8 Different Countries
8 Different States
Countless postcards in the mail and yet to come
Ranging from Alaska to Florida and Cambodia to Barbados, the postcards span the globe and broaden my students’ minds.
The last class of each week is the designated ‘Postcard Class’. As I enter the class students are eager to get a glimpse of any new postcards. Without fail, we go through the same conversation every time.
“Teacher Thomas! Teacher Thomas! Do we have a postcard this week?”
“Well let me see.” (as I search through my bag)
“Well class… Looks like we do.” (as I whip the postcard out of the bag for all to see and hold it high)
The cheers roar as the curiosity continues. After a few instructions, they divide up in their groups ready to receive their card. A representative from each group is nominated to come choose a postcard from the table of postcards in the front; the pressure is on to choose a great one.
Each person gleefully brings the postcard back, and all sit around gawking at the picture.
“Okay class, let me know if you have any questions about the words.”
A sea of bobbling of heads is seen just before the focus is immediately returned to the postcard. I begin to make my rounds checking on the class – making sure they understand everything and answering any questions they may have. To a passerby, it may look like a class of dysfunction and mutiny with students talking and phones out. However, the conversation is absorbed in the note and phones relieve the waiting period to translate the unrecognized words; any translation brings a new aspect to the card and a since of discovery that is untapped in their daily lives.
As the discovery continues, they are required to write unrecognized words on the board. The class jots the new vocabulary in their notebook here and there before the presentations.
After all the groups have finished cyphering through their letters, each group nominates a spokesperson. The spokesperson, always proud to be chosen and represent the card, struts to the front of the room and reads the card to the class. We go around till all cards have been represented. Then comes the big reveal: location on the map.
One thing you must first understand is the lack of geographical understanding amongst the students in Mozambique. Often I have been asked how many hours it would take to drive to the United States. Just showing them a map for the first time led to an entire class being taken up by questions.
We gather around the map that I post in the front of the classroom*. Every time we review where Mozambique is on the map for reference; fortunately, most of them understand where it is now. Then, we begin to place the postcards on the map in the order in which the groups read. After every postcard there is a mummer of “wow”. The students remain in awe when I go into a little more detail about every place and what is required to get there.
As we finish up, there are always students that stay behind to gaze at the postcards and ask more about each place. Their curious minds cannot be satisfied with my limited knowledge of the areas; nonetheless they are still practicing their English. However, it doesn’t stop in the classroom.
People flood my yard and veranda on a daily basis looking to practice English. These postcards offer an outlet for some of these community members. It unlocks a new world every time they glance upon a new one.
Some of the superlatives of the cards so far (as elected by the students):
Some of the superlatives of the cards so far (as elected by me):
Closing Note: If you are interested in finding out more information on the Postcard Project or how you can contribute, go to the Postcard Project tab on the top menu or click here. Thank you for helping out and look forward to hearing for you if we haven’t already.
*Update on the map: The map in front of the classroom is temporary for now. I have spoken with the director of the school about the project, and he is thrilled. Right now we are still working through the Mozambican education hierarchy for permission and funding to paint a mural of the globe on one of the sides of the classroom. Once the mural is painted, we will all go outside to see where the countries are on a larger scale.