Students versus teachers

This week’s post is by Becca Young of Virginia, USA. She’s been a HUP volunteer since July 2019 and currently does a Facebook live storytelling event at 5pm Palestine time every Tuesday. https://www.facebook.com/handsupproject/ 

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In spite of some initial trepidation, my first time to participate in a Hands Up Project’s Zoom session was pure delight. When my alarm went off at 6:30 am, I was very tempted to shut it off and go back to dreamland. My time zone in the USA is seven hours behind Palestine time, so the 2:00 pm session meant quite an early rise for me. As I set a pre-dawn alarm the night before, I thought to myself, “Do I really want to do this?” Earlier in the day, I’d gotten an email describing the session and mentioning (quite casually) that the students tended to bring tough questions for the teachers. I wondered if I would be able to keep up.

My fears resurfaced as I set the alarm. I thought, maybe it wouldn’t be bad if I wound up sleeping through it. But fortunately my curiosity outweighed my fear and I steeled myself to set the alarm. On Wednesday morning, I managed to hit the snooze button just once before motivating myself to get up and join the session. It was being led by Helen, and remarkably, when I got on at the top of the hour, there were already a total of 28 people participating.  It was off to a great start.

The Zoom screen felt like a mini-UN gathering as we had folks from four continents, with a variety of age groups represented, as well as both students and teachers. The session leader Helen managed to explain the instructions while competing with the charming voices of younger brothers and sisters playing in the background as their older siblings sat by computer screens. Helen asked who knew what our theme for the session was, and there were some very well-prepared students helpfully informed the less-prepared among us (read: me) that the theme was animals.

As Helen explained, we were to start by going into break-out groups of four people each. I found myself in a breakout room with three students: Mica, Diana and Basmala. Each one had four questions that they had prepared the day before. They had found great questions, and were ready to be them via screen share.

Once we were all back together, Helen first let us know the names our six teams had come up with: in keeping with the “animals” theme, the names revolved mostly around wild cats, including the Lions, the Lionesses, the Tigers, and the Tiger Cats. Each group was allowed to ask one question of the teachers. We learned all sorts of great things about animals: kangaroo rats never drink water, the world’s largest fish is the whale shark, and flying lizards don’t fly (they jump). The students had the teachers stumped on several occasions. However, one student, Mathias of Ecuador, took pity on us and gave us help on two especially tough questions, allowing us to end the game with a score of 4 (teachers) to 2 (students).

Before I knew it, it was 8:00 a.m. and the session came to an end as Helen thanked us all for participating. And what a wonderful way to start my day. I keep thinking back on so many remarkable aspects of our time together: the cleverness and courage of the students as they asked their questions, the pity that Mathias showed us when we teachers were at a loss to choose an answer, and, overall, the level of enthusiasm and attention that people showed throughout the session. I mentioned that we started with 28 participants at the beginning, and everyone stuck with it to the end. For that joyful hour, there was no awareness of a global pandemic or a world in crisis. It was instead a four-continent-wide celebration of the love of learning and the sheer joy of being with one another, even through a screen.

Thanks to Hands Up Project for this amazing opportunity to be with such a lovely group of people and share knowledge and friendship with them. I can’t wait for the next session of Students vs. Teachers, HUP-style.

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A picture’s worth a thousand words

