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SUBJECT OVERLOAD IN NIGERIAN SCHOOLS

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I’m doing this post because I find that certain things which we may ordinarily take for granted and accept on the assumption of them being given and common-place, are anything, but.

Nigeria is blessed with a huge and ever-increasing number of private schools, which help complement the efforts of government to guarantee that we educate our children, and create a one-hundred-percent literate nation.

In the last few months or so, since I began my active campaign in the education sector, through school visits and trainings exercises, I’ve came to discover that a large majority of our private school, including the “government-approved” ones are largely uninformed and non-compliant as to the number of subjects recommended and approved for the children they teach. Some who are informed defy these regulations, in their efforts to impress their customer, the parents, with the variety and quantity of subjects they teach. I therefore, found schools offering as many as twenty to twenty-three subjects, even in the nursery classes. No wonder our children struggle, academically!!! Because, how in the world does a three-year-old cover four, much less thirteen to twenty-three specific subject areas!!!

Today, again, I was confronted with the same question by a school owner, which most others in the group could not address: How many and what subjects has government approved for our primary schools?

PLEASE NOTE THE SUBJECTS APPROVED FOR NIGERIAN SCHOOLS:

Primary 1  to 3 are allowed to take six subjects, as follows:

  • English Studies
  • Mathematics (with local contents)
  • Basic Science & Technology
  • Creative & Cultural Arts
  • Religious & National Values
  • Hausa, Igbo or Yoruba

The omission of French here, is not in error.

Primary 4  to 6 are allowed to take eight to nine subjects, as follows:

  • English Studies
  • Mathematics (with local contents)
  • Basic Science & Technology
  • Creative & Cultural Arts
  • Religious & National Values
  • Hausa, Igbo or Yoruba
  • Pre-vocational Studies
  • French
  • Arabic Studies (Optional)

JSS1 to 3 are allowed to take six subjects, as follows:

  • English Studies
  • Mathematics (with local contents)
  • Basic Science & Technology
  • Creative & Cultural Arts
  • Religious & National Values
  • Hausa, Igbo or Yoruba
  • Pre-vocational Studies
  • French
  • Arabic Studies (Optional)

SSS1 to 3 offers some electives, in addition to the compulsory ones listed below, all of which add up to no more than nine subjects:

  • English Studies
  • Mathematics (with local contents)
  • Basic Science & Technology
  • Catering or Data Processing (or several other alternatives)

NOTE that the subject, History, has recently been reintroduced in the Nigerian curriculum.

Another question raised by my audience:

What is the place of Quantitative and Verbal Aptitude?

Quantitative and Verbal Aptitude or Reasoning are not subjects per se. they are like sub-themes or exercises under specific subjects, and should only be treated as such.

Contrary to what many people think, the decision of government to restrict subjects on offer to these stated above, does not in any way, water down the quality or quantity of contents delivered. Rather, by these restrictions, the content quality and delivery approach are dramatically enhanced.

Take the subject, RNV, for instance. Even though it is just one subject, it comprises a rich and strategically-structure combination of the Social Studies, IRS and CRS (which can be delivered concurrently), as well as Civic and Security Education.

In general, the Nigerian policy on education clearly and carefully explains how the schools may plan and implement delivery; and it is left to us to ensure we comply, and also for the various education compliance teams to be judicious in their supervisory and advisory roles.

An interesting question from a school proprietor, “should I use my state (government) curriculum, even when my school is running Montessori?”

There is no reason you shouldn’t; after all, the Montessori is a delivery approach, which is chuck full of healthy principles, policies, practices and contents which can work with and does complement and enrich every curriculum or education system.

Finally, now that we all are informed, let’s do the right thing by our children. Subject overload is, in fact, really an act of abuse on the child. The parents are not the professional, and may, in an ignorance powered by unnecessary competitiveness, demand certain thing of us as school proprietors. But, it is our duty as knowledgeable professionals to advise, instead of succumb to them.

