The Computer Aided Learning Software, or CALS for short, is a tool to complement traditional instruction in literacy and numeracy while attempting to bridge the digital gap for primary school children. Last week we visited one of the 14 CALS sites currently receiving support from RESTORE Belize and were impressed by the fast gains in core reading skills of remedial English speakers.

 

The facilitator told us that getting that far that fast with the students was not easy. It took weeks of training and then months of playing around with the software along with many hours researching useful and engaging complementary activities before she started to see that level of result.

 

Before a teacher becomes a facilitator, he or she must first meet with a literacy expert to re-familiarize him or herself with fundamental English structures and their terminology as a prerequisite for understanding the CALS programme. The teacher then receives training on the software, learning how to set up and maintain the server as well as how to monitor students’ progress and set individual goals for them. This allows him or her to give an individualized experience to the students, reinforcing online lessons with relevant offline activities.

 

The classroom we visited was well decorated with sight words, graphic organizers and information on the writing process along with literary devices. These decorations are changed every month to reflect CALS lessons. When asked how the teacher copes with the added prep time she told us “If you don’t work, it doesn’t work… you just have to push the programme.”

 

And in her class, it has been proven to work with past students showing demonstrable progress over the course of two years. Moving forward, the facilitator has received a donation of books which she will incorporate into the students’ traditional English classes once they have completed the program. Additionally, the school will add 5 more computers which will allow up to 20 students at a time to use the software.

To find out more about the CALS programme read about our Literacy and Numeracy programme here.

 

RESTORE Belize congratulates the 36 I AM Belize scholarship students honored at last week's 2017 scholarship award ceremony. Donor partners, parents, and staff filled up the Coastal Zone Training Room to recognize the 15 new students and 21 returning students who are fully funded under this programme.


Thanks to funding from our donor partners Belize Natural Energy Charitable Trust (BNECT), BEL, BWSL, Atlantic Bank, Atlantic Insurance, and the Development Finance Cooperation, RESTORE Belize’s I AM Belize Scholarship Programme is able to cover the costs of tuition, uniforms, and books up to 4th Form.

What makes this programme unique is its holistic approach in providing additional wrap-around services which include mentorship, need-based tutoring and counseling, internships, and the I AM BELIZE Scholarship Club. The scholarship program was established in October of 2010 as a way to empower people and communities to enable them to become the “conscious architects of their own future,” and as of 2017, 50 students have graduated under the program to become just that.

RESTORE Belize is very proud of our students and would like to once again extend our warmest congratulations.

For more information on how you can contribute to the I AM BELIZE Scholarship Programme, contact us or click here to find out how purchasing one of Dr. Corinth-Morter Lewis’ works can help fund a child’s education.

September 8th is International Literacy Day, and the theme for 2017 is “Literacy in a Digital World.” Digital technologies can be empowering for those who have access to them and marginalizing for those who do not. To address this gap and help both children and adults access educational technologies to build basic literacy skills, RESTORE Belize facilitates the Computer Assisted Learning Programme in 20 sites. One beneficiary population that is of particular interest is housed in the Belize Central Prison where inmates have access to the Cindy Greg site and the site in Wagner’s Youth Facility.

Wagner’s is a correctional center for children in conflict with the law. Located at Belize Central Prison, young men are sectioned off from adults and spend their days and weekends engaging in life skills training and positive youth development activities.  

 According to literacy coaches at the facility, many inmates begin the programme with the fundamentals, using flashcards and hesitant recitations of ABC’s. Some enter the computer room angry and frustrated at the words they do not understand in a place they do not want to be. Overtime, however, facilitators report that most inmates feel empowered and start asking to come in. Their behaviour improves and they are eager to show off their newly acquired literacy skills. The Computer Assisted Learning Software (CALS) programme is complemented by traditional literacy classes, which increase engagement and reinforce CALS lessons.

