We at Teach and Learn with Georgia have many talented volunteers who are doing great things with their schools and in their communities. Recently, we asked them to send in descriptions of their projects, and were flooded with responses. (Awesome!)
Here are some volunteers’ projects, in their own words:
Vicky Banas, Chognari, Imereti: I organized a Halloween party/disco, with the help of one of my co-teachers and our sixth grade class, for the entire school. It was very successful and approximately 60 children attended as well as many parents. I found out after the even that it was the first party that the school has ever had. … My costume was a giant khinkali!Erin Berman, Tskaltubo, Imereti: I wanted to share the library project I worked on. I think many other volunteers can accomplish the same or even better at their own school, helping give their students access to new reading materials.
Arthur Collins, Sakuneti, Samtskhe-Javakheti: I have started an international exchange series with some students from India. Each group is using English to explain and share parts of their cultures with each other.
Melissa Fairey, Patara Jikhaishi, Imereti: I started an extra-curricular activity that I call the Patara Jikhaishi Film Club. Together my co-teacher, students and I came up with a plot, characters and story line that the children act out and star in. The script is in English and the students memorized their lines. … The students were given a choice about their characters, plot and costumes. I filmed them on my camera and made it into a movie for them. It has been very successful and it incorporates not only the students I teach from grades 1-6, but also the older grades that I don’t get to see on a day-to-day basis. It has allowed me to get to know the other students of the school.
[Ed. note: The film’s not quite finished, but when it is, we’ll be happy to post a link!]Jonathan Hackett, Geguti, Imereti: I have a huge collection of my personal videos from around Georgia posted on YouTube. [Ed. note: You can watch Jonathan’s videos here.] Some of them are from school field trips, school presentations, and personal trips around the country, either with my host family or on my own. … I’ve created and run a German speaking group and an English speaking group. Our kids have also taken part in some national German competitions around the country, and the “German Olympics”.
Anna Kinney, Telavi, Kakheti: My schedule at school has allowed me to attend some of my co-teachers’ lessons with the older students [, and] I have had a couple of “discussion sessions” with [them] … I also have an English club with my sixth grade students. It has been going really well. I try to bring a variety of activities for the club to do, but one of our favorites is a game that involves letter tiles that I made (a lot like Scrabble tiles with each letter having a point value). … Another thing they like to do is listen to English music, so I have made worksheets with missing lyrics that they fill in while they are listening. Sometimes I just have them listen and write down any words they hear (we do this in class as well). I have also shown movies in English, and “sing-along” videos.Liis Livin, Kareli, Shida-Kartli: By November I had worked in Kareli’s #1 Public School for 7 weeks and gotten to know my students, co-teachers and (technical) appliances available for interactive teaching. I recognized that my students love listening activities and learn a lot by listening. As my school had no CD players or any other devices that could be used to execute listening exercises, I knew I had to do something to improve the situation. My lap-top was simply not enough. The listening activities needed to be available for ALL the students learning English at my school.
So, one cold October night I came up with the idea HOW to provide my school with cd-players. I knew that my fellow Estonians would help me out. I wrote a small “project” or a plea asking for donations in order to buy 3 cd-players for my school. I sent the flyer out to various private Estonian citizens, mostly friends, colleagues and people I knew from my previous volunteer work. … By 15th of November I had the money I needed and bought the players for my school. The cd-players were given to the school to keep as school property (I labelled them with the school’s name and number). The school principal was extremely happy and grateful to receive the CD players. She offered to write a thank you note to the donors and was very amazed by Estonians’ big hearts. Also my co-teacher could not thank me enough. They expressed their great gratitude and sheer joy. Although the primary users of the players are English teachers, other teachers are welcome to use them as well. … The “project” was a complete success. Now my students can actively participate in listening activities and enhance their knowledge in English. Just today, when my first grade students proudly pointed at A-s and B-s, repeating “apple” and “bag”, I could not have been happier. Their perfect “hellos!” and “goodbyes!” (there is a funny song about it on the CD) are my greatest reward! Me and my co-teachers are using the CD players daily. Now I know that even when I am not around, the students at my school will still have an opportunity to do listening activities at class. This gives me great peace.
[Ed. note: Liis has also started a pen pal group with Estonian and Georgian students, is working to find donated laptops for her school, and plans to have her students become familiar with caring for stray animals through learning days and volunteer work at a Tbilisi animal shelter.]
Siyanda Maphisa, Savane, Imereti: [We had] a fun competition week and students received certificates for their participation. I designed the certificates.
Familia Maximo, Tabakhmela, Tbilisi: My club is just a month old and we haven’t had [many] accomplishments yet. My club aims to learn English in a more fun and interesting way. I started my club with about 30 members, but [it has] increased to 40. They are all from grades 1-6. … I also have other plans. Since I have been visiting another school [as well], I am planning to engage some pupils from both schools.Vivian Norenberg, Tbilisi: I am currently holding an English Club two days a week after school. It started out as a “Gazette Club” in which students were making personal newspaper-like posters about themselves and their country. We are still working on our posters but are also playing many listening/speaking games during our club time. I have three high school students who come to the club and help out as well. It has been a great opportunity to interact with the older students and a great setting for them to use their English in. I am teaching in a big school with very large classes. My English club has been a wonderful opportunity to work with a smaller group of students more closely.
Beth Ottaviani, Batumi, Adjara: I accompanied two of my students and my co-teacher, Natia, to the Regional English Spelling Competition. I also assisted the organizers in administering the competition … both of my students did exceptionally well. Indira, an 8th grader, finished in the top six in her grade level. Giga, a 9th grader, received 1st place in the Adjara Regional Competition. He will travel to Tbilisi representing the Adjara region in the National English Spelling Competition in March.Jordan Robinson: In my village we have a hip-hop class every Thursday after school. The students can bring music they want to play and we are working on a dance to perform at our end-of-year English concert. They seem to really enjoy this and it gives them great practice listening to me speak English. Additionally, each class (1st-9th) is learning one song to perform for our English concert. … We [also] have a basketball club every Friday. It is open to students in grades 5-9. Each Friday we get approximately 15 students attending. We work on skills for the first half an hour and play games for the second half. The students are very dedicated to working on the skills and have improved considerably. I have had two other TLG volunteers coming to my school to help out because it can be quite hectic!
David Ruttinger, Atskuri, Samtskhe-Javakheti: I am teaching ballroom dance to the high schoolers at my school … they are having a lot of fun learning waltz and jive. They are also learning new English vocabulary, which is great. I am also learning Georgian dance with some of the students.
Sam Wilson, Khelvachauri (Acharistskali school), Adjara: When I arrived, my school had no extra-curricular activities, so I decided to start an English club after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. At first, I allowed anyone interested to come, but the group grew to 35 students … which was too big. Since then I have decided to allow only students in grades 6-12 to attend on Thursdays. I also required each student to write a short note in English explaining why they wanted to join the English club. On Tuesdays I still allow any students to attend and I lead activities and games that are suitable for all ages. Thursday is a more serious class which includes weekly homework assignments. My students have also put on several music and dance performances for me, which has been a ton of fun!