The Magazine for South African Teachers
Fourth Term 2018
Teaching Ideas - Classroom Management - CPTD Points
FOR SOUTH AFRICAN TEACHERS BY SOUTH AFRICAN TEACHERS.
THE TEACHER HUB TO FIND 4500+ RESOURCES, JOBS, CPTD COURSES, NEWS & INSPIRATION. www.teacha.co.za www.teachingresources.co.za
In this issue
Editor's Letter: 4 How we Learn: Cognitive Load Theory 6 How to Create a Sensory Circuit in Your Classroom 8 Preparing our Grade 3s for the leap to Grade 4 10 Simile and Sensory Poetry: Creative THINKING Becomes Creative WRITING 12 Giving Meaningful Feedback to Promote Learning 16 Teacher Hacks: Ways to Reduce Your Workload 17 Improving Classroom Discipline 18 The Evolution of a School 20 Podcasts for Teachers 23 How Learning Online Can be a Great Alternative to Having to Attend PD Meetings 24 SACE Points Guide Spotlight 25 Getting to know Tsholofelo Lechuti 26 eLearning Africa 28 Why It’s Good News That Swahili Is Coming To South African Schools 30 When Children Sing And Play, They’re Also Becoming Scientific Explorers 32
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LET’S UNITE In September, teachers across South Africa were shocked to find out that one of their colleagues had been killed by a pupil. The teacher, Gadimang Daniel Mokolobate, only 24 years of age and in his first year of teaching became a well-known known name to us in the education sphere - but not in the way in which one would hope. Just a week before, a learner pulled a gun on a teacher in Johannesburg. And then there was news of another teacher being attacked in her home by a past pupil as an act of revenge. Now, I admit that this is quite a morbid way to start the second issue of our magazine, but I feel that during this time of difficulty, it is vital that us as South African teachers continue to stand together and stand up to violence against us, our peers and our children. Already, there has been some change for the better. On September 18, thousands of South African teachers were unified as they wore black to raise awareness of violence against teachers and to remind all involved that teachers also have rights. Countrywide, educators shared photos of their colleagues on the various social media platforms showing that schools from Kathu to Cape Town took part in the day set aside to mourn. Teachers need to be united like this on all other issues affecting our profession. We all know the problems, but what are we doing to change the system? Did we comment on the recently proposed changes to the curriculum? Why are we not outraged that 80% of our Grade 4 learners can’t read for meaning?
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We fight on as individuals in our schools and in our classes, trying to focus on our kids whilst also trying to put a plaster on systemic issues that many times are out of our reach. If things really are to change, we need to stand together like we did on the 18th of September and let our voices be heard. But we also need to be united in our staffrooms and online, in our teacher communities every day. Supporting each other sometimes means just actively listening to a colleague. It could make a huge difference if they are facing immense pressure and stress. Get together and rant about what’s wrong, but don’t get trapped in the pit of negativity. Shift the focus of these conversations to finding solutions rather than complaining about the problems. Teacha! magazine is a perfect example of how teachers are uniting to uplift their profession. In this edition, you’ll read about best practices from primary school to high school. You’ll find advice about Classroom Management, eLearning, Professional Development and more, we hope that these articles will lead to good inspiration and great staffroom discussions. Remember, these articles are all written by teachers for teachers. Enjoy! Please send your contributions, suggestions and letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. Teacha magazine is a publication for teachers, by teachers and we need your help to keep it going, with fresh ideas, content and inspiration for teachers in South Africa.
Teacha! Teacha! is a collaborative effort between South African & international teachers and organisations. We would like to thank the following contributors: Jean Vermeulen - Editor Ali Mills - Subeditor Teachers / Former Teachers: Renate Rรถhrs Ali Mills Leyla Norman Mari Buys (Spraakborrel) Juffer "My Klaskamer" Francois "Super Teacher" Naude Tsholofelo Lechuti Wendy Horn Organisations: The Conversation Outdoor Education Educanda Teacha! is published by Onnie Media Pty Ltd. www.onniemedia.com Support South African teachers by advertising on our platforms: email@example.com
Teacha! is a hub for South African teachers. Find and sell your original resources in our resources marketplace, engage with your colleagues in the Teacha! Helpline group on Facebook, and find news, resources, teacher tips and inspiration on our websites. www.teachingresources.co.za and www.teacha.co.za
RSA Teaching Jobs The leading job board for South African school-related vacancies. Schools can find and post teaching positions on our website. Set up a job alert to receive the newest vacancies in your inbox weekly. Send us your vacancies to firstname.lastname@example.org. www.rsateachingjobs.co.za
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SACE Points Guide We know how difficult it is to get to grips with the SACE CPTD system. On SACE Points Guide we try to make it easier for you by listing SACE activities all over South Africa. We also try to answer your questions regarding SACE. www.sacepointsguide.co.za
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How we learn Cognitive Load Theory I have recently come to a shocking conclusion, I do not know how learning happens. I know how to learn, I can tell you when learners did not learn and sometimes I can even tell you when they did actually learn something. But I have never really thought about what is happening when you learn. And as a teacher, learning is my trade. I decided to fix this problem and went down a fascinating rabbit hole of research and theories. The first thing I learnt was that nobody seems to know exactly how we learn. There are lots of theories around, all explaining part of the process, but not the process as a whole. The second thing I learnt is that you have to go about these theories carefully, after all they are just theories. Cognitive Load Theory in 100 words Cognitive Load Theory is based on the principle that thinking and learning takes place in your working memory, and to learn something new or really engage with a problem you need space in your working memory. The problem is that our working memory is rather limited, everyone has similar capacity, but unfortunately there isn’t much you can do to increase it. The only way you can free up space in your working memory is by grouping previous knowledge in schemas and making basic processes automatic. At the same time, you need to limit the distractions that clog up your working memory.
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What does it mean for your classroom? If your brain goes into cognitive overload, learning doesn’t take place. You might still be able to do the work, you might even get it correct occasionally, but it is unlikely that you will remember much of it or learn from the experience. Since the working memory is said to be limited to about 7 elements at any given time, once it is full, you will start making mistakes or go blank, unless some elements from your working memory are eliminated. Imagine your working memory as an internet browser that can only run 7 tabs at any given time. Once seven tabs are open, you can’t open a new one until you have closed one of the open tabs, otherwise, your computer, or brain in this case, will freeze. Have you ever struggled to do a sum in front of the class, only to get it right the moment you sit down at your desk? When in front of the class you are running several “tabs” at the same time. While you are doing the sum, you are talking through your steps and reading to the class to see if they are following, this, all whilst wondering what little Johnny in the
back corner is doing No wonder you feel like you can’t think - your brain is in cognitive overload. How do you prevent cognitive overload? When we are talking about your cognitive load, it is important to remember that when you are confronted with something new (let’s call you a novice), the cognitive load is a lot higher than when you are familiar with it (let’s call you an expert). Therefore the cognitive load of something will be different for different learners and may appear at various times. For example, a quadratic equation will carry a high load to a grade 9, but the same sum will have a fairly small cognitive load to a Matric learner. But how do you lower the cognitive load without making the work easier? Willingham (2003) said that “memory is the residue of thinking”, so you don’t want to lower the cognitive load of the topic they are learning, you want to lower the load of everything else. You also don’t want to lower it too much, then they will just fill that capacity thinking about other things.
I used to use as many different numbers as possible when I introduced my grade 9â€™s to quadratic equations, now I use examples with similar numbers. I will start the lesson by talking about factor pairs and write the factors of the numbers we are going to use on the board so that we do not need to think about it again. This way their working memory is not filled by finding factors when I really just want them to learn how the signs affect the answer.
