Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Experimenting the Experiments!

Lovnish Thakur

(Lovnish manages the Learn, Out of the Box programme in Himachal Pradesh)

The children were all in awe when the tornado made by them in a bottle blew a storm! Perhaps it was the first time that they had seen such a miracle in their science class. 

This was only a practice session with children of Government Senior Secondary School-Baldiyan in a remote hamlet of Shimla in Himachal Pradesh. LOTB had initiated organization of a ‘Science and Math Fair’ in the school. Our Regional Program Associates (RPAs) Daulat Ram and Anu Rana were provided training to organize the Fair and conduct the workshop with the students.

Preparation for the Fair 
Concepts in Math & Science were shortlisted primarily on the criteria of them being aligned to the curriculum, being illustrative and easy to prepare and explain. Students of classes 6th and 7th participated in this 3 day workshop during which they were explained the underlying concepts through the WebBox and other resources. Thereafter the students were guided to create the shortlisted models and prepare an explanation for the same. After preparing the models, the students practiced for the day when they had to display these to their teachers and students from other classes.

The students were grouped class wise and each group was assigned models. Various models as stated below were prepared by the students using low cost material available locally.

Over 14 models were prepared on various topics in Science like Respiratory System, Electrical Circuit, Conductance and Insulator, Homemade Camera, Mirror Prism, Anemometer, Rain gauge Model, Stab Potato, Concave and Convex mirror, Making a tornado in a bottle, Sun, Moon and Earth, Hole in the Palm, Properties of Sound and Magnets

While in Math over 11 models were prepared like Different Elementary Shapes, Geoboard, Broom stick multiplication, Paper Protector, Pythagoras theorem, Feeling the Angles, Circle to rectangle, Area of Triangles, Integers, Fractions, Circumference and Diameter

The Big Day 
After intense preparation and practice, the big day had arrived. It was a special occasion for students and school management alike as an event of such magnitude was a first for this school. We also invited the parents on this occasion to engage and participate in the fair and also see the models prepared by their children.

Parents were both excited and joyous seeing their wards demonstrating relatively complex scientific and mathematical concepts and also explaining the working of the models. Through various discussions with the school management, they strongly encouraged organization of such exhibitions. The Principal and other teachers of the school went through the exhibition and were delighted to see that the students had come up with such unique models.

Organization of such fairs has met considerable success and now our attempt is to make them self-sustainable. The programme is preparing modules which can be replicated by the field staff in various schools and thereafter by teachers themselves. Once conducted, such events are live demonstration of what ‘learning by doing is’ and this reinforcement is here to stay!

Packing up after a long day, our team was thrilled to learn that the school management has decided to conduct such fairs on their own every year henceforth!

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Lakhon mein Ek: a Call-to-action Campaign by Pratham and ASER Centre.

Lakhon mein Ek is a call-to-action campaign by Pratham and ASER Centre. Together with citizens from across the country, the campaign will work towards improving the status of children's learning in 100,000 villages and communities.

The campaign started on October 21, 2015. In the initial phase 100,000 Village Volunteers are being mobilized to take responsibility for action in their villages. 

These village volunteers will assess children in their villages with the help of others in the community. By January 16, 2016 success of the campaign will be marked by citizens everywhere resolving to help children acquire basic reading and math abilities in these locations.

 Why join Lakhon mein Ek - Rukmini Banerji explains   

Waheeda Rehman, Pratham ambassador, appeals to you to join Lakhon mein Ek  

Friday, 16 October 2015

Teaching Students Relevance of Pure Water - LOTB and ASER Intervention

-Lovnish Thakur
(Lovnish manages the Learn, Out of the Box programme in Himachal Pradesh)

Water is most important element for living things and without water we all cannot survive.  Clean and adequate water is of prime importance for ensuring well being of human beings. Contaminated water causes multiple diseases and it is necessary that the same is cleaned before use.
LOTB School chosen for intervention

To create awareness among children about water and sanitation a pilot in Government High School, Nehra was held in association with ASER Centre team in Himachal Pradesh. The ASER team wanted to pilot a water testing module in Himachal Pradesh and found one of our LOTB (Learn, Out of the Box) project schools to be appropriate for this intervention.

