We learned that the school for the deaf was officially named the “Ann Coyne School for the Deaf” in honor of Dr. Ann Coyne and her work with Rotary International for establishing the school in 2007. The Nicaraguan government was quite confused because Ann is not a Sandanista, a revolutionary and she is not even a native Nicaraguan. I believe she has done more to make a positive difference in Nicaragua in the last 8 years than most people can hope to achieve in a lifetime! She has spent many summers in Nicaragua with UNO students, fostering adoptions or teaching classes and this summer she celebrated her 79th birthday while in León.
Over the past seven years I have taught the students as well as mentored the teachers. Each and every time I mention the need for vocabulary and books. Without knowing Spanish it has been difficult to truly model teaching strategies specifically geared toward the language, but I have given numerous ideas and activities. It is not easy for the teachers to take an idea and apply it to different situations. This has been frustrating for me but I imagine even more frustrating for them.
This trip, I happened to spend time with three boys who most likely have additional learning disabilities. I ended up (on a whim) taking a children’s book and having them describe the pictures to me. They were so engaged that the teacher was practically stupefied! Then, they looked through the books for certain words and I reiterated the signs. I reviewed the words a few more times that day and left the six vocabulary words on the wall. The next day, Franklin was so proud of himself for knowing the signs for those words that I couldn’t help but share his joy. This is the same boy who has very little family support and most likely an additional disability other than deafness.
When discussing “Good Night Moon,” one boy used higher order thinking skills by noticing the mom was not in the rocking chair anymore on that page and that she probably went to sleep in another bed. I asked him about the child and Eddy showed me the eyes closing but then one eye opening a little bit to look around before falling asleep.
Maia and Lydia have modeled math lessons and fun review activities. We also bought world maps that were in Spanish and introduced continents. For the most part, they study only Nicaragua so having a map on the wall will hopefully lead to more questions. As a former social studies teacher, they should be thankful we could only find one map-- otherwise, I'd have all kinds of maps and materials in their rooms. The students respond to Maia and Lydia in such an enthusiastic manner and it was good for the teachers to see the students learning while also enjoying each other.
On Thursday, I met with the teachers after school and used this example to solidify the importance of having books. I think it finally clicked with them! After I posted on Facebook about the need for books in Spanish, I have several people looking at creating projects and I was led to a website with leveled readers in Spanish. I told the teachers to spend the next two weeks with the free trial and let me know how it works. If they are dedicated to it, I will seek a discount from the company or a donor for the $100 subscription for the year.
Olajide has had her own experience on her first trip to Nicaragua and will be writing a blog entry. She has had the unique opportunity to interview roughly 20 different parents and we will be compiling the results of the needs assessment. She was also able to get a letter of affiliation from the school to submit with her Fulbright Application! * fingers crossed*
-- Julie Delkamiller
|Lidia, Maritza, Julie, Nubia, Olajide, Gladys|