Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Class update

Sunday 13th November 2011
  1. Only two volunteers- Ruby and Shivam. Very difficult to make kids come as the famous Marathi reality show "Home Minister" had come to Patil Estate. Went to every home and tried to convince parents and kids to come to class. 10 from 3A, 6 from 3B and 8 from Batch2 came finally. 
  2. Escorting was made easy by not shouting at kids at all and by just telling them once to be careful while on the road. Batch2 kids- Naseer, Sufia, Khushboo, Ruksar- were requested to help in escorting both times.
  3. 6pm- class starts. All kids were asked to sit in one class. There was only one rule- there will be no rules. Teacher sat on the podium and asked kids to sit wherever they like (Discipline is a relative term. It is we who attach a meaning of sitting straight on a particular bench to it. If kids concentrate better sitting wherever they like, then let that be the discipline!). 
  4. Immediately everyone circled the teacher and all tried to fit on the podium. Few batch2 kids sat on the last row benches and studied Math and asked doubts in between. Remaining joined all the younger kids. 
  5. Teacher asked kids what they would like to do today. "Story!" Thus started the story of one Diidii and one Bhaiyyaa. What do they do? "They teach us!" But that's only on Saturdays and Sundays. What do they do on weekdays? Do you know the weekdays? Can you recite all weekdays? Everyone shouted out the days of the week in their respective mother tongues. Are you smart enough to recite the days of the week in all the three languages that we all collectively know here? Then we all learned weekdays in Urdu, Marathi and English. 
  6. OK, so the story must go on. So then kids answered whatever they imagined about these Diidii-Bhaiyyaa. "On weekdays, Diidii-Bhaiyyaa must be having lunch, washing clothes, going to college, working, ..." OK. So let's find out how much time Diidii-Bhaiyyaa spend in these activities. How many hours do you go to school? If you attend school between 11am to 5pm, how many hours are these? Thus we solved some clock examples. 
  7. Story must go on... So then these Diidii-Bhaiyyaa who are just as busy as the kids during the week, have holidays on weekends. So they get up little late, do some pending tasks of the week and come to COEP at 4pm. Then they go to Pataangan. Then they go to every home and ask the kids to come to Pataangan. Somehow kids come and then they take the kids to COEP with some difficulty. By the time they reach the classroom, they are exhausted! Then they shout a lot, run around the classroom, teach something and get even more exhausted... So that's the dard-bharii daastaan of these Diidii-Bhaiyyaa.
  8. Sorry to have told you a very boring story having a sad ending. Would you like this story to have a happy ending? Would you like to reduce the dard of these Diidii-Bhaiyyaa? "Yes!" Then do something about it! You will be given twenty minutes to think and design some action plan which can help these Diidii-Bhaiyya. You are free to punish these Diidii-Bhaiyyaa if you think they are going wrong somewhere. Make groups of 4-5 among yourselves quickly, sit anywhere you like, one bhaiyyaa/diidii from Batch2 will be your group leader and under his/her guidance, you've to write down your action plan. 
  9. 2 kids didn't join any group and worked independently (Remember, no rules!). After about 40 minutes, everyone was done and we all huddled back on the podium. All groups read their list of rules. 4-5 kids had also written down 7 weekdays in three columns, in three different languages, without anyone asking them to do so!! 
  10. As each group finished reading, teacher asked the group members to tell out their names loudly so that we could clap for them. Teacher noted down these names and thus marked attendance (no extra effort or time is required to note the attendance!). All of us together consolidated the list and then everyone wrote down the final common list. Thus 3A and 3B kids made rules for their class. 
  11. A competition was announced for the coming class- During the week, kids are supposed to make a nice chart of these rules- using whatever resources they have- and bring it to the class on coming Saturday. The best three will be given very precious gifts (Teacher didn't tell the kids what gift it would be. It would be- the top three get to become the caretakers of their class!)! Naseer, Sufia, Khushboo, Ruksar from Batch2 were the ones who helped the younger kids. Pooja, Priti, Mahesh, Tushar studied Math. Class ended at 8pm. Kids were dropped back home by 8:30pm.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

15th August 2011

An idea:

We can call kids for 2hrs, just like we do for weekend classes, maybe between 11am-1pm (their school flag hoisting gets over by 10am) or our usual time of 5pm-7pm and conduct this activity.

