Rainfall Calendar

This is a very simple example of a rainfall calendar that can be used in the CREATE program. Rainfall calendars represent climate patterns and trends and can lead to discussions about drought and floods and their effect.

A rainfall calendar comparing a normal year, a drought year and a flood year over 12 months

This rainfall calendar is based on the descriptions and illustrations in the REFLECT Mother Manual (Archer & Cottingham, 1996).  All of the sample graphics on this website are intended to help facilitators and planners to visualize completed graphics rather than to give a standard for how the graphics should look.

Developing a Local Facilitator’s Manual

The facilitator’s manual for CREATE differs from a REFLECT facilitator’s manual in that it is centered around the literacy activities rather than around the creation and discussion of a graphic.  This in no way minimizes the importance or even the time spent creating and discussing the graphic; instead, it is a shift in how the units are planned and sequenced.  In the REFLECT mother manual, all discussions about sequencing of units focus on the logical sequence of themes and the difficulty of graphic constructions.  Literacy activities are sprinkled ad hoc as they fit in with the topics of discussion.  Both logical sequence of themes and increasing difficulty of graphic construction are important factors to consider in planning and sequencing; however, it would seem that, if a program is to be called a literacy program rather than a discussion group, the program needs to have literacy-related objectives as its main objectives and the graphics and discussions need to be coordinated with those literacy objectives.

Frequency Counts

Many literacy specialists, including Sarah Gudschinsky (1973), Ernest Lee (1982) and David Holbrook (1993), advocate an adherence to the findings of a frequency count of the phonemes of a language in the sequencing of primer lessons.  While a strict adherence is not in line with a participatory method of instruction, a frequency or productivity count can be of great help in planning a flexible sequencing of units and discussions in CREATE.  In a curriculum development workshop involving planners from each community and language group intending to use the program may begin with a frequency count of the phonemes of each language.  Participants are asked to create a list of phonemes in a flexible order of decreasing frequency, to place them in three or four groups by frequency (high, medium, and low frequency), and then to brainstorm in groups keywords and themes that are relevant issues in their communities for each phoneme.  The way vowels are introduced will differ in each language depending on the phonology.  In languages with few vowels, I recommend that vowel phonemes be taught as a group in the first lessons and then reviewed with each new consonant introduced.  In languages with more vowels, vowels should be introduced with key words and interspersed with consonant lessons.  The following table contains a sample list of themes and keywords in English.

Phoneme Frequency Possible Discussion Topics and Keywords
T High Technology, Tools, Tobacco, Traffic/Transportation, Tradition
R High Road rage, Radio, Ringworm, Rainfall, Rape, Religion
N High Need, Nurse, National government, Natural resources
S/C High Sunburn, Sleep, Stealing, School, City, Sickness, Seeds
D High Drunkenness, Drought, Diarrhea, Debt, Drugs, Doctor
L High Lying, Looting, Literacy, Labor, Leadership, Loans, Land
G Medium Gas, Growth, Groups, Ground quality and use
B Medium Banking, Birth control, Birthing procedures
M Medium Money, Medication, Music, Mosquitoes, Malaria, Marijuana
F Medium Flu, Fever, Farming, Flies, Future, Flooding, Food, Family, Funerals
P Medium Promiscuity, Peace, Pregnancy, Parenting, Prices
C/K Medium Cancer, Cold, Credit, Coffee, Crops, Culture, Courtship
J/G Medium Jobs, Gender issues, Germs
Ch Medium Children, Church
V Low Vomiting, Village, Vegetables
H Low Housing, Homelessness, Hunger, Hospital, Health, Hygiene
Y Low
W Low Women, War, Water, Workloads, Weddings
Z Low
X Low

Table:  Sample English Frequency Chart With Topics

Relevant issues will, of course, differ from community to community, though it is likely that there will be much overlap of themes in curriculum development workshops with participants from the same larger geographic area.  As can be seen from the sample English list in the table above, there will be some letters that have many potential discussion topics, even low frequency letters like “H.”  Curriculum developers and facilitators should be encouraged to use their lists as guides rather than as prescriptions.  The list is intended to help them in their planning and also to give them a tool to keep track of what has and has not been taught.  They should be encouraged to be flexible in phoneme order and to think in terms of larger thematic units and place several keywords together related to that theme; for instance, a unit on sickness could begin by introducing the frequently occurring phoneme “s” and could then contain several units on diarrhea, malaria, flu, and cancer—thereby teaching two high frequency phonemes and three medium.

The table also shows that some low frequency phonemes may have no good keywords or themes.  Though there may be a need for deliberately including words to illustrate crucial spelling rules or phonemes, curriculum developers do not need to force a discussion about an irrelevant keyword (yo-yos for example) into an otherwise relevant curriculum in order to teach an infrequently occurring phoneme.  They should be encouraged instead to consider ways that those lower frequency letters could be introduced within other units and topics, even in word-medial or word-final positions.  For example, a discussion in a unit on natural resources could be expected to include a mention of trees and wood in which availability of axes is likely to be mentioned.  Facilitators should be encouraged to foresee and make use of such opportunities to introduce infrequently occurring phonemes like “x” in the midst of other topics.  Curriculum developers should also consider increasing difficulty of the PRA graphics and should be encouraged to begin with an easier graphing activity such as a basic map, like a household or neighborhood map, and to build from there.  Facilitators also need to be reminded to focus on the positives of the community rather than just dwelling on the negatives and on what needs “development.”  The themes are to focus on the relevant issues in everyday life, and when there is a very relevant area that the community does well, it can and should be included as a theme.  For example, many groups of people have found ingenious ways of farming in unfriendly and harsh conditions and may not even realize how ingenious their methods are.  A unit on agriculture could celebrate these discoveries.

The Purpose of CREATE

In 2003, I completed my master’s degree in language development and literacy by proposing a new approach to adult literacy instruction for testing by literacy practitioners working around the world.  This new approach was never intended to replace other methods of literacy instruction but was designed to provide an alternative approach for adults who find traditional, school-like approaches to literacy to be irrelevant to their lives or who perceive no potential or compelling benefits to their lives from literacy.  I believe this approach to be particularly appropriate for situations where community ownership and involvement in a literacy program are necessary for its sustainability or where there is low motivation for learning to read due to lack of perceived uses of literacy.  In my thesis, I outlined and described the CREATE approach, a new method synthesizing strengths of current prevailing community development and literacy methods, most notably REFLECT, Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), Whole Language, and the Language Experience Approach (LEA). Continue reading