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Building Project-Based Learning(PBL) Communities of Practice

Provide teachers community assessment and facilitation skills to identify and train a network of refugees as para-educators in PBL.

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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

Teachers are one of the greatest assets to a community: helping to connect children with the knowledge, skills and thinking needed to solve problems. Teachers also play a vital role developing relationships between their students and parents. This project would capitalize on the teachers position in the community to identify, assess, recruit and train parents, adults and older students as para-educators and partners in the learning process; leveraging untapped skill-sets available among residents of refugee camps and resettlement communities. This project would provide a scalable train-the-trainer model for increasing education capacity through a higher teacher to student ratios, peer support and community buy-in for in and out of school and homeschool programs. The education model that we would work with is a project-based learning approach. The PBL model is ideal for incorporating knowledge from various skill sets and training lay people who have minimal skills in traditional pedagogical approaches. It provides room for lay people to become experts relying on facilitation of problem solving rather than being content specialists in math, language, science or social studies.

WHO BENEFITS?

The benefits of the program would extend to three user groups: teachers working in refugee camps or resettlement communities, refugees with leveragable skill sets and students. Teachers would gain support in the classroom and expand expertise. Refugees would apply their skills in meaningful ways and advance their teaching abilities as well as their literacy and mathematic skills. Students would have higher instructor to student ratios and exposed to new problem solving skills.

PROTOTYPE

Our company, CREATOMbuilder, Inc. has focused on the train-the-trainer model in PBL by developing frameworks for project facilitation and techniques for incorporating curriculum standards into classroom projects. A framework delivery model, as compared to a top-down curriculum delivery model, allows for projects to be place-based: leveraging refugee camp’s location and context along with refugee’s skills sets. Pilot Project: Prep prior to arrival at location: Identify education and community service NGO’s to connect with target communities. Week 1: identify 6 teachers (T's) and 12 skilled para-educators(PE's) who demonstrate leadership and community networking skills currently working or living in refugee camps, identify and visit home/out of school sites and assess adults for skills and interest and locations for training centers. Identify 5 leaders who will act as project coordinators in the community. Weeks 2 & 3: Provide intensive workshops with T's and PE's on PBL community of practice framework and set up training centers in the local school and one in the local community. Assess curriculum and skill sets to develop monthly project and training schedule including T's & PE’s demonstrating their skills that will be aligned to curriculum for PBL activities. Weekly PE's teaching schedules set. Week 4: T's and PE’s will work together to conduct first project in classroom and meet following week to discuss. Leaders will meet with T's and PE's 2 x/month in their class.

FEEDBACK

We have seen first-hand the power of train-the-trainer programs for their scalability and sustainability. We have primarily worked with after-school teachers (both professional teachers and para-educators) in rural India with the non-profit Communities Rising, Inc. and with elementary school teachers in Atlanta through an NSF grant. We are seeking feedback from the IRC affiliate in Atlanta, through our contacts at Georgia State University and those working in the resettlement community of Clarkston, GA on professional development resources and realities of working with the refugee community. We have discussed this project with members of Georgia State University who have worked with the Clarkston, GA resettlement community, the director of Communities Rising in India and past residents of Dadab Refugee camp in Kenya. What we have learned is the following: That these communities will set up small in-home schools, of up to 10-15 children, due to over crowding issues in the UNICEF or UNHCR schools where teacher to student ratios can be as high as 1:160 students, safety concerns especially for girls, and the need to have children help with basic needs of daily survival. Through bringing these smaller in-home schools together with traditional teachers they can have better access to the mandated curriculum and increase their skills as teachers and teaching assistants providing better access to education to their children.

HOW IS THIS IDEA DIFFERENT FROM WHAT YOUR ORGANIZATION (OR OTHER ORGANIZATIONS) IS ALREADY DOING?

Working in the refugee context provides unique challenges that would fundamentally change the way we conduct this program and develop place-based structures to meet community needs and limitations. Although we have experience providing training to professional teachers, this program is differentiated by developing professional development structures for non-professional teachers who have different priorities and goals such as survival, environment, food and water, energy, safety, physical and mental health and hygiene. These topics would drive PBL curriculum development and training.

