All winners (21 students, the first three in each 7 age categories) and their teachers were invited to attend a Creative writing workshop and an Award ceremony at AUBG in Blagoevgrad on April 25th. Traditionally, the American university hosts these events and provides wonderful environment for all the participants. In the afternoon they had 2 sessions with professors from AUBG – prof. Michael Cohen and prof. Dannie Chalk. The interactive sessions provoked the participants to demonstrate their creative thinking, to ask a lot of questions and learn specifics about the creative writing. Prof. Cohen checked the creativity of the participants through exercises and discussions. He analyzed parts of the works of some of his favorite writers and focused the attention of the audience on some specifics of their style. Prof. Dannie Chalk is a specialist on Shakespeare and his works and organized some role plays on his play “Macbeth”. The ceremony started with some opening remarks by CORPluS Executive Director, followed by addresses of the Director of the Admissions at AUBG and a representative of the competition jury. During her speech the representative of AUBG announced the two special awards generously provided by the AUBG – a 3-week summer educational camp (Ivanella from Polski Trambesh) and a summer TOEFL course (Militsa from Sliven). 4 other winners will join the AUBG Summer Educational camp (http://www.aubg.bg/camp) for a week. The 6th and 12th grade winners received tablets. All national winners and their teachers received books in English from the US Embassy, as well as prize packages provided by Express Publishing, KLETT and Macmillan Bulgaria. Microsoft Bulgaria provided 3 prizes which went to the holders of the lucky numbers from the raffle. Nadezhda from Ruse received a signed copy of the book “Cold Snap” and 100 USD donated by a former Peace Corps Volunteer and the book’s author – Cynthia Phoel. All the students felt well appreciated and encouraged to continue writing stories and express their creative thoughts.
Second Report On the development of the project Fifth Bulgarian Creative Writing Competition in English 2015
After the successful training of the teachers who registered their schools for participation in the Bulgarian Creative Writing Competition in English and all the preparation work of the students, on February 9 and 10 all the schools organized their “writing hour”. The students had an hour to write on a topic they chose from the 3 offered prompts for each age level. Among the most interesting prompts were the following: How the ladybug got her spots?; If you could give a peacock a paintbrush…; A day without gravity; Dance without me; When you thought I wasn’t looking… . 4236 students from 179 schools wrote their creative works and the teacher coordinators submitted them to the CORPLUS office by the deadline on February 13. Then the 4 regional jury panels worked hard on February 21 to select the national finalists. Over 70 judges reviewed the students’ works in Plovdiv, Blagoevgrad and Sofia (2). The jury panels consisted of native speakers (Fulbright English Teaching Assistants, former Peace Corps Volunteers, American teachers who teach at private schools in Sofia), teachers of English at Bulgarian schools, variety of professionals from all ages. Each jury panel selected the best 4 works in each age category and the best 112 works will be reviewed by the national jury panel which will be on March 28. The national jury will select the best 3 works at each grade (from 6th till 12th). All students received certificates for participation in the competition. The teacher coordinators also received certificates for organizing the school events. All national finalists received branded notebooks for their excellent performance. The winning works will be compiled in an electronic brochure and will be uploaded on the competition’s web page. The interested school will be able to download the brochure and print it.
The Award ceremony will be held at the American University in Blagoevgrad on April 25th. 21 students and their teachers will receive their certificates and awards and will celebrate their success. A half day training workshop will be offered to the participants and professors from AUBG will discuss with the students and teachers topics related to creative writing.
The 5th Bulgarian Creative Writing Competition is underway and this year 187 schools from all over the country registered for participation. The Ministry of Education and Science assisted with the distribution of the competition announcement through the Regional Education Inspectorates. 45 of the registered schools represent small and underserved communities and 23 of them are with predominantly minority population. To better prepare the schools for the competition we offered the teachers a training on innovative English language techniques and creative writing activities. 40 teachers mainly from smaller communities with limited access to resources took part in the training which was held in Sofia from November 21 to 23. The training program was very well prepared and the facilitators demonstrated high professionalism in delivering the planned sessions. Three of the trainers teach at the American college of Sofia, one is a Fulbright researcher at Sofia University and teaches creative writing to university students, and the other 2 are Fulbright English Teaching Assistants. Two preliminary planning meetings were held in CORPLUS’ office to discuss session details and finalize the agenda. All facilitators invested serious amount of time and efforts to prepare for the training. The first day was focused on more general topics related to class management and innovative English speaking engagement techniques. The second day was dedicated to creative writing basics and ideas to introduce and develop creative writing techniques and activities in English language classrooms. The third day was focused on the competition and its rules and criteria. The teachers participated actively in the sessions and demonstrated real interest in the discussed topics. They worked with enthusiasm in small groups activities and practiced some of the offered exercises. There were discussions on how to adapt the offered techniques to their classrooms. In the evaluation form the teachers reported that the training was very useful, they learned new approaches to the ESL teaching and are enthusiastic to implement them in their classes. They feel better prepared to organize the school “writing day” and feel confident to teach creative writing and prepare their students for participation in the competition. And they really enjoyed being put in their students shoes and participating in the activities themselves. As one of the teachers stated “We came here a little uncertain about the concept of being creative and we are leaving empowered, with more creative minds and opened to try all the wonderful activities with our students”. The teachers’ active participation and enthusiasm showed that the training was really needed. The results from the evaluation proved it was effective and useful. Teachers’ increased confidence will affect positively the quality of their work and we expect more successful participation of students from small underserved communities in the competition this year. All the materials from the training were compiled in a booklet which was sent to all teachers from participating schools. The booklet is also posted on the competition web site. The facilitators will be available via e-mail to answer questions and will provide additional support during the preparation period for the competition. The CORPLUS team will continue providing useful English teaching resources and materials to all registered schools during the period of the competition. Currently we are working on developing the prompts for the competition. We expect assistance from the trainers who conducted the creative writing training and also from other supporters. Here are the next important events during the campaign: the “writing days” will be on February 9 and 10 when the students will have an hour to write on a chosen topic (for each grade there will be 3 topics provided by the organizers). The teacher coordinators will send the essays to CORPLUS office. The regional judging will happen on March 7th. There will be 4 regional judging panels and they will select the 4 best works in each age level from the essays they review. The best 112 essays will qualify for the national judging which will happen on March 28th. Award ceremony for the 3 best essays in each age category will be held at the American university on April 25th. Details about these events will be provided in the next reports.
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