2019 Mid-Term 1 Yiya teacher workshop

Our second teacher training in 2019!

In late March, we ran a mid-term teacher training for our partner teachers in Lira District. This training was designed to help teachers reflect on how the Yiya teaching checklist has impacted their teaching, as well as to give teachers a chance to learn and practice new strategies for a relevant, hands-on, collaborative, and learner-centered classroom, a classroom with R-E-A-L learning!

The Global Teacher Prize!

A week prior to this workshop, Mr. Peter Tabichi, a teacher from our neighborhood Kenya, was honored with the Global Teacher Prize. We were so excited! The very best teacher in the world is one of our neighbors and even more importantly, he teaches in a similarly rural and low-resourced setting as our partner teachers in Northern Uganda! We joined the rest of East African teachers in celebrating Mr. Tabichi and shared Peter’s story with our teachers. We opened our mid-term workshop by playing the award ceremony video for our teachers, reading about Mr. Tabichi’s teaching strategies, and discussing how to become champion teachers like Mr. Tabichi in our own classrooms! It was inspiring for everyone!

Making learning RELEVANT

The first section of the Yiya teaching checklist is RELEVANT. As part of transforming their lessons to be relevant, we ask teachers to design clear lesson objectives as part of their lesson preparation, and to strategize how they will share their lesson objectives with students in class during the lesson. During this workshop, we reminded teachers how to design very strong lesson objectives by reviewing Bloom’s Taxonomy, emphasizing that teachers use strong action verbs to create lesson objectives that challenge students and help them grow. In this activity, teachers worked in groups to design lesson objectives for lessons they will teach in Term 1, which use verbs from at least 3 different levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Lesson objectives BEFORE the workshop:

  • Students will know Newton’s 3rd law of motion.

  • Student will understand the importance of enzymes to human digestion.

  • Students will learn the history of cross-continent trade routes.

Lesson objectives AFTER the workshop:

  • Students will demonstrate Newton’s 3rd law of motion using everyday household objects.

  • Students will explain the function of enzymes in human digestion and provide examples of what would happen WITHOUT enzymes.

  • Students will debate the historical effects of cross-continent trade routes on the present day economies of at least two African countries.

This second set of objectives has action verbs so that students need to do something to show they have mastered the content. These second objectives also are very specific, which is important for students to stay focused and know exactly what they are supposed to learn in a lesson.

In this activity, teachers also planned how they would communicate lesson objectives to students during the lesson. In Uganda’s traditional classroom setting, teachers don’t share lesson objectives. The teacher is the only one that knows why a lesson is being taught or what students will learn in the lesson. But at Yiya, we’ve found that sharing lesson objectives with students at the beginning of the lesson helps them to stay more focused and holds teachers accountable during class time. Students are also happier in class when they know what they are learning and why! Strategies that teachers planned to use to share lesson objectives with students included:

  1. Reading the lesson objectives aloud to students at the beginning of the lesson

  2. Writing the lesson objectives on a flipchart and asking a volunteer to read them.

  3. Writing the lesson objectives on the top right corner of the chalkboard so students can reference them throughout the lesson.

The other best practice that we trained teachers on during this workshop was how to use games and creative student appreciations in class to keep energy levels high, to motivate students, and to help student master certain content. Teachers learned that when you play games with students, they become more engaged in class, lesson content is reinforced, and class positivity is increased! Teachers worked in groups to invent 1 new game and 1 form of appreciation that they committed to use in an upcoming lesson at their school. We challenged teachers to design games that followed two simple criteria:

  1. The game should be related somehow to the content for that particular lesson.

  2. The game should be played for max 3 minutes.

Trying out strategies and receiving feedback

After all the design work, teachers practiced their new strategies with each other in teams, and gave each other constructive feedback. Each teacher conducted a 5-minute lesson in which they demonstrated the lesson objectives for that lesson, how they will share the lesson objectives with students, the game they will play to emphasize lesson content and keep energy high, and the way they will uniquely appreciate students in the classroom. Teachers were excited to receive feedback on their plans from their colleagues and the Yiya trainers!