References: Willingham, D.T. (2003) "Ask the cognitive scientist. Students remember...what they think about," American Educator 27(2) pp 37-41
You might feel that I am lowering my standards, but we are talking novices here. Once they are familiar with the concept, have assimilated it into their existing memory schemes and it becomes automatic to them, I increase the load by giving them more complex problems. The trick is to manage the cognitive load at each stage of the process.
Barton, C. (2018) "How I wish I'd taught Maths," John Catt Educational Ltd
Further reading: Sweller, J, Van Merrienboer, J.J.G and Paas, F.G.W.C (1998) "Cognitive architecture and instructional design," Educational Psychology Review 10(3) pp 251-296
Renate RĂśhrs, eLearning Specialist, Butterfly Classrooms
Cognitive Load Theory has too many aspects and applications to cover them all in one article, but I hope that this taster could pique your interest. In the next edition, I will look at some other learning theories.
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How to create a Sensory Circuit in your classroom Is it really possible to make an impact on sensory motor development and sensory processing within the school environment? A question, as an Occupational Therapist, I am frequently asked by teachers. The answer is a complicated one. Considering the needs of an individual child, the structure and set-up of the classroom, and the amount of time and support that the teacher has available all come into play. Invariably however, my answer will confirm the need to develop sensory circuits in your own classroom. Sensory motor development refers to the gradual process in which a child learns to use and coordinate the muscles of the body together – legs, arms, trunk, hands, fingers…all our muscles we use to move around and engage with our environments. Sensory processing happens in the brain and is imperative for sensory motor development, as it is through this organising of sensations from our environments and our own bodies that we can start to develop this coordination. Effective sensory processing relies on smooth and efficient neural pathways. In order for new neural pathways to be established and for any neurological change to take place – which is what is needed to effect change in sensory processing and integration – regular input with repeated stimulation is needed. This requires time and manpower that most schools, with the most well-
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intentioned teachers, simply don’t have. Having an effectively running sensory circuit programme in your school, can enable you to meet the individual needs of children in a group context that is fun and motivational, and which has realistic time and facilitation demands for staff.
Train staff involved Staff that have a proper understanding of sensory integration, of sensory circuits, and of how they can benefit children, are far more likely to be invested in the programme. At this point it may be worth getting an occupational therapist to come to your school to do training with your staff on I’ve put together a few tips sensory processing. Understanding for starting a sensory circuit what we mean by sensory programme at your school: integration, how effective sensory processing impacts on academic Choose a leader for the performance, and how sensory programme processing can affect behaviour, This person will do the planning, allows teachers to see how the training of other staff members, sensory circuit could benefit their and initial identification of children students and their classrooms. attending the circuits. Make Ongoing training for identifying sure that there is sufficient time children, doing relevant paper work protected for this person to work on and reviewing the programme the circuits. This is especially true in will be needed. The number of the beginning when the circuits are staff members you have involved being setup. Allocating adequate will be dependent on the number time to this role at this stage will of children who will be using the save time and manpower further programme. down the line. Identify children that could benefit Having a good foundational understanding of sensory processing and children’s sensory needs will help you to identify which children will most benefit from joining your sensory circuit programme. Creating a sensory checklist for teachers to complete will help you to group children with similar needs and help you to create circuits that will address the specific targets for each group. You can include alerting, organising, and calming activities into your circuit and can thus choose children with difficulties in any of these areas.
Choose your environment The ideal place for a circuit is a hall or a gym. This will give sufficient contained space for equipment to be laid out and for the maximum number of children possible to take part in the circuit. Having said that, if you are starting off with a smaller group, a smaller environment could suffice. Review your equipment What items do you have available in your physical education and sports stores? And what items may be useful to purchase? Start with a few basics and add more to your sensory circuit kit as you become more familiar with the children, their needs, and what works well in your space. Hop, skip, jump, swing, balance, dance, wiggle, shake – what do you need to get the children moving? Basics that are recommended as a starting point are: A mini trampoline or large trampoline will do – this is great to use as an alerting activity and can be done from beginner level with straightforward jumping, to more complex jumping like star and scissor jumps. Later a more proficient child can develop sequencing by reciting times tables, catching a ball, or throwing bean bags at a target while jumping. Skipping ropes – also useful for alerting, skipping can work on coordination, sequencing, speed and crossing the midline. Grading the activity as children’s skills develop is easy as you incorporate more complicated skipping steps. Balance benches – including an aspect of balance in your circuit will make it more organised for children. Solid school balance beams (often used in gym class) are perfect for this. Other balancing equipment, which may be easier to set up and
store and which can achieve the same aims are walking boards, balance skateboards and balance boards. Exercise mats – these can be used in all floor activities and help give structure and visual prompting in your circuit.
education slots and assembly times often become the most practical options. The more frequently the circuit is run during the week the more opportunity there is for neurological change to happen and outcomes to be generalized into the classroom.
Record keeping, monitoring and Tunnels – These are great because evaluation they get children into a crawling As with any intervention, it is position whilst still providing important that regular evaluation calming sensory input. The change is done to assess if the sessions in position of the body and head are worthwhile and are effecting provides a different sensorythe change expected. Creating motor experience while the weight simple, straightforward paperwork, bearing through the upper limbs is a to be filled in, about the children’s wonderful way of developing upper performance both on the circuit limb strength and shoulder girdle and in the classroom is imperative. stability imperative for fine motor Having specific targets set out skills. for individual children and then measuring their progress in these A variety of bean bags, balls, cones areas will help you to keep your and hoops to turn activities into circuits focused and constructive. games which develop hand-eye In her book Sensory Circuits, coordination, midline crossing, and motor planning but also give A Sensory Motor Skills children meaning which provides Programme for Children (ISBNthe internal motivation to take part. 13:9781855034716), Jane Horwood Once you have a well-established gives fantastic examples of basic sensory circuit kit that you paperwork and checklists that can are comfortable using you can be used to support your circuits start looking at buying some other programme. She outlines possible desirable items like the following: activities you can use and gives you • Scooter boards more in-depth background on the • Feeling plates development of sensory circuits. • Targets This book is well worth a read if you • Ribbons are planning on setting up a sensory • Hop sacks circuits programme in your school. • Chinese elastics • Tug of war rope Educanda is South Africa’s leading • Stilts supplier of child development tools, school learning equipment Fitting your circuit into the daily and accredited teacher training timetable from as early as birth all the way Ideally the circuit should be done to high school. Request your free first thing in the morning before Educational Catalogue on 0800 86 the school day starts. There are 96 73 or email order@educanda. significant benefits from running co.za to receive immediate it a second time later in the day. assistance. Unfortunately this often does not fit in with school timetables. Using registration periods, physical
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Preparing our Grade 3s for the leap to Grade 4 It’s the end of Grade 3 and the end of a phase, but do we do enough to prepare our learners for the transition to Grade 4? In many schools we have a physical environment change to a different corridor or floor level – from where the younger kids are taught to where the older children learn. This knowledge of a new beginning is however, not the only kind of preparation we need to do. During the early years in Foundation Phase we focus on emotional development, cultivating friendships and appropriate social behaviour. We guide our students through a multitude of perceptual and academic activities to ensure that they’ll have the skills necessary to learn to read, to calculate and to write. By the end of the grade, our learners have gone through a small forest of paperwork and can prove their skills through copious amounts of assessments - but how do we as teachers help them through the transition from one phase to another?
together, do experiments, change teachers (visit the younger or older grade) for a period or do community activities. Choose concepts or skills that the Grade 4 group knows well and have them share their knowledge – almost like a job shadowing day (or lesson). Once they’ve had these moments to pass the proverbial baton on, one could investigate the option of doing it between more grade levels. •
Have learners in the older grades write letters to the younger group explaining “what to expect”. Have them note their own celebrations and concerns, but also ask them to state how they’ve overcome those fears. Guide them to mention the possible concerns that arise in the the joining of the new phase. Such examples could include: Formal exams; Having more than one teacher; Working according to a different schedule or changing of classes.
