Juan Wesley Students
Virtual learning overall has been very challenging for both the teachers and students, but they are all working very hard and adapting valiantly to a lot of changes in a very short period of time. The school’s principal, Olga, would like to encourage everyone to check out the school Facebook page as we are the primary reason why she is posting pictures there and there are some really cute ones! Their page name is “C.E Metodista Juan Wesley”.
The first case of COVID19 in Honduras was found on March 11, and on March 12 the government mandated that all K-12 governmental and non-governmental (private schools like Juan Wesley) teaching institutions close for 2 weeks. They also required that a training be held on the prevention of the virus (social distancing, hand washing, wearing masks) for the teachers, students and parents. So the very next day, Olga, the school principal, held a big prevention training in the sanctuary followed by families receiving a handout from the Honduran Education Secretary with strategies to work at home with their kids. Then they all followed their teachers to their classrooms where they verified everyone’s cell phone number, name, email, etc., so that they could determine the best way to communicate with them. They discovered that every family in the school has at least a cell phone, so they chose to use the WhatsApp application and formed group pages for each class. WhatsApp is the most used social networking app in all of Latin American that allows them to send audio, video, text messages, and make phone calls using the internet instead of the more expensive cell minutes that have to be purchased otherwise.
In the photo below, you can see the training was standing room only! On this day (March 13th) there were only 2 cases of COVID19 in Honduras.
The first week of virtual classes began on Monday, March 16 using the virtual tools (videos, learning goals, YouTube links, photos, etc.) sent by department of education. The teachers implement these tools as they see best fit into our school’s curriculum. Through the classroom WhatsApp group, the teachers send out audio, video, YouTube links and photos to teach the material. Then the students do the work and send in their assignments to the teacher by means of a picture or video on WhatsApp. In addition to the picture of the finished assignment, the teachers request a picture of the students working on that assignment.
The second week of virtual learning, the Ministry of Education continued to send online tools to teach with, and that completed the last week of the first quarter. Through daily meetings between Olga and the teachers they discovered the students were being inundated with material from all their subjects (up to 10 in total) the same day and creating great stress on the students and parents, not to mention the teachers who have to prepare it all and make lesson plans incorporating the governmental tools. As a result, they developed a schedule to help level out the work. i.e., Math and Social Studies on Monday, Science and Spanish class on Tuesday, History and Philosophy on Wednesday, Civics and Sociology, Chemistry, etc.
Students may contact the teachers directly with questions as well so the teachers are pretty much fielding calls and questions all day and into the evening. Many of our teachers also teach at the public school in the afternoons, whose curriculum is done a little differently (see the “In Ciudad Espana” section), so they are doing double duty keeping up with those students as well.
As directed by the Minister of Education, Olga must submit a sample of the work from Juan Wesley to the District Director every day, so she receives numerous examples of lessons and assignments from all the teachers. This also helps her to monitor the teachers and how they are utilizing the tools for their lessons so they she can help explore other strategies with them if needed.
Here are a couple YouTube video examples that were sent out. You can just watch a minute of them to get a feel for what they are doing as well as imagine the challenges that arise when one household has just one cell phone and multiple students all vying for the phone time to get, watch, reference and hand in assignments for all their classes
Beginning reader https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONTN2fh8Lik
Higher level math concept https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGWCw6UUHTM
In this video, one of the counselors, Dina, who has been with the school for several years, also does a Professional Ethics class. In this video she introduces the qualities a person should have that shows labor competency. Click here (https://youtu.be/RWM8-eaPRDo) to see this video with subtitles in English. If the subtitles don’t automatically appear, be sure and click the Closed Caption (CC) icon on the lower right of the video window.
Since the English teacher teaches all grades, he is charged with 13 levels of lesson plans! Jason, the English teacher from the past few years is back and we couldn’t be happier! He sends a lot of video recordings to the students so they can hear how to pronounce new words. The students then turn in their assignment via audio and video clips to the teacher. Here is a very cute video of a student’s English assignment he turned in. Notice the everyday challenges evident in this video with noise and distraction from the streets in front of their houses which are always open for air circulation in their climate. Click here https://youtu.be/0slUvq9SgVs to see the video which is mostly in English but has subtitles just in case you need them😉.
The computer science teacher created a tool on the Moodle platform (Moodle is also commonly used by teachers here in the US) to work with his students. However, this turned out to be rather difficult because the students are using computers with old processors and little memory.
At this time, the quarantine has been extended indefinitely and they are all looking forward to getting back into the classrooms. The school is committed to following the mandates set forth by the Honduran government and doing their part in working hard to make virtual learning as successful as possible in the hopes that the government will not cancel the rest of the school year (their school year ends in November) and lose the 2020 school year all together. They will continue to adjust and develop the virtual learning process until otherwise told. They feel blessed because there are poorer villages that have more of challenge with technology.
We currently support 20 university students, and luckily, they all are able to continue with virtual classes as well. The main difference is that the university has a couple of the well-known online meeting platforms such a s Zoom and Microsoft Teams so teachers can actually do a live lecture to the whole class at the same time in addition to sending video and audio clips of supporting material via Whatsapp or email. At the public university, where most of our students go, there are a few professors that are more technically challenged and do not know how to use the platforms and so they try to send everything via email, which really thwarts the effectiveness of the class.
Our partner church in Ciudad Espana
Pastor Hector is doing some services online via Facebook. You can join their page “Iglesia M. Cristo Resucitado” to see him as well as the praise band of 3, properly distanced and worshipping the Lord. For support there is a group WhatsApp page for the church congregants, one for the women’s group, another for Sunday School, and another for the youth group. That is where they share words of encouragement and bible verses and Pastor Hector does devotions there.
Pastor Hector also received funds from the Church of the Resurrection to be able to distribute food to those in the community that are in need.
General Ciudad Espana
There is a fairly new governmental social service organization in town called DINIS (National Directorate of Social Intervention) that was able to distribute food to everyone in Ciudad Espana earlier in the month. They distribute to other cities as well and unfortunately; they don’t think that Ciudad Espana will receive any more.
The medical clinic at the school is closed since there is not sufficient personal protective equipment for Vilma and the doctor to use. But all is not lost as there is a health center in town that is run by the government that is still open if someone feels they have a need.