Introduction 0.3 - How to use this resource

From OER in Education

Important information about how to use this resource

The nature of our resource is a practical invitation to try out interactive teaching.

We envisage this resource to be used in a variety of circumstances, most likely by individual teachers, groups of teachers, or teacher educators. We also assume that in some sense you are a practising teacher, and are able to put what you have learnt into practice, for instance in the context of running a programme at your school, or during teaching practice.

The programme's main mode of delivery would be as weekly, or bi-weekly workshops, for all teachers at the school, over the course of one or two years. However, you can use the programme in other ways, such as running a few sessions, dipping in and out of the units or sessions.

The programme is intended to be used by teachers, and would typically be facilitated by one or two teachers at the school, working with a larger group of teachers. While you could use the programme individually, and would hopefully find some inspiration from it, we recommend that you use the programme at least in a pair of teachers, so that you are both able to give and receive feedback.

If you are facilitating the programme (working with a group of teachers) we recommend that you facilitate as a pair with another facilitator. This is advantageous as you can prepare sessions together, take turns in the workshop, as well as give and receive feedback on how the sessions went.

Being aware of the wider context and the overarching goals

Throughout the programme, try to bear in mind the wider context. This resource has been developed in a specific Zambian context, and while it is applicable to other contexts, you will probably make suitable modification and adaptations (potentially even for use in other Zambian schools). We do not see this programme as something that is set in stone, but as something that is flexible and adaptable.

To bring awareness to the wider context, you may want to consider the following questions:

  • What are the issues with primary education in your country?
  • Why have participants been invited to the OER4Schools programme?
  • What are teachers’ expectations?
  • What are they expecting to learning?
  • How will they attend?

Consider that some teachers attending will be concerned with the big picture, others with the detail.

You should also consider the overarching goals of the programme. For instance, what is the rationale for running workshops in the first place? One important element is that workshops model practices that teachers are supposed to implement in the school e.g. offering opportunities for dialogue.

If you are running this programme for all teachers at the school, then what is the best way of organising that? How do you do a whole-school process at your school? Who needs to be involved?

Being aware of the overarching educational principles

We now turn to the overarching pedagogical principles.

Key interactive pedagogy for the workshop. We will soon look at some of the principles for interactive teaching in the context of the workshops. However, let use have a brief look now.

Background reading

The principles of interactive teaching include

  • recognising children as individuals actively engaged in interacting with the world, rather than passive recipients of knowledge,
  • assessing learning needs and tailoring teaching to the child’s current level of knowledge and understanding (“scaffolding” or “child-centred” approach,
  • “multimodal” interaction and expression – using different modes of presenting material and expressing ideas (drawing, video, audio as well as conventional texts) to engage learners,
  • higher-order thinking – encouraging skills like analysis, synthesis, evaluation, sorting and categorising,
  • improvable ideas – providing an environment where ideas can be critiqued and refined,
  • diversity of ideas – exploring ideas and related/contrasting ideas, encouraging different ideas,
  • building directly on others’ ideas to create joint knowledge products,
  • democracy in knowledge building – everybody participates and is a legitimate contributor to knowledge, and
  • learner agency and peer support – encouraging students to take responsibility for their own and one another’s learning.

The interactive pedagogy in the workshops making up our programme is closely aligned with this interactive pedagogy in the classroom. Read through the above principles again - and think about how these might be expressed in a workshop session (with a group of teachers).

Here are some of the key principles which the workshop sessions draw on:

Reflection as part of Planning-Doing-Reflecting. Often we just plan and then do something without reflecting on how the "doing" went. For instance, we plan a classroom activity, we teach this activity, but we don't reflect. In the context of this programme, we emphasise reflection, as a key part of learning. We often call this "Plan-Teach-Reflect": We plan, we teach, and then we reflect on how it went. We could even say that some degree of reflection should happen at each stage: we reflect during the planning, during the teaching, and then after the teaching.

Questioning as a tool for reflection. If we are not used to reflection, we often do not know how to reflect. Questions are a really important tool to help you reflect. For instance, when we develop an interactive activity, we should not just mechanically write down what we think makes an interactive activity. Instead, we may want to look at the interactive principles, as ask ourselves whether these are reflected in what we have planned.

A key principle is taking responsibility for your own teaching and learning. This means that as a facilitator, you take responsibility for providing a successful workshop, teachers take responsibility for their learning during the workshop and their teaching practice in schools, while school students take responsibility for learning, as well as supporting each other in that process.

Jointly building an understanding of interactive teaching: A key interactive principle is for the “students” to start from what they know, and then to extend that knowledge. In the workshops, this means taking teachers' previous experience seriously, and asking the teachers about their own experience of interactive teaching. For instance, at the end of Session 1, ask participants: What does interactive teaching offer you? You might return to the principles of interactive teaching as a group after a few sessions and classroom trials to see which ones are / are not being addressed.

