Sunday, July 12, 2009

July 2nd Week

Sita School

In the second week, we did a short run and did some foot drills as well. Foot drills help improve the brain to foot coordination and irrespective of the running help improve motor skills for the children. The kids had a lot of fun doing it - the drills involve funny walking styles - foot inwards, foot outwards, a duck walk (like charlier chaplin), pigeon toed, walking on the heals, walking backwards on the toes. We all 'quacked' like ducks, purred like pigeons and there was a lot of laughter :)  - Later, we did a session with the kids, where we discussed in general about what happens to the body when we run. Why do we get a stabbing pain below the ribs? Though we had prepared for the session, I felt it could have been done better, as I couldn't answer some of Jane's questions and Preeti had to help me out. Later we decided that it didn't make sense for me to speak in english, grapple with the concepts and then have Preeti translate. Preeti was more than willing to help out with presenting the sessions directly to the children in Kannada. While, we did this on Fridays, Kamala would follow up in the rest of the week with the health program - reiterating and re-introducing the concepts with activities and discussions. Kamala also was working on a fellowship proposal in parallel. She was going to do some work on classroom interaction and how to evaluate children's understanding of concepts and use that to plan activities etc. A very interesting aspect in Sita School is that 'evaluation' was not an exam - it was continuous and in classroom and done in a non-judgemental way.

I also took the foot sizes of the children so as to get the bata shoes for them. All the children were running barefoot and we were worried about the long distances they would be running in difficult terrain. We discussed this with Jane and decided something nominal and also paid in part by the families would make sense. So, we decided to get shoes and socks for the kids. I also took a lot of photos of the children to keep track of names.

More photos here - Sita_school

This week was also my first week with computer classes. This was my first real experience with teaching children of this age group. Though, it was a bit unnerving in the beginning and my confidence levels were a bit low, within a few minutes I got comfortable. I realized that I had to break it down and keep it very simple for the children. As many of them are seeing the computer for the first time - i.e. in school was the first time. So, we started with just figuring out what each component was - where does power come for. Which was the most critical component - we did this by figuring out that the computer is not really shutdown until we shutdown the CPU. Later, I let the kids play a few games related to typing skills on the computer. I did this with three different groups of 3-4 children for 45 minutes each.

I also had trouble adhering to the time for periods. School bells in Sita school was quite interesting, with a child ringing the 'cymbals' :) - I also observed that art, science, language, math and other aspects merged effortlessly. The younger children were around the pond to observe the colors of some fish (guppies) to do their painting later. Kannada classes involves doing comic strips for dialogues.Each visit presented a wonderful opportunity to learn!


Shashi had earlier mentioned that Ananya was in need of some help with teaching mathematics. The children were down in confidence about choosing Math as an option, especially after some kids failed to clear the NIOS. The earlier math teacher, Uddhav also had left the school. So, I decided to spend time after the running sessions to do Math with couple of groups - Ruppee and Baht (groups are named after currency and are organized by ability levels rather than age/standards etc.). Our running session was a bit more fun with the kids going in the route they wanted. The Ananya kids are good at running as such because we have been training them for multiple runs. So, distance is not a problem for them. But, to get them to do the running drills and the stretches after the run was a bit of a hassle, because I was still in the process of earning their respect and trust. I could have blown my top with them, but that's not what I wanted to do. After the running, we sat in a circle dicussed in general about what running meant - why do people run, what happens to us when we run etc. We discussed about the lungs and smoking in general and why its not good for the health.

After the run, we started with Math. I decided to start with Geometry, because they had done some before and were fairly confident about it.We started with basic concepts like lines, rays and angles. I gave them some trivia questions - for e.g. why is going around a circle equivalent to 360 deg ? Why cant it be 500 or 1000 or any number that's easier to handle.

After the running workout, some kids mentioned that they had a hockey game, they play for the Dhanraj-Billal foundation's team (children from Ananya and another non-profit for underprivileged - Don bosco form a team), supported by Dream-A-Dream. They were playing in the ICSE level circuit and usually the opposing team has many parents, teachers and a whole jing-bang to support them, while their team had just one coordinator from Dream-A-Dream and some other kids who were friends. I decided to join them and dropped in for their game the next day. Kanna, one of the Ananya kids was captain and couple of other kids also played. Though we lost quite badly, all the kids had fun and I shouted hoarse in support of the children.

More photos here- Ananya - Dream a Dream hockey game


The Prakriya kids were still getting used to the shock of losing their Games period. We again started with a trivia question and asked the kids to figure out the answer. Some kids were not interested in the running at all. I didn't see a point forcing anyone into something they don't like. So, we gave a choice to all the kids - they could just go play and skip the run or they do a run with us for 40 minutes and then do their games. A good number of kids wanted to play and we did let them go. The rest of them came out for the run. I do believe that there are quite a few kids who like running and want to run. But, there probably are a few who came out just because they didn't want to make us feel bad :) - Anyways, we had good fun and I ran with quite a few kids. We chatted about a lot of things - why run etc. Then at the end of the run, we did our stretches and then did a brief chat on what happens to the body, lungs etc. when we run. Some kids liked it and were involved, but the attention spans were short as they were losing minutes in their game time! I then joined them in the game of Soccer and we had a real good game as I could see the kids enjoying themselves.

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