We have just completed Part II of our teacher preparation program. The complete teacher training consisted of two segments:
Part I) A 4 day intensive residential, out-of-school training that focuses on integrating digitial educational materials and ICT-based teaching approaches in the regular classroom instruction process. This was completed on April 1, 2008. An earlier blog post has details about this segment of the training.
Part II) A 4 day training in the teachersâ€™ regular classrooms where they get hand-on experience in developing, implementing, and fine-tuning child-centric, interactive, ICT-integrated lesson plans. This was completed on Friday, May 2, 2008. The current post is about this segment only.
For Bashuki teachers, the training was held at Bashuki Lower Secondary School itself. Similarly, for Bishwamitra teachers, it was held at Bishwamitra Lower Secondary School.
Why in-school training?
Important fact: TEACHING THE KIDS HOW TO USE THE LAPTOPS IS A RELATIVELY EASY TASK. THEY PICK IT UP IN NO TIME (within a few hours!!).
Even more important fact: THE REAL CHALLENGE IS INTEGRATING THE LAPTOP AND THE AVAILABLE DIGITAL CONTENT IN THE REGULAR CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION PROCESS.
The residential portion of the training did give the teachers some experience in integrating E-Paati in the classroom process (apart from making them completely familiar with the use of the laptop). But the simulated classroom environment in any residential training is a far cry from the actual setting in their own schools. Furthermore, since each school is very different in terms of physical infrastructure, student composition, community involvement and other resources, there are unique practical challenges associated with each school. So we felt that it would be very useful to give teachers hands-on experience in integrating E-Paati in their regular classrooms.
There is another important reason why in-school training is important in this case. In most teacher training programs, it is possible for teachers to learn about new approaches to teaching outside their school (for example, through practice teaching in another school) and they can take this knowledge to their own classrooms later. But in the present context, successful implementation in the classroom also requires the students themselves to learn about the new approach to learning and teaching. And this can only happen in the school where the laptop program is being implemented.
Structure of the training
Each day of the training was divided into four major segments:
1. Lesson plan review and revision
- Content: group review of lesson plan for the day.
- Participants: all the teachers in the schools + facilitators from OLE Nepal
- Time allocated: 1 hour (before the start of classes)
2. Classroom instruction and observation
- Content: classroom teaching according to the lesson plan
- Participants: teachers (one teacher teaches the students; the rest are observers) + OLE Nepal observers + students
- Time allocated: 3 to 4 full class periods (one period = 45 minutes in Bashuki; one period = 40 minutes in Bishwamitra)
- Content: discussion on the dayâ€™s experience (strengths, weaknesses, recommendations for improvement)
- Participants: all teachers + OLE Nepal facilitators
- Time allocated: 1-1.5 hours
4. Lesson planning for the next day
- Content: development of a detailed lesson plans for each class
- Participants: teachers delivering the lectures in these classes
- Time allocated: 1 hour
On the first day of the training (Saturday, April 26), the teachers focused on teaching the students how to use the laptop and the E-Paati activities in the laptop. This was done in two 1.5 hour long sessions.
During the remaining four days, the teachers conducted regular math and English classes in grades two and six according to the ICT-integrated lesson plans they developed. At Bishwamitra the ICT-integrated classes were held on Sunday (April 27) , Monday (April 28), Tuesday (April 29) and Wednesday (April 30). Bashuki conducted similar classes starting Monday (April 29). But since they had decided to keep the laptops in school for this first week of classes, they set aside Wednesday (April 30) for giving students more practice on how to use the laptops. They had a break on Thursday and completed the training program on Friday (May 2).
Overview of content covered in the training
Lesson planning: Integrating ICT-based educational materials in the classroom requires teachers to carefully plan their lessons. We wanted to give the teachers a very simple framework for developing lesson plans so that they would continue to use it even after the training. If they were to use it throughout the year, they would have to see that planning the lessons would not really take up too much of their timeâ€”and that it would help them in their other classes as well.
Each lesson plan in this training consisted of the following: a) listing of the learning objectives of the class, b) listing and brief descriptions of the topics or activities to be covered in the class, and c) listing of time allocated for each topic or activity. E-Paati activites were integrated in each lesson plan as one of the many activities covered to meet the learning objectives of the class. We emphasized that the goal should be to integrate E-paati in the classroom lesson plan; not devise a lesson plan around the E-Paati activities. As a rule of thumb, we emphasized that E-Paati use should not take up more than 40% of the total time allocated for the class.
