Standard 8 is totally winning right now. I know I'm not supposed to have favorites, but I can't help it right now. They were just so wonderful last week - I'm so proud of them!
I came in two weeks ago and they were preparing for some practice state exams. I attempted to help them answer the questions they had about their social studies exam and quickly realized that I was pretty much useless. So I did the only thing I could think of. I went to the library, got out the random assortment of encyclopedias from approximately 1971 and brought them in to class. The kids loved them. The only problem was, after they looked up the answers to their questions, they didn't want to put them down. I literally had to pry the books out of their hands so that they would keep reviewing for their exam. Feeling a bit bad about denying children knowledge, I promised them that we would get the encyclopedias out again after their exams were finished the following week.
The day after exams, I brought them out again and let the kids loose. I don't think they had ever seen anything like that before. It seemed like they just kept finding things they didn't even know existed. They spent the entire hour-long period engrossed in the books and, by the end, everyone was able to tell me at least one new fact that they had learned. It made me really proud to see how interested they were in learning. I have never seen a class so eager to read the encyclopedia.
As if that weren't enough, we also took them on a field trip last week to an outdoor museum with several mock-ups of homes of different tribes in Kenya. The kids were wonderful. I was really impressed with how well-behaved they were and how genuinely interested they seemed to be in their culture. They asked lots of good questions, took loads of notes, helped each other get all the information, and danced with the Maasai. It was great and it made me super happy to see them enjoying it. I'm pretty sure that 14-year-olds back home would be way too cool for the run-down playground at the end of the trip, but these guys had an absolute blast.
Standard 8 is probably the end of the road for most of my students. This is the year that they either pass their state exams and get sponsorship for high school or end their education, a fact which they are all too aware of. They know that this is the time to buckle down and apply themselves, which means that I am essentially teaching an entire class of students that actually want to learn. It's wonderful. More than that, it's great to watch them learning and enjoying themselves. They definitely deserve it after all of their hard work.