Local illustrators, primary school teachers and principals were all actively engaged in capacity-building workshops held by GND Schools Inc during the final week of November 2017. Two separate workshops were held over 5 days at the Grenada National Stadium, starting Monday, 27 November.
203 participants attended the Curriculum and Instruction workshop, while 7 participated in the local Illustrators’ workshop. The overarching goal of the curriculum workshop was to enable teachers to utilise better their training to improve early literacy levels, particularly among Grade 1 students. Simultaneously within the illustrators’ workshop, 7 illustrators trained in the craft of developing age-appropriate images for storybooks targeting early learners. In both workshops, local facilitators, supported by visiting technical consultants from the Room To Read organisation delivered the training.
The Curriculum and Instruction workshop with a target group of literary coaches, principals and teachers of Grade 1 public schools focused on training to better enable participants to deliver the newly developed phonics-based ‘Spice Reader’ Programme in the classroom. The ‘Spice Reader’ is designed to improve children’s literacy through the use of relatable and complementary curriculum material.
Speaking at the training, Technical Consultant from Room To Read, Olivia Byler said that a main component of the ‘Spice Reader’ programme is to help students use their skills to read a story that is relatable. “Through the stories they are exposed to as early as two weeks into Grade one, students are able to read a very short story but it’s meaningful to them nonetheless. They’re seeing pictures that they can relate to and they’re reading content that they can also relate to culturally, as well as linguistically.”
In the Illustrators’ Workshop which ran parallel to the one focused on the curriculum, the careful process of developing artwork for 7 new and local picture books was considered. Local Lead Illustrator and co-facilitator Stacey Byer, reported that the illustrators learned to design characters, how to ‘story board’ and were introduced to colour, thus giving them the basic principles of how to become a professional illustrator.
Technical Consultant from Room To Read and illustrator of some 40 books, Julie Downing, said she was impressed with the abilities of the local illustrators and looked forward to the creation of the 7 brand-new children’s books, illustrated by Grenadians for Grenadian children.
This has been the 2nd local illustrators’ workshop and the 5th curriculum and instruction workshop hosted by GND Schools Inc in collaboration with Room To Read and the Ministry of Education & Human Resource Development. Project Support Officer for Library Development and Networking at GND Schools Inc, Denyse Brathwaite said that although only into its first year the ‘Spice Reader’ programme has received positive feedback from teachers. However, she also indicated that sustainability of the programme is critical for its continued success. “The most important thing is sustainability. So, all of this training and the material that we distribute will help schools sustain themselves in the future.”
Brathwaite expressed her sincere thanks to GND Schools Inc’s main donors, Michael and Melanie Sherwood of the United Kingdom, local trustees, as well as collaborating partners, the Ministry of Education and the US-based organisation Room To Read, who are all working together to strengthen the foundations for early literacy in Grenada.