Tuesday, 29 April 2014
As I go round schools both primary and secondary schools the need that comes loud and clear from the teacher’s lips is lack of text books and to a greater extent, they are right for text books are the main source of teaching materials.
Are you aware that pupil’s can be a source of materials? Not easy to believe but its true!
I happened to visit Canon Apollo Demo School and was lucky to find a P.6 teacher conducting a library, lesson. Wow! That was wonderful for I had never attended such a lesson in my entire life.
I looked around the library; there were not many books that really struck my eyes. Many looked like donations that had no relation to the Ugandan curriculum.
As you very well know, most primary school pupils cover their books with news papers. These are the very materials that the teacher used for his lesson!
He asked pupils to unwrap their English language exercise books. The few exceptions who had not wrapped their exercise books with newspapers were allowed to unwrap a non – language Exercisebook.
Instruction one was “class look at your papers what can you see?”Hands went up! Pictures had caught almost every one’s eye. So, they went on mentioning what they could see. Some saw people, others bicycles, cars, houses, trees and so on and so forth.
Seeing their attention was mainly on pictures, he changed their attention to words .So instruction two was “Look at the words and only pick out words whose meaning you do not know?” They responded by picking the words pronouncing them the way they could and writing them in their exercise books. One pupil made the class burst with laughter when he read the word curriculum as “KULIKULAMU”
The teacher explained the meaning of these difficult words and asked pupils to construct sentences using the same words. He gave them freedom to either construct sentences using the newly learnt words or to describe one of the pictures of their choice.
To my astonishment, three quarters of the class took to describing the pictures. Some even drew and traced them in their exercise books which he collected at the end of the lesson.
I noted the pupil who had picked the curriculum word had written a composition about the Ugandan curriculum sighting out its pros and cons!
My assessment of the lesson was that pupils had one: - enjoyed themselves and had been given chance to discover and be creative.
Two: - that “free-lance lessons” made the teacher cover wider rangeof topics within a very short time.
This reminds me of the 2012 joint teacher- pupil instructional material development exhibition that amazed many parents and stake holders of the district.
Story writing,calendars, clocks, art pieces and so on and so forth were some of the materials made by both pupils and their teachers.
This was a non-text book exhibition with a clear message that pupils with diligent and passionate teachers produced better work. We can say that non text book material can be made and used if the teachers are creative and passionate about what they are teaching and secondly, pupils can do a lot under the supervision of their teachers. A competent teacher can use anything to conduct a well balanced lesson rich enough to make pupils improve on their literacy and numeracy levels.
According to the implementers, assessmentof 2014 should be the best of the EPP’s period reason being that the systems are already in place such that every school and teacher knows what to do when to do it and how and why to do it.
The other reason why 2014 should be the best of EPP’s period is that the super 2013 P.L.E performance has given a challenge to teachers in that they have to work double hard to keep up with the performance or do even better. In other words the project has to some extent achieved one of its major objectives which is to help schools improve on literacy and numeracy levels.
On ground, interclass debate competitions are going on smoothly.The 2013 theme of Malaria prevention and observance of children’s rights continue through 2014. All the debate motions poetry, composition topics, songs and drawings depict the major national theme of Malaria prevention and observation of children’s rights.First term according to the school calendar is a time of developing leadership and sports skills. The EPP implementing officers have been attending the occasions to moral boost their schools and have also used the occasion to help teachers gather the ideas to use as instructional materials when they go back to class.
First term also saw government implementing the school family initiative a program aimed at improving teacher pupil relationship for purposes of systematized follow up .The design of this program sees to it that every teacher is allotted 25- 30 pupils (from p.3 -7) to parent . EPP has found this government initiative program quite good in that every parent teacher can easily identify pupil’s language problems which problems can be discussed with the class teachers during the dialogue exercise.
This year has also seen teachers becoming authors. One Gavin Stella a teacher from Busiita P/S has written a play whose theme addresses climate change and environment conservation. The parents and the community at large have watched it being acted and have hailed her for the good work done. In her own words she says “If EPP had not come to our school, I would never have known that in me was a talent”
Schools that were given Computers have had trainings organized by the heads of schools. Currently all the teachers are computer literate and have opened internet addresses.
Mugusu primary school for example owes its increased enrollment due to the fact that some of the lessons are ICT based a thing that parents have embraced and supported.
As first term closes, we are optimistic that our pupils will carry the banner of lifting English language acquisition home with them and willcome back to school safe and sound.
“Programs have come and gone but EEP is different and has come to stay”.
This and many more of such comments keep escaping teachers, District stake holders and parent’s lips. The question is what has made it come out as aspecial program? The answer simply lies in motivating the teachers, helping them to asses themselves and returns to their calling.
The non- conventional innovative methods of teaching/ learning are not foreign methods of teaching but those very traditional methods wisely put together to fit the teacher’s teaching comfort as well as the level of the pupil’s capacity of grasping.
Also the co-curricular activities like MDD, Debates, sports, writing and drawing have proven that a child learns best in a free environment. It is in such moments where a child discovers his talents which talents when used wisely makes him an assertive, self-reliant, smart and quick in decision making plus making him physically and mentally fit.
The annual interschool co-curricular competitions among the project schools confirmed the above statements.
The aim of these competitions was to help the pupils learn to think and communicate coherently in English language. The result showed that pupils could not only think and speak in English but that they too developed the skills that go with language acquisition.This is actually the real explanation of the increased performance in the project schools in the shortest time.
Emphasis on co-curricular activities coupled with the availability of instructional materials developed by teachers and pupils plus of course text book materials and the renewal of teachers attitudes the support of the District stake holders not forgetting the donor partners have in two years brought forth results that have put a smile on the community and the District at large.
