Making education engaging and fun II

Remember the days when all students learned the same thing in the same way? These days’ educational innovations are set where you must teach to each individual learning style, and create differentiated learning plans for each student.

For times like when you just can’t make a lesson fun, follow-up the lesson with some fun activity. These activities which includes art and craft sessions, storytelling, fun games etc., allow the students to build self-confidence, and get better at presenting themselves, engage with an audience and improve on their motor skills. Art and Craft sessions are integral to our endeavor to improve the quality of education.

As our nation is full with festive seasons, we at Happy Horizons trust are trying to make every festival a fun activity based learning process. These process involves giving knowledge about the festivals through story telling workshop followed by some activities related to the festival. Apart from several sessions we conducted, we hosted two major festive events in Bihar this month.

Cap Making workshop and stories of independence as a part of Independence Day Celebration and Rakhi making workshop held at Saharsa district as a part of Raksha Bandhan festival were the two small step taken to build up, the skills and knowledge among students. These workshops help the students to build knowledge about the festivals, enhance their creative skills, leadership quality and their motor skills.

In storytelling session for Independence Day, champions explained the students how our leaders came up for the freedom of India and why 15th August is so important for us. In Cap making session students used white thin sheet for making Nehru cap which they painted in saffron, white and green color. These students wearing Nehru cap painted with the colors of Indian flag are the future of India. They need to be educated in the right direction for the betterment of society and as nation whole.

Raksha Bandhan is a bond of love between brother and sister. On this occasion we conducted a storytelling session and a workshop which were monitored by champions.  They used silk thread for making Rakhi, as it is considered best in Raksha Bandhan festival traditionally. For decorating Rakhi they used small glittery jewelries. Our Champions were monitoring and helping them. Craft activities helps the students to enhance their motor skills and they all enjoyed it.

The workshops act as a training for our champions and a learning for the children as well. As a part of this endeavor to make education more interesting and fun, we at the Happy Horizons Trust are constantly looking for different ways of engagement with the children. These activities allow us to bring smiles to children and have a long-lasting impression on them, for something that they will cherish forever.

Earlier, we had written about “Making education engaging and fun,” in which we gave emphasis on children faster learning and entertaining mediums like cartoons, visuals or videos in comparison to text or theory. Later, with some more observation about children’s interests and psychology through organizing sessions of creative activities, we come up with Making Education Engaging and Fun II.

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Annual Report 2014-2015

It has been quite some time that we had released the last Annual Report for the FY 2014-2015. But many say that they have not seen it. So we present it here again for those who may missed have seeing this.

The last year was special for us, as we grew our team. More people who believed in our vision joined us and got associated in different capacity. We started our office in Delhi as well. The projects in Bihar started to bear fruit, as our alumni of the programs got recruited as teachers.

Once again, we would like to thank everyone who has helped, contributed in whatever manner. It is with your wishes and blessings that we continue to move forward and attempt to improve the quality of education in the schools.

annual report cover screenshot

Happy Horizons Trust Annual Report (2014-2015) from Kshitiz Anand

 

Making education engaging and fun

Everyday, we talk about education, and get to read about data collected through different researchers. Some talk about the past and some give a better understanding of the present. We discuss on how can we contribute to uplift the grim situation in education in different ways.

We do not talk frequently about the smart and unique ways that can attract students/children in schools to have interest and willing to focus on their syllabus. Learning in schools through memorising the text are currently seen as boring. It is important that we address this issue to make learning more fun, engaging and entertaining for the students. As an analogy, if food can become tastier by adding spices, then perhaps we can look at spicing up the ways of learning as well. This will make it awesome and interesting.

Through this post, let us look at the some of the activities that we are doing at the Happy Horizons Trust, to bring in this interestingness in the schools since the past few years.

As a part of this initiative, first of all we initiated storytelling session in our series of activities with the schools. Through the numerous story-telling sessions we have conducted, we have observed that these sessions allow the students to build self confidence, and get better at presenting themselves, engage with an audience and improve on their communication.

