Tuesday, February 28, 2006

CASW Presentation 4, Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Presenter: Mr. Balakrishnan V.P.
Facilitator: Miss Vijaya Rajeshwari

Context of the work discussed:

Subject: Art and Design
Course: A Level Cambridge, Paper 2, Component 3: Course Work
What exactly needs to be tuned: Course Selection

KEY QUESTIONS: Three key questions were asked:

1) How to schedule and plan the sessions (practical work) when the locations are outside the school (eg. Lal Bagh botanical Gardens or a view of the Hebbal Lake) or outside the city (eg. Mahabalipuram or Hampi)?
2) How to facilitate learning in such a situation?
3) How to ensure completion of the painting as per the schedule (even when it is unmonitored)?

The following suggestions were made by the participants and incorporated by the presenter at the CASW meeting:

The following suggestions were made in respect of the first question:

* Plan and organize sessions in a way that they coincide with long vacations or holidays, such as the Christmas vacation, Dussera vacation, etc.
* We could also consider the possibility of using weekends and the DOD weeks (if approved by the school management), to plan long sessions outside the city.
* Plan it out meticulously and much in advance, incorporate it in the Year Plan, and give a copy of the year plan to all students so that they know about the 'Break-Up' of work regarding the course work through the academic year, with clear cut deadlines and targets to be achieved in specific time frame. This will give the students a sense of direction and help them in managing their time well.

The following suggestions were made in respect of the second question:

* The physical proximity of the teacher for consultation is extremely important to facilitate learning. However, in the absence of the teacher, learning can be facilitated by way of using technology. Students can update the teacher with the current progress/status of their work through the phone, using the digicam or scaning the pictures and uploading the information on the internet, e-mailing, faxing, etc.
* Students can be given self-assessment forms that they can use to assess their own work or peer-work on a regular basis, and share it with the teacher.
* Because the students are given the option of researching and selecting their own choice of work, learning is sure to take place.

The following suggestions were made in respect of the third question:

* For the completion of the course work as per the schedule, it is important that the course work is planned very meticulously and in detail, and more importantly is shared with teh students. if unmonitored by the teacher, students should be given the course work plan with details of clearcut instructions regarding the learning objectives, assessment criteria, etc.
* The teacher could plan and organize an exhibition of students' paintings for the school.
* Show to students earlier benchmarks of student work; show them movies, narate stories, etc. to motivate them to complete the coursework in time and with sincerity.

Feedback By Participants On The CASW Meeting:

* The presenter should plan and organize materials meticulously and make enough copies of handouts for all participants.
* The Facilitator should be firm in not letting the discussion move away from the area of focus.
* The participants should read the Guidelines Handout regarding the break-up of the discussion into various parts and the time alloted for each part before coming for the meeting, for smooth execution of the discussion.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

CASW Presentation 3, Thursday, February 2, 2006
Presenter: Mr. Joel
Facilitator: Ms. Kini

Context Of The Work Discussed: Standard 7 and 8 students' reflections on athletics through informal conversations with the teacher and self-assessment exercise.

Key Questions: Two key questions were asked:

* Why do students have immense interest in playing football and basketball?
* What can be done to create an equal interest in athletics?

The following suggestions were made by the participants and incorporated by the presenter at the CASW meeting:

The following reasons were articulated in respect of the first quetion:

* The students in Aditi are greatly influenced by the West/Europe, where the two sports are immensely popular. These being globally popular sports, have greater viewership and are easily accessible to all and sundry by means of media(print and electronic), internet, etc. As a result, many students have their rolemodels in many of the football and basketball players.
* Athletics was introduced in school two years ago, as a result of which students have not had much exposure to it and lack knowledge of the same.
* Football and basketball are sports that involve teamwork. there could be a possibility that students like playing sports that involve teamwork as they can collectively play and interact with their peers, than playing games where they play by themselves.

