A 3 day short course for Grades 10-12 Life Sciences students was held by the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), through the UKZN Extended Learning (UEL) division. The short course titled Teaching Biodiversity was held from 21 September 2016 to 23 September 2016 and was a culmination of negotiation between Rhodes University and UKZN, the latter which established this module as a short course in the College of Humanities.
Twenty practicing Life Sciences teachers from disadvantaged settings in KZN participated in the course, which focused on content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge and assessment strategies for teaching Biodiversity. Commenting on the course, one of the delegate said the course enlightened them on how to link content with actual practical experiences within the environment.
Delegates who attended the course applauded the course saying it was very informative as it allowed for the use of current environmental information and that it highlighted continuous learning. They also said the course was transforming in that it shifted their mindset from the primitive approach to a more activity oriented teaching style.
The following pictures capture activities during a field trip to a local nature reserve:
The Environmental Learning Research Centre at Rhodes University hosted a Learning Market Place on health living, with BEd Foundation phase, 2nd year students on 02 August 2016. The learning market place was facilitated by Ms Priya Vallabh. The marketplace offered an opportunity for students to engage critically with each other’s curriculum projects, and also to share ideas around carefully developed teaching and learning activities. It also provided learners with a chance to show-case their work and engage with others around their ideas. The peer assessment activity helped learners to learn in a more co-engaged way. It offered the learners an opportunity not to just look at each other’s work but to also think about each other’s work and the usefulness of each other’s projects from a pedagogic standpoint.
A student demonstrating their work during the Learning Market Place
The market place culminated a 5-part project focused on the life skills and healthy living curriculum. The project began with the identification of curriculum spaces, and included strengthening core knowledge, developing age-appropriate lessons plans, designing teaching and learning support materials, designing diverse assessment strategies, and reflecting on learning.
A range of innovative projects were presented, all featuring age-appropriate opportunities for environmental learning in the curriculum. They all looked at how to identify spaces for environmental learning in the curriculum and how to develop learning opportunities around identified areas.
Other lectures who participated in the activity noted that learners where a lot more confident in presenting their work because they were presenting one-on-one to their peers, with an opportunity to engage in-person around their ideas.
The Facilitator Ms Priya Vallabh and other lecturers interact with the students at the Learning Market Place
The learning market place activity got great feedback from learners who said they had a lot of fun and enthusiasm from the activity and that they really enjoyed the process.
By Patience Shawarira
A capacity building short course on climate change education that was attended by 21 teachers. The course was conducted from the 15-19 August 2016 in Fryberg, North West. The training was coordinated by Lebona Nkahle and Caleb Mandikonza from Rhodes University’s Environmental Learning Research Centre.
The course sought to equip senior phase Natural Science teachers, teaching Grades 7-9, with skills to understand and handle environmental content and more specifically climate change related content in the CAPS curriculum. It was also aimed at assisting teachers to see where climate change is located and how it is expressed within the curriculum. The course was structured to enhance teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge on climate change, their pedagogical teaching practices and supported them on better ways of assessing the content they taught in order to facilitate meaningful learning.
Following the training, the teachers expressed satisfaction with the course content saying that they had benefited new knowledge which they struggled with in their teaching. Some of the teaching methods such as the excursion on the school grounds were useful and applicable in their classrooms as they always thought of excursions away from school. Teachers were now better positioned to structure assessment tasks that use different categories of knowledge skills more meaningfully. The training provided them with an opportunity to engage with each other and work more collaboratively on issues influencing the teaching and learning of Natural Science at Senior Phase in their district.
Article by Patience Shawarira