After the success of story time in Open Library, I was asked me to do a workshop with the teachers to show them how to use the books and tell stories to their classes. Textbooks are heavily relied upon by teachers, which provide little scope for enjoyment of story and language, that is if they even have the textbooks. One KG (Kindergarten) teacher had even asked me personally to give her help with this, since she was struggling to cover the curriculum with the few text resources she had in her room.
In some ways it baffled me as to why they weren’t using the books in the library. But then I took my UK Teacher head off for a minute, remembered where I was, thought about it, and realised – this is not something they do, and some may not know how. So my objectives were, to show them the value of a class read-aloud, show them how to use the library and then give them ideas as to how to use the texts in their lessons.
A fairly big challenge, at the onset. Made even more challenging by the fact that I had only 1 hour, since that afternoon, the all important Inter-standard Football Final was being played between Standard 7 and 8! So, I began the workshop with a demonstration of reading aloud to a group of children (thanks to Standard 4, who happily obliged to extract themselves away from the pre-game excitement). I modelled reading aloud Handa’s Surprise, which many teachers from the UK will recognise as a classroom favourite. Standard 4 were fantastic, answering questions and even joining in some of the text, as they remembered it from a previous lesson I did. I wasn’t sure if the staff were really interested, and perhaps this workshop was not what they wanted, but then I glanced over and realised I was being videoed on someone’s mobile phone!
After the read aloud demo, I showed the staff all the different kinds of books that they had in the library. I explained that there were a variety of sets of reading books (some up to 10 copies) which are ideal for group reading sessions. I then simulated a group reading session with the staff by giving them each a copy of a set of books. The teachers were good sports and joined in answering questions.
Finally, I quickly discussed ideas for classroom activities to improve comprehension and language, and talked about how to use stories as a stimulus for composition writing. In an ideal world, I would have got the staff to do some of the activities themselves, but it is not an ideal word – it was the end of term and a football match was about to begin! So I quickly went through a big list of activities which I had written on a poster and showed them examples. I knew it would be overwhelming for the staff, and hard to take in, so before everyone ran off to the football game, I ended the workshop by challenging them to try just one new activity next term!
I know how hard it is to be a teacher faced with new ideas and initiatives, but the response to the workshop was great, and I was asked to produce a copy of my poster for the staffroom. So, hopefully, they will be inspired while drinking their daily cup of chai!
Kathryn Hodskinson – Community Volunteer