Earlier this year we reported that the maths lab at Ukhanyo School was ready to receive learners. Thanks to the generous contributions of our donors and the skilled craftsmanship of Masicorp volunteer Paul Dibble, the Lab environment is inviting and comfortable and we are pleased to report that good progress continues to be made.
In May we were able to hire a full-time Maths Lab Assistant, Nokathula Gomba, (Thula). Thula is from the local community and has experience as an after-school maths mentor. She hopes to have a teaching career in the future and is seen here in the lab with Laurie.
Each morning four sections of grade 4 learners spend 45-50 minutes in the Lab with their teacher, Scott or Laurie, together with Thula. The aim is to demonstrate that efficiency of learning, knowledge retention, and even student behaviour improve directly as classroom instruction shifts from a teacher-centric to a student-centric model. All 240 grade 4 learners are taken through the same curriculum, and each teacher gets to observe lessons taught by Scott or Laurie. Later in the same week, they teach the lessons that they have observed and grow in their own teaching skills.
It has been pleasing to see the teachers rearrange their own classrooms to emulate the Maths Lab setup, so that they can circulate and observe learner progress more readily. Scott and Laurie recently returned from a four week winter break in the US and found that the Maths Lab was being used effectively with the teachers following the lesson plans that had been left in place. In particular Zama Maqwathini (seen here with his class) has demonstrated a lot of energy and excitement about this new experience. In the first week after the return of Scott and Laurie he was ready to teach a lesson to his 2nd section of students, after watching Scott model the lesson with his 1st section. However, he asked if he could modify the lesson slightly and greatly improved the learning experience with his ideas.
This first half of year has been more challenging than expected, with delays in setting up and acquiring classroom materials, but the rewards have far exceeded our hopes. Our thanks go out to the many donors that have helped to fund this ambitious project.