Under this intervention, the water and sanitation campaign was carried out in two LOTB schools, one in rural location and one in urban location.

Questionnaire filling excercise
Government High School-Nehra is located in a rural 
hamlet at a distance of 25km from Shimla city. The school
is located on a hill top and offers the best climate to the young
learners. To initiate ourintervention in this school, ASER along
with Learn, Out of the Box team met with school authorities and
discussed the water and sanitation pilot that was to be done in the school.

The Principal of the school was quite happy over this development and gave us permission to take this practice with std. seventh and eighth class children. We held this pilot with 33 children of Std. 7th and 8th. There were 16 children in std. 7th and 17 in std. 8th.

The exercise was done in a period of 3 days.

Sample collection

Brief detail of day-wise activities
Day 1 of the session started with brief introduction and
we told the children about 3 day’s schedule. Household 
and school tool which was devised by ASER were 
discussed with children and they were told of ways in 
which the information was to be collected.

After discussion of household and school tool we divided children in three groups and told them to collect school tool information.

Teachers and other staff of school were equally excited about this development. By the end of the first day session we told them on the ways the water sample was to be collected from their homes. We also took water sample of school Aquagard and water tank.

On the day 2, Daulat Ram, our RPA and Rohit from ASER team collected water sample of villages from where the majority of students came to the school.  The students also filled a questionnaire devised by ASER on sanitation and water purification.

A presentation on water and sanitation along with some 
videos were also shown to the children.  Children enjoyed
videos and discussed the importance of clean water and cleanliness.

On the day 3, we discussed water results of their villages 
and filled the feedback from this workshop. Head Master 
and science teacher of the school addressed the children 
and told importance of cleanliness.

Surprisingly, the water from school filter and three of the surrounding villages was found contaminated. We covered Nehra, kayaru, Shaltu, Bhukho and Gharog villages for this pilot.  Water of Nehra Shaltu and Gharog was found contaminated.

Water samples collected by students
School children from these villages told that they will 
share the water testing result with Panchayat representatives
from their villages.

The headmaster of Govt. High School Nehra also told
that he will discuss the findings of the water test in school 
management committee meeting and will take remedial 
measures to ensure that clean water is provided to the students.

Key points from household information questionnaire filled by students:

  • 80% children lived in pucca houses.
  • Status of household indictor is good.
  • 67% houses have tap water availability and 40% houses have 24 hr availability of water.
  • 97% household told that they covered drinking water vessel.
  • 43% household used filter for purify drinking water, 40% filter from cloths, 23% boiled and 10% do nothing for purify water.
  • 74% household think that water should be purified before its use.
  • 70% household used long handle vessel to draw out water form container.
  • 97% household were satisfied from water which they drink, while the water of these households was found contaminated during water test.
  • 97% households have their own toilet and almost have a water facility.
  • Almost all know that they should wash their hand after work with soap.
  • Almost all household know that they should not throw litter in open.

It was indeed an out of the box learning experience for the students of Govt. High School-Nehra.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Remedial Classes during Summer Vacation in Assam

-Priyanka Deori
(Priyanka supports 13 Learn, Out of the Box schools in Dibrugarh )

In the earlier years during summer vacation we used to conduct remedial classes and workshops in our project schools.  The primary goal was to extend the learning taking place in the classes even outside the school timings.

This year, after coming back from Central RPA training in Kolkata we decided to conduct summer camps in few of our schools in each district with a specific common goal for all districts.
The idea behind this exercise was to practice interactive and diverse teaching methodologies.

Game Time
So accordingly, all team members from ten districts in Assam planned month long remedial classes in our respective districts during the summer vacation which we all had designed and scheduled as per our own schedule. Apart from the regular remedial classes using WebBox, textbook and blackboard, some of us also planned quiz competition, project based learning and extempore speech at our centres.

The Objective
The main objective of the remedial classes was to get connected with the students when there was no routine classroom work and when the students were free to learn something through activity. The idea was also to experiment on how interactive and diverse teaching methodology would help in the better learning and understanding of concepts.
Group Work

The Methodology
As already mentioned the main objective of conducting the remedial classes was to engage and interact with the students out of their regular classroom process, this remedial classes had no burden of homework or overload of a particular topic to be covered within a stipulated time period. Thus, an effort was made to involve students from more schools in a short period of time and give them an opportunity to learn at their own pace.