Celebrate the accomplishments - big and small
We can read in two languages. We can write in cursive. We can help each other to read and to do mathematics. Write the respective statements down or have the younger group type and print these thoughts out. Compile all the letters, pictures, photographs and guidelines to be added to the report card envelopes or mail them shortly before the new school year starts. Yes, this may be a lot of work, but how exciting would it be to receive such an unexpected treasure when you are anxious about a new year! We need to make sure that the following is created to ensure that our learners succeed: •
Create opportunities where the different grade levels can interact. Have them play board games
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My Klaskamer by Juffer has been the go to blog for Foundation Phase teachers for the past decade. Juffer also has a store on Teacha! with many resources for Foundation Phase teachers and parents, both in Afrikaans and English.
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Simile and Sensory Poetry: Creative THINKING Becomes Creative WRITING Teachers often hear statements like “Creativity is the most important skill in the primary school years” or “Creativity is now as important in education as literacy…” The way we teach, or the way in which we were taught may no longer be appropriate in this day and age. Nobody can predict all of the skills that our learners may need in future. However, the one skill that will be around indefinitely is creative thinking. No matter what field of work you may be in or may want to be in, having the ability to think creatively is advantageous and is regarded as a prime key skill required in the workplace. Although it may not necessarily be an easy task to teach and learn creativity, I believe that what follows may help you to steer your learners in the right direction. Writing poetry: This involves a lot of creative thinking skills. We need to encourage creative use of language, which can be achieved by writing poetry, since poetry is all about mental imaging. Against popular belief, poetry does not always need to involve rhyming. Rhyming is an excellent way for young children to develop an awareness of language, phonic patterns, and rhythms.
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However, the problem is that children's experience of poetry is so dominated by rhyme that when they actually get down to the writing process, they are distracted by the need to create rhyming couplets. One of the best ways to engage students in descriptive and imaginative language is through the use of the five senses, namely in a sensory poem. A sensory poem is an unrhymed poem that describes a feeling. Then this feeling is described by telling what it sounds, smells, tastes, looks, and feels like. Similes – as neat as a pin, as proud as a peacock, cute as a button, etc. These are often predictable and we tend to hand out bonus points when our learners use them, but how creative are they actually? Why not get your learners to invent their own similes? This could be much more meaningful and I am sure a lot more enjoyable as well! The process is imaginative and creative, and it will develop problem-solving skills over time. The incorporation of a task such as simile poetry into creative writing exercises will encourage the development of skills necessary for analogous thoughts which form one of the cornerstones of science and art.
The Following are poetry-writing activities which will tick quite a few of the CAPS (Grade 2 & 3) boxes: • Writing of a simple poem • Organising of information in a chart or table • Taking part in shared writing and making use of the writing process. In these activities, sensory and simile poetry are combined into a highly structured activity which is perfect for the learners’ first go at writing poetry. You will be amazed at the work that the poets in your class deliver! Begin your mini lesson with the explanation of what poetry is. Often, children are afraid of writing poetry - this is not necessary as there is a wide range of poetry types and there are many ways to go about it. Here are a few great titles to get you started: • Poet’s Tree by Shel Silverstein • Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne • Being Brave at Night y Edgar Guest • Chocolate Cake by Michael Rosen • Matilda by Hilaire Belloc Mari Buys is a Speech and Language Therapist who have been focusing on Foundation Phase learners for the past 18 years. Her store on Teacha! is called Spraakborrel.
Mini Lessons ACTIVITY 1: Writing a simile poem
ACTIVITY 2 Sensory & Simile poem
Search for ideas within the whole class group. Make a list of all the ideas.
First do a class poem – where the whole class gives ideas. Write all the ideas down.
Example: A thunderstorm is….
As loud as a………….roaring lion As frightening as a ………dinosaur As spectacular as a………. waterfall As wonderful as a…………present As black as a……………millipede INDIVIDUALLY A rainbow... As red as a ……………………… As orange as a ………………… As yellow as a………………….. As green as a ………………….. As blue as a ……………………. As purple as a …………………
Winter looks like the trees on the playground Winter smells like the soup in mom's kitchen Winter sounds like a quiet night Winter tastes like juicy oranges Winter feels like a warm bath INDIVIDUALLY Now get the children to write their own spring poems individually. Provide them with a template which will serve as the draft for the writing activity. Example: Spring Spring looks like flowers Spring smells like rain in the garden Spring sounds like rain on the roof Spring tastes like watermelon Spring feels like a cool breeze You can also use colours to write combined sensory simile poems: Example: Green Green feels like the grass in our garden Green looks like my father’s favourite tie Green smells like washing dishes Green sounds like croaking frogs Green tastes like yummy spinach!
GET INVOLVED IN OUTDOOR CLASSROOM DAY! HERE ARE A FEW TIPS TO HELP YOU PLAN A FANTASTIC OUTDOOR CLASSROOM DAY! 1 NOVEMBER 2018 BEFOREHAND Sign up to say you are taking part! Plan ahead – knowing what you are going to do and how you are going to do it will make sure things go smoothly - but do leave some room to be inspired on the day! If the whole school is going to get outside, agree a timetable in advance so that everyone has a fair share of the outdoor space. Make sure you have permissions for photos from parents and let your photographer know if there is anyone who can’t be photographed. Scan the forms so you can send them with your photography competition entries! (Forms can be downloaded from the resources section of the website). Involve parents and carers. Getting their support and input will make the day even better - and if children are going to come home a little bit grubby it’s good that they know why! Think about involving other people from your community, including celebrities, local faith leaders, the police and businesses owners. If you don’t have any school grounds, then think about using the street outside your school (can it be closed?) Or you could go to your local park or open green space for the day. Be prepared for the weather. Make sure everyone – children and adults – have the right clothes and protection so they can concentrate on having fun!
ON THE DAY Get everyone involved – What about having an outdoor assembly for the whole school? Consider making the day a non school uniform day, or an old school uniform day, so it doesn’t matter if they get messy. Think about theming the day and linking into other lessons before and after – there are loads of ideas in the suggested lesson plans, which can be downloaded from the resources section of the website! Record your experiences – take photographs and videos of the fun that you have had and share them to inspire others! 14 | Teacha! Magazine
AFTERWARDS Share your experiences. Outdoor Classroom Day is all about building a movement, so inspire everyone! Send a press release, put up photos on noticeboards, include information in your newsletters, publish a report on your websites, give a presentation to governors. Check out what everyone else has shared – are there great ideas for next year? Send your photos and stories to email@example.com and share with the world! Post on Twitter or Facebook. Can the resources in the Outdoor Library help you make outdoor learning and play part of the every school day? Can you also inspire parents to get their children outdoors more too outside of school?
THE LEGAL STUFF: Going outside on your own school ground is straightforward and shouldn’t require any special permissions. If you are going off site then make sure you abide by your school’s off site rules and procedures. Make sure that you carry out a risk/benefit assessment of the activities you are going to do - whether off site or on site (see “Taking a Balanced Approach to Risk and Benefit” by Tim Gill in the Outdoor Library) - and have the right first aid/incident reporting procedures in place. If you are going off site you need to make sure that your insurance policy covers you for any liabilities in accordance with any usual off site activities that you undertake. This also applies to any transportation that you may be using.
There is a whole community of teachers from around the world who are waiting to welcome you outdoors and share practice, ideas and successes. Connect with them by sharing your experiences on the Outdoor Classroom Day Facebook page, on Twitter and on Instagram with the hashtag #outdoorclassroom. You can also share with parents on #dirtisgood!
