In our last edition of Connecting Concepts Carolyn Mueller shared with us her hopes for her trip to Kenya. In this edition Carolyn tells us about her work at the Kaizora Institute:
The main focus of our visit to the school in Nairobi was to implement Direct Instruction (DI) throughout the school. DI is a skill the students need to transition into mainstream/inclusion schools. The idea was to teach peer awareness and group work. We began by observing classroom interactions between peer groups. I was amazed to see how knowledgeable the teachers were in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) and how dedicated they are to their students. It was truly inspiring. The school operated beautifully and just needed support utilizing group work. The Kaizora consultants had some knowledge of how DI works, but were unable to use it successfully in the classroom.
After a day of observing, our team developed atraining on DI. We reviewed the main concepts, why it is important, focusing on choral responses and the use of scripted lessons. Our training involved questions to encourage staff to discuss how they currently run group work and compare it to the DI concepts.
The next day I gave a presentation on developing scripts. We based scripts on research but found the scripts very wordy. It became evident that the scripts would not work across the school. The scripts only seemed to be successful in the advanced classroom.
Upon further research we found that minimal research has been conducted on DI in special needs classrooms. We decided to share resources and develop a DI curriculum that would be successful for this school. We used role playing activities and socratic questioning to specify the scripts to the needs of the students and school.
Our script was sustainable across the entire school. Once the teachers became fluent in the scripts the students began choral responding, working together, and turn taking. The student’s peer awareness increased tremendously!
Working together, Kaizora and Skill Corps staff found a way for students and teachers to maintain the skills taught long after we fly away. It was extremely exciting to see how quickly the teachers learned how to implement DI successfully.
Through this opportunity, I learned the importance of sustainability. It was amazing to be a part of work that hasn’t been done before.