This week we have a post from Sue Piper. Sue’s been volunteering with Hands Up for two months now and does a wonderful Facebook live storytelling session for younger kids at 10 am Palestine time every Wednesday. Over to you Sue!
A picture’s worth a thousand words…….or so the saying goes.
There are many reasons why I love using pictures to tell stories to my students or as a volunteer for the Hands Up Project. A picture has the ability to convey emotion, mood, narrative, ideas and messages-all of which are important elements of storytelling. Pictures can offer information, set the tone, highlight certain characters and introduce themes.
Sometimes just a single picture can capture the essence of a story, or a series of pictures can reinforce structure and a more detailed storyline. Pictures can leave the listener  imagining what is going on behind the image and thinking in context.
Visual images can help listeners to go deeper into a story and help them understand a plot  much better. As a primary school teacher for twenty five years I was always fascinated by the process of how children learnt to read. Parents would constantly enquire, “Shall I cover up the pictures?” “Won’t the pictures just confuse my child?” or “Is my child really reading if he looks at the pictures?” In the early years of reading or language acquisition, illustrations draw children into stories as they begin to make up their own. Then the magic begins as they start making connections between the image and the words on the paper.
As a child I remember pouring over the pictures in my Ladybird books. I didn’t care that I couldn’t read every word-I was in my own world with the varied colourful illustrations that brought the books alive.
I can see how powerful telling stories without pictures can be, as demonstrated by the wonderful professional storytellers on the Hands Up Project page. However, for me, using visual aids provides stimulus, support and scaffolding to a story as well as all being part of the fun!

Maximising the learning potential of ‘Show and Tell’

‘Show and Tell’ has become one of the Hands Up project’s core online activities. It’s fun, communicative, and potentially very motivating for learners, especially if it involves interaction between young people who live in different contexts around the world.  It can also be very effective as a means to promote language development. Here are some ways to maximise its learning potential.

  1. Encourage learners to prepare extensively for the experience. This could involve looking up key words that they’re going to need, asking their parents or teachers for help, or practising saying what they’re going to say until they feel comfortable with it.
  2. Encourage learners to prepare a slide with some key information on it. Writing things down can help to make new language stick. It can also make things clearer to learners of English in other contexts who may speak a different variety of English.
  3. Have a particular theme for the session. This could be food, my favourite place, my dream job etc.  This may mean that areas of language get repeated and recycled throughout the session, and may also make the session feel more connected (and the learners more connected to each other)
  4. Ask the learners to tell everyone their topic beforehand and invite questions. This could be done by asking them to change their name on zoom to include their topic (Farah – my trophy, Samuel – my pet dog etc). Everyone then uses the chat on zoom to ask individual questions to the others (What did you win the trophy for? How did you feel when you won it? What is your pet dog like? How old is it? etc) The learners then try to answer the questions in the talks that they give.
  5. Ask everyone to do their talks first in pairs or small groups in breakout rooms. This can be very useful as a practice stage, they can discover how well they are getting their message across, and the listener’s questions can make their talks richer when they do them again. To really encourage everyone to listen to each other you could ask everyone to talk about their partners object instead of their own in round two.
  6. Encourage the learners to take the initiative about who goes next. They could end their talks by saying ‘Does anyone have a similar object? Or a similar experience? What sports do you do in your country? Again this can add to the feeling of connectedness in the session?
  7. Review the language used. Make a note of some useful pieces of language which are used by the learners in their talks, perhaps upgrading them to make them more accurate and or sophisticated. At the end of the session share these on a slide and ask everyone to try to remember who said what? For instance in the video below one of the 16 learners (Joudie, Samuel, Jossaline, Yara, Arial, Jonatan, Karina, Linda, Zaina, Emily, Noe, Rima, Hadeel, Vanessa, Nagham, Farah) said each of the following:-

1. It was given to my brother.
2. This was the first time I visited Jerusalem. We enjoyed it so much.
3. I wanted to go there because my mother wanted to go there when she was young.
4. It’s very dear to me. When I see it I just remember my dad.
5. My mum and dad were so proud of me.
6. He’s very loving and cute. He works taking care of the house.
7. I did it on my tablet.
8. It was the first time I smiled in a photo. I’ll show it to my children when I grow up.
9. They have a special meaning because they remind me that I need to follow my dream.
10. It took me two or three days to do it.
11. I love it so much because it reminds me of the beautiful cities in our country.
12. It was given to me by my school after we finished a project.
13. I got it from my older sister when she got married and moved away.
14. It has an important and special meaning for me.
15. Here are some pictures of the lives of the people.
16. She’s very playful and active.

You could also use this as a listening exercise with learners who didn’t take part, as a way to encourage them to focus on some useful language and take part in future sessions.

 

Zoom in and meet the world..