Giving Meaningful Feedback to Promote Learning To learn anything new, you need feedback from those teaching the skill or idea to you. Without that, you may proceed with incorrect ideas and, ultimately, fail in executing the new skill or correctly applying a new concept in the real world. As an educator, your learners depend on you to provide them with feedback that will help them to learn what they need to know. The problem comes when that feedback is given in a completely negative way. Negative feedback can damage a learner’s desire to keep discovering new ideas in the world. It can stifle and completely extinguish the internal desire to learn. It can also kill self-esteem and make a child feel like they are incapable, or not as capable as others of learning new material. Here are some ideas from Marianne Stengler of Edutopia to help you give the most productive feedback to your learners.: Be Specific When you say something like, “Well done!” to your learners, you aren’t telling them exactly what they did there. Saying, “Not quite” doesn’t tell them what they need to work on or how they need to work on it. Tell your learners specifically what they need to do better and what they did well in order to improve. Target the feedback to the objective of the learning For example, don’t provide negative feedback about handwriting when the goal of learning is to create a story with a good plot, says Nina Smith, a pedagogical consultant writing for Monster. Both Smith and Isla Hearts Teaching suggest that teachers have a clear learning goal. Objectives should be the frame for all feedback. This helps learners “self-monitor, selfassess, and hopefully engage more with the material.” Give Feedback in a Timely Way When possible, provide learners with feedback as soon after they practice a new skill or explain an idea as you can. Delayed feedback has been shown
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by multiple studies to cause learners to not be able to master an idea as well as if they had received immediate feedback. Isla Hearts Teaching suggests that one should use peer review to help learners improve their writing with feedback from other learners. Kindness, respect, and an understanding that the feedback is about the writing and not the author is critical for this to work, but if done correctly, this can help learners get the immediate feedback that they need to improve. Give Feedback about Progress toward a Goal Help your learners identify learning goals for themselves. Then provide them with understanding that makes it clear how the feedback will help them reach their end goal. Be Careful How You Give Feedback If learners don’t have the room to do the work without being too closely monitored, they may feel selfconscious and not want to learn. Feedback that is interpreted as a way to control how they should be accomplishing a task, instead of as guidance can backfire as well. Feedback given in front of others can make learners feel that they are competing with each other, potentially causing them to not want to learn. Smith also suggests that you “choose neutral words that are not loaded with value or judgment.” You want to avoid criticising a learner’s personal shortcomings or attributes that are out of their control. Involve Learners Share with learners how they are doing and check whether they understand and can apply the material they are learning. It’s also helpful for them to know whether their method of studying, researching, answering questions, etc. is effective. Smith also suggests that you ask your learners if they agree when you provide suggestions for improvement. Allow them to answer back truthfully and do not criticise their thoughts, rather ask them to explain how they got to their conclusion. Involve them in the process of giving and receiving feedback.
Teacher Hacks: Ways to Reduce Your Workload As a teacher, your work follows you home every night. There are always papers to grade, reports to write, lessons to plan and parents to contact. However with some planning, you can reduce your workload so that you can better enjoy what you do: teach.
are waiting for you to mark their papers, suggests Amaro. Use symbols learners understand. Focus marking on certain aspects of a lesson you’re working on, not on everything learners should have correct. Different coloured pens can show learners what they need to work on (i.e., green is fine, orange Marie Amaro and Tanya Matthews needs some work, and red needs of The Highly Effective Teacher offer to be completely redone). some great ideas on just how you can do that. Peer marking is another idea. You might use the “three before me” One of the tactics Amaro suggests idea in which learners have their to reduce your workload is to work checked by three other delegate some of your tasks. You learners before they turn it in to can create a list of jobs that you you. This strategy also gets learners know need to be done regularly. to learn from one another. Compile these lists with your learners so that the classroom is You can also show learners how to clean and operating well. A rotation assess their own work before they schedule can be implemented for turn it in. Individual conferencing learners to do these jobs for you. while other learners are working independently can help you Another idea is to increase expand on written comments learner independence and without too much extra work at interdependence. Utilize “innovative home. cooperative learning strategies, self-directed learning, peer If you’re checking writing, and you mentoring, open-ended tasks have access to the Internet, have and problem based learning” learners share assignments with in your lessons . This increases you online (e-Learning), like in opportunities for learners to learn Google Docs, so that you can check from each other, to create their their work as they go. Have your own project ideas, and to take learners turn in drafts so that you ownership of their learning. can provide quick commentary, allowing the final product to be as Give learners immediate feedback easy to grade as possible. and reduce the time that they
Another idea is to show learners good examples of work so they know the level of expectations you have and can do their work to emulate it. Prioritisation is a particularly important area for teachers to master, according to TeacherToolkit.co.uk one should “Take steps to cut out activities or tasks that are not essential to the running of the classroom. “. You can then use the time freed up from the activities you scrapped to make your classroom and teaching time more efficient. Another idea TeacherToolkit suggests is to utilize technology to help you collaborate with your colleagues - examples being: sharing documents to brainstorm ideas, collaborating on lessons and communicating the curriculum expectancies. You can also organize your to-do lists, create spreadsheets to keep track of learning goals for learners, or take advantage of the many apps and teacher tools available online to help you organize your classroom and keep track of your learners’ progress. Finally, create a routine that will allow you to get your paperwork done. Stick with your routine so that you get all of your administrative work completed in a timely fashion.
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Improving Classroom Discipline The challenge of maintaining discipline in the classroom is not new to education. Ask any teacher what their biggest obstacle is to providing quality lessons and the matter of ill-discipline will inevitably rank among their top 3. Many textbooks, dissertations and blogs are dedicated to improving the state of classroom discipline and they all share strategies and techniques to improve a teacherâ€™s classroom management skills. Yet, we are no nearer to a permanent solution to the challenge than we were 20 years ago. Teachers are becoming more disgruntled every year and many leave the teaching profession to seek a work environment that is less chaotic. How then, do we improve the classroom environment and stop this mass exodus of teachers?
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I do not proclaim to have a magic pill that will cure the menace of the many discipline challenges, nor do I think such a wonder of a medicine will ever be developed, but I do believe that there are some general beliefs about discipline that need to be revised and Iâ€™d like to share my thoughts on the matter of classroom discipline in this article. In essence, I believe that most of the tried-and-tested discipline techniques only address the symptoms of deeper rooted causes. We need to address the cause of the issues if we are to rid the classroom of the symptoms. Just as medical doctors treat epidemics by administering medication to individuals, teachers should treat the epidemic of ill-discipline by administering strategies in an individualised manner.
