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TESSA Teaching Lower Secondary Science A Handbook for Teacher Educators

1 Introduction to TESSA

‘The education and training of teachers represent one of the greatest challenges for education systems in Sub-Saharan Africa. TESSA is an imaginative and creative response to that. Most importantly, it stresses the value of raising standards through international co-operation’

Professor Jophus Anamuah-Mensah

TESSA provides collaboratively developed Open Educational Resources (OER) for teachers to use in their own classrooms to support active and participatory learning. They can be accessed on the internet (http://www.tessafrica.net/Secondary-Science). These resources are free to use; you do not need permission. They can be downloaded, and adapted; they can be copied, used and shared in different contexts.

Many Governments across the world have decided that teaching in schools should be ‘student-centred’ or ‘learner-centred’, and this is incorporated into policy documents. Teachers learn about the theory behind ‘student-centred learning’ in college, but the evidence is that they find it very difficult to put into practice. The TESSA materials help teachers to develop ‘student-centred’ approaches, and evidence from across the TESSA consortium shows that the TESSA materials make lessons more interesting, and in many places have led to improved attendance.

Key information about TESSA OER

  • They are free to use – no permission required
  • You can adapt them as you wish to suit your context
  • You can copy and share as you wish
  • They are written for teachers. All the learning outcomes are for teachers. Pupils do not need copies of the materials
  • The TESSA OER draw on local materials and take account of the conditions in classrooms in Africa.

Principles underpinning the TESSA OER

The principles of student-centred teaching are:

  • learning is a process which involves building on prior knowledge and experience in order to develop new understandings;
  • knowledge is constructed by the learner as a result of the activities that they undertake and the experiences that they have;
  • language is central to learning and to thinking, and therefore to the development of higher cognitive processes;
  • prior knowledge and experiences, and the use of language, will be determined by the social and cultural context in which the learner is located.

TESSA materials support student-centred learning by helping the teacher to:

  • recognise that students come to school with knowledge and experience. They are not ‘empty vessels’;
  • realise that all students can learn if you give them the opportunity and support them appropriately;
  • value the knowledge that students bring and the culture and context in which they live;
  • involve all students in the lessons and ensure that all can learn.

Using TESSA materials teachers can develop teaching approaches that will help them to:

  • find out what their students already know;
  • promote dialogue and enquiry in their classroom;
  • design activities that engage students in active learning;
  • draw on local resources to support their teaching;
  • make their teaching relevant to the students’ lives.

The TESSA materials help teachers to plan their lessons by providing ideas for activities and giving teachers the confidence to try them out. However, they do not represent a lesson plan, and teachers will still need to plan their own lessons.