Monday, February 9, 2015

How to Promote Reading in Scenarios with No Books

The title of the blog entry came from a query by Neni Sta. Romana Cruz. I few months back, as she was preparing for a teacher training workshop, she sent an email to all her contacts who are involved in literacy education. As I am one of the recipients of the email, I replied to her several times to answer the question and give some tips. A few weeks after, I found my  name in an (How To Love To Read Without Books ) article written by her in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. She wrote about her experience of facilitating the workshop among public school teachers in Marikina. It was an inspiring piece.

I am posting in the blog the specific points and tips I sent her in the hope that many more teachers and librarians find encouragement in designing environments that promote literacy.

Maybe you can start with speaking and listening activities, then transition to writing and reading activities. I do this a lot in my storytelling workshops: Ask participants about local stories of and about their province or city. I have always wondered why there is no Alamat ng Sapatos from Marikina :) Stories of local heroes, origins of places, urban legends, ghost stories, disaster stories (like floods, and the Marikina fault line) are story prompts. Have them think about these stories for 10 mins. I use background music while they think and recall stories. Then, each member of the group will simply tell the story from memory while the rest listen. No judgment on grammar or language rules. The objective is simply to recall a story, tell it and listen to others tell theirs.

A wonderful thing happens when some participants would write down their story of choice and read from their "codigo". 

I would then ask participants to write their stories. For those who wrote their stories ahead of the others, they edit and polish. Later in the workshop, they go back to the written stories, work in pairs to make books or story flashcards. Of course, the final presentation is reading aloud and storytelling :) At the end of the session, they have instructional materials produced for classroom use. 
 Here are not really foolish things you may consider putting in your workshop:
-have participants look around the workshop venue and list words that begin with letter A or any particular letter of the alphabet. 
- arrange the words in alphabetical order / put on an Alphabet Wall 
-or put the words together in dictionary/pictionary format

- if there are no books, then newspapers or old magazines perhaps are available? 
- cut out words and pictures and create mini-booklets with themes like: Mga Gamit sa Paaralan / Ang Aming Bahay / Mga Alagang Hayop / Mga Paboriti Kong Pagkain

-what about reading from mobile phones? Have a session simply on reading text messages and the contexts of these messages passed on to another. 

I think, with little books or none at all, the opportunity to create them so that reading can happen presents itself.

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