Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Visit of Learning Inq ??? - Updates after the visit

Hello All,

Visit to Semapuri Centre of LI (learning Inq) and the Discussion with Anupama.

As we all know the visit was intended towards gathering some new ideas, techniques or methods which we can employ in our Prayas cause. We were focused on mainly the academics part of it, as we all are looking towards achieving better performance on the study front.
We did gather some new ideas after looking at their functional setup very feasible and practical approach. Moreover it was truly a very  informative session in the sense that Anupama covered a broad spectrum of  how this idea of bringing change in a community setup like ours works in a real sense. Let me take you all to a ride now. 

The minutes of the visit in short:
1) Visit to the actual community.
2) How they began it, the door-to-door approach.
3) Visiting the classroom, the teaching centre.
4) A spellbound session with Anupama.
    - She told us about the challenges they face in beginning a setup of this sort, and tips on tackling a  

     situation, lets say handling the case of a dropout kid.
    - Their teaching model and classroom control methodology
    - Steps in building an interactive platform with the kid's family
    - Factors behind a child’s performance level or let’s say the kind of matters that influence the overall

      personality of the kid and  henceforth his/her level of excellence in studies (academic,

      Extracurricular) .
And a lot more, which will be revealed to you in the details below.

Introduction to the community:


This is a community of rag pickers, basically all Bengali immigrants, the area has around 600 or so kids between the age of (4-5 to 15-16 ) where these children are a source of income to the family. Hardly any kid is enrolled to a full time school.
Learning Inqs' trajectory so far at Semapuri:
 In a very crisp way, presently the setup has been full fledged since 6 months, whereas the actual initiative began an yr back Nov '08. Currently they have 130-140 children age group  as mentioned above. Classes run from mng 9 till 5 in the evening though they have plans to increase this time up to late evenings 9:30 or so, so as to cater to full time child workers. A total of 4 batches run in the day with a class strength of somewhere between 25-29. And 2 full time teachers are employed for running the setup. after every batch the teacher does a follow-up round in the community, calling the kids for the class. so their basic activity is teaching the kids + follow up. The current level of the kids is as obvious as that of beginners and hence we had most of the information on that level.
Maintaining database:

They follow the practice of recording the information of each kid. (personally i liked it a lot, because when i joined Prayas i wanted to have access to such child record data, which would have helped me to know a kid better in a shorter time).
The record system is quite exhaustive, we already have a sample form from them. <Gaurav has the sample of the form>
In addition to the information record in the form, they do record this additional thing:
like 1) Daily routine of the kid - working timing, in case of girls when they are free from house hold duties, so as to figure out his/her
          batch time.
      2) Financial status of the family - a record of what all the facilities the family has, like do they a TV, cots, gas stoves, so as to
          gauge the kind of financial investment the family can make towards their kid's study.
      3) Social status - like what kind of custom the family follows, do they even allow their adolescent girl to interact with a male, or
          lets say purdha system , such kind of observations are noted silently. this surely helps when we need to interact with the
          kid's family.
      4) Academics: assess the level of the kid, initially so as to know where to place him, more on this in the subsequent topics.
      5) Logistics: What can the family provide , at the minimum be it stationary, or a bag.
      6) Spritual: This pertains to mainly religion of the kid, which helps to understand his/her rituals better.
      7) Health: If the kid is immunized, or is sick of some disease, proper growth.

In addition to this they even maintain, a synopsis of the kid, when ever they visit the kid's family, they note down on the sheet whatever reason is given for the problem of irregularity, or special concern  for the kid, like the kid is very silent, this helps grasp the kid's nature and atleast a new person will have a better idea of the kid when he/she goes to teach, next is it even helps in maintaining the kid's progress report, and also in the long run can help to model the prayas journey, e.g acts as record for a survey .

Teaching methodology:
The basic concept they use is "concept level model", and  this is a self made term so i don't know what it might show u on googling it .

    OK so the point to make is that, along with what the syllabus is to be covered they use work sheets activity based learning.


How this works ?
The concept level model - It can be defined as the present level of the kid  decided after taking into consideration his existing academics, on the basis of which he/she is taught, once the kid learns that particular set of concepts, he/ she moves to the next level.
Practical implementation:
Step 1: Per subject levels are predefined :
      L0 : Recognizing numbers - single digit
      L1 : Introducing lets say addition to 2 single digit nos.
      L2: Subtraction of the same
      L3: Introducing double digits
For e.g English
      L0: Recognizing alphabets,
      L2: Introducing phonics
      L2: 2 to 3 letter words .
so on ....
Please note these are examples to understand the method .

Step2: Aids used to teach the above , here comes the role of worksheet.
When we say the kid is at Lx : we have a set of sheets for him/her to learn that concept, they have per subject a full bundle of such sheets, simple teacher made printed paper, lets say pictures of simple objects which a child can draw and learn to count, apples in a row. so they draw a pen in their notebook and write beneath its a "pen".
we can make these worksheet after identifying the syllabus of the student - 1 st thing, we can take their school books as the base, and filtering that into levels and presenting to the kid.
Other Aids like phonic related videos for children, we can explore the net for it.
Also many Sci , discovery videos are there as well , Anupama told us that. so this can be used as a Aid too
Next fun and play , use games, lets say number blocks, he/she identifies them , arranges them , sorts them ..
We can come up with a hell of such practical feasible ideas, once we storm our brains.

