May 25, 2003 - Personal Web Site: The teachers began to read information collected from Madagascar and Lesotho during their holiday break and began to formulate ideas for their second learning units.

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Lesotho: Peace Corps Lesotho : The Peace Corps in Lesotho: May 25, 2003 - Personal Web Site: The teachers began to read information collected from Madagascar and Lesotho during their holiday break and began to formulate ideas for their second learning units.

By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, May 25, 2003 - 9:43 am: Edit Post

The teachers began to read information collected from Madagascar and Lesotho during their holiday break and began to formulate ideas for their second learning units.

The teachers began to read information collected from Madagascar and Lesotho during their holiday break and began to formulate ideas for their second learning units.

Connecting Peace Corps Volunteers to Educators for Global Education
version of this report

* CE Homepage

* Second Year Reports

* Earth and Space Science K-12 Investigations Project

* The Corps of Re-Discovery: Updating the Lewis and Clark Journals

* National Park Labs: Bridging the Watershed

* Connecting Peace Corps Volunteers to Educators for Global Education

Gateway to Educational Materials (GEM)

Maureen Wilson-Jarrard
Project Director

Purpose/Goals of the Project
Our team brings together Peace Corps World Wise Schools (WWS) educators, Peace Corps Fellows educators, currently-serving and returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), and other educators who are involved in developing and using new teaching resources that will expand the knowledge of educators and students about the lives of people in the countries in Africa where Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) serve.

Description of the Project
The Peace Corps' "Connecting Peace Corps Volunteers to Educators" has assembled a team of teachers and returned volunteers to develop new standards based learning units about how water is used in daily life in the countries of Africa. Stories and photos are being collected from currently serving Volunteers in Peace Corps' host countries in Africa. These original source documents will be shared on a web site dedicated to the project. An on-line forum serves as the electronic meeting space for the development team.

Goals for the Second Quarter
Our goals for the second quarter were to:

* Raise funds/pursue collaborations
* Create a team
* Collect vignettes from Volunteers in Peace Corps countries in Africa
* Develop learning units
* Establish a web community among the team members
* Monitor and evaluate effectiveness

Accomplishments to Date

* Raise funds/pursue collaborations
During the second quarter, several informal discussions were held to determine the possibility of collaborating with Stan Silverman from the New York Institute of Technology to bring videoconferencing into the project. Although nothing has been outlined or firmly stated, the connections are clearly promising.


Create a team
At the end of October the Team Leader initiated several conference calls to bring together teachers members and teacher alternates to discuss the project and the work they had accomplished so far. Teachers were given the choice of dates, times, and their preferred locations to call through a discussion on Caucus (our threaded discussion) and through e-mail. Two of the three calls were placed at 9:00 P.M. EST to accommodate teachers on the West Coast. Most of the teachers preferred to be called at home. The calls served to bring the teachers together again and give them a chance to talk about their projects. The teacher alternates, who had not previously been met the teachers who were designing the learning units, where able to chat about the types of units they could easily pilot. An informal survey of the participants indicated they thought it was valuable to talk to the others in this manner.

In mid-November, the Team Leader began planning for a second inservice to be held on President's Day weekend. A discussion item was started on Caucus to confirm the dates, and to discuss the agenda for the meeting. By January 10, the discussion was focused on the practical aspects of putting together the learning units and sharing and learning from each other as this entry shows:

26:11) 10-JAN-2000 2:48 Kristi Rennebohm Franz
It would be helpful to use time at our February get together to do
o Troubleshooting--what are the problems that you're having, and how can we help each other - yes
o Standards, assessments and rubrics - yes
o Essential questions - yes
o Time for research in the Peace Corps Library - perhaps
o Answering your questions about individual countries in Africa - perhaps
o What are we missing? Time to share/summarize/look at our first round of lessons units with one another to celebrate our efforts thus far and learn from one another's ideas and designs

By mid-December the travel authorizations and hotel procurement forms were completed and submitted to Peace Corps' travel and procurement offices. The teachers were notified by e-mail that they should call SATO during their holiday break to make their travel arrangements.


Collect vignettes from Volunteers in Peace Corps countries in Africa
By the end of the second quarter, 77 completed WET kits had been returned to WWS, 73 more than at the end of the first quarter, and 31% of the total. The Team Leader acknowledged the receipt of each kit that came into Peace Corps Headquarters by sending an e-mail to the appropriate staff members in the country from which it came. In addition, to encourage staff members in Africa to urge Volunteers to complete and return more WET kits, a general e-mail to all country contacts was started. This general e-mail is sent during the first week of every month, and lists the number of kits that have been returned from each of the countries. It is also copied to the appropriate Country Desk Officers and the Director of the Africa Region at Peace Corps Headquarters.

The anecdotes and captions from Madagascar and Lesotho were transcribed, edited, and proofread, and 30 photos were chosen from the film from each of these countries. These resources were posted on the working web site ( so the teachers could work with them during their December holiday break.


