SAIIER 2013:Isai Ambalam School

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Ilaignarkal Education Centre
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Tamil Ulagam Evening Schools
Isai Ambalam School



Mission

The mission of Isai Ambalam School is to create a learning environment in which the students and the teachers reach their highest mental and spiritual consciousness possible for one‘s level, so as to live, learn, teach and function from there.

Overall goal

Effective and successful application of the educational principles of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother through appropriate educational methods for educating rural students and dissemination of the knowledge of the process of this successful application to the teaching community inside and outside Auroville.

Specific objectives

  • Creation of a Model School imparting education up to the 8th or 10th standard level where mainly Alternative Educational Methods, incorporating the educational principles of Sri Aurobindo and Mother, will be used for enabling its students to achieve their educational objectives and to realize their educational potential to the maximum possible extent.
  • Creation of a Teacher‘s Training Centre where teachers will be trained in the effective use of these Alternative Educational Methods.
  • Creation and implementation of a short-term Course for a practical learning of Sri Aurobindo‘s Evolutionary Perspective of Human Life on Earth and the Process of Evolution, and offering it to the students, the teachers and others, who wish to follow a conscious process for progressing in their path towards perfection.

Highlights of this year

In this year separate learning programme for each of the 104 students was written and implemented. Learning programme for each of the students contained:

  1. Essential knowledge content appropriate to his/her age and level,
  2. Other knowledge or skill content for which he/she had inclination, aptitude or special talent,
  3. Essential psychological life skills,
  4. Further skills or knowledge he/she wanted to acquire.

Ponni and Vaigai Groups (3-4 years old)

34 children (18 boys and 16 girls). Learning Programmes for these children contained activities for the 8 kinds of development at the preschool level. Among them, for the Cognitive development, Glenn Doman method or Word Flash Cards method was used. For the other developments weekly or fortnightly thematic projects were used.

This year, along with the Flash Word Cards, we used multisensory software called “The Little Reader”, produced by the website www.brillkids.com, for English. This software enabled the preschool children to know the meanings of the English words easily. All these words were categorized under 23 common themes. The children spent just 5 minutes watching and hearing the words, and then the developmental activities were later given to them under this theme which reinforced their learning. As a result 15 out of 34 children were able to read 200 words, knowing their meaning, under 12 themes.

Learning programme could be completed by 80% for 5 children, 50% for 13 children, and 30% for the rest of the children. For this, 8 projects designed around 34 themes were used. Regarding their Cognitive Development under Word Flash Cards method, 12 children had learnt to read 400 and 550 words in English and Tamil respectively, 6 children learnt to read 350 and 450 words, and 150 and 250 words by 6 children. A lot of Montessori activities were given for all the children. A remarkable aspect of learning was seen in such activities when the children undertook Mandala Coloring activities. Even though these activities lasted just for 20 minutes, an intense, quiet, but at the same time a pleasant, atmosphere prevailed whenever the children did these activities.

Narmadha Group (1st to 5th standard)

60 students (28 boys and 32 Girls). Separate learning programmes were planned for all these students. Samacheer Textbooks (Tamil Nadu State government textbooks prepared under their Uniform Education For All Scheme) along with Activities-Based Learning Cards were used for implementing the programmes for the academic subjects. ABL Cards enabled them to acquire self-learning capacity. Apart from this, Phonics Method for Reading, computer educational CDs, and educational websites were used to implement these programmes.

Subject contents of the learning programmes were 60% completed for the 1st standard, 80% completed for 2nd standard, 60 to 80% for 3rd standard, 75% for the 4th standard. Skills content of the learning programmes was completed by 50% in the 1st and 2nd standards, 40 to 60% in the 3rd standard, and 40 to 65% in the 3rd and 4th standards.

Students in the primary level completed all the learning steps in their ABL ladder by the end of the second term itself. They had started their next level ladder in the 3rd term itself.

Gangai Group (6th & 7th standards)

6 students (3 boys & 3 girls). Learning Programmes of the students in this group were completed by 50 to 90% in Tamil, 50 to 90% in English, 80% in Math, 55 to 80% in Science and Social Science. Skills part of the learning programme was completed by 85% with respect to problem-solving, leadership, communication, organisation and creative thinking skills.

Involving the parents in the learning of their children

This year preschool parents actively participated in their children‘s learning activities.