The following suggestions were made in respect of the second question:

* The Physical Education Department should organize competitive tournaments on a more frequent basis and give the students a target to work towards. In order to prepare the students for such tournaments, they should be engaged in more after-school practice sessions.
* Pass on to students interesting facts about the various facts about athletics and also show them movies based on it.
* Bring in rolemodels (well known/popular sports personalities) to speak to them.
* Help the students in exploring all athletics games, but give them the choice to play what they like.
* To adopt an inter-disciplinary approach by way of facilitating linkages between athletics and other subjects like physics, biology, etc.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Collaborative Analysis Of Student Work(CASW)

To me, Collaborative Analysis Of Student Work is a highly useful way of collectively learning to assess or evaluate student learning/understanding using various methods of assessment, by sharing individual student work of a teacher and inviting other teachers to share their opinions and views on it.

CASW Presentation 1, Wednesday, January 18th, 2006
Presenter: Ms.Hema Malini
Facilitator: Mr. Koshy

Sample Work Discussed: Std. 9 ICSE Chemistry student’s group-work on ‘Hydrogen fuel cells in space shuttles and other applications’

Learning Objectives Of The Project: To understand the construction, principles and application of electro chemicals.

Assessment Criteria: Marks were allotted for research work, collaborative work and time management in oral presentation of the project.

KEY QUESTIONS: Three key questions were asked:

How to assess if all students in the group do enough research?
How to assess if understanding of concepts takes place?
What are the different ways in which students can cope with the fear of addressing a gathering?

The following suggestions were made by the participants and incorporated by the presenter at the CASW meeting:

* Students to record the research work in the bibliography * The teacher to examine some of the books/websites mentioned in the bibliography to see if students actually referred and used the resources mentioned.
* Instruct the students to submit all the preparatory work along with the final work as evidence of research and collaborative work
* The teacher to regularly monitor and review student work and question the students regarding the delegation of work amongst themselves and make sure that work is equally delegated amongst the students
* Ensure flexibility by being open to the idea of changing the guidelines for the project if required in the process of monitoring the project and review of student work
* Assign Content Guides, Research Guides and Guides for making Oral Presentation to the groups, who can assist and help students through the project (guides can be willing teachers or students with the required skills and time to spare)
* A viva to be followed by oral presentation where the teacher asks questions which assess the student’s understanding of concepts.
* All students in the group should be made to answer questions asked by the audience and the teacher. The presentation and viva should not be high jacked by a few students in the group
* Instruct the students to divide the allotted time for oral presentation equally among all the group members, so that each student contributes his/her bit to the presentation
* In order to help students to deal with stage fear or the fear of public speaking, have more of such oral presentations in class

Feedback By Participants On CASW:

With regard to feedback given by the participants regarding the CASW session, the following suggestions were made to improve the working of the session:
* Key questions should be reduced to 1 or 2
* The presenter should make photocopies of the assessment criteria, learning objectives, guidelines/instructions, etc., for the participants
* Maintaining a CASW notebook for the purpose of recording information regarding all CASW sessions
*With regard to the break-up of time, any unutilized time should be carried over to the following section of the session

CASW Presentation 2, Thursday, January 19th, 2006
Presenter: Mr. Koshy
Facilitator: Ms. Shuchi Grover

Context Of The Work Discussed: The 11 Arts class of two students, where one student works harder at the subject and performs better than the other student who takes less interest in the subject.

Key Question: Taking into account the fact that the teacher can spend only the same amount of time on both students, how can he equalize the learning of writing skills to minimize the negative effects of student variability?

The following suggestions were made by the participants and incorporated by the presenter at the CASW meeting:

* Give the weaker student more work to do and design the work in a manner that it focuses on areas where the student is weak.
* After assessing the work, give immediate, specific, constant and thorough feedback to the student
Grade the student work
* Instruct the student to give the bibliography for all assignments
* Give student more time to do the work
* In order to motivate the students find out their background and areas of interests from other subject teachers who teach them
* Try out various ways of motivating them: show movies and ask them to write reviews based on them; ask them to post some of their work/assignments on their subject blog and ask for constructive feedback from fellow classmates and teachers so that they know that their work is on display and they work under positive stress to do better at their work.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Timeline Of My Teaching Practice:

I would like to focus specifically on three areas while describing the change in the context of my teaching practice over the one and a half years of my rather short teaching career. The three areas are: Classroom management skills, Content knowledge and Teaching methodology.