HOW WOULD YOU USE AMPLIFY FUNDING AND DESIGN SUPPORT?

Funding will be required for 1. Prep and bringing team of 3 PBL training specialist to the site for 3 times during the first 18 months...$50,000 2. Purchase of any PBL activity materials for 3 years= $6000 3. Salary for 5 program leaders for 3 years...$1000/leader = $15,000 4. Food for 3 years of monthly training sessions for 36 sessions... $10,000 5. Technology(tablets or smartphones, printers for 5 program leaders...$5000 6. Setting up PBL Community of Practice (CofP) guide and web interface for multiple languages for print and web ...$5000 7. Work with Design Support to refine assessment & run simulations of the PBL CofP training sessions with PBL specialist team and get feedback.

HOW DOES YOUR IDEA TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE CONTEXT OF THE CHALLENGE?

This proposal provides a place-based model for engagement and assessment of skills for potential para-educators for creating PBL communities of practice. Through the initial assessment phase we will work with existing schools, NGO's and communitiy leaders to identify people as lead trainers and facilitators and potential para-educators who are skilled laborers, cultural leaders and those running existing in-home informal schools. We would leverage resources, community issues and mandated curriculum for the developmemt of PBL projects providing a learning experience which is culturally specific and sensitive.

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS FROM THE AMPLIFY TEAM

Each refugee community works with a mandated curriculum which includes mathematics, language arts and literacy, science and some form of social or cultural studies indexed to developmental stages. The unique challenge is that not all children are able to meet their developmental level. We would coach trainers in an education standards mapping approach that leverages community issues identified in the assessment as the basis of projects. Incentives for the lead trainers and program liasons would be to provide a supplemental salary for running the program in the pilot region. Incentives for the para-educators/teaching-assistants trainees includes a community support network and sense of purpose and monthly training sessions that provide lunch and project worksheets and teaching props. New trainers would hear about the program through visits to schools by program leaders. Future para-educators would learn of the program through conducting the community skills and resources assessment. Two types of training centers would be identified:1 the school-based training center and 2. the in-home/neighborhood-based training center. These training centers would work collaboratively to conduct PBL training for both educational environments and serve as a resource and gathering center. This proposal creates a scaleable structure and process to implement para-educator programs tailored to localized contexts.

SKILL SHARE (optional)

This 1 month pilot would require a core group of teacher-leaders with the assistance of translators and educators affiliated with organizations like the IRC, UNHCR or Questscope. We would tap these organizations’ teacher professional development programs to implement the community assessment and PBL teacher/para-educator training. I would provide my skills as a education design facilitator and consultant as well as access to our platform to train and follow up with the targeted community

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF

I'm a design educator, entrepreneur and PBL consultant. I've conducted PBL teacher training in India on a Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship and work with schools and maker spaces in Atlanta, GA. I help to bring design thinking to the learning process; developing meaninful projects for the classroom.

IS THIS AN IDEA THAT YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION WOULD LIKE TO TAKE FORWARD?

  • Yes, and I am looking for a partner working with refugee communities to implement this idea.

15 comments

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Spam
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Team

Hi Kathleen,

Another comment from one of our experts! If you could please spend some time responding to their comment that would be great.

"Could you please explain this is less technical terms? Also, how is this different than existing approaches?"

Thanks!

The Amplify Team

Spam
Photo of Kathleen Fritz
Team

Amplify Team,
How this proposal is different than para-educator or teaching assistant training is that we are looking to assess the skills of the community and create project based curriculum that incorporates the community skills along with the mandated curriculum. We are providing a process for leveraging the existing curriculum not just handing a curriculum over to the community.

As for describing it in less technical terms, I'm not sure if they are responding to the whole proposal or just a part of it? It would be helpful for us if the expert could be more specific about what they are looking for, but let me know if this elevator pitch helps:

We are working with local leaders, NGO's and teachers in refugee communities to locate, assess the skills of, and train a network of adult residents to become teaching assistants for both the formal classroom and smaller independent homeschools. This team of teaching assistants will lend their skills (such as cooking, sewing, storytelling, woodworking, construction, merchants, bookkeeping etc.) as teaching opportunities for projects that are aligned with the mandated curriculum.

