Towards a just, equitable, humane and sustainable society

Learning Through Sensory Perception

Socio economic context of our school
Our school is situated in a rural area. We have to walk more than a km to reach the school from the bus stop. 70% of the parents of our children are illiterate and are daily wage earners. These children are 1st generation learners in their family and their parents depend on them to come up in life to improve their lot. We conduct PTA and SMC meetings every term to seek the support from the parents as well as the community. But the parents never give any importance to these meetings and hardly attend them. Our school has all the basic facilities and infrastructure.

Some key areas of Interest :
• Reading books
• Doing creative things
• Eager to know new things
• Interest in doing work related to developing my students’ knowledge
• Environmental issues

Joining Teachers Circle :
I attended the ‘Medayil Thisaimaani’ program held at Mother Theresa Institute and that made me join the Teacher’s Circle. In that program, teachers shared many innovative ideas and that attracted me. They kindled my interest and motivated me to do some innovative things in my class too. Summary of the different things I did last year:
1. Created lesson plans in the 5E format which became clearer after we transacted it in class.
2. Used ICT in classrooms
3. Used a lot of Teaching Learning Materials to make the class interactive

Experience Sharing
My Classroom Challenge:
For the first time I was handling a class with low strength, which is both a boon and a bane. Since there were only 5 students, it helped me understand each one’s strength and weakness. I put in a lot of effort to teach them as well. But there was always more than one absentee once or twice a week and the numbers dwindled down to three, which sometimes demotivated me. If I felt demotivated I could imagine how demotivated those young minds would be. Due to the low strength, there is no classroom arrangement and children sit in the veranda. So they often get distracted by other things. To address these problems, I started using various activities to draw their attention to the class and the activities and the TLMs helped me in bringing meaning to their studies.

How I Planned :
Before I teach a new lesson, I plan the entire lesson through different activities which would kindle the students’ interest and help them get rid of their shyness and fear in learning a foreign language. And this would help them in learning the other subjects as well.
I divide my class into 3 parts. If my class is for 40 minutes, then I take the first 10 minutes for teaching new things and next 20 minutes for conducting lesson related games so that it energizes the students and the last ten minutes they practice what they have learnt.

Summary Of Teaching And Assessment Approach:
Now I am going to share a summary of my teaching approach by discussing the lesson “Curly Locks and the Three Bears”. This story is based on the fairy tale “Goldilocks and the three Bears”, a story set in a foreign context. The words were new to our children and it was a challenge to make them understand them. But they picked up the words when I used pictures, real objects and visual aids.

 Developing fine motor skills: I gave a couple of activities in this initial part of the lesson to give them different experiences. I gave the students bear cut outs and asked them to weave a woolen thread through the holes punched at the edges in order to develop their fine motor skill. This activity can also be used as a precursor to writing. I was surprised to see the concentration and the silence with which they were engaged in this activity. The child whom I considered a slow learner did very well in this activity by completing it first. Eye-hand coordination was visible. Student’s attention levels were high and peer discussion happened and they were relaxed in this session.

Vocabulary through sensory perception: Then I placed some objects having opposite texture near the students and I asked them to touch the objects and share their feelings to the class, like soft or hard, curly or straight and rough or smooth, big and small. Even a child who I thought was a slow learner did this activity fast and completed it ahead of others. The child who was academically good was slow in the activity. This made me think on how to balance both types of learners in a class and also how to handle mixed ability learners in a class. Number three (3) was a recurring theme in the lesson. There were 3 bears, 3 bowls, 3 beds and so on. I had to teach them the number three. I thought of using the simple water colour with which I used to make them paint 3 dots in a worksheet. I told them to dip their fingers in the water colour and put 3 marks on a worksheet.

Through this activity they learnt not only the number 3 but also the names of different colours in English. For some, they knew only the Tamil names. This was a good activity where they learnt the names of unfamiliar colours. I maintained a steady conversation with the children and they keenly listened to me when I asked them the names of the colours and asked them which one they liked. Through this activity I could do much more than I had planned. At that time I didn’t know that this would help me in another lesson which was fully on colours.This was made possible because our text books are designed that way. The vocabulary and content are interlinked and the activity done in one lesson helps in teaching another lesson. This helped me look at the text book in a new manner. The vocabulary thread is repeated throughout the lesson and when we
give them an unforgettable learning experience, teaching the rest of the lessons will be smoother and easier. Reinforcement will happen on its own. 

Vocabulary through pictures: All of us must be using this method in our classes. I introduced new vocabulary through pictures. I realized that pictures weren’t sufficient for teaching these words: Cottage, porridge, bowl. This was the first time that they were hearing these words. They were of foreign origin. The words were unfamiliar and they confused the words. So I used realia to help them understand these words. For porridge I prepared “raagi kanji” and brought it to class and told them that this was porridge and made them taste it. Wherever possible we should try to link it with their environment.
Video: I had downloaded the video “Curly locks and the Three Bears” and felt that it would be ideal for this lesson. True enough, the children enjoyed it so much. It was the first time they saw a video in a class. When the video was played, I paused the video to show them the unfamiliar words whenever it occured. By this I showed all the unfamiliar words. After seeing the video the students were able to narrate the story in their own language and enacted it by using masks. In the last unit there is a lesson “Magic Pot” where the word porridge comes. One teacher who observed my children told me that this was the 1st time she was hearing the word. “How do your students read the word easily?” I think it is the “raagi kanji” I brought to school that helped them remember it.

Teaching opposites using realia: In class V, I was trying to teach antonyms to children. In Tamil I found it difficult to teach antonyms. But when I brought in realia to the class and made them feel each object like: wood (hard) cotton (soft) the learning was permanent. In subsequent classes when I used  the word hard, soft they understood my gestures. They even told me that my hair was curly. Whatever can be brought to class and shown to children should be done. The children will remember it for life. For others words for which we cannot bring real objects, tiger for example, we can bring models, show pictures and visuals. Sensory feelings can be activated through these objects. The children learn better when they touch, feel and smell. There was an activity which was based on degrees of comparison. Degrees of comparison was always a challenge. The lesson gave ample scope for teaching this. I found that the readymade resources were not sufficient. So I drew different sized bears, beds, cots and bowls and coloured them and the children pasted them on a chart mounted on the blackboard. Since the poster is always displayed in class, the children get to gaze at it multiple times.
Family Chart: As an extension of the lesson, I displayed a family chart in the class and I asked my students to draw their family members in the family chart using stick figures. Then I made them name their parents using Mr. and Mrs. This was when I got to know their background. One of my students was living with her mother and grandparents. So while drawing the family chart she wanted to know whether she should include her father. Such instances helped me in understanding my students’ background.

Previously I used to teach a lesson in the usual chalk and board method. I used to feel happy that I had taught well. But when I ask them questions a few days later they would hardly remember what I had taught them. Now after using real life objects, pictures and AV aids I am happy to tell you that they remember what I taught them in the 1st lesson even at the end of the year. The projector was very useful. The day children watched the video, they felt very excited and claimed that their teacher had used a big screen to teach them in class.
For evaluation I pasted all the words on the wall and gave them the picture cards and asked them to stick the picture against the word cards. This enabled them to read all the words correctly. Other teachers also liked this strategy. I stuck some word cards on the walls of the classroom. Then I gave a picture card to them and asked them to find out the correct word related to that picture. Students


Term: Term 1