You know you’re not at a regular school when the math lesson begins at a local art gallery. Instead of yawning and blank stares, you’ll see kids at their favorite pastime—unraveling mysteries and discovering how things are connected. (Yes, there is a direct link between art and mathematics!)
Nobody is talking about perimeters in this class. The focus is on a practical task: the kids have to make a picture frame. How much frame material do they need to buy? Their budget is limited, so their calculations need to be as accurate as possible. The picture should fit the frame and the budget.
The kids work in groups. They measure, talk, cut, and glue. Everybody quickly realizes that P = 2A + 2B is not an abstract formula and that its proper use will determine whether they will end up saving or losing money. Each group wants their frame to be the best. Aside from mastering an important math formula, by the end of the exercise, they will have learned how to work in a team and divide tasks. They will also have grasped an important lesson in economic planning.
This is a third-grade math class at the Vasil Levski Primary & Middle School in Razgrad, in Northeast Bulgaria. At this school, children learn fractions while enjoying delicious pizza slices and read Valeri Petrov’s short story “A Button for Sleep” in their pajamas, needle and thread in hand, sewing buttons. The Roman Empire is interesting when you can imagine it, and you will get some ideas about it if you are dressed in a toga and surrounded by ruins from the epoch at Abritus, Razgrad’s unique outdoor archeological museum. Rome comes to life when you can find out how much a house there was worth, how it was furnished, and what ancient Roman families had for dinner.
Students at Vasil Levski are active not only in their education, but also in the process of transforming the learning environment at their school. When school principal Diana Parvanova and her team started planning a redevelopment of the school facilities three years ago, they first went to their students, asking them: “What does your dream school look like?” The children responded artistically, expressing their visions in dozens of drawings and letters. Their imagination inspired the new classrooms, with some features such as the tree-shelf, the colorful walls, and the multicolored desks of varying shapes faithfully mirroring the ones in the children’s drawings.
Maxi, Coco, and Ms. Parvanova talked about what makes their school special at the third meeting of the ABF community on January 30, 2019.
Vasil Levski Primary & Middle School redeveloped some of its facilities and built a brand-new multipurpose educational center with help from the America for Bulgaria Foundation’s Schools of the Future program.