Lesson plan review and revision: The lesson plans developed were critically reviewed and revised by all the teachers together to make sure that a) the learning objectives of lesson were properly clarified, b) the topics coveredâ€”including E-Patti topicsâ€”were consistent with the stated learning objectives, and c) the time allocated for each topic/activity was appropriate.
Classroom instruction and observation: This segment of the daily training was designed to (i) give subject teachers hands-on experience in teaching according to the integrated lesson plans and (ii) enable other teachers to critically examine the teaching-learning process in the regular classroom. Hence, while the subject teacher was conducting the lesson, the other teachers noted down their critical observations in the following areas:
a) Classroom structure (including appropriateness of seating arrangement, placement of charging racks, seat assignment schemes etc.)
b) Correspondence between lesson plan and practice
c) Time on task (effective use of time from the perspective of student learning)
d) Interaction (studentâ€”student; studentâ€”teacher) and participation of students in the learning process
e) Instruction delivery (clarity, adequacy of explanations, â€¦)
f) Time and classroom management (including tackling disruptive behavior on the part of students)
Feedback session: Feedback sessions were held at the end of each day to critically review the classroom process. The teachers delivering the lectures worked with the observers to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the classes held that day focusing on the six areas listed above. Through these discussions, the participants were able to identify areas that needed improvement and develop strategies for tackling problems.
Grade 2 students at Bishwamitra (English class)–totally into it!
Grade 6 students at Bishwamitra (math class)
Staff involved in the training
- Saurav Dev Bhatta and Rabi Karmacharya (all five days)
- Kamana Regmi (three days); Bipul Gautam (one day).
Most interesting outcomes
- Grade 6 students in both schools took just one day to become familiar with using the laptops!
- The children at Bishwamitra were allowed to take the laptops home immediately after receiving them. The children at Bashuki, however, did not take the computers home this first week. This decision was made by the respective school administrations. Not surprisingly, we observed that the Bishwamitra kids were much more familiar with the machines by the second day of the training. The difference was more pronounced in the case of grade 2 childrenâ€”it took two days for the Bashuki grade 2 students to get the hang of things, while it took the Bishwamitra kids only one day.
- In both schools, the teachers had no experience in designing and using systematic lesson plans. They were very appreciative of the experience they gained during this training period.
- One of the main challenges teachers initially faced when designing ICT-integrated lessons was in focusing on the learning objectives rather than on the E-Paati activities.
- The biggest difficulties faced by the teachers in the classroom were a) getting the attention of students and b) managing the time. Once the students had the laptops in front of them, they were generally oblivious to what the teacher was saying. It was, therefore, very difficult for the teacher to cover all the material that needed to be covered in that class period. For example, on the second day of the training, the classes ran up to 30 minutes overtime on the second day of the training.
- It was much more challenging for the teachers to get the attention of the grade 2 students. In fact, on the first day, there was chaos in the grade 2 classes in both schools!
- Initially, just the process of getting the laptops from the charging racks and putting them back after use took up a significant amount of time.
- The most effective ways of getting the attention of students were as follows: asking all the students to close the laptops; asking them to clap together, or stand up and stretch together; producing an alien sound that would grab their attention (for example, rattling a can of marbles).
- In the case of grade 6, by the end of the training, the teachers had completely figured out how to efficiently and effectively conduct E-Paati integrated classes within the time period allocated for the class. But they felt that it would perhaps take another week for them to fine tune the classroom process in grade 2.
- Bishwamitra teachers Manoj (who teachers grade 6 math) and Bhim (who teaches grade 2 math) were naturals at designing and implementing E-Paati integrated classes. Very impressive!
- The teachers in both schools felt that the most useful parts of the training were the feedback sessions at the end of the day and the lesson planning sessions.
- The biggest technical problem during this period was the jumpy cursor. The problem was particularly bad at Bashuki. This is something we have to fix!!
Grade 2 students at Bashuki–a different seating arrangement!
Grade 6 students at Bashuki
Our main “mantras” for the training
- The learning objectives should determine when and how E-Paati is used in class, not the other way round
- E-paati should be viewed as one of the many tools and activities used to achieve the learning objectives
- The goal is to integrate E-paati in the classroom lesson plan; not devise a lesson plan around the E-Paati activities
- Effective classroom management can make the class; ineffective classroom management can break the class
- Proper lesson planning is the key to successful integration of E-Paati in the classroom
- End-of-the day group review of lessons is the key to improvement
Saurav Dev Bhatta, Education Director