Welcome back everyone! Here’s another English Kadhavu update about our trip to India.
The next school that we visited, called Kalpagavalli Vidyalaya, was located in an area of Chennai called Mylapore, not too far from where we were staying.
We didn’t get to spend as long at this school as we did in Olcott. That said, we learned quite a lot from testing the boxes out with the students at this school.
One thing that makes this school stand out is the people that volunteer and work with the students through the Altius Foundation, a non-profit in Chennai. We tested out our book box with their help, and they gave us great advice that will be very useful in the creation of future book boxes.
Here’s a link to their website, if you want to learn more about their foundation: http://www.altiusfoundation.org
When we arrived at the school we were greeted very warmly by both the teachers and students. The students were very excited to have new activities in the classroom, and, like the students at Olcott, were very enthusiastic.
During a free period after the teacher played the bingo game with the students, a few groups were so excited by the game that they asked me to play it with them a second time! It was great seeing students so enthusiastic to learn from what we’ve created.
One thing that really stood out in this school was the way that the teachers interacted with the students. One of the teachers, Krithivasan, who gave up a corporate career to work in education, and is one of the driving forces behind the Altius foundation, was especially outgoing and made the kids really excited to learn. He helped us test out the sentence formation cards with third graders and turned the activity, originally intended for group practice, into a fun competition that had the kids eager to learn and get their sentences right. Seeing teachers use our content in creative ways inspired us and gave us more ideas for activities that are easy for teachers to manipulate and work with their own individual teaching style.
We found, through observing the teachers from this school, that the activities that were easy for teachers to customize were the most successful. This was also pretty clear at the third school that we visited.
The final school that we tested our book boxes at was in a village called Kandavarayanpatti, and it took us a 2 hour plane ride and a 2 hour car ride to reach there. For those of you familiar with the area, Kandavarayanpatti is very close to the city Karaikudi.
This school was unique because it is located in a difficult to reach village, where all the students and their families know each other.
The Vetrivel Foundation, a non-profit, helps out at this school, and occasionally college students will travel there to help teach. These same college students have agreed to help us test out boxes and send us feedback by email.
Here’s a link to the Vetrivel Foundation website: http://vetrivelfoundation.org/
One of the major differences with this school was that the students at the school weren’t used to seeing unfamiliar faces, and as a result were extremely shy. They didn’t speak up very much during classes, but the teacher assured us that they were usually very talkative and outgoing. Because of this, it was a little bit difficult to test their enthusiasm for the activities.
For most of the kids, at least!
The teachers, on the other hand, were very enthusiastic and provided us with great feedback for future book boxes. One thing that I’ve noticed in all the schools I’ve visited is that a lot of the teachers care a great deal about their students, even if they don’t have the resources that they need to effectively teach. Because of this, they were really keen to receive new reading material and activities that they could use in the classroom. They showed us the activities that the students already use in order to give us ideas for more supplements that they might need.
We hope that all three schools will continue to use the book boxes we’ve given them and continue to provide feedback. We’re excited to see where this project goes!
And that is the final update on our trip to India for English Kadhavu! I know, it’s very sad, but do not fret! This definitely won’t be the last post about English Kadhavu. This is an ongoing project that we hope to expand. We want to be able to create much more content and send it to many more schools across Tamilnadu.
Thanks for reading!
To see more pictures from these schools, check out http://www.englishkadhavu.org/gallery.html!