• We all have the right to write. Anything we can say, we can write.
  • We all can write well if we are emotionally involved in our topic and our purpose. We find our voices there. Writing is learning and discovering. It develops best in real-life situations, with the instructor intervening in the writing process.
  • We learn to read by having written. We learn from our experiences, including experiences with oral and written texts. We should expose ourselves to many texts, and often do free-choice reading.
  • We learn best in collaborative, diverse, and supportive communities. We all learn in our own ways, and our home cultures affect how we interpret our experiences.
  • Moving through the writing process can produce powerful writing. We gain more ownership over our writing if we master the writing process.
  • Writing is a strong tool for developing critical thinking. Challenging our thinking as we write in collaborative settings, develops academic language proficiency.
  • We teach equitably:  not less, but more to the poor. We recognize our children's home communities and ancestral cultures as our educational partners.
Instructional Materials
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The Sentinel English Language Institute (SELI) has begun designing instructional materials (rubrics, lesson plans, assessment tools) involving writing to be used in the junior secondary classroom in Sierra Leone. The many aspects to consider in this process include the following:

The Setting. Most junior secondary classrooms in Sierra Leone are furnished with foot-wide tables long enough to accommodate 2-3 students. Sometimes these are stationary and in most cases they fill the room, so they cannot be moved to achieve varying instructional goals. Each class also has a chalkboard. Students stay in homerooms throughout the day. There are no cupboards, notice boards, or supply storage areas in the rooms. As teachers move from class to class, the instructional environment each time consists of what they bring in the door. There may be 65 or more students in the classroom, and teachers usually have thirty minutes to teach. Schools provide few teaching supplies, and teachers' salaries prevent them from providing much in the way of teacher-made materials.

Action Research in the Classroom. Professionals design curricula to fit the vision they have of the-learner-and-of-how-learning-happens. However, it is the curriculum sifted through the teachers' visions of the-learner-and-of-how-learning-happens that the students receive. Sometimes learning happens and sometimes it doesn't. The proof of what works can be seen in the classroom, but if we are not observing and recording a) what we did, b) how we know it worked, and c) for whom it worked, we will not be able to share or replicate it. SELI aims to document this process.

Research into "Best Practice". If an educational model rings true in one part of the globe it matters to us all. Discovering, examining and reworking winning models to try them in a new setting are important activities. Transference may be from East to West or West to East; from city to village or village to city. We need educationists and organizations such as SELI with feet in both cultures to take on the adaptation cooperatively, with the goal being the global growth of learning.


Last Updated on Thursday, 24 February 2011 20:35
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