A Storybook World

Professor Shirley Equipado from the PNU conducted a workshop/seminar on teaching remedial reading in English in Bagong Tanyag Elementary School from May 30–31. She began her lesson by talking about a child’s readiness to read. “While parents and educators want children to read early, they will not learn if they are not ready.  When a child begins to differentiate objects and actively point out familiar things, the child is ready to read,” Professor Shirley advised. Prof. Shirley believes that one the best ways to encourage children to read is through story reading.  “Storytelling allows the students to learn how to listen better, speak more confidently, and use words and sentences they normally wouldn’t” .She encouraged the teachers to practice reading with an animated cadence and proper emphasis on descriptive words to help children recognize keywords and remember meaningful words in the story. The teachers acted as the students who repeated words in the story or answered the teacher’s questions. Professor Shirley said that storytelling not only engages children in reading, but also encourages them to speak in English.

Even while they were learning about teaching, the teachers enjoyed the singing, chanting, and dancing that came with the lessons. They found themselves singing about the story of The Elves and the Shoemaker. They tried to outdo one another in their use of adjectives, verbs, and pronouns when they were tasked to do jazz chants about fruits, animals, and school materials. They especially liked the chicken dance that became livelier as the song played on.

Professor Shirley had a boundless source of energy which she passed on to the teachers.

Being a Child at Heart

Teaching young children is a task that requires patience, understanding, creativity, and most of all, an ability to be childlike. This is the lesson which Principal Faith emphasized when she conducted a workshop on teaching reading in Filipino to primary school teachers from  Bagong Tanyag Elementary School, Taguig, Metro Manila from May 28–29. The activities throughout the day encouraged participants to clap, sing, and dance while learning, seemingly transforming a class of teachers into eager, young children. But in between the activities, Principal Faith also shared a number of personal stories about her experiences as a teacher.

One of those stories was a grandmother who challenged Principal Faith to teach her grandchild how to read. Through this anecdote, Principal Faith showed the class how she was able to teach the child through letter and sound recognition. She started by writing the vowels in small letters and encouraged the boy to make the sounds of the letters by following their shapes with his mouth. The sound of the small letter “a”, for example, was made by widening the mouth as if shouting “aaahh”. This exercise made the class laugh as Principal Faith reenacted what the boy did. At the same time though, it showed how reading is taught through a step-by-step process.

At the end of the workshop, the teachers said that they felt more confident about teaching reading. Principal Faith said that while advancements in teaching were constantly being made, it was important to build a foundation on the basics: Tools and materials can help teachers teach, but even without those, learning could be easy and enjoyable if teachers made their lessons fun.