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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Typical Day at the Jes in Galway, Ireland

      A typical day at the Jes begins at 9:00am and commences at 3:20. The students have two classes and then a break from 11:15 to 11:30. These first two classes that Mr. O’Flatharta teaches are on the Irish track, so although they are both History classes they are carried out in Gaelic. After the break, Mr. O’Flatharta teaches a double block of Modern Irish History for the 6th years who are preparing for their Leaving Certificate exams. This double block goes from 11:30 to 12:55. Then the students have their lunch break until 2pm. The upperclassmen, the 5th and 6th years, are allowed to leave campus too. Afterwards the students have another class, sometimes a double block like on Wednesdays. Then the students have one more class and the school day ends at 3:20pm. At the start of each of his lessons by taking attendance and then usually goes over the homework. It rarely is an official homework check but he’ll ask certain students to share their answers to the questions. Their homework usually includes written responses to specific questions. The kids will then read their written work out loud and Mr. O’Flatharta will occasionally add some more information or write the key points, names and dates on the board.  
      Lately, for the 6th years, they have been working on practice and sample essay questions for the Leaving Certificate. There is a separate part of the Leaving Certificate exam that is an oral section that all of the kids must complete as well. Everyone has a scheduled date and time and these have already started actually. For the written portion however, the students all have practice essay booklets for the exam which they bring to class with them. These have sample questions as well as questions from exams from years past. For example, the other day the students reviewed an essay question from 2008 which was “to what extent was the Anglo-Irish Treaty (1921) responsible for the Irish Civil War?”. The class would discuss the question overall and then Mr. O’Flatharta gave them five to ten minutes to write out a general plan for their paragraphs and to bullet point their points as if they were answering the question.

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