Step3: Segregate the class.
Our of our challenges is answered here, the level of the each kid in our class is not the same right, same method doesn't work with all, agreed , what do i do than . what they do is: let me take the example of eureka batch : students from nursery to 1 , segregate them first on the basis of the level, form group, what they have done they have 25 kids with 4 different levels in a batch, they cluster them into  levels, than they have four different colored mats dedicated to each cluster, so every kid knows where he has to sit, secondly he/she knows where to aim next(this point we will explore in the coming paragraphs, just wait).
than use an aid on the basis of how those kids understand a particular topic.
Like different level will have different worksheets to do, its not that 1 level is watching a comp video to learn and the next is asked to work on a paper, so people plz derive your inferences based on a common but not same approach. I hope i m able to explain my point.

Step4: classroom ambiance
This can be taken also as an addition to the Step2, lets say we want to teach the kid the concept of shapes, a little colored glace paper stuff, where they can cut out shapes and arrange them in pattern and paste them on there class room walls, i was like wow !! when u look at their class room u will feel they have used every niche of those four walls to the best of use.
Here we will see the concept of making the kid feel that he belongs here (a point that AnupaMA emphasized, ki bacha ko ye lagna bhaut zaroori hai , ki ye jagah uski hai, na ki hamari means we the ones teaching them ).
so they have attendance sheets big chart paper  u can see the pics<Gaurav has the snaps>, the kids mark it, they come to the class , slowly they learn where there name is, first by making a memory picture of the chart, lets say no 4 is mine, or below this fella is my name, or identify the first letter, in some or the other way, they will mark a green fill for presence, and a red one for absence (spare me of the joke here, how to mark a absence). The kid sees it , his own regularity and slowly change happens, the point to note is this gives him/her a sense to judge oneself by oneself (very imp she says, let them decide, let them be the decision makers, let them have their say).
Next chart concept is, per subject chart with levels, once a kid crosses a level, he fills his box, than next than next and so on.
Have a look at the chart u will get the idea<Gaurav has the snaps>. (this again helps him/her to evaluate himself with himself, gives him/her confidence "yes i crossed this , which means something i have achieved" , explain them what it means to cross a level, compliment them and at the same time inspire them for the next challenge, very imp to keep them level headed).

Note here:
they have a monthly set of objectives that they have to cover using all the above setup,
This was something that's sort of proprietary stuff, we just had a look and a little explanation,  like for the month of October they target let the child learn to recognize the subject first, than let him/her try to say something, a topic like , meri behan ki kahani, anything they want (as she says give them liberty, give them inputs, assistance, but let them choose), than next month target that they can  make simple words like 2 word sentences, than at the end of lets say 4 months they can write things, something like this.

About reading habit, she suggested to use Bilingual books, hindi-eng , or their mother tongue-eng books , it helps better.
For 0-6 age group there are "mobile creche " books, kits , study tools , which can be explored
NBT - national book trust is also a good source she said

apart from this she informed about workshops that they conduct ,invitations are send 1 month prior to the date of the workshop, first one is on 9th nov - teaching english is the theme, next on 14th dec - for teaching beginners.
Also she gave us the idea that if we want lets say a group of 10 volunteers , they can conduct a workshop catering to our requirement of the topic.
she can come on 6th dec, till than she's packed. Lets see we can discuss and sketch a plan.
apart from this she suggested to appoint a teacher who has an NGO based teaching experience, in case we consider to have a permanent tutor for our kids.

The next set of point is towards the underlying psychology of the kid.
I will only cover the basic points, else its perfect essay material if i sit to elaborate

1) The basic of bringing a child to a class is :
     - they and their family needs to feel their kid is safe, the most imp point, this is nt just about physical safety, a real broad view of it, this gives them a sense of being able to confine their problems to their teachers. and a lot more.
     - next is relationship building, with the kid, and the family.
2) make the kid feel pride in himself for wat he does, his dad does, his mother etc. he/she picks rags, don't make the mistake to judging wrongs/rights , good/bad's , first tell him "arrey teri wajah se aaj dilli itna bhi saaf hai". first give him pride. this will build his confidence, than next let his interest develop and he moves out of the bracket of his job.
3) sense to belong, i talked abt it. the kids wear an ID card, which they have made it with their teacher's help, that again gives them the feeling of i possess something or lets say "This is mine".
4) Theory of association : Use of "danda" so called class control tool is strictly prohibited, the theory says : This kid comes here from an environment where he is either a victim of abuse or a witness of abuse, a "danda" relates to his mind as a tool of torture, and it effects if not consciously than sub consciously.
5)Theory of authority distribution: The child does not come to the teacher, the teacher goes to the child. This place is not the teachers paradise its his/hers. They do not propagate the concept of whiteboard stand alone teaching because it exhibits the reverse, wherein the teacher is the authority and not the child.
These points do matter, because with such and lot lot more we will call them bookish concepts, but they work when implemented with patience and a lot lot perseverance, we see in those kids they are self disciplined that too in just 6 months, too good - no words.

Some points to ponder:
They(kids and their family) see us as already very different, so take care to actually bridge that.
as she says, we strictly follow simple ordinary clothing on visiting the community, because we have the intent which is good, but we need to connect with them, they need to feel we understand them, these little things play a big role as well. like a family had purdha system, a lady going there with a duppatta wrapped in a Muslim style will have a different effect on the mother of the kid than a western dressed girl .
So little points that do matter she says.


Class control
A remarkable feature of their classroom is the kids are so quite and relaxed and engrossed in their work, and their teachers don't have to raise their voice even once, we saw it in front of us it was truly amazing, we lack this feature so much, and this a result of their strategies they use and the relationship building.



Its a hell lot of stuff, which cannot be easily covered in written here, but i almost and nearly covered the main ideas in as much detail as possible and an overview of the secondary ones.
All in all this seems to be very elaborate, spare me of  making you to read it all, but just wanted to share what all we learned today.
And its now etched in our memory this and a lot lot more.
A visit worth the time, travel, day , energy !!

Thanks to all!!!


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