Author Archives: Vaidegi G

Reflecting on my Previous year 7th Graders

Today I went to Isai Ambalam with the plan of starting Gardening ( Sat school – every Saturday, interested children will come to learn/build something new). At the end of the session, Varsha ( Old student of IsaiAmbalam) came to me to say ‘Hi’. It was very pleasant for me to see her back.

Kameshwari, Valarkavi, Varsha ( From left to right )

The reason was, the choice was her’s and she chose to attend the Sat school. I thought the Sat school contributed something to her, which she felt valuable. Which made to come back and took part in all the activities.

Out of curiosity about my children,  I asked her “How everything is going?”.  She smiled and replied back saying ” We are rocking there”. She continued, ” Valarkavi, Kameshwari and I going to Gandhi school, where the teachers initially little hesitated to give admission ( I’m not sure of what was her interpretation) as we are from unregistered school. Later, they have been saying that the students from IsaiAmbalam are doing very well in all the subjects. Totally they have three sessions in 8th grade. Kameshwari got into section A, Valarkavi – section B, I’m in section C. We all three are really doing well there.”

I felt this was the answer to the question which I have been asking myself for the last few weeks. Which was why am I here.

My first class with IsaiAmbalam 2017-2018

New academic year.. New students… So, something should be new in the way I start my class too. The first thing which came to my mind was the PIPER animation video. I thought, it would be nice to begin with that video. But later I realized that the video will be more effective when I combine it with stewardship tools. Yes, I did start with stewardship tools (student version) – Stand and Fear.

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This year we are planning to focus on EBDs (Education By Design). The students will face many challenges in the form of EBDs. When a person asked to do something which is totally different from what they have been doing in all their life, may tends to put them in their fear of ‘Not being good enough’, ‘Making mistakes’, ‘Ridicule’ and  ‘Judgement’ ( These all are the things I got out from children when I did fear exercise). So I thought it’s better to introduce these tools before I start my journey with the children.

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I closed the session with PIPER animation video. Siva ( Teacher at IsaiAmbalam) supported me to carry out this by his active engagement.

Sleep over at Aaranya – The man made Forest

4th graders of IsaiAmbalam have built a pond as they were doing an EBD (Education By Design) project on water harvesting. When Sanjeev presented it in the SAIIER meeting, Saravanan the person who created the Aaranya forest came to Sanjeev and told him it was a nice effort. He also invited us to visit Aaranya forest one day.

We decided to visit the place with 35 children (4,5,6 and 7th graders of IsaiAmbalam). On 31st March we went to Aaranya. It was on Friday. We reached there around 5.00pm. Saravanan gave a little introduction to the place Aaranya and Started walking into the forest and we all followed him with great eagerness. He showed us the rare varieties of the tree like Red Sandalwood, Yellow Silk Cotton, Mullalamaram, Virali , a tree used to make Kajal (I forgot the name of the tree) etc. Also, he showed the flying fox, the wire bridge and the cuts in the ground. Children were very excited about those.

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Yellow Silk Cotton

 

 

 

 

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After the walk, we started the bonfire and it went for an hour or more. After having the dinner we all assembled in a room where the children shared what they have learned so far. Then, Saravaran showed a video about Aaranya for few minutes. Followed by that video he also played a video about wildlife. That was fun and informative.

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Next morning, we all went to the forest again to fly in the flying fox, to walk in the wire bridge. Children told it was a nice experience ( unfortunately, I missed it ).

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A child drew a picture of that place after we came back to school. From left the flying fox, the cuts in the ground, the wire bridge, yellow silk cotton, red sandalwood, mullalamaram, virali, the tree house, the tent where few of us slept in, the bonfire and the mesh room where everyone stayed.

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How does the world look smaller than it’s size in the map?

How does the world look smaller than itself in the map?

How do I look bigger than myself in the banners?

I had this conversation with 7th graders of Isai Ambalam. Few students seemed to be very eager to express their opinion for these questions and they all had started answering for this at the same time. I stopped all of them in the middle and I asked the rest of the children, “did anyone understand anything from what they were saying?”.  ” Yes akka”  Varsha told as if she heard and understood everything that has been told by everyone and rest of them told “No, I didn’t” in cores voice.

“Ok, we will go one by one akka. First I will start”, kameshwari volunteered and started saying, ” Because the world is too big that’s why they( the people who made the map) made it small, otherwise we can’t see the whole world”.

I thought I have to repeat the question as it appeared to me that the child misunderstood what I have asked them. How does the world look smaller than itself in the map? I insisted on the word ‘HOW’. She sat down in her place with the gesture saying that she was thinking.

