A tale of two workshops. StoryWeaver visits Mumbai and Mysore.

Posted by Menaka Raman on June 16, 2017

Khyati Datt, a member of our outreach team writes about two of our recent workshops in Mumbai and Mysore.

It’s not often that you have 25 Master Teachers from different walks of life, speaking 5 different languages, living in 4 different states and still engaging with each other and sharing their thoughts.

This was the scene at our recently conducted StoryWeaver Workshop in Mysore. Pratham Education Foundation invited their wonderful Master Teachers for a training workshop in Mysore and we, at StoryWeaver, got the chance to interact with them on the last day of their training. Our facilitators, Mala, Shruthi and Payoshni ensured that the session was multilingual- in Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, English and Hindi.

The beautiful weather at Mysore served as the perfect setting for a 3-hour long session where interesting teacher practices came to light. As the session progressed, we deep dived into the intriguing world of stories and explored how stories open a child’s eyes to a world filled with joy and learning.

The teachers, then, went on to try their hands at StoryWeaver. They decided on themes and explored the platform for five stories/flashcards that talked about their theme. Their biggest takeaway from this exercise was that they can use the platform in their classrooms and combine storytelling with teaching. The second part of their task was getting down to becoming authors! Each group was given a task sheet with a specific theme and encouraged to create a story/flashcard. The most exciting bit was teachers realizing how easy it is for them to create in their regional languages and taking it to their classrooms back home.

 

Pratham SW workshop- Mysore & Bombay

We got some great stories from the teachers, who presented their idea for the story and the flow behind it. With so many tongues in the room, everyone promptly translated what was being spoken in the room which ensured language was not a  barrier for a fantastic session of  idea-exchanges.

A discussion ensued on what are the different ways in which the teachers can use StoryWeaver in the classrooms. It was wonderful to see how the teachers could align their existing classroom ideas with storytelling practices, like by getting their students excited about a topic by narrating them a story about it. Using illustrations as writing prompts, and spotting books for teaching sight words were one of the many ideas that the teachers dwelled on.

We closed the session by showing the participants videos of teachers using StoryWeaver to build a reading culture in their classrooms. The rain shower that followed was the perfect end to a wonderful workshop!


In the previous week, a similar workshop was conducted in Bombay with 30 teachers from Pratham’s ECE wing from Maharashtra and Gujarat. The crackling energy in the room led to a session that was interactive and fun! The teachers came up with ideas to use stories in the classroom to make the lessons engaging and to ensure that the students learn in a different manner. As Smitin Brid, Program Head of Early Childhood Program for Pratham Education Foundation, puts it, “ I’m thankful to the StoryWeaver team for conducting wonderful and useful sessions at Mumbai and Mysore workshops. The key resource people in both these regions have got information about this platform and we’ll ensure continuous engagement with them on using the resources available on StoryWeaver.”

A big thank you to Pratham Education Foundation and its ECE wing for giving us the opportunity to interact with the teachers and their consistent support.

If you are interested in hosting a similar workshop for your organisation, drop us an email on storyweaver@prathambooks.org

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StoryWeaver Visits Hyderabad!

Posted by Sherein Bansal on June 08, 2017

My first StoryWeaver workshop took me to Hyderabad. I was officially on the training side of the workshop, but since this was my first, I experienced those two days with two different batches as a participant too.

50+ educators, resource people, librarians and program managers from 12 different organisations and schools poured into the room and were brimming with energy even before the workshop began. Payoshni, Senior Outreach Manager and trainer for the workshop, talked about StoryWeaver - our open repository of free children’s books, its practical uses in a classroom, and the way it can be used to enhance a child’s world from all aspects like cognitive approach, social skills, comprehension, logical thinking and aesthetics.  


Teachers became curious students and asked us countless questions that spanned across queries about our features, to the efficacy of the platform itself. It was a delight to see them realize the applications of StoryWeaver in the classroom. Once they understood the intricacies of creating, translating or releveling (simplifying or making a story complex) stories on the platform, all of them were eager to try their hand at bringing about their own creation on StoryWeaver.

Sandhya Damodar, Pudami Schools, Hyderabad talks here about the various applications of StoryWeaver in a classroom and specifically the advantages of being able to ‘relevel’ stories: 



The fact that the stories on StoryWeaver are free to use, read, download and print was exciting and important for teachers who came from schools based in rural settings. Active discussions ranged from how to preserve the accuracy and sanctity of a language through translations. Concerns unfolded about how some languages need more original content for the children, and one way could be to create and translate in that language on platforms like StoryWeaver.

In this short video, workshop participant Shadab Ahmad, Focus High School, Hyderabad talks about how StoryWeaver will help him in getting Urdu stories across to his students and also about the ease of publishing good stories on the platform.



The childlike joy of the teachers working in teams with fellow educators whom they didn’t know previously, and raising their hands to read their created stories out loud was infectious. They proudly presented their work in front of everyone and laughed along with everyone at the bits they got wrong or where they themselves had added humor! Some of them are still active on the platform and creating/translating/releveling stories for their students, for fun, or to contribute in some way to their favorite language.

