Written about Monday, April 12, 2010
Last year I asked Kim if I could teach a lesson at the orphanage that she volunteers at and was once a home for her. This has been in the planning stages for a long time. The lesson became a reality on Monday at Go Vap Orphanage. I had help from a translator, Diana, who was from Australia and recently moved to Vietnam and very fluent in Vietnamese. She wants to become a teacher and has the talent to do so. The class was a special education class with students from middle to high school age with the learning level of five years old. There were students with mental challenges, physical disabilities, and brain damage.
I taught a GLAD lesson about different kinds of homes such as a suburban home, farmhouse in the country, and apartment buildings in the city. This tool is called a pictorial. I started with tracing the home that would be found in the suburban neighborhood. Then I drew a farmhouse in the country and an apartment building in New York City. With each house we stopped to label the vocabulary words I was teaching such as window, door, house, barn, building, etc, which we acted out the objects (window – made a square in the air and then looked through). At first, when I asked for volunteers, they did not do anything. I called on a young man who had brain damage from a car accident, and he was the class helper, to come up first to place a label on the pictorial. Everyone clapped when he placed the word “house” onto the large white paper. Then the hands started to rise in the air to participate. I had a student who we had to help walk to place a label on the pictorial. Two students had to crawl on the hard tile floor to place the words “door” and “window” on the pictorial because they were unable to walk. At the end of the lesson, I asked the students to draw a picture of a house. As I was passing out the white plane paper, I heard many times over students saying, “Window, window, window.” I knew that they understood the lesson at that moment. Their pictures of their houses were very well done. They were trying their best to copy the pictorial. Diana and I helped the students draw their homes. At the end of my time in the classroom, I gave the class a set of bookmarks that my students made for them and then Hershey Kisses candies. I do not hand out candy to my regular class back in the states.
It was the first time that I taught in a special needs classroom. It was amazing how they wanted to learn within an interactive environment. The students only watch TV during the day and the teacher calls that learning.
It was an honor to teach the Go Vap children. Mrs. Loan, the director of the orphanage, asked me to teach on Friday for a different class. I will be teaching the same lesson to seven year olds, which I am familiar with that age group.