Progress Report for Writing our own Culturally Relevant (CR) books.
This summer, we were fortunate to have George (Director) , Toni (reading specialist) and Sue together in Elmina for a week. During this week we had a workshop with our Pay It Forward (PIF) leaders on best practices in creating local content books. Solo, our local director, led the PIF team in beginning to create local content books for students. We also had a parent meeting to talk about this project and the importance of reading at home.
We are able to use Bloom software to create books with pictures to save as pdfs for printing. We have two local printing services and we also can print our own books now after buying a laminator, big stapler and extra ink for our computer lab using funds from the Grant.
We have many CR/local content books in our libraries already, (it has been a mission for us for years). We made a spreadsheet and organized a section of our libraries specifically for local content books. We have over 700 of these books and 150 different titles at various reading levels.
During the summer, we were able to publish Memmpemoho Asem Village and Other Tales from Bantuma. This book is a compilation of stories written in 2014 by our Bantuma School students. We had a wonderful party to celebrate the publication of this book, filled with lots of reading, dancing, soda and meat pies.
After our summer trip, we decided to have one of our PIF’s, Philomena, take on the role of literacy specialist. She has been instrumental in continuing to organize this project. Philo will be going to her National Service and January, Sharon will replace her.
We have approximately 40 books that are written, printed and ready for distribution to our 4 libraries in the area. Each library will get 4 copies of each book. We have organized these books into categories of early readers, upper elementary readers and JHS readers.
This summer, we started going into classrooms and creating class books. Each student shares in creating a group story. One or two students are chosen to illustrate these books. At the end of the month, there is a contest for classes who have written a book, and they are eligible to have an ice cream party. This has been a fun way to inspire student writing.
Students at all 4 schools will have access to the books. Students involved in our reading clubs will participate in reading and writing contests involving local content books.
This year, Ghana has a new student centered curriculum. Although the curriculum guide has been very helpful to our teachers, there aren’t many materials to accompany this guide. We have started to write books to accompany some of the lessons in this curriculum. For instance, in the early grades, we have written books, Caring for my Body and Knowing my Body Parts, which is part of the KG curriculum.
In early 2020, we have a goal to make at least 20 more books. We will continue to analyze data on assessment of reading skills at Christ Cares in lower grades. We will also collect data on ratings of these books by students, continue with contests to promote reading and writing local content books.
AN INSIGHTFUL CONCLUSION
One of the biggest lessons we learned about having students write about local content was that they really didn’t have a lot of background knowledge in this area. For instance, when asked to write about animals, they wrote about animals that they had seen in western books. They did not think of the animals local to Ghana, this is a by-product of years of “rote” learning. We are teaching the students and the parents about the importance and value of learning about one’s own culture and country. Having an area of our libraries designated for local content books will help us give our students the background knowledge needed to learn about Ghana, and feel a sense of pride about the history and current life in Ghana.