The multi purpose auditorium/gymnasium at the International School of Lusaka looks like it was plucked from my own junior high in Ohio and dropped into the green of Zambia.
The whole campus has a well-maintained classic appeal- architecture – the classrooms – and of course the staff who knew good instruction is enhanced with strong writing, reading and speaking. Grace, the PYP coordinator and Heather, the IB English head understood the value of good old collaboration before and during a lesson and met with us in order to get the best results of our two-day visit. We did prepositional phrase and simile poems with the elementary the first day and then personification and found poems with the upper school the next day.
The found poems were a success because of the meeting Heather and I had before our visit. We discussed the lesson, which consists of close reading a passage, picking out important phrases, and then building a poem from these power phrases implementing the use of poetic elements. This lesson helps the students to understand the use of these poetic elements by using them – making them easier to identify later when they are required to identify them as part of an IB exam.
The selection of text makes a difference in this workshop – the richer the better so a little pre-prep comes in handy. So when Heather let me know the kids had just finished reading Achebe’s “No Longer at Ease” I downloaded a copy and read it over the weekend – selecting a half dozen or so selections for the students to work with. This little bit of preparation helped insure the lesson would have the desired outcome – the students reading image rich passage with a critical eye.
The lesson came off perfectly, the students identified literary techniques in the portions they highlighted – plus it gave us the added opportunity to talk about these techniques in a piece of writing with which they were already familiar. This exercise also provided the opportunity to re-read a portion of a text – a sure way to achieve deeper comprehension. All in all – a resounding success – thanks to the teamwork before the lesson.
Funny how using tried and true research based techniques lead to accomplishment – a classic ending on a classic campus.