My class room management skills were extremely poor and classes very noisy and chaotic in the whole of the first year after I joined Aditi. This was for the simple reasons that I didn’t understand the teaching job, nor did I understand what the teacher-student equation should be like. Moreover I was handling a bunch of high school and plus two students who ‘looked’ more or less my age and I often felt intimidated by them. also, I was almost always pre-occupied with the effective execution/delivery of lessons and content, as I regarded that as my most important priority. By the time I realized the importance of maintaining a certain level of discipline in class, half the academic year had already gone by and I realized that it was too late and therefore more difficult for me to change things. However I decided right then that I would not make the same mistake in my second year. Today I find that my classroom management skills have improved considerably, although there is still a lot of room for improvement.

With respect to my content knowledge in the first year……… soon after my very first class I realized how hollow and superficial my knowledge was of a subject I had studied for 7 years!! I could easily answer the ‘WHAT’ kind of questions, but found myself completely lost when I had to answer questions that had the words ‘WHY’ and ‘HOW' in them. I found myself not able to teach the students to apply the subject to practical real life situations, which I consider as the biggest let down of my first year. However, soon after the first class I knew that I had to relearn the subject to be able to pass on the same to my students, which I did. In the first year, my entire focus was on getting the ‘content’ in place. Today I feel that I understand the subject much better, can explain it to the students with more examples, help them apply the subject………… however what I have learnt is only a drop in the ocean and I have years and years and years of reading and learning in store for me!

With regard to my teaching methodology, since I have already mentioned that the focus was completely on getting the content in place, I could not make the subject 'fun' to the students; there was a lack of interesting activities and challenging projects in the first year. This has certainly got to change in the second year and I do have a lot of plans to make the subjectfun to the students in a manner that facilitates application and incorporation of the subject into their own lives!! lets see how it goes……….

Thursday, August 04, 2005

My Most Beautiful 'Reality Check'

When i was small, i didn't have any ambition in life. I never imagined myself to be a working women when I grew up. Being the youngest of four siblings, I lived in an insular world, without a care since my parents took care of all my requirements and made all decisions for me. I didn't know the meaning of responsibility.

So when I started teaching in Aditi, it was more a matter of chance than choice. I had no clue what i was in for. I was still a child, a student in the mind.......... not prepared to take responsibility for the futures of students i was going to teach. To me it was just a job for which i was going to get paid on a monthly basis…..what I didn’t know was that I was soon going to learn some of the most important lessons of life………responsibility being one of them.

My first two months in Aditi were a nightmare and the toughest period of my life ever. There were times when I was not prepared for a class; and there were times when I would walk into a class thinking I was prepared and find myself without any answers to the questions asked by students. I was completely lost and almost came to the conclusion that I could never be a teacher. I wanted to quit. But the thought of what it would do to my self-esteem was a feeling beyond my ability to articulate. I had no choice but to continue working in the school and in the process learn to be a good teacher. I have learnt my share of lessons working in Aditi as a teacher, some of them the most precious, valuable, cherished.

* I realized that in the first two months, I hadn’t done much in class, in terms of coverage of syllabus. Much time had been wasted. I had to ensure that I completed the syllabus and had sufficient time for revision before the school closed for December vacation. I started taking extra classes and stayed back in school very often.
* I also realized that I didn’t teach the students any referencing skills. The students couldn’t have relied on their textbooks simply because of the poor quality of information. So I decided to make complete notes for them, and by the end of the year had printed a book, that had information collated from several subject-related books.
* Well, handling a bunch of Std. XII students was perhaps a daunting task for someone who was straight out of collage and looked more like one of the students. My classroom management skills were very poor and the classes were extremely noisy. Students would come to me after class with doubts pertaining to the lessons already executed in class. More learning was happening in the library and the corridors than in the classroom. However by the time I realized the importance of classroom management, it was a little too late and things were difficult to change. I felt that the students were not to blame if I as a teacher had failed to maintain a certain level of discipline in class. So I decided that before the public examination I would revise the entire syllabus on a one-on-one basis with every student. I found myself teaching students in Bangalore Club, in their house, in my house and so on.

One of the most beautiful days of my life was when the students called me to share the news of their outstanding results in the public examination. I still have some of the ‘thank you’ messages they sent to me on my cell phone.
I know that I had failed as a teacher in many departments, but I had taken the responsibility of holding their hands and seeing them through the examination with all my sincerity.

Today I still find myself learning and trying to be a more responsible teacher and I know that I have a long way to go…….