After a successful workshop for tutors in August 2011, CODE expert volunteers Dr. Pamela Winsor, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Lethbridge, and Dr. Alan Crawford, Professor Emeritus at California State University, went back to Ghana in February 2012 to run a second workshop with forty tutors from twenty-six Colleges of Education. While the first workshop focused on reading and writing instruction in lower primary schools, especially the instructional strategies included in the recently implemented national reading program, the second one aimed to reinforce what had been taught in the summer.
This blog post recounts the volunteers’ experience during this workshop.
The objective of this workshop was for participants to review and practice the instructional strategies introduced in August. When it came to practicing the Language Experience Approach (LEA), a strategy that involves children dictating stories to their teacher, participants practiced their skills in taking dictation from their peers. Among many small groups, lively discussion ensued as they dictated stories about their hopes for Ghana’s famed Black Stars in the on-going soccer championships. It was readily apparent that they genuinely appreciated the goal of having children talk and write about things meaningful to them!
After exploring the benefits of LEA, participants then turned their attention and creativity to writing storybooks for young children and beginning readers. Working their way through the writing process from gathering ideas to sharing finished products, the tutor-authors increased their understanding of the complexities of composing quality texts. They wrote, revised, edited, and published. On Friday morning, it was time to celebrate. Taking turns reading from the author’s chair, they proudly shared their books and accepted compliments from their peers. As indicated in the following comments, many left the workshop with heightened enthusiasm for writing in general, and writing with their teacher trainees, in particular.
“ The class was simply fascinating and enjoyable. Now we can teach our students how to help children become good authors.”
“We now know how to guide the zeal in our learners to become creative writers.”
“Marvelous! The writing process is very interesting and could be used at all levels of education.”
Just before gathering for the closing ceremony and presentation of certificates, participants were asked to finish the statement, “For me, this workshop...” Many responses referred to a sense of accomplishment in acquiring practical knowledge of learning strategies that, in turn, they would pass on to their teacher trainees. The following comments sum up that commitment.
“I will systematically take the trainees through all the strategies learnt in addition to trying them out in the demonstration schools.”
“I will use all the strategies to help the teacher trainees to sharpen their own writing, reading, and comprehension skills. Other teachers in the department should know about these strategies, too, so we will organize a workshop to that effect.”
Finally, the tutors expressed desire for on-going professional growth opportunities—a sign of workshop success and a reaffirmation of their commitment to ensuring their students’ success.
Dr. Pamela Winsor, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education, University of Lethbridge
Dr. Alan Crawford, Professor Emeritus, California State University