As we wrapped up the two-day workshop, it was a comfort to know there are educators who are eager to learn about how to improve a child’s experience in classrooms. And not just that, they want to do it through the art of stories.

Here are a few pictures from the event!

A big thank you to Dr.Reddy’s Foundation who made this wonderful workshop possible and all their efforts in bringing the best opportunities to their children. If you are interested in hosting a similar workshop for your organisation, drop us an email on storyweaver@prathambooks.org.

 

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Teachers and Tales

Posted by Menaka Raman on May 11, 2017

Our Outreach Manager, Payoshni Saraf reports back after three days of stories, storytelling and learning workshop with SCERT Delhi.

A common wisdom that all of us who work with children need to be reminded of is this - storytelling is the oldest form of teaching. Stories help shape beliefs, makes one curious, encourages exploration, makes one question and eager to know more – qualities every teacher hopes to build in her students. And teachers have always been storytellers. Sometimes they just need to be reminded of that.

Pratham Books joined hands with Pratham and SCERT, Delhi to bring teachers together and help them discover the storyteller within them to make classroom teaching more interactive. We conducted an extensive three-day training with teachers on specific subjects for each day - the idea was to delve deeper into the academic challenges they face in the classroom and how some of these challenges can be met by using stories, flashcards or other visual cues to make for engaging classrooms.

We began the training on a sunny Tuesday in April with a group of enthusiastic and experienced mentor-teachers. The mentor-teacher program by the Delhi Government is an effective one, where certain teachers are handpicked after a rigorous selection process as ‘mentors’ for other teachers. These teacher-mentors each handle about five schools and support the teachers in the school with regular trainings, observations, feedback and sharing of good practices. When a new idea or teaching tip is introduced to the mentor-teachers, they pass on the knowledge to their group of mentees making the information flow seamless and effective. In total, about 175 mentor-teachers participated in the 3-day training conducted across the following three broad curriculum categories: 

1. Languages (English, Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi and other mother tongue and academic languages

2. STEM concepts (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)

3. Environmental and Social Studies

The session started with all the participants and the Pratham Books team introducing themselves. The introductions had a twist, where the teachers were encouraged to also talk about all the languages they know. The idea was to establish the premise for multiple languages in the classroom and the many choices and challenges children face while learning, thanks to the language gap between what they speak at home and what they learn in school. Post introductions, teachers were grouped together and asked to come up with academic challenges that they often face in class. Some of the challengess which repeatedly came up included:

  • Most students are first generation learners of languages (especially English) and language understanding is essential for other subject learning.
  • Teachers want  creative ideas to arouse student interest in class but face lack of quality creative resources.

  • Making connections between the language spoken at home and medium of instruction is important

  • Additional resources (like cue cards/ flash cards) are required to help learn languages, especially because of the diverse learning levels in classrooms.

  • Not enough time is spent in class building concepts or relating concepts to real life situations and practicing learning by doing.

  • Language barriers impede understanding concepts, especially in the case of spiralled learning where one concept builds on another. 

  • Learning environment in the classroom is not joyful as not enough visualisation or experiential learning takes place.

  • Teaching children to develop a genuine love and interest for writing is a struggle.

With the challenges tabled to be tackled in the later half of the day, the session moved on to why stories are important and how teachers can use StoryWeaver, a digital repository of multilingual content for children, in a meaningful manner to not only curate the content but also to create and adapt  stories, flashcards and illustrations as per their specific classroom needs.  A demonstration of the platform was given to all the participants and they were exposed to the diverse content that is hosted on StoryWeaver. The group also discussed ideas on how stories can be used in a classroom setting to assist learning and real-life examples from across the country were shared with the mentor teachers.

       

Post lunch, the session was handed over to our expert trainer, Subir Shukla. Subir is a former educational quality advisor to MHRD, Government of India. He developed the quality framework for the implementation of the Right To Education and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, India's EFA programme. Subir is now the principal coordinator for Group Ignus, which comprises of IgnusERG (consulting company), Ignus-PAHAL (non-profit) and Ignus-OUTREACH (low cost educational publishing). Subir joined us in training and spent a considerable amount of time with the mentor teachers to take them through some useful ideas on making classrooms more joyful and learning interesting and interactive.

Armed with Subir’s tips and knowledge of StoryWeaver, the participating mentor teachers spent the last part of the day curating content for their subjects and classrooms. Few groups also created some new stories and presented them.

The workshop ended with many enthusiastic mentor- teachers sharing about how they plan to take stories and StoryWeaver to the schools and teachers they work with. 

Click here to see more photographs of the day.

We are thankful to all the participating mentor-teachers who attended the training and their resolve to bring back stories into children’s academic lives. We are also grateful to Mr.Shailendra Sharma from Pratham and the Delhi SCERT for giving us this opportunity. A big shout out to Mr.Subir Shukla for the wonderful guidance he extended to all the participants.  We will continue to engage with more teachers and Government schools to take many more stories to India’s children.

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