| October 27, 2010

Looking Forward to Teacher Training


The accountant at Kade Sec Tec (right) helps a teacher learn to use a Kindle.

Our iREAD project kicks off in less than 3 weeks! In the middle of next month, over 350 Ghanaian kids at three grade levels (Primary 4, Junior High 1 and Senior High 1) will get virtually unlimited access to books.

It’s been a whirlwind of activity ramping up to this point. David and Colin are working on our tax structure (We’re now a 501(c)(3), giving us non-profit status under the US tax code!), fundraising efforts and securing a way to bring 350+ e-readers to Ghana. Susan is getting the word out about us (she spoke with Len Edgerly recently), and Elizabeth is marshaling the troops to increase our number of publishing partners and to get Ghanaian textbooks and storybooks digitized.

I’m writing from Brussels Airport where I have a layover on my way from the Worldreader home base (Barcelona) to Accra. Going to Ghana is always fun, but I’m doubly excited this time. On Saturday, we’ll begin the process of training the teachers who will be involved in our iREAD pilot study.

We will be running three workshops with the teachers on consecutive Saturdays, and providing one-on-one mentoring sessions between workshops. This weekend, we will start with an introduction to the people who will be supporting the pilot study — Joseph and Alex (our Accra-based team), ILC Africa (monitoring and evaluation specialists), and a veteran educator who will be assisting the the teachers with content and curriculum questions.

This will also be a good opportunity for the teachers to get to know each other, since they come from six different schools in two towns. Then we will do some hands-on exercises with the e-reader, before adjourning for the day.

The next two sessions will focus much more on incorporating the e-reader within the classroom. E-readers are minimally invasive in the classroom. Unlike computers, students are not distracted by games, or instant messages from their friends. But there are still adjustments to be made. Currently, the teachers are the only people in the classroom who have books. Students have exercise books which they use to copy down passages written on the blackboard. Now that everybody will have access to books, and writing chunks of the textbook on the board will no longer be necessary, teachers have the opportunity to structure their lessons differently.

We were expecting around three or four teachers from each school (English, Social Studies, etc — the subjects we can support with content). But their levels of curiosity and motivation have been overwhelming, and we have opened up our introductory training session to a larger group. In time, when we are able to give every teacher the materials they need, we’ll be able to deliver them efficiently, with the push of a button. Meanwhile, I look forward to our first session with the teachers on Saturday!

Teachers at Presby Junior High in Adeiso reading about the Ghana National Football Team.