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The monthly newsletter from EI

This Month’s Issue

Issue 69 | January 2011 |

Brainstorming in .............. 01 New School of thought.... 02 ASSET WEEK ..................... 02 Teaching Kids Science....... 03 How to Show Students..... 04 Annual Day ...................... 04 How Shanghai Topped...... 05 Where Are All the............. 06 Teacher’s Bite................... 07 Activity Based Learning.... 07

Where Are All The Butterflies?

Seminars on Assessment.. 08 Person of the Year 2010... 08


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Brainstorming in the Classroom

Editor’s Note

Thomas Edison said, “To have a great idea, have lots of them.”

Hello Readers! The festive seasons are over and I believe most of the schools will be having their mid term and annual exams approaching. We have come up with AFLI- A national seminar series on 'Assessment for Learning Improvement'. AFLI seminar focuses on how assessment can be instrumental in improving learning standards across the schools. The first two seminars were conducted in Kolkata and Jaipur. Read about it on page 8. ASSET WEEK 2010 results will be out in February. This issue contains an article about teaching kids Science, an Interview of Mrs. Valli Arunachalam, Principal, PSBB, Nungambakkam and lots more. Happy Reading

Brainstorming is the key to creative processes. It’s the best way to think of a number of potential answers to a problem. It also can involve tons of fun.

Bindu Pillai

Creativity can thrive in any group if the environment is right. It doesn’t have to be a solitary child staring at a blank piece of paper. Brainstorming can be a team sport. As a teacher, you take the lead -- asking questions, fielding answers, showing enthusiasm, keeping the "what if" spirit flourishing. Accept all Ideas: Make the tone positive. Even if an idea obviously won’t work, write it down or hear it out. Not only will the quietest of your kids feel included, that idea may be a stepping-stone to another, more useful answer. Have a Visual Focus: It really helps to have something visual to start with. Students can use it as a mental touchstone as their minds wander in search of new ideas. It may be the name of a character on the board, or ideas that are listed as they are suggested, or a quick drawing of a character, or a painting as a prompt.

Push Beyond the Obvious: Children need a gentle, encouraging push to get beyond that first line of over-used ideas. So if you’re all dreaming up names for a super-hero who’s a bear, know that the first answer will be “Super Bear!” Gratefully accept it, and then say something like, “Great idea! But what else could we name him?” You could even start by saying the obvious answer: "I bet many of us thought of 'Super Bear'. Okay. That's a good idea, but I know we can do better!" Once your students get past the initial shock that there might possibly be another answer, they’ll come up with more. It's good to show them the progress they make. At the end of the brainstorming session, there should be a range of ideas. You may need to highlight a few that have real possibilities, or you may just want to let them individually choose which ones will work for them. In either case, point out how the answers worked out are so much more interesting than the obvious ones. Most of all, remember to make brainstorming fun! There's an amazing energy that builds in a group as ideas begin to fly

Source: (Modified)

New School of Thought

Almost 30 robots have started teaching English to youngsters in a South Korean city, education officials said, in a pilot project designed to nurture the nascent robot industry. Engkey, a white, egg-shaped robot developed by the Korea Institute of Science & Technology (KIST), began taking classes at 21 elementary schools in the southeastern city of Daegu. The 29 robots, about 1m tall with a TV display panel for a face, wheeled around the classroom while speaking to the students, reading books to them and dancing to music by moving their head and arms. The robots, which display an avatar face of a Caucasian woman, are controlled remotely by teachers of English in the Philippines - who can see and hear the children via a remote control system. Cameras detect the Filipino teachers' facial expressions and instantly reflect them on the avatar's face, said Sagong SeongDae, a senior scientist at KIST. "Well-educated, experienced Filipino teachers are far cheaper than their counterparts elsewhere, including South Korea,� he said. Apart from reading books, the robots use pre-programmed software to sing songs and play alphabet games with the