There were various topics and concepts that were covered by us from both Mathematics and Science. Simple topics like LCM, HCF, Number Line, Positive and Negative Numbers, Fractions, Data Handling among others were covered in simpler methods. In Science also there were topics like, Food web, Plant Nutrition, Fibre to Fabric and Motion.
Fraction Demonstration Chart

These concepts were taught using interactive and diverse teaching methodologies – In our session we conducted group discussion, group work, quiz, project work, demonstration among others.

We used videos to initiate topics and then followed by quick discussion. The discussion after introduction of the topics gave opportunity to students to recall their knowledge about the subject. We focused on enabling students to participate more during the session.

Types of leaves
A Challenge
Although the plans were made to conduct the remedial classes during the summer vacation, yet there were difficulties in motivating and convincing the students in attending the classes.

Our Experience and Learning
The main attraction for the students of these remedial classes was that there was no burden of books. These classes were made interesting by involving the students in games, whereby they also learnt many concepts. Like by playing the game “Fire in the mountain” they learnt about Factors and Multiples. There were also many hands-on activities like preparing charts and collecting resources to complete projects.

Students with a model
We all had our own set of experiences during these remedial classes or workshop. However these experiences were not much different from each other. While doing these classes, we all had a common observation that students learnt well when they are engaged. We tried creating a learning environment where there were interactive sessions and encouraged students to come up and make their own presentations.

Initially many students were hesitant, but later it was observed that students felt comfortable sharing their own observations and presentations on topics that were assigned to them.

While this was a learning experience for the team in implementing varied teaching methodologies; it was fun time for students!

Monday, 17 August 2015

Documenting an Interactive and Diverse Teaching and Learning Process - Part II

-Lovnish Thakur
(Lovnish manages the Learn, Out of the Box programme in Himachal Pradesh)

The second day of the video shoot was exciting, as the children had figured out that they were part of an innovative exercise being done in their school. With students from other classes, peeping in, the excitement level of children was naturally on the higher side.

After the initial commotion, it was time for action and the teachers and students were ready for another day of hectic shoot.

The students were split into groups of four students each and every group was assigned to do a role-play for any one particular kind of triangle. For example, if a group needed to present a Right Angle Triangle, two students used their hands to make the shape, one student spoke about its characteristics and one student spoke about its uses.

Each group was given 2 minutes to speak on the properties of the triangle. The entire exercise was a learning experience for the children and gave them an opportunity to express their thoughts on the subject in a creative manner.

Amazingly, the students had gotten used to the scenario so well that the shoot was completed in two shots!

Quick Assessment:
The other activity for the day was named 'Quick Assessment' and the students played a game where they had to throw a ball on a chart paper that had horizontal and vertical lines drawn on it. For every throw on the right spot, the student was asked a question. In case they answered it correctly, they were given another chance to throw at the chart paper.

The questions had been taken from the WebBox and each of the questions were written on the blackboard. This assignment was basically an interactive quiz which tested the knowledge of the students on the topic “Properties of Triangle”

Project Work:
Home assignment is a vital part of any student learning process and defines the outcome of the learning that students gain out of a day’s classroom session. To showcase the relevance of home work in a student’s learning scenario, they were assigned project work. This proved to be the most exciting part of the video shoot as the students headed outdoors to complete the assignment.
In this assignment, the students were assigned the task of make few triangles using broomsticks. Three standard measurements were given to the students for the assignment. These were 6, 5 &10 cm, 6, 5 &11 cm and 6, 5 &12 cm.

The trick here was to make a triangle out of these measurements. Only one of the measurements was appropriate for making of a triangle and the students discussed their thoughts on the same in the classroom.
Excitement prevailed throughout this assignment as it was done outdoors and villagers too gathered around to watch the shoot.

The day ended with interactions with Viraj Kaushal, the subject teacher and the Principal Ms. Suketa Sharma of Government Sr. Sec. School, Kiarkoti.They expressed pleasure over the successful completion of the video shoot in the school. We also interviewed few students on what they thought of the present education system and changes they would bring if they were in a position of power. The answers were interesting and they came up with creative ideas that could be implemented to bring betterment in the education sector.

