Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Time to go already

Our flight leaves tomorrow from Dulles about 6 PM so we are down to counting hours now! Hope this snowy weather holds off until after our flight.

I didn't think it was possible to be more excited than we were last year but this year we have so many new ideas and plans to implement we can hardly wait to see how it all works!

LOEP is introducing some low tech equipment that could be useful teaching tools in environments where books are scarce, there are no computers or Internet access and power is so very limited. Solar power and some brand new state-of the-art technology is in our bag of tricks to try out for both teachers and students.

One of our most exciting innovations is a solar-powered LOEP Teacher Training Kit we developed since last year's trip. One aspect of LOEP training that we have really worked on is improving the training for "teacher peer trainers". LOEP-trained teachers need to pass on their knowledge to other teachers in their schools and develop solid professional development programs that they can conduct with minimal support from LOEP. We are looking to the solar-powered Teacher Training Kit as a tool in developing that capacity for self-training.

The new kit includes a LOEP Workshop Leader manual, a state-of-the-art projector that can show videos and pictures without a computer hook-up and a solar panel to power whole thing. USB mass storage devices (aka memory sticks)loaded with LOEP training manual materials, video clips of teachers teaching and trainers training and solid resource information downloaded from the Iternet can plug directly into the projector and show movie screen-sized pictures - all powered by the solar panel.

A single LOEP-trained Workshop Leader can train groups of colleagues using the Teacher Training Kit - we hope! Some LOEP teachers will receive training to use the new equipment with the expectation that they can conduct LOEP workshops and professional development sessions in their own schools on a regular basis. This is a prototype developed by LOEP and we will be testing and evaluating carefully on this trip to see how effective it can be in rural Liberia where there is no electricity and it is nearly impossible to provide teachers with individual manuals and training materials.

We are also excited about unpacking telescopes, basic science equipment, instructional video and viewing equipment we have shipped ahead for use in science classes in LOEP partner schools. Basics of science instruction for all grades will be touched on in the training this year and there are some new teaching tools waiting to be put to use!

Watch this space for more after we arrive Friday evening! We promise there will be pictures, pictures, pictures!

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