Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Grand Master Fass and the Funky Four

I had a really fun day today at San Pedro High School. I had no idea what I would be teaching because I was unable to get up with the department head, Miss Usher, on both Friday and Monday to find out what my schedule would be for this week. When I saw her today, she told me she had been out on both days because she had to have an abscess removed and the doctor told her to take three days off; she decided she only needed to take two days off, so she came back today to teach. When I met her, she told me that I would be working with her today.

She started talking about the plans for the day and she asked me to perform a rap about ants for her class. Where ants fit in with the curriculum I'm not quite sure, but I was in no position to question her. I had started working on the rap last night because she had mentioned last week that she might want me to do this rap in class. It just so happened that she wanted me to spit hot rhymes about ants in class today. 

Along with this lesson on ants, I was responsible for teaching a lesson on ways to speak on the phone. I had to provide certain phrases that one might use (and not use) when speaking to others on the phone. We then explored the way a conversation might go when speaking to someone else on the phone (e.g. you greet the person, identify who is speaking, the reason you are calling, if you need to leave a message, and say goodbye). I don't know why I needed to teach this, as many students know and love to speak on the phone. However, as I mentioned before, teaching form one English is really like teaching them another language. I have to teach the basics of how proper grammar is used in everyday situations.

This sheds some light on the reasons for my ant-rapping lesson. Students have been compiling materials to create an formicarium, otherwise known as an ant observatory. The purpose of this lesson is to teach students how to follow directions in English, as they must first make the formicarium by putting wood together, glass on top of the wood, and then they must fill it with sand and soil, and then they must find the ants. All of this teaches them how to follow step-by-step directions as well as how to work together. This falls perfect into my inquiry project, which I've decided to study cooperative learning across cultures. 

Cooperation is an important part of Belizean school culture. Aspects of the school are in the hands of the students. For instance, students are given roles every week. Some students must take roll for every class, while others must clean the classroom after school. That's right, you read that correctly, students must clean the school. We don't have custodians, so the students are responsible for their own mess. When a student gets a detention, instead of sitting in the cool air conditioning for an extra 45 minutes after school, students must rake the compound and make sure that the school looks clean. It is amazing to see how clean the school can look when students take some responsibility (whether they choose to or not) for the cleanliness of the school. This doesn't work as well with my project on cooperative learning, but it does make an interesting statement on how students learn to be cooperative in school, something that often seems absent in American schools.

Anyway, back to my teaching. After teaching students to speak on the phone, I had a chance to share my rap. Students seemed to get into it. I made them keep the beat, while I performed the rap from the book. After I performed, I split the class in two and made them "rap battle" to see who would do a better job. Some students and classes were shyer than others, but overall I was very pleased with how well the students handled this lesson. All-in-all, I probably looked a little foolish, but the students seemed to appreciate the fact that I was willing to check my pride at the door for their sake. I had a really good day of teaching today. Below I have included a video of myself rapping for my last period class. The sound isn't great, but it is cool to see how the students interacted with me. Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch check it out...


  1. Hey, Will, I'm totally loving your blog! Glad you're having such a good time.
    Love, Kim : )

  2. hey mr fass wats up. nrs price read ur blogs to us and some stuff had us cracking up lol i wonder how come u didnt do those crazy things here at laney lol im glad ur havin fun.

    haha, i love your video's and your picture's, they are too funny. you need to to come back to see us sometimee. uhm i don't really know what else to say, but this is from kayla and michaela(:

    Hey Mr. Fass! You are too awseome! But how come you never acted like that here? It would have been fun to see you rap in front of us! i love your pictures and videos, i hope you're haveing fun, hurry back!!
    ~Brenda :)

    hey mr. Fass i hope your having a good time
    -mike christian (Wats good)

    Hey Mr. Fass, it seems like teaching in Belize is a lot funner than teaching here. Come back and visit your original students soon. -Zach

    Whats up Mr. Fassbender(Will),
    I hear that your having a great time in Belize! We hope you will be back here for the summer cause we need someone be the drumline instructor. Oh and your blogs are awesome and everything sounds interesting! I will catch you later and have a good rest of the time there----James (Ain't)

    Hey Fass. Let me tell you... you better be back soon! We need a drumline instructor! You can't leave me with all these freshmen to teach haha. It's going to be a crazy time, I'm going out for drum major and I hope Lauren Gaillard doesn't beat me because she's incredibly mean to us. Haha, hopefully I can beat her!

    Could you tell Mrs. Price you got my Individuality essay? I like cheese.
    Griffin III

    How you liken those Belizean girls?

    Mr fass!! soapbox buddy!
    hahaha. watss up ? it feels like i havent seen you in years. i bet the weather is perfect there. i hate the humidity and bugs we have here. school is going at a slow pace, everybody is so impatient for spring break to arrive. And i cant wait for it to get here, so that we can go to the beach and just chill. its time we got a break. i hope all is well with you. hopefully i can write more later.

    until then,

  3. Will,
    I thought it might be fun to "hear" what some of the students are saying when I share your blog with them. I have experimented with fourth period. After exams tomorrow, I will try this with second period as well.
    You sound happy! Later, PP

  4. It's totally appropriate that you are (as Margo calls you) the "celebrity" on the island. Haha. You're video is great! I am so happy everything is going well and you guys are having a great time :)