An example would be the mandated curriculum says that you need to learn measurments for math skills. We could develop a project based on construction and have the teaching assistant provide a workshop during the monthly para-educator training sessions to the other teachers on how to do measurments when building a small structure such as a table or bench. Using materials found in the camp, each class would build a small structure that is needed in their classroom or in their home. Students would apply measuring and basic math skills from the mandated curriculum during the project. Other para-educators would receive new valuable skills. By the end of the year at least 12 project modules would be created that could be replicated to other neighborhoods or districts in the refugee camps.

I hope this helps -please let me know.
Thanks,
Kathy

Spam
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Team

Hi Kathy,

This is really helpful, thank you! While our expert didn't elaborate on which part they wanted more details on, this certainly helps us get a sense of what you are planning! Cheers!

Spam
Photo of Karen Lee
Team

I like the idea of identifying refugees who are leaders in their communities, and giving them the education, materials, and support network to become PE's in their local or informal schools. I understand how a PE can assist a teacher in a classroom setting, but how might a PE identify or develop an informal school? Would PE's pair up within a community to co-teach?

Spam
Photo of Kathleen Fritz
Team

Karen,
Thanks for your question. Yes, part of the proposal (see prototype) would identify those working in informal homeschools. In India we call them tuition centers. I know from our contacts that have worked in Dadab that this is a common practice to have 10-15 children of various ages participating in a school run in homes by either certified educators or a self appointed teacher due to the large classroom sizes and dangers of going to and from school. We would meet with these schools during the identification round. I hope that this helps.
Best,
Kathy

Spam
Photo of AMPLIFY Team
Team

Hi Kathleen,

As you know, we've had a number of experts take a look at and review your idea. Below are a few comments/questions for you. If you have some time to provide answers to these that would be great!

"The idea sounds a good one, could you please clearly articulate how the para-educators work with the trained teachers?

"I like the idea of 'para-educators' - train the trainers and community outreach workers have been proven models - but I am not sure this solution explains well what the para-educators would acutally do. (i.e. Would they work in schools? on formal education? informal education? general community support?) There could also be more detail about how this solution is specific to refugees, and your reflections on what has been different about your experiences of working in India vs the US."

"While I believe that the project organizer is on the right track with promoting PBL on such a scale, the approach should be more centered around methods that allow such an initiative to implemented at scale. It might be a matter of creating training materials that can be distributed via video and a network of PBL experts around the globe who can provide feedback and support as the local practitioners develop their PBL skills and curricula."

Thanks!

The Amplify Team

Spam
Photo of Kathleen Fritz
Team

Thank you for the comments and insights. We are definitly thinking along the same lines. From some of our research depending on different locations some refugee camps have informal inhome schools where 10-15 children are taught be either trained teachers or para-educators. Then there are th formal schools with a teacher to student ratio of 1:100-125. We are thinking that we would create a unified track for training para-educators and teachers in PBL place-based learning through training centers-potentially at the formal school which could be a place where the education community can come together for twice a month training on the project of the month, learn new teaching techniques, undersand how the manditory curriculum can be taught through the project, where materials can be sourced and hold student exhibits of their projects. Then teachers/para-educators would take their projects back to their classrooms in the formal schools or in the decentralized home schools. We would look at designating 3-5 train the trainers (some teachers some para-educators) to visit sites twice a month to help answer questions and support the educators as they deliver the pbl projects.

The teaching role of the para-educator would include 3 activities: 1. attending trainings, 2. leveraging and presenting their skills (which were assessed as they entered the program) to other educators/para-educators during training sessions that coincide with the PBL project for that month, assist teachers in the classroom daily to help with managing classrooms and then direct project facilitation for the 1-2 days of the PBL project in the classroom. Having flexibility for the para-educators to be either part of the formal school or part of a de-centralized home school would allow for higher participation and overcome issues of safety as well as access to further the para-educator's teaching, language literacy and math skills while observing what teachers are doing during the day.

Our goal is to provide a platform and framework for training, leveraging community skills and incorporting manditory curriculum into place-based projects. We can start with a set of curriculum that we can determine during the first month of the pilot, but our goal is that if you teach a framework for the system that is more sustainable, scalable and culturally sensative over a pre-packaged curriculum.

