Friday, 11 March 2016

Teaching Innovations from Uttar Pradesh

Shubhendu Chakravorty
(Shubhendu works in the Central Team of Learn, Out of the Box programme)

As in daily life, a creative response to a peculiar problem is generally termed Innovation. While this terminology may be foreign to teachers in low income private schools, its execution in classroom is not. In fact, lack of resources and eager minds often become breeding grounds for such innovations.

This piece documents such innovative teaching practices from two such schools in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.

A teacher conducting the Oral period
[Sunrise Career Convent School, Lucknow]

The Principal of Sunrise Career Convent School had been concerned about the low learning levels of the School, especially since many students could not even memorize alphabets or recognize numbers. The learning levels remained very low in spite of adequate classroom focus.

The School has a two gate system in the School, i.e. apart from the main gate of the school building a second gate actually blocks the access to the students’ area. As per the Principal, this had been done to clearly demarcate the student and administrative area.

The Initiator-Mrs. Snehlata Shukla
The School has used the rear end of the second gate opening to the School courtyard as permanent display for Number Counting, Alphabets, Parts of Human Body etc. and introduced an ‘Oral Period’ which made knowing Alphabets and Numbers fun and that too outside of Classroom!

i.e. - Innovation Explained

• Grouped as per Learning Levels
The Oral Period is attended not by one Class in particular but a mix of students depending on their learning levels. The photograph displays a group of children from different classes attending the period.

• Visual Recall
Apart from the period the Gate helps in visual recall of the numbers etc. and children also use it for games in the recess breaks.

• Teacher Connect
As per the Principal, any new teacher joining conducts the Oral Period as it gives her a chance to connect with children across classes.

Posing with the Principal
The Oral Period has significantly improved the learning levels of students. Interesting activities are conducted with younger kids for making them learn numbers & alphabets. Learning becoming more activity oriented and this being outside the classroom has been the key!

Sunrise Career Convent School was awarded third prize in the ‘LOTB Teaching Innovation Contest’ organized during the current academic year.

[Oxford Academy, Lucknow]

WebBox content used for blackboard explanation

The School is 25kms. from city in rural Lucknow. Most guardians are farms owners and laborers. The attendance of students is extremely erratic especially during farm seasons. The learning levels and basic conceptual clarity has been very low in the school.

WebBox used as visual display and reference tool
One of the best performing Schools in the state, in terms of participation-the Teacher and the Principal have been enthusiastically using the WebBox for Math, Science and even other subjects. However, it was observed by the Teacher that students are not able to cope with the WebBox content and may be find it uncomfortable or even intimidating.

The Teacher decided to change the approach and instead of using the WebBox actively in the Classroom, he started preparing for his classes extensively from the concepts, activities and examples of WebBox and delivered it using blackboard while using the WebBox also, to explain the diagrams etc.

i.e. - Innovation Explained

‘See’ is the most preferred section primarily since the video content can effectively replace long explanations of the Teacher and serve as a useful introduction to the topic. However, the uniformity in approach of the content may at times hinder understanding especially of the slow learners or irregular students. In this case, the Teacher customized the use of the WebBox and instead of using it as a primary teaching element in the classroom, it was used to pick up concepts, activities and examples which were used in the class through chalk & talk method while the WebBox was used as a secondary tool. This has also enabled the teacher to weave in a lot more local examples especially related to agriculture-the primary preoccupation of the students when not playing!
Happy kids pose during recess!

Both the Teacher and the Principal have found this approach working as students understand concepts much better. Though aspects like group discussions still don’t form part of the class but there surely is progress in the overall classroom environment.