While the rest of the team left last Sunday, I stayed an extra week to work at theReading Camp in Akramaman . It was quite a difference from teaching in Boate. At the latter school, children had never before experienced Reading Camp. At first, they were very shy and quiet. It took nearly the full week for their enthusiasm to show. I had wished for another week with them.
On the other hand, Reading Camp finished its ninth year in Akramaman this summer. The children entered my class with all the enthusiasm that took nearly a week to develop at Boate.
Debi had known a number of children since they were infants. Kate Annim, a Ghanaian teacher, acted as head mistress, very confident and capable in her duties. I grew to like her very much. She is also from Accra and took the tro-tro and then a taxi, a two hour ride each way every day.
The curriculum was the same as that we used last week. My class had the highest-level readers. One of the highlights of my week was discovering that some of my flightier students could actually read quite well. Focus is a learning skill that we try to develop. One moment I will give my “look and listen” signal (Da dada Da Da-Da Da to the tune of Shave and a Haircut) and get the children’s’ attention, and as soon as I start giving direction, the attention is gone! I have learned that a rousing game of Simon Says works wonders to release energy and restore focus.
Another of my weekly highlights was witnessing the development of critical thinking skills. Two of the books we read (children received all five of their books to keep and take home) had comprehension puzzles at the end of the story that involved sequencing, true and false, what’s wrong with this picture, etc. After working the first puzzle, the children tried to do the next in the same way. With a little coaxing, they began to rethink as needed. By the end of the week of the week we did not need to refer at all to the story pages.
Of course, we had our games as well. It was when playing Around the World with our vocabulary words that I discovered that one little girl was much quicker than I imagined. I also taught the class Red Rover, Red Rover which they loved so much that I believe they could do nothing but play that game all day.
In the camp closing, each child received a GMH t-shirt and a bag filled with books, their exercise books and coloring and writing utensils. In addition each boy was given a new pair of shorts and each girl a sun dress, all made with loving hands by the ladies of the Ladies Freedom Project, Columbia, South Carolina.
It was with great pleasure that as I said goodbye to each of my children I said, “I’ll see you next year!”