Sunday, August 9, 2009

August 2nd Week

Sita School

We found a new scenic route through the back side of the school for the Monday run. It was a very nice route that went through grass lands and eucalyptus groves. There was a big bund running across the flat lands and the kids got on top of it during the run and we all ran down the bund in full speed! The kids also jumped to get minsenkai (raw tamarind) from the tree. It was really nice to see every kid come and share her bounty with the teachers and me :) - This route was much better than the road to the school as there was a lot of open space and I also found an unused field (left barren in the off season of farming) where we could do the speed workouts. Zona and Koyla (The Sahi family dogs at Sita School) also started coming along with us for the runs! After the run and prayers, I did computer classes for the children. I wanted to introduce the concept of algorithms or programming, but without the fancy words and terminologies. We started with a discussion on cooking and I enquired if they knew how to make tea. Then I requested them to give me a description of the step by step process. As they gave me the steps in a sequence, I wrote them down on a black board. Later, we discussed other aspects of daily life that could be broken down into a sequence of steps. We also did decision making - when the sequence could take two different paths based on a decision - for e.g. Taking a bus from Silvepura to the city - We could take the Shivaji nagar bus or the market bus. Then we played a few games that could improve their typing skills and improve the ease at which they could handle the mouse or keyboard. I did similar exercises with all the three groups with variations and used a lot of english than Kannada in my interaction. Jane mentioned that if I plan the class ahead, we could introduce the words in the english classes before the computer sessions on Mondays.

More photos here- Sita_school_blood_circulation

On Friday, we did an easy run along the new route and later had a class with the elder children on 'Blood circulation'. Imo had prepared nice cutouts and props for the class. Preeti briefed the children about the concepts to be addressed in the class and the premise of double circulation in the body. She did a great job in keeping the whole discussion simple and to the point. This was a difficult concept to explain and required a lot of clarification and repition. The children used the props to explain the circulatory system. We laid down the cut outs for the heart, lungs and muscles on the ground. The children had to use the various arrow mark cutouts to show the interaction between the organs. Then, they used blue and red colored paper strips to indicate - oxygenated blood and blood carrying Carbon-di-oxide. As they described the circulatory system, they placed the appropriate paper strips to trace the path of the blood stream. We did these 3-4 times and then each child demonstrated their understanding by going through the routine for all of us. This was an example of immediate assessment on the child's understanding. We also gave them a homework for the week, asking them to do the explanation for the child who was not present for the session. The next week she would present it to the rest of the class. This would give us a good understanding of how well the children who explained it to her understood the concepts and also how well she understood the concepts.

More photos here- Sita_school_blood_circulation


We did geometry with the kids on Wednesday and Thursday. I first brushed topics we covered in the past with a few problems I gave them. To understand angles, I brought in the concept of angles between the hands on a clock. So, starting from easier ones like 3'o'clock to tougher ones like 10:10 we gave different problems to solve for the kids. I also organized the class into informal groups. I started giving activities that kept some of the children occupied while, I helped the other children in more detailed explanation of concepts. So, I gave a few problems and an activity to do different kind of shapes with match sticks (we made it challenging by posing rules - no. of match sticks, different shapes etc.) - for e.g. I asked them to do an isosceles triangle with the least no. of sticks as possible etc. We introduced a new term - 'rhombus' and I went over different types of quadrilaterals. As homework, I asked them to create any shape or design they wanted with matchsticks and stick it on their notebooks or paper. They were also supposed to count the no. of triangles in each of the shapes.

We went on the temple route for the run - its a nice scenic route and the children prefer this route to the other ones as it has less traffic and has lot more trees along the way. There is a pond near the temple where we turn around and all kids like to get the colorful fishes there in plastic covers. They would bring it back to school and put it in the tank where they keep fishes! I suspect that the fishes motivate the children to prefer this longer route for the Thursday morning runs :)


On thursday afternoon, we went a little earlier to meet up with the teachers and the founder-trustee of the school, Seetha. We discussed the possibility of providing a completely organic breakfast for the Independence day run - the Team Asha 4K/8K at Prakriya. The teachers were worried about the reaction of the parents and how best to create awareness about organic food to draw a connection to ecological sensitivity. Later, I had separate discussions with the main coordination team, running through the plan for the different aspects of the run. We finally had go ahead for the younger kids to cheer all the runners! But, they would not do any posters etc. as they had no time for that. Later, I had a discussion with all teachers and encouraged them strongly to also take part in the run - It was important for teachers to be part of the run as a team - The children would love to see thier teachers interact with them in a different context - I spoke to them about Jane and how inspiring it was to see her participate in the run with the other children. We did get a few teachers who wanted to take part. But, we also had a few teachers who were not convinced about it :)

Then we did the run with the kids. The talk about the race in Prakriya excited the kids and many of them wanted to do the 4K course that day. While, there was still the kids who wanted to do their usual games and not take part in the running at all. Many kids also got to see a GPS for the first time. I explained what it does and how we use it for measuring distance. We had a fun run that day. A few kids went out too fast and struggled a bit at the turnaround point. I ran back with them and explained how to pace themselves for the run. We also discussed about nutrition, hydration etc. on the run.

More photos here- Prakriya_run

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