Monday, December 7, 2009

Teacher workshops #2 - Using Play in the Classroom

Last weekend I finished the second set of teacher training workshops for volunteer teachers at cdpeace pilot schools in Paki Masabong and Gbonkolenken chiefdoms. Like the last set, the workshops were well attended, and I think the teachers really enjoyed them.

This set of workshops focused on using play in the classroom. They were facilitated by Delia Kay (photo at left is Delia with teachers in Gbonkolenken). Delia is from the UK and currently working as a volunteer at the Fatima Institute in Makeni. I met her in Makeni, and one day we were talking about our work and interests, and she mentioned that she was a teacher for many years in England, and was head teacher at a primary school. She also said that she was interested in doing more volunteer work with teachers while she was here in Sierra Leone. I immediately took advantage of the opportunity to ask her to facilitate some teacher workshops for us, and happily, she agreed. Since I am not trained as a teacher myself, I was happy to have someone else with actual classroom experience help me out with the training.

In the workshops, Delia set the context by talking about how students learn. She reminded the teachers that students learn not only by listening (auditory learners), but also by seeing (visual learners) and doing (kinaesthetic learners). So much of the teaching style here is teachers standing at the front of the room and talking at students, and many students just don’t learn well that way. Games are a great way to offer stimulation to different learners and also to give the kids a fun activity to do while they are still learning. Delia also talked about using games as a behaviour management tool, something which fits well in our overall efforts to eliminate the use of corporal punishment in schools.

Delia then taught the teachers a series of games they could use in their classrooms, and the teachers themselves actually played the games to see how they worked. The games they learned were Housie, Housie (hangman, but with a drawing of a house instead of a hanging man, which is really quite gruesome when you think about it), several math games involving math problems as clues (Ten Numbers and Multiplication Bingo with actual bingo cards), a couple of word/spelling games (one with homonyms and one with scrambled letters that you make into words – kind of like Boggle), and charades.

The teachers seemed to enjoy playing all the games, but my favourite by far was charades. No one had ever played this game before, so the teachers were a bit unsure of how to go about it. The things they had to act out were all animals, things like lion, frog, butterfly and monkey. To be honest, they all kind of looked the same to me when the teachers acted them out, and I had no clue whatsoever which animal they were trying to portray :-) But the teachers seemed to be able to guess, and there was lots of laughter, so it worked well for them. I have some good videos of the charades as well – they’re posted with the photos from the workshop at

Delia also mentioned a website which has many resources and ideas for primary school teachers in particular:

1 comment:

College Chemistry said...

That's a very interesting place to be doing your field research. Your blog is very interesting!