Report from Haiti 8/22
We moved from the UNOGA guest house on Friday to a B&B called Place Charmant which is located a distance up the mountain. It is a very nice place with a great view of Jeremie and Carribbean and high enough to have lower temperatures and humidity than downtown Jeremie. It also had air-conditioning when the state power was on. It was nice to have some time when we were not sweating. Unfortunately, the wi-fi didn’t work well and I gave up trying to use the internet. We are now back at the guest house.
On Friday I continued with the journals and senses. As I expected, the students have less to add than they did on the first couple of days. I will continue to ask what they have each morning, but reduce the number of comments I take.
We looked at Tricky Q 8, on the way to the market. The students like the challenge the present and want me to keep using them. They are also becoming a bit more savvy about the things that make the questions tricky and more of them are getting the answers more quickly.
The Estimating exercise is too long – I stopped after estimating the size of field needed for planting 100 breadfruit trees. They had to find the surfaces areas of a printed square, triangle and circle, by covering the surface with 1 cm cubes and counting the number of cubes. The earlier parts of the exercise were not so much of a challenge, but they were intrigued that they could get the values of the areas of triangles and circles that were close to the calculated areas and were aware that the blocks that projected beyond the edge of the shape compensated for areas that weren’t covered.
The concept of estimating the size of a rectangular needed to plant 100 Breadfruit trees was rather difficult. Some had good suggestions but the needed some coaching to see that one needed estimates of the size of a grown tree and open space needed between trees in order to estimate the size of the field. We had some problems, I think, with getting them to that I was asking for the dimensions of the rectangle. After that was cleared up they quickly understood that field could have different dimensions (different numbers of trees in each rows and numbers of rows as long as the area was enough to meet the requirement of 100 trees.
By the time we finished with Estimating, the students were fading after five days of more intense thinking than they have ever done. The keep telling me to keep the challenges coming.
Report from Haiti 8/23
St Luis Cathedral in downtown Jeremie means that St Luis is the patron of the city. His feast day is the subject of a large celebration with Masses and partying. This year had the extra benefit of a visit from Haiti’s first Catholic cardinal, who was recently installed. Saturday evening we went with Renate to a concert at the cathedral featuring the groups singing at the Cardinal’s Mass on Sunday. The actual feast day is on Aug 25 (Mon) and feature another big Mass and celebrating all day, so Renate decided that we would run day 6 of the seminar on Sat and let the students party on Monday. We are happy tohave the chance to experience a piece of the Hatian culture in Jeremie that most outsiders will never experience. Some of the students tell me they will be tired on Tuesday.
With the late schedule change a few students had other commitments, but most were there. After the long week, they were a little hard to get start on an exercise, but when they got started they stayed with it and continued to work hard.
I kept the journal and senses feedback short, took a little time to set up their journal and senses exercises for the weekend. I asked them to reflect on ways that the things they learned this week affect their experience of the weekend. On Tue we will see how that works.
The What Happens Next? exercise was a letter sequence in which they had to find the next letter in the sequence. Some students got it quickly and most of them got it in a short time. They are getting better at this.
The Seeds exercise from the Montreal group was challenging. It took them a while to work on getting all the possibilities. One group finished more quickly than the others, with a correct number (20) of possibilities and one member expressed great confidence that they had it right. I haven’t had a chance to look at it, but I’m guessing that he quickly found a pattern that worked. They appeared to be working very systematically under his guidance. One group had only one member present and she opted to work on the problem alone. It was interesting to watch her going slowly and systematically through the arrangements. She came up with 19. The other two groups had a good strategy of trying to create all the patterns using the cm cubes, but it seemed to take them a whiled before they tried to verify their results in a systematic way. If I remember right, they got 16 and 17 possibilities. We had a couple of glitches with language and getting them to understand the constraint, but they got results very quickly when they understood.
I would do this one again, for the challenge of finding verifying that they have all possible patterns.
After Seeds, I decided that they had worked hard all week and that they deserved a little fun, so we played some music, and let them play games for a while.
The music continues to be good. Many students comment that it relaxes them and makes them happy and prepares them for the challenges. I can’t wait to show you the video of sixteen adults dancing, smiling and shouting as they listened to “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands….”
Some groups like Jenga and get very competitive and they are learning ways to keep the stack standing when nobody thinks it is possible. I have watched games continue for several plays after reaching that point. Some qroups like Qwirkle. Some students pick it up quicly and others have a hard time. The better students are becoming competitive and have learned to applies strategies to make it harder for other players to get points.
Tomorrow we’re off the the Mass and party for St. Luis.
That’s all for now. More on Tuesday.