members for the enrolled students, and are also equipped with Ministry of Education textbooks. First grade students however, develop their reading and writing skills using significant expressions accumulated from their own personal experiences. They also have learning corners in each classroom for various subjects such as science, mathematics, language and social studies. Children who attend these multi-grade schools have the advantage of learning from children who are older than them. The students at Las Vegas are generally arranged in groups, and the teacher being the central focus of the classroom. School described a success: Children from the school, who were interviewed before, all felt that attending a multi-grade school had the advantage of learning from the children who were older than them. By having student government and student representatives, it teaches the students not to be afraid to speak publically to an audience. It also gives them the ability to continue working with student guides when the teacher is not present, and is therefore important to their learning. This gives them a big sense of responsibility and ultimately is what contributes to the success of the school.
Las Tronchos – Corban Alta Verapaz Background: Las Tronchos was founded in 1978. It had 2 wooden sheds that were used as classrooms up until the early 1990s. There were then 4 new classrooms built and then began to offer all 6 grades as well as preprimary classes. The community of Las Tronchos is about 20 km from the departmental capital of Corban. The school is reached by a gravel road that is only possible to reach via a 4 wheel drive vehicle during the rainy season. The community consists of roughly about 400 families, both of which the men and women work in the agricultural sector. The school currently has 5 teachers to serve up to 150 students per year, distributed in 3 single grade classrooms, which includes pre-primary, first and second grades. The remaining 2 are multi-grade classrooms, one which combines third and fourth grades, and the other combining fifth and sixth grade students. The school has bibligual texts for first grades, a set of Ministry of Education texts, which were based on self-instructional guides, but contain a greater degree of traditional context. Teaching Methodology: Students are seated in single rows, one behind the other. This method is repeated in each of the classrooms. In lower grades, boys are seated in the middle towards the front of the classroom. The girls are seated at the wings of the classroom and towards the back. There is no distinction made by either grade level o gender for seating arrangements in the higher grades. There are shelves with books in each classroom. The lower grade classroom, there are examples of the children’s drawing work on the wall. This contributes a sense of pride and accomplishment for the younger students at the school. As with the other schools, teachers write academic content on the board and students copy the information into their notebooks. They then complete exercises given to them by the teachers. In the multi-grade classrooms, the same material is taught to all the students, regardless of what grade they’re fall under. Las Tronchos is highly teacher centered in classrooms. Children are not encouraged to work in groups and tend to seek for the teacher’s assessment for progress an assignments and so forth. Students only get to express themselves in front of their peers by responding to a problem provided by their teacher at the board or by their seat. School described a success: The enrollment of student at Las Tronchos generally increased over the past few years. Teacher-initiated interactions predominate in the classroom. Parent participation is highly encouraged at the school, for parents to get involved in the well-being of, not only their own children, but also the general well-being of the school as a whole. Meetings are held on a weekly basis to encourage working parents to get involved with the school, in this way they also ensure that their children are taken care of.
Classroom Alternatives: These include alternatives which create more opportunities for learning in the classroom. Desk orientation and organization: desks that are organized for interacting and learning. By placing desks that face each other, or group them into clusters, this encouraged students to communicate with each other and they can therefore learn from one another by discussing tasks and problem solving questions. Classroom DĂŠcor: this could include creative work done by the students themselves. It would give them a sense of pride and accomplishment, and could motivate other students to do better and strive to achieve more of what they have not yet achieved. Notice Boards: This could help students keep track of homework as well as upcoming tests etc. So that they are constantly reminded to keep up-to-date with their work and also what is going on in the school as well as in the classroom.