Reflecting on their learning

We ended the action-packed day the way we end every Yiya workshop: by asking our teachers to gather together in a reflection circle and share what has been most useful to them, and what they will do differently in the classroom after this training. Ms. Paula, a biology teacher from St. Katherine Secondary School shared that this workshop helped her discover how teaching checklists can make a huge impact in the classroom and urged her colleagues to keep using the Yiya teaching checklist. She further added that “when we (teachers) use the checklist, learning will be so joyful.” Mr. Otim Ambrose, a teacher of agriculture from Archbishop Orombi Secondary School commented that he liked how we reminded them of Bloom’s Taxonomy and trained them on its real application.

2019 Yiya kick-off meeting with Head Teachers!

Yiya meets with School Administrators!

In mid-February, we had a fruitful meeting with school administrators from our partner schools in Lira District. These administrators ranged from Head Teachers, Deputy Head Teachers and School Directors of Studies. This meeting with these key stakeholders was a great platform for us to get feedback on Yiya’s improved theory of change and our 2019 program model. We also discussed new changes in our MoU terms with partner schools, and we’re glad that by the end of the meeting, all of them renewed their commitment by consenting to our MoU terms!

In this blog, we share with you highlights from this action-packed, fun filled meeting!

Like all our workshops and meetings, we started this meeting with a team building game: the ‘amazing race!’ We did this activity with school administrators to show them an example of the activities we train their teachers to do with students in classrooms to make learning a joyful journey of discovery for students. Did you know that even school administrators enjoy fun games too? Yes they do! Just like the American TV series ‘the amazing race’, in which teams of people race around the world as they accomplish several fun challenges, school administrators accomplished a variety of STEM education tasks in this game. Activities included:

  1. Stating their favorite law of science!

  2. Designing a teaching aid to teach their chosen science law/theorem to a 5-year old

  3. Composing a song about that law of science

  4. Making a crown for their elected team STEM queen or king!

In this twitter thread here  we show you the different teams of school administrators during this amazing race activity, as they took part in all the amazing race challenges!

During the reflection session, Mr. Abong Levi from St. Katherine Secondary School commented that it can be so helpful when teachers play such games with students in classrooms to foster skills such as: creativity, collaboration, and communication skills as well as to help students master classroom content.

After concluding the amazing race, we took school administrators through the Yiya REAL teaching methodology and how it fits into the four components of our program model. Administrators were excited to learn that our main focus this year is improving on graduation rates by supporting teachers to teach better! They also suggested different ways in which the, as school leaders, will support our theory of change. Their suggestions included: allocating time on the school timetable for the Yiya STEM classes, sending their teachers to all Yiya workshops, sharing the attendance in both Yiya classes and normal school classes with the Yiya team, helping teachers to get materials and teaching aids for their STEM classes, and sharing UNEB results with us so we know the performance of students being taught by Yiya-trained teachers in their schools.

School administrators were also very excited about our newest innovation for quality teaching! The Yiya teaching checklists. This term we are piloting this idea in our partner schools. Please read our next newsletter to learn more about how we are using checklists to improve teaching. Sign up here to be updated on all news from Yiya.

Are you excited to see the rest of the activities that happened at this 2019 Yiya kick-off meeting with school leaders? Please find the agenda here.

Supporting our partner Oysters & Pearls - Uganda!

In January, we supported our partner Oysters & Pearls – Uganda as they ran a holiday technology camp in Gulu, Northern Uganda during the school break for secondary students. The camp was inclusive of sighted and visually impaired students. Both students and instructors came from all over Uganda to participate in this exciting camp, which covered robotics, prototyping, video game design, software development, website development, and assistive technologies for the blind.

The Yiya team worked to help prep instructors for the 2019 Tech Camp ahead of time (running trainings for them in both December and January) and then stayed on-ground at the camp to provide daily teaching support. We encouraged instructors to keep their technology lessons R-E-A-L: by having Relevant content, Energizing games, Active group work activities, and always keeping the classroom Learner-centered.

We were so excited to be able to support the instructors in this way and were very impressed at their openness to teach in innovative, hands-on new ways to ensure that they engaged all their students!

Yiya goes yummy!

Edible Insect Farming Project!

We are glad to announce our new partnership with Impact Designs, a Danish nonprofit dedicated to developing innovative business models for refugees in some of the world's poorest nations.  They are currently working with the Danish Refugee Council, one of the world’s leading humanitarian agencies, to pilot production of mealworms among the refugees in Kyaka II settlement in Uganda. Click here to read their latest newsletter in which they announce this exciting new partnership!

