By Cat Vazquez
Teachers gathered at Kigali Genocide Memorial in Kigali, Rwanda, last month to learn how to build their own IWitness activities for their classrooms. The workshop was supported by the USC Shoah Foundation, Aegis Trust, Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace and Radio La Benevolencija’s Rwandan Peace Education Programme, and was the first of an advanced multi-session series that is dedicated to ensuring the ongoing use of audiovisual testimonies in Rwandan secondary education.
The teachers came from various districts throughout Rwanda, and represent eight of the nine schools that have conducted an IWitness classroom pilot in the region. Prior to the workshop, they participated in a two-day seminar that introduced them to using audiovisual testimonies in classroom lesson plans. In that session they worked on deepening their understanding of multimedia use in education, as well as how to use the content effectively in a classroom. Now, as a part of this series, they have started building their own lesson plans using testimonies of survivors and witnesses.
“We hope that this will be our first cohort of future teacher trainers,” said Rose Twagiramariya, project manager for USC Shoah Foundation’s IWitness in Rwanda program.
The workshop included both technical and content specific characteristics of developing lesson plans around testimonies. The teachers were walked through the four C’s of IWitness activity building: Consider, Collect, Construct, and Communicate. They learned how to apply tools and practices that encourage deeper student engagement and understanding, which could prove to be especially helpful if they should find themselves in rooms with low Internet connectivity.
The teachers are excited about combining technology with testimonies of survivors. They also appreciated the opportunity to learn how to customize IWitness activities to their own lessons. “I can build the activities focusing on my curriculum rather being influenced by activities built by others,” said one of the teachers.
Smaller workshops will take place at each school site in order to help each teacher implement their lesson plans.
“The workshop was a real success,” said Twagiramariya. “From this point we'll continue working with, and mentoring this group to begin creating their own educational activities, and eventually start training other teachers to do the same.”