As the week draws to a close, the first week of my Zoom internship with Outreach360 is in the books. The last three days of teaching were fun, rewarding, and provided me with insight on how to best teach over the next three weeks!
After orientation was done on Tuesday, we began virtually traveling from Nicaragua to the Dominican Republic for professional development talks. These talks complement our teaching styles, define our expectations as teachers, and help each intern to manage the demands of our volunteer work. I find that this time gives me additional skills and allows me to approach how I talk about volunteering with ease. The leadership team at Outreach360 has made this a very enjoyable experience so far, and I want to take a bit of time to outline their mission, vision, and goals.
We inspire and empower people to reach their full potential and give back by expanding educational, leadership, and service opportunities.Mission Statement – Outreach360
We envision a world where every person reaches their full potential by creating opportunities for themselves and others.Vision Statement – Outreach360
Founded in 1994, Orphanage Outreach was instituted into Monte Cristi as an orphanage that would provide tools and resources eventually leading to new opportunities down the road. Sixteen years later in 2010, a name change to Outreach360 occured because the orphanage began to change into an organization that provided english learning tools to the greater community. Shortly after this, Jinotega, Nicaragua was made the second home for Outreach360 and became a new area for educational opportunity. The foundation of the principles and mission statement have allowed the organization to persist over 25 years – quite a feat for a non-profit educational foundation! I know that something is going well to see fellow interns back as well as teachers that were once in the learning center as students. Three individuals during my time in the Dominican Republic were serving as Adelante or Serve/Study Students, where those who went through the Outreach360 english education program would come back to teach the next generation. This type of involvement and inspiration allows the organization to keep going year after year!
This week has been full of fun experiences as we began talking about science, scientists, and everything that is studied in the universe! Wednesday was my first day of teaching and we started talking about all the different types of scientists in the world. It is important to draw out the potential of each student by allowing them to dream of any career opportunity and to share what types of professions there are. I was AMAZED by the responses I got from students and their general interest in science. My classes talked about astronomy, marine biology, geology, chemistry, and more. While the classes are held over zoom, I found that participation was key to holding the attention of students. Everyone was very attentive and ready to do some activities that I shared through Google Slides!
This first activity I used many pictures and wanted to spark a conversation. This was to gauge how much the students knew about each topic and what they were excited to learn about. Some knew about biology or just that some scientists study flowers, and others went on about how ‘astronomers are scientists that study the universe and everything in it from stars, to the moon, to planets’. These kids are very bright and have so much enthusiasm to learn about all disciplines of science.
This next activity was used through Google Slides to have students arrange pictures in accordance to size. This activity involved student participation and I also asked the student to describe where each ‘thing’ is found, who studies it, and why it is important to study. The intermediate english students seemed to understand this and it pushed them, while the advanced students were able to form more complex sentences with ease. Activities using visuals are very useful for learning with the students and making them practice talking in English.
The last thing I want to highlight from this week was that each student was enthusiastic about learning and almost competitive. The image below shows the student responses from one of my classes today as we began talking about the smallest building blocks of matter, the atom. Student responses were very creative, but the second answer appeared competitive with the first, and it brought a laugh during the teaching debrief after our classes ended. Formative assessment of each student can be performed when taking answers from the zoom ‘chat’ feature, and screen-sharing the answers with the class (correcting the grammar along the way).