In this partnership, Yiya will design training materials and guides for training community members in refugee settlements in Western Uganda on edible insect farming. We will also pilot the insect farming project in partner schools in Northern Uganda in our Term 2 engineering unit.  

In the edible insect farming engineering unit, students will learn how to farm edible insects! Students will study the life cycle of Molitor beetles and then experiment with different designs for a freestanding beetle farm that supports the entire lifecycle of the beetles and allows for easy harvesting of their larva (mealworms!). Students will also learn how to build solar dryers to dry the mealworms for later consumption. Due to droughts, which have been made more severe and frequent by climate change, many families in Northern Uganda experience chronic food shortages, and children often suffer from malnutrition, which causes stunted growth and other health problems. Insects are rich in many nutrients and are great sources of protein!  

Eating insects is not something alien to Uganda. Ugandans eat various types of insects like grasshoppers (which are called ‘nsenene’ in the local dialect) and white ants (nswa). In Western Uganda close to the DRC border, Ugandans there eat several types of mealworms.

For the past month, we’ve been conducting research to find out if we can source the molitor beetle from poultry and cattle farms in Uganda to save time and avoid the extensive paperwork involved in the cross border transfer of live animals (the mealworms are already farmed in Kenya, so they are close but would still need to be imported if we used a Kenyan supplier).

So far, we’ve been able to identify the lesser mealworm (Alphitobius diaperinus), which looks quite similar, but is a bit smaller and behaves differently. Local farmers have told us that during the rainy season, it will be easy to find the right species of the molitor beetle that we want. The rainy season typically starts in March, so we are ready!

See below some of the species of the molitor beetles we have found in Uganda and see here the right species of the molitor beetle from which mealworms come. Also below are some fun pics showing how Ugandans currently cook and serve the delicacy nsenene (grasshopper!).

Exciting update on Yiya's impact!

When crunching the numbers at the end of academic year 2018 (the Ugandan academic year ends in November), we started to notice some interesting trends!

Our control students are beginning to show the same kinds of impacts as our Yiya students! Control students are students in our Yiya partner schools who are NOT participating in the Yiya classes. Over the past two years, these students have answered questions much differently than students participating in the Yiya classes. But on this latest survey, they started to show some similarities. We were puzzled by this until we started to dig deeper. Upon further investigation, we realized these control students are in classes taught by Yiya partner teachers...and when asked, Yiya partner teachers reported that their teaching styles are changing in ALL their lessons, not just the Yiya classes.

This is huge.

Through this process, we've realized our impact numbers are actually much higher than we had previous thought. Instead of impacting only the 300 students participating in the Yiya program, we have actually impacted over 3,400 students! These are the students taught by our Yiya partner teachers, whose teaching methodologies have altered drastically through their participation in the Yiya program!!!

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Teacher Spotlight: Mrs Stella Asingo

Asingo Stella

Mrs Asingo is a geography teacher and school counselor at Rapha Girls Secondary School, in Lira, Northern Uganda. She is also a partner teacher for Yiya! Initially Mrs Asingo was hesitant about joining the Yiya program as her background is in the humanities and not math or science. But after hearing about some of the lessons from students who were participating in the program, she decided to stop by and visit a lesson, and she has been part of the Yiya program ever since!

Although many of the concepts introduced in the Yiya program, such as resistors and capacitors, were initially foreign to her, Mrs Asingo said she learned quickly because of how the Yiya teaching methodology makes even complex physics topics simple and easy to understand. She says a big benefit of the program is that you don’t just sit down to learn a specific concept, but instead you use that concept to create a new technology that helps solve a community problem! This is how she learn how to make bicycle-powered phone chargers and the cost-effective greenhouse prototype.

Mrs Asingo says that being part of the Yiya program makes her feel a step ahead of the other teachers at her school who are not participating in the Yiya program, because she now knows how to make real things that can be used in real life, and help other members in her community. In addition, she says she really values the teaching methodology that Yiya helps teachers to practice during workshops and in the Yiya lessons. She has used these new teaching strategies in her own non-Yiya lessons and has been so excited to see students respond very positively!

