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Mixed Group Day – Unique form of teaching and learning

Mixed group is a unique form of teaching where the children are the teachers and learners themselves. Mixed group day is a day in the week when a group of children of various age group and classes come together in an environment where these children learn to help and be helped by other children and the whole process of peer learning takes place. There is a good and consistent interaction that takes place among children whose age and abilities are varied. Maria Montessori said nature and nurture work hand-in-hand where the groups should contain different ages, because it has great influence on the cultural, social and emotional development of the child.

A Grade1 student is re-telling the “Lion and Mouse” story from Nursery syllabus.

A student explaining the safety procedures of Roller Skating. The younger students are supposed to do skating in coming years.

It has been observed that within 3 -4 weeks the children get acquainted to all students and teachers in the school and develop a beautiful bonding and they keep exchanging a ‘hi-bye’ whenever they meet.

The importance of mixed group is felt more now as the upbringing of kids are now in nuclear family whereas there was a strong system of joint families in earlier days where a lot of learning would occur among brothers, sisters, cousins when they played, studied and did things together. The difference of few years creates a comfort zone for the children at both ends to help out more. The child also gets her own time and learns at her own pace which is crucial for a child’s learning. The propensity of accomplishing the task, learning how to cooperate and act sensibly in a situation doubles.

We at Gyankriti feel that mixed group is not only a medium for learning but also an opportunity to promote interaction among children of various age groups, which plays a part in enhancing their all round development.

FAQs for teachers organizing Mixed Group:

1) What are the logistics of planning a mixed group?

Organizing mixed group for the first time is bit difficult but it gets easy with time. You need to plan the classrooms settings and number of groups you will form at the school level. Then the students are evenly distributed in proportion of strength of each class. The groups may be same or different for each week.

2) How frequent should we organize mixed group activities?

Ideally it should be on daily basis but due to logistical constraints we do it once in a week. The last day of the week is left empty for regular syllabus and a significant time (1-2 hours) is spent on mixed group activities every Friday or Saturday.

3) What is role of teacher in mixed group class?

Teacher acts as a mere facilitator and tries to minimize her interference in the class. She must try to explain all the rules carefully before starting the class. One or two student leaders should be chosen to make sure all the rules are followed sincerely. However the student leaders are not supposed to scold any child, they should in fact take care of other children just like teachers.

4) What activities should be conducted?

Let the students decide what they want to share. If they don’t, you can suggest simple activities that have happened recently in any of the classes. We should never underestimate younger children, many times they are in fact better at sharing certain things.

If you are educator and wish to know more about our teaching methodology  kindly visit the following links

Free & Open Education Resources (Contact us for login details) – नि: शुल्क एवं ओपन एज्युकेशन रिसोर्सेस (लॉगिन जानकारी के लिए संपर्क करें)

Visit to Fountainhead School, Surat

The founding team of Gyankriti, Akshay Gupta and Yograj Patel, visited Fountainhead School, Surat this week. Here are the details of the visit:

Fountainhead School, Surat

About Fountainhead: Fountainhead School was founded by two IIM Ahmedabad alumni Ankita Diwekar Kabra and Vardhan Kabra in April 2005. The school started with six students and today it has more than 2000 students in its preschool and main school. The Fountainhead School dreams of revolutionizing the Indian Education System. Undoubtedly, there is an enormous gap between the kind of education that is possible & desirable; and the type of education that is currently available in India. Fountainhead aims to bring the sheer joy of learning back to the classroom with its innovative schooling system.

One can read more about Fountainhead school and it’s founders from school’s website http://www.fountainheadschools.org/ or from Page 140 of Rashmi Bansal‘s book ” Stay hungry stay foolish“.

Background and Agenda of the trip: Vardhan is also an IIT Bombay alumnus, sharing the same Alma matter and vision for education he has always been an inspiration for Akshay and Yograj. This was our second visit to Fountainhead. Last time we visited the school on 5th Feb 2012, that was before founding Gyankriti to understand the basic requirements of starting a preschool. We did include some of the best practices of Fountainhead preschool at our Gyankriti preschools. Since Gyankriti has upgraded itself to Junior Schools this year and a senior school is already planned, we again felt the need to review and learn more about our academics and classroom strategies. The visit was primarily focused on seeking information about student learning processes and classroom management strategies for teachers. It was an overwhelming experience for us and we could relate to many similarities between Gyankriti and Fountainhead curriculum, teaching methods and policies. At the same time we learnt a lot about continuous improvement required to manage the school at larger scale. We also studied their school bus management and Physical Education & Sports programs in great detail. We wish to revise many things that are possible in our context.

We would like to thank Vardhan, Ankita, Swati, Suruchi and many other team members of Fountainhead School for allowing us to visit their school and supporting us throughout the visit.

