Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Training Begins

The next phase of the project involves modeling lessons for teachers, watching teachers teach and providing feedback, and getting teachers to change their habits so they can incorporate more effective teaching strategies.  Mabuchi and I are visiting every school and teacher in the CCAP community schools in Lusaka.

Yesterday we visited Mtendere.  I began by teaching a grade one and two class of 55.  Can you imagine?  I was impressed by how well-behaved and cooperative the students were given the circumstances.  I taught a lesson about parts of a plant.  We began by going outside, finding a plant and drawing it.  Then we came inside and reviewed the parts of the plant.  At this age the children are generally taught in the local language and aren’t very familiar with English.  There were a few times Mabuchi had to jump in and help with a translation here and there.  For the most part however, the students were able to grasp the concepts in English.
Students draw various plants they see outside

55 first and second graders line up by simply being told to "line up please"

My next group was grade five. This time there were only 32 students – which is still a large class.  Some of the students are much older than 10 or 11 because they may have had to stay home for some time to help with a sick family member or work selling vegetables in the market.  
Older students learning in grade 5
Students are allowed to enroll at any age.  In this lesson students were learning about the flag of Zambia including being asked to color it.  Crayons are not readily available so the students had to share four or five crayons among the 32 students.

A lesson about story elements was next for grade six. We read the story of the Tortoise and the Hare and students had to figure out the characters, setting, problem, solution and moral of the story.  I had made a chart of the story elements, followed by a discussion about each element before we read the story.  This was very new information for the students and they struggled a bit to fill in the chart but utilizing "turn and talk" helped the students come up with some answers.

Finally the grade sevens learned about main idea and detail by reading a passage about the water cycle. 
Students discuss the definition of "condensation"
Some had studied the water cycle before and remembered some of the concepts such as evaporation or condensation.  But none of the students had thought about the main idea or details so the task was challenging.
These students come after school to read books because they have no books at home.
After the lessons had been taught I met with the teachers to discuss what they noticed and what they might use in their teaching.  Each teacher had an idea  of what they wanted to incorporate more into their teaching whether it was “turn and talk” or group work or just getting the students to talk to each other more during the lesson about the content.  They all agreed to practice the strategy so they are ready for Mabuchi and me to observe them and give feedback next week.
Grade 7 students finding the main idea and details in a passage about the water cycle.

I was encouraged by the response from the teachers.  I am really looking forward to watching them teach next week. 

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