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April 19, 2014

Conversations for completion of the schooling year at Isai Ambalam school

From June last year I have been working with five 7th graders (and one 6th grader). It was a small classroom and I tried to merge math and science in the first term, created a multi-grade classroom by adding 5 fifth graders in the second term and encouraged the 7th graders to get into self learning in the third term (I felt their basics were sound) and also made the newton's cradle, wind chimes and actively worked with geogebra with them. 

The school only goes up to 7th grade and its quite likely that I may not see the graduating kids .
I extended the idea of self prepared papers from Udavi to Isai Ambalam school.  The 7th grades each prepared impressive question papers with over 60% of the questions being word problems for fractions, interpretation of word problems as algebraic expressions, writing stories for algebraic expressions, graphs representing algebraic expressions, puzzles, pie charts. What really brought a smile to my face was that they could handle the beast they created. Their meta cognition has been improving over the year, but for it to actually culminate with all six of them being able to do it to such a high degree (all over 96) was a nice farewell gift. 

The examination seems the great time to talk to children one-on-one and get feedback from them as it avoid biasing their replies based on what other kids told them. The one drawback of anxiety of an examination was generally lower as the kids made their own examinations.

I let them get their emotions out by asking how they felt and after the reply the kids seem to ease out to talk about what they learnt well, what their aim when they enter their next year math class, what they expect from a teacher, whether it is important what their teacher or friends feel about them, whether they enjoy math, if they learn easily, if they are able to be persistent and their inputs on what we could do new and different for the next class.

In the 7th grade, 5/6 children felt they learnt algebra well. For the 5th graders a big thing was fraction addition. 9/11 talked about their aim in the next grade being learning new things. One child in 5th grade talked about how she wanted not only to learn what was there in 6th, but also things from 7th like she did this year. 9/11 felt what the teacher thought of them was important but on 3/11 felt what their fellow students think about them is important. Only 1/11 children put riders on enjoying math :). 

Then it got interesting, we talked about whether they learn easily, many children interpreted it a little broader and talked about how they learn. Most were consistent with my observations in the classroom. Next came persistence and grit as it is claimed that it is directly related to how a child does in math. But, we talked about it in terms of a project. It doesn't appear that younger children have a clear handle on that.

The incoming 5th graders is a huge class (19 children) and the challenge next year is going to be very different...but for now I enjoy the small pleasures of life :). I'm embedding the detailed feedback below. Its also available at this link. I have removed the names of the children, but left in how they did (for anyone who wants to co-relate what they said with what they did).

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