Monthly Archives: March 2015

THANKS to these champions for girls in science

The January teacher training workshop was a wonderful way to connect AWAP members with Ghanaian educators and community organizers, as well as students at the local universities. We count ourselves fortunate, and it is a testament to the importance of this project, to have so many take time out of their their busy schedules to help us out.

Champions for the Girls Science Club Initiative

Ms. Georgina Quasie, the former director of the Science Education Unit of the Ghana Education Service, was there to facilitate discussions, and, most importantly, to model curiosity, humility and life-long learning. (Below, she tries a new activity helped by the new teachers).

Ms. Olivia Opare (in blue), the national science coordinator, showed the teachers that trouble shooting is just as important as having the right answer. She had also offered AWAP a lot of tips on acquiring and developing locally-sourced science materials.

Rev. Joana Koranteng, the former science, technology and mathematics coordinator for GES (in pink), listened to teachers as they shared their ideas on effective teaching and learning. Ms. Sola Boateng, the current mathematics coordinator, (in orange behind Ms. Koranteng) is doing the same with another group.

How should a good science classroom look like?

Science hero to the rescue! The Ga West district science coordinator, Mr. Doli, saved the day (as we neglected to pack the bag of incandescent and LED lights) by contributing bulbs (in the black bag!) to the electrical circuit activities, having just come from delivering a similar workshop to a group of teachers under his charge. Phew.

Mr. Doli to the rescue

Read about how we met these wonderful people.

The workshop was created by Dr. Connie Chow, seen here looking on as a group of teachers attempt a challenge.

Group work

No more rote learning. Hands-on teaching workshop

In the absence of learning materials, science is often taught by rote. The transmission of this pedagogical style is entrenched in the public schools of Ghana (and many other places, including the US) because we teach the way we are taught. The Girls Science Exploratory Club Initiative seeks to change this.

Our goal is to interrupt the transmission of rote learning in science.

In early February, we conducted a pilot teaching workshop for ~25 teachers who have been recruited to join the initiative. The training was designed to introduce the teachers to two key ideas. One is the use of questions – to encourage sciencing skills, from observation to critical thinking. The other is to illustrate the range of freedom at which an “activity” can be set, from highly guided/prescribed to largely exploratory.

Click here to find out who facilitated this training.

What are the characteristics of a great teacher?

First we asked the teachers to recall someone whom they thought was a great teacher. As expected, they shared experiences with teachers who had passion and made their topic come alive; who had empathy, caring for the students and their families outside the classroom; of course those who were resourceful and brought in materials or arranged field trips, and importantly, those who believe in them and inspire them to be better people and to try harder as students. There was a long, healthy debate in one group, when one of the teachers said it was someone who told the students exactly what they had to do and expected them to obey.

How should a good science classroom look like?

Get up and do it

Our teachers didn’t sit for long though. Using the concepts of building simple and complex electrical circuits, transmission of sound waves through solids, and reflection of light, we introduced the use of stories to create relevance and to set up explorations, modeled for the teachers how stations can be set up if materials are limited,  and showed them that group work is much more effective than passive “lecturing”.

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