Modelling: The workshop sessions are designed to be interactive and activities for use in the classroom that support interactive teaching will be introduced and modelled i.e.shown as an example for you to follow, during workshops. At the start of each session, making use of learning objectives and success criteria is modelled to encourage you to take ownership of your learning during the workshop. Teachers as well as facilitators should aim to model participation and interactivity at all levels during workshops, working cooperatively, sharing and building knowledge and developing new skills.

Taking a non-judgemental stance. The facilitator should make very clear that they will not judge the views put forward, but simply make notes of the views put forward.

Important: Make sure that you are clear about the difference between "interactive pedagogy", and "interactive computer applications" (such as certain types of multi-media, e.g. interactive video). In this professional learning resource, "interactive" always means "interactive pedagogy",i.e. people interacting with each other, not one person interacting with a computer application.

Resources you will need (non-ICT)

A key aspect of the programme is preparation, which includes having the right resources to hand. The programme (and interactive teaching in general) does depend on having some resources - but many of these you can make or find.

Mini-blackboards (or "mini-whiteboards" or "showboards") are used throughout this programme. Have a look at some of the sessions, to see how these are used, and make sure that you have some available. The mini-blackboards used in the pilot schools for this programme were made locally at relatively low cost.

You should also collect useful things, such as plastic bottles, and other items that can be used for interactive teaching. You will also need items like measuring tapes, and you might need to make some if you do not have any available.

Resources you will need (ICT)

The proramme can be used with and without ICT. Interactive pedagogy certainly does not depend on having ICT. If you do not have access to ICT resources, you could replace ICT-based sections with other activities (or run slightly shorter workshops).

However, if you have ICT resources, we suggest you draw on them in this progarmme. As ICT resources will be vary varied in different settings, you may need to adapt the ICT-based sections to what you have available. You might be able to use the ICT-tools required on netbooks, larger laptops, or tablets.

The following ICT-tools are used throughout this programme (with example activities given in brackets):

Note that we look at a different tool for every session, e.g. slideshows in one session, then GeoGebra, then spreadsheets, then back to slideshows. This makes sense if the sessions are spaced out, i.e. if you do one session per week, or one every two weeks. This means that participants do not get bored by working with the same ICT every week for a whole one or two months. However, if you were running the sessions in rapid succession (several sessions per week), it may be better to stick with the same ICTs for a number of sessions, to give participants an adequate opportunity to get familiar and pick up the required skills. You can look at an overview of the ICT activities here.

Educator note

If you are running the programme as envisaged here, you need to become familiar with these tools. Whenever a tool is introduced, there are usually various exercises available. Look through the programme, and familiarise yourself as needed.

Note that at Chalimbana Basic School, we also used Google Apps for Education in order to be able to easily set up email for everybody, and help with lost passwords, etc. We also used Google sites to put together a simple website for the school:

Different types of materials

There are also background notes, that are useful to teachers and educators for background reading. They are usually found on separate pages or at the end of units, and are meant to provide additional background information that workshop participants can read in their own time.

Background reading

There are also background notes!

In the facilitators’ version, additional notes for facilitators appear (see below) and this is for an educator to use, for example when facilitating a workshop or working with a class of students. These notes are interspersed with the “teacher” text, to provide additional guidance on how to use the resource. He is an example of such a note:

Educator note

In the facilitators’ version, additional notes for facilitators are available, which appear in blue boxes like this. They provide additional information for a facilitator.

If you are using this text in a self-guided way (or in a small group), you will want to work from the facilitator's version (i.e. including the facilitator notes), because they provide additional guidance.

Chalimbana Basic School

This programme was developed together with and at Chalimbana Basic School. It was run initially during 2012 with teachers in Grade 4 to 6, and in 2013/2014 is being run across Grades 1 to 9. Some of the programme is therefore specific to the setup and circumstances at Chalimbana Basic School (see e.g. the section on resources above).

The following aspects are also specific to Chalimbana Basic School, but you may want to consider to what extent you can include them in your programme too:

  • Audio diaries. Participants are asked to keep audio diaries, in addition to their reflective journal. Participants would use the audio diary guidance to guide their recordings, which would then be listened to by the team producing the resource, to get a better insight into how effective the programme is. However, participants themselves found this process of reflection through speaking very useful, and you may want to consider a similar process for your circumstances.
  • Assessment portfolios and certification. Participants were also asked to produce portfolios. These are primarily for formative assessment, and we would highly recommend that you do these, to have a record of your own work. Participants were also offered a certificate, and one of the conditions was to have completed the portfolio. However, even this is quite different from a traditional exam: portfolios should provide evidence of learning, and in particular evidence of having attempted to implement techniques in the classroom, rather than being able to (e.g.) recite the principles of interactive teaching.

If you are not drawing on those aspects, you can ignore references to these in the text of the resource.