Archive for the ‘Learning Activities’ Category

Truly Natural Learning

Learning from the land and learning through one’s interactions with nature can feel idyllic for many city folks. At RDF schools, we feel truly blessed that children still have access to open land, farms, rich nature and her biodiversity! They learn so much through the natural resources around them.

We have written several times about the organic kitchen gardens in each RDF school, which are tended to with great care and love by RDF staff and students. These gardens, affectionately called the ‘Vegetable Farm House’ in Rollakal School, are also a wonderful learning resource for the young ones in pre-primary.  These little ones are eager to get busy in the Vegetable Farm House and they do not even wait to be ‘taught’! First, they happily plucked the ripe vegetables diligently and carefully, amazing us with their instinctive ability to be careful with the harvesting. Then they wanted to count the harvested vegetables, leading to an effortless lesson in ‘addition’. Thereafter, the teacher asked them, “How many are not good?” This led to a meticulous removal of the ones not fit for consumption and another lesson in ‘subtraction’ as well as segregating good produce from bad through working with their sense – maths, science and social science all rolled into one!!

These are activities that RDF school teachers are very proud of.  Not only does this make concepts very easy to understand, it also helps the children bond with the world around them, making it very real and contextual.

Studies in Self Exploration

The race for academic excellence and confining student ability to a marks oriented approach has been receiving a lot of flak for several years now.  Time and again, it has been shown that this puts a lot of stress on students and limits their accomplishments to academic outcomes alone. Thankfully, RDF schools understood early on that there is another approach to learning, one in which there is less emphasis on rote memorization and more on learning through various activities that engage all our senses, including appreciating that each child is  unique. We realized that learning happens best when students are engaged and having fun, rather than passively mugging up texts.

The proud actors at Synchrony Financial HQ

Redlawada School students participated in 2 interesting projects recently. Students of Class 9 & 10 were invited by Synchrony Financial, a global MNC that has been instrumental in funding and setting up English Language labs and providing Life Skills training for RDF children. They were invited for a theatrical experience by putting up a play of their choice. Agog with excitement, the children took the historical route, adapting the mega successful ‘Bahubali’ for their play! Right from collaborating on the concept, adapting it as a play, dialogue writing, selection of characters and rehearsals were managed by the children on their own, displaying a vast range of personal and lifeskills. The performance was heartfelt and won the appreciation of the Synchrony Financial team. The passion of the children really shone through, for all to see!

Back in school, another creative Mathematics project was taking shape. Middle school students got themselves into a happy knot (pun intended), taking out their scissors and measuring tapes for a hands on lesson in ‘Measurement’. Going beyond the conventional measuring lessons with boring rulers, kids were given free reign to measure anything that interested them – leading to a far more energetic and delightful class! For a subject that gives many students the jitters, it is amazing to see how injecting freedom, creativity and inspiration can take this (in)famous subject from fearsome to awesome!

Isn’t this equipping them with a sense of exploring their own talents, skills and interests very crucial to navigating today’s world? Isn’t this far more conducive to learning and giving them a sense of self – esteem, confidence and accomplishment?

Celebrating the Environment

The young children of the Mandal Parishad Primary School showed their sensitivity towards environmental issues by independently planning and organizing a ‘Green Day’ in the school.

The HM addressing the audience on the importance of conservation

The day started with a special school assembly dedicated to the importance of living in harmony with nature and the detrimental effects of managing human consumerism which leads to trees and forests being felled. Then the students led an awareness march through the village of Bahadurapally, since community engagement is a serious social responsibility that is a cornerstone of all RDF’s work and has naturally been implemented in MPPS too.

Students engrossed in the drawing competition

The enterprise shown by the children was amazing – right from planning the entire day’s activities to executing themed events on the day such as an essay competition on ‘The Importance of Trees’ , student speeches on ‘Greening the Environment’, singing and art events.

The children also planted saplings throughout the campus, along with the teachers and have taken on the responsibility of looking after the plants. A prize distribution ceremony concluded the day, with the winners in the various contents and all students being commended for their effort.

We are very proud of this initiative and the commitment these young and aware leaders have shown on the importance of conservation!

The Science of Creativity!

Dr. Seuss, the famous children’s author said in one of his books – “Think left and think right, think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up, if only you try!”

Trying is definitely something that RDF children do a lot of! Coming from lives filled with difficulties and financial deprivation, RDF schools open up a rich learning ground in which they soak up everything they are exposed to – and the exposure is carefully curated by caring teachers who want the very best for these children.

Science and its wonderful world of experiments gets everyone excited! Students at Rollakal School have been blossoming under the guidance of their Science teachers. The teachers who come from similar background as the children understand the importance of quality and creative learning. They too are sent for several training programs in order to enhance teaching methods. This then allows them to think about creative ways of teaching. 

Science experiments have been a great way to understand Science concepts that would be too complex to understand theoretically. RDF has gone through a lot of effort to equip each school with a Science lab in order to expose children to learning visually and experientially.

The most recent experiments that the Rollakal children have been exploring are photosynthesis, understanding the root system, learning about the mechanism and biology of human breathing etc. Though the Science lab is equipped with a lot of material to aid conceptual understanding, the staff also ensures that students use recycled materials in order for the experiments to be as green and cost effective as possible!