Develop learning units
Six of the seven teachers had submitted learning units based on the Volunteer Views section of the Peace Corps web site by January 15. Four of those teachers had also tested the units in their own classrooms, and an alternate had tested one unit. These units would become the standard against which all the subsequent units would be measured.

The learning units were submitted electronically, and then the Team Leader and the Director of World Wise Schools (a former middle school teacher) reviewed them. Comments were made within the body of the unit and the unit was e-mail back to the author. The four units which had been pilot tested were prepared for posting on the working Water in Africa web site ( login is africa, password is water). We established a goal to have these available for discussion before the February inservice.

The teachers began to read information collected from Madagascar and Lesotho during their holiday break and began to formulate ideas for their second learning units. On January 4 the teachers were reminded of the materials through a new item in the threaded discussion and asked to state what their ideas for new units were. By the end of the second quarter, two teachers had definite ideas, and were discussing the possibility of creating web quests.


Establish a web community among the team members
Our web community is becoming well established through our continued emphasis on the threaded discussion items on Caucus (, and our use of a password protected working web site (; login is africa, password is water).

The Education Technology Specialists from World Wise Schools, working along with a contractor from George Mason University have developed a web design for this project. We have consulted with the webmaster at Peace Corps and have been assured that we can employ a unique graphic design for the completed water project. We have begun to discuss outsourcing the task of coming up with the final design, and have obtained a sample statement of work that we will adapt for this purpose.


Monitor and evaluate effectiveness
The Project Director and the Director of WWS, both veteran educators, have completed a thorough review and evaluation of each teacher's learning units. The concepts developed by Grant Wiggins in Understanding by Design have been employed.

The written stories sent by PCVs have been proofread and edited for clarity and grammar by the Writer/Editor of WWS who is also a team member.

Informal monitoring and evaluation of effectiveness has taken place throughout the second quarter. For example, the conversations we held during the conference calls served to monitor where each of the teachers was in the creation of their units, and the stumbling blocks they were having.

The system that was created to track the submissions from the PCVs in Africa became very important during the second quarter. Several rolls of film were misidentified when they were developed, and because we had the complete tracking system, we were able to straighten out the confusion before lead to misinformation about a country.

Expenses in the Second Quarter
Twenty-nine percent of the grant ($14,421.66) was spent by the end of the second quarter. Of this amount, 75% was spent on the educators, and 25% was spent on necessary supplies. Details of all expenditures are itemized on the expense spreadsheet .

Goals/Objectives for the Next Quarter
Our goals for the next quarter remain much the same, but our objectives are changing to reflect the progress of the project:

* Continue to collect, log, review, and edit vignettes and photos.
* Develop a mailing to send to returned Volunteers through RPCV Country of Service Groups.
* Begin to collect, log, review, and edit vignettes from RPCVs.
* Continue to develop, review, and test learning units.
* Continue to use the established web community on Caucus to discuss concerns and post reflections on the project.
* Hold an inservice for teachers to share ideas and concerns and provide information about water projects in Africa.
* Combine resources with World Wise Schools to look for a contractor to complete a graphic design for the project.

Good News and Pleasant Surprises
The response from the field to our request for information and photos has been very gratifying. The project has the endorsement of both Peace Corps Headquarters staff and the staff and Volunteers in Country.

The stories and photos that are being sent to us from Africa are rich with information. Not only to do they tell about the use of water, they also depict our cultural similarities.

The working web site has become a place of great interest to the teachers. Surprisingly, it has also become a way to advertise the project within Peace Corps.

The teachers that we are working with seem to be growing professionally as a result of their labors with standards, assessments, essential questions and rubrics. While this was not one of our original goals, it certainly is becoming apparent that it is a very important byproduct of the project.

Particular Challenges, Difficulties, Needs
We continue to struggle with the difficulties inherent when collecting information from a developing country. The time lags are great, and when all the required pieces of the WET kit are not returned to the Team Leader (most importantly, the authorization to use what is sent) more delays occur.

The teachers are immediately adapting their units to the students at hand, and from the start are not using them as they wrote them. This has created the question of the best way to show adaptation on the final site-a question that was not expected until the site had "gone public."

The biggest difficulty we face is manpower. This project has so many distinct elements to it, that it deserves the attention of at least one other half time person. As it is, a co-op student who works about 20 hours per week is doing the entire intake, initial transcription, and corrections to the anecdotes and photo captions. The WWS writer/editor edits and proofreads all the written material and the WWS Education Technology Specialist, who has created a data base to deliver the material to the working web site, makes sure that all the prepared material is formatted and posted. This leaves the Team Leader to collaborate with and guide the educators, choose and manipulate the photos, and administer the project. The Team Leader is definitely a bottleneck in the project.

Early Lessons That Seem To Be Emerging From Our Team's Work
The lessons we learned during the first quarter have been re-emphasized during the second quarter:

* The coordination and direction of this project is taking nearly all Project Director's working hours.
* The resources collected from Africa and the learning units that are developed will become a major offering of World Wise Schools' web site.
* The more contact there is among the team members, the better the learning units will be, and the greater the professional development for the teachers.

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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Lesotho



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