This week we have a post from my very good friend, our advisory board member in Gaza and UNRWA education specialist, Rida Thabet.

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Sharing our lovely mugs! (from Jerusalem, Hebron and Bethlehem)

Long ago, when I was a child, I was given a plastic toy that looked like a camera. It was a gift from a pilgrim returning from Mecca. It was a common gift for children at that time. We were able to zoom in and out and scenes from around the world were displayed.

Last Monday, I had an experience that reminded me of those days. It was when I joined the Hands Up Project’s intercultural show and tell session. With nearly all corners of the world represented now in our work, with people from as far afield as China and Nepal in the east and Brazil and Argentina in the west it looks like the world has come together hanging in the air for one hour for joy and interaction.

Teachers and students from around the world met to talk about things that means to them. It was a deep and meaningful experience to listen to different people talking about their favourite photos, gifts, books, plants and talking about trophies and medals that represent their successful moments in life. We listened to stories behind pictures and we lived moments in the lives of people seen for the first time. They reminded us with similar objects we once had or still have and with similar feelings or moments life.

We were paired to take turns listening to each other before re-joining the others. Our task was to represent our partner and talk about the dear item he or she had chosen.

You not only need to repeat what your partner has said, but to live the story behind it and to experience the feeling he or she had experienced. It is a lesson to look at things from others’ perspectives, to feel empathy for others. Some objects that may seem meaningless to you might mean a lot to other people. It reminds us to listen with our ears but also with our hearts as well.   If people listen with their hearts and learn how to tell the stories of others, the world would be a better place.

If you want to be part of this and want to live the experience, just zoom in with the Hands up Project one Monday or many Mondays.

Every story tells a picture..

This week we have a post from Hands Up Project volunteer and professional storyteller, Michael Loader. Over to you Michael…..

I’ve been volunteering with the Hands Up Project since 2018 after meeting Nick in Bristol where he was giving a talk at the Palestine Museum. This coincided with my ‘recent interest’ and ‘lengthy ignorance’ of the situation in Palestine and the Middle East.
I had been asked by a Bristol friend to get involved with a new music, song and word project in 2017 that was going to mark the 100th year since the Balfour Declaration, organised by a Quaker who has a knack of exposing the darker sides of British history that lie concealed under the veneer of decades.

With his expertise and persistence he managed to get an Arts Council grant that brought our group together to create, rehearse and tour the show called ‘Longing and Belonging: Balfour’ around the UK. The following year we were granted funding by the British Council to take the show to Palestine and Israel, which was to become my first visit.
You can find more about the trip at…

https://www.facebook.com/ChaiForAll/videos/2120609848183661/
https://www.facebook.com/ChaiForAll/videos/vb.1853363491574966/589168148177533/?type=2&theater

As for everyone, these last few months have been difficult for lots of reasons and for many of us work has disappeared for the foreseeable future – how long for no one knows. So when I was contacted about offering a 1:1 storytelling session with a teacher in Italy last week I was delighted to accept the offer.

She chose to work on reading and telling the story of the Gruffalo, which she uses with young children learning English as a second language. She first told it using voice, actions, characterisation, sound effects, physicality and the book, all skills that she has a good command of.

I then asked her to re-read/ retell it without physicality and the book, concentrating on the words, letting them be her guide… “How do you feel about that?” She said “Er okay” showing signs of uncertainty. After she had retold it we discussed the differences… Post session I ruminated… rumi rumi rumi…

It reminded me of the essential component of storytelling – that is the storyteller creates WORDS and the listener creates PICTURES… taking away the book created stronger images in my mind as the listener/ watcher, and focussed my attention on the pictures she was creating with her facial expression and voice.
Her vocal skills were also sharpened ‘painting’ more vibrant tones without having to concentrate on the skills of physicality and the book, thereby bringing the telling down to the essentials.

In essence the exchange is between the teller and the listener and as both parties draw from their imaginations, an alchemical magic occurs when a single imagination appears. If we are not careful the introduction of a book or something outside of this ‘private and personal’ communication can sever this bond and break the spell that has been already established. Seeing the pictures on a page, however beautiful they are does not have the same effect as the listener creating the pictures in their own imagination. When the listener starts translating words into ‘seeing pictures’, this is when the true magic happens.

