This summer we were blessed with the opportunity to work with Sue Gonzalez, a teacher from San Francisco who traveled to Ghana to set up a new book club in the Central region. Her project was a great success, helping many students to share their stories by publishing them into books that can be read by children around the world.
You can read some of the children's stories here.
Here is Sue's Story:
"As a special education teacher, I am continuously searching for meaningful ways to inspire my students to improve their literacy skills. I teach students with learning disabilities who often find school a frustrating place to be. This summer, I traveled to Elmina, Ghana to begin a global connection of an International Book Club where students from my school as well as the Bantuma School in Elmina would have the opportunity to author and publish their own books to share with each other and with children around the world through the website bookclub.realelibrary.com.
For three weeks, I volunteered at Bantuma School teaching writing through a writer’s workshop process. Working alongside an amazing librarian, we had 37 students, from grades 4 through middle school, participating in our book club. It was such a humbling and inspiring experience to teach the Ghanaian students who came to class each day with such passion and unwavering motivation to write their own stories.
Since the students are accustomed to rote learning, teaching a creative process was challenging yet very rewarding. I started every lesson with a read aloud, a mini lesson about the writing process, time for writing and finally a time for students to share ideas. Traditionally, these students do not have much classroom time for discussion. It was amazing to listen to them discuss character and plot development with each other. After each discussion, they had the opportunity to share an appreciation. This was also a new experience for them.
One of my most memorable days was when I brought the markers and crayons out for the students to illustrate their stories. Usually, the students were very serious in class. But, on this day, they had the biggest, most beautiful smiles! The students had never seen so many choices of colors before. Since we had lots of markers, each student was able to keep as many as they wanted at their desk. It was fun to watch a student try to hold on to 15 markers in one hand while trying to illustrate with the other hand.
On the last day of the Book project, we celebrated with a party and each student was given their own book. The students were beaming with pride and were so excited to have the opportunity to take their books home to their families! It was a very memorable day for me and the students who worked so hard in the Book Club.
During my stay, I had the opportunity to see a baboon sanctuary, visit with a Chief from a rural village and eat traditional fufu with the Headmaster of Bantuma School. Although I had so many amazing experiences during my fellowship, it was through the students’ stories that I gained a deeper understanding of life in Ghana. These students appear to be so joyful and spirited, but through their stories, I understood their worries and fears as well as their hopes and dreams for a brighter future."
Thank you Sue for your wonderful work and caring heart!