Term 1 is officially finished and last week the little primary school I call my home and place of work, began Term 2. This means that the school year is already 25% over.
Time flies when you’re having fun!
And I have only 20 school weeks to get my Class 6 students ready for a test that will determine what secondary school they will earn admission into.
Similar to America, these students take the test long before the school year is finished. So like I did in America, what is supposed to take all year to teach is consolidated (and rushed) into 30 weeks of teaching. And when you take out all the reasons school gets cancelled (rain days, hot days, ANZAC day, funerals, the King’s Birthday, … etc.) we are talking about much less time.
The Ministry of Education here in Tonga introduced a new English curriculum last year. The school year is broken up into 8 units – each unit has a different theme and a different set of standards to master in 4 weeks time (the suggested time it should take to finish a unit). These eight units really need to be taught before the Class 6 exam so I have organized my schedule in order to complete them all prior to the second week of October. I will be teaching night class (a common occurrence here) in order to get it completed on time. Sometimes I can’t help but think that students need a break, time to play and have fun – I believed it when I taught in Wisconsin, Florida and Colorado and I believe it even more now when so much is resting on the results of this test.
This week we started Unit 3 - “Instructions and Directions”. Each class is working on the language needed to give and receive instructions and give and receive directions. And what better way to learn these things than to learn it through FOOD.
Because… really, people… everything is better with food.
My Class 5 and 6 students began the week by learning the language needed in order to cook. Mix, roll, stir, put, place, boil, and bake. Then they practiced creating “pizza lo’i” - literal translation is “lying pizza” (or fake pizza). This pizza was made out of laminated construction paper and each student became a chef. By the end of the week they were writing and creating their own recipes. They tested them out and “kai lahi” (ate a lot). The next day we made “pizza ma’oni” (real pizza) and the kids loved it!