An important component of the From Words to Wings program is the interaction with the participating teachers. Traditionally schools in Ecuador have not had access to children’s literature in the classroom, so we know that it isn’t enough just to provide the books, but must work closely with the teachers to help them make the most of this new resource.
At each visit, we model different read aloud and storytime techniques in the classroom. This gives the teachers the chance to observe how their students react to different techniques and sparks ideas for how they can adapt these ideas for their classroom and personal teaching style.
Each teacher completes a monthly survey to let us know which books were particularly popular from the previous month’s collection as well as which books were read aloud to the class. Teachers also have a chance to share with us new techniques and ideas they have tried with their class to encourage reading. All of this information helps us to make sure our collections are full of books that the children and teachers enjoy and gives us ideas to share with teachers at other schools.
A mini-training is held with the teachers during recess in which we share a few ideas that the teachers can try in their class. It may be a simple book making activity, a fun way to check reading comprehension or an idea for story retell. All of the activities are designed to be easy to implement immediately and to spark conversation about supporting literacy in the classroom.
With future donations, we hope to provide a stipend to local teachers to develop a series of hour long teacher trainings focused on using books in the classroom and motivating young readers. This will add significantly to the teacher training component of the program. By working with local teachers we will combine new and current practices and make sure that the ideas are relevant for the participating schools.