Advance work:
Prepare nice colourful friendly sheets which look like time-table in some sense. One sheet per child.

On the day:
1. Engage children in a discussion about what you do whole day. Share the things you do, responsibilities you take, etc with children. You'll have to make it easy to understand as well as interesting. This discussion is just to help them understand what exactly they need to fill in the sheet.
2. Distribute the sheets and ask kids to write about all the things/work they do whole day. Give them enough time for this.
3. Ask every student to read out what he/she has written. As the student reads it, ask others to conclude if that student is more dependent on others or more independent of others in his/her daily life. For example, a student who washes clothes and goes to school is more independent than some student who simply goes to school and does nothing else.
4. Thus, try to make two groups of students- more dependent and more independent. Lead the discussion in such a way that the dependent group concludes on its own that it needs to do something to become more independent. Ask them to write down this conclusion.
5. Ask each of the dependent group kids to specifically write about one particular responsibility that he/she would like to undertake, in order to be more independent. Ask them to take help of the independent group kids. Once they are done, collect the sheets.
6. Make everyone understand that it is not really a good idea to let someone else do your personal work. And those who do your personal work for you are actually "taking care of you".
7. Ask each of the dependent group kids to tie a raakhii to any of the independent group kids' hand, symbolising the actual meaning of "protecting / caring for". Even the young boys at Patil Estate think that girls are there to protect for. But this exercise can lead to- a boy tying raakhii to a girl. Make sure they understand that girls provide daily protection to boys.
8. Motivate dependent group kids to become independent and have a raakhii tied on their hands next time.
9. Thus celebrate "Independence Day"!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Fruity fractions!

My mom's way of teaching fractions made me think a little more and come up with this:

Make 3-4 groups of 4-5 kids each. Ask a question. Whichever group solves it first, gets an apple. Whichever group solves it second, gets a guava. Whichever group solves it third, gets a chickoo. And so on. Kids in one group have to share one fruit. Let them cut it and share it. Let them discover what happened when they cut one whole fruit into pieces.

In a group of four, 1 apple cut into 4 pieces would give every kid 1 piece out of those 4 pieces. That is, 1/4.

Let them rejoin the cut pieces and make the original fruit, until they understand that 1/4 + 1/4 + 1/4 + 1/4 = 1.

Finally, let them eat the fruit! Keep supplying fresh fruits until they learn well. No harm in eating lots of fruits.

Next level would be to have different number of kids in different groups, so that different fractions come up for each group. Kids will understand that more kids in one group => less fruit per head. Hence they will also learn inequalities like 1/4 > 1/5.

Next level would be to have the same fruit for every group. Let them cut and share it withing a group. Let them bring together all pieces. Let them count the pieces. Let them add the pieces and learn about fractions greater than 1!

In each level, one can teach subtraction whenever some kids eat some pieces.

The game can be easily extended further for explaining many more concepts having fractions. One may use chocolates which have markings for breaking into pieces. One may use paper cards, if eatables become too messy. But starting with shiny fresh fruits is always an attractive activity for most kids.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Batch-2: Project-1

My first mail on 17-06-2010:

Batch2 kids are busy with a project given to them. It is as follows:
They are told that they have to teach Batch3 kids for 2 full hours. They are supposed to make a minute-to-minute plan of the class to be conducted. Then they will have to give a demonstration for 2hrs to their teachers. If the teachers approve, they'll go ahead and actually teach in Batch3 class.

They have already made a lecture plan and presented it to their teachers last week. It is a very creative and intelligent lecture plan. Most importantly, it is their original work. No teacher has helped them in making it. Teachers have only motivated them to make it. They'll be giving a demonstration to their teachers this Saturday. They'll mostly be ready to teach in Batch3 class from Sunday onwards.

