Over the years, Door Step School has been interacting with the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) schools for various programs. All the 6+ year old children (from various construction sites, slums and other areas) are enrolled in the PMC schools throughout the year and a follow-up is done for all of them.
ASER reports tell us that overall reading skills of primary school students are very poor. Our experience shows that less than 10% students can read from their text-book when promoted from Std.1 to Std.2. This weak foundation compounds the problem in subsequent years. To contain this problem at its root, Door Step School’s field staff conducts a specially designed intervention program called ‘First Steps Forward’ for Std.1 students. Play-way methods and activities are used effectively in school with an eye on required outcomes. In the current academic year, this program is being conducted in 212 municipal schools, covering 17,452 students with a field staff of 300. Just 45 minutes a day, five days a week has shown remarkable results. In 2012-13, 53% and in 2013-14, 62% students could read all the letters, ‘matras’, and ‘jodakshar’ (the set of composite letters) given in their Std.1 text-book without any difficulty at the end of the year!
These results have so impressed the school staff, that the Shikshan Mandal (Education Board) asked Door Step School to conduct special training sessions for their school teachers in making and using teaching aids for developing language skills so that more children could experience joyful learning.
‘Parivartan’, the in-house training department of Door Step School, has developed over the years various strategies and techniques to deal with the challenging situations while working with children. Each field worker/teacher has access to two bags of specially designed teaching aids- one for teaching language skills and another for teaching numeracy skills! All these teaching aids work their magic when used in tandem with regular monitoring as they are child centric with a focus on guiding every child from one competency level to another. The trainers are well acquainted with various possible scenarios in the field.
Training sessions were conducted for four batches of PMC school teachers. Each batch had two trainers for each session.
The Teacher Trainees:
103 Pune Municipal Corporation teachers of Std. 1 and Std.2 benefited from this program. They represented 32 schools from Kothrud and Malwadi; 13 schools from Shivajinagar and Gokhale nagar; and 14 schools from Aundh, Balewadi, Pashan, Bopodi and Sutaarwadi areas of Pune.
The training was conducted on 5th and 7th November 2014, from 8 am to 1 pm in four PMC schools:
1. Chhatrapati Sambhaji Vidyalaya, School no. 70, Kothrud.
2. Deen Dayal Vidyalaya, School no. 72, Paud road, Kothrud.
3. Narveer Tanaji Vidyalaya, School no. 47, Near Sakhar Sankul, Shivaji nagar.
4. Indira Gandhi Prathamik Shala, School no. 47, Aundh.
First, the importance of using play-way methods was discussed. Learning through play is simply the best way of learning. A ‘hands-on’ approach for the children results in a ‘minds-on’ experience that encourages them to learn with enthusiasm, observe, ask questions and be creative. It's crucial to their social, emotional, cognitive and even physical development.
The teachers then made five teaching aids to help teach Marathi alphabet, ‘matras’ and composite words. They learnt to make ‘Sangeet Khurchi’, ‘Ambyacha Khel’, ‘Start and Stop’, ‘Jodaksharache Fassey’ and "Word Puzzle" using material supplied by Door Step School. Although the training was given for teaching Marathi, some of the teachers adapted the aids to teach Kannada and English.
They also learnt how to use the games effectively in class. For example:
Game 1: ‘Sangeet khurchi’, an adaptation of musical chairs; encourages the children to read.
Letters are written on cards and arranged alternately facing opposite directions on chairs or on the floor. If the number of letters is ten, then eleven children run around them while the teacher claps. When the clapping stops they stop in front of a letter. Each child reads the letter in front of him/her and tells two words beginning with that letter or recites the ‘barakhadi’ of that letter, or a composite word with that letter depending on the competency level of that child. The eleventh child, who does not get to stand in front of a letter, gets to read all the letters and then leaves the game. One letter is removed and the game continues in the same manner until one child is left.
Game 2: ‘Ambyacha Khel’ involves reading, comparing and matching skills to find which letter/word is missing.
A mango tree is drawn on one chart paper. It has about ten ‘mangoes’ with one word/letter written on each. At the base of the tree mango shaped chart-paper pieces are kept with the same words/letters. The children are first asked to read the words on the tree. Then they are asked to close their eyes. One of the mangoes on the tree is removed. The children open their eyes and use the mangoes kept at the base to compare and find which mango has fallen off the tree!
All the teaching aids were displayed at all locations. The PMC teachers noted them with great interest.
The PMC teachers’ response can be summed up as follows:
· It was an enjoyable experience. They themselves had ‘enjoyed learning’ after a long time and they recognized the importance of activities to be used in the teaching-learning process.
· More time was required for this training as they could have learnt to make and use more teaching aids.
· Similar training should be given for all the teaching aids displayed for teaching language skills, and Maths, making puppets etc.
· Std. 3 and 4 teachers should also be trained by Door Step School.
· Training sessions to be conducted every two months.
Door Step School wishes good luck to all the PMC teachers. Hope all of them spread the joy of learning in all their classrooms.!