Please let me know if you have any other questions and I will be incorporating these details into the overall proposal.
Best,
Kathy

Spam
Photo of AMPLIFY Team
Team

Hi Kathy,

Thanks so much for your detailed response, this is very helpful!

A few more questions! Do you plan to develop the PBL criteria based on materials that you've already used in places like India? Are you flexible about where your idea is implemented? And, if you have a moment, please update the Feedback section with some of the comments that you got from the people and processes you describe. Cheers!

Spam
Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

Thanks for the updates on responding to the Amplify questions Kathleen! And we're glad to see that you've created an Experience Map to describe this idea in a human-centered way. Have you identified a specific refugee community to pilot the PBL approach in? We noticed that you've identified the Zaatari Camp in Jordon in your Experience Map. You might be interested in reaching out to Dave and his team who are also working on piloting their Refinement Phase idea in Zaatari: https://openideo.com/challenge/refugee-education/refinement/the-world-s-first-fab-lab-in-a-refugee-camp

Also, it'd be great if you can also identify a refugee community within the contexts that you've already been working in. i.e. are there any refugee communities in India or Pakistan that you can pilot the PBL model in?

Spam
Photo of Kathleen Fritz
Team

I've talked to my collaborators in India and we discussed working in the the refugee camp for Sri Lankin refugees in Trichy in Tamil Nadu (about 170 km from their site in the Vilupuram District), but there are some issue working in the camp because of Indian government issues. We have the most experience working in this region and with the Indian mandated curriculum and any help we could obtain getting access to a NGO we could partner with working in this camp would be helpful. This would be the easiest place by loction and cultural sensitivity that we have experience. We are also interested in bringing this program to refugee camps in Nepal, Jordan, Turkey or Africa but we would need connection and access to NGO's working in the region. Some possible connections could be with some of the programs that have applied to the OpenIDEO challenge such as the Little Ripples program.
Thanks for the questions.
Kathy

Spam
Photo of AMPLIFY Team
Team

Hi Kathleen,

It's great to hear that you are flexible about the where this idea may be implemented. As you know, we've partnered with the UNHCR and UNICEF for this challenge and are sharing our Refinement ideas shortlist with them. It's possible that your idea might spark someone's imagination in one of the field offices and good to know that you are open to partnering in various places!

Spam
Photo of Katie-Jay Scott Stauring
Team

Hi Kathleen, This is great! Yes, every similar. The Little Ripples program grew from a need they themselves identified and we worked to link them to early childhood educators and trauma experts. The neighborhood training centers are similar ideas also. Let's connect. Shoot me an email! ktj@iactivism.org

Spam
Photo of AMPLIFY Team
Team

Congratulations on making it to the Refugee Education Challenge Refinement List, Kathleen! We really love the idea of incorporating community members into the traditional education space. We also like how you’ve demonstrated an idea that both supports teachers and fosters a sense of community. We’re interested in learning more about how you might incorporate this into the mandated curriculum? Also, is there an incentive for teachers to go through the teacher training course? Perhaps you can fill out this User Experience Map http://ideo.pn/UX_Map to help us understand how this might work. For example, how might these new trainers learn about the program? Where would the trainings take place?

Finally, you mentioned that you’ve worked with a number of organizations in India, have you thought about how you might expand this to a specific refugee context? What could you do in the next few weeks to test an aspect of your idea? What can the OpenIDEO Community help you with? We are excited to have you in the challenge!

Spam
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Team

Congrats on making it to the Refinement Phase Kathleen! We would love it if you can take some time to answer the new Refinement questions that we've added to your original idea submission form. To answer the new questions, hit the Edit Contribution button at the top of your post. Scroll down to the entry fields of the new Refinement questions. Hit Save when you are done editing.

Also, here's a useful tip: When you update the content of your post, it'd be helpful to indicate this in your idea title by adding an extension. For example, you can add the extension " - Update: Experience Maps 5/11" to you idea title. This will be a good way to keep people informed about how your idea is progressing!

Spam
Photo of Bethany Armstrong
Team

This is what Education needs. Such a great product!