When asked whether she feels the program has impacted students’ academics performance, she says

“Yes, it has helped them, especially the weak ones who didn’t like science subjects, for example physics, and through this they are now in love with the science subjects because they are finding the things easy and can now easily relate what they learn from the [Yiya] program to what is being taught to them in class”.

Often in class, she will hear Yiya girls talking to students who are not in the Yiya program, and explaining to them about how a very complicated topic that was in the previous week’s lecture actually makes much more sense after they have done that week’s Yiya activity using that topic. The girls then take time to explain the topic to students who were not part of the Yiya lesson, which also has improved their self-confidence, especially in science subjects.

Yiya Annual Giving Campaign!

From now until the end of 2018, Yiya is running our annual giving campaign to raise funds for our program in 2019.

So far, Yiya has brought engineering lessons to the classrooms of more than 300 students in Northern Uganda!

Now, we want to do more…

This holiday season we are raising money to expand our program to 2 new schools in 2019 and reach a total of 500 Ugandan students!!!

Every dollar raised goes towards providing engineering training, teacher manuals, student journals, and materials kits so that more students in Uganda have the opportunity to engage in engineering projects that benefit their communities!

In addition, our crowdfunding platform GlobalGiving.org will be matching the donations of all donors who commit to a monthly Yiya donation.

Please support Yiya this holiday season at https://goto.gg/30748. Happy Giving!

Please support our students today!



Tuesday, Nov 27th is #GivingTuesday. #GivingTuesday is an international day of generosity where individuals, organizations, and communities all over the world donate their time, skills, voice, dollars, and resources to charities worldwide!

So far, Yiya has brought engineering lessons to the classrooms of more than 300 students in Northern Uganda!

Now, we want to do more…

#GivingTuesday kicks off Yiya’s annual holiday fundraiser! This holiday season we are hoping to raise $6,000 to expand our program to 2 new schools and reach a total of 500 students in 2019!!!

Every dollar raised goes towards providing engineering training, teacher manuals, student journals, and materials kits so that more students in Uganda have the opportunity to engage in engineering projects that benefit their communities!

In addition, our crowdfunding platform GlobalGiving.org will be matching all donations on #GivingTuesday (Nov 27th).

Please support Yiya this Nov 27th at https://goto.gg/30748. Happy Giving!

Please support our students today!


Happy Thanksgiving!

Very warm thanks to YOU!

As this holiday season kicks off, our Yiya family would like to thank everyone in our community of support for your generosity over the past year. Whether you donated time, resources, expertise, or much needed funds, we are so very grateful for all you do!

Your generosity of spirit is what keeps the Yiya programs going and ensures that our engineering projects reach the classrooms of 300+ students in Northern Uganda.

From the bottom of our hearts, please receive a very warm THANK YOU from our team, our teachers, and our student-engineers!!!

Happy, happy Thanksgiving 2018!

Yiya Staff Denis working with Rapha Girls.JPG

Happy Thanksgiving!

An amazing judging panel!

Thanks to our amazing judges!

The Yiya team would like to send a big heartfelt thanks to the experts who volunteered their time to judge the 2018 Yiya Interschool Competition & Community Showcase!

We are so grateful for their expertise, consideration, and the time they took to thoughtfully engage with all our student-engineers and teachers, viewing their prototype demonstrations and listening to them explain how their designs worked! They gave great feedback to students and helped them to raise the bar even higher!

Many, many thanks to the following guest judges:

Head Judge Richard Luuba

Richard is the Program Director at Educate!, an organization teaching entrepreneurship to students in Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda. He is passionate about providing opportunities to young people so they can improve their livelihoods and wellbeing!

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Judge Victor Kawagga

Victor is the founder of Glocal Interactives and a star robotics instructor at Oysters & Pearls, a blind-inclusive STEM education program working in many regions of Uganda.

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Judge Jacob Odur

Jacob is the Country Director at Oysters & Pearls, a dedicated robotics instructor, and a lifelong tech enthusiast!

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Judge Ntananga Phyllis

Phyllis is the Program Manager at Oysters & Pearls, a passionate programming instructor, and the Regional Coordinator for the Uganda branch of the international Technovation competition.

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Judge Marion Arecho

Marion is currently studying at Makerere University to earn her Masters in quantitative economics. She is a part-time member of the Yiya team and a lifelong teacher!

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