Ghana: First day in the classroom

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It’s hot and sticky, but we have had a wonderful and amazing first day in the classroom with the e-readers today.  Before entering the classroom, we met with the headmaster, teacher, OrphanAid crew, OrphanAid kids, all the staff and teachers of the school, and lots more.  We also did a morning session where we observed the class in session, which was great because we had a better sense of how to approach things when we did go in.

Turns out the 6th grade class is really a “class 6”, where the kids range in age from 11 to 14 and where the reading level seems to span from about 1st grade to 4th grade.  Most of these kids are from one of two villages or are orphans, and so many of them have only started reading in the last several years, despite their age.  Regardless, they are super enthusiastic about learning.

Before leaving home, we had put 6 books on the Kindles we brought down: Folktales from Ghana (short stories), The Magic Flyswatter (short stories from Africa), Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know (30 classic children’s stories like Princess and the Pea, requested by the school), Curious George, Magic Treehouse, and Africa Nations Cup sports news and scores.  By far the favorite, and the one that seemed most appropriate to their reading level, was Curious George, so we are going to try to get more later this week.

Also, you’ll be happy to know we found a great local champion, Richard, who is new to the village and running the community center.  He has a degree in IT, is responsible for the solar power and Internet installations, and was quick to learn and understand the Kindle.  When we’re not around, he’ll help the kids charge their Kindles and load them with new books, and we will probably leave a number of Kindles with him when we go so he can start a sort of “lending library.”

We’re back in the class tomorrow for more training and observation, then inventory interviews with the headmaster and local champion.  We’ve taken lots of pictures and videos and notes, almost too much to process right now, but it has been a really rich learning environment for us already.