Corporal punishment What would a discussion about discipline be without addressing corporal punishment? Many proponents of the ‘carrot and stick’ strategy, who whip out the stick without any thought of the carrot, proclaim corporal punishment to solve the matter of ill-discipline. After all, it worked for many generations and it didn’t have that many serious negative effects on individuals. Aside from the anecdotes of victims of classroom violence as I believe corporal punishment to be - research has shown that learners’ ability to retain information and learn concepts decrease when the learning occurs in a state of fear. The use of corporal punishment is a surefire way of creating a fearful classroom. In a society
and model the behaviour you wish for. When you do everything in your control to create an environment that is conducive to learning, you will be able to hand over control of the lesson and experience creativity in action. Building relationships Most humans have an innate desire to feel important. We are content when this need is fulfilled, but will go out of our way to meet the need when we feel unimportant. This is also true for the learners in your class. All of them. Not only the ones you think are “just seeking attention”. When teachers take interest in the lives of those they teach, they start building
"Most humans have an innate desire to feel important. We are content when this need is fulfilled, but will go out of our way to meet the need when we feel unimportant." where violence and abuse seem to be on the increase, why would we want to contribute to the deterioration of the social fabric? Regardless of any personal view you might have of the efficacy of corporal punishment, it has been outlawed. That’s the bottom line. It simply isn’t a strategy that may be used by teachers. Who is in control? I have yet to meet a passionate teacher who likes giving over control of their classroom. Most are extremely territorial and scrutinise any external entity who dares challenge her or his authority in their classroom. This is an admirable trait and shows the dedication of the teacher to her educational space. Unfortunately, this can easily lead to an authoritarian regime headed by a well-meaning dictator ruling the classroom. Dictators generally live under immense stress. They try to control every aspect of their state and allow little freedom. They feel that they need to be in control as to avoid anarchy that could lead to a revolution. Teachers who want to control every aspect of a lesson will quickly be confronted with one or two ‘anarchists’ who know that they can derail a lesson by stressing the teacher out. One thing I have learnt in my journey as a teacher is that you just cannot control everything. By loosening your grip on the lesson and classroom atmosphere you allow space for cooperation. I have come to realise that I am only in control of three things: 1) my thoughts, 2) my words, and 3) my actions. Aside from these I am not in control of anything. Want to improve the classroom environment? Allow for freedom of expression within the clear boundaries you set. Be consistent in your expectations, communicate these expectations clearly
a relationship of trust. We learn from those we trust because we feel a sense of security. Vygotsky and other proponents of social constructivism posit that we learn from competent peers. I argue that the competence of the teacher is confirmed when the relationship of trust is strengthened. Take the time to get to know the individual. What are their interests, hobbies, and extra-mural activities? Be genuine in your endeavour to build a relationship with the individual and you will be rewarded with behaviour that respects your expectations. The further advantage is that you get insight to the psyche of the person whom you are teaching. This allows you to select appropriate examples when explaining concepts that would resonate with the individual. Where should teachers still find the time to work on these relationships when they hardly find time to complete all their other responsibilities? I dedicated at least one break per week to building relationships. Instead of drinking tea in the staffroom I would drink my tea on the playground, observing behaviour, having informal chats. All in the hope of catching a glimpse of what is important to those I teach. These are only a few of the beliefs I needed to revise to improve the general experience for learners in my classroom. For me, it is not a matter of ensuring that discipline, in the traditional sense of the word, is enforced through the actions and decrees of a dictator but allowing a democratic state to develop authentically. Francois Naude is a lecturer at the University of Johannesburg's Education Faculty. He is also a YouTuber on his channel, Super Teachers Unite!
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The Evolution of a School “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change. “ I am just a teacher who leads a school, and am humbled and honoured to be able to share the roller coaster ride of growing a school and our philosophy that underpins what we do. The world economic forum has stated, “We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way
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we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before.” Therefore, schools must evolve to remain relevant and prepare young people for an ever-changing world. So when we started at Protea Heights Academy (PHA), we looked at what the learners would need to be able to actively participate and contribute to this new world.
We knew that these learners of ours would be living and working in a world that our current education system (both the pedagogy and the content) does not really support. We cannot change the content as this is set by the CAPS syllabus, but we can slowly start changing the way in which we teach and the way in which our learners learn. The skills widely identified as required in order to compete are identified as the 5 C’s
Communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and computational learning are the skills that are widely identified as the requirements to “survive” in the 21st century. For better understanding of the above mentioned concepts, I have broken down each of these skills: Communication: Communicating effectively and appropriately is vital to sharing ideas and collaborating with others. The ability to share information with enthusiasm and conviction is key to any modernday interaction Collaboration: Collaboration is about working in teams and learning from and contributing to the learning of others. It’s also about developing empathy working with diverse groups of individuals. Critical thinking: to gather and evaluate information. Critical thinking is required for questions that do not have simple answers; in asking such questions educators can promote critical thinking in learners. Creativity: Creativity is our ability to pursue new ideas and solutions, think outside the box and develop innovative ways of doing things. In class different ways of thinking are encouraged as means to solve problems in different ways.
South Africa, could mostly meet the needs of the 4th Industrial Revolution and the skill set identified. For those who are unsure of what exactly the 4th Industrial Revolution is, well, in layman’s terms it is the new era that builds and extends the impact of digitization in new and unanticipated ways (World Economic Forum). South Africa ranks very low in terms of our Mathematics and Science competencies compared to other developing and developed countries. This has been identified as a probable stumbling block to our citizens competitiveness in this new world. The SGB and Staff of our school, thus started to formulate a vision of being a school that focuses on Maths and Science specifically, with a strong emphasis on the use of e-learning and technology. We asked ourselves how can we take the 5Cs identified as the skills required by this new world on our horizon and provide children with a clearer path to becoming contributors to this global society. We knew we had to push to integrate technology and ICT (Information and Communications Technology) into our everyday routines and that we needed to make it a norm for children and not a novelty. So the journey began:
Computational thinking: This allows us to take a complex problem, understand what the problem is and develop possible solutions. We can then present these solutions in a way that a computer, a human, or even both, can understand. Further we looked at what content or subjects, in the context of
To give some context – we are a Western Cape Education Department (WCED) public school with a quintile 5 rating. Therefore, we rely on school fees to develop and grow the school. In January of 2014, we were a pile of building sand and rubble. By December 2014, we were an
empty building, one wireless phone, a borrowed ink cartridge printer, two old Celeron laptops from home and a LTE Internet connection richer. What came next was a horror of horrors moment as our new blackboards with enough chalk to last about 10 years were delivered to us. I looked at this and could not fathom, that we are talking about 21st century learning and we build schools with blackboards and deliver chalk. Anyway, January 2015, the school opened with ten educators and 3 support staff and very little in terms of ICT. A neighbouring school had upgraded their IT lab and gave us 10 of their old Celeron PC’s to use. But never to be daunted, as a new school, we were unfortunately not on any of the lists to receive assistance with the e-game changer rollout. And thus the email writing and engaging with WCED started. Perseverance and just sheer stubbornness, and maybe not following protocol ( for which I was, gently, wrapped over the knuckles) concluded in the gift of 12 laptops, data projectors, Mimio devices and a couple of document cameras delivered to us by WCED. Best of all, was seeing the joy on all the educators faces as the blackboards were replaced in every classroom with white boards. This was the spark we needed to start the journey to becoming a 21st century learning and teaching institution that we had envisioned for our learners and the wider community. Now it was up to us to reward the confidence that the WCED had shown us with the delivery of the equipment. At this point in our evolution, everything was done on paper
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or electronic information was shared with flash drives delivered by teachers and learners in the corridors. It felt a bit like the dark ages. We had one PC where we put all our documents – we called this the shared drive (the not so technically inclined teachers called it - “The Network”). When I look back, I am impressed by the inventiveness and sheer tenacity of my staff. We made everything work with a very limited amount of resources whilst still delivering technology rich and innovative lessons using very basic equipment. And thus we evolved, developed and innovated. Fast forward to 2018, With the support of the SGB, parents and of course school fees, we spent just under R 2 million on ICT infrastructure and equipment. We have two fully equipped IT labs, the whole school has WiFi and the learners and teachers have access to the internet! We run everything digitally, through Google Drive, Google Classroom (where every learner has a school email address), email, WhatsApp, and of course the program Staffroom - a highly developed IT network with a staff that is hungry for more. The LMS Staffroom provides the backbone of our recording, reporting and communication. To this we add our other ICT. By the time a learner has passed grade 9 they have been exposed to 3D printing (we fundraised and bought one of these) and even programming through Scratch and Python. They have had to use their PHA email address details to log in to Solo Learn and complete Python version 3 courses to receive their
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Python certification, The grade 9's will be doing a practical next term for Technology where they will have to program a Arduino board to make a traffic light. .
technology and a teaching pedagogy geared for a world different to the one we were brought up in. You will need the following:
All learners do a course in using Google Docs and Google Drive and they are shown how to use these tools to collaborate with each other. We are starting to engage in projects with schools across the world by using Skype and posting videos on YouTube. Teachers have started using flipped classroom methodology in their teaching which makes extensive use of different forms of technology.
