Miss Hardman's Blog

Day Two
 
Hi all, it's day two here in South Africa. I have just got back to the hotel after a day at a game reserve. We have all been very lucky to go on a jeep safari for the afternoon. Many of the animals were shy and tried to hide when they heard the sound of the jeep. Some of the animals we saw were crocodiles, buffalos, zebras, giraffes, snakes, warthogs and many more. We were also lucky to see the peeping eyes of the hippo underneath the waters. Unfortunately we didn't see any elephants as the safari guide said they have been hidden for a few days as they don't like the fumes from the jeep. We saw a crocodile come out of the water and it came very close to the jeep. Ryan the safari guide said it had eaten 2 zebras earlier this week! We spent around three hours on the safari and we were very lucky with the warm weather.
 
We also had the opportunity to go into the reptile centre and we saw different snakes and smaller crocodiles. The crocodile keeper jumped into their pen and started to talk to us about looking after them. Can you believe that crocodiles are only fed once a month?!? Some of them snapped at him but they didn't catch him. After a fantastic day we got on the coach back to the hotel, the journey took about three hours, so we didn't get back to the hotel till around 10pm (we are 2 hours ahead of the UK). We had dinner then went to bed after such a wonderful day with the animals.
 
Today we travelled to Pretoria, which is about 30 minutes from the hotel. When we arrived we went to 'Freedom Park' and had a guided tour. The park was to show the struggle for freedom that South Africans have faced over the years and those people that have fought for the freedom of others. We joined hands in a circle and remembered those that have passed. Later that afternoon we went to the union buildings (similar to our Houses of Parliament) and saw the statue of Nelson Mandela. The weather has been bright and sunny all day, we enjoyed an ice cream whilst taking in the scenery! We have just arrived back at the hotel and I am ready for an early night ready for a day at Isekelo Primary School tomorrow.
Day Six
 
Hello everyone, today I watched a group of children using the tablets. There were enough tablets for one between two children. They were in a maths lesson and learning about 2d shapes. The teacher found 2d shapes on the tablet and showed the children so that they could look at the shapes she was describing ( triangle, square, rectangle, circle). I taught the children to describe the shapes using vertices and sides. I drew each shape on the board ( as there were no shapes for the children to hold) and we described them together. Then we looked for these shapes around the classroom and described each one to a friend. The children enjoyed going on a shape hunt around the classroom and finding the shapes for themselves.

After break, I went outside in the beautiful sunshine to watch a P.E. Lesson. The teacher warmed the children up by moving their hands, legs and heads. To start the lesson the children stood in a circle and the teacher picked two children at a time to go in to the middle of the circle and compete with each other to see who could bounce the ball on the bat five times without dropping it. The rest of the class watched and after 20 minutes the children went back inside to complete their Mathematics common test in their home language.

The final part of the day in school was to watch Veronica (Deputy Head) teach phonics in Zulu. I was very excited about this as Veronica had said she had implemented something in to her lessons that she had taken from the UK.
The lesson took place in the library and I was interested to visit the library as I hadn't done so the year before. When I got there I walked in to a calm and organised room where children can go and read a book of their choice. The library is locked when not in use unlike our library that can be used anytime. When the children arrived they split in to their two groups. Veronica took one group to teach the phonics and the other group worked with adult support completing a comprehension activity. Veronica's group had their own whiteboard and pen that had support on the back to help them form their lower case and capital letters. The children were given a spelling test and we're reminded of the sound they were focussing on. At the end Veronica asked children to sound out the words as she wrote them on the board and any children that had any corrections improved with Veronica's support.
At the end of the lesson Veronica spoke to me about the changes she had made after her visit to Chapelford. She said she liked the smaller phonic groups and the support the children had to help them in their lessons. I really enjoyed this conversation with Veronica as it showed the strong partnership we are continuing to  build to support each other on a path to better teaching, learning and long lasting friendships.

At lunch time a group of teachers from England and South Africa went on a trip to the lion park. I was very lucky to visit the park last year but I still had a wonderful experience visiting the animals. A few of us were very brave and went in to stroke some of the lions ( these lions were 6 months old). One particular lion was very mischievous and liked scaring us. When we were stroking her she quickly turned around and bit one of the teachers and when the teacher moved away she carried on chasing her. Luckily the park staff picked the lion up and moved her in to another pen. We only stayed in the pen for a short while as you can imagine we were quite scared.
Also at the park you can the opportunity to feed a giraffe. You have to stand on a tall platform so that you are face to face with the giraffe. We bought food to feed him and we were very lucky to spend a while there as he didn't want to leave us because of the yummy food we had.
We then went on a tour around the park in a caged jeep. We saw different lion prides and we even saw a pride of beautiful white lions who had just had cubs. They were so adorable!! You can imagine how shocked we were when we drove in to one of the prides and saw a man who worked at the park standing at the side of his car with the lions next to him. The tour guide said the lions are very comfortable around him as they have all been hand reared. They associate him and his car with food so are always excited to see him and get quite upset when the car drives off. He spent around ten minutes outside of his car throwing chunks of meat at them. I can't wait to show you the pictures. I couldn't watch the man feed the lions I was too scared they would jump up at him.