 

Visit to Education Park – truly zero energy campus

The lesson taught to us in school about renewable and non-renewable sources of energy and the importance of conserving the exhaustible energy by using alternative mode of energy has always been one of the most discussed lessons of science. The lesson however is rarely implemented in practical life, when we got to know about a “zero energy school” we immediately decided to visit the campus and learn from them. We wish to analyse and use similar ideas in the construction of Gyankriti School campus. Here are some key points from our visit:

Dr Chetan Singh Solanki, who did his engineering from SGSITS in Electrical Engineering and now is a Professor of Department of Energy Science and Engineering at IIT Bombay. With an aim to improve education in rural areas Prof. Solanki has founded an educational park for kids of Khargone.

The layout of Education Park

The layout of Education Park

Solar Electricity is expensive to setup and maintain. A workable solution is to “Avoid & Minimize” use of electricity. The architecture of school is such that there is no requirement for fans or tubelights. The fact that the school has not taken an electricity connection shows the confidence in their “passive solar” design.

Micro Climatic Analysis - The key to design a passive solar building is to best take advantage of the local climate performing an accurate site analysis.

Micro Climatic Analysis – The key to design a passive solar building is to best take advantage of the local climate performing an accurate site analysis.

Most of the walls are orientated in North-South direction to minimize direct contact with sunlight. To account for the seasonal tilt in sunlight, the roof is extended in outward direction for about 2 feet. The roof therefore acts as a shade throughout the length of wall.

edupark3You can see in picture that the windows are not parallel to the wall. Instead they are aligned to the direction of winds in a triangular fashion. This helps in controlling the inflow of winds as per the prevailing season. Check the graphic for details:

edupark4

The walls on the opposite side of room have big windows on the top side for cross-ventilation. The air enters from triangular windows and exits from the opposite end cooling the entire room. They have observed a temperature difference of upto 11 degree Celsius when compared to the temperature outside.

edupark6

In the picture you can also see glass panes between the triangular windows and the roof. Direct entry of sunlight will heat up the room so the light gets reflected from the chajja (painted white). The diffused light entering the room after reflection is comparatively cooler than direct sunlight.

edupark5The bricks on bottom side of roof act as insulator as they are porous and less conductive.

From Barren Land to Green Land
 edupark7  edupark8

About 10000 sqft of land was dug out for construction purposes. This was done purposefully at a low lying area of the land so that it can accumulate water during monsoon. Now the ditch has taken form of a pond. About 100 meters away from this pond a well is located, the water percolates from the pond very fast and recharges the well.

Prof. Solanki got some discarded solar panels from US laboratories to setup a power source for boring well motor. The boring well irrigates all the plants and shrubs in the 14 acre campus continuously through drip irrigation.

Team Gyankriti wishes Prof. Chetan Solanki and Education Park Society all the best in their endeavours. We are very much inspired by their ideas and hope to implement many of them in Gyankriti School very soon.

Image source: https://www.cse.iitb.ac.in/synerg/rutag/2012-jan-ws/slides/IITB-Presentations/Chetan-Solanki-Education-Park.pdf

Website of Education Park Society: http://edupark.org/

Steps toward stronger parent-teacher interaction

To increase the interaction between parents and teachers we have decided to introduce two new methods. First of all, home visits of all students at the beginning of session. We have already started with KG-1 students and hope to do the same for pre-nursery and nursery in the month of June. Second of all, we want to improve the way “open house Saturdays” are conducted, from next session teachers will give a small workshop of next fortnights curriculum along with the regular interaction. More details:

Home visits

Class Teachers visit each student’s home for about 15 minutes in the first one to one-and-a-half months of the academic year. The bond created by this and the understanding got by the teacher regarding the various aspects of the child’s background and the child herself is of immense value. This truly helps her to play the role of a nurturer and facilitate the overall development of the child.

These visits are coordinated with parents and it is necessary for both parents and the child to be present during the Home Visit. All other family members (e.g. grand parents) are encouraged to be a part of the discussion and give their inputs. The purpose of this visit is to learn about the home environment of the child and also know the people living with her.
The focus is on rapport-building between the family and the educator. This helps the child to get the most effective guidance from both home and the school. The home visit is the first step to unite the educator and the parents with the single-minded goal of what’s best for the child.

The questions asked during the visit cover areas like the socio-economic background of the family, likes and dislikes of the child, general health (including medicines) and habits of the child, friends in the neighbourhood and concerns of the parents regarding the child. Home Visit is an opportunity for the class teacher to discuss the philosophy of the school and help the parents understand what the school expects from them. The discussion also helps her identify the various areas requiring guidance and also the reason for any particular behavioural pattern displayed by the child. Apart from questions, she also observes and makes a mental note of various points like the neighbourhood environment, the parenting style, lifestyle, etc. Educators are expected to accept no hospitality other than water! WE politely but firmly refuse all offerings, even tea or coffee. The educators take time out after the regular school hours and make these visits.

Renewed open house Saturdays
Regular fortnightly workshops will be conducted by the class teachers for the parents to enable them to know the agenda in school for the next two weeks. The class teacher will teach the mothers & fathers what she is going to teach their children in the next two weeks.

