Math Concepts is a real world, real life class. It focuses on how mathematics can be applied their lives. The first classes have dealt the idea of money and material possessions and to what extent they can or cannot make an individual happy. From this class we have covered more literal math applications topics such as banking, debit verses credit cards, how to write checks, interest rates and budgeting. Most recently we have started the Game of Life, where each student randomly selects a new identity. We have a doctor, a teacher, a hotel receptionist, a seasonal/contract worker and a minimum wage worker. With these characters the girls are armed with financial information such as: wages and living expenses and expected to manage a budget. Each class period, these characters must take on unexpected and known financial challenges—car insurance, new braces, hail damage, and more. This activity brings budgeting, credit and banking lessons to life.
The first few weeks of class have focused on the differences in journalism compared to essays and creative writing typically taught in school. From how to determine what’s newsworthy, to information gathering and structuring a news piece, students are learning that writing for National Geographic demands a combination of strong description and pertinent facts. On the photography side, we have played with action shots, different settings in the foreground, angles, and of course, how to best capture wildlife. This week the girls will receive their first article assignment and will put their interview skills to the test. Look for each Travel Journalism student to post a blog on a activity in the weeks to come.
Literature and Composition
Students in the Literature and Composition course began the semester writing "I Am" poems, reflecting on where they came from, and how that might influence their perspective and who they are today. We read a series of short stories about South Africa under Apartheid, where the class practiced critically and actively reading and analyzing a text. They produced "Found Poems" by rearranging the pieces of text that spoke to them, a tool to hone in on meaning. As we moved into Kruger Park, students read various folk tales from Southern Africa. They explored the elements and purpose of a folktale, and brainstormed morals they would want to pass on through storytelling. They then created and performed their own unconventional folk tales under the stars. We have begun reading Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible. The students are engrossed in the themes which they are relating to what they are seeing in South Africa - the effects of the cultural arrogance that comes with colonialism and Western development. They are also having fun identifying with various characters, and discussing which of the Price sisters they like best.
Studies in the History course so far have been defined by the policy of Apartheid in South Africa. Through class assignments and discussions, students have benefited immensely from experiential learning activities and seeing history all around us. They met a freedom fighter named Juri who was jailed for his anti-apartheid activity with the ANC. They played games to memorize the various political parties and legislative acts that influenced the course of events. Students are also responsible for teaching the class about an influential South African figure, group, or concept, from Gandhi and satyagraha, to Steve Biko and Black Consciousness. Most exciting, a visit is coming up to the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg as well as a non-profit providing services for the descendants of gold-miners who were the originators of gumboots dancing. If we're lucky we might experience a performance from the local youth!