Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
During lunch I learned a math technique called "double division" from a math teacher here in Qatar. It is a technique where you can do long division without knowing anything about multiplication. Very cool (if you are into math!)
On the bus ride back to the hotel I learned what to say to a Muslim when they sneeze: alḥamdu lillah (الحمد لله)
It basically means the same thing that we mean when we say "God bless you".
That was just between some great workshops at the actual conference. The students who came here got to present their ideas for a Flat Classroom project to us in groups. The teachers were supposed to listen and give feedback to help them improve their presentations and tighten up their ideas.
Later in the day, they presented in front of all of us using multimedia tools. Some of the ideas were terrific and the presentations were awesome. It can't be easy for 15 or 16 year olds to stand up in a foreign country and pitch a big, world-changing idea to complete strangers; for some, in their second or third language.
We had to vote on our favorites and it was tough because they were all so good. It was heartbreaking to see some of the students who weren't selected afterwards, but by the evening I think they had already gotten over it.
After our workday we went to the Souk. Here are the pictures from the evening:
Saturday, January 24, 2009
He said if we go back home and teach other teachers, this message will spread. That is a powerful thought and a bold statement for a 16 year old student from Oman to make in a room full of strangers.
Yaqsan is a rockstar.
Here's another challenge to SSPJ students (8th grade you should know this):
What is the definition of "Viral Marketing"?
The Qatar Academy is a truly beautiful school. Here are some pics:
I also got to have lunch with 2 students from a school in Ethiopia. Neither of them is Ethiopian, though. One student is from South Africa, the other from Kenya. I asked Edgar (the Kenyan) if he ever heard of the VIST school because our 5th grade just finished their blog (www.textbooks2kenya.blogspot.com) about our used textbook sharing project with VIST. He has not heard of the VIST school, but we had a great conversation about Facebook and privacy in the Web 2.0 world.
I asked these two African students why they were here and this is what they had to say:
They are from the capital of Ethiopia.
Here's a trivia question for the SSPJ students- can anyone tell me what the capital of Ethiopia is?
Listen to what Salim Al Busaidi, the Omani teacher, had to say about his experience with the Flat Classroom Project:
Ok, the flight was not as bad as I thought. I actually had 3 seats all to myself so I was able to get some sleep on the plane.
I thought we would be flying over Africa, but we actually went way up north and then came down over Europe.
Finally there! First sign I ever saw in English & Arabic. I found Coke and Pepsi cans in Arabic as well- that was interesting to see!
Monday, January 19, 2009
I was lucky enough to get a direct flight (there and back) which saved me from potentially going insane from the sleep depriving jet-lag/stop-over combo, but no matter how fast that plane goes, Qatar is still pretty far from JFK airport. Due to the fact that I have 30 hours of flying to do in the next week, I have been spending an inordinate amount of time planning my in-flight reading selections.
I have been debating whether or not to go the immersion route, i.e. books about technology and global themes, or the escape route, i.e. anything that doesn't fit one of those categories.
Thanks to Allegra Stratton's book "Mujahababes" the decision was easy. Mujahababes is about modern youth culture in the Middle East and if the first two chapters are any indicator, I made a good choice. She never specifically writes about Qatar, but she did visit Kuwait, which should be comparable. My goal is to learn enough to be able to ask intelligent questions once I touchdown in the gulf.
Now I just have to pack everything else!