Today, I walked into School a bit earlier than usual and I noticed my class kid Kajal going towards the classroom with her Grandma. Seeing me, Kajal came running with a big grin, shouting ‘Bhaiya !’. Holding her little fingers, I climbed up the stairs to reach the classroom. Since the morning shift was going on, we decided to sit in the Staff room for a while going through her file which has a stack of homework sheets and test papers.
Later, when we went into the classroom, Kajal took out a paper (ripped off her English notebook) and handed it over to me with pride and shyness painted on her gleaming face. At first, I thought it is the usual letter my kids write to drop into the Class Letter Box but on reading it, I turned ecstatic. She had written about her Picnic experience without even me asking anyone to ! Exactly 4 months ago, Kajal could not even write her name properly or any words on her own. But now, she felt motivated enough to write so many sentences on her own and nothing more could bring joy to me than this. Here is what she wrote (the numbering and brackets are her writing as well !)
1) I can go to the Picnic
2) 4 boy and 7 girl
3) 10 stars and more go to the Picnic
4) Muskan is no go to the Picnic
5) 2:30 go to the Picnic
6) 8:30 come to the School
7) I can go got he Picnic very happy
8) I like my Bhaiya very must
9) Bhaiya is nose big
10) Bhaiya is very said
In the few hours that my children and I get within the classroom, I am striving to make it a learning environment that speaks of excellence.Excellence in every inch inside the classroom. While planning for one of the lessons, whose objective was to make kids learn signs and labels from their environment, I had used wrappers, biscuit covers and everyday things to show the children that they can pick up English words from these things. They loved it ! And I was a happy teacher that day because I got to do something creative without spending much money 🙂
The other day, I was thinking of a way to make use of this corner space in the classroom, when this idea was born – why not convert it into a display of sorts where we could permanently (ok..not so much permanence here !) stick these things and keep telling the children everyday that they can learn English all around and not just in the classroom.
Btw, the Minute Maid Orange juice bottle is empty 🙂 It looks full of juice because of the orange color paper in the background !
I ll write about this idea in a few weeks from now to tell you whether it’s been working or not.
Yesterday, a friend had posted on Facebook about a Volkswagen ad in Times of India. The ad carried a small chip that would play a pre recorded message about the car, when someone touched it. What an idea ! As with many other ideas, I started thinking about ways in which such a chip can be useful in a classroom. Ever since I started teaching a few months ago, I have been looking at innovative ideas on print, on the web or on the roads of Mumbai, and wondering if I could port them somehow into my lessons and use them to make my children pick up knowledge and skills. Not just ideas, I seem to be picking up icecream sticks, earbuds (brand new of course !) toothpicks, pizza tripods (the little white ones inside a pizza) and so on.
So, this speaking chip idea is just fantastic. In my classroom (and across Teach For India classrooms), we teach sight words to children. Sight words are the most basic words that children need to know in order to build reading fluency, comprehension and basic writing. So, we try and drill it into their mind every single day in some innovative way or the other. I thought, if we could record a few of these words into these speaking chips and paste them in the classroom, it would be such a fantastic idea. They could be used creatively – paste them on the words themselves so that the kids can see the words & hear at the same time; paste them inside a lion’s mouth or elephant’s trunk and the kids can touch and play while hearing the words. Many possibilities.
Volkswagen might have got them made at a very economical price due to the volumes involved (in lakhs) but I wonder what the costs would be to get a few thousand of these chips ! Ah…off I go to eBay. I’m sure some Taiwanese manufacturer/supplier is waiting there to find a Teacher like me looking for these little electronic marvels 🙂