Robots teach English in South Korea

children. "The kids seemed to love it since the robots look, well, cute and interesting. But some adults also expressed interest, saying they may feel less nervous talking to robots than a real person," said Kim Mi-Young, an official at the Daegu city education office. Kim said some may be sent to remote rural areas of South Korea shunned by foreign English teachers. She said the robots are still being tested. But officials might consider hiring them full time if scientists upgrade them and make them easier to handle and make them more affordable. "Having robots in the classroom makes the students, especially shy ones afraid of speaking out to human teachers, more active in participating," Kim said. She stressed that the experiment was not about replacing human teachers with robots. "We are helping upgrade a key, strategic industry, all the while giving children more interest in what they learn." The four-month pilot programme was sponsored by the government, which invested $1.37 million. Source: Times of India


Results will be announced in the 2nd week of February, 2011 on our website

Teaching Kids Science

Teaching children, science can be both rewarding and fun. Science plays an important and crucial role in the education of the current generation. With rapid advancements in science and technology, this field is very vital to every-day life. Being aware of what is going on in the world of science and why certain phenomena occur is important to a young child’s education in science. Science for kids, although very basic in nature, covers a broad variety of topics that involves fun and uniqueness in teaching these concepts to children every day. Some children may excel in other subjects and may not be as interested or skilled when it comes to science. To gain the attention of all of the students you teach, you may want to try a few creative as well as different approaches. When teaching them science, keep in mind that children have a shorter attention span than adults and you may need to keep the material light, easy to understand as well as enjoyable while getting it across to them. Here are some fun ways to spark the children’s interest in the classroom when teaching them science. Scientist of the Day: Select one student who will research a science related topic and come up with a fact to share with the classroom, every day. In this way, the students will not only teach each other but will also bring to light new and interesting information on the concerned topic, to the class. With each day, a new fact will be discussed and any questions that students may have with regard to kids’ science will be

Some Tips and Advice on How to Engage your Students

answered. By adding this idea to your teaching method you will be engaging the minds of the students, while simultaneously conveying the topics of kids’ science within your teaching plan. Articles: Science is always changing and developing. With the wave of new technology and inventions, students should be aware of what is going on in the world. By reading short and informative, but interesting, science related articles every day you will be able to keep students involved and up to date with the most recent advancements in the field of science. Keep the content light and keep in mind the age of the audience that you are teaching. Mix it up: Change the learning atmosphere from time to time. The world of science is not limited to a classroom. Take a field trip or walk outside. You could be teaching kids science in real life situations. Some children learn better with visual aids and this will appeal to the needs of those students. By actually seeing science in action it may be a more productive learning session for kids since they need to be engaged in order to focus on the kids’ science topics at hand. Games: Kids’ science does not have to be limited to books alone. Teaching can consist of many different methods and tools to convey the material. Once you have gone over the material with the students you could implement a game to test their knowledge. In this way, learning can be fun and can create an atmosphere that will challenge young minds. Source:

How to Show Students You Care

If you love children and love learning, communicate your feelings to students with these tips: Listen: Most of us have been taught to teach, keep order, and attend to the endless details that make up each school day. Often we don’t take the time to listen. How can we sharpen our listening skills? One way is by making eye contact with students while they are speaking. After students finish speaking, invite questions and comment from their classmates. This tells students that their statements are important. Share Something About Yourself: Sharing something personal - but not intimate - with children is a nice way to demonstrate that you respect them as fellow human beings.

Be Firm and Tough: When teachers are always prepared and ready, students get the message: Learning is important, and so are they. Be Curious: People who love learning are in a perpetual state of curiosity. Gently prod your students: Why is this? Why is that? What do you think? How can we find out? Reward Effort: Every child needs to know that education is a journey, not a destination. To keep children engaged in the process, consistently reward academic exertion as well as achievement. Spend time with children who need to be drawn in.

Value Humour: Appropriate humour is healthy and can bring teachers and students together.

Value Yourself: We touch children’s lives. Valuing children and valuing education are among the characteristics of a great nation.

Admit you don’t know everything and acknowledge your mistakes. That will mean a lot to students.