It was four in the evening and after an informal chat with the young budding minds, we headed back with the promise that the children will get to watch the shoot soon enough. 

Thursday, 30 July 2015

We Are Hiring!

‘Learn, Out of the Box’ is a Pratham Education Foundation initiative in partnership with the Vodafone Foundation India. The programme is an innovative teacher-centric technological intervention which works to empower teachers in 1,000 low-income schools across 12 states of India, with the aim of reaching over 80,000 children.

Apply now!

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Learn, Out of the Box – STiR Partnership in Uttarakhand

-Rajeev Bahuguna
Rajeev supports and manages the 12 Learn, Out of the Box schools in Gairsain block (Chamoli, Uttarakhand)

Learn, Out of the Box has partnered with STiREducation Initiative to identify and nurture ‘Teacher Changemakers’ in our project schools in Maharashtra and Uttarakhand.

This piece covers the story of the changemakers from Uttarakhand.
In our teacher’s workshop held in September 2014 we introduced an hour long session of STiR in all the three blocks of Chamoli. In this effort, we tried to identity and recognize teachers as “Innovators” rather than just facilitators. In these Learn, Out of the Box – STIR workshop, teachers were introduced to various types of innovative ideas to improve classroom practices and thereby improve learning outcomes. We highlighted that their diverse teaching and learning techniques could be recognized and replicated in other classrooms as well, and how they can become “Changemakers”.
In this workshop, about 90 teachers from Chamoli district shared their micro-innovations. Thirteen of them were selected to represent their ideas nationally, at a summit held in New Delhi in October 2014. They were also conferred a certification from STiR, as a recognition of their efforts. The teachers got an opportunity to share their ideas and also learn from other teachers during the summit.
Now the ‘Teacher Innovation Network’ for Learn, Out of the Box teachers got established in Chamoli District. The purpose of this network was to bring together teachers with passion to teach, facilitate them to implement innovative teaching learning ideas in their classroom.
Initial block level meeting saw many volunteer teachers participating, but subsequent meetings saw continuous attendance of eleven teachers from Dasoli, ten from Karanaprayag and seven from Gairsain. So, we had final list of 28 “Networked Teachers”.
We had first formal meeting of these 28 “Networked Teachers” in December 2014. The key outcome of the meeting was the identification of the problems faced by the teachers in the classrooms, which can be categorized as below:
  • Issues faced in planning of a class
  • Classroom teaching
  • Student engagement
In the month of January 2015, a second meeting was conducted. within the face of extreme weather conditions, the participation of the teachers motivated our efforts. This meeting was primarily centered on understanding and discussing of “growth mindset” and classroom innovation. The teachers agreed that these were helping them a lot and classes were vibrant and cheerful unlike in the past.
In February, a third meeting was conducted. This was focused on those teachers who were still facing issues in their class. The network tried understanding their point of view and suggested a few recourses - like group work among the students, better ways to implement innovative ideas, etc. We tried motivating them by showing them the results of other teachers who had successfully implemented innovative teaching-learning ideas in their classrooms.
The final meeting with selected teachers was held in May 2015 in Gopeshwar. This final meeting was organized as a Seminar in which the teachers showcased their efforts to the administrative officers of education department. This event gave their efforts a recognition, which would help them in keeping up the motivation to innovate and implement innovations. This also gave a reason for other teachers to rethink about their teaching pedagogy. The meeting also gave an opportunity for the teachers to show their creativity, for they had set up their own galleries showcasing their work.

District Education Officer commended Learn, Out of the Box’s efforts and assured his full support in implementation of the programme.
You can write to Rajeev at:

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Documenting an Interactive and Diverse Teaching and Learning Process - Part I

-Lovnish Thakur
(Lovnish manages the Learn, Out of the Box programme in Himachal Pradesh)

The smile on young Arushi’s face took away any inhibitions I may have had on documenting one of the classes at Government Senior Secondary School in Kiarkoti – a picturesque rural hamlet located 20 kms. from the bustling city life of Shimla.