CHANGING THE ECONOMIC NARRATIVE OF THE NIGERIAN THROUGH EDUCATION

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Recently, I watched an online video by ROOTS TV, NIGERIA, tagged, “POVERTY ERADICATION – NIGERIA IS THE POVERTY CAPITAL OF THE WORLD”, which depicted, only too vividly, the harsh realities of the economic conditions in which a larger majority of the Nigerian citizens have to live. Sadly, the situation is undeniably, presently on a fast decline.

In this situation, we find that, while many people have limited themselves to merely highlighting the challenges and passing blames, and yet others have resigned themselves to their own respective economic situations, others have resorted to all forms and levels of crime, devices and misconducts, in order, apparently to help lift themselves out of the murk.

I know, however, that, as life builders, we, who are active players in the education sector, can certainly find alternatives, which are not only effective, but, sustainable solutions to the apparently perennial problem.

“So, how do you, as an educator, think we can change the economic narrative of our people, in an effective and sustainable fashion?”

Poverty, although a sad, tangible and real state of being, is also a thing of the mind.

Don’t get me wrong. By this, I am definitely not trying to minimise or trivialise the o-too-real situation, and its resultant effects, with which we, the Nigerian “common man” have to cope.

All I am saying is that, the solution – the cure centres in a change in mindset. This is why a man may suddenly, either by crime or the whims of luck or divine providence, come into a gust of financial windfall, and yet, remain as poor as he had ever been; because, even in his desperate efforts to use his newfound money to erase the signs of penury, the indelible signs of deep-seated poverty remain evident in everything he does, every word he says, and in his mannerism and garish appearance.

Therefore, the cure for economic poverty does not and can never lie in any political gestures of free-cash or free-food handouts, but, rather in curing the mind of its malaise. And, where best to start, than with that little child in your classroom. And that is where the educator comes in.

Here are four things we, as teachers, in our own little corner of the world, can do, irrespective of the place where our school is located, to permanently win the battle against the economic deprivation of hapless wards:

  1. Paradigm Shift Regarding Acceptable Standards

In our schools and classrooms, we must teach our children to begin to question the quality and standards of options presented to them. We let them understand that mediocrity is not acceptable, nor is low quality in goods, services.

In everything we do and say, we should demonstrate to them to never sacrifice quality on the altar of a low-cost.

How do I achieve this in my own school, which is a public school, where pupils come to school, unkempt, and dressed in tattered and dirty uniforms, and so on?

Very simple, begin to firmly, but, kindly and patiently show himself to him; then show him what could be. In time, he will get the message.

And as we talk to him, we must do same with the parents, because, they are our potent partners in the change movement.

When you teach a child that not everything goes, he will go home, and begin to consciously and actively believe that he deserves better than the squalid, unhygienic environment in which he may have found himself.

He will also be careful of the quality of foods and substances he ingests, and also in the quality of friends he keeps.

  • Develop Learners’ Critical & Creative Thinking Skill

Now that your children have learnt from you that nothing but the possible best is acceptable, and have started to desire and demand the best, if you leave it at that, and nothing changes, frustration may set in, along with its usual partner-vices.

A creative and critical mind, on the other hand, is excited to see a challenge, and is motivated to turn it into gold.

It is therefore essential that we, as a school, strive to encourage and build up our children’s innate creative mind.

That way, as the child is growing and questioning his circumstance and environment, he is, by himself, coming up with ways in which he can actually change them for the better.

Therefore, every teacher should be a critical-minded and creative-thinker, armed with the information and skills necessary to build same in the learners.  

  • Virtue Education

Virtue education, as opposed to corporal punishment, builds in the child, the self-motivation for self-discipline.

We should therefore, in our schools, de-emphasise corporal punishment, and work to teach our children to imbibe and live the virtues necessary to be community leaders and builders, who know that the end does not always justify the means.

We mould them into socially-well-adjusted adult who know how to positively manage their economic and other life’s failures and challenges, as well as they can manage the successes.

  • Review of our Curricular Contents and Delivery Approach

In our schools and classrooms, we must, as the captain, be creative to interpret and deliver our contents, such that we end up graduating real thinkers – people who would become contributors to our economy, and not mere consumers… job-creators, instead of mere job-seekers.

