Thursday, August 8, 2013

Scrabble Kids

Liberian students are not accustomed to instructional materials in the classroom and games such as Scrabble are not common teaching tools.  This group is taught by a teacher who has attended all the LOEP training workshops and uses imaginative and creative methods in his classroom to teach students.  Liberian students are highly motivated by the competitive aspect of instructional games and Scrabble has been a very successful teaching tool for this group.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

How does LOEP make sure our work does not trample over cultural values of our colleagues in Liberia?
LOEP volunteers are a diverse group of highly experienced educators and trainers, successful professionals in the fields of communication, academia, the Arts, international development, former Peace Corps volunteers, Liberians and others of African parentage.   All LOEP training programs including workshops, training materials and instructional materials are carefully developed with an eye for sound educational concepts.  LOEP educators recognize that sound educational concepts are based on appropriate cultural frame of reference. 

LOEP looks to a broad range of international leaders in the field of education and training for source materials.  Educational resources as diverse as UNESCO, Edutopia.org, Reading Rockets, education journals, NAEYC, and many, many others  have provided source materials for LOEP workshops and materials.

How do we make sure we provide “culturally appropriate” materials and books for children to use in the classroom?

LOEP volunteers spend many hours sorting and selecting materials and books that promote general universal themes (friendship, animals, peace), covers a range of disciplines (language arts, math, science, social studies, the Arts), up to date atlases and maps, educational children’s science and literary magazines and educational games and puzzles.
Although games and puzzles are not used much in Liberian classrooms, LOEP has had some success introducing teachers to use of Scrabble and other games with students.  One of LOEP’s teachers has organized Scrabble tournaments within his school and the activity has become enormously popular.  The tournaments are lively and have a high rate of participation.
How do we determine what is “culturally appropriate” for Liberian classrooms?
LOEP volunteers look for materials that have a multicultural viewpoint.  This means materials that include children of all ethnic groups, stories of children and daily life in other countries, customs and practices outside of Liberia.   Another way of providing multicultural viewpoint is, for example, the language arts and social studies materials that incorporate elements of and appreciation for the strong African tradition of oral story-telling.  These are most useful for Liberian classrooms. 
Study of literature, art, music and science can transcend cultural boundaries and LOEP volunteers see examples of creative teachers using such materials in the classroom all the time.
One of LOEP’s Trainers of Teachers uses a well-worn copy of the Collected Works of Shakespeare in his high school classroom.  The Bard’s dramas have endured because they explore universal human themes common to us all, regardless of ethnicity.  Our LOEP colleague helps students select portions of Shakespeare's plays to re-enact in the classroom as part of the literature study.  They discuss how the drama’s theme (greed, jealousy, leadership, etc.), may have affected public life in Liberia and their own personal lives.  The drama form itself is perfectly suited to the wonderful African affinity for dramatic presentation and the students follow up discussion with a skit based on the play.  Both content and form are relevant for students, the creative teacher makes it exciting and they delight in the study of Shakespeare’s classics!