Enjoy being with children. Contributed by: Ms. Meenakshi Atal, Vice Principal (Source: Creative Class Room)

Annual Day Presidency School, NLO, Bangalore celebrated its Annual Day, ‘Jhankar 2010’, on 04th November. ‘Jhankar 2010’, was an intricate blend of Indian folk dances from the Northern, Eastern, Western and Southern part of India. These dance forms were performed by all the 1159 students from Grade 3 to 10. The Annual day was organised in two shows - one in the morning and the other in the evening - so that each of the 1159 students gets an opportunity to showcase his skill on stage. The chief Guest, Mr. C.R. Simha, a renowned personality from

the field of theatre and movie, appraised the show as cent percent without a single flaw. The other dignitaries present on the occasion were the Chairman, Mr. Nissar Ahmed, the Director, Mr. Thangadurai, and the Principal, Mrs. J. Bhuvaneshwari, Principals, Headmistresses, Coordinators and teachers from the Presidency Group Schools. By Priyanka Rao, ASSET Ambassador, Presidency School, NLO, Bangalore

How Shanghai Topped PISA Rankings? Shanghai students' top ranking in the result of Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) has drawn great attention towards China's education status. A total of 5,115 fifteen-yearold students from 152 Shanghai middle and high schools participated in the assessment, ranking top among 470,000 attendees from about 65 countries and regions within all the three catalogues including reading, mathematics and science. Their stunning performances have aroused attention worldwide and shocked media in Western countries. Angel Gurria, secretary general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which developed the assessment, said the success of these Shanghai students "shows what can be achieved with moderate economic resources and in a diverse social context." However, Chinese educationists said that people should be sober-minded towards the outstanding scores. Consider the two top contenders on PISA: Shanghai and Finland. These two places, one a very large city of nearly 21 million, the other a small nation of less than six million, represent two very different approaches to education. The one thing they have in common is that neither of the world leaders in education is doing what American reformers propose. According to the OECD, the international group that sponsors PISA, the schools of Shanghai -like those in all of China, are dominated by pressure to get higher scores on examinations. OECD writes: “Teaching and learning, in secondary schools in particular, are predominantly determined by the examination syllabi, and school activities at that level are very much oriented towards exam preparation. Subjects such as Music and Art, and in some cases even Physical Education, are removed from the timetable because they are not covered in the public examinations. Schools work their students for long hours every day, and the work weeks extend into the weekends, mainly for additional exam preparation classes...private tutorials, most of them profit-making, are widespread and have become almost a household necessity.” OECD points out that more than 80 percent of students in Shanghai attend after-school tutoring. It remarked on the academic intensity of Chinese students. Non-attention is not tolerated. Interestingly, the authorities in Shanghai boast not about their testing routines, but about their consistent and effective support for struggling teachers and schools. When a school is in trouble in Shanghai, authorities say they pair it with a high-performing school. The teachers and leaders of the strong school help those in the weak school until it improves.

By - Valerie Strauss

The authorities send whatever support is needed to help those who are struggling. In the OECD video about Shanghai, the lowest-performing school in the city is described as one where "only" 89 percent of students passed the state exams! With the help sent by the leaders of the school system, it eventually reached the target of 100 percent. Finland is at the other end of the educational spectrum. Its education system is modelled on American progressive ideas. It is student-centred. It has a broad (and non-directive) national curriculum. Its teachers are drawn from the top 10 percent of university graduates. They are highly educated and well prepared. Students never take a high-stakes test; their teachers make their own tests. The only test they take that counts is the one required to enter university. Last week, I went to a luncheon with Pasi Sahlberg, the Finnish education expert. I asked him the question that every politician asks today: "If students don’t take tests, how do you hold teachers and schools accountable?" He said that there is no word in the Finnish language for "accountability." He said, "We put well-prepared teachers in the classroom, give them maximum autonomy, and we trust them to be responsible." I asked him if teachers are paid more for experience. He said, “Of course.” And what about graduate degrees? He said, “Every teacher in Finland has a master’s degree.” He added: "We don’t believe in competition among students, teachers, or schools. We believe in collaboration, trust, responsibility, and autonomy." It is also interesting to consider what these two very different systems have in common: They place their bets on expert, experienced teachers and on careful training of their new teachers. They rely on well-planned, consistent support of teachers to improve their schools continuously. These two systems are diametrically opposed in one sense: Shanghai relies heavily on testing to meet its goals; Finland emphasizes child-centered methods. Yet they have these important things in common: Neither of them does what the United States is now promoting: They do not hand students over to privately managed schools; they do not accept teachers who do not intend to make teaching their profession; they do not have principals who are non-educators; they do not have superintendents who are non-educators; they do not "turn around" schools by closing them or privatizing them; they do not "improve" schools by firing the principal or the teachers. They respect their teachers. They focus relentlessly on improving teaching and learning, as it is defined in their culture and society. The lesson of PISA is this: Neither of the world’s highestperforming nations do what our "reformers" want to do. Source: (Modified)

Where Are All The Butterflies?

