Learning more about the Kenyan Educational Context

It’s early afternoon at Daraja Academy.  I want to spend just a little time recounting the most important parts of the day.  Perhaps I’ll have time later to talk about the wonders and comedic moments of my journey here, but for now, let me focus on the work to be done.   
 
At 11 am, Stephen and I had a meeting with Victoria and Charles, two of the three school administrators, to talk about the goals for my time here.  I have only 8 more days to work and two of them don’t count because of the weekend.  6 Days to do a lot with teachers.  
 
I learned that there is an interest in technology integration, but the teachers need much more support in basic applications and educational design using tech before going into advanced subjects like the flipped classroom.  
 
 
At Daraja, there is a desire to do some more work around Project Based Learning, experiential learning, creation of an online forum for teachers to post resources and share ideas, teacher support (administrator and peer support), differentiating instruction within the 45 minute period (also planning for 3 activities in that time).  That’s a LOT for 6 days, and school starts for the girls again tomorrow.  They come back to Daraja, literally from all over the country of Kenya, today.  The teachers, too, come from all over Kenya, having only just arrived, some of them traveling from quite a distance, in the last few days.  While doing professional development for the teachers, I’m also looking forward to sitting with some of the teachers to learn more about their journeys to Daraja.  
 
 
In prep for this professional development, I requested from Charles, some of the course syllabi and sample lesson plans.  I really wish that I could take a copy of the syllabi home.  They are developed by the Kenya Institute of Education and are divided into the Humanities (History and Government, Geography, Business Studies, Christian Religious Education, Islamic Religious Education, Hindu Religious Education); Maths and Sciences (Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Agriculture, and Home Science); and Languages and PE (English, Kiswahili, Physical Education, Arabic, French, and German).  In addition, Oxford University Press provides Sample Schemes of Work for Secondary Schools in the different subject areas divided by Form (grade).  Each term is scripted out for week, lesson number, topic, sub-topic, objectives, learning and teaching activities, learning and teaching resources, references, and a small space for remarks from the teacher.  While the content of the lessons themselves are not provided, the frame is definitely there.  Considering how high the stakes are, teachers would more likely have less incentive to deviate from the schedule of lessons as students would also have less curiosity in doing so as well.  In the end, the students must take a mastery exam, which effectively determines their futures (entrance into college, access to government support or loans, even the majors and colleges to which they can subscribe).  
 
 
So, I have to find a way to integrate PBL, experiential learning, teacher support (lesson study or Critical Friends might be good models), and technology integration.  6 Days.  I’m hoping we can get at least 5 sessions together, and I’m hoping that I have more than 45 minutes each time.  In my work with credential candidates, each of those topics could easily take 4 hours, with PBL along taking about 12 hours of support in my work with credential candidates.  Of course, it’s also about unit planning, lesson planning, essential questions, experiential learning, choice and voice for students and more … but PBL in 6 days is already hard.  
 
 
This evening I will be studying the texts from Secondary Biology and trying to find PBL units that address some of the topics fully and in a way that integrates multiple subject areas (another area of interest for the school) and technology.  
 
To illustrate the Flipped Classroom concept, it might be useful to actually create a learning unit for the teachers and then come back together to ask questions and actually work on an assignment together.  Considering the limited time we have, this might help to simplify a LOT!  Hmm.  
 
 
This is me thinking out my approach as I type.  
 
 
So far, the tech tools:  Edmodo, Youtube, Gooru, BIE’s site, printouts of a resource on criticality
 
 
Resources:  PBS Newshour video, Youtube, Khan Academy, Gooru
 
  1. I have to talk to teachers about the Flipped Classroom using a video like this Flipped Classroom from PBS Newshours.  This is the frame for what we are going to be doing together.  
  2. Then we would have to spend time on Edmodo, signing up and learning about the platform.  I need to have set up a space for Daraja Academy by Subject Area, by Form, and perhaps for school forms/resources to be populated by administrators.  
  3. I want to close out that first session with a clip about PBL.  Maybe this one:  Introduction to PBL  
  4. On the Edmodo group, I want to have already set up a GooruLearning link to a Flipped Classroom Presentation on PBL.  I want to have them start the process of creating a unit by first coming up with the questions and the knowledge and skills students would have to acquire.  I might also ask the teachers to read, on Edmodo, one example of a PBL Unit for their subject areas on Edmodo and come up with questions.  
  5. We have to come back together and share with the group ideas for PBL units (I wish I had brought the BIE handouts printed out for all the teachers… but we can use the resources online and work in groups).  
  6. I have a handout that Cliff created where teachers have to identify criticality in lessons.  That might be a useful exercise to do with the teachers and then think through how to bring criticality into their unit plans (really pushing them in the choice and voice areas).  We could then return to the PBL units that we are working on.  A teacher could reasonably manage 2-3 days out of the schedule, if they have done some work with the flipped classroom, possibly.  
Right now, I think I’ve sketched out 5 sessions.  Now to get to the work to set them up.  
 
Thursday:  observations
Friday:  observations, Flipped Classroom, Edmodo, PBL
Monday:  observations, interviews 1 and 2, PBL (experiential learning)
Tuesday:  observations, interviews 3 and 4, PBL (lesson design and differentiating instruction)
Wednesday:  interviews 5 and 6, PBL (criticality)
Thursday:  interviews 7 and 8, PBL (CFG model – tuning protocol) 
 
 
I also think it would be great to have a Gooru session on lesson study and CFGs as an introduction to guide practice, perhaps something that is started in the third term.  First term, learn and plan; Second term, do and personally reflect; Third term, try a different unit/share results from first term implementation, conduct lesson studies/CFG inquiry.  
 

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