Guest post: Exam day at the Asturias Academy

This guest post comes to us from Nicholas Newlin, Volunteer Librarian at the Asturias Academy Library in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. As part of his 8 month contract at the Academy, Nicholas works with students at the school to teach literacy and reading skills.

My first post as librarian here at Colegio Miguel Ángel Asturias is overdue. Since this is examination week here at Asturias, currently there are students taking a workshop exam just outside an entrance to the library. I didn’t give a test the last quarter since I had just arrived in Guatemala, but this quarter I’ve come up with a test intended to assess reading comprehension. It should give us an overall idea of students’ reading levels and those students I will need to work with more closely. From the results of the test, I intend to teach comprehension, writing one’s reaction to a piece of writing, and creating an argumentative paper that puts forth an opinion.

I would like students to realize that their opinion about a piece of reading matters as much as the piece itself. This aligns with Asturias’ mission to create independent and innovative thinkers. Reading and student interaction and reaction to it should be no different. The test is challenging but they should all be able to get through it, and most students had a chance to look it over and take a pre-test of the same material. It’s a good start, hopefully leading to greater use of library materials as well as critical thinking in other classes here at the Colegio. For once, I am glad that it is exam day! It’s an opportunity to set a bar for students so that by the end of the next two quarters we’ll have leaped beyond it.

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