I was glad to be taught and reminded of this invaluable lesson… teacher becomes learner

Michael Loader

 

Going with the flow…

‘When people are aligned to their purpose, when the gap between values and behaviours closes, what people experience is a stream of ease’ (Lewin 2000)

I first heard this Roger Lewin quote about 10 years ago. It was in a workshop for teachers about leadership in ELT and it was led by my friend and colleague Adrian Underhill. It really struck a chord with me – so much so that the very next day I quit my job at a UK University and decided I would try to do something which was more aligned to my purpose.

At the time I was teaching English as a foreign language to students who were being pushed through courses to get them ready to do a degree in the UK. The materials imposed on us were very dull and dry, the students didn’t seem to want to be there (and neither did the teachers!) and the whole process of language teaching just felt like a series of hoops to jump through – no creativity, no fun, no flow..

For me what Lewin is saying here is that when people really believe in what they’re doing, everything just seems to flow and they are capable of achieving almost anything. It doesn’t feel like work – it just feels like ‘a stream of ease’.

When I started doing online sessions under the Hands Up umbrella that was the feeling I had and I think it’s the feeling that so many of our volunteers have when they connect to young people in Palestine for their own online sessions for the Hands Up Project. It’s also the feeling I still have when I do sessions these days. Much has been written about the importance of motivating learners but I think teacher motivation is also something we need to emphasise, to nurture and to celebrate. And if the teacher’s experiencing flow because they are fully committed to what they’re doing then I think there’s a very good chance that the learners are too.

Schools in Palestine have been closed since March but this hasn’t stopped us from enjoying ourselves doing Facebook live sessions and zoom sessions for kids at home. And we’re really pleased to announce that after our two week break everything will be starting again from Monday.

Now, I got a real kick out of the performance aspects of the session below – playing the role of the Kamishibai storyteller with a bicycle and trying to speak Japanese, as well as playing back the stories of the participants as they came in.  What motivates you as a volunteer with HUP, or as a teacher in any other context, may be entirely different of course. So when do you experience flow as a teacher? Please write a comment below.

Reference

Lewin, R (2000) Complexity; Life at the edge of Chaos ; University of Chicago Press

Humanity and love in the time of COVID-19

This week we have a blog post written by long term Hands Up Project volunteer, Ashraf Kuhail. Ashraf is a very committed member of our HUP community, a brilliant teacher (and newly appointed supervisor) and one of my best friends in Gaza.
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COVID- 19 is considered to be one of the worst crises humanity has witnessed in the modern age. The worst thing is that it attacks families and societies and destroys relationships.  It’s thrown up the selfishness hidden inside mankind and unveiled so many horrible fallacies of fake kindness and the facade of prestige.
But crises also bring the best of humanity to the surface. They reveal that there’s so much love and goodness inside people – enough to wipe out all the hatred and aggression made by politics and politicians. Crises prove that there are so many people around the world who can convert feelings of fear and horror into happiness and smiles.
In the early days of this pandemic, and at a point where everyone just felt like collapsing, so many kind hearted people insisted on polishing the heartbreak and sadness and changing them into unity, love and smiles.
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Increasing numbers of Hands Up Project volunteers from all over the world devote so much of their time and effort to helping thousands of disadvantaged  Palestinian children in defeating internal fears which they’ve lived with for so many years.
Specifically, inside the Gaza strip, hundreds of thousands of children are suffering from the ongoing blockade and in practice have lived under quarantine for more than a decade.  These kids need real opportunities to express themselves and to tell their full stories. They need to learn, to play and to smile as other kids around the world do.
What the hands up project offers to them is really heroic and holistic.  A few weeks ago 18 beautiful plays out of over 160 have been declared as winners in The hands up project 2020 playwriting competition. These plays carry very strong heart-touching messages showing that in the time of pain, fear and crises, there’s always lots of hidden beauty which need to be polished and brought to the surface. It is the duty of all good people  who love freedom to highlight this when needed.
Palestinians and Gazans really owe all you volunteers of HUP, loads of love and appreciation for everything that you do, and on behalf of all Palestinians we wish you all, safe times and life. This pandemic, sooner or later, will end, but the seeds of beauty you’re planting will one day bear fruit and will last for ever.
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From your story to our story

Last week we published the names of the 18 winning plays of this year’s remote theatre competition. This week we’re publishing this very moving piece by Ana Begovic, one of the 70 judges who had the unenviable task of having to choose her favourite plays.