Ms. Viraj Kaushal - the Math teacher of the school has been implementing the programme’s ideas of interactive and diverse teaching methods and our aim was to document her in-classroom usage for wider circulation. Ms. Kaushal and especially her students were an excited lot when told that their class will be shot with a video camera. Their excitement was an assurance to our initial concerns of the students being conscious. Once the permissions and preparations were taken care of, we turned our focus to rehearsals with the teacher and role of the students.  The topic chosen was ‘Properties of Triangle’.

The mood of the village too was turning festive as the community took active interest in this unplanned engagement. All was set for the shooting to commence!

Shooting the Class
The day began early for us on 25th May as I along with Shadab, Daulat Ram and Krishna-the cameras person made our way to the school. Wading through the busy city traffic, we took a turn towards the link road which led us to our destination. The entire school was eagerly awaiting our arrival. The teacher, her students and all material required were prepared and ready. We were ready to roll!

The class was to be shot in five sequences and thereafter the shots will be integrated to present a full class using Interactive and Diverse Teaching Methods or IDTMs as we call them. The sequences were: Angle Yoga, Learning through Fun, Role Play, Quick Assessment and Project Work.

Angle Yoga
As evident from the name, the students were expected to show how different kind of angles can be made using their body parts. This activity was thought to be the opening activity for the class. The students were arranged into different groups and were both excited and confused initially as this was a unique classroom scenario for them.

Considering the fact that this classroom was shot in a rural ambiance, the young lads displayed much confidence and the shot was successfully canned after a few retakes. The teacher also showed the introduction video after this exercise to help children recapitulate on what they had learnt through the opening activity.

Learning through Fun
An ideal class should initiate the young minds to explore concepts and not memorize lessons. Considering this aspect, the concept of learning through fun was also introduced to the class. For this, we had cut out different shapes of Triangles as also of Square and Circles to confuse the students. The children were divided into groups for this activity. One child from each group was given 1 minute to pick up maximum number of Triangles from the box. The class was divided into 5 groups as the strength was 26 on that day. The teamwork and belongingness of students as a team was evident during this shoot as others in the group cheered the leader to pick up the maximum correct shapes in minimum time. The group with the maximum number of correct shapes was declared the winner.

It was almost 3:30 pm and we decided to call it a day as the school was about to get over in another half an hour. The exciting journey continued well into the second day too!

Read more in Part 2 of this unique experience that brought me more closer to the young kids whom I always love to be with!

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Glimpses of Field Visit

-Shadab Ahmed
(Shadab manages the Learn, Out of the Box programme in Rajasthan)

This summer, as temperature was rising in Rajasthan and the academic session in schools was coming to an end I planned to visit to Jhalawar and Ajmer.

The visit was to take stock of the project in these districts, conduct an orientation for our RPAs on the community teaching initiative and also plan a project for our RPAs for the upcoming vacations. The community teaching initiative has been envisioned as one of the steps for project sustainability in Rajasthan.

In most schools, that I visited I could see how our project had impacted teaching learning process in

the schools. For instance in one schools I saw charts and models prepared by students. I have plans to conduct a cluster level inter school Science and Math Exhibitions for our schools in the district and gift models and TLMs to nearby government schools.

A Science teacher in another school spoke about the significance of group learning strategies like Group Discussions and others. He said ‘Initially our Principal was skeptical of using Group Learning as a Teaching-Learning practice. However, when he saw students responding to these and such other methods he encouraged us to use such methods of teaching in other classes as well’. I feel proud hearing this type of responses from teachers because Interactive and Diverse Teaching Methods (IDTMs) has been one of our focus areas and we have conducted few training and focused workshops for our RPAs and teachers as well.

At one school, the principal informed how he was reluctant about signing up for the project initially. Today, teachers in his schools are confidently using the WebBox and he believes that teaching learning scenario has improved. He was concerned that parents are not committed enough about the quality of their children’s education. When we followed up with our Community Teaching plan, he liked our idea and he thought this initiative will involve the parents and make them aware about their child’s progress.

It was a gratifying experience as I could firsthand see the change happening in terms of teaching practice in these schools. I thank our RPAs Priyanka and Manoj for their support during this visit.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Learn, Out of the Box (Uttar Pradesh) RPA Workshop, May 2015

-Shubhendu Chakraborty
(Shubhendu manages the Learn, Out of the Box programme in Uttar Pradesh)

Four new Regional Programme Associates (RPAs) joined our Uttar Pradesh team in three districts recently. With a relatively new team, the workshop was planned to induct the new RPAs into the team, enhance their pedagogical skills and strategise the engagement with stakeholders.

