I saw the new Star Trek movie, and I must say that I liked it. It made me want to watch the earlier films, most of which I’d never seen. I should have been careful what I wished for, however, as a second bout of giardia (I had a less sever case in Loitokitok) blessed me with the opportunity to be bedridden for two days, giving me ample movie-watching time. Today was a bit better (maybe too much information, but the lack of vomiting is an improvement), and I must say that it beats the alternative, which is the recent cholera outbreak that has been killing people in Mombasa and the rest of the coast. Apparently the government has been shutting down markets, which makes people mad, but I wouldn’t know, since I haven’t left the house since Saturday. On a mildly related note, the Swine Flu is now in Africa, so the Peace Corps medical staff is coming to Mombasa this weekend to give out flu shots and to make sure we’re stocked up on Tamiflu. I hate being sick.
Today I finished up a little project that I started a little over a week ago, a homemade intro-to-reading workbook to give to the students. It’s small—an 8 booklet that prints onto two A4-sized sheets of paper. If it goes well (maybe tomorrow, if I can get out of the house), I want to make more like it. Obviously one book on its own does not create literacy.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that one of my biggest frustrations has been trying to figure out how to teach reading. I’ve tried on a few occasions to bring books into the classroom. I separate all the donated books I get in the mail and I only bring in books at “Level 1”, which is my designation for books where the text and pictures have a nearly 100% 1-to-1 correspondence. Baby books, basically. Last week I asked the students to try to identify and write down words that they could understand in the books, and to demonstrate what they learned by drawing a picture next to each word. This was a total disaster of a class. In one case, “Goat” had a drawing of a woman next to it, and “The” had a picture of a dog. Even if the class had been a success, it still wouldn’t have helped much with sentence structure.
I concluded that I really need books that are totally self-contained, that make no assumptions about preexisting literacy, that can be read alone with no explanation, and that have built-in exercises that encourage/force the reader to understand the meaning of the words. Unfortunately, I could find no such thing online, so I made one.
The purpose of this particular workbook is to showcase “subject-verb-direct object” sentences and the significance of word order. I start by introducing the nouns: singular and then plural (with a spelling connect-the-dots game), then I give example sentences with illustrations, then there is a page of games for reinforcement, then there is an increasingly difficult set of fill-in-the-blank sentences. All words and sentences have space below where they are to be copied with proper penmanship. Click any of the thumbnails below to download the PDF.
Because I don’t have a scanner or a tablet or anything fancy like that, I just photographed my illustrations and then cleaned them up on the computer. Like so:
Now I just need to test it in the classroom!