Researches and improvements in the educational methods used in the school

  • In this year our use of the computer CDs and Internet was extensive with respect to the removal of the learning difficulties of the students faced by them in their subjects. A considerable quantity of multimedia data base for the removal of such difficulties has been created. We have intended to complete the creation of such a database in the coming year. To help in this task a complete list of all the learning difficulties faced by the students in their academic subject content has been prepared. Whatever multimedia data we have gathered so far have been put in a separate computer system which is made easily accessible to the students for use whenever needed.
  • The Little Reader software of Brillkids website could be customised to use the multimedia content in it, like pictures and animations, for learning to read Tamil language. We had modified it so that some 300 Tamil words could be learnt using the software. In the coming year we have intended to complete it.
  • A new approach was discovered to introduce the English and Tamil alphabets to the children who had learnt to recognise a large number of Tamil and English words. In English it was used to enable them to easily adapt themselves to the English Phonics system. A set of 5-6 laminated Tamil or English word cards were given to the children. All the alphabets or graphemes used for these words were written on separate cards and spread out on the floor. They were to use these cards and form those words. Children liked to do this activity and soon became very adept in it. Without the teacher teaching anything the children could get the idea of specific letters for specific sounds in those words.
  • Compared to the last few years, this year a large number of Montessori activities were given to preschool children.
  • Visiting primary students of “Creative School” in Bangalore taught our preschool and primary students to use Mandala designs for coloring activities under a special atmosphere created with music and soft words. Once the process was on, there was a very sweet intensity and concentration in the atmosphere at the venue of this activity. A significant aspect in it was that this activity was done in a spontaneous and effortless manner. Throughout the third term this activity was regularly done by all the students.
  • A highly useful and interesting research or an experimental activity was undertaken in the last two weeks of the year, after the annual tests for the students were over. The theme under which this activity took place was “Learning to Link Students‘ Learning Experiences in the School Day to the Learning Outcomes Acquired by Each of Them on That Day”. The students became the prime characters in that they decided what to learn and what to do; in their own way they planned the sequence of their activities. They organised their own dance and drama programmes. They taught each other. On their own they sought the resources to work out their plans. Of course the teachers facilitated this process when needed. Regular interaction between the students and the teachers took place after each round of activity. Teachers were highly enthused and remarked that, even though it needed much more energy, they never felt tired, and both were highly motivated in their activities. Teachers acquired a lot of insights about the learning of students. They were amazed by some of the learning outcomes of the students, for example, after seeing the animation movie “Finding Nemo”. One of the 1st standard students had drawn a figure under water with bubbles emerging from the face of the figure. He had intuited that the bubbles were due to the air breathed out by the figure.
  • A new learning activity was initiated during the last term. It was intended to enable the students and teachers acquire a deeper and broader perspective of movie stories. Three well-known movies, “English-Vinglish”, “My Fair Lady” and “The Karate Kid” (2010) were selected, and shown to the students and teachers. The common theme in all these movies is that their main characters, all of whom were not confident in acquiring skills considered difficult to achieve, made considerable efforts to achieve them, exhausted their efforts and succeeded in achieving them. The efforts made by all of them were varied and value-oriented. Separate questionnaires, containing 40+ questions on “English-Vinglish”, were prepared for the teachers and the students. Whenever needed they could see selected portions of this movie to answer some of the 1uestions. The process of answering these questions required a deeper and broader thinking. The answers by the teachers showed that they acquired this perspective of the content of the movie to a considerable extent. We have decided to continue with such a learning process in the coming year.
  • Even though it was decided in this year to use formative assessment as an important component of any meaningful assessment, it was difficult to do it with full understanding. For a beginning we used a Tamil children‘s magazine called “Chutti Vikatan” to help our teachers and students in this process. This magazine allotted 16 pages exclusively to help the students and teachers in this respect. Apart from that, helpful hints were scattered throughout the magazine along with examples of formative assessment. We have planned to acquire full proficiency in this assessment through regular training in the coming year.
  • An “Olympics” project evolved just like that during London Olympics in 2012. The students daily approached the volunteer, Lula, to learn more about the Olympic Games to be played on that day. She had downloaded many Olympic Sports Events and several video clippings, and showed them to the students along with detailed explanations. Towards the end of the London Olympics both decided to organise Mini Olympics in Isai Ambalam School. She designed simplified versions of several Olympic Games and organised Olympic style competition in which the students participated. Herself and the students designed their own versions of the medals using local materials. Lula herself gave away the prizes to the students at the end of the competition. It was a lively experience for all.