Monday, 5 March 2012

What I'm up to and Fraction Games

Hi everyone! I have reached a 100 followers - yay! Quite how, I don't know as I must easily be one of the worst bloggers around! I thought I would let you know what I am up to at present to give you an idea of why my time is so limited. As you may know from reading my bio I am not teaching at present but rather working as a resource developer. In South Africa the curriculum has changed many times in the past few years and many of our children receive little or no education in the schools they attend. The latest curriculum is an attempt to empower teachers (many of whom have little or no qualification) to be able to teach more effectively by "spelling out" the curriculum in a week by week plan. With all these changes many teachers (in top schools) are left reeling with the administration and preparation that goes into curriculum changes that are now a normal part of teaching in South Africa. My part as a resource developer in this scenario is multi fold.

Almost three years ago I began my business 'Creative Classroom' supplying teachers, on a subscription basis, with relevant, curriculum-based, fully-integrated thematic study units. Most of the schools that purchased these subscriptions were top public or private schools. I created these themes for two years, but then as the curriculum was about to change again and the new curriculum was to be very theme specific for each grade, I decided to rather develop a website of resources available to teachers in South Africa. On the 'Creative Classroom' website I post lessons, activities, games and worksheets that are curriculum linked and specific to the needs of South African teachers and schools (some of these I have adapted for my TPT store). My website continues to supply teachers in the better funded schools in South Africa with resources, should they wish to sign up. (A couple of schools have also asked me to service their school with the resources, and some planning, that they require to assist with the change over to the new curriculum.)

Another aspect of the work I do is a game called 'Gimme 5'. A few years ago a parent of children I taught approached me to write questions for a board game he had created (he is not an educator) to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and Life Skills in schools. Two years ago, Hi 5 Branding (the company behind Gimme 5) successfully fulfilled a Department of Education tender to supply Grade R (Kindergarten) teachers in the  Eastern Cape with a game each for in their classrooms. Part of the tender, however, was to also supply a Teachers' Manual that would assist teachers with the necessary Life Skills lessons and teaching of the game. I was asked to create this manual and was also involved in training Department of Education officials and the trainers who would train the educators. I am proud to say that this game has now been in the schools for almost a year and the Department of Education has shown an interest in rolling out in Grades 1-3 later this year. THAT is one of the big projects I am working on at the moment (in fact, that I should be typing right now instead of this blog post!!) My co-author, Michelle Berrington, and I are very excited about the Manual we are writing at the moment. We have stripped Life Orientation/Life Skills right back to its essence and are building a very sound whole school teaching concept based on good morals, attitudes and values for use in any classroom. More about this project later...perhaps even a few sneak peeks at some of our thoughts...

Towards the end of last year I was approached by a friend of mine who works for a corporate in the areas of Enterprise Development and Socio-Economic Development (very important for corporates in South Africa as this is a way to ensure that their business is inline with Govt stipulations based on previously disadvantaged statuses). Her business had been involved with a Cultural Centre (Zama) in one of the locations (informal settlements) in the Port Elizabeth area. At present Zama runs an after school cultural programme for children from the community with funds from my friends company. The lady who runs the centre realized a dire need for Math and English tuition for the children who were attending the centre in the afternoons and approached my friend who has funds available for just such a programme. This is where I come in. At present I am writing lesson plans for Grade 1-3 children for English and Maths lessons to be taught from the Zama centre as part of their afternoon programme. The lessons I am producing have to incorporate everything from teaching to resources to worksheets and will be delivered by ladies from the community (mostly non-teachers who will be trained). The building Zama runs from has no electricity and other than the classroom that is being set up for these classes, no desks, chairs or other facilities. Some children that attend Zama only have one meal a day that they eat at Zama in the afternoon! I am really pleased to be involved in this project. After teaching some of the most affluent children in Port Elizabeth for 16 years it is so thrilling to now have my lessons and ideas reach out to some of the poorest. The hope is that later this year and during next year we will be able to continue writing lessons for grades 4-7.

With only a few hours in the morning when my daughter is at play school and a few more at night when she is snuggled up in bed, is there any wonder this poor blog is neglected!?? Now that I have shared so much about what is happening in my working life at present I will try to keep you updated in more manageable, "bite-sized" pieces from time to time.

With all this going on, I am still so excited to be a part of TeachersPayTeachers and the wonderful TPT community. I am trying to keep my store up-to-date and relevant by posting something or other as and when I can. My 'Roll, Slide and Cover' fractions game has proved very popular and I have recently added three similar games to my store. You can click on the images below to link directly to my them.

I have also added a decoding game, 'Super Sleuths Sentences', to help develop reading and comprehension skills. (All of these new games and centers will be on sale until the weekend.)

Well, if you have made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read this post. I appreciate all the support, laughs, ideas and cyber friendships this blogging community has to offer!

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