Originally published in The Express Tribune

As part of our national non-profit initiative, Learn Smart Pakistan, we conducted two teacher boot camps to help build skills in lesson planning and learning games among selected teachers in Pakistan. The boot camp included a bonus session on online mentoring for teachers participating in the digital challenge.

Since 2014, we have been sponsoring a series of educational activities for 9th grade students and teachers under the banner of Learn Smart Pakistan (LSP). As part of LSP 2015, we conducted, for free, two Teacher Boot Camps on June 15, 2015 at Islamabad Club Pakistan. The boot camps enabled teachers to strengthen their capacity and gain expertise in two vital skill sets for effective classroom teaching:

  1. Lesson Planning
    Data from the education sector has revealed that teachers in Pakistan are not always clear on what constitutes a good lesson plan, and do not spend a lot of time developing one. According to Alif Ailaan’s report titled, The Voices of Teachers, 87% of teachers in Balochistan, 73% in KPK, 72% in Sindh, and 67% in Punjab spend less than six hours per week on lesson planning.
  2. Educational Classroom Games
    Data from the education sector reveals that many dropouts occur due to old and archaic ways of teaching steeped in rote learning with virtually no creativity encouraged in the classroom. According to Alif Ailaan’s The State of Education in Pakistan factsheet, as many as 46% of students drop out even before completing primary school.

A total of 45 teachers from 20 schools and 6 cities attended the boot camps. The boot camps consisted of learning activities and group work in order to promote collaborative learning. View the complete photography coverage of the event on our Facebook page.

The Lesson Planning boot camp covered the main components of an effective lesson plan, which include:

  1. Learning Objectives. Think about what you want students to accomplish by the end of the lesson. Once you have established these objectives plan backwards to create your lesson plan. Use behavioral verbs to write out your objectives.
  2. Content. Describe what the lesson will be about – which topic, what concepts, why it is relevant to your students and Lesson Plan Comhow it connects back to the learning objectives.
  3. Prerequisites. List out what knowledge, information or assumptions the students must already know in order to understand this lesson successfully.
  4. Plan. Think about how you plan to get students engaged, how you will explain the concepts, and in what ways students can practice the concepts or skills.
  5. Materials. Determine what materials or equipment you will need to use.
  6. Assessment. The assessment should connect to the established learning objective and should assess students on how well they have reached those objectives.
  7. Follow-up. Design a follow-up activity to reinforce the skills and concepts learned. This can be in the form of homework, additional reading activities, a short project, pre-reading for the next chapter and so on.
  8. Self-assessment / reflection. Take time to reflect on how you think the lesson went. What went well? What could have gone better? What will you do differently next time?

At the end of the session, teachers were encouraged to craft a practical, clear and engaging lesson plan. Besides Knowledge Platform instructors, the boot camp also included an external mentor, Amina Humayun Khan, a specialist in learning difficulties in literacy and dyslexia. Through a video recording, Amina shared various strategies on how to develop good lesson plans even with limited resources.

The Learning Games boot camp focused on what aspects define an effective game and distinctive elements often found in learning games, which include:

Game Components

  1. Tools. Devices used to play games such as phones, tablets, computer etc.
  2. Goals. Milestones which a player has to achieve. In a learning game the goals reflect the learning objectives.
  3. Rules. Rules or instructions help learners understand what is expected of them and how to succeed.
  4. Challenge. A task that an individual must overcome in order to achieve the goals. Challenges keep players engaged and can include a number of factors including levels of difficulty.
  5. Interactions. The format of your game that will determine how users will interact with the game. Is it a multi-player game? A puzzle? Virtual reality? There are endless formats to choose from!
  6. Feedback & Rewards. Feedback helps learners understand why certain answers are wrong or right. They should be instant without interrupting the flow of the game. Rewards help keep players interested. Different type of rewards can provide different types of incentives. For example, badges can encourage players to complete a specific set of actions or improve performance while experience points can reward engagement.

In addition, a learning game is designed to help students understand new skills, expand on existing concepts and reinforce learning concepts.

The session also discussed best practices when developing a learning game. The session included interactive activities and encouraged teachers to generate ideas for their own in-classroom games.

Best Practices in Learning Games

Both boot camps received positive feedback and praise from teachers, “the sessions were very informative, interactive and relevant to the topic. This boot camp has motivated us to use our skills for betterment of our nation’s future. I am glad to attend it and request Knowledge Platform team to conduct it on frequent basis”.

Teacher Boot Camp

The boot camps lasted 2.5 hours each and were conducted in parallel. After the boot camps, teachers were invited to attend a bonus session of 30 minutes on Online Mentoring for the digital challenge, also part of Learn Smart Pakistan.

Read more about the online learning challenge.

LSP 2015 provides 9th grade students and teachers access to quality educational resources for Mathematics and English. The content is available online for free at Learn Smart Pakistan. The digital contest will come to a close on July 12, 2015 followed by an award ceremony and education forum.

Learn Smart Pakistan Teacher Boot Camp