Thursday, March 14, 2013

4th Teaching Day--Getting to Minnesota by Rocket Ship

We have completed our fourth teaching day at School #2. By now I'm into the routine of 5th graders in the morning and 4th graders in the afternoon. Students in kindergarten through 4th grade go to school in the morning and students in 5-8 grades go to school in the afternoon, hence they do this extra English instruction at a time they are not scheduled to be in a classroom.

My room is the computer room. I told another volunteer it says computer room right on the door. I forgot a different word is used for computer.
Here's the computer stations.

I use a table and chairs and a blackboard on the opposite end of this room for my class. 

Today we did Smelly Stickers. These are scratch and smell stickers. I have the students write the word for the small in both English and Romanian. 

 Two are very easy! The Romanian word for banana is banana, and the Romanian word for pizza is pizza! 

I like to have students sometimes use words in both languages so that I know they truly have a concept attached to the word, and are not learning English words by rote. 

This afternoon I used a set of vocabulary cards that illustrated this point. The students could look at dresser, sofa, mop, and broom and say them correctly, but they couldn't tell me what to do with those objects. Thankfully a picture was on the reverse, and they would say, "Oh, it's a ...." and fill in the appropriate Romanian word. 

My morning group joined another group to participate in an "experiment." One of my fellow volunteers is a retired 3M scientist and now a volunteer at the Science Museum of Minnesota.  He introduced this lesson by saying, "I got a phone call this morning. I have to get home to Minnesota very quickly. My cat ate all the food and is going hungry. I can't take an airplane, that's not fast enough. I can't take a train or walk across the ocean. I need a rocket ship." 

So one student was given the end of a fishing line and told to walk to the other corner of the room which is now Minnesota. 

The start of the journey is Barlad, the other end of the fishing line attached to a table leg. 
 Well, the rocket ship zipped to Minnesota on almost the first try. So the volunteer "punted" quickly with asking how to make the trip a bit slower because the speed of the first rocket would give him a headache. 

So here are the students trying to figure that out. The boy on the left had the idea but not the vocabulary and did quite a conversation with his hands to show slowing the release of air would slow the "rocket ship."

So a  "valve" was put into the balloon. The first two times these rockets flew they surely crashed in the Atlantic Ocean. Then it was discovered the valve was being compressed while it was being inserted.  Great care was taken to put the valve into the rocket ship carefully. 

And here's what happened. 

Now if you haven't figured it out, the rocket ship was a balloon and the fishing line maintained the flight path. It was inserted through a piece of a straw attached to the top of the balloon with masking tape. The "valve" was also a piece of a straw, held in place for a bit by a twist tie. A great amount of learning with some very simple objects and also things easy to pack into a suitcase -- but word of warning -- bring the straws to Romania, they are very hard to find. These were donated by a pastry shop we visited on Tuesday evening, they can't be purchased in a grocery store.

I'm having a great time in Romania. If you want to try something like this please go to and explore what may be the right thing for you.

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