I was watching a butterfly the other day, totally mesmerized. I enjoy watching the activities of many insects and animals, but I wondered why I found this butterfly's antics so engrossing. Then it dawned on me; it was because I haven't seen one for months. It's amazing what we take for granted in the natural world, sometimes not even noticing that something's gone until old memories are triggered, alerting us to the fact that something's not right. We get so caught up in modern living; we quickly lose touch with the changes in our environment. I remember seeing several different varieties butterflies flittering around. There were so many that they hardly gave you pause for consideration, unless they were particularly large or grand. There's over 27,000 species globally, so usually there's a common butterfly variety wherever you are. Butterflies perform a couple of important roles in the ecosystem. They are not only food for other creatures, but are also pollinators, much like the bee; assisting all sorts of plants in their reproduction. Without pollinators, biodiversity suffers through declining numbers of plant species. What is causing the butterfly decline? The primary culprit of butterfly decline as usual is man. We destroy their habitats and the plants that a species of butterfly may be reliant upon. Global warming will further increase their decline, changing habitats further and boosting temperatures to a point where the climate is not suitable for some species. One particularly damaging practice is the clearing of hilltops.

School Corner

Many species of butterflies congregate on hilltops. Pesticides are another major problem as are harmful predators, both insect and animal. What can we do? Something we can all do to help preserve butterflies starts in our own back yards and gardens; by selecting compatible plants. Adult butterflies feed on nectar from flowers and caterpillars mainly eat leaves. Because butterflies can be quite picky, it's important to have the right plants in order to attract them and provide the appropriate environment for breeding. Given the range of species, it's probably best to contact a butterfly association in your country, who will most likely be able to point you in the right direction for advice in your area. The conservation of butterflies is an important issue - not just an aesthetic one. A third of humanity's food supply depends on insect pollination, so the issue of butterfly decline and the loss of other pollinator insect species have huge implications for humans also. So please do your bit in saving the butterflies and enjoy looking at them again. By Twishi Saran, ASSET Ambassador, Sharada Vidya Mandir, Panaji

Teacher’s Bite Mrs. Valli Arunachalam, Principal Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan Senior Secondary School, Nungambakkam


Who has most influenced you to become an educator, and how did they influence you?

My mother, who is no more, had inspired me to become a teacher. Her reason was that it is a noble profession and it is service-oriented. She believed in the dictum that teachers are divine like gods and goddesses. She did not allow me to take up envious bank jobs that came my way. Mrs.YGP, my Dean and Director, while interacting with me in 1976, before appointing me, influenced me to take up teaching and she readily offered me a teacher’s job. She has encouraged me over the years and helped me tide over crisis.


What is your approach to classroom management and student discipline?

Classroom management is a combo of many skills. It is an interesting experience and this keeps a teacher cheerful, dynamic and satisfied. Simultaneously, she could also feel unhappy, fatigued and discontented. It depends on the kind of transaction she has in the class room. Even if the situation is not very optimistic or encouraging it is up to the teacher to convert the scene and manage it admirably. Healthy interaction should define class room management. Education should be fun filled and not threatening or frightening. So students and teachers should be tuned to this system of organisation.

Activity Based Learning "Our Dreams for the World..." By using various resources such as library books, textbooks, and/or the Internet, students learn about the life and accomplishments of Mahatma Gandhi or Nehru. Students then can write their personal dreams for the world on notebook paper. When completed, they can then cut their writing page into the shape of a cloud, mount it onto a piece of coloured tag board or construction paper, cut that paper into a cloud shape as well, and display their writing. You may want to have students create an illustration to accompany their dream cloud.