Batch3 volunteers, please let me know if you like this idea and what are the good dates to conduct this project in your class. It'll take up one entire class. I would also like all Batch3 volunteers to attend this class. Batch2 kids might need your help, in case things go wrong!

P.S.1: By the way, don't tell Batch2 and Batch3 kids that you all know about this project. So far, it is a secret mission for Batch2 kids and they want to be prepared fully and only then tell all the other Bhaiyyaa-Diidii and Batch3 kids about this project...

P.S.2: Actually it started thus- I went to the class and asked them "Hello! Do you guys love challenges?? Do you have the courage to take up tough projects positively and not get scared by them?!"A big "Yes!!" echoed. Then a discussion followed and finally a tough project of conducting classes for Batch3 was finalised!

Its nice idea Ruby... :) -Sachin

Mind-blowing idea! Speechless! -Sumeet

As usual great idea Ruby.... -Nivedita

The trailor

Batch-2 kids gave a 1hr trailor on 20-05-2010.

Here's how Rohit explains it:

It was Gr8 :) Mahesh was a very good speaker.
Mahesh, Shyam, Akshay and Tushar took the centre stage, Pooja, Priti and Reshma spread out in the class.
They had a well planned innovative activity for the class.
They started by laying out the chits they prepared on the the desk , they called out one kid from each row  asked the kids name and asked them to pick a chit and read the chit (or atleast spell the alphabets). Each chit had an english word , used in day to day life (like read,write etc.). They asked the kids if somebody knew the meaning of the word. If none knew it, they explained. The explaination was followed by enacting of the same by Akshay. They also made sure that the word is written on the board along with its meaning in hindi. They covered around 15 words in one hour and made sure everybody is involved in the class. They also revised the words after they were done.
Mahesh was a great orator, his tone and style in which he said boys and girls (in marathi) was awesome :)
I realise one thing in the class, how preparation and planning of the class makes a great difference :)
Hope this was a lesson for all the volunteers!

The movie

I thought someone will feel free to post the updates about Batch2 project. But I guess the-one-and-only Rohit is busy these days! :) So here's me, feeling absolutely free to share whatever happened that day... :')

26th of June 2010 was an exceptionally brilliant day in Pankhudi's life! Mahesh, Pooja, Sham, Priti, Akshay, Tushar, Irfan and Nasir just rocked the show! What skill! What ideas! What intelligence!! What execution! I'm falling short of hats to take off in their honour! What kids!!

Here's what exactly happened:

They all entered the class just before all the batch3 kids arrived. This was at 5pm. It was a housefull class. 40 kids from batch3! It started with "Kaun banegaa chocolate-patii". This game, invented by Mahesh-Pooja, had 4 teams of students, the teams were supposed to answer the Math questions being announced in fastest-fingers-first manner. Whoever did so fastest, got 2 points and the scores were recorded on the blackboard. Every question was solved and explained by Pooja so that those who couldn't answer in time would understand the Math. Every team was helped by one "young teacher" all this while. After 20 questions, all scores were summed up and converted into chocolates and the "chocolate-patii" team was announced!

Time for English! Akshay-Sham planned this activity. Mahesh asked all kids to explain how they felt when their friends tease them. "Express it on your face", he said! Then he sketched a face with that expression on the board. Asked all to draw it in their notebooks. He wrote the name of the expression in Marathi first. "Raag". Then told the English word for it- "Anger". He continues for 2-3 more expressions. Every notebook was filled with a sketch, with the Marathi word below it and the English word above it, as the other young teachers took round in the classroom to check the progress of the class.

Then it was time for Origami. Mahesh came forward, tore a paper from his notebook and the entire class followed him! He then started folding the paper step by step, clearly showing it to all, giving them time to do it, asking them to hold their papers high up so that he can check all at once. All this while, his other friends were helping each and every batch3 kid to make the exact paper fold. And finally!!! Guess what?! There happened to be a crow which could open its beak as it flipped its wings! Oh myyy!!! Amazing it was! Batch3 creative kids drew eyes on the paper-birdie!

