Role Models: Meet a Grade 1 Teacher Mastering the New Active Learning Approach

Meet Mrs Souphaphone Phouthasins, a passionate primary school teacher and active learning expert who helps children to learn better with the new primary curriculum. She was inspired by her brother-in-law when she was young and followed her dream of becoming a teacher. She is now a well-regarded Grade 1 teacher in Luang Prabang Province and a role model teacher who supports other teachers on active learning.

Mrs Souphaphone has been teaching the new national primary curriculum. She remembers her excitement when discovering the new Grade 1 textbooks for the first time. The curriculum materials are full of colourful pictures, making learning more attractive and enjoyable for young students.
Mrs Souphaphone finds students enjoy learning and are more motivated when they are active and engaged. They want to come to school and learn by doing activities. With the new active learning techniques, students have to think for themselves, to observe and then do the activity themselves. Students can work together in pairs, or independently with support as needed.
An example of an active learning technique used by Mrs Souphaphone is to teach new sounds and letters in Lao Language through a card game from the Lao Language teacher guide. She shows the students cards with the letters and the whole class say the sounds of the letters together. Then she shows the cards with images of animals or objects starting with the same sound and lets the students do the matching.

Ms. Souphaphone showing the maths learning and teaching materials that she created

Mrs Souphaphone also recognises that a key challenge for active learning is a lack of resources. She overcomes this challenge by using local or recycled materials. For example, creating a car with a cardboard box and decorating empty plastic bottles with teddy bear faces. Students love this activity because the bottles are cute. Learning also takes place in the school courtyard where she teaches students about trees and plants for Science and Environment lessons. She gives the students some leaves to look at, to touch and to smell. She lets them discuss what they find and observe.
Preparing the classroom to be a suitable learning environment to enable active engagement in activities is also important, said Mrs Souphaphone. She groups the tables together to make it easier for the students to collaborate, share ideas and do activities together. The four corners of her classroom are arranged one each for Lao Language learning, materials for math and science, handicrafts and reading.

When you see the smiles on the faces of Mrs Souphaphone’s young Grade 1 students when they enter the classroom in the morning, you know those students are looking forward to their day; you know they will listen and learn; you know how a passionate teacher can make a huge impact on the education and the future of the new generation.

Primary teacher, Ms. Souphaphone creating learning materials using local resources