Future of education : Schools of tomorrow- What could they be?

Long long back, schools were a way to define what kids could study, so, teachers gave points or marks on their performance, which were treated as the goal . The best of kids became lawyers and doctors, the weak ones had to study a craft. Still we give points,still we treat test scores or grades as judgement of a child’s gaining of knowledge. All  because teachers are used to it and they don’t like giving up what they know best. These points however, only evaluate knowledge .This, is just a conclusion of what you know and not what you have learnt.

Most schools other than some in the metros are mostly set in the above ways with teachers, students and parents- all reluctant to move out of their comfort zones as they see no reason to do so. Parents have no complaints because they know no other kind of education and teachers themselves have never ventured out of their routines.

After observing for almost a year the goings on in the Primary school I joined a few years back, I reached a conclusion that we have to do something to move out of the rut of rote learning classrooms right from nursery grade to grade V. I had visions of students actively engaged, finding things, excited about learning possibilities, teachers teaming with ideas interacting among themselves and with students .Visions of a variety of technologies to ignite passion,, dialogue, exploration, creativity and action.

This was around 8 years back. My vision of what a school could be (which had  an excellent opportunity of being realized to a certain extent due to a very cooperative management) was a bit ahead of its times for the location I was in, has since grown and taken leaps towards what a school can be in the ‘tomorrow’ of a hundred times faster changing world.

However what has remained unchanged over the years and which will remain a constant forever is the importance of ‘A Powerful Learning Environment and What Makes It’.

The thought after much pondering over from me was seen in a nut shell, after a small everyday encounter I had with a baby, all of six months old. The elder sibling of the baby started dribbling a small soft ball .The baby, quite dull before that was suddenly uncontrollable in her laughter and eagerness to follow and copy the action. Even a baby wants to learn when her attention is caught.

So any  School of the future  still, HAS to have A Powerful Learning Environment central to its conception.

As years have gone by, my purposeful  interaction with school going children -all ages, right from toddlers to the senior secondary all knowledgeable ones and Teachers –again all ages along with my experience as a teacher and a parent has made me put the following three elements at the head of a Powerful Learning Environment:

  • Student engagement-My interaction with various students has given me ample reason to believe that environments where students were themselves involved in doing things or were actively discussing their learning with teachers or where teachers actively used aids/marvels of technology were the most engaging ones.
  • Teacher’s interest and enthusiasm-Teacher in all roles ,be it a facilitator to acquiring knowledge(as is fast becoming THE role for a teacher to don) or a deliverer of facts is THE MOST important game changer in the cycle of acquiring ,applying and constructing knowledge. The learning process will be as powerful as the teacher (in addition to subject expertise) is enthusiastic towards the process.

In fact Student Engagement is not possible without Teacher Engagement
ie Students are as interested in their class and learning as the teacher is excited and interested about the content being taught.

My brush with Student Engagement started when during teacher training we were required to make our lessons interesting, only to realize later to my great disillusionment that the teaching world is split into two parts-one is, things meant for inspections, workshops and the other, the talk-chalk-talk world of the real classroom.

However, when I look back on my experiences and satisfaction I have had from my teaching -learning experiences it is clear that the instances of student engagement which I have experienced were all such instances when I as a teacher was literally wonder stuck with the content I was to get my students to cope with perfectly and there was a large part of the learning outcome which each time was a surprise to me too.
I take as an example, my latest brush with the same when in fact I became the student and then the teacher. It was just a few days back , when I came formally in contact with Augmented –Reality(AR) learning apps . The newness and the sheer extent of unexplored possibilities by me, its usage for teaching had me engaged for hours. This minuscule instance has reiterated my belief. Definitely, student engagement is a critical part of the teaching-learning process.

Hence, any School Of  The Future must have Engagement of – Students and Teachers -central to its vision.

The current education scenario stands firm with its foundation strongly and gradually entrenching deep in its dependence on technology .So at least Student Engagement is definitely not going to be possible without technology. In the light of the above (Student Engagement is not possible without Teacher Engagement) the classroom of the Schools of the Future cannot remain same.

The changing Classroom dynamics brings visions of highly interactive technology aided teacher-student sessions with plausible Knowledge Creation rather than only Knowledge Gathering taking place.

Technolgy :The story so far…There was a time (and in some places it still is)  when technology in the classroom of a school meant either having a room equipped with audio visual devices, usually a tape recorder and a VCR or advertising your school as a smart class equipped school with some classrooms fitted with projectors connected to a new generation writing board called the smart board. It all started with using these facilities in regular periodic classes showing children educational content.

