25 February 2012

After the students had 2.5 hours of exam preparation today, we played a few games in the park. The students first introduced me to Water&Ice, in which one person is "it" and anyone who is tagged by him has to freeze like an ice sculpture until freed by another player, who must touch the frozen friend without being caught by the person who is "it." Some students enjoyed making me into a sculpture, and others displayed their chivalry by coming to rescue their Didi in Distress.

Next, we played Follow the Leader with a new set of rules to make the game more exciting. And lastly, we played Hide&Seek, the Indian version of which is much more interesting! Players who are hiding must sneak up behind the seeker and tag him to end the game. How cool.

Once the other students had been dismissed, I worked on English with Sonu (5th grade).

Specifically, he wanted tips on how to remember the answers to English questions on tests. What I soon learned was that once he knew what was being asked, he was able to write the answers with only minor mistakes. But he had trouble recognizing the wording of the question itself. For example, he has an upcoming assessment on the following 7 questions:

1. What is your name?

2. How old are you?

3. In which class do you study?

4. What is the name of your father?

5. What is the name of your mother?

6. What is the name of your brother?

7. What is the name of your sister?

He can easily write "I am 13 years old," but has trouble reading the questions themselves, and therefore knowing which response to write. My "tip" to him was to look for the terms in common between the questions and answers. For example, the word "old" is present in both the question and answer above. It seems obvious to us, but he had never noticed this before!

Sonu, thankfully, understands phonics, so I was able to get him to sound words out, but I have noticed that some students can spell "cat" but don't know what sounds the individual letters make; only how to write the word. Another of Sonu's strengths is his Hindi, so I was able to remind him that that "c" makes a क sound, "a" a ए sound,  "t" a ट sound, etc. This seemed to really help him, and it was a good review of my Hindi writing as well. :)

I think this is a perfect example of how rote memorization in Indian education is so, well, rote. For us in the US, "cramming" means studying non-stop the night before a test. Here, it means cramming information into your brain even if you don't understand it at all. Sonu just expected to memorize all of this without noticing any patterns, which seem like "tricks" to him -- this is normal to him, and truly shocking for little me, a product entirely of the American education system.

At the end of an hour and a half together, I was very pleased with our progress. A boy who couldn't recognize what he was even being asked when he walked in walked out knowing how to read and respond to the 7 questions. But of course, I will review this again with him tomorrow. And that's what's different about the work we are doing with our students. At his public school, the teacher would write each sentence once and tell him to copy it a number of times and bring it back to school the next day. I'll instead remind him of the patterns we discovered, so that he will be able to make similar connections when he is taking an assessment. And I'm not even an experienced teacher -- this is just the type of attention we are used to in America, and the type all these students would be getting if they had had the random fortune of being born into a different environment.

1 comment:

ggill said...

Great teacher! Keep up the good work!