Thursday, July 9, 2015

Learn Smart Pakistan: Introducing innovation in teaching with boot camps

As part of our national non-profit initiative, Learn Smart Pakistan 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 ninth grade students and teachers under the banner of Learn Smart Pakistan (LSP). As a part of LSP 2015, we conducted, for free, two Teacher Boot Camps on June 15, 2015 at the 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 as a good lesson plan, and do not allocate sufficient time in developing one. According to Alif Ailaan’s report titled, The Voices of Teachers, 87 per cent of the teachers in Balochistan, 73 per cent in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), 72 per cent in Sindh, and 67 per cent 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 were because 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 per cent of students dropout even before completing primary school.

A total of 45 teachers from 20 schools and six cities attended the boot camps. The boot camps consisted of learning activities and group work in order to promote collaborative learning. The complete photography coverage of the event can be seen here.

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


Think about you want students to be able to do by the end of the lesson. Think about this first then ‘plan backward’ from there. Use the behavioral verbs to write out the objective.


Write out what the lesson will be about – which topic, what concept, and why it is relevant to students.


List out what knowledge, information and assumptions the students must already know in order to understand this lesson successfully.


Think and plan about how are you getting students engaged, how will you explain the concept, how will they practice the concept or skill?


What materials or equipment will you be using in this lesson?


The assessment should match up with the objective and should assess students on how well they are able to carry out the objective you outlined.


This can be homework, other reading activities, a short project of some kind, pre-reading for the next chapter and so on.

Self-assessment and reflection

How will did your lesson go? What went well? What could have gone better? How will you do it 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 found in a learning game which include:


Components used to play games such as phones, tablets, computer etc.


The ultimate goal is the milestone which a player has to achieve. In a learning game, it reflects the learning objectives.


Games are designed around set of rules. Rules get integrated using the gameplay.


Herein, a challenge would be a task that an individual attempts to tackle the situation or achieve the goal. In some games, challenge can be manipulated by difficulty level.


How many players can play the game? Is it single-player, multi-player or can be launched in teams?


A  reward system keeps the interest of a player alive. Better the performance, higher are the rewards. Rewards can be in form of achievements, badges etc.

In addition to the above components, learning game is a design to help students learn skills, expand existing concepts, reinforce learning concepts and develop understanding with practice questions.

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.

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.”

The boot camps lasted two and a half 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 here.

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

from The Express Tribune Blog

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