Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Day is What you Make It.

I work in a high school, but really, I'm at my best with little kids. So what do you do when Peace Corps tells you you have to work in a high school? You do, and then you volunteer your own time at the local elementary school. I head over to Inopacan Central School at the end of my lunch time and help with the school's library. It's so interesting to compare elementary schools between what I see here and what I grew up with in America. Did you know that teachers here are likely to be asked to help pay for the running of the school? Yep. And who is responsible for upkeep of the school? Yep it's the teachers. And during the town census and the running of the election polls, guess which government employees are expected to lend a hand... correctomundo, the teachers! You can imagine, with all those responsibilities plus those of actual teaching, it's a time consuming profession. This past September 11th, we held an in school inset workshop to talk about reading strategies that can be used with whole groups. In my opinion, activities with cooperative small groups are great, but at times inpractical. The desks and space issues in the classrooms here make it very challenging to manuever around the room and traditionally, the students here are used to doing things together and out loud. I'm not saying new ideas shouldn't be tried in the classrooms, but I do think that it's always nice to work with a person's strengths. Whole group is one of the strengths here, so at the workshop I introduced ideas that the teacher could use with all of her students, whether he or she did have small groups or in the more likely scenario of a large 35+ student whole group.

So we talked pre-reading prediction, vocabulary, and background knowledge. I can't remember if we use this term in America, but here they always say that we are "unlocking difficulties" for the students before the actual reading. Strategies included "If I know, then you know..." Frayer's boxes, 4-fold vocabulary, linear arrays, and KWL charts. Mid-reading was about reading with expression and tracking, and then post reading included things about retelling the story, Bloom's taxonomy questions, readers theaters, and more.

It's not the norm for schools in our area to have a library at their school that is readily available for them to use in their everyday classes. It felt good to watch the teachers at the workshop look through the shelves and find books that were appropriate for their students. In the pictures above, they're creating props or other teaching manipulatives that they could use while reading the books.
One of my favorites was from the 3rd picture, where Ma'am Heidi made a Grover face so her pre-k students could attach and detach eyes, nose, and mouth. Her book choice had been a Sesame Street book about the parts of a body. Another favorite, in the 4th picture, the teacher with the Dora book created popsicle stick puppets that can be used for retelling the story.
It was a positively hopeful day.

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