Finally, the power lies in the hand of the Nigerian teacher, because, at the end of the day, we find that, in making our own little contributions, drop-after-drop, we make the invaluable changes necessary to convert our economy from what it is today, to what we know it could be in our children’s future.

What Form of Address for Class Teacher?

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Africa is a place where people have sensitive consciousness when it comes to respect for elders and for persons in authority.

In schools, we also want to inculcate this consciousness in our learners; and therefore, we teach them to address our school proprietors and members of staff in certain terms which are indicative of expected respect.

In many schools, the address, “Uncle”, “Auntie” and “Mummy,” are titles of address for persons occupying specific positions of authority in the school system. This is expected to demonstrate respect, while at the same time, suggesting closeness, congeniality or informality.

Many schools, on the other hand, use “Sir” or “Ma’am” (mostly mispronounced, /mem/), to show respect and a more formal relationship.

Even though the use of “Sir” and “Madam”, even “Ma” appears to be more widely accepted, as they are often correctly used in formal letters, these terms have so many different connotations, as to make the use of them in reference to our teachers and members of school management in today’s schools settings somewhat questionable.

In some cultures and religious settings, “Sir” is a title given to persons who have attained certain positions in the society or organisation, such the knighthood, as in “Sir George”. The female version is “Lady” and sometimes, “Dame”.

It may, therefore, be less than appropriate to address a class teacher as “Sir Chukwuma”, for instance, or “Lady Adeleke”.

Other not so acceptable terms for our teachers may include, “Teacher Simon”, and so on.

Usually, “Sir” and “Madam” (or the less formal “Ma’am”) are also used as polite forms of address for someone whose name you do not know, or whose position or age is so much higher than yours that using the person’s name may appear disrespectful; especially if you do not have a close personal relationship with the person.

“Madam” also has, in some places, some not-so-polite and less-than-nice meanings and inferences; and may, indeed have limited universal acceptance for school usage.

For me, personally, the address “Madam”, when vocalised, does, sometimes, sound a tad impolite, or loaded with not-so-respectful innuendo, especially in common oral usage.

Rather than “Madam” or “Ma’am”, especially when we want to use the person’s name as an interjection in our speech, especially, when the person is not our peer or is older or occupies a higher position than ours, we may adopt a more respectful “Ma”; so that, instead, for instance, of saying, “Thank you, Madam, for the effort”, one could say, “Thank you, Ma, for the effort”.

Using the title “Mummy”, “Auntie” or “Uncle” is particularly inappropriate for a school setting, as these terms refer to persons with whom we have familial relations, and not our teacher, school head or proprietress. We must teach our children to do the right thing, and address and relate with people appropriately and according to their true relationship to the individual. This is as much for security reasons as it is for any other reasons.

Even in our homes, we must teach our children to address domestic staff, using their proper titles.

This way, the children are enabled to differentiate between individuals whom they can trust as family members and those to just trust as being related by business or contract alone.

What then is best appellation of address for members of school staff?

“Miss”, which is pronounced as /mɪs/, is used as a form of address for a female whom we know to be definitely or apparently not married; such as a child, a teen, a student, and so on. “Mrs.”, pronounced /mɪsəz/, addresses a married woman, widowed or not.

“Ms.”, pronounced, /mɪz/ or məz/, refers to a female whose marital status is unknown to the speaker, or who prefers to be so-addressed, in spite of her marital status. And this form of address is only used by her students, and not by her colleagues or superiors. To colleagues and superiors, she is either “Miss” or “Mrs.”, depending on her actual marital status.

A school may, therefore, choose to go for specifics, and use “Mrs.” and “Miss” to address the female members of staff; while another may, as a matter of convenience, go with a general “Ms.”

The school policy should prevail, here.

“The term, “Mr.” is the form of address for all male members of staff, whether married on not.

Eventually, barring appellations which are questionable or straight out wrong or inappropriate, the onus is on the school management to pick from the generally approved forms of address, the one which it prefers, and also to ensure compliance and uniform usage by all.