This workshop was also intended to initiate a sustained process for Capacity Development through the academic year which shall provide the RPAs an opportunity to self-educate while they are on the field.

Here is a glimpse of the broad agenda:

Diverse Teaching Methods:
IDTMs and TLMs were introduced to the participants as enabling tools for the teaching-learning process. A session was exclusively planned to bring conceptual clarity about both the concepts and their complementary nature. The RPAs in teams of two also presented a topic which could be taken up in the classroom though a diverse teaching method and using a TLM. The following session provided an overview of IDTMs and their execution in the classroom. The session also discussed four different types of IDTMs: Collaborative Learning, Jigsaw Method, Project Based Learning and Case Study Method.

Engaging the Stakeholders:
In an interactive session our engagement with stakeholders and approach towards the schools was discussed. Key stakeholders and their needs in the context of o
ur programme were identified. The RPAs had an animated discussion on the topic and it was concluded that though the larger objectives of the programme are aligned to the overall benefit of the stakeholders, it is equally essential to present more tangible advantages. A few such initiatives to be taken in the coming months were identified. The session also discussed the management of time and qualitative preparation by the RPAs while visiting the School. A model school visit was presented which initiated further deliberations among the team.

Communication and Public Speaking:
The workshop also aimed to address the communication and public speaking skills of the RPAs as it's an important element in their daily roles. Real case studies were given for role-plays between a RPA, Teacher and Manager. All RPAs were asked to plan their communication and strategise their delivery to ensure effective communication. Engaging conversations took place during this session and provided an insight on real situations. Elements of Communication like conviction, structure, clarity and focus were discussed.

Through the workshop, the RPAs also gave presentations on general interest topics like Pollution, Child Labour, Inventions, Earthquakes and Diarrhea.

Shooting an Experiment:
It was an idea still in working when it was introduced in the workshop. The idea was to shoot an instructional video from the ‘Do’ section of the WebBox which shall provide the teachers a video resource to better understand the activities and at the same time can be used by the students to view the experiments being performed in case they cannot be organized in the classroom. No specific guideline was given to the RPAs apart from the expected product as we wanted to observe their organization and pedagogical skills in creating this video. The session saw energetic participation of all RPAs and within a few hours videos of an ideal playground to show percentages and an anemometer were created. The RPAs at their first attempt and without any specific brief created these videos. We intend to pilot more such videos in near future.

The workshop concluded with a session discussing the way forward and identifying certain common tangible takeaways.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Learnings from the Hills - II

-Durgesh Tiwari 

(Durgesh works with the Central Team of the Learn, Out of the Box programme. He also manages the programme in Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh)

Government High School, Chaura Maidan, Shimla
My second visit was to a Government High School in Chaura Maidan. Here too the teacher, Ms Bikul Sood, who is a new teacher in our project, taught the students about evolution of silk and the ways how it is processed.

She started the class in a traditional way wherein she asked students few questions related to the topic, as the students had previously been taught this topic. She used the 'SEE' section to showcase the video on the process of making Silk.

Later, I asked the students a few questions to see how interested they were and I found that the children took keen interest in learning facts when it was demonstrated using the WebBox content.

Both the schools (first one was covered in the last post) were in the vicinity of Shimla town. Hence, we decided to visit some schools in Sunni block of Shimla district which has a distinct rural touch. The first visit here was to a Government Senior Secondary School in Neen. The Science teacher in this school, Ms Lalita Verma chose to demonstrate an experiment from ‘DO’ section of the WebBox. She demonstrated a couple of experiments to show the presence of starch in food materials. Conducting experiments and activities was easy at this classroom because there were only 12 students.

Children doing experiments at GSSS, Khatnol
The children took keen interest in performing the experiments for themselves and experienced ‘learning by doing’. Carrying out experimental activities in classes having more number of students is still a challenge and this needs to be addressed.

The principal informed me that the parents have a considerable amount of interest in the Learn, Out of the Box programme at this school. 

