Monday, 7 April 2014

Miles to go through innocent smiles

Swarnali is the Master Trainer for the 'Learn,Out of the Box' programme in Uttarakhand.

Walking through the hilly terrain of Uttarakhand, as I stepped into the school surrounded by hills, lush green trees and stream flowing nearby with gushing sound, many smiling  faces gave a warm welcome. As the discussion on 'My Schools' Project proceeded in the Govt Junior Girls School, Langasu located at a distance of 10kms from Karnaprayag Block in Chamoli District, the expression on the face of the Principal and Subject Teacher kept changing. It was clearly visible that they were happy with the idea of Pratham working for the benefit of the children with special focus on weak students, but were quite apprehensive of interactive activity based teaching methodology , quite different from their traditional lecture based method. They were anxious about investing their time, energy and resources. Finally, although reluctant and not completely convinced, the Principal granted permission to try it as an experiment during free time after the final exams.

The initial phase of the project included getting to know the children, understanding their learning styles as well as to gauge their conceptual understanding in science and math. Also the focus was to see participation of the girl students as it was evident from the initial visits, that the girl students hesitate to take initiative displaying active participation.

Series of activities were included to achieve the goal such as: Making Models using dough and holi colours, A Group Discussion and presentation on “Water"

I also conducted an activity to let students explore and realize the application of math concepts in real world. Children were asked to bring 4 favourite things from school premises followed by discussion on reasons for selecting those things and identifying shapes, symmetry and angles in them.

Interesting Outcomes: 

  • During the explore activity, one of the girl students,who was a weak student in Math as per the subject Teacherselected a chart on Math formulas. When asked why she chose that chart, she shyly replied, “Math is my favourite subject”. This was something new for the teacher to know that she actually loves doing math but needs a different style of teaching to cater to her learning style.
  • When the students were asked which lesson,in science, they enjoyed learning the most, the answer came promptly: They enjoyed Motion chapter as they learnt it by doing - By moving around displaying different types of motion.
  • The Principal was also amazed to see the creativity and active participation of the students.
At the end of the day, the frown on the Principal's face changed into a sweet smile with willingness to support our team in this project and belief that things can change for the better.