Mr Bongani Dlwathi is a grade 6 Maths teacher and the Deputy Principal at Bongolethu Primary school. He has been teaching Maths at the school since 2004. In October 2013 Green Shoots started implementing its Maths Curriculum Online (MCO) Programme at Bongolethu Primary, made possible by your generous donations.
Mid-way through 2014 and Mr Dlwathi is still excited at how MCO is making a difference in his Maths classes and is improving the confidence and Maths skills of his learners.
“It has helped me to clearly identify where the learners are struggling the most and which content needs to be revised. It helps to assess the learners' understanding and misunderstandings as well as providing internal assessments for mathematics.”
Mr Dlwathi teaches three grade 6 classes (ages 12-13) which means he is responsible for 114 learners, that is a lot of books to mark every week! However thanks to support from Global Giving donors, Mr Dlwathi is able to use MCO to track each one of the 114 learners on a weekly basis.
” I can monitor each learner’s progress and every learner can track their own achievements through the weekly online exercises. After the learners have completed an online exercise I can access the feedback from their attempts immediately. I am able to identify the areas that learners are struggling with and go back to class and reiterate those specific Maths concepts.”
The MCO exercises and the per child data it provides has made all the difference to Mr Dlwathi and his learners. He can now spend much more of his time supporting learners with their Maths difficulties. Mr Dlwathi is keen to push his classes so that the 2014 grade 6 Maths classes can be the best the school has seen!
Thank you for your donations that are making such a difference, not just to these grade 6 classes, but to the 368 learners from nine grade 4, 5 & 6 classes at Bongolethu Primary.
Sonwabile in Grade 6 at Bongolethu Primary is definitely enjoying his Maths lessons in the computer centre. "I am getting better and better in my test. I know this because I watch my marks and it is improving. I enjoy using the computers at school because it helps us with our Maths and all the children are getting brighter."
Sonwabile is one of 115 grade 6 pupils who have been using Green Shoots Maths Curriculum Online (MCO) in the computer centre twice a week to do their Maths lessons. There are 368 pupils in total in grades 4, 5 & 6 using MCO to do Maths at the school.
For the majority of learners, it is not just about doing Maths, it is also an opportunity to use technology for the first time. Ayabonga in Grade 6 says, "I never used a computer before doing maths in the computer room at school. I like to calculate and the computer tells me if my answer was right after I finish."
A Green Shoots Facilitator has been supporting the teachers to use this new teaching resource optimally with their classes. Mrs Booi, the Grade 5 teacher is pleased with the impact that this new way of doing Maths is having on her learners, "The kids love going to the computer room because they enjoy the exercises. They are the ones reminding me that it is time for their lesson in the computer centre. They are getting good practice in reading in their second language when doing the exercises. Learners always want to improve their scores and I am able to provide individual support to them."
It is the tracking of every learner and the individual support available, that is a vital aspect of the Project being supported by Global Giving donors at Bongolethu Primary. This targeted support allows every learner an opportunity to reach their potential in Maths.
The focus for the remainder of Term 2 is to encourage teachers and leaners to use the scores to set higher targets for their MCO Maths exercises and follow up the learning in the classroom.
Thank you for your very valuable support.
The following is a postcard from Chi Nguyen, GlobalGiving's In-the-Field Representative in South Africa, about her recent visit to Green Shoots Education Services.
On Valentine's Day, I was able to meet with Jo, Mark, and Wilbur from the Green Shoots Education Services team and was very much impressed with what they have achieved thus far. The online math program they have implemented in their partnering schools allows both teachers and students to receive immediate feedback, gifting them with the ability to assess, adjust, and reinforce or change current methods in teaching and learning.
