Saturday, February 26, 2011

Actually teaching!

I arrived in Bhutan on January 21st but it wasn't until this Thursday, February 24th that I did anything even approximating teaching a class.

My first scattergorieish lesson was with my Class 7 English class. I showed them the alphabet book I brought of Halifax words and then held a competition in which they thought up words for a Bhutan alphabet book. For each letter I awarded one point to the team that had chosen the best word. "M", for example, is for "momos" not "mountains", but "H" is for "Himalayas" not "horses." Here is Team Ara (each team was named for their "A" word) hard at work:

One of my grade 5 maths class got pretty deep and awesome. We talked about how mathematics deals with the infinite- the bigger than big, and the infinitesimal- the smaller than small. Each student then used his imagination, well-developed through Buddhist mind-training, to envision an infinitesimal point just beyond the tip of his pointer finger. We then pictured the line segments we could create by connecting any two of the points together and the triangles we could define by connecting three points with line segments:

Then I posed the students a challenge, to draw three points on a piece of paper that, when connected with straight lines, did not make a traingle. They did some great thinking:

After some time, a few of the students arrived at the answer, the wonderful fact that if the third point lines up with the first two, there is no triangle. (Eventually this will connect to the idea that adding a fourth point can define just a quadrilateral when placed in the same plane or a 3-D shape when placed elsewhere.)

I was fantastically impressed by my Class 5's response to the geometry lesson. They have keen visualization skills and true creativity. They did not fare so well on the first computation word problem I offered them but I am certain that, with further practice, they'll succeed at them, too:

In other news: using chalk is such a difficult transition from white-board markers! I press too hard and break it all the time. It is the same problem I have with mechanical pencils. I'm just too intense. 


  1. Sounds so fun and educational. Love Dad & Mom M

  2. sounds so great and do not worry about the chalk eventually you will find the right force to be applied
    love mom B