• Journal

    Day 5 Teaching of Reading – The Reading Process

    Read-aloud The Giving Tree by Shei Silverstein presented a stark reality of how mankind draws resources from nature, to depletion without giving back in order to sustain the balance and benefits from a symbiotic relationship.  In one sense it personified the tree as a mother who is ever giving, ever nurturing.  Poem of the day was entitled If – by Rudyard Kipling (1865 -1936). 

    If you can keep your head when all about you
        Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
        But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
        Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
        And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
    If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
        If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
        And treat those two impostors just the same;
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
        Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
        And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
        And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
        And never breathe a word about your loss;
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
        To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
        Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
        Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
        If all men count with you, but none too much;
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
        With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
        And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

    Kipling wrote Jungle Book and the nursery rhyme Baa Baa Black Sheep, which I never realised encapsulated the bullying he experienced as a child in a foster home:

    Baa, Baa, Black Sheep,
    Have you any wool?
    Yes, Sir; yes, Sir; three bags full.
    One for the Master, one for the Dame–
    None for the Little Boy that cries down the lane.

    I read because I can and I because I love to read.  Having been exposed to the reading process its complexity is evident.  As a cognitive, social, developmental, language, affective and physiological process it begins somewhere at birth and finds its end in a constant state of evolution.  The process provides an efferent experience through the provision of new knowledge and an aesthetic experience through its sensory appeal to our emotions.  Therefore it naturally involves decoding using the senses coupled with past and present environmental experiences.  When it came to the pedagogical approach to reading  three models were identified:

    1. In the top down approach the teacher shares about a topic that the learner is familiar with, without breaking down the material into its phonetic components, for example. The teacher reads the story (input) and the student processes the information and forms their own meaning (output).  It reminds me of  ‘comprehension’ activities at elementary school where a series of questions requiring written responses, followed a printed or dictated passage.
    2. The bottom up approach introduces the reading lesson/ story with a focus on deconstructing the written text from the basic unit.  For example the teacher may start by saying, “Let’s talk about dogs” and follow through to, “let’s look at the words (phonemes) we will come across and how they are used within the story,” to, “now let’s read!” In this approach the input is derived from both the teacher’s questioning to stimulate and cue the student, as well as the pupil’s recall of their interaction and experience with the subject.  The output is the meaning the student has derived from the step by step teacher student exchange and the reading lesson material.
    3. The interactive approach is described as a blend of the two approaches using selective elements of each as inputs to the reading process. For example the teacher may extract information from the written text to help the student decode and derive meaning about the material (bottom up) which the learner may have been introduced to before (top down).

    Naturally we explored the theorists behind the reading process. Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development was most captivating from the point of view that children learn through play and discovery.  As a result the material given to them for learning must be applicable to their developmental stage. The sensorimotor stage named object permanence as a milestone; the preoperational stage cited as a milestone, the emergence of language with perceptive expressions that rejected logic; With learners exhibiting characteristics applicable



  • Journal

    Day 4 Teaching of Reading – Ready or Not

    The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by A. Wolf as told to Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith was an amazing read-aloud!  It certainly wet my appetite to read aloud, twists on children stories that have been staple favourites.  The poem Words added a soothing contrast to the read-aloud story to prepare me for the evening’s lecture.

    One reflective takeaway was that learners learn best when they are READY.  Whether relevant meaningful instruction is given or active participation and practice is encouraged, or modalities such as Reader’s theatre is employed the student will not learn until they are interested and ready.  For different learners being ready has different meanings.  The tactile learner, for example, responds best to the sense of touch; being able to turn the pages or feel different textures or objects related to the lesson stimulates their need for a hands on experience.

    Another key point was that the reading process is complete only when comprehension is attained. Some persons may be able to call the words of a sentence but do not understand the idea or expressed thought that the group of words is meant to convey.

    I am now more aware of the importance of order in a lesson.  Order exists in our sequence of reading from left to right and from top to bottom.  Order helps to orient the learner and create patterns of expectation.  For example this class will not be the same for me if Sister Annetta does not start with a story and/ or a poem as I look forward to this initial engagement before we dive into the lecture.

    Equally important is the material shared with the learner.  It must be something of interest. Males may be more sensory and perceptual learners while females may be more affective learners. A learner’s experience influences their engagement with learning.

    We had to create an alphabet related to our learning. Enjoy!

