Our teachers are at it again! This month, Veteran teachers Marty & Arna Caplan returned to Kibera to engage our students in a new literacy curriculum. Last January, the Caplans brought Math in Focus. Math in Focus is a program that engages students through physical discovery, written comprehension – equations, picture drawing, etc.—and through abstract concepts. Our students have loved all of the manipulatives that Math in Focus provides for lessons, including measuring cups, counters, and scales. Math classes at the Kibera School for Girls are not only times for intensive academic instruction—they are times for exploration, discovery, and fun!
This year, the Caplans are introducing Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt’s Journeys: A Path to Balanced Literacy program. This comprehensive program follows the same general practices as our math curriculum – the “I do, we do, you do” system. First, students watch the teacher engage with a certain type of problem – I do. Next, the class works on the problem together – we do. Finally, once the student is confident and capable, they are given the opportunity to solve problems on their own – you do.
This new literacy curriculum is a complete overhaul of the older program. Journeys is based on a Balanced Literacy approach, one that “allows all kinds of children to learn, leaves space for people with different learning styles, and doesn’t rely on one method,” explained Arna Caplan. Rather than taking a traditional literacy curriculum that focus on phonics, this program emphasizes a holistic approach. Journeys emphasizes every kind of communication: reading, writing, listening, speaking, and viewing. Our students will be given reading assignments that emphasize vocabulary, text complexity and comprehension, and grammar. The Balanced Literacy program is a student-centric program that helps students take ownership of their own literacy education through choosing books that are interesting and relevant to their interests and curiosities.
The Journeys program focuses on two levels of learning: the surface skills level, including letters, vocabulary, and grammar, & the deeper skills and strategy level, like comprehension and response. This program uses real literature – think lots of Clifford the Big Red Dog! – to engage students in core literacy skills, rather than creating new books around structured vocabulary and grammar lessons.
This new program provides ample materials, lesson plans, and guiding instruction to assist our teachers in engaging students in critical thinking! We are thrilled to have the Caplans back with us again, and can’t wait to see what kind of exciting new materials they have in store for us next year!