Archive for the ‘RDF Kalleda School’ Category

Scientific Creativity on Fire!

It all starts with an idea!

RDF is always encouraging its students to dive deep into a particular theme, topic or subject through interesting activities. Science is a subject that comes alive through the practical demonstration of experiments that can explain concepts easily. Our teachers also go through extensive training in order to teach their subjects better and help ignite children’s imagination.

Fine tuning with the Science teacher

Success!

This is precisely what was created in Kalleda School during a Science lesson recently. M. Yashwanth of Class 8 and M. Rajender of Class 9, with the help of their Science teacher, came up with the idea of preparing liquefied petroleum gas by mixing fire and petrol through a scientific contraption. This concept is used routinely in small and large scale industries, however our students were able to innovate and create a very low cost working model using plastic bottles, pipes, a air pump and a burner! The model was successful and was exhibited at the District Level Science exhibition. The experiment was praised by everyone and got 1st place and was selected to be shown at the State Level exhibition. While they didn’t win at the State Level, this encourage and inspiration they receive in school helps boost their confidence and also get them fired up to continue engaging in scientific experiments.

District Level triumph!

We have seen that providing children with a hands-on, learning environment really enhances their interest and curiosity in a subject, which then deepens their understanding, leading to further inventiveness. This is what we strive for – happy and creative children – letting their imagination soar!

 

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‘Foam’enting Inventiveness

How many of us remember Science classes, trying to understand Physics, Chemistry or Biology only through theory and trying to grasp these theories with just our minds? But take the same concepts into the realm of experiments and suddenly complex theories become so clear and simple to understand!

Science needs hands on learning. It is to this end that a ton of effort is put into teacher training in our schools so that teachers understand new concepts and ideas to make their subjects interesting, to enable child to learn in interesting ways, thus retaining the learning. Once a concept is grasped, ideas and creativity to understand a concept better keep mushrooming! We have seen this time and again with our students.

In Kalleda School, students and teachers turned their attention to soaps- how they are formulated, what makes them pure or impure. Through a series of demonstrations, the Chemistry teacher made the students observe the foaming capacity of soap samples that were purchased from the market.

They were able to grasp how the purity of soaps is related to its foaming capacity. Through this experiment, they were able to clearly understand how soaps are made, understand their quality and differentiate between various soap formulations. Coming away with new knowledge and a greater understanding of stuff we use on a daily basis is the kind of positive impact we hope to nuture in every RDF student.

Now, at some stage, we are sure we will see some innovation related to soaps coming from the imaginative minds of our students!

The Spirit of Giving and Volunteering

Volunteers – their spirit of giving, their generosity of time, effort and commitment have been an integral part of RDF’s story since inception. RDF has been progressing for over two decades, not only due to financial support from organizations and individuals, but very importantly, also because of the many individuals who have volunteered their time to support RDF’s work.

Ms. Geeta Nambiar, an educationist from Chennai has volunteered with many NGOs across the world. She recently spent one month based in Matendla School, to offer her services to the students and the school team there. With English being a necessary language and skill in today’s world, she focused her efforts on working with Pre-primary and primary children and teachers to build their English communication skills. She also spent time with the villagers who asked her a very important question – “What is the use of staying for just a month? To make a difference you have to stay for a year.” She was unable to stay longer, but feels that in order to support the school and community’s development, other volunteers should try to stay longer.

She wrote a beautiful note about her stay at the school and her interactions with the local community –

Ms. Nambiar, in a teacher training session in MS

It was a privilege, indeed, to help the teachers with their English, at this school, which started under the trees, nearly 20 years ago and waited for 7 years before it got its beautiful building.
I was deeply moved to hear that every brick was handmade by the parents. These unlettered farmers and shepherds realized the value of education and later, the value of English when they requested for the change of medium.
The villagers were warm and friendly and invited me to their homes and many asked many questions. As first generation learners, educated in the Telegu  medium, the sincere, dedicated teachers truly deserve support .
The school is run with transparency, honesty and integrity and optimum utilization of resources including human resources. Discipline is strict but benevolent and the students happy, healthy, friendly and confident. Congratulations to the RDF and to the staff and students on what has been achieved in Matendla. May you go from strength to strength.”

Ms. Nambiar’s commitment created a wealth of experience for the children, teachers and the extended community. Her stay will be cherished forever in our memory and we are very grateful for her selfless support!

Mr. Kaeding’s note about the 4 schools

Another visitor to the RDF Kalleda School campus recently was Mr. Erik Kaeding, an educationist and attorney from California, USA, who has been supporting RDF’s sister NGO, the India Rural Development Fund (IRDF), for several years, through fundraising efforts and also served on the IRDF board. This was his third visit to RDF and he took the time to visit the four schools. He observed classes, interacting with teachers and students. He appreciated the training the teachers have gone through that enables them to create student friendly teaching and learning techniques that enrich the classes. He provided feedback and suggestion for improvement, including suggesting other child friendly techniques for teaching. He also took a tour of the organic farms and the school labs. He was impressed with the expansion of infrastructure in the four schools that includes more classrooms and school buses. The methodical transition to English medium and the increasing use of English in conversation and in teaching also made a positive impression on him.

Mr. Kaeding, interacting with villagers

He met several parents in each school, taking feedback on the education system and facilities at the schools. He was very happy to learn that the parents are satisfied with the facilities and the quality of education being provided and that the children are also happy and proud to be a part of RDF. He also met several alumni to discuss their careers, giving them tips about furthering their skills and ongoing learning and development on the job.

