Sunday, May 18, 2014

Genki English Camp and Teacher Training

Right after the youth leadership camp ended, Zack and I traveled to Khon Kaen where we were scheduled to have a Peace Corps consolidation drill for our entire region. One night in an air conditioned hotel (especially after a week of sleeping on the tile floor with all of the campers) was a much welcomed luxury. We were also so excited to be able to finally spend a little time with some of the new Peace Corps volunteers (group 126) in our area. After a morning of safety and security-related activities, Zack and I headed to the hospital to have his infection on his leg cleaned and dressed once again. He had undergone minor surgery to remove the entire infected area a couple of days prior, so it still needed regular attention. The doctors decided that he should have it cleaned and dressed one more time before heading back to Chaiyaphum, so we stayed in Khon Kaen one more night before heading back to site the next day.

 Upon arriving back at site, Zack and I had a major camp to finish preparing for. There was quite a bit to organize since we were using the English camp as an opportunity to train teachers in our community as well. Since arriving in Thailand, Zack and I have taken part in many-a-camp. The major factor that bothers us about most English camps is that there are very seldom any long-term skills learned at the camps, making them fairly unsustainable. We knew that we wanted to use Genki English as our method of instruction since it is the curriculum that I have used in my classroom with my co-teachers with great success. I had also been to a couple of Genki English camps at a fellow volunteer's site and they were some of the most fun and successful camps that I had experienced to-date.

Zack and I had been trying to brainstorm ways to improve the teaching methods of more teachers in our community for awhile, so we saw the camp as an opportunity to introduce Genki English to other teachers in the area who are responsible for teaching English at their schools. Genki English seemed like a good option because the Thai government purchased the software to be used in all Thai schools, making it somewhat easily available for all Thai teachers to use.

With the help and support of our education officer at the SAO (Zack's workplace), Zack and I developed the camp so that the first day was a half-day training devoted to the six Thai teachers who had agreed to come to the camp. Luckily, my co-teachers have been using Genki English for awhile now, so it was much easier to explain the benefits of using this method of teaching and to provide concrete examples. The training helped to clarify everyone's responsibilities and the structure of the camp. My co-teachers and I also demonstrated how to use the Genki materials and taught a sample lesson.

The basic premise of the camp was a "modeling" approach. For the first day of the actual camp, each Thai teacher worked collaboratively with one PCV. Each PCV was responsible for modeling and leading one Genki English lesson while each Thai teacher observed the structure and flow of the lesson and also acted in a support role. The next day, the Thai teachers were responsible for leading the same lesson they observed the first day while the PCVs took on a support role. All of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders in our entire tambon (subdistrict/community) participated.The students rotated around so that they were able to participate in all six lessons. The basic structure worked really nicely and everyone did an outstanding job.

As part of his work plan for this next semester, Zack is aiming to work with the same teachers who participated in the camp. He will most likely offer support in the classroom and monitor their growth throughout the semester. Our goal is to be able to host another camp in the next six months that relies on these same teachers leading the lessons both days rather than bringing in so many other PCVs. We'll see what actually happens with this, but it's always nice to have goals to work towards!

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