This year, we really nailed it! First of all, the week-long workshop was kicked into high gear by our guest speakers: The District Education Officer, the teacher s center's directors and the senior primary school specialist from the Ministry, Dr. Joan Kajura. Spirits were both raised and challenged!
The workshop leaders were Chole Richard of Jinja Uganda, Sandra Thaxter of Small Solutions Big Ideas and me, Dr. Joanne Clemente of Ventures for Good Foundation. We accomplished so much!
Many ICT skills were taught to this class of approximately 24 teachers. This type of workshop can be used for both inexperienced as well as experienced teachers.
We contextualized the ICT in Project Based Learning and taught the following ICT skills:
Windows Explorer in the Windows Operating System: Files and Folders, creating, moving and copying.
Word Processing in WPS: Creating a document, typing, selection, copy, paste, page layouts, inserting pictures.
Presentation in WPS: Creating slides, inserting text pictures
Art work in Pocket Paint, such as Drawing, photography
Website Creation in Google Sites: new page, typing, inserting pictures.
Software Tools on XO Laptop such as Reading (Get Books, Wikipedia, Write), Games (Maze, Memorize, Implode), Media (Fototoon, Write with picture,) Math (Typing Turtle, Physics, Scratch Programming, etc).
Software Tools on XO tablet such as Videos, Numbers, Google Searching in the Browser, Planets, Geoquiz, making videos, Skeleton, Mountains and Peaks, Food, Fruits, Memorize, etc.
When we say contextualized, it was. It was memorable. Skills were taught to teachers as they needed to know them. Motivation was at a very high level. We explained Project Based Learning. Most of them were somewhat familiar because a previous preparatory workshop was conduced by Chole Richard, a high school teacher at PMM Girls School.
Different projects were described and videos of them were shown. Then after a review of the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th grade curriculum topics, one project was suggested that could be applied to any of the grades and topics. That project was the creation of a newspaper for each school.
Teachers as Students:
A sample newspaper was distributed and the different parts explained.
The teachers were given the role of students and given an XO tablet. Firstly, this gives them a first hand experience of working on a project without prior experience. Secondly, it forced them to work with teachers from other schools since the groups were arranged by grade level rather than by school. Each student was assigned a role. Some were photographers,some writers, some cartoonists. All tried their hand at each others roles. WPS (MS Office clone) and PocketPaint were used as was the built-in camera. The assignment was to create something that was newspaper worthy. Teachers struggled but were able to save their starting work on the first day. On the second day, the teachers were introduced to the concepts of files and folders and taught how to name their work and save it appropriately so that their "teacher" could locate it on their XO tablets.
Teachers as Teachers:
Then the teachers were assigned the role of "teachers". Each school was given a PC. They were taught how to use WPS on the PC and shown how to layout a newspaper with banner, sections and columns. One by one, they brought their PC to the front of the room and connected the XO tablets to import the work that the "students" had completed. Firstly, this enabled them to learn how to use WPS on the PC, then how to locate saved files on the XO tablets and safely import them and create a layout.
This exercise proved to be a wonderful implementation of project based learning as well as just in time learning.
The last two days of the week was devoted to individual attention, more practice of technology tools and applications on the tablet and XO tablets, the PCs and the projectors. We SKYPED with Zambia to receive the first of many trainings in the use of the Zedupads, that 2 schools received. These Zedupads are pre-programmed with teachers lessons and student activities for primary grades 1 through 8. We have hopes that more schools will be able to adopt these. So impressive!!!
The following week, Sandra and I attended a teacher training workshop at the invitation of Dr. Kajura of the Ministry. This was conducted by Unesco and the Varkey Foundation. Excellent! The workshop was on Moodle and Distance Learning, my specialty. I was also asked to speak about our projects and about distance learning in general. Thereafter, I was asked to collaborate on a teacher certification program in Educational Technology. More to follow on that.
All in all, a very successful trip. Workshops are being continued by Chole Richard. One of our teachers was recognized by Microsoft and will be attending the all expense paid conference in Hungary. We are soooo proud of John Iduuli!
One of our group trips was to New Victory Primary School.
This school, New Victory, is important in how it functions and in that it is followed by the Ministry as a model school. I have spent a career in education, but never was I more impressed than by the principal and the methodologies employed in this primary school. Founded first as a child care agency in 2003 and as a school in 2014, this well-managed multi-faceted organization is an asset to the community. 200 students are housed at this self-sustaining school but 350 attend classes there. While I get reports from so many teachers in other Ugandan schools about the lack of food provisions, this school has managed to create a sustainable farm, replete with plants and animals, which provide food for staff and students alike. Children and staff work together to learn by doing, a philosophy of education called Constructivism. It is completely over-crowded but very complete with strategies and dedication. With your help, services can be expanded to serve these children better and to take on additional needy children. Many, many orphans are already housed on the campus, as are those rescued from child trafficking. The principal, an orphan who saw his father slain, demonstrates enormous dedication and grit in spite of ever- present challenges. I am happy to include him and two staff members in my professional development training, but I respectfully request support from the Global Fund for Children to provide funds to secure additional housing and a computer lab with low-cost technology and additional time with the local technology consultant that I employ. The school also needs another building to house children and continue the work and to encourage these students to be future leaders in Uganda. Your money would not be wasted as your support would provide opportunities for these needy children in their quest for a self-sufficient future. The skills we could teach these children and more will last a lifetime. The management of this school is superb and you are most welcome to communicate directly with the principal using this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org