Using OpenWASH modules for classroom teaching

Student success with the OpenWASH modules relies on the following teaching practices:

  • ensuring students successfully achieve the learning outcomes of the study session
  • encouraging students to discuss the topics together
  • encouraging students to think how they could apply what they learn in a work context.

In the classroom you need to decide how you can make best use of the modules. Remember that they are designed for independent study, so you do not have to include everything in your classroom session. You can use the modules to guide study time outside the classroom and for homework. Use lesson time for activities, discussions, challenging topics, practical exercises, questions, developing examples and scenarios, and relating the content to your local context.

Before you start using the modules there are practical matters to consider. You will need to adapt your lesson plans according to answers to these questions:

  • Do you have enough printed copies of the OpenWASH module to give to each student, and one for yourself? Or could they access the material online?
  • Will your students manage and be motivated to study the materials independently outside the classroom?
  • Are there other components of the training to consider, such as formal assessments, practical sessions, etc.?
  • Do you have access to a computer and projector for PowerPoint presentations, or internet access? Can you make use of audio or video material, on DVD or via the internet, to support your teaching?

Another practical point to be aware of is that students will need a dedicated Study Notebook to capture their notes and reflections, and record answers to SAQs. Students may need support and encouragement in using their notebooks. You should stress the value of students keeping all their relevant notes in one place so they can easily be referred to when needed. If students are studying on their own for some of the time, you should encourage them to write down any questions that occur to them so that they can be raised with you or in class later.

We suggest you consider the following general points when planning your teaching:

  • The study sessions have been designed to build on one another, so you should teach them in the order that they are presented.
  • Although they are all approximately the same length, some study session topics might be more challenging for students than others, so you should consider how to build in more time for those sessions.
  • Students will get the most out of the materials if you guide them through the most important principles, ideas and concepts in the modules.
  • Build in time for students to share and discuss their thoughts during lessons. This is just as important as setting aside time to go over the written materials.
  • Consider getting the students to work together in small groups rather than individually, and think creatively about activities and exercises that could be suitable for group work.
  • Reading text to students or getting the students to read the text in class is likely to be the least effective teaching or learning strategy.

How do I create a lesson from the OpenWASH modules?

There is no set approach for delivering the content in a lesson. The structure of your lesson – what you teach, the materials that you use – is likely to depend on a range of factors in your institution.

However, the OpenWASH team believes that you will have the most success in using the materials if you do the following:

  • Base each lesson on one study session. We have assumed a two-hour lesson time, so you may need to adapt this. For example, for one-hour lessons, you could split one study session into two halves, or you could select any particularly challenging or interesting parts and leave other parts for students to read outside the classroom.
  • Make sure you are completely familiar with the material in the study session and have an understanding of how it fits into the module as a whole before the lesson.
  • Consider what you want students to focus on during the teaching session and what you may want students to work on outside the lesson (either before or after the teaching session).
  • Take sections of the core content and turn them into short talks lasting approximately 10–15 minutes. You probably need three or four of these short talks for a two-hour lesson. These will work best if there is an activity or exercise between each talk that will keep students engaged.
  • Develop activities and exercises that relate the topics to your location and relate to the students’ own experiences. Incorporate these between your short talks on the core content.
  • If you have the facilities, you could produce accompanying PowerPoint slides that you can put up on a screen, or give students handouts. Alternatively, make a list of the key ideas and concepts that you can write on a board and talk through in the class.

Basic lesson plan

In this section of the Handbook we provide details of a basic lesson plan in three parts that has been designed to engage students and maximise their learning from a complete OpenWASH study session. Table 2 summarises the three parts and they are described in more detail below.

Table 2 Basic lesson plan.

Part 1: Introducing
the lesson

Part 2: Core teaching and learning

Part 3: Summary and learning reflection

Purpose of this part of the lesson

Set out the main objective of the lesson.

Highlight the terms that students should understand by the end of the lesson.

Outline what students should have learned by the end of the lesson.

Present information, concepts and principles.

Engage students in exercises and discussions to assess whether they can apply the information encountered.

Present an overview of the information covered in the lesson.

Provide an opportunity for students to reflect on their learning in relation to the learning outcomes of the study session.