Those  were the days when teachers were to be coaxed and sometimes forced to make use of the topic wise available electronic academic content at least for a fixed mandatory  number of hours .The content sometimes not up to mark but not easily recognizably so, did serve the purpose of a break from monotonous class schedules for both students and teachers. Teachers mostly stuck with the idea of anything to do with the computers being an automatic referral to the computer teacher! Real beneficiaries of the set up being the top level students with the gap between there content clarity and mastery of a topic being bridged.

A good start no doubt ! What now ?

Today  the ability to use technology is not under a scanner at all!  Use of smart phones, social media and fondness for making home videos and picture collages  have very easily taken care of that hurdle! Most good schools today are in a position to use technology as an instructional tool rather than just a subject of instruction. However, complete seamless integration is still a far cry generally.

Need of the Future Schools therefore, is for teachers  to introduce technology seamlessly into the school lessons and  school work, for both themselves and students. Teachers must comfortably be able to shift from digital to traditional and vice versa as and when required .Students must employ technology daily in the classroom using a variety of tools to complete assignments and create projects that show a deep understanding of content.

Some of the ways of Technology Integration in a School Classroom-Some already in use in top schools and some on the verge of entering the classroom

  • Teacher specific tools
  • Online learning and blended classrooms
  • Project-based activities
  • Game-based learning
  • Learning with mobile devices
  • Instructional tools like interactive whiteboards and student response systems
  • Web-based projects, explorations, and research
  • Student-created media
  • Collaborative online tools like wikis or google docs
  • Using social media to engage students
  • Flipped classrooms
  • AR and VR

Technology, is here to stay and students today are coming to class with more and more technical know-how, whether a teacher likes it or not. There are still many educators, less familiar and less comfortable with technology than their students, struggling to seamlessly integrate a growing list of technology tools into their regular curriculum. So it’s high time educators came out of their comfortable stupor, stemming out of a superiority claimed due to experience.

  • Last but not the least we have another very important element instrumental towards the Creation of a Powerful Learning Environment and hence A School Of The Future –The presence of a Head with a vision of taking his/her institution towards achieving established learning goals keeping alive the joy, spirit and attitude of learning.

The Schools Of The Future have the ability to connect students with teachers and teachers with teachers all over the world with Technology. The filter has been lifted, so if you are not enthusiastic about a topic find someone who does. Skype them into your learning space and let them help you fill the space with enthusiasm. However remember Techno is Savvy but is not able to give or inculcate EQ aided IQ, so educators you still have to be the most brightly shining stars.


 


Advertisements

Have a Successful ‘School Parent Teacher Meet’ – Smart ways for smart Parents

Parents whatever you are  by  Profession , YOU  are also  Smart Parents of today. Today’s smart Parents are tech-savvy and very conscientious about handling each aspect of their lives and are goal oriented. So Parents, why should a meet which is about the most important part of your life –your children, be taken casually. It sure has to be handled the smart way. Prepare for it, as you must for any other meet which is expected to yield results.

An open day or a parent teacher meet (we concentrate here on only one to one meets) should actually carry a big ‘Handle with Care’ slip tagged to it. An unprepared attendance or a few unsolicited casual words by you at the PTM can result in wasted time, both- yours and the teacher’s.  It would also not yield the desired outcome-the best possible for your child!

On being asked what a PTM is, the most common answer received is: We ask the teachers how our child is performing in class and school or the teachers tell us if our child is under performing/ misbehaving. Well, it entails much more!

What is a PTM?

It is a meeting between the parents and teachers of students to discuss a child’s (student’s) learning and progress and find solutions to academic or behavioural problems.

 The highlighted words in the above sentence are the crux. They form the core of a successful parent teacher meet.

 Remember-a PTM entails:

  • A two way exchange of meaningful information between the parents and the teachers to find child friendly solutions for your child’s apparent/non apparent difficulties.
  • Realizing that Teachers and Parents have a common goal- that of working towards the betterment of your child.
  • Remembering that: Performance, learning and progress are all different words with specific meanings attached to them .Performance will automatically be good if the learning and progress are taking place as they should. So a Focus shift from performance or result is required.