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Two years ago, I was invited to be one of the judges for the Hands Up Project remote theatre competition, and I feel I should share some thoughts on this amazing project. This charity provides English through drama and online sessions to children in Palestine living in refugee and displacement camps across the country, mainly in Gaza. I readily accepted and since then I’ve enjoyed the experience and privilege with each return of the remote theatre competition.

I wouldn’t like to make this post political, as it would be beneath me. I’ve got friends of all faiths and backgrounds and generally avoid crying against one or the other side in any conflict. The reason is quite simple: I was a child in a war-torn country. I shared my room with my refugee grandfather when I was 7. I experienced bombing of my city when I was 13. I remember food and supply shortages, power and water cuts, sitting my first tests in my jacket and gloves as school had no heating at -15 degrees Celsius. I remember holding my mother to comfort her at 3 o’clock in the morning as she screamed watching a report from her home town in Bosnia and Herzegovina on TV: Mostar’s landmark bridge was being blown up, and she had no idea whether her family, still in the town at that point, were alive. The next day I had an important test at school and the only thing I wanted was to get an A to cheer my mum up.

With such experiences in life people mature before their time.

And that is what I see in the eyes of young Palestinian performers each year. That specific sadness and depth may be beyond those who don’t share the pain of growing up in a country forsaken by gods and men alike but commented on heavily by both. After the war, we say in my country, everyone is a general.

These children don’t complain in their sketches – on the contrary. They discuss issues common to all children: parent-child relationships, local culture, school, hopes and dreams for life, health…but unlike their peers from the more privileged countries, you feel that they care. They truly care. Keeping fit or having friends to rely on becomes more pressing an issue when one’s dancing so close to the edge of a precipice. I never felt that children acted, they more likely lived their short plays, thus doing what’s often beyond many involved in professional theatre: to satisfy the original purpose of the dramatic art. Drama was sacred to its inventors, the Ancient Greeks, and its aim was to purge spectators’ souls of feelings and thoughts widely frowned upon. Nowadays we turn to professionals to stir such emotions in us; alas, the best of them tend to keep a dark secret: their best performances are memorable precisely because of their full identification, a merger if you will, with the character – and that transcends the boundaries of their trade. Much like a child’s character development which involves experimenting with many ‘selves’ over time.

Well done to all young performers, and my gratitude to Hands Up Project for another year of supporting children in need of a semblance of a regular childhood. I hope one day they do better with the world they have inherited from us.

POST SCRIPTUM:

When I wrote the post above, the world still hadn’t gone into lockdown over COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, many have now experienced the daily life of children in Palestine with restrictions on movement, closure of schools and financial insecurity of families. Those of us with similar previous experiences have sadly got used to the world’s divisions and injustice. Lockdown anxieties came as nothing, or hardly anything new. People can adjust quite quickly if thrown in at the deep end – even when they have deemed it impossible. Take it from the seasoned survivors. Still, if you look right into our eyes, they might give a rebellious “See what it’s like?” – not out of spite, but out of wish to share in balance for once. We are one fragile branch of the Earth’s core tree that cannot survive without the trunk, nor without other cells. Perhaps it’s poetic justice that we are to learn this lesson with our hearts pounding with the sight of empty streets of our cities. But shall we emerge from this temptation ready for what one of my favourites, William Blake, called the “Brotherhood of Man”? Quite intentionally and well before his time he shared a prophetic idea that the world needed healing through realisation that we all are mere cells of a giant organism. Our task is therefore not to fight, but to grow, learn, support and love – in unison. From my isolation, I pray it finally dawns on those who hold the power of decision-making. Or that we hold them responsible with more zeal. Either way, a change of ways and hearts is not only welcome but necessary.

