Submitted by Hlengiwe Mfeka
Saturday the 19th of September 2015 was freezing with pouring rain in the KZN Midlands, BUT that didn’t prevent teachers in the Learning Gains through Play project from attending their TPD workshop at Thembelihle Primary School in Howick. The workshop for the two modules to be covered, Mind mapping and Gallery Walk, was attended by 16 out of 22 Grade R and 1 teachers from the five schools participating in the project – all absentees had officially forwarded their apologies. Despite this slight setback in attendance, the training didn’t fall short of excitement right through the day.
The first module conducted was Mind mapping, a teaching strategy which involves modelling the pedagogical practices of mind mapping and brainstorming by categorizing Apps on the teacher tablets. Another activity which was important in this module was when teachers were engaged in evaluating various Apps and how this teaching strategy can be applicable in a foundation phase class.
The Gallery Walk module (conducted after lunch) demonstrated how teachers could use this teaching strategy to create effective critical discussions around important classroom and real life topics. The content of this Gallery Walk teaching strategy was how to use social networking platforms to create or participate in online professional learning community.
A moment of fun emanated from the first activity when participants were grouped to compete in five mobile skills challenge. The challenges required teams to perform important basic skills that one needs to be able to do when owning a tablet device. The skills drilled were to:
- Uninstall an App icon from the apps page.
- Put the ES file Explorer app icon on the home screen
- Switch off AUTOMATIC UPDATES
- Hook onto a specific internet WI-FI
- Set the data usage warning level to 500Mb.
The first group to have ALL its members complete each challenge were to raise up both hands and make their war cry. That was to ensure that team members support one another in the process to enforce collaboration. The Busy Bee group won all the challenges! This team went beyond supporting each other but went to assist other groups when they had finished theirs. That created a good vibe, the spirit of comradeship and strong connections amongst the group as a whole. In the process of all this, teachers mentioned how the activity helped them to gain confidence in using their device.
The next few activities were demanding and required teachers to apply 21st Century Learning skills. They were so much engaged, and not for a moment did they look at their watches.
They really appreciated the information shared with them about two lessons that had been observed in the Western Cape project schools. They noted that they would find it very useful for their own implementation.
After lunch, new groups were formed for a Gallery Walk module. Teachers were given folded paper with the name of an animal. They had to find their group members without making any noise but imitate their animal behaviour – this was enjoyed by all and helped to refocus the groups.
Participants had a slow start and seemed a bit confused about commenting on the displays, so the facilitator moved around to explain further. Of particular interest was phishing and online identities, which seemed to be new terminology to some but once having read examples the light dawned. With phishing almost all the teachers were able to identify those e-mails and messages which were not authentic. In many cases this was due to them or close friends have fallen victim to such scams.Teachers showed interest in joining or signing up for other Professional Learning Communities. They were motivated to sign up for a SchoolNet SA membership in order to take advantage of the benefits. The next part of the module, was to create online profiles and interact virtually with colleagues. Time was against us. Therefore we decided to combine the website training with this activity that was due to take place at the schools. Also there wasn’t time to discuss how the strategy could be implemented in their classrooms. The facilitator promised to create an opportunity for this discussion back at their schools as well.
It was a great day!