Sue, Paul and Julia were also able to do some training with teachers at Ibba Girls' School and other nearby schools. Finding training materials relevant to developing teaching and learning at IGBS – a school which is relatively well-resourced, with trained teachers and (in local terms) small classes – needs careful planning. It is a much bigger – a crucial – challenge when we try to combine these staff with teachers from other local schools, which are poorly resourced, have huge classes, and whose teachers have little or no formal training. FIGS volunteers have previously supported structures for lesson planning, classroom organisation and management.
This time, Julia, Paul and Sue wanted a theme which would be relevant, required just a few, simple resources and could be used across the age range and subjects of the primary curriculum. Their choice was ways to use ‘keywords’ to increase vocabulary and understanding of subject matter. Through the theme of ‘the digestive system’ (P6 Science Curriculum), Sue led a two-hour session for 14 teachers, pairing IGBS teachers with those from other local schools. Despite initial misgivings, all the teachers took an active part. The complicated vocabulary of the digestive system was made easy with flashcards, diagrams and activities such as line-ups, group work, memory games and something a bit like speed-dating! Talk about the small intestine, kidney, liver, oesophagus and appendix flowed. Ways of adapting the new ideas to other subjects in their own lessons were discussed, and all the teachers committed themselves to trying out a new technique in their teaching of keywords.
The final reward was the next week, observing P4 students in groups unjumbling the letters of their keywords during their CRE lesson, and seeing posters students had made on the wall of P6, with the keywords highlighted in a complicated Social Studies lesson on relationships.