Time for colours!! Mahesh had made a drawing of the famous cartoon character from Sakaal newspaper called "Chintu". Every batch3 kid was given a copy of the drawing and crayons (one pack every 3 kids). They coloured coloured and coloured! Even the bhaiyyaa-diidii were made to colour! Lot of prize money involved too! "1st prize: 10 chocolates, 2nd prize: 5 chocolates, 3rd prize: 3 chocolates", the black-board screamed! Finally, when everyone submitted their sheets, the young teachers judged them and announce in some time: "After seeing all these paintings, we think... ALL ARE WINNERS!!" Every child was called in front, his painting was held high and then given back to him along with2 chocolates! All clapped!

It was 7:45pm when the class ended!
"A completely professional performance", I'd say!!

Insider information!

Apart from the visible achievements of the project, here are some invisible ones:

1. Mahesh Bhalke, a total "Bhaaii" type of Patil Estate, completely arrogant, listens to no one, almost never studies, whose mother has declared him as a gone-case and is great at fighting. He was seen totally engrossed in Maths, English and drawing for 15 days flat! He studied a lot and worked hard. For the first time in the history of Patil Estate. This, once again proved that given the right kind of channel to drive their energy, even the 'so called worst' kids can do wonders.

2. All of batch2 became a little humble. They understood what it takes to control kids. All actually expressed their realisations and at least expressed a desire to not pain their teachers much henceforth.

3. Patil Estate lane no.1 families told me one day that- "Kids keep practising till 10:30pm just outside their houses. They actually plan for class, act that way, practise how to teach, and so on." Well!! One is so proud of the kids!

4. The two distinct religious groups of kids which do not interact with each other, came slightly closer to each other while working collectively for this project. This was one of the basic goals of this project, in fact.

5. Some of the families of these kids also realised that their kids, once motivated, can actually create something. They all knew that something was going on, though they may not have actually understood what it is.

6. Kids actually learnt how to think from someone else's perspective. All the Math questions (great, smart and intelligent questions, all of them) were carefully chosen by the kids, keeping in mind the level of understanding of batch3 kids.

7. Every piece of the entire show was done by the kids solely. No intervention by their teachers. Only guidance was made available whenever they needed it. They knew somewhere deep within than they were being fully trusted upon by their teachers and hence cannot break that trust!

8. All the kids worked hard for a common goal for as long as 15-20 days and now they know how lovely it feels to achieve something.

9. NONE of the batch3 kids ran out of the classroom for the whole of 2.75 hours! Simply because they found the things inside the classroom more interesting than the things outside! This is the biggest achievement of our 'young teachers'! Almost all of the batch3 kids studied religiously for the entire duration!

10. Before the final day, kids used to say, "If batch3 people don't listen to us, we'll tell them to get out, we'll scold them, we'll punish them,... Blah blah blah!" Most surprisingly, the same bunch of kids were found to be explaining everything with much care and love towards their students, not getting angry even once! After the class, they graciously admitted their realisation- There's no point in screaming at or hitting the kids! We should have patience! We should learn to love them first! If we explain everything with love, they'll understand it better!


Ruby, Who could best describe this class other than u...Seriously hats off to all kids of batch - 2... Even I wan to learn how to make tht paper bird from Mahesh... It was a good demonstration of being fully prepared for a class beforehand.. everything went as per their planning... we seriously need to learn this from these kids..
And hats off to Ruby for coming up with this project/challenge for batch 2 kids and giving them an opportunity to display their skills....
The only thing missing is photos and videos of tht class... Can someone share tht... :)
ultimate performance by batch 2..
plz share the videos of dat class.. I have really missed it :(
Great Achievement team :) 
"Realisation is the best way of learning and teaching"
Ruby it was a great expereince for us. The class was too creative and amazing. 
We will try do this activity on regular basis, we will discuss the same how we can go ahead with this superb idea .. :) 
Hats off to you and batch2 kids : )
All this sounds so very exciting.. Its is great to know that these kids are so creative..
wow.. i missed a lovely day at pankhudi.. :(