Having been on both sides of the fence for many long years ( been a teacher and a mother) has made me approach PTMs very carefully and believe me, it is no bed of roses for either-the teachers or the parents! Here below, I have some of my ideas put into words for you all – Parents of course, teachers can wait to read them in another forum.

Before the PTM

Talk to your child :

  • Ask what are the child’s weakest (even though you already know) and strongest subjects.
  • Also inquire if the child wants you to talk about something to his teacher(s).
  • Make sure that your child understands the purpose of your going to the PTM-that is to help the child and not to make or listen to complaints about him.

Prepare a list of NOTES :

Teachers have a whole list of tasks to be accomplished too, and in most schools have to meet a certain number of parents(which is altogether quite a lot) as per allotted time schedule. So keeping in mind the following, strikes just the right note and helps in the interaction progressing smoothly and meaningfully.

  • Make a list of things to be inquired and discussed. It will help you be specific during the meet.
  • Ask other care takers of the child for things to be discussed
  • Prepare a prioritized list of queries/questions .For example :

What is my child expected to learn this year/this quarter etc?

Does my child submit home assignments on time?

How are my child’s test taking skills?

Does my child participate in the goings on in the classroom?

How are his social skills?

Does he seem happy in school?

Have you noticed any unusual behavior?

Has my child missed any classes other than the excused ones?

Is my child reaching his potential?

What can we parents do at home to contribute to his success story? (Remember, any  positive improvement is a success. Success has to have a different meaning for each                child as per the child’s potential.)

Does my child require any special educator services-maybe a programme for the gifted / a programme for learning disabilities/ extra remedial coaching?

During the PTM

  • Be on time.
  • Dress up formally but, be yourself. It surely is neither a casual gathering nor a party, so over dressing is totally out.
  • Wait for your turn. Don’t hover impatiently.
  • Stay calm and well mannered .Communicate positively and respectfully without anger.
  • Listen carefully and ask for clarification if not clear.
  • Ask the most important questions early on, else time might not permit. If necessary request for another appointment.
  • Discuss differences of opinion firmly but respectfully with an open mind.

After the PTM

  •  Talk to your child about the PTM. Emphasize the positives and be direct about problems if any discussed. If an action plan has been formed or discussed, explain the part which the child should know. Let him understand it is for his betterment.
  • Start working on the action plan.
  • Keep in touch with the teacher. This way child also realizes his education is a priority, at school and at home.

The Don’ts

  • Never use the threat ‘We will tell your teacher/principal’ to check indiscipline or insufficient study time. It undermines your authority and makes your child see teachers and school as unpleasant symbols of authority with just the role of policemen!
  • Don’t let the meeting become ‘About the Teacher’. Many a time a teacher will want to make sure you understand the dynamics of the classroom from a teacher’s point of view. For example you can only know how your child describes an out of control classroom to you. Actually it might not be the case at all. The classroom might be witnessing some highly interactive activities. So listen to the teacher before reacting.

 The Dos

  • Go with an open mind. Neither pick up negative thoughts about a particular teacher from your child’s mind nor come back and fill similar negative thoughts in your child’s mind. Children might not lie but they see things from their limited, gainful to them perspectives, so your honest knowledge about your child and direct talk in school might present a different picture altogether.

Also, your negative talk about a teacher even if sometimes justified will make your child to never respect the teacher, leave alone learn from him.

View PTMs as added and very important opportunities to contribute to your child’s success. This combination of you who knows your child inside out and the teacher who is trained and has experience in addition to being your child’s observer at school, can work wonders if the partnership is of mutual trust.

So work on it and give your child the successful PTM advantage.

Presentation2

 

Just a THOUGHT! Student Engagement is not possible without Teacher Engagement

Student Engagement is not possible without Teacher Engagement
ie Students are as interested in their class and learning as the teacher is excited and interested about the content being taught.

 

download200

Although using the word engagement with the noun -‘student’ conjures up images of a joke being narrated,I am not about to share a joke!