We later introduced some art and craft activities to the children through our sessions as we believe that children need to be learning through making things and not just through memorising through books. For example, the students were taught how to make Christmas trees, when the festival of Christmas was near. Things like origami, sessions on creating artifacts from waste materials are a wonderful method of engaging children further.

We further initiated the “Learning through Videos” project, in collaboration with the Children’s Film Society, India (CFSI) in the month of May 2015. The project aims to educate children by showing videos/films picturised on children itself. These videos provide practical and social knowledge of life. We feel fortunate to get this project in our hands as it brought smiles to many little ones. Those who have never seen good movies like these that too on projector screen before this, as most of our screenings are done in government schools of rural areas.

As a part of this endeavour to make education more interesting and fun, we at the Happy Horizons Trust are constantly looking for different ways of engagement with the children. There is nothing more satisfying than the sheer joy on the faces of children when they experience our participatory methods of learning.

Learning through Videos Project

We have embarked on a very exciting journey. As proponents of alternative learning, we strongly believe in the power of learning through activities and one of the projects that we have initiated is Learning Through Videos’. This project is being done in collaboration with Children’s Film Society, India (Mumbai) . As a part of the project, 100 screenings of different films are to happen at around 20 schools in 6 districts in Bihar. These districts are Saharsa, Supaul, Madhepura, Purnea, Katihar, Khagaria.

This is a very important landmark in the history of Happy Horizons Trust, for 2 reasons. Firstly it allows us to collaborate with the institutional body like Government of India (through the CFSI) and secondly it also expands our presence, connections to other districts in Bihar.

The project inauguration happened on the 22nd of May in Simri Bakhtiarpur, Saharsa . The guest of honor were the Block Education Officer, Shri Vinay Kr Jha, Vice-Chairman of Saharsa Jila Parishad Shri Ritesh Ranjan and Shri Mahendra Narayan Prasad, veteran teacher.

The following films (produced by CFSI) are being screened as a part of this project:

  1. Lukka Chhupi
  2. Chutkan ki Mahabharat
  3. Gilli Gilli Atta
  4. Bapu ne Kaha Thha
  5. Kabhi Pass Kabhi Fail
  6. Bal Ramayan
  7. Dost Magarmachch
  8. Ankur, Maina aur Kabutar

For many of the schools, this is the first time ever that they are screening something using the Visual media for their students.  The joy on the faces of students when they get to know about the project, the curiosity of the students when they are watching the films and then happiness at the end of the screenings are so wonderful to watch.

Inauguration of Computer Center

It was a landmark moment for us as the last month, we inaugurated a computer centre that will serve as the home to the Digital Literacy and Internet Awareness Course. The guest of honour was the Sub divisional Officer Shri S K Shah and Shri Mahendra Narayan Prasad.  This would allow us to also launch multiple new programs and raising the digital literacy level in the area.

The beneficiaries of this centre would not only be school students, but also farmers and other citizens. Agriculture being a primary source of livelihood in the area, we feel it is important that the farmers are made aware about the recent advancements in agriculture and farming methods. Through videos and animations, through guest lectures, we hope that the citizens use this center to their benefit.

Another major beneficiary could also be teachers, who may want to find more about learning methods, new pedagogy styles and gain access to content that they can then use in their teaching.

The current setup has 5 systems and the hope is that we will be adding more systems by the end of the year.

The setup will also function as the centre for Champions training and imparting lessons on how to conduct the sessions.

3rd Career Awareness Seminar

The 3rd Career Awareness Seminar was held at the Rose Valley Public School, Simri Bakhtiyarpur, Saharsa. One of the things we want to do is to take these seminars across schools. That way more schools have access to asking questions to the panelists and The panelists for this event were Shri Pramod Bhagat, Principal and Director Tagore Public School, Mr Sarkar – Principal, Rose Valley School, & Smt Prema Shrivastava, Education worker. The agenda of the event is  such that the panelists first talk about the importance to be driven by a career gaol. The panelists also talk about the different careers which the students can aim for.

