StoryWeaver's Outreach Manager Payoshni Saraf shares what happened at a two day workshop in Chandrapur, Maharashtra.
In the warm month of May, a two-day workshop on StoryWeaver was jointly organized in Chandrapur, Maharshtra by UNICEF India, DIET- Chandrapur and Pratham Books with over 36 teacher from Government schools participating. The workshop sought to encourage the value of ‘reading for joy’ and introduced the teachers to StoryWeaver - an open source digital repository of multilingual stories. Through the workshop the teachers and resource people were taken through the various ways in which StoryWeaver could help address the language development requirements of the students and were guided to make them more confident about using technology to bring in more resources into their classrooms.
The session opened with a narration of ‘Bheema, the Sleepyhead’ and the participants were asked to guess how Bheema finally woke up. This set the context for the workshop with the participants agreeing that stories
a) are important in the classroom
b) make us think creatively and imaginatively, experience emotions and build curiosity
c) help children learn better.
As the session progressed into introducing StoryWeaver with a demo, participants shared their vision on how they would bring more stories into their classrooms. The second half of the day was reserved for a hands on session where the participants created content on StoryWeaver. This resulted in the creation of over 18 new stories by 16 first time authors, the addition of stories in two new tribal languages (Gondi and Banjari), 4 versions of a single story in less than 24 hours and curation of 25+reading lists that were useful for the participant group and the StoryWeaver community at large.
This teacher created and shared a story written in a dialect of Marathi spoken only in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra.
Day two revolved around the various ways in which StoryWeaver can be used in the classroom and how non-fiction concepts can be delivered through stories. The teachers were acquainted with the 200 books on STEM concepts on StoryWeaver, a unique offering of fun and knowledge and a module on its use in the classroom. As part of the module, we read out Dum-Dum-a-Dum Biriyani to the group and asked the teachers to share their thoughts on the book. Along with noting that the book establishes the everyday use of multiplication and division in real life, many other interesting anecdotes were also shared.
One teacher pointed out how the story breaks gender stereotypes by showing Basha being the one interested in cooking rather than his sister, and how such mindset change can be brought about in young minds only through stories. Life skills like empathy, teamwork and responsibility emerged as other key take-aways from the story.
In later sessions participants came together to brainstorm on ideas to bring in more ‘reading’ and ‘books’ in their schools and classrooms. Some of these ideas included:
a) make ’15 minutes of daily reading’ compulsory
b) buy/raise funds for more books and establish and manage ‘leveled’ libraries and use StoryWeaver to supplement as an e-library
c) use stories for enhancing classroom resources
d) encourage creative thinking and writing
d) Sharing of resources, reading lists and best practices among the teacher peer group through a WhatsApp group.
Teachers brainstormed in groups to create and share a 'reading' action plan
A feedback survey was done towards the end of the workshop to know from the teachers if the workshop was beneficial for them, gauge their comfort in using technology to find and create resources, their vision for its use in the classrooms and their commitment on the listed next steps.
Many teachers echoed the sentiment of ‘how different reading levels of stories is very helpful in a classroom setting as children are at different levels and will be able to read a story as per their reading ability. The presence of so many stories at one single platform will be able to fulfill all their reading needs.’
A retired teacher who now dedicates his time in setting up libraries remarked:
“I set up libraries in various schools and I am always looking for more books on different subjects. StoryWeaver is a great medium for my quest. So many stories on so many subjects, all for free! This is like Alibaba’s Khazana that we have all got!”
The two-day StoryWeaver workshop generated a wealth of ideas and established the foundation of ‘importance of reading and stories in the classroom’. We thank all the participating teachers, UNICEF and DIET-Chandrapur for making this workshop a precious experience for all of us.