Once the school decides on its preferred forms of address for staff, the school proprietors and school heads too must (except in certain exceptional cases) also address all members of staff in the determined manner; and should themselves also be addressed with the appropriate title (Mr., Mrs., Dr., Barr., Fr., Rev., Prof., and so on), depending on their status. 

SCHOOL GROWTH CHALLENGE?

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It is the burning desire of every school owner to maintain a steady pattern of sustained population growth.

I order to achieve this, we often find ourselves running from pillar to post, attending every seminar, training or workshop which promises to deliver on the big dream of “increasing your school population”. Yet, more often than not, these promises fail woefully, and we remain where we are, marking time, having erratic dips and peaks in our population graph, or worse, maintaining a steady decline.

Why does it look like it is only a small handful of schools that have been able to conquer growth issues?

Why does it appear that our own school is doomed to struggle with population or growth issues?

The reason is simple. There is a Yoruba adage that says that “what you are looking for in Sokoto is in fact, inside your sokoto”.

In our race to attend school-growth seminars, we lose sight of the one and only thing that is capable of growing any organisation, as well as maintaining and sustaining that growth. That thing is the quality of the organisation’s products (your students).

If an organisation is consistent in churning out good quality products, its customer base will be consistent in its expansion.

For a school, good quality products are students who are fully capable of independently sitting through and excelling in any assessments, external or internal, and who are able to practically apply knowledge and skills to solve real life problems.

That is my definition of baseline product quality for any school.

They are certainly not students who, although they have “passed” exams, cannot defend that “success” anywhere else, other than in your school premises.

How does your school ensure consistent output of top quality products?

The only way it is possible to have a sustained output of good quality product, is the maintenance of a good quality workforce.

To maintain a good quality workforce, you must keep training and retraining.

If you do not send your teachers for trainings and seminars, or you have a culture of sending one or two, expecting them to come back and deliver the knowledge and skills to the rest, you do need to have a rethink. That is, if indeed you are keen to grow your school.

You might say, “oh, I am not one of those. I send them on endless trainings, yet, I see zero to little positive results”.

My response to this would be a question. When you set out to sow on a piece of land, and you find that land to have lots of stones, weed and brambles, what do you first do?”

Same applies to a quest to train members of your workforce. A professional approach to personnel training starts with a program of weeding and de-stoning, to do a mind-reset. Then, what you sow would yield bountiful harvests.

If the mindset is good to go, yet the results are not there, then you must look at so many other factors, one of which is a critical review of the quality of training you are providing.

School growth is not magic, and no outsider can do it for you. The problem lies within, and so does the solution.

Invest in capacity building. If you do it strategically, then when you check your bottomline, you will find that it actually cost you and your school next to nothing.

Remember that, irrespective of the size of your school, if even one customer leaves, as a result of being dissatisfied, you have a lot of work to do.

WHEN LITERACY DRAGS…

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Nearly everyone, parents or school, agrees on one fact – literacy is an essential for facilitation and enhancement of learning, especially after age two.

Even though many providers, especially home-schooling parents, have tended to successfully introduce their child to reading from age two, it is, at least, ideal and expected that a child who is over three years old, and who has been in a school for up to one year, should be able to confidently encode and decode words.

It is interesting that, even in this day, whenever I state this fact, I’m mostly greeted with incredulous and dubious glances from people, including teachers and seasoned school owners. Some, particularly “the bigger and older”, schools, would dismiss the entire idea with a wave of the hand.

To those who do ask, “How?” or “What are we doing wrong?”, my initial response is that, once you continue to teach literacy, using only the twenty-six sounds of the letters of the alphabet, and in that sequence, the child under your care is grossly limited in his ability to learn to read.

Secondly, once you continue to use the wrong sequences or methods to teach, even if you use the forty-two sounds recommended for early years, irrespective of the name given to the package you have, success rates would also remain minimal, at best. Worse is you would have frustrated, discouraged children, disenchanted with the idea of reading.

Also, once we relegate or play down the importance or fail to introduce the non-phonetic or “tricky” words at the right time, the child’s decoding fluency, and therefore, his understanding, would be hampered.