I was able to witness this exact phenomenon during my visit, as I quietly observed a computer lab full of children. Dressed in pink, white, and red for Valentine's Day, these children stared intently at their computers, stopping here or there to jot down a few things in their notebooks for scratch paper. Wilbur walked around the room, monitoring each child's progress and what they jotted down in their notebooks to take note of their problem-solving methods - something that the computers cannot necessarily track - to better understand the mental processes the children go through so that he may provide a comprehensive evaluation to their teacher and so that he may better assist the teacher in his instructing methods. As I watched from the back of the room, a boy (top left, in the white shirt) suddenly pumped his fist in the air with a loud, "Yes!" and the biggest smile on his face. He had just completed a set of math exercises and had received positive feedback from the program - a good score, a score that he could be proud of, a score that gave him self-confidence and motivated him to do even better.
Since they are a technology-driven organization, Jo was able to pull up the child's scores on her tablet immediately and show them to me and I saw, indeed - he had achieved a near-perfect score.
Earlier on in the day, Jo and Mark were able to show me data tracking the improvements in passing math scores term over term, year over year, throughout every school they work with. With a number of schools improving as much as doubling or tripling their passing percentages, the numbers speak for themselves.
They have a very clear vision of what they are trying to achieve, and are a team of ex-teachers who are very well-organized, extremely passionate, highly intelligent, and strikingly well-meaning that deserves a significant amount of support from us, donors, and corporate partners! I would recommend this organization to my family and to corporate sponsors in a heartbeat.
It been a very positive start to 2014 for Green Shoots Maths Support Project at Bongolethu Primary in Brown’s Farm, Cape Town. Since the start of the school year on 15th Jan, 360 grade 4, 5 & 6 learners (ages 10- 12) have been registered to use the online Maths programme.
Mr B Dlwathi, the grade 6 Maths teacher, received training in Oct 2013 and so he started bringing his new grade 6 learners into the computer centre for their IT-based Maths lessons from the first week of term. The immediate feedback that the online programme provides to each learner is already helping learners to identify where they need assistance. “The computer tells them that they don’t know something … and then they want to do something about it" said Mr Dlwathi, “It helps me measure what the learners know”. Most of the Grade 6 learners have already completed their baseline assessment and the individual results will be used to track every learner’s progress through this year. One the school's goals for 2014 is a raise in the grade 6 Maths results.
Both the grade 5 teacher, Mrs N Booi, and the grade 4 teacher, Mrs N Gcayiya, are now receiving training on how to plan, use and evaluate an online Maths lesson. They are bringing their classes into the computer centre for the first time this week. Their training will be followed by periodic in-class support throughout this term. The grade 4 & 5 learners are eager to start their online Maths lessons.
Mr Mlindazwe, the Principal, is very grateful for the support that his school is receiving. He is ensuring that the school works hard to gain the maximum impact for both teachers and learners.
Thank you for your donation that has made this Project possible. Please feel free to share this report with other people who may be interested in supporting "Help South African children achieve in Maths Project".
Term 4 for South African schools started in October. This coincided with the completion of the Global Giving challenge that has allowed Green Shoots to support a Primary school in Brown's Farm, Philippi Township, Cape Town.
For Term 4, the Green Shoots facilitator focussed on working with the approximately 100 grade 6 (ages 12-13) learners and their teacher. The goal for this term was to ensure that both pupils and teacher were totally comfortable with this new style of teaching and learning. During the term, each grade 6 class was encouraged to complete at least one online exercise per week. The facilitator supported the teacher during some of these lessons, demonstrating how to manage the pupils through the online exercises, how to link these exercises with the classroom work and most importantly how to use the real-time per pupil feedback to inform planning/pupil support. The facilitator's role was to guide both teacher and pupils so that the focus is the Maths and not the technology!
The feedback from the pupils has been very positive. Pupils are excited and find this way of learning Maths more stimulating and engaging. They have adapted very quickly, coming in logging on and getting started straight away.
Part of the support to the school includes feedback to the school’s management to assist them in managing this new learning strategy. Both the Principal and grade 6 teacher are eager and fully committed to ensuring that learners gain the maximum benefit from their online lessons. From term 1, 2014, this Math Curriculum Online will be expanded to include grade 4 and 5 learners. The staggered approach will allow the grade 6 teacher to act as a lead teacher for his grade 4 & 5 colleagues.
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