by Mr. Satoru OGATA
“Sensei!! Is there any math homework?”
“What?! Do you want homework??”
“……OK, I’ll fix, and bring it later.”
I often have these conversations with students, but maybe I have only a few more chances to have those because I was about to go back to Japan. I will miss our students, and I will miss my colleagues.
I, Satoru Ogata, will finish my contract as a JICA volunteer soon. I have worked at Aimeliik Elementary school for1 year and 8 months. Aimeliik Elementary school has about 50 students including students coming from Ngatpang state. Ngatpang and some hamlets in Aimeliik are far away from school; so many students come to school by school bus.
My main mission was to improve our students’ math skills. Our students don’t have enough experience of using money and measuring length, weight, capacities and so on. So it’s very hard for students to imagine the situation of math problems. Moreover, some kids lack the experience of counting something at their house, so they can’t count numbers properly. When they start studying decimals and fractions, they can’t understand the meaning of decimal place values, denominator nor numerator. Because of their lack of understanding them, they just follow their teacher’s instructions and forget solutions by the day. To make them understand and remember what they have learned, I recommended my colleagues that they use blocks, manipulatives, charts, sample pictures and so on.
Many students are not used to study at home by themselves, which is one reason why effective learning is hard to be encouraged in our school. Many students take too much time to watch TV and play games with tablets at home. Then, they don’t take enough time to study. I set many assignment papers that put some clues or pictures for solutions. I held Mental Arithmetic Math Speed Competition3 times in this school year, when students were given one month to prepare. Those are some of my strategies by which I tried to make students study more at home. In the competitions, every student at school tried same questions in 10 minutes, so they competed not only with classmates but also with other students in different grades. We could see that some motivated students studied hard before the competitions and done as many assignments as they could. It was nice to see the students who had studied hard became class champions or came high in the whole school ranking. And I’m glad my colleagues understood the importance of basic calculation skills through these competitions.
I do homestay at host family’s house in Aimeliik. It takes about 15 minutes from our house to the school by my host sister’s car. I love my host house that stands just near the mangrove river. We can see many small crabs when it is low tide, and we can see some archer fish swimming under our house when it is high tide.I really appreciate for my host family’s help and support.
I often saw sunsets from Aimeliik. Terrace, Kamosang dock and power plant dock are my favorite sunset viewpoints. At the sunset time, I also saw many bats flying. I was often impressed by magnificent flights of fruit bats.
Thank you, everyone who keeps in touch with me. Thank you, my students and my colleagues. Thank you, Aimeliik. I will really miss you, but now I have to go back to Japan. I hope, a few years later, I will come back again, and then I will see how my students have grownup and how Palau has been changed. [/restrict]