St Anne’s Leavers’ Dinner: Which direction will you choose?

I arrived at a very misty, drizzly St Anne’s and was quickly transported back in time to the atmosphere the thick, refreshing mist used to create around the school, no matter the time of day. I hadn’t quite realised it was also the last day of school for the Matrics, but soon saw the evidence of the celebrations lying at the entrance to the foyer and paraphernalia dotted around elsewhere!

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A visit to Vusisizwe

Today I had the opportunity to go on a excursion to Vusisizwe Secondary School in Worcester, a town about 120 km from Cape Town. The school is one sponsored by Vodacom and as such, they have access to our adaptive, online tool for learning Maths and Science. At Siyavula, we have an in-house team responsible for the “Vodacom project” in terms of managing, training and supporting the schools and teachers who have been sponsored access to Intelligent Practice.

Vusisizwe Secondary School
Vusisizwe Secondary School in Worcester.

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Natural Sciences training: Workshop structure and resources (Part 2)

In this post I want to outline some of the details of how we structured the workshops, the different sessions we ran and the content we decided to focus on. We also created and used a number of openly licensed resources, which have all been made available online for anyone else to build upon and adapt for their own use. You can read more on the project goals and design in the first post here.

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Natural Sciences training: Project goals and design (Part 1)

At the end of 2014, Siyavula was involved in planning, designing and conducting training workshops for the Gr 4-9 Natural Sciences subject advisors in all 9 provinces in South Africa. I coordinated the training project from our side and learned an enormous amount, from designing training workshops, to working with different stakeholders in the education system, to delivering training and teaching concepts, to working with a diverse team, and importantly, interacting with the subject advisors and building relationships across the country.

This blog post, and the few to follow, are reflections on the training, including how it was designed and conducted, our experiences, challenges we faced and recommendations for going forward with future, similar training programmes.

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Promoting open in an open textbook

Since I have been involved in the open movement, I have come to realise the crucial role of creating awareness of open education in an easily understandable way, contextual way. Most people do not know what we mean by the term “open”, and often only associate the word “free” with the content. But, there are many more benefits to being open, than something just being free. And, it’s up to us to promote this.

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Scratching away – Meet the Thunderbolt Kids

scratchAs part of the Learning Creative Learning course that I am doing, run by the Lifelong Kindergarten group at MIT Media Lab, we were introduced to Scratch. We were encouraged to create our own project to introduce ourselves. Scratch was developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten group (love that name!), as it is their mission to develop new technologies, looking back to kids for inspiration, thus expanding the range of what people can design, create and learn. And Scratch certainly achieves this!

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Natural Sciences Gr 7-9 Brainstorming Workshop

Note: This is a repost from our old Siyavula blog in order to document the brainstorming workshop we held in 2013. I will soon be writing a follow up post about what I learned in 2013 in the creation of OER.

This last weekend’s brainstorming workshop certainly kick started the process to produce workbooks for Natural Sciences! Following the production, and success, of the Gr 4-6 workbooks last year (you can read about that here and download the books here), we at Siyavula embarked on the next phase with the Sasol Inzalo Foundation to continue our collaboration and work to produce workbooks for Gr 7-9.

As we are a fairly new organization and also approaching the production of openly licensed textbooks in an innovative, pioneering way, we need to constantly reflect on what we have learned from past experiences to inform and evolve our model going forward. With the start of this project, we did just that, and looked back before looking forwards.

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Creation of Gr4-6 Natural Sciences and Technology workbooks

Note: I have reposted this from our old Siyavula blog from November 2012.

Siyavula is probably most well know for our openly-licensed Everything Science and Everything Maths titles. But, at Siyavula, we like to extend our boundaries, and what better way to extend ourselves than to reach into primary school!

There is much focus on the later grades in high school where learners are grappling with science and maths concepts. But, many of the misconceptions and problems that are evident at this level, often have their roots in the primary school phase. To attempt to improve the STEM subjects in South Africa, we actually need to start at the beginning and secure a strong foundation on which learners can build their future Science and Technology careers.

This is something that we at Siyavula and the Sasol Inzalo Foundation believe strongly in. Not only this, but both organizations recognize the power and potential of open educational resources to make a difference to education in South Africa. This set the stage for a strong partnership to produce resources for Natural Sciences and Technology for Grades 4-6 to be printed by the Department of Basic Education for every child in a government school in 2013.

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