The walls are decorated with educational graphics and motivational sayings - most of which were made collaboratively with students and coaches. Questions like “What is your Motto?” and examples of a “Growth Mindset” peek out at the students from posters in their periphery as they manipulate machines, taking another step up the ladder of literacy. Participants are shown how to track their achievements which further motivates them.

RESTORE Belize would especially like to highlight the two inmates at the Cindy Greg site in the adult prison who completed the CALS programme and became facilitators, and the three inmates who received scholarships to complete high school online.

Programme organizers at the Belize Central Prison and Wagner’s Youth Facility are always finding creative ways to improve their programmes. By using computer assisted learning technologies, they ensure that their inmates benefit from advances in the digital world to attain essential literacy skills.  To find out more about the CALS Programme and its sites, click here. Other updates from RESTORE Belize can be accessed here.

Spectators came out in droves on September 16th to experience Belize’s steel bands beat out lively renditions of the hits- both old and new. The concert played on well into the night peaking past midnight with Pandemonium. The Pandemonium Steel Band is coordinated and managed through a partnership between RESTORE Belize and NICH with funding from UNICEF as a tool for social outreach to socially vulnerable populations.

These skillful students are taught for free by a masterful musician whose enthusiasm, patience and dedication are evident when he leads. Alex Evans has been their primary instructor since the beginning of the programme and can be seen at the front of the stage directing and performing with his students. Members of the Pandemonium senior band Josh Herrera and Kandice Escalera also teach and help manage the band, and together, these dedicated instructors have helped students hone their abilities and fall in love with the pan.

 

Pan Yaad 2017 truly was an event to remember for musicians and audience members alike. Members of Pandemonium, in particular, will take a break after the past few weeks of intense practice before taking up their sticks again - this time to prepare for a UNICEF event. After that, they have one last concert scheduled for the year; that is their annual Christmas Concert.  

Videos and pictures from Pan Yaad can be accessed on our FaceBook page. To find out more about the steel pan programme, click here.

RESTORE Belize expresses its sincerest gratitude to Dr. Corinth Morter-Lewis for donating 400 copies of her books, Moments in Time Volumes 1 and 2, to the I AM BELIZE Scholarship programme. All sales from these books will be contributed directly to the Adopt a Student Fund, to which Dr. Morter-Lewis has donated in the past.

In Belize, the name Corinth Morter-Lewis is well-known and highly regarded since the poet and educator is considered by many as the epitome of patriotism in Belize. Dr. Morter-Lewis has had a long, impressive career in Education, and she has also greatly contributed to Belize’s literary landscape. Indeed, every morning Belizean children stand proudly, hands over hearts swelling with pride as they pledge their allegiance to the country by reciting Dr. Morter-Lewis’ poem “Tribute to the Belizean Flag”.

In 2013, Dr. Morter-Lewis published Moments in Time, a collection of poems, short stories and plays split into two volumes. The launch was not only a highlight of her literary career, but it also provided insight into Belize’s history, culture, and people. Before the launch, she contacted RESTORE Belize, offering to use proceeds from the book sales to “Adopt-A-Student” through our I AM BELIZE Scholarship Programme.

At the launch, Dr. Morter-Lewis was hailed by His Excellency the Governor General of Belize as “a true Renaissance woman.” He praised her ability to cover “a broad range of knowledge” in her works and recognized her as a true patriot.

Her late husband, Charles Victor Lewis, also carried and spread that patriotic spirit. He was an engineer who served as a teacher and mentor for many young men in Belize City.

In August of 2017, Dr. Corinth Morter-Lewis reached out to RESTORE Belize, once again offering to donate the proceeds of her book sales to our organization’s efforts in memory of her late husband and as a tribute to his active involvement in his community, particularly in assisting with at-risk youth.

If you would like to make a contribution of $35 or more in exchange for a copy of Dr. Morter-Lewis’ poetry collections Moments in Time Vol.1 and 2, contact us for more information or drop-in to RESTORE Belize’s office at the Coastal Zone Complex.