TTS22 Group photo

Friday, November 22, 2013

classes are busy, busy!


"Oh the places you will go"  P.D.Eastman

Imagine sitting next to an Etosha National Park watering hole at night.  You see eleven galloping giraffe startle and flee into the darkness. You marvel at their long gangly legs and the swing of their necks as they loop around to stop and stare back into the darkness.  Hmmm, what gave them such a fright? Your binoculars reveal two lionesses gazing back at the giraffes from near the watering hole.  Apparently they had given up the chase.

Next morning, few animals are around.  In the distance you see a lion pride finishing off their antelope meal.

This has been the nature of our supplementary learning in the Science course.  Classroom time (which never takes place in an actual classroom)  has been supplemented by numerous hours of field observation and experience. Whether poling down the Okavango River Delta or pulling acacia seedlings to stop bush encroachment, these experiences are irreplaceable aspects of the students' understanding of the ecosystems and the science behind their management. 


At last night's study hall, Anne, Peri, Mara, Natalie, and Anna sat on a shared log, ignoring the sticky heat that had us sweating in our malaria clothes well after dark, and concentrated instead on Algebra 2 and Precalculus homework. Throughout the semester, I have been repeatedly impressed with my students' work ethic and dedication to learning despite the many distractions inherent in our non-standard classroom, which may be a patch of grass set just back from the beach at Jeffery's Bay, a circle of camp chairs with a backdrop of the Drakensburg mountains, or a campsite laundry room. In preparation for their recent test, Megan and Anna practiced completing the square while rumbling down the dirt roads of Namibia in Big Blue. When we were delayed with our truck stuck in the sand, Anne and Natalie sought me out for extra trigonometry studying. With only a few classes to go in both Algebra 2 and Precalculus, girls are working harder than ever to finish the semester strongly and prepare for their final exam.

After completing our study of exponential and logarithm functions, Precalculus students have shifted to study trignonometry. Peri's colorful sketches of trigonometric graphs border on art work, as does Anne's unit circle reference sheet. Natalie has memorized the trig values of common angles with practice while waiting in line for lunch, riding on the truck, and other random moments throughout the day. Mara transferred earlier understanding of asymptotes to understand the graphs of secant and cosecant, and Hannah discovered the importance of restrictions on sine and cosine in order to guarantee inverse functions.
Algebra 2
Algebra 2 students have recently completed the most difficult chapter of the semester, which focused on graphing quadratic functions and solving quadratic equations and are now transferring their knowledge of quadratics to study the behavior of polynomials of higher degree. Katherine continues to ask insightful questions that push us to achieve a deeper understanding of the processes we use. Molly made an essential connection between factors and zeros of polynomials, setting us up perfectly to understand the factor theorem.  

Math Concepts

WTO, IMF, GDP, GNP, UN and more are the acronyms floating around in the girls minds the last weeks of the semester. Economics, supply and demand, macro and micro economics have been the overall focus on how these components relate to each other and in the world today. Globalization? Yes, the basic understanding of how the world operates, who operates it and how things get done in today's world. Though all of these organizations and concepts take a life time to understand it is important for girls to at least have a basic knowledge of what facilitates the world. Pros and cons of the WTO is our last subject to cover. Girls will learn both sides facing the WTO and will then be given a current topic and iin teams have to pick a side and debate the issue. This method helps give an understanding that sometimes right and wrong can be a little more tricky and a gray area does exist. It has been a fun semester in Math concepts and I hope the girls leave with an overall idea on what life might be like out from under their parents roof. I know for a fact each girl will be able to balance a budget which may be the most important.

Travel Journalism

After three and half months of traveling and numerous events and memorable moments, the students have a difficult time narrowing down and filtering their experiences into one developed topic. In travel journalism narrowing down the subject matter is the most difficult task especially when the matter spans a 16 week time period. What moment was so profound that an author chooses to write about it? Sometimes it is difficult to say it might be the whole experience, but then how do you write about it in 750 words? For this last article we are using images to conjure up moments. Once you pick your topic and narrow it down the new challenge is then how do you write so the audience stays engaged? In the last half of the semester we have had in class writing workshops paired with photos. Some classes the girls used their own photos while in other classes we worked with National Geographic photos. These classes focused on descriptive writing styles and creating a powerful image and feeling for the audience. One specific class we used poetry and imagery to work on descriptive writing and cut out the use of “filler” words. Another class used point of view writing the goal to understand how to communicate a view point through a photograph and develop empathy, and an ability to understand others by putting yourself in their position. This class is fun to teach from the view of the subject in the photograph, photographer or the audience perspective. As the semester comes to a close I see more and more enthusiasm for photography and writing I hope this continues as they travel!

Global Studies
As we traveled through Namibia, girls learned the history of various groups including the Nama, Herero, and San Bushman. During our stay at AfriCats, several parents joined our group for a walk through the bush with our guide Peter, who taught us about the social customs, hunting methods, and traditions of the San bushman people. A visit to a traditional San bushman village gave the girls a first-and experience with the advantages and disadvantages of ethnotourism, which they had previously read about and discussed with a local artist in Swakapmond. In preparation for our visit to Etosha National Park, students read articles about current issues in conservation in Namibia. Our guides at AfriCats educated us further about issues such as deforestation and overgrazing. We spent one morning cutting thorny acacia bushes to counteract bush encroachment that threatens the habitat of the cheetah, and planted seeds to help with AfriCats' reforestation project. Concurrent with our entry into Botswana, girls studied the history of this country, including its relationship to Namibia and South Africa, where we have already traveled. Although we will not visit Zimbabwe, girls have been reading up on the history of this country as well in order to learn more about the home country of our driver and cook. As we approach the end of the semester, the girls have taken the lead in global studies discussions in order to plan how TTS22 will give back through their zenith project.  

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