Truth is that, with a combination of the right contents and approaches, it takes barely four to six weeks of effort to be able to achieve literacy or reading fluency in a child who is up to age three.

With my own little tweaks and touches, here and there, I have found the Jolly Phonics contents and sequence to be quite effective in meeting or even surpassing the recommended learning goals for Literacy and Language Development.

In the course of my visits with schools, I have found that, although many claim to have long been introduced to Jolly Phonics, they have been largely unsuccessful in achieving expected minimum results. This, I find, is because, while they all have the Jolly package, they lose track of right application and delivery approaches.

In subsequent posts, I will run us through some of the very simple approaches I have successfully applied in my own classrooms. And I’m sure you too may find them useful, either as they come, or, better still, with your own personal touches.

SPEAK RIGHT, FOR COMMUNICATION THAT PAYS…

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“Seat down” or “Seet down” cannot mean “sit down”.

In just the same way as I, being Igbo, cannot rightly be expected to understand “egbe” to mean “gun”, when it is pronounced “egbe” as in the bird (not “bed”), kite, one cannot in fairness, expect to be understood when we say, “seet”, instead of “sit”, as we often do in our self-styled local-English language.

Research has shown that any educator deserving of the title must be able to equip his learners with the four skills relevant for their survival and success in the 21st century. Those key skills, tagged the 4C skills are creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication.

I find it interesting to wonder how possible collaboration (or indeed, any of the other skills) is without clear communication.

Basic communication skills lie in the ability to understand and be understood.

If that is the case, then would I have communicated when I say, for instance, “dees eez a fooneral”‘ when, in fact, I meant to say “this is a funeral”?

We for whom the English language is not our mother tongue, and who have not had the privilege of having, at a much younger age, firsthand interactions with original or knowledgeable speakers of the language, must, as a matter of responsibility to our listeners, especially, our learners, make that additional sacrifice of learning the difference between /I/ and /i:/, between /d/ and /ð/, between /θ/ or /t/, and so many more of such.

In taking advantage of available classes, as recommended, to acquire these skills, we, as educators, are equipped to help our 21st century learners acquire effective communication skills – necessary tools for them to thrive in their world.

RIGHT START FOR A SUCCESSFUL NEW TERM

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After every vacation, when schools resume for a new term, there are a number of activities which must take place, in order to place the school on a good start to achieving its set objectives, if any, for the term,

Yes, “if any”. This is because many schools take off with scarcely any objective other than the financial bottom line, come term end.

In each term, we have the personnel resumption date preceding the students’ resumption date by three to five days, depending on the school. And on each of the days, there are activities on which the school should focus, in order to be well-prepared to deliver premium academic experience for the child.

At a recent seminar, we found that a majority of our schools engaged in a variety of start-off activities for personnel upon their resumption for a new term. Such activities all revolved, in one way or another, around introduction of new workers, assignment of non-academic or ancillary duties, prayers, distribution of photocopied scheme of work, lesson notebooks, drafting and planning of school calendar, writing of lesson plan and lesson note, review of last term’s activities, reminders on personal code of conduct, and so on.

Many of these activities listed above, especially the review of the last term’s activities ought to be done at the end of last term, during a staff end of term meeting.

What really should be the focus of a school, at the start of a new term, to set it off on a right footing for success?

The first day of staff resumption is the resumption for the ancillary personnel – the janitors and cleaning staff, and so on. They are there to ensure that the general environment is clean and in a good state to receive the teachers.

When the teachers arrive on the second day, they should immediately activate putting up their classroom displays and readying their classrooms for the arrival of her students, in the coming three days or so.

This is expected, because, during the holidays, the teacher should have done all her research and planning on the right displays she would have up for the coming term, and she would have all her display cut and ready for putting up on the classroom walls. All her instructional and work-support materials, as well as her students’ work materials are also neatly, aesthetically and functionally displayed in her classroom.

Participants at the seminar also listed as one of the most predominant activities, nationwide, at the beginning of the term for the students the kick-off test, which was assigned different continuous assessment grades, ranging from five to twenty percent, with the aim of ensuring maximum student attendance at school as from day one.