Study session components to be used in this part of the lesson

Key terms

Learning outcomes

Core content

In-text questions (ITQs)


Self-assessment questions (SAQs)

Suggested timings for a two-hour lesson

10 minutes

90 minutes (divided into shorter sub-sections)

20 minutes

  • summarises the purpose of the lesson
  • highlights some of the key concepts and principles that students will be exploring.

Part 1: Introducing the lesson

This section outlines ways in which the topic, learning outcomes and key terms associated with each OpenWASH study session can be integrated into the introduction to the lesson. The introduction:

For example, the information in Table 3 is taken from Study Session 1 of the Ethiopia’s One WASH National Programme module.

Table 3 Summary of Study Session 1 in the module Ethiopia’s One WASH National Programme.

Study session title/topic ‘Why do we need the OWNP?’
Learning outcomes

1.1 Define and use correctly all of the key terms.

1.2 Explain the importance of WASH to human health.

1.3 Explain the importance of WASH to education and economic development.

1.4 List the reasons why the OWNP is needed.

1.5 Explain the overall aims of the OWNP.

Key terms
  • WASH
  • water supply
  • safe water supply
  • adequate water supply
  • accessible water supply
  • sanitation
  • hygiene
  • faecal–oral transmission
  • child-friendly WASH services
  • One WASH National Programme
  • Consolidated WASH Account.

When thinking about how to integrate the topic, learning outcomes and key terms into a lesson, consider the following ideas:

  • Spend five to ten minutes introducing the session.
  • Write the topic on the board for the class to see. Ask the group why they think this topic is important. Suggest students read the introduction section of the study session before they answer to help them to think about why it is important.
  • You could ask a few quick starter questions to stimulate discussion and get students to think about their background knowledge of the topic.
  • Write the key terms and/or learning outcomes on the board for the class to see and keep them visible throughout the lesson. As the lesson progresses, cross them out or tick them off when they have been covered.

Part 2: Core teaching and learning

When constructing your lesson plan, consider the following tips:

  • Prepare your short talks in advance. Assuming you have allocated 90 minutes of a two-hour lesson to the core teaching, make sure you have broken this time down into three or four subsections from the core module content. During your talks, encourage students to ask you questions if they do not understand something. This will help them to remain engaged.
  • Break up the talks with activities. Try to ensure students do something different every 15–20 minutes to keep their attention focused on the topic. Avoid a long lecture or a group activity that takes a long time as this will make students feel bored.
  • Use the in-text questions (ITQs) to prompt discussions, either for the whole class together or in small groups. You could give different discussion topics to different groups and get them to share their discussions with the whole class at the end.
  • You don’t have to fit everything into the suggested two-hour lesson. Students can be instructed to complete homework, either beforehand to bring to the lesson or afterwards.
    • Recap the learning outcomes covered by the session – try turning these into questions and asking students to raise their hands if they think they can answer them. This is a really good way of easily evaluating how students have understood the lesson and the concepts and ideas covered.
    • Go over each of the main points made in the summary. You could try modifying some of these points to include the word ‘not’ and asking students if the statements you make are true or false. Again, this is a way of evaluating how students have engaged with the concepts and ideas presented in the lesson.
    • Go through the SAQs with the students, or ask them to work on their own or in groups to answer these questions. You don’t need to go through all the questions, but they are excellent tools for evaluating students’ engagement with the lesson content. You can compare the answers from students with the Notes on the SAQs at the back of the book and discuss how they may differ. You could also devise some alternative questions of your own, especially if you can relate them to your local area and the students’ experience. If you want to leave time for class discussion about the SAQs and their answers, you may need more than the 20 minutes suggested in Table 2 for Part 3 of your lesson.

Part 3: Summary and learning reflection

The final section of your lesson will focus on the summary section and self-assessment questions (SAQs). We suggest it would be most effective if you split it into three parts:

Finally, remember that a lesson plan is a proposed course of action – in the classroom you may need to change and alter your plan according to your students’ needs. Remember to capture these changes in a revised plan so that you or colleagues know what is likely to work best for students next time.

Last modified: Thursday, 25 August 2016, 12:16 AM