Northwest Climate Change course

i Nov 8th No Comments by

24-27 November 2016, Kroonpark Resort, Kroonstad

A course on Teaching Climate Change was conducted with Grade 7-9 Natural Science teachers at Kroonpark Resort, Free State Province. The course was  aimed at enhancing teachers’ abilities to teach climate change in the CAPS curriculum. Facilitators for the course were Shanu Misser, Caleb Mandikonza, Nyree Steenekamp from Water Wise, Zwakele Ngwenya who is the Ecoschools Coordinator for Free State and Minentle Baleni an EETDP course participant. The Department of Environmental Affairs was represented by Jennifer Sithole and Lethabo Magoro. The course was structured to have an initial four-day on-course phase, followed by a two-week practice-based implementation of lesson plans and a day that will bring the participants together again to reflect on their practice.

Highlights of proceedings
The Fundisa for Change program and partnerships were introduced on the first day of the course, the rest of the day was spent with teachers working on tasks that focused on developing teachers understanding of the notion of climate change. Teachers were   also given a task to establish curriculum links to the notion of Climate Change in the Natural Science CAPS document. Day 2 Kicked off with a recap of and strengthening of the knowledge on Climate Science and Climate Change through presentations and discussions. Different teaching methods were used to consolidate climate change knowledge. The My2050 Energy Pathways Calculator was used to both consolidate climate change knowledge and to illustrate a teaching and learning tool. Other teaching methods included games, puzzles as well as reading and writing activities. The teachers where given a take home task to review their own dominant teaching methods in relation to methods suggested in the Methods and Processes booklet. Rand Water brought in a number of outdoor based activities on sustainable practices around water and water use and understanding of greenhouse effect and its influence on the water cycle. Participants shared their individually developed lesson plans using a lesson plan analysis tool.  Teachers demonstrated the need for capacity to distinguish between levels of questions and structuring questions to change their order. It was also evident that teachers need assistance to produce their own tasks where questions mostly emerge from the text given. The afternoon of day 3, was devoted to teaching methods consolidation, active learning, assessment and write-up of the PoE assignment. The SDG’s were introduced and the critical role of Goal 4: Quality Education where introduced on day 4.


                                                     Participants take part in a Climate Change challenge

A key outcome of the course was that teachers took home an almost complete Portfolio of Evidence (PoE). Educators found the workshop extremely valuable with some of the comments from the evaluation form indicating a deep sense of commitment and value from the workshop. Some of the participants voiced their satisfaction with the course saying they are now more confident to teach about climate change. Another participant said sharing the information with colleagues will enable them to be agents of change.
Other comments from the participants were that the course was a very productive, informative and  knowledge-based  with a very good teaching and learning atmosphere. “It is a program I would recommend all educators to attend as learners can benefit from the knowledge they will get” , he said.
Another participant said the course challenged their creative thinking and made them aware of the earth they are living in thus equipping them to become drivers of positive change. “The information that I’ve acquired is more relevant to what I am doing at school and the curriculum right now, so I am going to use it” she said.
Some of the challenges with the course material, noted by the participants was that the material was limiting in its approach and that it did not adequately cover some of the aspects linked to climate change in the Natural Science Senior Phase. Some of the teachers wanted the course to have more practical activities, and there were some participants who felt that the course was too short.
By Patience Shawarira, Caleb Mandikonza, Shanu Misser