    A attitude  B books  C call & answer  D draw, dictate  E excitement  F focus  G grasp content  H hear  I inspire, interpret  J join the fun  K knowledge  L listen, love reading  M message, motivate, moral  N new material  O orate  P pace oneself, poetry, prepare  Q quiet place, question  R repeat, relax  S syntax, social process  T talk & tell, translate  U utter, understand  V visualize  W write, wissdom, win  X xenial  Y youth, yes we can read  Z zeal


  • Journal

    Day 3 Teaching of Reading – Everyone is Intelligent

    We were treated to Read Aloud The Wolf and the Lamb as well as the poem Precious Stones by Christina Rosetti.  Our collective contributions were referred to as ‘reciprocal learning’ as our individual varied expressions of thought regarding the class content enriched our altogether learning experience.

    Guided and shared reading is a technique that encourages students to read and follow.  As a mode of transmitting learning teachers should include the use of visuals to encourage the participation of all the senses.  This helps as each student learns differently.

    We looked at the Multiple Intelligence Model by Howard Gardener. It certainly is a concept that empowers all as it helps us discover our multiple intelligences as we assess our strengths and in the words of Thomas Armstrong, “ways of being smart”.

    Assess yourself

    The cone of learning created an aha moment for me as it reinforced the value of learning by doing.  Our remarkable brain relies on cognitive stimulus and processes for recall:

    • 10% of what we read
    • 20% of what we hear
    • 30% of what we see
    • 50% of what we hear & see
    • 70% of what we say and do/ write
    • 90% of what we do

    Further reading on the Cone of Learning by researcher Edgar Dale proved helpful to visually understand what techniques are most helpful to produce active learners.


  • Journal

    Day 2 Teaching of Reading – Literacy

    I love to read aloud!

    Today I learnt that stories are great ways to begin lessons, to connect the teacher with the student, to connect the student with their creative and imaginative self, with the goal to stimulate learning.

    Class began with the story of The Knee High Man by Julius Lester where the theme of self actualization was evident.  Then we decoded reading:

    1. Word Identification
    2. Vocabulary Acquisition
    3. Comprehension

    Here are some more takeaways. Reading and literacy are inextricably bound to each other.  Just as we cannot separate the clouds from the sky, if a person cannot read, functional literacy will be a challenge.  Reading is important not just for ourselves to negotiate our existence in the world, but also to help us become useful contributors within our community and spheres of influence.

    There are many types of literacy such as academic literacy, media literacy, numerical literacy, political, digital and financial literacy, to name a few.  Is it ignorant to postulate that literacy only encompasses the ability to read and write as literacy transcends many facets of one’s human existence?  Assuredly, yes.  As an aside I certainly think that a focus on sexual literacy in schools can help teens make better informed choices as it relates to their sexual behaviours.

    Another valuable nugget from class discussion was that literacy uses language.  For us to express language we utilize phonology (speech sounds), orthography (spelling patterns), morphology (composition/formation of the written word), graphology (shape of the language characters) syntax (grammar rules), and semantics (word meaning).

    Upon reflection I feel fortunate that English is my arterial language as it is riddled with language complexities and exceptions.


  • Journal

    Day 1 Teaching of Reading – Ready, set, go!

    I was there early anxiously awaiting the start of class and at the end I was pleasantly stirred up to embrace all the course promised to offer, not just from the teaching and content but from the imminent deposits made to my pedagogical bank from the experiences shared by my classmates from different parts of Trinidad and Tobago and the region.

    I became reacquainted with the word paucity which I intend to colour my next speech at an upcoming Toastmasters Club Meeting.  At class the concept of multiple intelligences was introduced to categorize the array of human talent that may be highly evident in facets of a human’s talent demonstration while a paucity of talent was not present in other areas.  For example, persons who display exceptional talent in the area of gymnastics may display less ‘intelligence’ in other areas.

    At the core of the lecture was the tenet that every teacher is a teacher of reading and ought to create a learning environment that is relevant, creative and FUN for students.


