Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Russian math class + more (part 2)

The students in this class volunteered extensively. They were eager to be called upon. After the teacher reviewed problems involving shadows, he started the new material on lenses. He illustrated, using the smart board, the effect on rays of light by convex and concave lenses. He then used the lenses at the front of the room, a lazer pen, and later a flashlight to illustrate the effect of the three 3 inch diameter lenses at the front of the room. He talked about the focal point of a lens and the focal length. Then the pupils were all handed a lens on a vertical stand, a vertical piece of metal on a stand, and a small candle. The students lit the candle using matches! They used the light coming from the candle, passing through the lens onto the piece of metal to find the focal point. Once they did that, they measured the distance to find the focal length. The girl sitting closest to me, however, was confused. She didn't seem to grasp the idea of focal point. I was impressed by how much was accomplished during this classs.

In the next hour, I met with a group of English language learners. I briefly described my school to them, gave them small gifts, and answered the questions. In the group of 30 students only about 8 asked questions - but they asked many of them. They asked about what I liked in Russia and the differences between Russian education and US education. They asked what type of music I liked. They asked about what I did in my free time. Two students had just seen the movie "Watchman" over the weekend and loved it. I was impressed since it had just been released in the US over the same weekend. One student asked me my opinion about Putin and I was careful not to say anything controversial. One student had been in the US in LA and loved it. I was impressed by how well the students spoke. They certainly felt comfortable asking me a variety of questions. Afterwards, I handed them my business card and many had their photograph taken with me - with their camera and with mine. One student had an Iphone.

By the time the class was finished it was 2 pm and I was famished. To my surprise lunch was prepared for me in the headmaster's office. The headmaster at this school is a woman - a former international gymnast who looked like an older version of Olga Korbut. I was given a lunch of soup, a hamburger pattie, a chicken pattie, and some mashed potatoes. I was the only one of four people eating this food! The other ladies had bread and sausages. They brought out a bottle of French wine (a big no-no in my home school) and proceeded to try to open it. This must have been a very special occasion as none of them knew that the seal had to be taken off the top first. I, not surprisingly, came to the rescue.

I gave the headmaster gifts: a book of photos of Washington, a Washington DC calendar, a DVD of the inauguration and a set of American educational motivational posters. In turn I was given a framed picture of the school.

Alex came back at the end of lunch and we then traveled by car to another school. This school was attended by Yaroslavl's most famous citizen - the first female cosmonaut. A classroom in the school has been turned into a museum in her honor. It was fascinating to see all of the memorabilia there. The (female) headmaster showed me a picture of the then young woman in a classroom. The headmaster's mother was the teacher in the classroom.

Eventually Olga came by in a taxi and we traveled back to the flat.

Tomorrow, I'll be visiting some other educational institutions in Yaroslavl. In the evening we are going to the ballet: Tsaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty. Olga kindly found an English synopsis of the plot for me to read.

Bye for now

No comments:

Post a Comment