 

images 400)

My brush with Student Engagement started when during teacher training we were required to make our lessons interesting, only to realize later to my great disillusionment that the teaching world is split into two parts-one is, things meant for inspections, workshops and the other, the talk-chalk-talk world of the real classroom.

images (51234)

However, when I look back on my experiences and satisfaction I have had from my teaching -learning experiences it is clear that the instances of student engagement which I have experienced were all such instances when I as a teacher was literally wonder stuck with the content I was to get my students to cope with perfectly and there was a large part of the learning outcome which each time was a surprise to me too.
I take as an example, my latest brush with the same when in fact I became the student and then the teacher. It was just a few days back , when I came formally in contact with Augmented -Reality learning apps . The newness and the sheer extent of unexplored possibilities by me, its usage for teaching had me engaged for hours.This minuscule instance has reiterated my belief. Definitely, student engagement is a critical part of the teaching-learning process.

images

The important dozen- Why routines are important for children

18th June 2017

Whether you are a parent to a baby /a toddler or a kid any other age,the most generously given advise to you has to be – “You know ,you must get the kids on to a routine if you don’t want trouble later on ”

Setting children into routines? Easier said than done! The daily rigmarole, your work pressure, health issues, family ideas, beliefs and pressures are all as if conniving together to give you excuses to give up. They all seem to be bent upon making you loosen up your disciplined ,schooled self.While I completely empathise and sympathise with you -having gone through the entire  work vs house duties vs child duties and affection vs tiredness vs relaxed discipline cycle myself- fact remains – ROUTINES are very important for children for their balanced growth into healthy, sound teenagers and later on adults.

The entire process of growing up right from the baby’s birth is marked with CHANGE in every aspect of his life.Physical, mental, social and emotional growth all have CHANGE associated with them on almost daily basis. From giving up bottles to their standing as babies of the house to new skills learnt to accepting new people in their lives -read friends, teachers – to coming to terms with their wide range of emotions,childhood is not easy for children.

Routines, while setting children onto the path of RIGHT growth also provide just the right amount of prompting to catch the RIGHT path to growth.

Why are Routines important for Children

  1. Children are scared of change. Routines make them aware of what to expect, thus making themcomfortable and secure in their worlds.
  2. When children know what is expected of them, they are able to live up to those expectations. So Routines work towards makingchildren self confident and foster independence.
  3. Routines help kids totake charge of their own activities, thus helping them develop self discipline. If followed regularly, kids learn to brush teeth, wash, get ready for bed, pack bags in whatever order you prefer without constant reminders. Kids love to be in-charge!

IMG_20170619_083253

4. Thus, Routines eliminate unnecessary nagging.You are not Ms No all the time. Activities like napping, TV watching, doing homework, playing go on as casually as possible. Parents stop being the BAD guys.

5.  Routines reduce stress and anxiety for everyone. Kids cooperate and all know what comes next. So no one feels pushed.

6.   Routines help Parents maintain consistency in their expectations.

7.  Success in performing small tasks in Routines strengthen children and lay the foundation for rising to bigger challenges when required .Tasks  like going to school alone etc  come in gradual progression.

8. Routines also help parents incorporate in them special connecting moments like-a hug on meeting for the first time in the morning or/and touching feet of elders or a naming body parts ritual as you dry them after bath(let’s dry your toes…) …

9.   Routines make kids learn the concept of looking forward to things they enjoy.

10.  Routines help your children and their body clocks settle. Ability to nap, eat healthy etc are all linked to routines.

11. Routines help children get onto a schedule – Note : schedules and routines are two different entities.

12.  Last but not the least Routines bond families together – Children build life long associations to routines like entire family having dinner together.
images (3)Picture1

Having listed and maybe imbibed the above,  it is also a must to realize that too much structure dulls our and children’s sense of spontaneity .So set in routines but with sensitivity, don’t be oppressive be flexible too. Enjoy the bumps and mishaps. Setting routines takes time, effort and consistency .Start now, even babies and toddlers can be set to routines.  Be patient, praise effort not result, focus on what is going well and thus see your children thrive on routines.

 

 

Cooking with your child-Word your way to cook

5 family activities/games to celebrate the festive season and improve your child’s vocabulary and communication skills! – The second chapter

Word your way to cook

The festivities have begun and festivals, anywhere in the world are incomplete without food -festive or other- and children (even toddlers!) are generally super excited about it. I am back with the next family activity which not only encourages creativity in all family members but also improves body parts coordination especially among toddlers and primary level children. Benefits of adding new vocabulary to your child’s word bank and of course super family time with a sense of achievement are a bonus.

I present here a super simple recipe which does not require cooking with fire at all ( Can be used for kids aged 5or 6years too! Although, not using fire is not to be taken as the rule when cooking with kids as shared cooking and lots of communication is the aim ) .

So having with us our Chefs of the day ready for their cooking adventure, let us begin with the fun!

