I’ve started a working with the Drive To Read (DTR) program organized by AED in conjunction with USAid, Ministry of Culture and the Greater Amman Municipality. DTR uses a mobile book library as its base when it sets up in 4 different parks within Amman and Zarqa. Where I work there are two shifts of the program servicing an eager, rambunctious group of youngsters between the ages of 6 and 12 years.
As stated on the AED website, http://www.theaedhub.org/archives/497 , the goals of the Drive to Read Program are to build a “reading culture” among young people between the ages of six and 12 years old. Another website about the program says that it supplements and reinforces learning in the formal education system for those children attending school, and offer basic learning opportunities for children outside of the system (http://gec.aed.org/asia/drivetoread.htm).
The parents from the two parks in which I am participating have specifically inquired about the possibility of having a ‘native’ English speaker work with the children so I am keen to be meeting an expressed need! The DTR staff organizes a theme for each month and then plans active ways for the children to learn about that theme – May’s theme is Citizenship. I decided the English activities I would do would try to dovetail with what the staff were already planning.
In one park, I worked with a small cluster of children pulled from the entire group for about 15 to 20 minutes and then they went back with the group. In the other park, we tried a larger group for the entire program (45 minutes or so). Both methods seemed to work okay – with the smaller groups, the learning was more intimate and we worked a little bit more with the technology (digital cameras & personalized ‘orange’ boards) while with the larger group, the learning was more general with more group singing games, such as head & shoulders and “Flag” hokey pokey. In the photo to the left, the older children have written a short script to introduce each other and now we are videoing them.
One of my ideas was to do a read aloud with each grouping. Since I want to make sure I choose culturally appropriate books and also ones fitting the monthly theme, my current favourite, “The Sandwich Swap” written by Queen Rani and Kelly Dipuccio, fit both criteria. When I noticed waning interest or confusion in the eyes of my little reading buddies, I had to alter the text ‘on the fly’ – not an easy feat I discovered! In the future I am going to look for very visual books with short sentences on each page. “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak would be one that fits the bill.