It seemed that Akash wanted to share something, so I looked at the side he was sitting. ” I don’t know how to say that akka, I’m looking for a word. Give me a moment”, Akash said with a voice of proud and little confusion. Then Prabha(Prabhakaran) raised his hand and started,” Akka I could enlarge my photo as many times I want till it became the size you need, likewise we can reduce the size too. In other words, it’s like Zooming in Zooming out a photo”.

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Akash interrupted him saying “I found it. The word I wanted to say was times… “. I thought I got the crux of the topic which I had chosen.

Later they picked up some shapes like square, rectangle, and triangle and scaled up/down to some ratios. I felt satisfied with I had done with children at the end of the class.

 

Pie Chart – Learn by Montessori and plot by GeoGebra

A week ago few students ( Kabilan, Vignesh and Punithavel ) came to me with a question and the question was “Akka (sister), what is PIE CHART and how do we do it?. Out of three of them, two doesn’t have a clear idea of what is Fraction. So, we started with Montessori fraction kit. I took the 6th family of the kit ( circle of 6 pieces). I started with a question “6th family has 6 pieces.  Then what is the percentage of it ?”.

“100% akka” the answer came out in a fraction of seconds from all of them with confident voices. Then I took out two pieces from that and asked the same question. That time there were two voices started murmuring something which I couldn’t hear clearly ( I think, that’s what they wanted). I waited for few seconds to Punithavel to complete his mental calculation. He said, “It must be more than 50% and less than 75%” and immediately after he shared his answer he started explaining his thought process to his two friends. He told, ” if 3 pieces give 50%, then 4 pieces could be more than 50% but less than 75%.  They shook their heads as the sign that they understood it but they seemed to confused too. I felt good about his thought process though he couldn’t tell the accurate answer.

Then I asked them to tell a story for that. This time Kabilan started. “Akka I had 6 cake pieces and I gave two to Vignesh and 4 pieces left. I continued with his story asking,” So out of six, you have only 4?”. They said, “Yes”. I asked,” Can you write that in your notebook?”. Punithtavel asked, ” What akka?”. I replied,” What you just said which should be written as a fraction not as a sentence”.

Two wrote it as 4/6 and one wrote it as 6/4. Each showed it to me to check their “ANSWERS“. I replied saying ” I don’t know. You discuss this among yourself and tell me”. After the discussion, they all came up with 4/6. I said, ” it seems fine but how can I convert this fraction into a percentage?”. Punithavel told, “It’s easy akka. All we need to do is multiply 100 with this fraction” and the rest of two nodded their head as they agreed with punithavel’s idea.

I thought that they were ready to do their pie charts so I asked them to tell me the difference between the percentage which we calculate there with the percentage which given in the text book’s example problem on Pie chart. They found that in the textbook they were multiplying 360 instead of 100 with the fraction part. I told them to go figure it out on your own. Off course it took time because they have to ask their buddies. But they did. Here is what came out after the conversation.

STEM Land inauguration at IsaiAmbalam

We inaugurated the STEM land at IsaiAmbalam school on 1st March 2016.  This is our second center on STEM. We started the event with a short powerful speech by all of us (Arun, Bala, Naveen, Prathap, Sanjeev, Sundar and Vaidegi) and then Subash – Isai Ambalam Head Master, Kavitha – IsaiAmbalam Coordinator and Sanjeev lit up the Kuthu Velakku as the sign of STEM Land openning.

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Stem Land has Montessori  materials, Rubiks cubes, Strategic games,  Soldering station and Aravindh Kupta toys materials. Children (including Udavi  students) put up 15 stalls to show up their projects. Each was in different areas.

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Some children put stalls on Strategic games, some on puzzles, some used Electronic circuits to lit up led and buzzer, Some made Soap Bubbles using Aravindh Kupta materials, Some children used Fraction kits to demonstrate the mathematical concepts (like fraction, angles, percentage), two of them used Denies cubes to play with simple algebraic equations, One used Rubiks cube.

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It seemed children were excited to show their projects and explain the concept or the principle behind it.

Here is what everyone’s shared on STEM Land Inauguration.

Sanjeev:
STEM stands for Science Technology Engineering Mathematics some areas that are interrelated and can be learnt together, there are many more related areas that we will add as we work on them more. But, I would like to talk about why we use ‘Land’ and not ‘Lab’. We as educators are looking for natural learning environments and if children can learn English naturally in England we hope that children will learn STEM naturally at STEM Land.