Excellent Exercise..!!!!
Apart from kids...there are many things for us, volunteers, to learn
from this whole exercise...:o)
Those who missed the moments, including me, can create and experience
them in their own classes every weekend...:o)
Keep doing the good work...( with better understanding, efforts,
improvement, team-work, passion and love ) 

The Achievement

And the most important achievement was when a few bunch of girls from Batch 3 came forward without any shyness and actually praised Mahesh. Even yesterday, they were expecting batch 2 kids to teach them. While going to class, they kept on asking us who is to teach them and then they came across Batch 2 and they asked them too. Mahesh modestly answered "we are not taking the class today"
This actually is the feedback given by the batch 3 kids. This, according to me is "The Acheivement" :)
Greatttt Ruby!!!!Great Kids !!!!

Thanks & Regards

Shrikanth Iyer

The Prize! And the birth of Talking Class!

So here's what happened on 27th June 2010, Sunday:

Batch3 was on holiday. Most of us were at Tikona. Me, Asim and Zarna went to BC to conduct classes. Asim and Zarna- Computer class, me- batch2. Since there were just 3 students in computer class, I asked Zarna and Asim to help me out. They both went to bring batch2 kids to BC and while I decorated COEP Civil Dept classroom no.7!

[Yes!! There was a LOT of prize-money involved in this project!!

Batch2 was almost homeless since the beginning of this year. The shady dark dinky little place inside Patil Estate was giving trouble to the increased number of students. So we were almost always studying open-air outside Maths Dept at BC. Batch2 kids knew that the other 2 batches are conducted in nice big lovely classrooms at COEP. They used protest daily about it! Even they wanted those nice big lovely classrooms!

Thus the classroom became the prize-money! They were told that if they do really really well in this project, their prize would be their dream come true! And they did it! They EARNED their gift!]

So there I was, sitting outside the classroom as if nothing has happened, as Zarna and Asim brought the kids. The kids rushed to open the doors of the room. And they screamed when they found a sparkling red ribbon blocking their way! A decorated pair of scissors soon followed and kids fought to grab it! They settled the fight as all of them directly or indirectly touched the scissors and those in front cut the ribbon! Rushed in, all of them! Happy as ever! It was their dream classroom finally!!

Since they have worked hard and EARNED the room, they knew the price of it! So it was easy to ask them to keep the room in proper state.

Thus the class started. Since they had just been 'young teachers', they were asked to write down the needs of a teacher. Then they were asked to write down their teaching experience. They wrote such wonderful things! I have all their writings with me. Interested people can contact me. Then they were told that their class was called as "batch2" in Pankhudi. They instantly said that it was a boring name and they wanted a new one! So their teacher asked them to come up with cool names for their class which would identify their common characteristics perfectly! Pooja instantly came up with- "Talking Class"!! Those who disagreed were told that within the next two months, if they show some other common characteristic, their class will be known by that name! Good luck!

Whatever the kids would write as 'needs of a teacher' was already anticipated and kept ready by their teacher. Thus a printed project completion certificated was filled in the name of "Talking Class", duly signed by their concerned teachers and then pasted on the cover of a big folder having lots of space for keeping different kinds of documents. This folder was kept in bag, along with the necessary stationary articles, lots of blank sheets, etc. On the bag, the name "Talking Class" was nicely written. The teacher asked the entire class, "Who do you all think has worked the hardest for this project??". To the teacher's surprise, all unanimously screamed out- "Mahesh!!". The bag, along with all its contents was handed over to Mahesh. Under his guidance, they are all supposed to keep all the records (right from attendance to syllabus to remarks about students) of their beloved "Talking Class" until someone else works the hardest for some other project coming soon!!

Thus, Batch2 a.k.a. Talking Class conquered their own Tikona! Dear trekkers, don't be jealous about what you missed!! :')

P.S.: Mahesh came to attend the parents meeting. Uninvited. Along with his "bag". He asked me if it would be good to keep a record of the names and signatures of the parents who attended the meeting. Well, of course, Mahesh! Thus, Mahesh asked every parent to write down their name and sign against it before leaving, made sure that they did so, kept the papers neatly in his folder and the folder in his bag, and left!