We are very proud of the efforts of our staff to ensure that children learn in a fun environment. We are also proud of the children who keep their scientific enquiry alive through enthusiastically engaging with their own learning!

Nurturing Creative Intent

Nurturing creativity, thinking and analytical skills is far more important than memorizing texts and writing examinations. While clearing examinations are necessary to get the requisite degree, it is ultimately skills such as creative thinking, analytical reasoning, exploring interests and seeing them through with perseverance that actually help in career and life.

Raju, showing his JCB model to trainers from Andhra Mahila Sabha

Raju, a Class 10 student in RDF Redlawada School, was inspired to construct a JCB after seeing one lumbering down the road in his native village of Redlawada. He was also intent on making a working model and not just a toy. Since growing up in RDF, from LKG onwards, he was always exposed to the importance of conservation and recycling. Therefore, he also decided to recycle waste materials to create his JCB.

With prior experience in activity based learning methods which nurture curious minds, it is not surprising why Raju was so keen to see his experiment to fruition. With the encouragement of his Science teacher, he procured materials such as syringes an pipes to assemble his model JCB. Once he put it together, he displayed it to his classmates, including its workings. It is amazing how creating working models of everyday vehicles bring to light so many scientific principles that make learning so easy. Raju proved to be a very able teacher to his peers by demonstrating how a JCB works!

Raju has always loved the atmosphere in his school, even when it was running in a small rented premises till 4 years ago. The atmosphere of invention, encouragement and creativity make him and other students interested in learning and their lessons. RDF teachers have been trained to pay attention to students’ innate talent and abilities, which support their growth and development.

Well done Raju & the teachers of Redlawada School for polishing a diamond like him & our RDF students! This is true value of Educating, Engaging and Empowering!

 

A Tale of Two Dramas

Today we bring a story (or two) from RDF Kalleda School on how a Drama can be used in 2 different ways to achieve different, yet meaningful outcomes.

To begin with, learning English in rural areas is very challenging. Students and teachers have very limited exposure to the language. Their struggle to learn the language to the extent that they can communicate in it well is very real. The children and teachers receive a lot of training from our education partners and dedicated volunteers to learn to speak in English and gain confidence in using the language.

The setting for the English play

Performing a drama is an effective tool to speak in any language, with its emphasis on intonation, pronunciation and facial expression. It can also make a challenge a lot of fun. Students of Class 10decided to pick a story from the Class 10 syllabus titled ‘Dear Departed’. The adaptation of the story into a play, the writing of dialogues, practicing it and then performing it in front of an audience was done entirely by students, with the able help of their English teachers.  The audience appreciated the confidence with which students spoke their dialogues and were able to put across the message of the original story and the play successfully. This highlights the willingness of the children to take ownership of their own learning, their creative thinking skills in creating a play from a textbook story, their writing skills in creating dialogues for delivery as well as good speaking skills! That was a lot of hard work put in by the children and they felt very satisfied with their effort.

The Telugu play in progress

The young children of Class 5 decided to use the medium of drama to bring across a social and environmental message about the detrimental effects of using plastic. Their play was done in Telugu and was performed on National Science Day celebrations in the school. The play made spectators aware of how plastic continues to be used everyday by most people, how it is not disposed properly, that it creates landfill which is slowly choking our planet. They made the audience aware of alternatives such as paper and cloth bags and ways in which we can say no to plastic. The kids and the audience both learned an very serious and important ecological problem and they got to exhibit their acting and performance abilities too!

We encourage the use of drama to create many relevant and fun activities for children. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the process and the final outcome!

No Limits for Knowledge

RDF schools continually strive, every single day, to put its vision of creating a nurturing, high quality learning environment through all its programs. How many us remember being intimidated by Science concepts in school, because merely reading about them in theory and rote memorizing them scarcely produced any real understanding of the concept or its application in real life.

RDF schools encourage their students to spend time researching Science concepts, create experiments and allowing their natural creativity to come through.

3 students from Class 9 in Matendla School, Nagaraju M, M. Nagaraju and Balanarsu decided to prepare an exhibit for National Science Day celebrations in school. They took some waste materials and shaped it like a boat. They attach a small dynamo, taken from a children’s toy car and connected it to a small battery. This allowed the boat to move in water. They then fixed a small switch to enable the boat to move forward and backward. Such experiences help students learn better through kinesthetic learning medium.

The students, like all RDF students, come from poor agricultural families. Going to school and learning well is what can equip them with the ability to go on create a career and better lives for themselves. All of them feel that they learn a lot in school and that it is enjoyable to learn this way. We all know, when we enjoy the learning process, we retain the learning. This is exactly what we aim for.

Prior to starting the experiment, the 3 students didn’t know how to go about making the boat. With the support of their teacher, researching the concept of dynamo, electric current and floatation through the internet and library books, they experimented and created a successful working model of a boat. Rather than struggle to memorise the concept, it is much better to struggle while experimenting, since the learning and the concept become clear. There is truly no time for learning – any time is a good time and there are no limits for knowledge!

We thank our teachers in Matendla for helping Nagaraju, Balnarsu and Nagaraj with this project.