Bala:
Stemland at Udavi School has made the children to be independent and responsible for their studies. The children have a plan and know what they want to accomplish for that week. They work either on a project or a chapter from a book. I have noticed that there has been peer and multi grade learning among the children and they learn a lot talking to each other. Stemland has given me the opportunity to have one to one conversation with a child which I was missing when I was taking a regular class. It makes me feel that we are equals. This culture has been built over the past year and I hope something similar emerges in Isai Ambalam too.

Arun:
As a team we explore Learn, Grow, Work and Teach. STEM Land came from a wild idea where children are given responsibility for their own growth and learning. I see the children more responsible after exploring STEM Land. I also learned to be more responsible working with the children.

Naveen:
Its a new experience for us to work with the young children(i.e 4th – 7th Grade). We use Montessori materials to learn math and we also do hands on work(Aravind Gupta Science Toys) to learn some of the concepts in science class. The children have the courage to create their own science and electronics projects . They are also creative and interested in doing hands on work. The children here are responsible for their learning and as well as for the materials in STEM Land.

Vaidegi:
Stem Land is a place which connects the theoretical knowledge with practical experience. I used  Montessori materials to demonstrate Algebraic simple equation, Angles, Fraction, Percentage.

Prathap:
From my experience when I entered Udavi Stem land I felt it was the place to learn new things and also I felt I am responsible for my growth. I learnt programming in Python and in Scratch. I also learnt to design circuits and to analyze  and simulated the circuits. In Isai Ambalam school I see my children are responsible for their growth. I see joy in learning with my children in Stem land. I see project based learning in Stem land. I also see self learning for them self and peer learning as a group.

Sundar:
In STEMLAND there are a variety of strategy games, Cast Puzzles the children enjoy playing.
In STEMLAND the three ground rules are:
1) Respect yourselves,
2) Respect others,
3) Respect the materials,
that play an essential role in creating the atmosphere.

At the end, we distributed samosa which is always a favorite snack of our children.

2016 Reflections

In the beginning of 2016 I was assigned to a new project on Python called Cello (Graphical User Interface for a chip). Working on this project has improved my skill in Python and my style of thinking.

I was a beginner to Python language. I had spent quite a lot of time even with some small logic. Initially, I followed trial and error method to make my program work without much logical thinking. Indeed, I hoped for the best out it like a magic (Yes, it did work for quite a few sometimes).

Fortunately, I was able to make some small pieces of code (functions) to work. That gave me the confidence to strive to break down my program into smaller logical units. After sometime, suddenly, I realized I had started liking what I do and it seemed that I was very eager to make things work. However,  I was still a novice and I had only thought through things superficially and had no depth in it. Most of my programs were inefficient and had no comments for future reference.

After few months I completed the initial specifications project and thought I was done. It was then that I was asked to add few more features in it. It was only at that time I started to realize all my incorrect assumptions and mistakes. I think that experience was for my growth and how I did so consciously,  the capacity to deal with stress and ability to think about the big picture rather to be stuck with some of my assumptions particularly when I design something.

On the other hand, I played the role of Teacher in two schools (I’m a volunteer at two schools- IsaiAmbalam and Udavi). It was as much of a challenge as being a good programmer. I realized, it was easy for me to deliver a lecture to the class, but that did not give the result which I expected. I started having one to one conversations. I didn’t change the whole picture but few students had taken the responsibility of their own growth and started working towards it.

Later, rest of the students started noticing it and wanted to be like them. In other words, those few people inspired others simply by their action & outputs. Generally it’s hard to track each child, but this is what I’m doing and I’m happy too. I fell proud when a child teaches me something which I have no idea. I learned many things when I sit with a child (particularly problem solving skills, reasoning, aptitude and how to make myself light & happy).

Aura Auro had given me an opportunity to attend Vipassana also. That helped me to look at myself and find out what I really care for and what all are my biases. This was my biggest learning of 2016.

Savarirayulu Government School visit to StemLand

Mrs. Hemavathi ( the principal of Savarirayulu govt. girls high school) had visited us a few weeks back and spent a day at STEMland talking to children and seeing their work. Hemavathi is the general secretary of the Pondicherry Science Forum and a very respected teacher trainer in the government. She was thrilled with the motivation and self-direction of the children who she saw were able to work independently and effectively. In her visitor note she wrote that STEM land gives her hope.

She put this in action and this week she organized all her 20 odd teachers to come during the holiday to STEM Land for training. We also prepared for a 4 hrs module on teacher training including use of stewardship tools that look choice of working from possibility and fears and doing things differently. We then jumped into getting teachers who had been fearful of computers for 30-40 yrs to program with scratch. The teachers were very engaged and delayed their lunch by an hour and a half to work.

