The Aspiring Writers and Illustrators Scheme (AWIS) Program of The Unique English Classroom has been producing excellent young writers over the years. This year, amidst the challenge of distance learning, UEC Philippines managed to pivot the program to supply the increasing demand for online learning.
The education landscape in the Philippines, due to the pandemic, is in constant struggle with unreliable internet connection, ill-equipped educators and the unprepared student body. Gaps in education, especially in literary appreciation, is overlooked because the focus is to merely survive the school year with the basics. To bridge this gap, we developed Cool Critics – a literary appreciation short course based from AWIS Level 3.
Cool Critics is a 12 session course which focuses on literary appreciation and how to create review for reaction papers for the student’s school requirements. The basic elements and structures of stories are discussed alongside classic and contemporary authors. The lesson plan is based on AWIS Level 3’s first 8 lessons. Activities that were supposed to be classroom based are changed to be conducted interactively via Zoom. Moreover, instead of a workbook, worksheets are uploaded in SeeSaw for the learners to accomplish independently. We also use Miro, an online interactive board for group work. In this program, the learners will also write their draft reviews, with the teacher constantly giving a tight constructive feedback loop. Most importantly, Cool Critics classes are conducted in groups to foster collaboration and sharing of insights.
To introduce this new program to the Philippine market, UEC Philippines Head Office conducted a free 2-hour webinar for teens entitled Reaction Paper Writing Tips and Tricks workshop. Rafi Sartin, Head Trainer for UEC, gave an overview on how students can make reaction papers or book reviews simply and enjoyably. Best-selling books were reviewed and discussed like House by the Cerulean Sea, Hunger Games, Harry Potter and even classics like The Giver and To Kill a Mockingbird. Sixteen participants from various schools around Metro Manila attended the workshop and many are happy with the learnings that day. Whether for school work or as a hobby, writing book reviews can be made more enjoyable through the Coll Critics Literary Appreciation Program.