Saturday, August 8, 2015

Training of the Teachers: 2015

A highlight of camp TechKobwa again this year was the 3.5 days in Training of the Teachers (ToT) from August 4 - 7.  With TechKobwa, we hope to interest girls in technology studies and build their self-confidence, but we also want to have farther reaching impact for building capacity.  Therefore each participating school sends six girls but also the ICT teacher.  We hope to create a critical mass within participating schools that will have sustained impact beyond the few girls who come to camp.

The teachers arrive several days earlier than the girls and undergo intense training, learning methods for teaching ICT and self-confidence.  In three days the teachers take all the modules the girls will take during their five day camp in addition to learning other topics applicable espe to ICT teachers, such as how to maintain a computer lab.  The ICT teachers teach many modules to the girls, though they may have only learned the material a few days before teaching the subject.  This gives teachers the opportunity to learn new material and techniques and practice these techniques with a mentor present.

Our training included teachers from 10 schools across Rwanda, 5 mentors from Creation Hill Rwanda, 4 Peace Corps volunteers, 3 people from Michigan State University, a person from Peak Research and one from IBM.  Ice breakers and team-building activities help get such a diverse group comfortable working together as a cohesive team. 
So, Rusty from the Peace Corps, led the group through several effective exercises, using a rope as the common thread for each.  We jumped rope in teams of two or more. 

We saw how teamwork helped us defy gravity, provided our team member trusted in the support of the other team members.

And, we saw how our collection of talents created a strong network that allowed us to raise others with ease, surprising ourselves at the strength we exhibited as a team.

Blair and Rodney used Elenco’s Snap Circuits kits to teach basic electronic concepts.

Laurie taught many Computer Science Unplugged sessions, providing the teachers with material they can teach without needing computers or electricity.  Teachers learned interesting and fun ways to teach binary math, algorithms, and various sort algorithms. 

Here’s an example of an aid which can be used to teach binary math.  Prince and Theogene took turns explaining the topic to the other teachers.

Below the teachers are practicing a human version of a parallel network sort algorithm.  They began the exercise a bit skeptical but felt very surprised and triumphant when they saw the algorithm actually worked.

Teachers also learned programming in Scratch, a visual programming language designed to teach young people basic coding constructs by letting students easily write programs with immediate visual feedback based upon making “sprites” (animated characters) perform various actions.

I reviewed basic internet skills and taught a session on internet safety.  I also introduced the “Mission Innovation” project and familiarized the teachers with their role throughout the week, mentoring the girls on their research projects.  Sorry, there are no pictures but I couldn't act as roving photographer while I taught. (We do have pictures with the girls, however.)

Elisabeth and I also took the teachers through the “Life Skills” modules the students would take.  These modules strive to build skills that raise self-confidence.  We covered topics such as self-confidence, “Finding Your Voice,” written and oral communication, and goal-setting.  Teachers learned the importance of incorporating these topics and also techniques for helping build girls’ self-confidence and problem solving skills.

Elisabeth and KOICA volunteers introduced teachers to a program that teaches them  touch typing.

For teachers with no computers or projection equipment, Elisabeth showed them how they could create mock ups of a keyboard and common applications on rice sacks.  The mock ups allow the teachers to introduce concepts of browsers and the internet.  

Though it made for an extremely packed schedule, the ToT resulted in several teachers either teaching the material to the campers or providing translation from English to Kinyarwanda.

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