They also interacted with children and their reflections at the end of the day gave us hope of changes in attitudes both towards technology and how they work with children. We felt that this school is the first government school to whom we are going to partner with for training and continued work with the children.

Here is what we personally felt about the workshop with the teachers,

Arun:

Teachers’ sharing:

  • A Computer teacher requested her school teachers not to be strict to children and instruct each and every movement of the child. Instead she wants teachers to show love and care so that the children don’t move into fears. She added that children will have the courage to ask doubts if that happen.
  • I had an assumption that the Govt school teachers won’t be open to learning. But Kabilan (8th Grader) taught scratch to the computer teachers and they were very open to learning no matter who was teaching them.

Insight:

  • Freedom is an universal value.

Bala:

From people sharing:

  • At lunch, I told the teachers that they can sit anywhere and have their food. A teacher replied saying that ‘you are giving so much freedom to your children and we know that we are allowed to sit anywhere we want’. It struck me that not many schools give freedom to children to make their choices.
  • A teacher at my table said that creating projects in the computer is real learning and very different from other schools where they simply give internal marks without doing anything.
  • A teacher said that he stood for all the values – I had the same thought one day, for me to happy I have to be in all the universal values. Was interesting to hear someone had the same thought as me.
  • Another teacher shared about how she was always for others and this was the first time she had time to think about herself and her values/stand.

My insights:

  • I was able to look at the wisdom profile of the teachers. Before, I looked at their social profile and made assumptions. I was able to break it.
  • I learnt to look at situations from different perspectives/lenses.

Prathap:

  • Whatever I do, I have to love it and do (work). This requires sincerity, responsibility and progress. All those will come if I love what I do. This is what I learned from the teacher’s insight.
  • The other insight was that if I have a problem in my project, I have to see that with different perception or from all points of view and sort out the problem.
  • If students didn’t do their work,  I have to connect their stand  with what they do and make them to work from their stand instead of their fears. It doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t be firm (on my objectives) on what I want to see in a larger picture.

Sundar:

What i was inspired with:

  • Elder gentleman, who stood for all values but had to enter with his own door into this whole set of universal values.
  • ‘I need to express myself as i and not as we all the time, i don’t have to talk for the sake of others’
  • High value for children coming from not that high class background.

Vaidegi:

My insights are,

  • Age doesn’t matter. All I need is Enthusiasm and courage to accept and create what I want to see in the society.
  • Sincerity and being rigorous are what I learned from Hemavathi.
  • It gave a new lens to look at what is meant by a TEACHER.

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Python Learning

This week I had a good time with python. Yes, I have learnt few things which I feel worth to share here.
Counter:
It is an unordered collection where elements are stored as dictionary keys and their counts are stored as dictionary values. One can find out  the number of occurrence of the list items.
Example:#
>>>from collections import Counter
# list1 is a list/array which contains numbers
>>>list1 = [1,2,4,5,7,3,5,0,8,5,4,5,4,5,6,7,3,1,2,0,8,3,4,5,2,1,2,3,1,2]
# Counter will convert list1 into dictionary
>>>count = Counter(list1)
>>># most_common function will give the series of all the elements and its corresponding occurrences.
>>>count.most_common()
[(5, 6), (2, 5), (1, 4), (3, 4), (4, 4), (0, 2), (7, 2), (8, 2), (6, 1)]
>>># get the most common element by sending 1 to the function
>>>count.most_common(1)
[(5, 6)]
>>>count.most_common(1)[0] # get element & no. of occurrence as dict
(5, 6)
>>>most_common = count.most_common(1)[0][0] # Get the most common element
5

Strip() :
In the past I have used strip to strip out some letters from a string. Example
>>>AuraAuro.strip(A)
uraAuro
But I strip() is also used to remove all whitespace at the start and end, including spaces, tabs, newlines and carriage returns.
Rename:
I was looking for a module in python which used to rename all the specific type (eg. .docs, .txt, .py) files in a particular directory.
# Go to a directory get all the files of specific type ( lets say “.xls”)
# and rename it with ‘os.rename’
>>> import glob  # used to get all the dir / file from a specified path
>>>import os
>>>path = C:\\Users\\Vaidegi\\Desktop\\*.xls
>>>file_names_with_path = glob.glob(path+“*.xlsx) # to get all the excel files name
>>>for i in range(len(file_names_with_path )):
. . .          os.rename(file_names_with_path[i], student+i+.xls)