Other activities listed as done on the first day of students’ resumption, include sorting of students’ stationery, “going through” the national anthem and pledge, the school anthem, class rules, weight and height measurements of the children, revision of last term’s work (this runs throughout the entire first week), marking and correction of holiday assignments, review of the last examination questions, and so on.

While most of the above activities are not an outright no-no and some definitely are, there are other activities which should definitely be on the priority list, because they are the ones that would set the right pace for the fulfillment of the teacher’s role and the learners’ academic success. They include:

  1. Observation by the teacher to know and understand the apparent temperament of each of her learners. She notes who her new students really are, and observes for any changes in her returned students.
  2. Diagnostic assessments for learning done by the teacher to enable her understand her class’ writing speed, the subjects in which the class is generally strongest or weakest, and other intrinsically relevant points. These assessments would help her plan a daily timetable best suit to the needs of her class.
  3. The teacher, by the same observation and assessment, determines, during the first week of resumption, the learning style of her class, helping her decide the best delivery style, in order to carry along and be able to deliver knowledge to every learner in the class.

So, for instance, if her class is made up of only kinaesthetic learners, she would not waste time and resources, planning for or delivering a teaching style that caters to other types of learner, making for effective use of time and resources.

  • The teacher also holds a teacher-guided meeting with the students, to agree on class rules and recommended consequences for violation

The first week of pupil resumption is an orientation week, and not a revision week. In this week, the teacher interacts with the students in an informal, but controlled setting, to make the relevant observations indicated above, which would guide her in planning the term for her class. These observations will also assist her in doing a good job of her classroom management throughout the course of the term.

These activities make up the teacher’s duty as the term commences, and should be on her priority list. Other activities which participants listed, such as planning the term’s activities or schedule, distributing the children into clubs, distribution of staff secondary roles, and so on, are parts of the duties of the administrative staff, and should, therefore, even if they are assigned to any teacher, not take the position as the teacher’s core responsibilities.

EXTRA AND HOLIDAY LESSONS FOR A THREE-YEAR-OLD?

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A mum of a three-year-old explained to me that she needed to keep her son occupied by arranging for him to have holiday and extra lessons at home, after school, because, “without the lessons, he only plays at home”, and she couldn’t afford for him to forget all he learnt during school, as had happened several times in the past.

These practices, although very common in our country, is strongly discouraged.

But, let’s first get one thing clear. Once your child attends school in an institution that understands and implements early years policies and practices, he would learn and always recall. Forgetting is a direct result of cramming, instead of learning.

Secondly, it is quite healthy and expected that your child, at three, should spend most of his time at play. And that’s exactly what should be actively encouraged. Play is not a waste of time, as long as the key person or caregiver consciously provides direction for that play.

Sitting a child through the formality of rigorous, concentrated lesson in counting, addition and subtraction is not recommended practice, and may, in fact, be damaging.

A simple example of how to achieve true, never-to-be-forgotten learning, especially at home, is to deliver that lesson as informally as possible.

At home, a mum can, for instance, teach these simple mathematical principles by inculcating them into the usual activities at home. Casually and cheerfully, mum can say, “Chidi, we need three oranges. One for you, one for me and one for Nneoma. Here, I have one, how many more do we need?” Both will agree that two is needed. Then, she goes on: “So, go count out two oranges from the fridge.” He brings it. And she say, “can you count them all, together for me…?”

With these kinds of activities going on in the house, throughout the holiday or after-school period, Chidi will learn effortlessly and happily, and is very unlikely to forget what he has learnt.

So, let’s keep our little ones occupied with age-appropriate activities, which are fun, and yet academically supportive.

A sensory bin is another great way of keeping the child constantly learning in the home. See more on sensory bin.

 

BOOKS YOU MAY WANT TO READ

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Title: BEATRICE (Author: Nkem Iloeje-Agu)

When her little brother tragically disappeared without a trace, Beatrice, a beautiful and beloved young teenager, knew she had to quickly leave her home in the small village, in the East of Nigeria; but little did she know that, however one ran, the chicken will certainly always return home to roost.

