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Developing Teachers' Workshops at Kirstenbosch

Wendy Hitchcock and Sindi Tyhokolo
BGCI Congress, Gold Fields Centre, Kirstenbosch, Cape Town

Home | Contents | Introduction | Looking Back | The 3 Step Process | Applying the Process | What is an Outcome? | Feedback, Evaluation & Close |

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I am a trained botanist and teacher with a keen interest in the outdoors and in creative work of all sorts. I have been running teachers workshops at Kirstenbosch since April 1997. The programme was initiated to design Botany Modules for teachers, but it has evolved into something much more dynamic and exciting.

Teachers are asking for resource materials and ideas on how to implement Curriculum 2005. Workshops are designed to actively implement the methods of Outcomes Based Education using a variety of environmental topics. In this way, teachers get hands-on experience of OBE theory at the same time as learning new content information. Sharing of ideas and critical analysis are always encouraged. Teachers are asked to try out the activities generated in the workshops and to evaluate them in feedback sessions. Ultimately, a set of activities trialled and tested by teachers will be published as a resource book.

I also work in close collaboration with my fellow colleagues involved in other aspects of environmental education at the Gold Field’s Centre.

One of the most valuable changes that we have made is to focus our lessons on one theme that runs over three months. Although I do not take school children for lessons in the garden, I am involved with the planning of themes and therefore I benefit from ideas generated and developed. In the same way, ideas that I develop for teachers’ workshops can be incorporated into lessons for the garden. Most importantly, this allows us to tackle current environmental issues and problems by using themes such as Water and Wetlands, People and Plants and Biodiversity which has not been done before. We also plan to focus on themes such as Desertification and Sustainable Use of Resources in 1999.

I would like to share with you today, in the form of a workshop, the process that has been developed over the last year. This workshop is similar to ones presented to teachers, but does not focus heavily on ideas for hands-on activities, but concentrates on providing a useful framework for planning lessons, activities or workshops at any level.

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Looking Back

Evaluation of the progress that has been made is vital for growth and development. The analogy of a flowing river is used to reflect on influences and changes that have taken place over time in the development of the programme: River of life of Workshop Programme

Construct the River of Life for your programme

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The 3 Step Process

Mr John Gibbon ran a workshop on Outcomes Based Education (OBE) at the Gold Fields Centre and shared some very simple steps with us. They made a lot of sense to me and since then, I have used them for planning all my workshops and activities. I feel strongly that even if educators are not involved with Curriculum 2005 and implementing OBE, the principle of starting with an end or outcome in mind can be used for planning of any lesson, theme or activity. The steps are:-

  1. OUTCOMES: What is it that you would like learners to be able to do, to know or to value ?
  2. ASSESSMENT: How are you going to assess if learners have achieved the outcomes?
  3. ACTIVITIES : What activities are you going to do to enable learners to achieve the outcomes ?

These steps have been incorporated into a cycle that can be used for planning lessons (see next page). Steps 4 and 5 can be used to assess how well the outcomes have been achieved. This would reveal which learners need more attention in order to achieve the basic outcomes and which ones need more challenging exercises to keep them interested.

NB: The point at which teachers can use existing activities, lesson plans or text books is at stage 3 once outcomes and a means of assessment have been defined.

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Applying the Process


To assess the achievement of these outcomes, I could get you to :-

I am going to ask you


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What is an Outcome?

Aim.... objective.... outcome.... mission statement.... vision.... goal....

- all are statements of intent. It is very important to know where you are trying to go and how you intend getting there. All of us know in our minds what we want to achieve, but if we really want to clarify it and to check up at a later stage exactly what it was that we were intending to do, these intentions need to be written down. WE NEED TO START WITH THE END IN MIND. It is important to be able to measure our level of achievement and to look at areas that we have excelled in and areas that need improvement. If you have not stated what it is that you want to do, you can not measure yourself properly.




NB: there is nothing wrong with any of the verbs. They are all plausible and commendable aims to have, but they may not be very easy to implement and easy to assess if you have achieved them or not. By changing the way you specify your outcomes, you may find it easier to implement them and plan activities accordingly because you are able to realistically assess your progress.

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Evaluation & Close

Objectives....Outcomes.... What is the difference?....

What sorts of things could you get your learners to do to turn these ‘objectives’ (all of which are very valid) into outcomes ?


  1. Learners will appreciate nature e.g. learners will explain what the world would be like without plants and animals
  2. Learners will remember ecological concepts
  3. Learners will be responsible citizens
  4. Learners will understand the importance of plants
  5. Learners will be aware of how humans are damaging the earth
  6. Learners will consider alternative solutions to problems
  7. Learners will value friendship
  8. Learners will think creatively
  9. Learners will consider alternative solutions to problems
  10. Learners will understand the world as a set of systems [e.g. Learners will list a number of systems and discuss how they interact. Observe one system and describe it}

From : John Gibbon, OBE Workshop, Gold Fields’ Centre, 1998


Knowledge / Recall Comprehension / Understanding Application Conceptual Reasoning / Analysis Conceptual Reasoning / Synthesis Conceptual Reasoning / Evaluation

Define Describe Identify Label Locate Name Recognise Select State Compare Define Describe Distinguish Explain Generalise Illustrate Infer Interpret Match Paraphrase Restate Select Summarise Adapt Compute Discover Draw Gather Graph Modify Operate Prepare Revise Show Solve Survey Use Categorise Classify Compare Contrast Decipher Deduce Differentiate Distinguish Explain Generalise Infer Predict Relate Solve Combine Compose Create Depict Design Develop Incorporate Integrate Invent Organise Plan Predict Produce Structure Appraise Critique Decide Evaluate Judge Justify Recommend

From : John Gibbon, OBE Workshop, Gold Fields’ Centre, 1998



  1. no outcomes were achieved
  2. a few aspects of some outcomes were achieved
  3. some outcomes were achieved, but others were not dealt with at all
  4. most outcomes were achieved
  5. all outcomes were fully achieved 5*=unexpected outcomes that I did not specify were achieved


Level of achievement

  1. to compare your education programme to the Kirstenbosch Teachers’ Workshop Programme
  2. to define outcomes using active language
  3. to meet one other person from another country

Other comments: please use the other side of this sheet to add your comments. Positive and/or negative comments are essential to assess workshops and to improve the next one.


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Copyright 1999 NBI