Chocolate Peanut Butter balls

IMG_20160822_134710_HDR_1471853985130_1471854153570_1471854196547IMG_20160822_134751_HDR_1471854110082IMG_20160822_134812_HDR_1471854269600

BeFunky Collage

The recipe notes and the picture above are self explanatory as to what is to be done. However I do have here, some pointers towards creating a great learning and fun experience for your kids:

  • To give them a free hand and wide surface to work on, I covered the entire work table with butter paper. Thus, was able to give them free reign with the dough, without bothering about spills.
  • All children love it when they are made to feel important and act all grown up. You can begin by making them some simple chef caps either temporary ones with chart paper and a stapler or readymade ones which are easily available too these days. Simple kiddy aprons to accompany are an appropriate touch .

          Pretending to be chefs has all the advantages of pretend play added as a bonus too!

  • Avoid almost all DON’TS and concentrate on the DOs .
  • Do be very expressive –talk, talk and talk-deliberately use words which you want your child to pick up. Don’t translate words like stir, drip, rather use your actions along with the words. They are more effective and fun as learning tools.
  • You can go a step ahead by engaging the kids in a recipe recall game with the family joining in. This takes care of practicing logical thinking skills too!
  • For younger kids you can even use the ingredients or their pictures for recalling the steps of a recipe.

Some fun and learning moments I had with my Co–Chefs

Mrinal, Mihika and Myra

  • “What is this? Peanut Butter. What is Peanut? Pat jumped in Mihika with- Peanut is a nut. Never wanting to remain behind Mrinal jumped in, I know vegetable names Onion…” This Provided me the opportunity to talk about so many vegetable names and point out interesting facts about them.
  •  The problem of measuring out exactly 1 cup of milk powder brought in the use of Measuring Cups. While problem solving skills came into use when they could not fit the cup measure directly into the Milk Powder Jar. Mrinal had the quick solution of using a smaller spoon to fill the cup. What a fine start to lessons in measurement! Endless scope: How many spoons can fill one cup? Many and Much concepts too!
  •  Taking half a cup of peanut butter brought in the concept of half, the word divide and other fractions. Gradually I had them asking for half a glass of water and half a chocolate!
  • Kneading in the milk powder along with peanut butter first and later with condensed milk had them super excited! All kids sure love to knead when they see their mother do it for chapattis or other bakery products.
  • While rolling the balls their ideas took wings and we had some bricks and spoon shapes made too along with the balls!
  • Dunking the balls into the chocolate sauce one by one; letting them swim in it and then catching them with a pair of tongs involved much shared laughter and became a game .The entire process is a wonderful hand eye coordination exercise.
  • The word drip was loved, as they all wanted the chocolate sauce to drip from the tongs directly into their hands  so that they could lick it!

The biggest problem I encountered –Had to send the kids again and again for washing their hands as they could not resist licking their fingers while preparing the dish!

Well there’s lot more to come in the third chapter of –5 family activities/games to celebrate the festive season and improve your child’s vocabulary and communication skills!  So have fingerliscious da#teachersys till then with your kids!

5 family activities/games to celebrate the festive season and improve your child’s vocabulary and communication skills!

The rains have set in the fun mood and the ensuing festive season has ushered in a lot of cheer. Just the time for some great family fun.

Well, rains and the accompanying uplift in spirit brought back my playful spirit too and one fine day I posted the following picture (a casual early morning click when on my morning walk) with an accompanying note on my social media account.

IMG-20160724-WA0047

Camouflage at its best .Seems as if the lovely parrots are teasing us. Spot us if you can! Find at least three parrots in the picture.

I was astonished to see the number of people who joined in the spirit and set to work finding the parrots and exclaiming to my delight Yay found em!’, ‘found!’ …the list keeps on growing longer.

This set me thinking, ‘when people, right from those in their thirties to near sixties and maybe more can’t resist a challenge, how much more fun it must be for children!’

What better way would there be for children to add on new vocabulary and enhance their communication skills than fun family activities and games. So here we are with some of my prefferred ideas and games for the on-going monsoon and the ensuing festive seasons. My list of 5 such ideas includes:

  1. The Great Monsoon Trail
  2. Cook your words or Word your way to cook!
  3. The hunt for treasure –Treasure hunt while playing with language!
  4. The big shopping expedition!
  5.  Party Fun

In today’s blog I would like to talk about the first one :

The Great Monsoon Trail

The monsoon ushers in lot of greenery in some form or the other and there is a lot of colour to look at around you .So walks and following trails when the time and wheather permits is the thing to do. These days most parents are health conscious and regular walkers /gymers. .The problem is that, while doing so  we take our surroundings for granted and don’t involve children  in the activities or don’t think it is important to keep up the chatter. So talk away, keep introducing words/names for things on the go without stressing on the learning -so that you don’t lose the fun quotient!