Teaching and learning for the Fourth Industrial Revolution is in our sights. We are on the brink of meeting the requirements of creating Global Citizens, who can think creatively, computationally and critically while collaborating and communicating effectively. These young people will be able to be active participants of the economy of the 4th Industrial Revolution. In no way can technology replace the educator or even make a weak and unprepared educator all of a sudden into a super teacher. It does not work in the same way that the power of the Hulk has. But the use of technology has enhanced the teaching and learning abilities in our school. Slowly we are fulfilling our vision. This all sounds quite easy in print, but please know: We had and still have our challenges. I have however identified the following aspects that may help your institution to successfully evolve into one that embraces
A leader who is driven and committed to the cause. A supportive management – the WCED may not have given us much funds or equipment but they have been supportive of what we are doing and we have supported all initiatives they have rolled out around e-learning and the integration of technology in the classroom. A majority young thinking staff compliment, that are open to change and don’t hang onto what worked in the past A mind-set of taking risks and not afraid to fail. To try new things and if they don’t work, adapt, change and innovate. Parent and learner buy in– Effective communication is essential here. The learners drive this whole project they keep pushing us, forcing us to new frontiers all the time.
Remember: Evolution is defined as a process of gradual development in a particular situation or thing over a period of time. To quote Malcolm X – “education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today” We have only begun our evolution, and I am very excited to see where we, as well as others in our field will be in the next couple of years. Wendy Horn is the principal at Protea Heights Academy in Cape Town. She was also a Global Teacher Prize finalist.
Podcasts for Teachers Listening to a podcast is a great way of learning - especially when you are short on time and cannot find enough minutes in the day to sit and focus on a book or a course. You can download your favourite podcasts to your phone when you have access to wifi, and listen to them when you find a moment inbetween all of the busyness of your day. Why not pop on a podcast during your daily commute to work (stuck in traffic!?), or in the very unlikely case that you have some time free at school before you’re allowed to go home!
Cult of Pedagogy Jennifer Gonzales helps teachers to “crush it” in the classroom. Her website and this accompanying podcast, supports teachers to make use of new and existing pedagogies. The podcast focuses on teaching strategies, classroom management, education reform and education technology. She also has many influential guests ranging from authors to social activists. This is a podcast driven by a team of innovative educators and you will definitely want to be part of this “cult” after listening to one of them!
in primary schools without really being LO teachers. This podcast has a focus on Physical Education and discusses many teaching strategies and ideas relating to the subject, as well as why Physical Education is important in our schools. The focus is on Primary Schools and Ryan Ellis shares “insights into what makes the top practitioners of today tick, asking about their favourite PE resources, what activities are a must have in the locker for any teacher and success stories about what really works.”
There are many educational podcasts available, these podcasts are mainly from overseas teachers, but we can learn from them and apply it to our own contexts. These podcasts listed below range from being EdTech orientated to being focused on school leadership.
Here are our top 5 educational podcasts: 10-Minute Teacher Podcast The title of this podcast is enough to get any teacher excited. Many of us only have a few minutes to spare every day, and this will be 10 minutes well spent. Vicki Davis, the teacher behind The Cool Cat Teacher, uploads 5 short podcasts every week interviewing remarkable teachers from around the world. Every day has a theme, such as Motivational Mondays, Wonderful Classroom Wednesdays and 5-Idea Fridays - where you will get 5 practical ideas you can implement immediately! http://www.coolcatteacher.com/ podcast/
Angela Watson’s Truth for Teachers Angela Watson has been supporting teachers on her website for more than a decade. She started this podcast, Truth for Teachers, in 2015. She explains that it’s called Truth for Teachers since teachers need truth more than anything else. “Teachers are constantly being told things that are not true, things like: your value is determined by your students’ test scores...there is one right way to teach, and you’re not doing it...your students aren’t meeting standards that are developmentally appropriate because you, the teacher, are not working hard enough.” In this podcast she gives a short weekly message of encouragement and inspiration for teachers. https://thecornerstoneforteachers. com/truth-for-teachers-podcast/ The PE Umbrella Many South African teachers have been thrown in the deep end to teach Life Orientation or Life Skills
Better Leaders Better Schools Are you in a leadership position at school or aim to move into one? Better Leaders Better Schools is designed to connect excellent leaders in education and promote leadership development. Host Danny “Sunshine” Bauer provides weekday motivation for the modern educator. Listeners can expect tools and tricks from a variety of sources: inspirational books, stories from the mastermind, and weekly challenges. https://betterleadersbetterschools. com/the-better-podcast/
How Learning Online Can be a Great Alternative to Having to Attend PD Meetings Some of your required professional development (PD) hours must be spent outside PD meetings. The latter is often not that much fun, depending who you talk to. Since some of your hours have to be selfinitiated anyway, why not consider learning online?
the-go. Whenever you have a free moment, you can do the course work, and it doesn’t have to be done in front of a computer. It’s also engaging. You’re not stuck in a chair at a table, listening to a lecture while you’re taking online PD classes. You shift between reading, videos, interactive exercises, reflective writing, and other activities the course author uses to make the content memorable and immediately applicable to your teaching. If one type of course doesn’t suit you, there are plenty of other ones to choose from. So don’t let one course that was boring stop you from trying another. Getting PD hours online is often very affordable.
There are many websites that offer educators free or low-cost options for earning their professional development hours. That means you have many options of courses that you can take to help you improve your teaching without ever having to do one of the team activities that always seem to be a part of PD meetings. Learning Online is Convenient. With the advent of mobile technology, education can now be captured on-the-go. For example, if you sign up for one of the thousands of courses available online, it’s pretty likely that the website you bought the course from has a smartphone app that you can download. You can then watch the videos and work through the course exercises on-
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You can find many classes created just for teachers through local or national, and even international, professional organizations. There are websites designed just for teachers, and there are even self-learning websites that offer teaching courses. This content is can be free or at least very affordable. With a membership to a teacher association, for example, you may qualify for a significant discount on courses it offers online. Learning online is a great way to get those PD hours you need on your own time and without having to attend so many meetings - so why not try it? This article first appeared on SACE Points Guide.
SACE Points Guide Spotlight 365edu Events South Africa
Via Afrika Digital Education Academy
365edu Events are excited to be returning to South Africa with their latest 365edu Cape Town and Durban teacher training events!
Sign up to the Via Afrika Digital Academy, and get your first session free!
365edu is all about inspiring growth and change in teaching and learning. A fun,high energy networking event with renowned educators and the latest technologies embedded into the event. You are already an amazing teacher, you will leave this event with confidence in tools and strategies you can put into practice the very next day! 365edu events, powered by Microsoft Education and Acer Education, will be running CPD events in Durban on Friday 12th October and Cape Town on Saturday 13th October 2018. Details on SACE Points Guide.
Featured Course: Digital Learning in Schools for Android Users Why ELearning? - 5 PD Points • Learners in the 21st Century • Teachers in the 21st Century • Schools in the 21st Century • Understanding the theory behind eLearning and how to put it to practice (Blended Learning, Multimedia, TPACK, SAMR, RAT Sign up at http://viaafrika.com/academy/ or view more modules on SACE Points Guide.