Research shows that programs that teach mothers to improve the quality of cognitive stimulation and verbal interaction produce immediate effects on the child’s intellectual development. It is seen that the level of involvement of mothers in the initial years of rearing is high and a mother is always the first teacher to the child.

When we have a PTA (Parent-Teacher-Association) that meets once or twice in a year, it serves no real purpose. Each blames the other over a cup of tea and samosas and the meeting is over with nothing purposeful achieved. The parents and educators should meet more often and develop a bond with each other. This can be done by meeting preferably once in two weeks but at-least once in a month.

These workshops will be held during school hours on 2nd & 4th Saturdays and time for one hour (generally between 10 to 11 am). A note will be sent in the school diary/email regarding the agenda of the forthcoming Workshop.

The focus is on the home-bound activities a parent can undertake to enhance learning. At times experts (e.g. psychologists or paediatricians) will conduct these workshops. The teaching methodology is explained and actually shown on the blackboard for a particular topic so that there is no conflict between the educator and parent style of guiding
the student. Thus parents and educators are working together for the child’s benefit. Any individual query regarding a particular student by a parent is strictly discouraged, as  workshop is not the forum to discuss any one-on-one issues. Curriculum based questions by parents are encouraged. Parents are encouraged to share experiences they come across while guiding their child. At times rapport-building sessions are conducted in which the class teacher introduces certain games or a questionnaire like how well you know your child or how to boost the child’s self esteem etc. Parents share actual experiences or anecdotes from their child’s life.

We hope that these steps will help bring educators and parents close. Children benefit when the adults around them share common values about child-rearing, communicate with one another, and give the children consistent support and guidance.

Eklavya School Open Days

What is Open Days @ Eklavya?

During these days, any teacher/principal from any school in india is welcome to visit Eklavya detailed 3-day exposure on practices in Eklavya from pre-school to senior school. ( http://eklavya.org/Open%20Days.html )

Why Open Days are held?

Every schools wants to innovate curriculum & teaching methodologies and build an institute of excellence. Few schools have made a lot of progress on that front and they should share their experiences and learning with more people who are either running/working with education ventures or want to open one. Organizations in education sector are not competitors of each other. The ecosystem of education in India can improve a lot this way.

“Education is an infrastrcuture at least as basic as a nation’s roads, electricity and telecom. It plays a fundamental role in determining, the prosperity and well-being of its citizens. Progressive nations are have strategically invested heavliy in education on long term basis. Teachers are central to a good education system. There is thus a need to ‘bring back the best minds to the field of education” – Eklavya Education Foundation

Open Days 2015

Open Days 2015

Thank you Eklavya Education Foundation

We wish to thank Sunil Handa Sir and Eklavya team for hosting us at the Open Days from 30th November to 2nd December. It was indeed a wonderful experience, soaking in the amazing culture you have built in the school. We were truly impressed with your perspectives, your teaching techniques, and tools and in what you have created at Eklavya.

The professional and cooperative attitudes of the members of your school were evident throughout the discussions we have had on these three days. The investment in library resources and teaching demonstrates to us your commitment to providing only the highest quality of services to your students and faculty.

It was sheer joy being in the class rooms and watch the kids, their behavior, sense of ownership, peer group interaction , collaborative and co-operative ways of doing activities and so much more. “ We do it here differently “ seemed to us as the way most things are done at Eklavya.

Even the Drivers of the School Bus came across as people with true sense of purpose and their work seem to extend beyond just transporting the kids to actually care for them.

Your teachers are amazing and it is not every day that you get to see teachers who know their students probably better than their parents. Every student is known to every teacher, that in itself is a reflection of the importance you have placed on the fine nuances of student teacher relationship. .

Though we keep hearing about Holistic Education in School, most of it has so far been only jargon, to actually see it happen on the ground was indeed a wonderful experience.

We will be delighted if could give us the permission to visit you once again over the course of the year to learn more about your unique ways of setting in culture within your people and to be a school-in-the-making always.

We, at Gyankriti, think that in a lot of ways we share a similar belief system and in our own way are trying to create learning and teaching systems that helps a child attain his full potential in life. There have been a lot of takeaways from the visit and my team and I are excited about aligning those values within our Institution. Fortunately for us, we do not have to look far for Inspiration, you are just an overnight journey and with your support we want to build on our mission to being relevant and practical in our domain and continuously innovate our learning models.

We are sure behind the serene ambiance of the school lies a lifetime’s struggle of creating the DNA of your dreams. Eklavya will remain in our heart and mind as an Educational Ecosystem nurturing young minds to think of the limitless possibilities they can achieve

You will remain an inspiration for a lot of people who look to institutionalize unconventional thinking. We also wish to start “Open Days @ Gyankriti” very soon.

Thanks & Regards
Beena Varier (Co-ordinator, Nipania Branch)
Rachana Saxena (Co-ordinator, Annapurna Branch)
Yograj Patel (Co-founder)