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The overriding problem in Burkina Faso’s school system is large class sizes. Most teachers have at least 100 students to manage in 100F+ degree heat, and in a space packed with assorted desks and chairs.  Searching for a solution or some relief to the problem is where this idea comes in. 

So far the idea has been tested three times. The first time, with 46 Peace Corps Volunteers, the system worked very well. An advantage was having a large room with only chairs to move.

The second time, with 71 high school students, the system also worked well. But with large desks and an assortment of chairs in the crowded room, moving around was difficult. Still, the idea of student designations (beyond their names), where grouping could be fast and easily understood, showed promise.

The third time, with 75 fifth graders, the system worked well, again, but the classroom furniture continued to be obtrusive.  Therefore, the system seems to require a space that supports free movement to suit various grouping scenarios. Class size seemed less a limitation than class decor. It is also possible that more practice with the system could prove beneficial.

To conclude, the bottle cap classroom management system appears to be a novel solution to over-crowded classrooms. One important benefit is that students can quickly, individually or collectively, locate designated groups. The instructor need only to call for the group to gather in a particular area. However, the ease of this happening depends on whether or not the classroom allows free or minimally obstructed movement.

As a result, the next test will be in an open space. In addition, the next exercise will involve repeated trials with the same group of students. Practice could make perfect, or at least offer worthwhile feedback.  Until then, …

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Here is one way to use the system: role play ‘job interview by panel.’

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Here is another idea: a jigsaw activity.

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And, another idea is to randomly calling out students (e.g. Fanta 2!, Coke 7!) to keep them alert for questions.

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