2013 results reveal a great improvement in the general performance of the schools compared to 2012 and the year before .70% of the pupils that sat P.L.E 2013 have joined secondary schools of these 38% are girls and 32% boys. Also the statistics show that many distinctions in English language were scored. Thanks to the teachers hard work! The teachers, the community and stake holders of the district are indeed happy with the program.
One very distinctive and vivid result in the schools is the use of spoken English while on the school premises. Each school has come up with a system to use to emphasize the habit of using English thus others have fully engaged parents in the exercise making sure that they speak English when home.
Friday, 25 April 2014
According to the program design, partners were to document and share lessons learnt from the implementation of the project in the secondary schools and primary teacher colleges. The purpose of sharing and documenting was to learn and discuss how the lessons learned would impact future program implementation and also help make the program better. Computers for schools Uganda and RWECO have for the past two years been discussing these lessons in a participatory manner. This is normally done at the end of year where all the project staff gather in a central location to discuss challenges, successes and lessons learnt. Listed below are some of the lessons that have been learned since project inception;
· Administrative support is very important for the projects to be a success since they offer both the moral and technical support to the teachers. An example of Canon Apollo Core PTC where with the support of administration, the department has been able to procure more computers for English lab.
· There is need to train school administrators (Head teachers, principals, deputies and Directors of Studies) in ICT customized for management as without their knowledge of ICT use for management, they do not understand the need for ICTs in schools. School administrators should be trained to be champions of ICT usage and integration in the schools.
· From the action research that was carried out, CfSU and RWECO found out that using SMS alone to communicate with parents is not a very effective method of relaying messages to parents. This method should therefore be coupled with other avenues like use of radios and community public address systems.
· It was discovered that it is very important to encourage teachers to involve students more in the teaching/learning process to boost their creativity and research skills. This is mainly done through group discussions and take home exercises.
· New more advanced software for developing lessons should only be introduced to teachers after they have fully grasped the simpler tools.
· Learner involvement in the learning process through research, group discussions, collaborative learning and presentation is important as it fully engages them and reduces boredom. They need to be given time to interact with ICTs through group work and research so that the learners’ creativity, research skills, problem solving skills and critical thinking are boosted.
· Teachers need continuous practice and re-tooling to improve their lessons and point them more towards the learner.
some of the tutors being helped during a re-tooling session
· There is need to prepare sample and demo lessons by implementing partners and champion teachers to other teachers more exposure to learner centered lessons.
· Continuous encouragement of teachers and hands on the computer will increase the efficiency in the use of ICT tools to teach.
· Careers’ days and open days are good platforms for implementing partners to interface with parents since they are crucial stakeholders in the success of the project. It is crucial to tailor teacher support activities to school activities so that the school time table is not interfered with for example Careers’ day.
The teachers are tasked by the implementing partners to follow up on these lessons accordingly. An example of such a scenario is; during one of the meetings, it was discussed that it is important to involve learners more in the learning process and the teachers were tasked to help the learners be more active through assignments of research and collaboration.
Monday, 7 April 2014
LEARNER INVOLVEMENT IN TEACHING/LEARNING ENCOURAGES CREATIVITY
Computers for schools Uganda (CfSU) and RWECO are implementing a project on teaching English using ICTs in six secondary schools in Kabarole and Kasese districts. The project is targeting teachers and tutors of English in secondary schools and Primary teacher colleges respectively. Teachers have been trained to use the computer and projector to teach English. Using ICTs has greatly improved subject attendance as it piques the interest of students and reduces boredom as they become more involved in the learning process especially using illustrations and simulations. Students have testified as to how lessons taught using ICTs are interesting and very enjoyable. Teachers are now involving the learners more in the teaching/learning process by giving them projects which the learners accomplish either individually or in groups. This has given a chance to the learners to fully exploit their potential by building their research skills, innovative and collaboration skills. Students carry out research projects and present them in plenary in the classrooms after which the teachers harmonize. This method has also boosted ICT skills levels of the students as they are sometimes tasked to look for this information on line using the computer.
A student of Ruteete s.s explaining a point as his teacher listens on
The teachers sometimes task the students to explore different subject matters in depth and present them to the rest of the class in depth hence encouraging peer teaching. Using the computers in the English resource room, students are able to accomplish their tasks and using the laptop and projector, they can present their work to other students. This makes teaching and learning interesting for both the teacher and the student as the student is more involved and the teacher’s work load is reduced considerably.
Friday, 4 April 2014
CFSU STAFF SUPPORTS TEACHERS IN KABAROLE DISTRICT
Computers for Schools Uganda (CfSU) carried out On-site support from Feb-April 2014. The support offered was in form of site visits to the project schools in Kabarole district. Staff from CfSU offered both pedagogical and technical support to the teachers of English in St. Leos College, Ruteete secondary school, Kyebambe girls’ school and Canon Apolo Core PTC. During the site visits, a total of 22 teachers (9 Female, 13 Male) of English were reached and 8 tutors (3 Female, 5 Male) were helped improve their skills in teaching English language using the computer. Of the 8 tutors, 3 were centre coordinating tutors and they guided on how to pass on the skills learnt to the teachers using their centres. Some teachers were also guided on how to trouble shoot simple technical problems and how to deal with them take for example how a teacher could tell software problems on the laptop, how to properly connect a projector to the computer and simple computer security (anti-virus updating and creating user accounts).
To get the students more involved, CfSU has supported teachers to focus more on the students by giving them research projects and asking them to present them later in plenary sessions in the classrooms. This method has increased learner activeness, participation and collaboration as they are tasked to accomplish some of the projects groups.
Figure 1; A teacher of Kyebambe girls Mr. Jeff teaching poetry using the projector and laptop