The classroom is the original cultivator of true learning and the green house that nurtures talent and creativity. The dynamics between a teacher and students define the essence of a classroom. A great teacher can transform the brick-and-mortar confinement and take students on a journey of pure learning, responding to their doubts and instilling an environment of curiosity and interactivity. Hence, to optimize the learning experience, schools and colleges in India are vying to embrace innovative methods, installing the latest educational technology and encouraging teachers to be more creative than ever.
Here’s a glimpse of some of the innovative techniques that teachers are trying out to make learning effective, engaging, and fun.
Audio-visual (AV) supplements
Many educational institutions in India have AV-equipped classrooms or venues to boost students’ learning and understanding. Teachers explain difficult subject like Physics/Maths/Chemistry through graphical representation of complex equations with the help of smart-boards. For language learning, the audio-visual equipment is an indispensable tool. Teachers can play snippets of award-winning films, plays, and speeches of great orators, both in vernacular, English, or the target language to facilitate the skills of listening, speaking, and histrionics.
Subject teachers are leveraging AV facilities in interesting ways to trigger the class’s curiosity through graphics, images, and puzzles, thereby driving them to think out-of-the-box. Above all, it satisfies a student’s need to see, hear, and have a complete grasp of what they are learning.
Flip methodology or classroom
This technique, to put simply, is to roll the responsibility of learning towards the students and make them active participants of the learning process. B-schools like SP Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR) and Indian School of Business (ISB) are some of the pioneers of flip classroom in India. Here, teachers relegate to the role of resource or material providers via email or intranet, whereas students take the centre stage of gathering concepts, constructing knowledge, and drawing inferences.
However, the other significant aspect is that teachers follow it up with a discussion session on the given topic on a stipulated day to ensure students’ participation, seriousness, and overall learning. Besides discussions, there are group presentations, debates, and essay writing competitions.
Teachers are implementing effective and interesting measures to evaluate students’ learning outcomes and the efficacy of the flip method. Surprisingly, when given responsibility, students take more interest, immerse themselves in the project, and deliver much better. Flip methodology promotes greater student involvement in the learning process and lays down the foundation of independent learning.
Role play brings in the element of entertainment into the classroom. As much as it is loved by students, this technique facilitates their understanding and appreciation of the characters that they read about. From pre-schools to Senior Secondary level, schools are implementing this method as it’s a great source to instill in children values and ideals as they play the roles of historical stalwarts like Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King, or legendary characters like Caesar, Mark Anthony, and Charlie Chaplin, to name a few.
Students are encouraged to have their own version of the characters they are portraying, and enact them with the context of the present times. Through role play, students also get to learn about various aspects of stage performance – from acting to voice projection – and discover their acting talent. This technique also helps teachers explore creativity and critical thinking in students. Role play is an impactful method to enhance learning that also lends learners opportunity to live the experience through empathy and internalising values.
It is one of the most effective strategies to even up the learning curve of a class. Usually, teachers pair students who are high performers with those students who might be struggling in a subject area. Students are also encouraged to volunteer, or are randomly chosen to take over as the subject teacher. It offers a platform of knowledge sharing among students, besides harbouring healthy competition.
The interesting aspect of peer teaching is that students tend to respond more actively when one of them dons the mantle of the teacher. The class becomes attentive and interactive in a bid to challenge each other in a constructive manner. With regular peer teaching sessions, students start to develop better grasp of the concepts, display maturity, tend to be more disciplined, and also develop better communication skills.
Beside B-schools, this method is now widely used at all levels of education irrespective of affiliation, boards, or curriculum. Children studying at schools in rural areas too are getting their share of playing the teacher. Kudos to Government Higher Primary School (GHPS) in Kadasi Kopa in the Kanakapura Taluk in Karnataka for being a trailblazer among government schools by successfully and strategically implementing peer teaching on a daily basis. Furthermore, to underline the gravity of peer teaching, teachers assess student’s performance as part of continuous evaluation.
The play-way lessons are quite popular among students of all grades, and a successful strategy to keep them engaged. If the sessions are carefully designed and smoothly executed by teachers, this method reinforces cognitive knowledge, especially of mathematical and scientific concepts, and vocabulary. Teachers are experimenting with various kinds and levels of word and mind games like quiz, puzzle-solving, Scrabble, Sudoku, etc.
Games help to seamlessly incorporate subject knowledge with application, and are an answer to productive and smart learning. This is reinstated by Bangalore-based tech firm Quest Alliance in designing a game called Anandshala Gupshup for enhancing communication between parents and young students. The game increased parents’ awareness about their children’s need, and that reflected in students’ improved class performance and attendance. The second game, called Career Quest and designed for students of vocational studies, helped them revisit technical concepts as well as provided them training on life skills.
Collaboration is an essential life skill in a globalised environment, the driving force of all enterprises. In an educational institution, this skill can best be fostered in the classroom by allowing students to work in groups. Educators are planting the seed of a collaborative mind as early as primary school, where young children are motivated to create, plan, and organise group presentations of stories, skits, or poems. Throughout, teachers help students chalk out their plans, provide them key points, supervise their work, and build team spirit.
Many schools have made collaborative project work a prominent part of the curriculum. Teachers are designing their lessons to allow time and resources for group activities, be it research or class presentation.
Going beyond the classroom
Education should make children aware of the world and themselves, widen their perspective, and make them seek the truth. Schools are embracing the trend of taking children outside the classroom. Whether on a nature trail, or visiting cottage industry, students now directly interact with what they read about in books. Children gain more knowledge when they see and experience history in museums than being taught the same in the class.
Field trips are now an integral part of the CBSE curriculum. International boards too have made excursions compulsory in schools. Dr. Pillai Global Academy had recently arranged for an exciting field trip for students to Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand. Along with a trip to Nainital and Delhi, this provided students with hands-on learning. Hence, there is a visible increase in the number of excursions organised by schools. Students, teachers, and parents enthusiastically come forth to make the attempt a holistic educational experience.
The various innovations and the creative endeavours of the teachers are making classrooms zones of great activity and intellectual rigour. Though the journey is at its nascent stage, the future holds promises of a rich and holistic learning space. Every student can have access to a repository of resources that will enable them to learn independently and meaningfully.
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