Experimenting with the syllabus

Over the last few classes, I have been trying to understand our new syllabus, and make the required changes to it to make it work for the kids that I am taking classes for. I will share my experiences and try and explain my interpretation of the syllabus, which could have gone wrong at places. Hopefully we can discuss and find out how better we can tweak the syllabus to suit all of our specific needs.

Basically, there are kids with different kinds of intelligences – kinesthetic, inter-personal, logical, verbal, visual, musical. And there are different skills that have to be developed – reading, listening, writing and speaking. All the activities in the syllabus have been designed keeping this in mind. In my last class, I decided to experiment with the syllabus a little bit to see how things would work out (I teach a class of 10th standard kids, who are in the age group of 15-20).

teams

The four teams at work

I set up a series of activities for the kids to complete one after the other. I split them up into four teams, and gave each team a set of instructions written in English. They had to complete the instructions within a specified time limit, and the team which completed the set of instructions most accurately would be the winners.

masterpage

Master Page

This had the list of instructions, from start to finish. They had to sequentially go through the Pages and the Tasks (completing the instructions on each page, or completing the tasks that I assigned them).

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Page I

I: They had to find out the meanings of the words in the list by looking into a dictionary. Each team was provided with a pocket dictionary each. (This is something I use in almost all my classes, and I call it Flip & Find.)

page2

Page II

II: They had to form ten sentences using the words given on the page.

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Page III

III: They had to complete the words by filling up the missing letters. They were allowed to use the dictionary.

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Page IV

IV: They had to fill up the missing words in the sentences/series.

task

Tasks I & II

Each group had to go to one of the volunteers in the centre, and ask the volunteer questions in English to fill up the sheet. The kids were allowed to ask questions only in English, and only one question was allowed per child (just to make sure everyone was involved). For the tasks, I gave them only oral instructions in English.

task_qThe kids quizzing Nikhil :)

Each team had three lifelines. They could use a lifeline to have me help them find the answer to any one question. They could also use a lifeline to have me explain any particular instruction in Malayalam to them. The conversation during the entire activity was in English most of the time. I had to help the kids to come up with the right sentences, of course.

18072009The four teams with three lifelines each :P

Our syllabus has different sections meant for different purposes. I was trying to cover as many sections as possible with this one activity. The activity also caters to all the different skills – because the kids are reading, writing, listening and speaking during the course of the activity.

Read On: Reading the instructions on the Pages
Jot Down: Writing on the different Pages
Chat On: Asking the volunteers questions (Task I & II)
My Cool Rules: Forming sentences from the given words (Page II)
My Words and Phrases: Flip & Find (Page I)
All Ears: Listening to the oral instructions given for the Tasks

Hands On and Sing Along are the sections that have been left out. :(

Oh, yes. I have found a name for this activity too – Multi-tasker!

We have always had trouble getting the kids to speak in English. They know we speak the local language and hence would respond to us only in Malayalam. But I found that the kids were actually trying to speak to me in English this time – not just ask me for the Pages and the Tasks, but also try and clear their doubts about the instructions. They didn’t really succeed, and I had to push and prod them along the way, but at least I got them to try and speak in English. :)

All the kids had a great time. They were racing each other, desperately looking into the dictionary for answers, running out of my class to the next volunteers class to ask him questions and then back again….. Overall, Multi-tasker really worked in my class, and I plan to do it again pretty soon. :)

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Comments

  1. R-F@ctor says

    Wow! This is brilliant bro! I know we have been getting the impression that our boys are a tad too smart for the syllabus and hence it is upto us to make it interesting and useful for them. Tinkering around with the syllabus is something Nikhil & me have already had to do in the past. Sadly, I’ve been out of commission the past few classes. Cant wait to get back and discuss some new ideas with you.

  2. R-F@ctor says

    Wow! This is brilliant bro! I know we have been getting the impression that our boys are a tad too smart for the syllabus and hence it is upto us to make it interesting and useful for them. Tinkering around with the syllabus is something Nikhil & me have already had to do in the past. Sadly, I’ve been out of commission the past few classes. Cant wait to get back and discuss some new ideas with you.

  3. Sanjana says

    wow Blesson. its amazing how you have adapted the syllabus for big boys. i am passing this on to jayashree for her inputs (the person who made the syllabus).

    i have an idea for sing along for places like pallu big boys where kiddie songs wont work.
    how about poetry? you can select poems with stories and ideas that will interest and impact the older girls and boys. i am listing down some that i really think you should try. let me know what you think:

    If, by Rudyard Kipling
    Charge of the Light brigade, by Alfred Tennyson
    Casablanca, by Felicia Dorothea Browne Hemans
    Abraham Lincoln’s letter to his son’s Head Master

  4. Sanjana says

    wow Blesson. its amazing how you have adapted the syllabus for big boys. i am passing this on to jayashree for her inputs (the person who made the syllabus).

    i have an idea for sing along for places like pallu big boys where kiddie songs wont work.
    how about poetry? you can select poems with stories and ideas that will interest and impact the older girls and boys. i am listing down some that i really think you should try. let me know what you think:

    If, by Rudyard Kipling
    Charge of the Light brigade, by Alfred Tennyson
    Casablanca, by Felicia Dorothea Browne Hemans
    Abraham Lincoln’s letter to his son’s Head Master

  5. Aparna says

    hey this sounds really interesting… hope u’re not copyrighting “Multi-tasker” :D…

  6. Aparna says

    hey this sounds really interesting… hope u’re not copyrighting “Multi-tasker” :D…

  7. Pooja says

    Amazing !!

    I just feel inspired after reading this ! Really nice!!i cant think of a better way of putting the syllabus for the boys :)

  8. Pooja says

    Amazing !!

    I just feel inspired after reading this ! Really nice!!i cant think of a better way of putting the syllabus for the boys :)

  9. Blesson says

    @Ramu: Sure! Get back soon, I am sure the kids are missing you. :)

    @Sanjana: I will give those poems a try and see how the kids react.

    @Aparna: Absolutely, not! Multi-tasker is very much open source. :)

    @Pooja: Thanks. I think it will work pretty well for the older girls too.

  10. Blesson says

    @Ramu: Sure! Get back soon, I am sure the kids are missing you. :)

    @Sanjana: I will give those poems a try and see how the kids react.

    @Aparna: Absolutely, not! Multi-tasker is very much open source. :)

    @Pooja: Thanks. I think it will work pretty well for the older girls too.

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