17 July, 2018
TEAMING UP TO TEACH AND LEARN
-Ms. Susan Philip

A meeting of parents (class wise), belonging to Stds. V to VIII, was convened in the first and second weeks of July 2018 to brief them about the changes in the teaching methodology and assessments in English and Science. The teachers did a reality check and realized that concepts in Science and English cannot be taught afresh in the higher classes, rather they should be revisited and drilled in the lower classes. There was a need to unlearn certain ineffective practices, non conform, and look at the subjects in terms of skills.
The practice is a year old. The aim of the teaching and learning process in Science was to shift from memory based evaluation to knowledge based evaluation. The learning outcomes would be to develop the curiosity, problem solving skills and self learning in students. This could be achieved by activity based learning related to demonstration, observation, individual activity and research projects. Modules would be uploaded for parents to follow up the activities with students at home. Students would be evaluated on contextual and conceptual content per term. Students would be introduced to the question: Can you recall? This question tests the previous knowledge, to help reinforce concepts learnt in the lower classes or the previous year. Parents were also made aware that students are superlative when it comes to memory based questions, but the application based questions take a beating, harping on brain power or HOTS questions. Ms. Anita, the animator for Science, acquainted the parents with various apparatus used for experiments, and the competencies required while at work in a lab. It is at this place the senses of the students need to be whetted for pure sciences to come alive
One needed to assess English language competencies in terms of skills such as listening, speaking, reading, comprehension and writing, rather than prose, poetry and grammar. There were confident whispers among parents, that the writing skill was the most challenging. The students of the higher classes are perplexed when they hear terms such as parts of speech and paragraph. They at times lack competency in identifying verbs. Parents were encouraged to look at grammar as a means to enhance vocabulary, speech and writing and discouraged from approaching grammar as a marks oriented topic. Parents were invited to engage in the learning process of students, as they pitched in to assess the loud reading of students, to follow up the assignments of students or to egg students on to build the word wall to strengthen their vocabulary. There would be question such as what the passage is about, to test reading and comprehension skills, target vocabulary given for writing skills and letter writing assessed in terms of tone, purpose and audience. Detailed explanation of texts to be done away, only to be replaced with eliciting responses from students. When the teacher starts explaining, thinking stops. There would be two tests each per term, as part of the formative assessment, such as to identify errors and application based questions on parts of speech.
Parents were exhorted to play a proactive role in the learning of the English language and Science, and not to be ensnared by marks. It is only the concerted and committed efforts of teachers, students and parents, that can enable learning outcomes gain visibility.
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