I am back in Manama to present more project based learning through puppetry hosted again through the U.S. Embassy as an English Language Specialist. This time, not to do performances, or teacher arts integration single workshops as I have in the past trips, but to present five days of 4.5 hour sessions to two different groups of elementary school teachers, as organized and supported by the Bahrain Ministry of Education.
The Ministry desires a program to help English teachers engage students in creative opportunities for English language practice. If these teachers are any measure, their students will be highly engaged. The first group of twenty five teachers’ focus for the rigorous five days was unflagging!
I could not have asked for a warmer, more creative, more enthusiastic, or more open to new ideas group of educators! The group included teachers of grades 1 – 5. Apparently, there had been open applications to participate, and 25 had been selected by the Ministry of Education for each class. Some told me they had jealous colleagues who did not get in. They all came from different schools. Girls and boys go to separate schools here. In the first group, there were four male teachers from boys’ schools. There are some female teachers at boys’ schools, but no male teachers at girls’ schools, as I understand. I am not sure if any of the female teachers were from boys’ schools. The literacy rate in the country is very high, and all children begin learning English in first grade. The teachers all spoke very good English, which I have not always found to be the case in my overseas workshops.
I am so glad I put the time and effort into completing my book, The Sophisticated Sock: Project Based Learning Through Puppetry, as the embassy purchased a copy for each teacher. I was able to refer to sections of the book as the teachers experienced the lessons, making it easier for them to find helpful information when back in their classrooms.
Day one, after an introduction to the art form and to project based learning, teachers dove into collaborative work to create stories on assigned themes, make shadow puppet casts, perform their stories, and experience constructive critique.