The other school that we visited was Government Senior Secondary School in Khatnol. Here due to power issue during the class, we decided to play some games with the young children. They enjoyed the game and displayed strong team bonding. The teachers said that they too conduct such games and activities whenever there are electricity issues.

Our Regional Program Associate for Sunni Block, Sushma Shandil supported us during this visit.

This is Part 2 of our 2 part travelogue 

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Learning from the Hills - I

-Durgesh Tiwari 
(Durgesh works with the Central Team of the Learn, Out of the Box programme. He also manages the programme in Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh)

Schools in Shimla start their new session in mid-February, two months into the session and the warm sunny weather of April seemed like the perfect time to visit and see how the program is going. I was joined by the our new program manager, Lovnish.

Government Senior Secondary School, Ghanahatti was the first pit stop in our visit. Mr Krishan Thakur, the Science teacher in the school demonstrated a typical Learn, Out of the Box (LOTB) class during our visit. The students learned about the evolution of silk. They also got to know about the process of making silk. The children watched videos from the WebBox and were quiet observant during the course of interaction with LOTB team.

Learning by observation is key to knowledge retention and a perfect example of the same came up when the children were found to remember key facts on silk formation after viewing the video. 

I also told them a story behind the evolution of silk which is part of the digital content on the chapter  - Fibre to Fabric (Science, VII). Students remember facts when told as a story and this was amply demonstrated during the interactions we had with students and teachers.

We also met the school principal, Mr Sharma to understand his views on the project and to devise a way forward.

This is Part 1 of our 2 part travelogue 

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Celebrating the Spirit of Science: National Science Day in LOTB Schools in Himachal Pradesh

- Lovnish Thakur
(Lovnish is the newly assigned Regional Programme Manager for Himachal Pradesh, and oversees the 'Learn, Out of the Box' programme in the State.)

National Science Day was celebrated enthusiastically on 28th February, and the State of Himachal Pradesh was no exception to this. True to its spirit of focal theme for 2015 “Science for Nation Building”, the budding scientists of remote hilly schools of Himachal eagerly awaited the day.

Daulat Ram explaining the Raman
effect to students
A student sees how light travels

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

IDTMs in Rajasthan

Our field staff, or Regional Programme Associates (RPAs) as they are called, in Rajasthan have taken the initiative to put together a picture report of the various Interactive and Diverse Teaching Methods being used in schools across districts in Rajasthan.

While they all pitched in, the report was curated and edited by one of the RPAs in the team - Vimal Choubisa

The RPAs put this together to share IDTMs being used in the schools they work with, a central focus of our programme, with the rest of the team spread across the various States where we work. In turn, we wanted to take this opportunity to share their hard work with our blog readers as well. Do have a look at the report in the slideshow below.

Monday, 2 February 2015

TLM (Teaching Learning Materials) Preparation Workshop

The idea of activity-based learning is rooted in the common notion that children are active learners rather than passive recipients of information. If children are provided the opportunity to explore on their own, and provided an optimum learning environment, then the learning becomes joyful and long-lasting. In this context, there is a need to orient teachers and develop appropriate context-specific teaching-learning materials which can be used to enhance the quality of the teaching-learning process. Nowadays children have become more interested in smart class techniques rather than old forms of education, where teachers only do lessons and give notes. Children will grasp the topics fast when we conduct activities about the topics we are going to explain. For this to happen, teachers should show an interest in making the class more active. 

The need for this workshop grew out of our classroom observations in schools.  In many cases we noticed that there was hardly any active participation by children. Though there are activities suggested in the textbook as well as the WebBox in the “DO” section, invariably most teachers just show them as a slideshow just like they use the videos/slideshows in the “SEE” section. This defeats the purpose of the “DO” section. Few of the possible hurdles that teachers face in doing the activities are – lack of material, lack of confidence, fear of an experiment failing in front of students etc. To overcome these we thought of conducting this TLM workshop where we provide the material, and the space for experimentation and teamwork. . The teachers learn working in teams as well as benefit from the models prepared by other teachers. Another advantage is that whatever material is prepared can be taken back by teacher for use in her classroom.

TLMs prepared by Mathematics teachers
TLMs prepared by Science teachers