Problems Facing Africa
Our project "Problems Facing Africa" was designated four years ago and has received a national award from the Association of Teacher-Librarianship in Canada and has been published in a book called Winners. We have used this project twice but one of the l imitations of the project has been access to current materials on several of the issues. We have a wide variety of print materials but need up-to-date statistics and information on these problems and their solutions. This is one area where we could bene fit greatly from Internet access as we could reference some of the International organizations such as WHO (World health Organization).
The project was originally designed to meet many of the objectives outlined in the grade eight Social Studies Curriculum Guide and to address some of the skills in our School Skill Continuum developed by Beaconsfield Junior High School. We were partic ularly interested in giving the students a useful plan by which they could solve problems (other than mathematical). These will be listed later in the project description. Since we have installed our computer lab we have also been developing our student s' abilities to find and use information from various types of informational sources. The Internet would be one more source we could use in this manner.
The teachers approached the teacher-librarian, asking, "What can we do on Africa?" And "What knowledge of Africa is important for the students to acquire?" The teacher-librarian gathered all the materials on Africa and scanned them for ideas. Various major African problems began to emerge. This was discussed with the teachers and a list of ten major problems was developed. When we asked, "What skills do our students need to develop?" We realized that they needed practice in group work, problem solv ing and oral presentation. The project was then designed to meet those goals.
The teacher-librarian gathered the materials needed and prepared the assignment sheets required. The teacher divided students into groups, and group members were each given one section of the assignment to research. Each group focused on a different pro blem. Both the teacher and the teacher-librarian discussed the assignment and problem solving with the students. Both teaching partners tracked the groups as they did their research. The teacher- librarian met at special times those students who chose to vide o tape their presentations and taught them to use the equipment.
Students worked in groups of three in the resource centre for four periods. Some large group instruction was needed initially, but most instruction involved advising and tracking individuals and small groups.