Go out to your garden/balcony/parks as a family at least once a week (maybe mornings or whenever you have time). Have a blast clicking away with your kids. You will be surprised, how different some scenarios can look and how many more things you are able to observe when seen minutely in focus!

Some activities /games which can be carried out /played while on the  monsoon walk:

  • Fun picture puzzle: The picture shown above and the words used as a caption are example enough for the kind of talk and vocabulary you have to use while talking to children and the scope of things which can be taught while having fun  .The vocabulary to be used can be toned down or up according to your child’s age –ex words like camouflage, adaptation(Also words like camouflage can be used to play lots of interesting family games. Tell children to camouflage themselves from fictional enemies and play the game .Camouflage can also be definitely used to talk about things like why Indian army has the uniform it has ).
  • Here are a few more of my favourite pics :

IMG_20160615_191549020.jpgIMG_20160615_184442707.jpgIMG_20160617_063356559.jpg

Other than the obvious ones like roots, short, tall,colours …words like  a natural arch can be deliberately introduced in your conversation.

You can also ask -to find particular shaped/coloured leaves, look for chameleons /birds/flowers/other.

  • Tell children to take pictures too and make scrap books where each picture can have a question or a puzzle to unravel as shown in the pic above. Then all can sit together at a family sit together and have fun playing the game.
  • Collect unusual objects when following your trail (by the way trail is another word to be taught!) and design some artifact as a family .
  • Activities which involve lots of physical movement can also be an attraction and give a sense of achievement. Example-Following a pattern in a park, running around trees (not the bollywood kind!),trying to hang a bit from strong branches of a tree, trying to climb a tree if it is safe.

 

Will be back to share some great cooking fun with children in my next post .Till then, don’t wait for games like Pokemon Go in augmented reality to drag you and your child out of your home or be more active! The monsoon has brought precious natural treasures! So, move out have fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Technology in the classroom

images4The story so far…There was a time (and in some places it still is)  when technology in the classroom of a school meant either having a room equipped with audio visual devices, usually a tape recorder and a VCR or advertising your school as a smart class equipped school with some classrooms fitted with projectors connected to a new generation writing board called the smart board. It all started with using these facilities in regular periodic classes  showing children educational content.

Those  were the days when teachers were to be coaxed and sometimes forced to make use of the topic wise available electronic academic content at least for a fixed mandatory  number of hours .The content sometimes not up to mark but not easily recognizably so, did serve the purpose of a break from monotonous class schedules for both students and teachers. Teachers mostly stuck with the idea of anything to do with the computers being an automatic referral to the computer teacher! Real beneficiaries of the set up being the top level students with the gap between there content clarity and mastery of a topic being bridged.

A good start no doubt ! What now ?screen_shot_2015-09-29_at_11.00.04_am_137250

Today  the ability  to use technology is not under a scanner at all!  Use of smart phones, social media and fondness for making home videos and picture collages  have very easily taken care of that hurdle! Most good schools today are in a position to use technology as an instructional tool rather than just a subject of instruction. However, complete seamless integration is still a far cry generally.

Need of the hour therefore, is to introduce technology seamlessly into our school lessons and  school work by teachers for both themselves and students. Teachers must comfortably shift from digital to traditional and vice versa as and when required .Students must employ technology daily in the classroom using a variety of tools to complete assignments and create projects that show a deep understanding of content.

Some of the ways of Technology Integration in a School Classroom

  • Teacher specific tools
  • Online learning and blended classrooms
  • Project-based activities
  • Game-based learning
  • Learning with mobile devices
  • Instructional tools like interactive whiteboards and student response systems
  • Web-based projects, explorations, and research
  • Student-created media
  • Collaborative online tools like wikis or google docs
  • Using social media to engage students
  • Flipped classrooms

Some reasons for teacher resistance to the usage:

  • It is hard to affect change in the way one teaches, especially given that many educators work confidently with familiar and proven methods.
  • Already working hard, teachers may understandably be wary of anything with the potential of making  their job more complicated .
  • Using technology or to be more specific  even only electronic academic content  requires meticulous planning and time even if it is for lower classes. The added time might prove to be a deterrent for some.