We are immensely grateful to every volunteer who supports RDF and the advice and help that they extend to the entire community. In their unique ways, the help Educate, Engage and Empower these deserving rural communities!

A Culture of Compassion for Agriculture

Learning from one’s local environment and community is very valuable for school children. While learning from textbooks for a curriculum is important, it is equally important for students to be able to connect textbook knowledge to real life challenges around them.

RDF children belong to financially backward, rural, agrarian communities. Most parents are either small farmers, farm labourers and cattle herders. Learning about challenges in farming is necessary for them, if they are to begin thinking of sustainable solutions – this is the vision RDF has been actualizing – by educating them about the world around them, engaging in deep and meaningful ways with the local communities and empowering them to understand the challenges and find ways to help them in various ways.

In Kalleda School, as part of a Science field trip, students  of Class 8 visited farms in their local village to understand the challenges in a farmer’s life and to observe the use of a Harvester machine. The farmers were happy to interact with the students, demonstrating how the harvester helps them save time and money. The farmers explained how it is getting difficult to retain farm labour and the economic burden of agriculture. Use of technology such as the Harvester machines is helping farmers, but they need more help to make their lives financially sustainable. They also had a productive discussion about paddy and its diseases and methods being employed to ensure good crop year on year.

The Harvester machine

Through this trip, student became much more aware of the difficulties present in eking a living through farming, awareness about how Science and Technology can help farmers and that there is still a long way to go in order to make this more productive and less cost intensive for them. We hope this reality and its inherent challenges will help our students utilize their academic and life skills learnt in RDF, to return and help our farmers – the backbone of India’s economy

The Team Teaching Spirit!

RDF schools follow a unique system of evaluating the efficacy of its teaching and learning practices. Teachers from RDF schools visit another RDF school in order to observe, review and provide feedback, including sharing teaching challenges and better teaching methods. This method allows teachers from different schools to share their experiences, take advice and feedback from each other and in the process, empower themselves.

KS Senior School teacher being observed by MS team

In November, teachers from Matendla School in Siddipet district visited Kalleda School in Warangal Rural district. The Matendla team observed all classes in Primary and High School, Sports and Co-curricular activities. The observations gave them the opportunity to appreciate how the activities are being conducted in Kalleda and compare them to academic and non academic activities in Matendla School. There was also an open discussion about the gaps that were observed and how to go about mitigating them.

Primary class being observed by MS team

MS team observing a KS Computer class

This open and transparent system of internal visits and monitoring helps teachers take responsibility for their own work, share best practices and more importantly, work together towards the common goal of enriching the teaching and learning environment in all RDF schools, so that students receive the maximum benefits and impact of high quality teaching.

It also allows them to reflect together on the goals of teaching and the importance and role of the teacher in providing a rich and nurturing environment to children, such that they can learn to their best potential. We are very proud of this team spirit that exists between teachers of the 4 RDF schools and can see how this culture uplifts the teachers’ own experience and the students too!

Teaching Tech Skills

Life without technology is unfathomable in the 21st century. Children in urban areas have plentiful access to various digital devices. The school and home environment also provide time, instruction and knowledge about technology. This is not the case in rural areas. While mobile phone reach has penetrated many rural areas, children are not well versed in understanding technology well enough in order to use it as a skill in their lives and careers.

Therefore, RDF has made a lot of effort in raising funds and through individual and corporate partnerships such as Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) and Microsoft, NASSCOM Foundation, Value Labs, Infor, Cognizant Foundation etc. in order to set up fully functional computer labs in each school. Kalleda School has a well planned timetable that allows children to learn and practice computer skills before, during and after school! Children learn how to the MS Suite applications such as Word, Excel and Powerpoint. They learn typing skills and also MS Paint. Since the labs are equipped with internet access, the children learn to browse the net to access information for their homework and related school projects. The kids really look forward to their computer classes as it opens up a whole new world of information for them. Several RDF students have gain enough technical skill and expertise in order to obtain jobs in the field.

The main challenge remains power outages, so the school has inverters to maintain regular power supply.  The students and parents are very appreciative of RDF’s effort in developing the infrastructure in the schools in order to equip the students with such essential 21st century skills!

 

Making Time for Teachers

Investing time and effort into carefully thought out training and development programs for RDF teachers has been the bedrock of RDF’s education philosophy. Kalleda School teachers have been feeling really gratified with various programs to enhance their professional teaching skills.

Visitors from the Krishnamurty Foundation

Members of the Krishnamurthy Education Foundation Trust – Mr. Kishore Khairnadh, Mrs. Kalyani Kishore, Mr. Subhash and Mrs. Anjana recently visited the school. They teachers and students enthusiastically put up their Science work and these exhibits led to animated conversations between the children and the visitors! They also spent time in Primary and High School classes, interacting with children and observing classes. They spoke at length with Class 10 students about the Board examinations and preparations for their onward educational journey.

They conducted an orientation program for teachers, giving them advice and strategies to enhance their skills. A big thank you to the Krishnamurthy Trust members for encouraging our teachers!

A demo class in progress

In another program – as part of their in-school training and development, teachers conducted demo lessons for feedback and improvement. This kind of peer sharing has worked very well for the teachers, who feel that it brings immense value to their teaching practice.

For the RDF family, it is lovely to see how selflessly the teachers support each other!