Sunday, November 27, 2011

A few more class updates from Aunge & Caroline

The precalculus class worked through their fourth chapter over the past few weeks. They studied exponential and logarithmic functions and developed an understanding of their inverse relationship. The students mastered techniques to change between the two equivalent forms and use properties to solve exponential growth and decay problems. The class has now moved onto studying trigonometric functions using the unit circle and coordinate plane. They are developing their understanding of the properties of each function and how each one is graphed with the appropriate domain, range, period and, when applicable, asymptotes.

Languages of Southern Africa
The language class continues to explore the way cultures are evolving and changing. The students recently interviewed volunteers, workers and travelers at the Cheetah Conservation Foundation and Etosha National Park to gain perspective on how cultures are changing and what people view as the most important aspects of their own culture. To prepare for their final German exam, the class played a fun game of German Simon Says in a pool to learn directions while beating the Namibian heat wave. The class is now working on their final project, a play addressing the world with various cultural influences and perspectives. They will perform the play in front of a captive TTS audience later this week.


The end of the semester approaches, and our literature class has begun reading The Second Coming of Mavalo Shikongo. This critically acclaimed novel by Peter Orner tells a story of love, loss, and the importance of place through short vignettes. The story takes place in the early 90's, immediately after Namibian independence and is set at a boarding school in the middle of the Namibian desert. The novel reads as a kind of ode to a seemingly forsaken land, one marked by drought, starvation, thirst, violence and the extremes of temperature and emotion. The characters have a love/hate relationship with the harsh landscape. As a way to regularly respond to what they read, they students are keeping a character journal in which they record various aspects of characterization. They are also working on the first drafts of three short vignettes describing a person, place, important object, memory/moment, or conversation from their semester. These vignettes will serve as their final writing assignment. They will also have a final exam on the novel.


In the past few weeks, TTS18 History students finished small units on Nambian Independence and the Bushmen of Southern Africa. The latter coincided with a Global Studies unit on Vanishing Cultures. Students pondered how indigenous cultures could enter the modern world in a way that does not leave them stripped of their identities (and, thus, self-worth) and stricken with poverty and the social ills that come hand in hand with a devastating lack of resources. This conversation was punctuated with a visit to a San village. As we leave Namibia and cross the border into Botswana, we are preparing for our final exams. In history class, the students will write an in-class historical essay on an aspect of colonization's effect on African cultures in Southern Africa. This purposefully broad topic allows the students to write about a theme from the semester that interests them. They will also complete an annotated map of Nambia and Botswana.

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