A captivating story of young Beatrice, whose life took a dramatic turn of an intricate web of events, death, lies and deceit, woven from her village, through to the cultural shock of adapting to a new life in a great big suburban city.

Title: OH, POOR SCORPION! (Author: Nkem Iloeje-Agu)

Scorpion had not always been the way we now know him. He was once a very beautiful creature, much loved by the king and many others. Sadly, all that was soon to change…

Find out what happened, as told in this beautifully illustrated book for children and the young at heart.

Title: AKPI, NDO! (Author: Nkem Iloeje-Agu)

Na mgbe mbu, Akpi bu anu mara oke mma, nweekwa obi oma. Nke mere eze na otutu anu ndi ozo jiri hu ya n’anya nke ukwuu.

Guo akwukwo, ka i mara ihe mere onodu a jiri gbanwee.

Title: CUTTING LOOSE (Author: Nkem Iloeje-Agu)

Nnenna, an ambitious, world-wise beauty, was positive that Ugo, was the one for her.

Having successfully got rid of all apparent obstacles, she had no inkling that her fairy-tale wedding was only the first step into the kind of union she hadn’t quite bargained for.

Assessment for Learning

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The assessment for learning is one of the three types of assessment which an education provider must utilise in achieving maximum performance in the learner. It is probably the most important of the three, especially as a tool for effective teaching.

There are two forms of assessments for learning, respectively called the diagnostic assessment and the formative assessment.

The strategies for running an assessment for learning include:

  1. Analysis of student’s work. These include homework, quizzes and tests. They are diagnostic assessment, and though not aimed for grading purposes, help the teacher to ascertain the extent of learning, at the end of a teaching period, in order to more objectively plan the lesson contents and methods for the next class on the topic.
  • Strategic questioning. This may be done with individual students or groups. Here, the teacher asks students well-thought-out, higher-order questions which require the student to think deeper and creatively to provide the how and why of taught concepts or topics.

Questions may also be such as that gives the student time within which to come up with answers.

Strategic questioning is a formative assessment approach, which runs at intervals within and during the class period.

  • Think-Pair-Share Strategy. This is a formative assessment strategy in which students are asked questions during the period, and each is given time to think of the question. Then they are formed into pairs or small groups to discuss each person’s thought, and come up with a collaboratively arrived-at answer.

During the discussion period, teacher moves from group to group, listening to the discussions, and challenging with further questions from the discussions heard. The teacher is also able to get useful insight on how much each individual had been able to grasp the concepts in the topic taught.

At the end of the group discussion, each group discusses its own thoughts with the others.

With this activity, students are allowed to take charge of their learning, and usually learn and perform better as a result.

  • Exit and Admit Ticket. The admit ticket (a diagnostic assessment tool) is a paper or an index card  on which a student is required to write whatever previous knowledge or information, biases or opinions about the topic to be taught.

With this, the teacher is better equipped to effectively plan his lesson contents.

The exit ticket is another diagnostic assessment tool. It is the index card or paper on which the students write a summary of his understanding of the concepts taught in the class period.

This instructs the teacher of how much each student has grasped what was taught, and guides him in planning subsequent classes.

  • One Minute Paper. This is another diagnostic tool for assessment, and is typically done at the end of each class. The teacher asks questions, to which the students are expected to quickly provide the answers. The feedback the teacher receives will serve as his guide for preparing for the next period.

A good one-minute question would usually strive to drive the students to provide:

  1. The main point of the topic
  2. The most surprising or unexpected concept or take-away from the topic
  3. Any questions or any answers
  4. The most confusing areas or concepts encountered
  5. Suggestions as to the what questions might appear in the next test from the topic

Both types of assessment for learning, especially the formative assessment is essential because, it alerts both student and teacher on the likely result of any form of grading tests or examinations which the child is likely to face at the end of the academic session.

With formative assessment bother teacher and learner are pre-warned of any lack of or deficient learning, and affords them the timely opportunity to resolve these before any grading assessment,