Regional education directors from all over Costa Rica came to the capital to participate in a five-day course focusing on phonemic awareness for first, second, and third graders. Chelsy Albertson, English Language Fellow, joined primary-school teacher Erick Ceciliano and the director of primary English education at the Ministry of Public Education, Ana Isabel Campos, to create an event that would be informative, engaging, and inspirational. After absorbing the lessons and participating in frequent reflection activities, the regional directors themselves created demonstrations based on the phonemic-awareness goals outlined in the national curriculum. They drew pictures, created games, made posters, sang songs, and showed that they not only understood the content of the course, but also how to adapt it to fit their regions’ needs.
The event was a real hit. “I really loved the experience. I learned a lot and hope to continue to have these types of trainings,” said Maritza Cedeño, a participating regional leader. Still, the great experience enjoyed by these educators was not the final goal of the project. Albertson has constructed these events to make sure knowledge and techniques will spread throughout all of Costa Rica. The regional directors’ understanding of phonemic awareness will allow them to take that information back to their regions and create their own workshops for local classroom teachers. “I really enjoyed the workshop. It’s going to be very helpful for teachers in my region.” said director Ezequiel Rojas, a participant. Another participating regional leader, Ronald Vargas Chavarria, felt the same. “It was really important to me because now I feel more confident explaining [phonemic awareness] to my teachers,” he said.
Throughout their lesson demonstrations, each regional director showed how she or he might adapt certain activities differently to fit the needs of local student populations. The directors’ creativity abounded throughout the week, and they proved they were ready to spread phonemic-awareness teaching to their regions.