What might help:

  • Including teachers in the decision making processes to evaluate the extent of use and what to use helps to a certain extent .
  • Though the planning and execution of how new technology will be integrated are important, at the end of the day, what matters most when selecting technology is its ease of use.
  • There can be no substitute for the time spent on planning .Planning HAS to be done with proper time spent on it. This, is where a Head who is himself /herself well planned can help. Regular integration of  time slots for academic content planning right down to the micro level within  the school time schedule itself  is a big help.

Technology, is here to stay  and students today  are coming to class with more and more technical know-how whether a teacher likes it or not. There are still many educators, less familiar and less comfortable with technology than their students, struggling  to seamlessly integrate a growing list of technology tools into their regular curriculum.

So it’s high time we educators came out of our comfortable stupor, stemming out of a superiority claimed due to experience .Let’s decide, we want to reach the top of the pyramid of technology integration or no!

 

 

for blog
Levels of technology integration

The ‘Building Language’ Blues :A hunt for the treasure, that is- language

Using the games Treasure Hunt and Scavenger Hunt for language development and for enhancing communication skills  

At the forerunner of my quest for ways of developing language skills in children is the use of the two games Treasure Hunt and Scavenger Hunt .The idea stemmed out of a personal need for making my children’s birthdays and gifts received- special and at the same time educative.

At this juncture I would like to re-produce here an extract of an article I wrote last year on the same issue(www.tutelageviewpoint.blogspot.com) for parents:

Ever since my children became aware of the world around them I wanted them to have birthdays which they would not ever forget ( I think all mothers secretly wish for their children to associate them with at least one particular cherished memory) .Well my wish kept on troubling me and the D-Day -the Birthday of my first born was fast approaching. I knew, rather than buying a single expensive gift I wanted to give him (my son) several small things of his liking .So here I was with my treasure of gifts ( a pom-pom, a funny faced teddy and so on) standing ,still wondering what to do ?…

Here is what I did.I made a treasure hunt of all the gifts I had(nine or ten) for my son .The questions in the treasure hunt served as brain teasers for him.They tested his previous knowledge and  linked it with things new, thus helping him augment  his rapidly growing knowledge bank .The joy of finding each treasure after a struggle added a new dimension to the learning process.The added advantages of the whole family being involved in a fun activity created unforgettable memories. The fun starts with the Birthday boy’s eyes being closed and his being taken to the first clue ,which of course is the easiest one and the first treasure almost always being a coveted eatable.

As I experimented with it year after year I found the list of things that could be taught to be endless. Be it vocabulary, language, comprehension and listening skills, critical and sequential thinking……the sky was and is the limit.

Gradually I have successfully included it in formal classroom settings as well as garden and home settings.A extract of the  games in progress can be viewed as the video Creating an effective learning environment -A milestone in an ongoing quest   at:

vlcsnap-2015-09-29-14h49m59s161

 

vlcsnap-2015-09-29-15h02m11s57vlcsnap-2015-09-29-14h54m35s94

The beauty of the games adapted (in this case) with an aim to familiarise children with idioms and making them adept with the usage of some known and some new vocabulary, lies in the fact, that although the teacher/parent is loosely able to channelise the flow of thoughts and the path taken, children’s unschooled responses and reactions can lead to entirely unplanned but wonderful learning outcomes too.

The examples shown, showcase how the games give ample opportunity to :

the teacher/parent  to –

  •  evaluate a child on a number of counts and re-think her/his teaching strategies.
  • have the immediate flexibility of molding her words according to learner responses.

the children to-

  • get an opportunity to communicate, think as a team and learn how to sequence their thoughts, think logically and critically .The kinesthetic and visual learners along with the musical ones have there share of learning too.

Thinking beyond the barriers and boundaries of subjects along-with the excitement of overcoming the challenge of solving a puzzle(s) is an added advantage and  motivates even the under achievers of the formal academic settings.

vlcsnap-2015-09-29-14h57m36s66 vlcsnap-2015-09-29-15h00m31s101

Note : The same strategy can be used for any language.

The ‘Building Language’ Blues

I have come across many a parent worried about the development of  language and communication skills in their kids.To my distress, kids and even toddlers in some cases can be seen rushing to language tuition classes -this, despite parents being able to  perfectly comprehend and speak the language (here basically I refer to English). Target being, scoring highest possible marks in the school language tests first and second, to begin  communicating in the language.

