The new year started with a bang, and one of our top priorities was to get Team FunDza out of the office and into the classroom… to introduce learners to our popular and practical ‘Writing Good Essays’ workshop.

There are already a number of workshops planned for the beginning of the year, and as many new FunDza team members were keen to facilitate these, we decided that some refresher training would be good. The workshop training took place at the FunDza offices on 10 January 2019, facilitated by our Literacy Specialist who first designed the workshop, Dorothy Dyer.

The Writing Good Essays workshop is aimed at learners (and teachers too) in grades 7 to 12. It introduces them to the different types of essays required by them for exam purposes in their language subjects. The Writing Good Essays booklet is also a huge help to learners as it provides them with examples of different types of essays, and introduces them to the purpose of each in a fun and engaging way. During the workshop learners are taken through a variety of different essays, and through the practice writing of a group essay learn about the structure of an essay.

As part of the training, Dorothy treated the FunDza staff as though they were the learners in a class, so that everyone could experience what the workshop was like ‘from the inside’. First the training started off with an ice-breaker in the form of a bio poem. Each of the ‘learners’ had to write about themselves and read it out as a way of introducing themselves. After that we worked through the Writing Good Essays booklet – looking at the descriptions of different types of essays and exploring the characteristics of each. Then we took turns reading sample essays. This got all the staff excited. We then worked in pairs to discuss and work out what type of essay each of the sample essays were. This was followed by group feedback and then, the final activity: the writing of a group descriptive essay about travelling on a taxi.

It was a great morning for all the participants. This is some feedback from the team:

Lukhanyo Matshebelele: “I enjoyed the workshop. It wasn’t long, which is good, as otherwise it may be boring for learners. I liked how Dorothy ran it, there were no right or wrong answers. I believe this helps learners feel more confident and keen to participate fully. Some of the essays that are used in the workshop are thought-provoking and others just made you want to read more. I’m looking forward to facilitating the workshop with someone who has been running it for some time so I can get some confidence myself before I run it solo.”

Alonzo Naude: “I really enjoyed the training because I could experience what the learners’ experience when they attend the workshop. I liked the fact that it is interactive and I think when we do the workshop learners will enjoy the fact that they also have a voice. It was also nice to know that the essays overlap and that even if you don’t give the correct answers you aren’t told you are wrong so it won’t discourage you. Writing the essay together was the best part for me because we worked in teams and it was nice to hear someone else’s view on the same topic and then putting all the different ideas together. I think after doing this training I feel I will be able to run the workshop in the future. Thanks, for the awesome training Dorothy and FunDza!”

Conner Hoedemaker: “I found the training extremely beneficial. It is a good way to get the wheels in motion for those who are intimidated by writing large essays. Not only does it help break down the essay (making it easier to to comprehend), it also gives the participants an idea of how an essay should be constructed. I would strongly recommend this workshop not just for those who struggle with the subject but to anyone involved in writing.” 

Dawn Wilson: “What a lot of fun we had, from ice breakers to discussions about the various types of essays that could be written.  We chose to do a descriptive essay about riding in a taxi.   The whole team got into the spirit of the workshop and were divided into groups.  Each group had to contribute a descriptive paragraph about driving in a taxi from the driver, passengers, Gaartjie, safety, etc.  The sense of humour was phenomenal and there were lots of laughs whilst trying to describe smells, sounds, touch and feel.”

In closing, let me sum up with Dawn’s words as they capture the purpose of the workshop training; “We all left feeling confident that we could facilitate a workshop with our peers. Thank you, Nandi, for setting this up and Dorothy for your wonderful facilitation.”