Thursday, January 23, 2020

Innovative Teaching Practices and Enhanced Learning

Albert Einstein once said- “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” Many of your life’s examples must have also made you reflect that creativity brings vibrancy, and we at i-Saksham are trying our best to be as creative as possible when it comes to teaching children. 
How did you learn as a child in your classroom? Would your teacher give a lecture on Mathematics or just bring out some concretes from outside and make you play with it? If there is a yes to the former, how learning through creativity and fun would have transformed you? What if your teachers would come to the classroom every day bringing in some or the other new activity to make learning fun for you?

We, at i-Saksham, have realized that innovative practices in teaching are the way to enhance the teaching performance and the learning experiences of the children. The more innovative a teacher becomes, the easier it is for children to understand the things taught.

Most of the teachers in rural India are appointed on an ad-hoc basis and due to lack of training and mentoring support, they generally lack the skills and support to teach multilevel classes. Due to the absence of other supplementary resources and parent’s illiteracy, this case becomes worst.
i-Saksham, through its fellowship program, is trying to bridge this gap in the rural context by training local youth on innovative pedagogies. Within the course of their 2 years of fellowship, these youths are trained on various pedagogical practices to improve the learning outcomes of children. Some of them are:

Activity-based learning
The more concepts become fun for children, the faster they learn. On each training day at the i-Saksham office, the edu-leaders learn about a number of activities that can make learning fun for children. These activities include rhymes for teaching ascending and descending order, jumping in and out of figures to understand shapes, playing speed games to learn action words, making word maps to enrich vocabulary, etc. 
Learning vocabulary by making
a map of words

Learning numbers by counting pebbles
  and placing them before the correct number

Teaching through Teaching and Learning Materials (TLMs)

Our edu-leaders are trained on using different teaching and learning materials like ganit mala, word cards, phonics sheets, fraction sets, UTH blocks, etc. Along with these TLMs that are provided to them by the organization, the routine of practicing classroom sessions with creativity leads them to make several other TLMs as well. These edu-leaders have created TLMs such as CVC word cards, the ladder of days in a week, number cards, model solar system, etc  

Edu-leaders learning how to
use a ‘ganitmaala’
Children learning through

Managing multi-grade and multi-level classroom

Due to either less number of classrooms against grades or less number of teachers present, students of various grades are, very often, accommodated together in one classroom. With teachers not trained in the art of multi-grade teaching, it hampers the grade-specific learning process. To bridge this gap, i-Saksham trains edu-leaders on multi-grade and multi-level classroom teaching practices so that no child is left unattended and each child can show a positive shift in his/her learning levels. They are being trained on assigning level-appropriate tasks to each group of children from a single topic. The edu-leaders replicate the same practices in their classrooms for effective learning to take place.

A multi-level classroom set up where edu-leader is
 assigning tasks to every group from a single topic

Use of technology

With the advancement in technology and our country moving towards digitalization, it is very important to prepare the up-coming generation for it. Unfortunately, due to poverty and poor access to technology in government schools in the areas we are working with; it becomes almost impossible for children to avail technological resources. i-Saksham provides each of its edu-leaders a smart-phone with appropriate learning content. Along with using the phones for their own learning, these edu-leaders make Mathematics, English and Hindi learning fun for children letting them leverage the benefits of tech. Children use apps like Math Duel to do simple addition and subtraction, Bolo to improve their reading skills, Story Weavers for listening stories etc.

Edu-leaders getting trained on using apps

Children doing addition and subtraction using Math Dual app.

Use of worksheets

With regular practice and iteration, children learn to avoid mistakes. Also in a class of about 30 children, it becomes difficult for the teacher to assign tasks, especially when the class is a multi-level one. That is where the worksheets come into play. i-Saksham uses various laminated worksheets for children to practice what they learn in the classroom and hence improve their learning outcomes. These sheets can be easily rubbed with a wet cloth and can be used multiple times. 

Learning to write alphabets

Children making words from alphabet grids


At one end, where these innovative practices in teaching are making learning fun and interesting for children; it is also bridging the gap of quality trained teachers in the under-served areas. These innovations in teaching are significantly enhancing the learning outcomes of the children and are increasing their attendance as well as participation in the classroom. Avoiding the rote learning methods are giving children the opportunity to learn as they want and express themselves better through various activities. With the continuous implementation of such practices, we are seeing an increased motivation among children and our edu-leaders as well. When parents are being told about these practices during Parents Teacher’s meetings (PTMs), they are able to relate them with their children’s growth and confidence and understand the importance of innovative pedagogy.

We hope to see a day when these practices will be implemented at a larger reach and no child will be left from getting a quality education. We hope for a day when people in the extremism affected regions can dream of better life prospects by virtue of education and our vision of them being educated, skilled and self-reliant would be true.

TLM*: Teaching and learning materials that are used in classrooms for better understanding of concepts.
UTH Blocks*: Unit, tens and hundreds blocks to make an understanding of place values.
Ganit Maala*: A teaching and learning material made of beads that is used to teach the concepts of counting, addition, subtraction, and multiplications.

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