Is the goal achieved? -the first one, yes maybe to some extent, however, the second one rarely. Sadly even top scorers generally exhibit only limited text driven memorised vocabulary and expression.

Teaching any language at pre- primary and primary levels has one specific goal that of developing effective communication skills in that language-verbal  and written.If language teaching is seen like the teaching of any other subject limiting the child’s exposure to it , to bound texts or teacher dictated answers and learning the rules of its grammar we are depriving them of the power their own expression  can give them and making them dependent forever.

My experience of working on the mentioned issue says, lots of exposure to new reading content and opportunities of verbal and listening opportunities are a must. A  hundred percent effort  of both parents and teachers to not only provide the same but also carefully created seemingly unplanned conversation opportunities work miracles.

Conscious involvement of children in family talk and household chores by both parents while conversing in the language targeted is a must.You get quality family time  as a bonus!

I bring you some of my adventures on the language development route in a series which I will be covering gradually.In this series I would like to discuss some non conventional methods which can be used to great success by teachers in class room & school situations and  by parents with equal or even more success  at home to develop any language.My articles right now,deal specifically with English , although the same methods8999071_orig have successfully been used by me as multilingual or  specific language enhancers.

Good job! Is praising your child a good idea?- A revisit

A post I wrote last year.A reaffirmation of my belief that the use of a carrot stick dangling at the end of a learning goal does not always serve the purpose.Gradually the use of gifts/praise for motivation  if not used judiciously shifts the focus on the motivational tool rather than the learning task at hand.Use of praise as a motivation tool is to be taken with a pinch of salt.Too much of it and too easy availability can have the reverse effect of lack of drive and enthusiasm to do things.

Good job! Is praising your child a good idea?

Of course, it’s a good idea !  I can hear my detractors getting ready to slam the very thought of questioning the idea. However don’t you think the question should be, how to praise rather than should we praise?

We have all grown up on the Good Boys and Good Girls  of our parents and numerous Uncles and Aunts and Good Children of our teachers in school. I think, justifying the  mentioned titles bestowed on us, as well meant praise by our elders, is what gradually raised doubts regarding the very concept of praise as a means  of  raising self esteem.When showering praise, we elders need to answer a few questions to ourselves –

  • Are we using it to get children to comply with us, adult’s wishes? If yes, are we not taking advantage of their wish for and dependence on adult approval?
  • Are we  stopping them from being self reliant and  making their own judgments? They remain hungry for praise  and seek approval whole of their lives .
  • Are we teaching them to value only the end product rather than the process of a task? Are we not, taking away their delight in their efforts and accomplishments by providing judgmental praise like Good Job!
  • Are we not stopping the child from venturing into the untried or from taking risks due to the  fear of not getting positive feedback? So, the focus has shifted to motivation for getting more praise rather than to motivation for moving ahead, venturing into further realms.

Coming back to the good in praise, we come to the how of it ? Well, just like human behaviour and reactions cannot be generalized, we cannot lay down set rules as to what will work and what won’t push the child in the right direction in case of praise.However, from personal experience,I can, with all my heart say that what works best as always, is HONESTY and a little bit of TACT.

Some guidelines which can be kept in mind while praising children:

  • Give appropriate praise. Instead of simply saying, “You’re great,” try to be specific about what your child did to deserve the positive feedback. You might say, “Waiting until I was off the phone to ask for chocolates was difficult, and I really liked your patience.”
  • Process praise –  An example of process praise is “you tried really hard”     
  • Cheer the good stuff. When you notice your child doing something helpful or nice, let him know how you feel. It’s a great way to reinforce good behavior so he’s more likely to keep doing it.
  • Gossip about your kids. Make praise more effective by letting your child “catch” you whispering a compliment about him to Grandma or Dad.
  • Avoid praise for low-challenge activities or error-free success – as this tells a child that he is only praiseworthy when he completes tasks quickly, easily and perfectly, and does not help a child embrace challenge.
  • Be careful when praising after failure or mistakes – Praise such as “Well done. You did your best” can convey pity. Telling a child to “Try harder” does not give the child any information about how to improve his or her effort . It may be best to provide process praise and identify what the child did accomplish in this case. For example, “You missed the goal, but it was very, very close!”

All said and done we too, cannot be rote learners of the above .Just honest feedback to your child with some of the above in mind will sure work wonders.

So happy praising till the next post!