For Teachers

For Teachers


Course/workshop materials are on the "Courses" that is under the "I am Africa" Program tab. There you will find student handouts and student guides. You can also teach this in the classroom using a Powerpoint that you can download from Slideshare. Those teachers with technology classrooms or tablets can download the interactive PDF (211 MB). If you have group we do offer webinar training.

Site Groups:  If you want your class in your own private group that other can not see, or public, email the administrator and we will both set one up and also make you the administrator of that group.

Note: To see the Course pages you must be logged in as a member.

Help: Under the Stories Tab there a page for Forums. Please Post your questions there. Again we often do Skpes to jumstart these programs.

Curriculum background notes for educators

“I am the Story…” will show you and your class that they have an absolutely amazing will to achieve against all odds. By the end of the day it seems that all the student's individual life stories become one big one, and so it is. Our life stories give learning value and curriculum purpose. Without a life story, the textbook is just a block of wood, the student a brick on the wall. If you take the time to do a one day workshop of these autobiographical digital stories you will experience a wonderfully educational and deeply moving day.

While my background is Learning Theory and Instructional Design my life working with both the US and African poor learning alarms my heart on how we sanitized local culture and meaning out of the process of learning. Students around the world sit in classrooms learn physics and trigonometry with little if no connection to the community around them. For the billion dollar textbook industry this is highly profitable because the same text for New York City can be simply translated for Somali. The outcome of local culture and economics being sanitized from learning is millions of students throughout the world handed diploma that not only do not line up to a job but are also dysfunctional with local cultures. We are educating an alarming string of disconnected children from their careers and communities.

Carol Black. “Schooling the Globe”

This is not something new to education. Leaders such as John Dewey and Lindeman saw this disconnection of meaning during the industrial revolution in the US during the industrial revolution. Ironically while every teacher in the US has read John Dewey his thoughts were drowned out by the economics of the academic factory. There are those who saw the social impact of this lobotomization of the student's soul as a form of intellectual oppression Paulo Freire works were even banned in some countries. New fads that declare human values as “relative” aggravate the loss of meaning from learning, demean local traditions and make hazy concepts of right and wrong.

Great Reads:
John Dewey, Experience and Education 
Eduard Lindeman, The Meaning of Adult Education 
Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

But all is not lost. The trends of Project Based Learning (which this site uses), trade programs and mentoring are re-entering the human social element into the learning process. Once again the student is finding meaning and motivation in learning. Case-in-point, Dr. Joni Schwartz was doing research on young men of color in New York City that have a 50% non-graduation rate from high school. A group was put through a Science Technology Engineering and Math STEM curriculum that yielded an exceptional high graduation rate. In the process of video recording the students they discover that in the PBL methods the exceptional teacher delivered a lot of mentoring. Young men of color in NYC often do not have fathers or people to encourage them. STEM’s PBL was just the platform for human social learning to take root. Learning and particularly transform are not intellectual gymnastics. Transformation is a social emotion process that must come first and foremost. My dear friend Jacob Atem, one of the Lost Boys of South Sudan tells his story so well for TEDx.

Dr. Joni Schwartz Ph.D., There Is Another World Out There: Students of Color and Undergraduate STEM Research

There are moments in teaching a class when the curriculum formula falls into the background and values of the students jump to the front of the class. Those rare moments when the class takes off by itself and all you can do is try to steer a wild sailboat in a storm. Great teachers crave this moment when real learning is taking place. This happens then students feel they matter, have something to say and will be honored for it. For them, it is a very rare moment when who they are and what they feel will not (and cannot be) be graded. “This is my Story…” is that kind of program. Every time we have taught one of these workshops the class takes off and we are just coaches on how to hold the camera and other trivial matters. For this reason, I plead with you to never grade these videos, never say one is better than other. If someone wants to delete theirs after seeing it, do it without hesitation. For learning to take place children and adults must feel safe. At the beginning of these workshops encourage students to just try and see. If they don’t like it they have right deleted it. Required watching on any teacher working with poverty is the movie “Freedom Writers”

Lesotho Vid We used something I call “Kind Discretion” on what we post. Simple rules in your guides such as; no pitches for money, never name names and be guarded on personal information keep the learning experiences safe and moving. Violence and abuse of poverty frequently make it in as many as half of the videos. For the student and classmates that get the ugly past out of their system, know they have a voice and then delete it. No matter how horrible an Autobiography is it must always be met with love and acceptance of the student. In the end, the lesson that human nature is fundamentally good and hard work over time is rewarded will be the theme of the day.

Watch Lesotho university student story

 This method of motivation before literacy and technology training is the fundamentally right way to learn. We need to eat so we learn to farm, we to travel so we learn to drive. Motivation first and then the techniques.

In the Forums for this program will post places to go for more training. What is more, import is that well over 100,000 educators across the planet are building relationships with colleagues and blending classrooms from Kenya to Detroit to rural China. Better yet it is all free. This site was developed to enrich: teachers, mentors, and youth leaders. To unit you and give you a voice. Together you and you student are The Stories of life. And when you have recorded your own story, please share it with.

Stay Encouraged,
Richard C. Close

Remember to Goto: “Forums” under the “Stories” tap into professional training and contacts. Look forward to your thoughts there.


One last thought. It is a leap to trust what your students have gone through and are silent about. They are strong and have handled much of life in their silence. Freedom Writers is a true movie about a remarkable teacher who uses journaling and storytelling to turn a South Los Angeles class of gang members around. Here is one of the final scenes taking her war-torn class to a holocaust museum. 

© 2019   Created by Richard C Close.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service