 

The winners of the 2020 Remote theatre competition

After much deliberation and extremely difficult decisions by the panel of over 70 judges from around the world, we are very proud to announce the 18 winners (listed alphabetically) of the 2020 Hands Up Project remote theatre competition. We would like to offer our huge congratulations to them all.

A bird without wings was created and performed by Omar Abo Shmala (10), Yousif Ashour (10), Abd Allh Abu Libda(10), and Fajer Abu Shamala (10) from Al-Bureij Elem. Boys’ B’ UNRWA school, with support from their teacher Asma Falah Zaqout.

‘All mine’ was created and performed by Sara Abu El-Kaeir 11, Nada Abu Nada 11 and Reema Jabr 11, from Nuseirat Prep A Girls School, with support from their teacher Hadeel Mayyat.

‘An exile inside the home country’ was created and performed by Raw’aa Azem Abu Arra (15), Ola Muhammad Abu Arra(15), and Sarah Amjad Abu Arra (13) from Japanese Primary School for Girls, with support from their teacher Shorouq Daraghmeh.

‘Behind bars of silence’ was created and performed by Abdelrahman Samer Al-Ghossein (14 years old), Baraa Mohammed Jaber (13 years old), Khaled Shadi Abu Riala (13 years old) from Nuseirat Prep “E” Boys School, with support from their teacher Abdelrahman M. A. Mikkawi.

‘Helen Keller’ was created and performed by Dareen Mabhouh (9 years), Yara Lubad (9 years), Salma Abo Naser (9 years), Reman Rayan (9 years) and Wa’ad Abo Salem (9 years) from Beit Lahia Elem Co-ed School, with support from their teacher Mervat Talouli.
‘I can’t rest at my home’ was created and performed by Nada Abu Khatla(11), Lana Al-Regeb (11) and Alaa Eawaida (11) from Bani Suhaila Prep Girls School, with support from their teacher Abeer Taneera.
‘I couldn’t say goodbye’ was created and performed by Iman Ridwan and Marwa Husam from Rimal Prep Girls school B , with support from their teacher Amal Mukhairez.
‘I have a right’ was created and performed by Jameel EL Tahrawi & Mohammad El baba from Bureij Prep boys A School, with support from their teacher Mohamed Hussein Turkhan.
‘It’s only us’ was created and performed by, Jinan Eldaghma (14) ,Sara Abo Dagga ( 13) ,Siba Abu Thaher (12), Raghad Abu Jamea(13) and Roa’a Radwan(13) From Abasan Prep Girls School , with support from their teacher Amani Akram Kullab.
‘Marah’ was created and performed by Marah Yousif Sha’aban El Siksik (14), Fatma Ashraf khader Hneef( 14), Marim Jamal Mohamed Eid ( 14) and Nada Sa’ady Sa’ady El Aloul (12), from Rafah Prep Girls A School , with support from their teacher Hanan abed El Gader El Nawajha.

‘Nobody can destroy your dreams’ was created and performed by, Siwar shaat (13) years old , Qamar Abu Fakher (13) years old, Dana Abu Rahma(13)years old , Saja Shaat (13) years old and Tala Abu Abdou(13) years old from Al Madina Al Munawwarah girls Prep. School , with support from their teacher Soha Abed