For SACE CPTD advice, activities and more, visit www.sacepointsguide.co.za
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Getting to know NTA winner Tsholofelo Lechuti Tsholofelo Lechuti is a talented teacher from the North West. We spoke to her about her Teacher's Award and what she's doing at her school to improve teaching and learning. Growing up, Tsholofelo Lechuti was an inquisitive child who always questioned everything in her path. Being fortunate that her grandmother exposed her to the world of words at a tender age, she fell in love with reading. Now on the educational front - she never actually thought that she would become a teacher. But upon completing her Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Linguistics, it was requested that she become a tutor for the first year students in the Communications Department. What followed was an internship with the Department of Health at the Provincial Office - but something just did not feel right she just didn’t feel challenged. This lead to her enrolment in a teaching course, and well, 6 years and 8 months later, we at Teacha! have had the honour of interviewing this fantastic winner of the North West National Teacher Award. So, firstly Tsholofelo, you previously stated that you never intended on becoming a teacher. Apart from the challenges that are inevitable in education, what else pointed you in the direction to become a teacher? I became a teacher out of curiosity and I really felt the need for growth as I had felt stagnated in my job. Consequently, looking back now, I realise that I was always destined to become a teacher. Even before
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I was given the task to be a tutor to those first year students, as a child, I could always be found in the front of the class teaching my peers. Today I understand that it really is a calling for me.
the education field, completely understand! Many of us don’t quite know how we ended up in the classroom - but one thing is for sure, being a teacher can be the most rewarding of jobs.
Tsholofelo, I love that and I believe that this “calling” you speak of is something that we, in
That being said, what do you love most about being a teacher?
I’m a very conscientious person, so what really humbles me about my calling, is to hear one of my Grade 11 or 12 learners say, “Ma’am I have made it! I’m now in university, thanks to you!” - To allow myself to be used as an instrument to awaken a child’s dream it’s the most fulfilling task ever. To see a child erupting from a state of confusion, and beaming with confidence, indicating that they understand - that for me is a piece of heaven. Now, Tsholofelo, A congratulations is in order! It really is quite an achievement to be presented with a Provincial National Teaching Award - and the fact that you are a mere 28 years of age certainly reiterates that you are a born teacher. Please tell us more about your wonderful achievement. I am thrilled to have been nominated this year and ecstatic that I won. The National Teaching Awards is an initiative that recognises excellent teachers who are boundary-less, those who go beyond the call of duty for the betterment of our country’s future. A few of the standing highlights of my winning profile was that I was able to converted an old nonfunctioning computer lab into a library and I further liaised with the District Office for my school to receive books. I went on to liaise with the Department of Road and Safety, and was able to establish a strong debate team that has since been successfully competing for the past 3 years. Today my learners have a space not only to read but to access a wide range of reading materials as well. Fantastic! I believe that you will continue to inspire those both inside and outside of your classroom! Now if you were to become the Minister of Education in South Africa, what changes would you make?
Africa’s education system performs worse than poorer nations such as Zimbabwe and Kenya. Most importantly I would like to ensure that teachers are supported - with key reference to skill development workshops and teachers’ needs. In most cases decisions are taken from the national level without a detailed plan on how to successfully cascade them to teachers and support them in dealing with the after effects of the proposed drastic changes. With these few adjustments, I believe that we can do better for our teachers and ultimately our children. I agree and wouldn’t be surprised if we see your name on the Education Bill in the near future! Lastly, do you have any advice for teachers? Especially in connection with the lack of resources available to us? In the great words of Frank Wright, ‘you have to go wholeheartedly into anything in order to achieve anything worth having”… Conditions will not always be conducive, but what matters is how you use what you already have in order to gain what is needed and what you desire. As a teacher you need to be aligned with excellence. Creativity remains a driving force and I therefore urge all teachers to be creative: establish libraries, start reading clubs, build a learning culture in your school! The world is evolving daily, so as a teacher, remain a lifetime researcher and a lifetime learner in order to move with the times… Every term we interview a South African teacher doing great things. If you are one of them, or know of someone we should interview, please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
If I were to be the Minister of Education I would certainly amend the current teaching curriculum. Not only am I a teacher, I am also a researcher who is currently completing a Masters degree in Communication with a thesis that focuses primarily on the role of ICT and participatory communication in education. It is disheartening to find out that South
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eLearning Africa: First Impressions The 13th eLearning Africa Conference was always going to be something special! Being hosted in Rwanda, I was beyond excited — as this has always been my number one country in Africa that I wanted to visit. Rwanda is a country rich in history and a place of magnificent landscapes — but the main reason may be a bit of a clichéd one. I did want to see those Silverback Gorillas. Unfortunately, for an average South African, seeing those majestic creatures is not quite in our reach. At R21 000 for a one day permit, and no promises that you will actually see the creatures, it was not going to happen. But I believe that to have been a blessing in disguise, as now, our 5 day trip that we had booked would be filled with all the other wonders that Kigali, Rwanda’s capital had to offer. Yes, this is turning into a bit of a travel piece — but to understand the context of where I am going when I do at last get to the e-Learning conference part of this article, allow me to wallow in the greatness that this African country has to offer. Money-wise, Rwanda uses Francs, and there are approximately 60 RWF to R1. This doesn’t mean much, but in relation to what we pay for things here, let me list a few examples. A fresh loaf of bread - R23 A Hawaiian Pizza - R70 1 Gig MTN Data - R34 500ml bottled water - R6
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A Cappuccino - R32 Speaking about cappuccinos and coffee. Well, this is what Rwanda is known for… arguably the best coffee in the world (I would argue the point at least). Coffee also happened to be the fuel to get us through the 2 day e-Learning Africa conference. I had the honour of tagging along as my friend’s ‘plus one’, so going there, I didn’t have to necessarily be in “full-work mode” all the time, which did take some pressure off me. Venue-wise, it couldn’t have been better. The modern Kigali Convention Centre, situated a stone’s throw from the Radisson Blu Hotel, has everything a conference needs. Ample space and more than enough breathing room in between. The first plenary taught me three main things: • The ‘e’ in eLearning should stand for “engaging” - because if the program in use isn’t engaging, why even do it? • The answer to Africa’s problems can be found within Africa - We know our countries best, we know our challenges, and we, as a young continent, need to figure out our way of doing this and do not need to copy others to succeed. • Our youth is the answer to finding solutions to our problems. This third point is unfortunately where my opinion on this e-Learning conference was altered. “Our youth is the answer…”
Now as I paused and took a look around at the other 900+ delegates, I noticed that I could count on my hands how many attendees were in my age group. I am currently 28 years of age, and I barely recognise myself as a “youth” anymore. So to have me being one of the youngest, and being told that the youth are the answer to our problems, well, where on earth were the youth? And who is going to let them know that they have a big job on their hands? So yes, I am quite sure that the hefty price of the conference would be the main reason why there were little to no youth present, and the fact that in general, one normally sends senior employees to an event but when it is an e-learning specific event, and the younger generation is known for being tech-savvy,
then why not send them instead? Okay, I am done with that rant - but if there is someone out there who has say in these matters, be a dear and allow a “youth rate” or something, so that the brain storms and ideas shared can be realistic of Africa. Ali Mills describes herself as “a teacher on sabbatical currently out of the classroom, but still in the education field”. She is also the sub editor of Teacha! Magazine and a lover of coffee..
Engaging? You decide. Photos courtesy of eLearning Africa.
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Why it’s good news that Swahili is coming to South African schools Kiswahili will, from 2020, become the latest language to be taught in South Africa’s classrooms. This East African lingua franca, which is also an official language of the African Union, will be an optional subject.