Activity oriented teaching is a must and that will keep the children agog and help them respect their teachers and school. The teacher should try to be on her toes and illumine herself as well as her students. Freedom is not a commodity to be doled out. It is a privilege and an honour and not their birthright as such. There should be controlled freedom or organized freedom in a classroom. Children should be accorded freedom to express their feelings, in addition to clarifying their doubts. If this is carried out, classroom discipline will be impeccable and there will be no need for constant monitoring of the students’ discipline.


What are your views regarding the 'Importance of Teacher Training and Development' in educating Students?

Teacher training is a major activity which needs attention in school planning. It should be planned ahead before the start of the academic year and it should be an ongoing program. Professional as well as personal development are important. Besides the development programs, learning by observation or listening should be given enough provision. So ‘space to grow’ within the institution is a must and preparing teachers for administration is equally relevant and important.


What is your view regarding the ASSET Test?

I have no words to describe ASSET, as it is well structured and framed on sound foundation of analysis , research and inference. The questions provoke students to think, analyse and conclude. Precision is important and it is coupled with correctness of knowledge. It doesn’t encourage rote learning. It inspires children to explore beyond the text and study for the sake of knowledge and not just for prizes or certificates. It makes a child mature and prompts him / her to imbibe skills to become holistic individuals.

Seminars on Assessment for Learning Improvement ‘What gets measured gets improved’ - Peter Drucker rightly said this.‘To improve it’s important to measure it. Hence with the belief that assessment is the stepping stone to improve the learning standards, EI has come up with AFLI- A national seminar series on ‘Assessment for Learning Improvement’.

in improving learning standards across the schools. Various tools and analysis of the assessment will be shared which will help improve student learning. The seminar was successfully completed in Kolkata and Jaipur with enormous participation from proactive Principals and Owners from the top schools of the region. The next set of seminars will be held in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Chennai and Guwahati.

AFLI seminar focuses on how assessment can be instrumental

Person of the Year 2010 - Mark Zuckerberg while our sense of privacy is expanding. What was once considered intimate is now shared among millions with a keystroke.

“On or about December 1910, human character changed.” Virginia Woolf, 1924

“On or about December 1910, human character changed." Virginia Woolf, 1924 She was exaggerating, but only a little. Woolf saw a fundamental shift in human relations taking place at the beginning of the 20th century "between masters and servants, husbands and wives, parents and children." Those changes, she predicted, would bring about transformations in every sphere of life, from religion to politics to human behaviour. Few would say she got it wrong. A century later, we are living through another transition, the way we connect with one another and with the institutions in our lives that is evolving. Our sense of identity is more variable,

More than anyone else on the world stage, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg is at the centre of these changes. He is both a product of his generation and an architect of it. The socialnetworking platform he invented is closing in on 600 million users. In a single day, about a billion new pieces of content are posted on Facebook. It is the connective tissue for nearly a tenth of the planet. Facebook is now the third largest country on earth and surely has more information about its citizens than any government does. Zuckerberg, a Harvard dropout, is its T-shirt-wearing head of state. At 26, Zuckerberg is a year older than our first ‘Person of the Year’, Charles Lindbergh, another young man who used technology to bridge continents. He is the same age as Queen Elizabeth when she was ‘Person of the Year’, for 1952. But unlike the Queen, he did not inherit an empire; he created one. The ‘Person of the Year’ is not and never has been an honour. It is recognition of the power of individuals to shape our world: for connecting more than half a billion people and mapping the social relations among them (something that has never been done before); for creating a new system of exchanging information that has become both indispensable and sometimes a little scary; and finally, for changing how we all live our lives in ways that are innovative and even optimistic, Mark Elliot Zuckerberg is TIME's 2010, ‘Person of the Year’.

Humourous Bite Teacher: ‘Why are you late to class?’ Ram and Shyam: ‘We helped an old lady cross the road,’ Teacher: ‘But did it take you so long?’ Ram and Shyam: ‘The point is she didn't want to cross the road.’

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ASSETScope January  
ASSETScope January  

A monthly newsletter for teachers, school principals and students. It covers articles related to school education, teacher training, classro...