‘Oh my home’ was created and performed by Nour Ziada 14, Haya Orouq 14, Rana Al-Basha 14, Farah Abu Obaid 12 and Doaa Abu Sharar 13 from Asmaa Prep School “B” for girls with support from their teacher Haneen Jadalla
‘The olive tree’ was created and performed by NAGHAM HEJAZI :14 YEARS ,MEERA JABER :14 YEARS , ZEINA ZAKOUT :14 YEARS, RAGHA AL KHATEEB : 14 YEARS and YARA AL RAFATI : 12 YEARS from Mamounia prep (A) Girls School , with support from their teacher Rana Mustafa Musallam.
‘The stone of freedom’ was created and performed by, Lama Abu Shqair , Nisreen Al Bayok, Lana Oda , Hala Abu Azeez and Mona Abu AL hsain from Al Fukhari Prep. Girls School, with support from their teacher Inas Younis Shurrab.
‘The unknown fate’ was created and performed by Malak Al batniji – Shahed Al Ashi – Roaa Salem – Aya Alhour – Rajad Al Aklouk , from Mamounia prep school “A” for Girls , with support from their teacher Shereen Hamed Lubbad.
‘When thoughts clash’ was created and performed by, Mariam Mosa 12 years, Emilia El- romy 13 years,Teya Shaat 13 years, Batool Khaood 14 years and Deema Hamdan 14 years from Khan younis Prep A girl school, with support from their teacher, Alaa Wadi

Read! Write! Act!

So finally in the midst of a world crisis, and after much deliberation and agonising decisions by the judges from around the world we are almost ready to announce the 18 winning plays of the 2019/2020 Hands Up Project Playwriting competition.

Competitions are great; they can provide an incentive to produce work of exceptional quality (and yet again young people in Palestine have surpassed themselves with their brilliance, their  commitment, and their innovative storytelling and performance skills) but with over 150 plays submitted, it’s also inevitable that some excellent plays are not amongst the winners.

So at this point it’s important to remind ourselves of why we put on the play writing and performing competition every year. We do it so that young people in Palestine may have an opportunity to develop their English in motivating  and learning rich ways and that they may tell their untold stories to the world.

This fact is beautifully illustrated in Inas Younis Shurrab’s post below about how she turned the competition into a wonderful multi-skilled learning opportunity for all.

 

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Introduction

Creativity is seeing what everyone else has seen, but thinking what no one else has thought. It’s not what you look at the matters, it’s what you see. Critical and creative thinking is more than a skill for learning; it’s a skill for life. Everyone – not just our students, can benefit from enhanced thinking skills both in and out of the classroom.

Making a play out of a short story can be a good way to enable students to think about how to write a complete script which can be performed on  stage and deciding on all the required materials to act this play successfully. The challenge of their creative thinking will increase if we ask them to change the title ,the end or the whole story to tell us  something about their life. They should keep the story in their minds but to think about telling things differently.

Towards the Top ,is a school initiative about students making plays out of English short stories . It was presented to them as a competition between different teams to encourage them to do their best. Every team has their own short story.

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The Target group:

The excellent and talented students at Al Fukhari Prep.Girls School from grade 5 to grade 9.

Time: October and November 2019

The Main Idea:

Students work in teams to read  and understand an English short story. They then transfer it into a play in English and Arabic.

The Aims of the competition:

1-  To get students to practice the four skills of English (reading , writing , speaking and listening) in order to improve their language.

2- To enhance the creative and the critical thinking of students.

3-  To develop students self-confidence and team work.

4- To produce some purposeful plays made by the students of Al Fukhari School.

5 – To determine the most talented girls from different grades to write and perform in English.

The stages and how to win:

In order to win in the competition , the team have to pass four stages and to gain four golden stars to reach the medal of the winner. The Four stages are:

1- Stage 1: To pass this stage, the whole team should read and understand the story completely and to complete the first page in the competition handbook. They will be tested orally to make sure of that.

2- Stage 2: In this stage , the team of students should write their own play based on the short story . After checking the written script of the play , the team will gain the second golden star.

3- Stage 3: The team perform the play in front of the leading committee of the competition. Then they will have the third golden star.

4- Stage 4: In the last stage , the team have to make some changes in the play (story ) title and script to create a new end for the story . In this case the team will gain the fourth golden star.

To see the presentation of the four stages see this video

Notes :

1- The given short stories are of different levels of difficulty to suit the level of different grades of students.

2-Every team will be asked to choose a name for them based on the moral of their story.

3-  The responsible committee will guide all the teams and give them the needed feedback and advice to do their best.

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