The news has been greeted with interest and has drawn praise from some quarters. But practical questions related to South Africa’s current sociolinguistic and educational contexts must be asked. For instance, why does South Africa need another language on top of the local 11 as well as the various foreign languages some schools offer? Has the country done all it can to champion local languages before adding another to the mix? And is there space on an already crowded timetable to successfully carry on this project? These questions shouldn’t be ignored, but I would argue that the benefits of introducing Kiswahili far outweigh the risks. There are several reasons for this, among them the chance to prepare South African pupils for rich interactions in trade, academia and ordinary daily life elsewhere on the continent. A growing language Kiswahili most likely originated on East Africa’s coast. It came about as a result of intermarriage between Bantu-speaking communities along the East
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African coast and Arabs who arrived at the coast from as early as before 10th C, AD. It then spread into the interior through trade, Christian activities such as missionary work, and exploration activities in the East African mainland. Today the language is spoken widely in the larger Eastern Africa region as a lingua franca, a language used between people who don’t speak one another’s native language. It’s a national language in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, and an official language of the East African Community which comprises Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan. Its use is spreading to southern, western and northern Africa. Currently, however, none of these countries are teaching Kiswahili as a subject the way South Africa intends to; instead, it is generally a language of trade and inter-ethnic communication. However, it may not be long until more countries join South Africa in teaching it in classrooms since the language is spreading fast and becoming a household language in many of these countries in addition to
its adoption as one of the official languages of the African Union. Kiswahili is also a popular research subject at many South African universities. And it’s studied outside Africa, most particularly in the US and Europe. This global interest in the adoption of Kiswahili points at its growing international significance. This implies that its introduction into South African schools is a good move with multiple benefits. Unpacking the benefits South Africa’s language in education policy provides for the teaching of first and second additional languages alongside a first language (which is usually English or Afrikaans). This is designed to create a truly multilingual and more inclusive society. Among the many benefits of teaching Kiswahili is the fact that it will be an easy language for South Africans to learn compared to foreign languages from outside Africa. That’s because it shares Bantu origins with languages like isiXhosa, isiZulu and isiNdebele. Bantu languages have long
developed by borrowing and nativising the pronunciation and spelling of English words.
could add enormous value on their own continent – especially with a working knowledge of Swahili.
For instance the Kiswahili equivalents of “plastic”, “school”, “radio”, and “computer” are plastiki, skuli, redio, and kompiuta. These spelling forms are not far from those in isiXhosa, isiZulu and other South African native languages.
If South Africans are enabled to speak a variety of languages from their own continent, they will then be better able to take part in building not only their own country but also building Africa as a continent.
Another benefit is that learning Kiswahili will prepare South Africa’s children to live and work elsewhere on the continent. The country’s many Master’s and PhD graduates can’t all hope to find work in the rest of the world; they
Implications on local languages So what might the downsides be if Kiswahili is introduced in South Africa’s classrooms? I cannot identify any – if the process is carefully managed.
It will take proper investment, political will and a thorough public education campaign to address the misconception that African languages are somehow “inferior”. This can all be done. South Africa needs to invest in textbooks, curriculum experts and researchers who can help guide the policy around Kiswahili. The only area that might be a struggle is the provision of qualified teachers. The country must look to places like Kenya and Tanzania, which graduates tens of thousands of teachers annually who cannot find work in their home countries. They can be the first source of teachers. Secondly, South African universities can introduce short courses in Kiswahili to prepare a mass of native South Africans to be the next batch of teachers. In multilingual societies, many languages coexist for the greater national good. South Africa’s decision to embrace Swahili in schools should be celebrated. Dr Peter Mose, Post-doctoral fellow. Rhodes University, Rhodes University Thir article originally appeared on The Conversation: https:// theconversation.com/whyits-good-news-that-swahiliis-coming-to-south-africanschools-104007
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When children sing and play, they’re also becoming scientific explorers Young children engage in scientific thinking and actions long before they enter a classroom. They do all sorts of things in their pursuit of knowledge: poking, pulling, tasting, pounding, shaking and experimenting. This demonstrates their need to learn and naturally seek out problems to solve. That’s why creating opportunities for observations and actions through play could stimulate children’s emerging scientific thinking. Play offers a valuable way to help children learn basic scientific literacy. That’s because artistic expression is a natural part of early childhood. In a recently published study I explored whether there could be
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a rationale for music-inspired free play to foster scientific exploration in early childhood. As part of my research, I watched preschoolers during free play at two daycare centres in Mohadin in South Africa’s North-West province. Free musical play takes place in an environment that has been prepared by the teacher (though children themselves take the initiative for playing). The space stimulates the young child to experiment with and explore the musical properties of sound. I specifically focused on musicinspired play because music in early childhood is one of the first natural and accessible “tools” for children to express their thoughts,
feelings and desires. Musical and artistic activity are especially important at an early age; they nurture the development of emotion, imagination, creativity and gross motor skills. Not only is children’s innate musicality expressed and developed when they are given the time to explore: it also creates freedom, flexibility and facilitation in the early years and gives rise to unexpected moments when learners integrate music into their own learning, especially through play, to explore their scientific world. Through this work, I was able to develop a model that illustrates the rationale for music-inspired
play to foster scientific exploration which teachers in early childhood settings could apply if they want to use musical freeplay to boost children’s scientific learning. How play teaches There is a difference between scientific thinking and the learning of scientific facts. Scientific thinking involves children in the process of finding out, leading them to make their own discoveries. Teachers can foster scientific thinking by viewing young children as active learners rather than simply as recipients of knowledge. They can offer varied opportunities to explore and experiment, which will allow children to construct meaning and develop understandings that are not only valid but also valuable in their ongoing intellectual development. For example, pre-schoolers can learn about the scientific concept of momentum by rhythmically moving on swings – while singing at the same time. As the swing gains momentum, singing becomes faster to match the speed of the learners’ movements. When learners slow down, sing the song at a slower tempo and stop moving their legs, the swing also slows down until it eventually stops. Young children can also learn about how sound production works by using their voices and vocal chords, which vibrate to produce different sounds. This sort of voluntary learning helps to reduce the consequences of failure. Children feel less frustrated and are allowed to be creative and expressive in spaces where they make choices.
It’s very important that teachers get involved in free play. Merely playing with no guidance won’t necessarily promote the desired learning. Teacher involvement does not mean that the teacher directs, interferes with or facilitates free play and exploration. But they can create appropriate environments, present opportunities and equip learners with musical experiences, knowledge and skills that can be used during free play. This allows teachers to extend their learners’ knowledge. They can also model skills and strategies for turning experiences in free play into learning. And musical free play doesn’t just have to take place outside, on a playground. It can also happen during class: for instance, when children tap rhythms with their pencils on desks while waiting for time to pass as a teacher hands out books. A model for learning I drew from previous research for the bulk of my study. This was supplemented by observations at two rural preschools. By watching the children at these schools during recess and in class, I was able to identify and explore practical examples of music– science relationships during free play. The children at both preschools produced a variety of spontaneous musical sounds, phrases and chants to accompany their play. Some children commented to me about sound production, describing how they experienced this scientific concept through musicinspired role-play – pretending to be other people or famous actors.
One outspoken boy informed me that his tonsils had been removed and that this operation influenced what his voice sounded like when he copied other people’s singing. Before the tonsillectomy, his tone of voice was much higher. Afterwards he found it easier to copy people with lower voices with a raspy tone. I then created a model that encourages early childhood educators to create opportunities for constructivist learning to take place through reflection and exploration in free play. The idea is that once pre-schoolers are exposed to musical experiences, these can be integrated into their free play to foster scientific exploration. Constructivism, as academic Joseph Shively explained it, is “how we make meaning of our experiences and come to know the world”. I adapted this to explain how children make meaning of musical experiences and come to know the world through scientific exploration. In the model, facilitation of and exposure to musical skills, experiences and knowledge is the first step. Learners are then able to use these musical skills, activities and knowledge in their free play in an interesting and rich environment created by an encouraging, responsive teacher, which could in turn foster scientific exploration. Mignon van Vreden, Senior lecturer, Music education, North-West University Link to original article: https:// theconversation.com/when-childrensing-and-play-theyre-also-becomingscientific-explorers-103620
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Teacha! is a magazine for South African teachers, by South African teachers.