By Bill Carver
Watchmen International Training
Introduction to Zoo-phonics®
In June 2012, a team from Sanford, NC traveled to Kasese, Uganda to conduct training for nine teachers associated with nursery schools sponsored by Watchmen International (WI). The team included Bill Carver, Director for Schools, Gena Carver, 1st grade teacher at Grace Christian School, Nicole Terhune, 2nd grade teacher, and Janna Ptak, a rising 12th grade student at Grace Christian School.
Attendees at the training included two teachers from Kenyan (WI) nursery schools, one teacher from Rwanda, and six teachers from Uganda. The teachers from these nursery schools had participated in training with WI in previous years. They are representative of the skill level typical of the staff found in WI schools; they were enthusiastic and positive about the new curriculum.
The goals of the training included:
- Basic introduction to the concept of teaching phonics using Zoo-phonics® curriculum
- Introduction of the animals for each letter including a mini-natural science lesson for each
- Introduction of the stylized form of the animals, their names, and the associated sounds
- The hand motions for each letter/animal
- Teaching the song for the whole alphabet
- Basic instruction on teaching children to decode using Zoo-phonics® and introduction of lists of sight words
- Practicing lessons for introducing each letter to the nursery and kindergarten school children (classes characterized by predominantly 5 year-olds with 3 to 6 year olds attending)
- Provision of laptop computers and videos to reinforce the training
The teaching included direct instruction, whole group practice, small group practice, and trial instruction in the nursery schools. The training lasted five days, Monday through Friday, and instruction included about six hours of classes per day, including visits to two schools.
Introduction of the Zoo-phonics® curriculum promises to enhance learning of English in East Africa. Progress can be made in the African classroom with modest investment in printed curriculum. The pilot program in 2012 encouraged our team to plan subsequent training and to attempt to introduce Zoo-phonics® to all eighteen schools supported by Watchmen International in East Africa.