  • SFR Writings






    I went to sleep a time

    Then I awoke to find I died

    A living death I then begin


    Avoided for my scars


    It burns my flesh

    Into the mind

    Into the heart

    Into the soul

    Each day I die

    It makes me yearn for love


    They stare, they stare

    And stare,  and stare

    And downward cast their eyes


    Wasted thoughts

    They no longer care


    I still remain a life

    A broken flower of the world

    A flower at which to stare

    Not pruned and groomed

    And looked upon

    Those flowers wilt and die

    This flower will and must survive


    And then afar

    A distant drum

    A ray of light

    A hope, a strike

    In a forbidden land

    That sets the pace

    And still defies the world


    The miracle begins

    Life births anew

    My new life now begins

    I no longer live to die

    I have survived

    I live


    Castro, Che, history

    Now Cao joins the ranks

    In a land of miracles

    In Cuba

    I salute new life



    May 25, 1988

  • SFR Writings

    Hello Nelson Island

    This is a story of MEMSA,  Macqueripe Early Morning Swimmers Association, a group of  ageing swimmers, lovers of the sea, who one day decided to go by Kayak to Nelson Island from Tembladora Bay off  the north west  coast of Trinidad. . Only one of them, the strongest swimmer was in his early forties. The others were in the late fifties, sixties and one in mid seventies.

    I awoke early that Sunday morning of May 29, 2011. This was the morning our newest challenge. I reflected on the formation of MEMSA. I was accustomed swimming at Macqueripe  Bay during the week and on weekends. Gradually I got to recognize regular faces. Eventually it boiled down to Sunday mornings as a regular swim time, but even so, sometimes I continued to swim during the week after work.

    Macqueripe is a beautiful bay. On a clear day, Venezuela or the Main can be seen as though it is an easy swim. It has deep and treacherous waters. You have to be able to swim and stay afloat for hours. We discussed everything outside there….politics, women, work and dreams among others.

    We eventually gelled together

    All the necessary preparations were done.

    Gunda and myself declined.  Michael was scheduled to be in Tobago. Jenny was on a cruise abroad. I had decided from the start that I was not going.

    ‘My job took me to Nelson Island a few times and that I am not going in those waters.’

    ‘You coward!  Only talk, talk, talk.’

    ‘Say what you all want, I won’t change my mind.’

    During the week prior to the caper, members continued to lend their voices by email

    Peter Montique wrote:

    I have done all the research in relation to the kayaks and the information is as follows:-
    Cost :  Single  –  $40.00 per hour
    Double – $60.00 per hour
    It was recommended by the people who owns the kayaking place that to get to Five Island and back it may take approximately two hours.  My recommendation is, we pay for two and a half or three hours for two basic reasons:-

    1.) It is our first experience going to Five Island
    2.) We would want to stay for a short period to take a swim at the beach at Five Island.
    Please indicate to me how many people are going. I need that information no later than Thursday afternoon.

    Thank you in advance and I await your response.
    Bag of Money.

    Gunda suggested

    “ that for our first time kayaking experience we should keep it pretty “light” and “easy” and refrain from planning a long distance trip…. most of the members have no experience in kayaking and might just wanna try it out before having to paddle nearly as far as Venezuela in the hot sun…. Finbar is already bailing out!! 🙁 and he was supposed to share a double with me….. 🙂

    Why not just call this one a TRIAL run and we just spend about an hour in the kayaks and then go to our regular swim? We should really try to start EARLY – YES I SAID ‘EARLY’ MY EARLY MORNING SWIMMERS!!! 🙂

    Why not meet for 7am at the Kayak Center – our official starting time – and after the kayaking reach to our regular swim for about 8.30am – enough time to enjoy a nice swim as well.

    And next time we can do the official kayaking experience! Well prepared and happy! Please don’t get me wrong:  I think that everyone in our group can make it to Venezuela! Including Finbar! Let me hear what you all think about my suggestion!




    Gregory, our strongest swimmer agreed with Gunda

    MEMSA Crew!

    I completely concur with Gunda’s suggestions……..Depart at 7:00 a.m. ..Kayak for an hour…which I think will be a great for all of us..(Finbar included maybe) to try out this new experience for most….we can reach to Hart’s Cut Coast Guard base…and then return to the Kayak Center….after an hour..and then go for our regular swim at Macqueripe… I thinks it will be great fun

    Eugene…Can your man-servant work us up a pot of rice & salt-fish with real ochroes….please for the occasion….after our swim.

    All of the other guidelines apply…..Thanks


    Lenny voiced some concerns

    Some more information might be helpful for first timers:
    • What’s the advantage of the “double” arrangement?
    • Should  we provide ourselves with sunburn protection–hat, glasses, Tshirt?
    • Is  the kayak capable of safely transporting “cargo”, say, fins, “ODM” supplies, other  refreshment, cellphone?
    • What seagoing precautions should we take?
    This is a call for old nautical hands advise on the above.


    Gregory again advised

    MEMSA Crew!

    As someone who has done this before to as far as Hart’s Cut from Kayak Center and back… Please be advised of the following.

