We have started yet another iteration pilot with a wonderful group of teachers in the little town of Carnarvon. For those of you who want to know where it is..... it is very far far away in the middle of the big Karoo. The town is well known for the SKA project that is happening there. This project is an international effort to build the world's largest radio telescope, with a square kilometre (one million square metres) of collecting area. Deploying thousands of radio telescopes, in three unique configurations, it will enable astronomers to monitor the sky in unprecedented detail and survey the entire sky thousands of times faster than any system currently in existence. (http://www.ska.ac.za/).
So, it is therefore only fitting that the teachers in Carnarvon will also want to reach for the stars. This weekend they took time out of their busy schedules to participate in the ICT4RED Teacher Professional Development Course. We started off by looking at what is entails to do a mobile rollout at a school as well as the policies and strategies that need to be in place before taking such a big step.
The teachers were then issued with loan tablets that they can earn by attending the entire course as well as implementing what they have learned in their classroom, using a badging system. The course consist of 10 modules with 13 compulsory badges and 5 challenge badges and the Carnarvon teachers are certainly up for the challenge!!
We started with Module 1, the Jigsaw Strategy and the teachers enthusiastically engaged and explored their inner animal through the ice breaker activity. This proved that there are a lot more wild animals running around Carnarvon than just the meerkat! The teachers then proceeded to get familiar with their tablets and were introduced to the Jigsaw Methodology. After some warm home group hugs they departed to work on their expert group tasks and lots of collaboration was evident
The magic about this teaching strategy is that each expert group member has to take responsibility for their acquired skills and have to explain it back to their home group members. This results in everybody being involved in the learning process. The Carnarvon teachers were fast learners and lots of fun was had by all.
They were introduced to the requirements for earning badges and brainstormed some ideas regarding how to integrate, not only the tablet, but also the teaching strategy into their classrooms.