We returned to the hotel around 7pm and I started to prepare for a couple of lessons that I am going to be teaching at school tomorrow. I will tell you more about this tomorrow.
Day four
 
This morning I was picked up at 7am by the deputy head, Veronica. We drove for about 20 minutes to Tembisa, where Isekelo Primary School is. When I arrived I was overwhelmed by the beautiful greeting that the staff had put on for me. They sang a song about our school link mentioning our school names. Then I met the senior leadership team who went through my plan for the week and I was introduced to any new members of staff. Before the children started the school day they had a morning assembly outside where they were lined up in their classes. They listened to a reading from a pastor and a child gave a reading regarding my visit. They are wishing me a wonderful time and that the school is looking forward to continuing our partnership. I spent the day with Grade R (age 4-5).
 
Firstly, I supported a maths lesson and the children were learning to count, recognise and form the number 2. The children used bottle tops to count and we formed the number in the air, on their friends back and on paper. Next I observed a 'Life Skills' lesson and they were learning about seasonal changes focussing on Autumn (current season in SA). The children were taught about typical Autumn weather, changes in leaf colour and the type if clothes people might wear. The children were able to go outside and pick leaves. They brought the leaves back to class and compared their different colours. Some children then drew the leaves. After lunch I spent an hour with another Grade R class and went and played with them in their outdoor learning area. There was a climbing frame, slide, swings and a sea saw. The teacher observed the children in their play and noted down names of children that had achieved their objectives. The children thoroughly enjoyed this time and were really engaged in showing me how to use the equipment. I ended the school day watching a Grade R teacher tell a story using pictures if the characters within the story. The children were very engaged and joined in with repetitive parts of the story. The teacher used fantastic expression which made the children laugh.
 
Grade R children finish school at 13:15 so I was taken to the hotel at 14:00 where I met up with other teachers from the UK and we talked about our humbling experiences from today. Tomorrow I will be spending the day with Grade 1 children.
 
I hope you've all had a great day and I'll write again tomorrow x
Day seven

Good morning all! When I arrived in to school at 7:30 am today I went straight to work on an activity with grade 7 children. These children have been chosen to be prefects for the school as they set such a fantastic example to other children. When I walked in the children were all sat quietly ready to start the activity. I had planned to do an activity based around global friendships as my class had done a similar activity based around the story 'One World Together'. I read the story to the children and we discussed the pictures and what we liked to do like the children in the text. We shared the writing that the children in my class did and discussed how they had set their work out similar to the text. They were given sometime to talk to the person next to them and discuss what they would like to write about their friend. I walked around the classroom and supported the children and I was amazed at the pride and dedication that they have for their work. Their handwriting was neat and clear and they presented their work to a very high standard... Like we do in school too. I can't wait to show you their work!! I'm going to be making a display of this for you all to see.

After break I went to Grade 2 where the children performed a zulu dance and song for me. Some of the children wore traditional outfits and jewellery and the other children joined in with the singing. I thoroughly enjoyed this, as I really value learning about and experiencing their culture. The children are always ready to perform and are very confident to do this. They do this with pride, full of smiles and endless amounts of energy!!

After lunch I taught phonics to a group of 20 children in Grade 3. Currently the children had learnt the graphemes 'ch' and 'sh'. We revisited these and I gave the children a post it note with words that contained these graphemes. The children had to split themselves in to two groups according to the grapheme they had. I then gave out the phoneme boards and we learnt the phoneme 'ai'. I modelled sounding out a word that contained this phoneme and then wrote it on the board using sound buttons. The children then had a go at this and then we wrote a sentence containing two 'ai' words.

Today has been my last day in school and I have felt every emotional to say goodbye to the most welcoming members of staff and children. The children's energy and positivity is something that I will remember forever and also not forgetting their beautiful smiles!

Tomorrow we are travelling to Soweto for an evaluation meeting regarding the past week and the future plans we have to sustain our partnership. All UK staff and a staff member from each South African school will attend the meeting. Then we will say our final goodbyes before making our way to the airport. Hopefully I will get to contact you tomorrow and share with you my last day in South Africa.