One of the motivations behind these sessions have been that students generally see only engineering or medical as a career option. We try to address this issue by making the students aware of as many things as possible.

In the hunt for that elusive engineering degree, there are many students who end up going through immense stress and pressure from parents and the society. It is our endeavor that if the students are introduced to different career options, they would end up making better and more informed choices about what to study.

In this Seminar, we particularly emphasized on the role of taking up careers in agriculture, careers in defence services and also teaching as a career option.

Here are some more images from the event.

 

Relation between hygiene and education

This was the topic of our discussion at the Open Parent meeting last week. We have always insisted this with the school students, that they need to be neat and clean. By doing so the children develop a positive attitude towards education and a higher sense of belonging in the schools.

Even though there were very few parents who attended, we feel activities like these need to be encouraged. This is important because often the parents themselves are not educated. For them their role at the max is to just send the children to the school. They are least bothered about what happens in school or how the kids go to the schools and the level of cleanliness that it maintained.

A major challenge with trying to attain this is that the infrastructure in many of these schools are also not top class. Schools often run in incomplete buildings where dust is a major problem.

Without windows, proper doors getting students to belong to a clean environment is tough.

The fact that the hygiene is not a topic of discussion at the homes, makes it a challenge to follow up in the school as well. Most of the parent struggle with this and the challenge really remain at the systemic level.

Over the subsequent sessions, we will be sharing more insights on the interactions with the parents and what they feel about this issue.

Champions 2014 batch

Here is a snapshot of our Champions selected this year, who went through a rigorous process of book readings, writing test, public speaking, group discussions, personal interview and parents interview.

Champions-2014

(L-R) Nidhi, Nida, Aparna, Nigar, Project manager Vinay, Jyoti, Neha.

As a part of the Rukmini Devi Scholarships that we offer to these Champions, and train them to be leaders, the students are given a stipend, professional training, a school to manage and engage with students on a weekly basis, computer training and internet literacy. The scholarships run for 3 years, subject to performance review at the end of every year.

We have observed that these students become good candidates to end up teaching in various schools at the primary levels. We feel that our project therefore not just trains these champions, but also prepares them for a job, and create means to support their family. In doing so, we complete the circle.

Champions selection process

One of the key processes of our activities is ”Champions Selection” every year. Our champions are the most important factor for the functioning of the Trust. They have been assigned with four major activities-reading, writing, story-telling and art n craft.

There, are total 6 steps of selection to recruit a champion and they are as follows:

1)Reading: We tell them to read a paragraph from a book or newspaper.

2)Writing: We give them a topic, a social topic related to education of poor children or women, sanitation, environment etc, in about 600-800 words.

3)Personal interview : We ask them about their family members, hobbies, interests and ambition.

4) Extempore public speaking : All these girls are asked to speak on a topic for about 5 minutes individually one by one.

5)Group Discussion: They are asked to divide themselves in groups of four and are given a topic to discuss.

6)Visiting champions’ homes and meeting their guardians :  After completion of all four steps mentioned above, we ask 5 shortlisted girls to take us to their homes to meet their parents/guardians. By taking this step, we try to find that how much the guardians are interested in our work. Are they really willing to involve their ward in our organisation or is it just the champion’ personal decision. We do this process as we think that without the guardians’permission its not possible because usually sometimes, we need to send the  champions to perform the activities in some particular school all alone to check their confidence.

On ganesh chaturthi

One of the things we seek to emphasize during our sessions is to ensure that the students get introduced to the Indian culture. Needless to say, the plethora of festivals that India provides a good way to experience it.  So at festival that we encounter during the academic year, we try to conduct sessions that drive across the stories behind these festivals.

These sessions are led by the champions and they conduct either drawing, painting competitions on the occasion. Last week the champions conducted drawing competition in the schools that we work in.

It is important that we continue to do such sessions, to help the children remain active on the creative side. Through these sessions, many times we identify students who are really good but never get the encouragement to do these activities neither in the schools nor at the homes.