Teacher Training Day Two – Saturday
Saturday:The power went out at Nancy’s Friday night (that is why the email did not go out until today) – but more about that later. Fortuately it came on during the night so we were able to get ready in the morning as usual. Our ride had some mechanical difficulties so Nancy drove us to the training. We met at the church at Mandevu while the teachers and “kitchen” were housed in the school.
Teacher Jinny poses with supplies on her head, outside the church building where we held our training.
The classroom doubles as a kitchen
Morning Session After some singing and a devotion from Kondwani we were ready to dive into our focus for the day – literacy. We began with an article from the National Reading Project on the 5 components of reading. I was a bit concerned that the reading level would be too difficult and the terms might be confusing but just like the need to increase rigor for our students I wanted to increase the rigor for our teachers. We taught the information by using a “jigsaw” strategy. I drew a puzzle on the board (some of them were not familiar with a jig-saw puzzle) and explained that we were a jigsaw puzzle and we were going to take the puzzle apart and put it back together. Teachers were divided into 5 groups – each group being responsible for reading a section explaining one of the 5 components of reading. That was their “expert” group. Together they were to figure out a definition in their own words of the component and explain why that component is important for reading. Rebecca and I were impressed by the level of focus and discussion of the “expert groups.”
After some clarification from me, Mabuchi (Bob’s star trainer for his Strengthening Children program) explains to her group her understanding for phoenmic awareness (difficult for most Americans to explain).
One “expert” from each group then joined a “team” where they shared the information with each other regarding all 5 components of reading. Rebecca and I could feel their heads almost exploding. We followed this up with a lesson on phonics – more hand outs and a phonics “chant” by Rebecca. They were not familiar with vowels making “long” and “short” sounds and after some explanation and examples we again put them in groups assigning each group a vowel and 4 consonants. They were to make a list of as many words beginning with the sound of the letter. Rebecca and I were again pleased with the level of focus and engagement of the groups. We spent a little time on phoenemic awareness but didn’t want to overwhelm them. We were all ready for lunch.
Lunch: The head cook for our training is Ida. She has been through many of Bob’s Strengthening Children workshops as a lay counselor. She is a nurturing woman who often demonstrates her love through feeding others. Rebecca was very interested in the cooking and Zambian dishes and Ida was happy to be her teacher. Saturday Ida made some special “relishes” and sauces for us to try. They were quite tasty. Of course we had the usual chicken and Nshima as well.
Rebecca poses with her new friend head cook Ida serving Rebecca’s juice and cookies on a plate during “tea break”.
Afternoon The remaining three components of reading – fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension were our focus in the afternoon. Since access to books is difficult but most teachers have a Bible Rebecca led the afternoon session using a Bible passage from Daniel and Jonah.I demonstrated a non-fluent reader and a fluent reader to help teachers understand the terms. The teachers are familiar with such students but were not sure how to help the non-fluent. We gave them some strategies in brief and moved on to vocab and comprehension. The teachers had to choose vocab words from the story that they thought their students might find difficult. Then they illustrated them, used them in a sentence, and gave a definition. After sharing these with the group we went on to comprehension and demonstrated different types of comprehension questions. Finally they were to write their own comprehension questions.
Students form a circle, throw a ball (we made out of paper) and share one of their questions with the group when the ball is thrown to them. (Yes I could use some lessons on throwing)
Rebecca and I received positive and thoughtful feedback from teachers on their reflection sheets.
Back home: We returned home to find Nancy without power. We decided it was a nice night to go out to eat. We had dinner at an Italian restaurant on the grounds of the Polo Club (quite a surreal experience). We were hoping the power would be back on when we returned but …no. more on this later…
Rebecca and I are visiting schools this morning so I need to get up and get ready.