    Drink lots of water throughout Saturday to be properly hydrated. Eat well throughout Saturday. Especially…Eat a good dinner the night before and a solid breakfast the morning of. You will be burning a lot over carbs out on the water…more than you will at your regular Sunday swim… Sunblock is advised as well.

    Anything that can float should the kayak flip over can be taken. Keys, cellphones,are ill-advised. ODPM supplies, fruit and water in small quantities should be ok,..however if the boat flips then is later for that (better than keys and cellphones). Pots of rice dishes are also not suggested for the trip. If the fins can float…..Ok…hopefully the tide will be low….so we can cut the water like boats.

    The earlier we leave the better,…the sun reflects off the water and is absorbed by your body. When we return, you will be famished and very thirsty….Bring refreshments. Everyone will have to wear a life-vest regardless of how well you can swim.

    Thats the brief…….Looking forward to the trip.



    The guys gathered at the Kayak centre around seven o’clock eager to embark on their new adventure. They were accustomed to challenging nature in the treacherous waters of  Macqueripe Bay every Sunday. This was a different challenge, one that would give them a certain sense of pride, and certainly one with lots of thrills.  They chose their Kayaks. Eugene came with his two nieces along with their father…don’t know why. The water was beckoned with slight wind ripples.

    After they embarked on their adventure, I went to Macqueripe to swim. I returned about 10am, (the expected time of return) only to meet  Mack and Winston B, Lenny, Vandayer and Eyen. I learnt that they had reached just beyond halfway and turned back when they realized they couldn’t make it as the water had become a bit treacherous, falling out in the water etc. Anyhow they managed to make it back with difficulty.

    Terry and the others made it to Nelson Island. They swam around a bit there, but it was the return that was the big problem as there were currents. We kept  looking and  looking but couldn’t see anyone on the horizon. Eventually, Peter made it in. He was giving big talk but you could see that he was scared stiff…his big eyes were bigger than usual. He told us that he learnt that two people were by Alcoa.  He then went with his truck to bring them back along with the kayaks. It turned out to be Ivan and Richard. He met them walking along the road. (Ah doh know what Ivan taking but it wuking). Ivan said that they were both heading to Port of Spain as the current was carrying them in that direction. Also, sometimes they were in a trough with water on both sides. In addition, both of them had fallen off their kayaks a few times and had trouble getting back on.  

    Eventually we started to see kayaks. Eugene’s two little nieces and their father eventually reached in….no Eugene. They had put him off the kayak because he was making it drag in the water and couldn’t give any help with the rowing. Lio and Terry had to help him. Gregory gave him his kayak and swam and assisted everyone else. For most of them, this was their first kayak experience. Lio said he had to sing calypso to ease the pressure. In my opinion, Gregory was the hero of this foolhardy expedition (I make no apologies for such labeling).  Lio lost his bag and thought he had also lost his fins until I pointed them out. He was bent double and could not straighten up.

    The brothers did not realize it, but they all had bulging eyes and were very quiet on return until they recovered and put on a false bravado.

    During all this, I had alerted the Coast Guard. However, they came after the guys had already made it back.

    Ivan then invited everyone to have a thanksgiving lunch at his hotel, Alicia’s Palace,  which was gratefully accepted. It was an opportunity to recoup and have a post mortem over lunch. Eugene and Lio declined but they were excused as they had not recovered from their scare during the kayak caper which was almost a disaster.

    All of them were damn well scared stiff.

    Give praises…it could have been much worse…..




  • Waterwheel Poetry

    Evergreen ‘Ever Grateful

    It’s funny how life’s situations keeps us evergreen and ever grateful

    Mountains military salute all day long while the birds sing their songs and the flowers dance in the wind…….evergreen ever grateful

    If I never received those words like blows on my back and in my face I genuinely could not measure the breadth of God’s grace……….evergreen ever grateful

    If I never went into minus $$ dollars with dependent needs to meet HOW could I have ever measured the sweet awesome taste of dew in the morning provision from heaven through means I could never imagine?

    Like all paid medical expenses and an unexpected blessing that became a vacation………I’m evergreen ever grateful

    Stars echo the light of opportunities that are endless that make sense if our sensibilities are in the right place in the season of harvest….reap what you so….what you plant is what grows…what you plan propels your destiny…..

    Evergreen ever grateful for the life I lead, the parents I have the son I have been given, the persons that rhythm me to play beautiful music so that my purpose resonates

    Rooted. Blossoms. Bearing full fruit.

    Evergreen Ever grateful