Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pedagogy Reconsidered

Ensuring children Learn (ECL) is an approach projected with the firm belief that every child can learn. The approach is called Cooperative and reflective Learning approach. Milieu in the classroom is learning oriented and child focused, where teachers is a facilitator and not a lecturer. The approach works along the line of “Theory of Engagement” which believes that in a muti-graded, muti- level learning environment, every child need to be engaged in a learning activity and should actively participate in the learning process. It also believes that child friendly, interactive, enjoyable and motivating activities are a must in the classroom. This increases the responsibility of the facilitator (CA) as they have to understand the procedures to be followed to make the children meaningfully engaged in the learning processes.
The current learning system in schools does not include critical thinking, problem solving and problem attacking abilities that are part of the learning process in children. The pedagogy is teacher directed and not learner centric.
Key Elements of the Program Design:
In the present proposed approach learning readiness skills will be seen as a major focus, especially for children in 1st Class before beginning formal academic learning. It is important that children are ready for such learning. Areas of gross and fine motor skills, basic language comprehension skills, attention, task completion, eye hand coordination etc will be developed. The focus here is to prevent the development of any learning delays in the formative period.
Academic Support Centre: The focus at ASCs is to bridge the gaps between expected and current learning levels. Classes 2 to 5 will be covered under this programme. Children who have not been able to acquire the competencies of the previous grades find it difficult to cope with current requirements. In addition, to bridging the gap, the competencies for their respective grades have to be developed. Thus the objective of the ASC is to address the backlog and bring the children to the required grade level competencies.
Once children graduate to their grade level competencies and their learning deficiencies addressed to, activities will have to be identified and developed to transact the content in their grade level text books. All the 4 grades will be covered under this programme.
Program Process:
The programme will develop understanding and expression through listening, speaking, stories, songs, poetry, drama, music, games, artwork, craft, reading and writing. Language learning in this programme will be looked as meaning making and not, only as means of communication. The whole idea is to help the child make sense of their experience and to unlock their imagination to express themselves as freely as possible. Discussing, describing, asking and debating will be encouraged through activities.
Children will learn from one another. Children will be facilitated and encouraged to form groups, work with each other using each others strengths as a resources in the classroom process. A set of principles will be formed so that the group has gender balance, levels of learning, listening while others speak, sorting out differences etc will be evolved. The facilitator (CA) would plan ways of managing time and engaging task to the children. The time on task would be tracked by the facilitator by moving from one group to another.
Building on the prior knowledge of the children, games, stories and activities would be developed which will be essential for the children to connect themselves to the programme.
Varied teaching materials will be used to build and sustain children’s interest and to provide a simulating environment for learning. The whole idea of providing varied sensory experience for children will be reflected in the books, charts, pocket boards, pictures, beads, number cards etc and the activities that will be planned. Workbooks which have already been provided to children will be used and additional worksheets will also be used as children need a space to work on their own. The worksheets will provide children to work at their own pace, seek help from others and also help others to practice the learned skills. The worksheet will also be a primary assessment tools for the CAs. The CA would explain the instruction on how to use the worksheets to the children in groups, evaluate and grade them which in turn would help the CAs to plan further for the respective group.
In the beginning the children would be made to sit in a mixed group environment. The workbooks and the task given to children will help the CA in understanding children’s abilities after which the children would be reorganized into groups based on their abilities. Each group will be assigned with a team leader who would be from the same group but is faster in her / his work and from a higher class i.e. for group of 2 & 3 class the leader would be from class 3 and so on. In the ability wise grouping, management of group learning becomes easier.
The group leader would interact with the CA on a daily basis and help his / her group to complete the task given for the particular day. In short, the ASC will have children sitting in groups, will move around freely, collect materials that they need, help each other and listen to explanations. Reading text would be used everyday for loud reading including oral answer to question which would be treated as an important task before engaging children in using the work sheets thus developing their oral articulation.
The worksheets/workbook would be well designed and the task clearly defined. The sheets would be graded according to difficulty level of complexity. The CA would be well conversant with the design of the worksheets/workbook. This will help the CA to describe in detail the instructions of the worksheet to be used to the lower level group of children, simultaneously the higher level group would proceed with the next task in the respective worksheets / workbook based on the CAs briefing.
The briefing session by the CA becomes the feedback session on each level of children. All session would start with an expected outcome.
The government functionaries will be involved in every step of the intervention. The school teachers will be oriented to the materials and the learning methods.
A separate task force will be formed which will have coordinators working closely with the schools, ASCs and CAs. The task force formed should be able to take classes and they should have direct access to children. Sharing and reflection with the team would be build into the programme. The task force members would have weekly visits to every school. A cluster meeting with the CAs will be held on a weekly basis to begin with and later would meet on a fortnightly basis. These fortnightly meeting would reviews the progress and problems of the CAs. They will be encouraged to share their experiences with each other and the task force members. These reviews will help in fine tuning the programme and understanding issues better and to learn from each other.
Quantitative assessments will be conducted to understand the impact of the programme. The process of assessment and evaluation would be more comprehensive. Apart from the existing Learning assessments carried out by Educational Initiatives (EI), daily evaluation and assessment in-build to the programme would be used. Apart from competency based learning, oral articulation, critical thinking, problem solving and problem attacking skills would be assessed