Alternative Academic Calendar for Students, Studying at home
Guidelines for Teachers, Parents and School Principals published by NCERT
India and the world are facing an enormous crisis due to COVID-19. India as a country is under lockdown, while most of the cities and states in the world are under lockdown too. Medical care professionals, security personnel and people related to delivering essential services are working round the clock to tide over the crisis. Schools, Colleges and Universities have been closed. Students are confined to their homes, and so are teachers and parents. Teacher educators, teachers and parents need to find ways to deal with this unprecedented situation arising out of the lockdown in order to engage students meaningfully through educational activities at home. While we are putting in all efforts to flatten the epidemic curve, learning can continue at home too, and the learning curve of children must continue to move upwards.
How should this be done? The first thought would perhaps be homework or home assignments. However, the concept of homework is that of a task done individually; moreover, it carries with it the pressure of completion rather than that of joyful learning. Further, as educationists, we prefer not to recommend homework over a long duration for very young children. We have to therefore seek alternative methods.
Currently, there are various technological and social media tools available for imparting education in fun-filled, interesting ways, which can be used by children to learn even while at home. Yet, we understand the need to structure it for you. Keeping in mind the varying levels of access to such tools and the variety of their content, NCERT has developed General Guidelines for Implementing Weekly Plan (for four weeks) for Learning of Students at the Secondary Stage. This entails the use of a commonly used, simple instrument, i.e., the mobile phone.
Fortunately, almost everyone owns a mobile phone; additionally, many people use it for social media such as SMS, Whatsapp, Telegram, Facebook, Twitter as well as Google mail and Google Hangout. These tools have the advantage of providing us with the facility to connect with more than one student and parent at a time. There is of course the possibility that many of us may not have internet facility on our mobile phones, or may not be able to use all of the above-mentioned social media tools. In that event, the solution is that students may be guided through SMS on mobile phones or voice calls; parents’ help can also be sought for secondary stage students. A week-wise plan for the secondary stage (from Classes IX to X) has been developed, keeping in view the choice of availability of tools with the teachers. The week-wise plan consists of interesting activities and challenges, with reference to themes/chapters taken from the syllabus or the textbooks across the subject areas. Most importantly, it maps the themes with the learning outcomes. It may be mentioned here that the activities are suggestive in nature, not prescriptive, nor is the sequence mandatory. Teachers and parents may opt to do the activities that the student shows interest in, irrespective of the sequence. In the case of children of the same family studying in different classes, siblings may jointly be involved in the same activity; if the activities cater to different cognitive levels, the elder sibling can guide the younger ones. The purpose of mapping of themes with learning outcomes is to facilitate teachers/parents to assess the progress in students’ learning. This may be done in a variety of ways, i.e., asking questions, encouraging interaction, suggesting another activity of a similar kind, observing learner’s interest and participation in the activity, etc. Further, teachers may design activities on more themes (if required) based on the given learning outcomes. However, it is reiterated that the focus should be on learning, rather than testing for scores.
Since learners at the secondary stage have language skill and they can study on their own with very little guidance by the teachers, teachers can make Whatsapp group or send SMS to a group of students and guide them on various interesting activities designed for them. In case of Children with Special Needs or children who need parents’ support, parents may be guided on the activities to be conducted at home.
Links for e-resources have been provided along with the activities. Yet, if it is not possible for students to access these resources, the teacher may guide them through mobile phones to other reference sources such as dictionary, atlas, news headlines, storybooks, etc. In case tools, such as, WhatsApp, Google Hangout, etc., are being used, teachers may do audio and video calling with a group of students and discuss with them in small groups, or all of them together. Teachers may also guide students for peer learning or group learning through these tools.
Detailed guidelines for using different technological tools and social media alongwith precautions to be taken while using on-line tools are given in Annexure-I. In cases where the teacher is using the mobile phone only for voice call receiving calls and messaging, connecting with individual students or parents on a daily basis may be difficult.
The teacher may opt for calling students or parents in a phase-wise manner for interacting, explaining and assessing. Hence it is suggested that this may be done in smaller groups. For instance, a teacher may call 15 students in a day (Day 1) and explain the work expected from them. On Day 2, she can call 5 out of the 15 students to ascertain the progress of their learning. The progress of the remaining 10 would be ascertained on Day 3 (5 students) and Day 4 (5 students). On the same day (Day 2) she may call an additional 10 students to explain the work expected. This cycle would continue, so that a class of 40 students would be covered in 8-10 days. Likewise she can do so for another set of students. Teacher can also send one collective SMS containing activities to a large group of parents/students simultaneously. Voice/video recorded messages may also be sent. Subsequently, parents can also respond to teachers through SMS and recorded voice message. Thus, in case of non-availability of the internet, voice call, SMS, voice recorded messages are some of the means through which a teacher can connect with parentsand students. General Guidelines for Implementing Weekly Plan (for four weeks) for the Learning of Students at the Secondary Stage
• Secondary Stage learners are adolescent learners. They usually prefer learning by themselves. They may require less support from their parents therefore, teachers are first advised to call up the parents to apprise them about the conduct of the suggested activities. Later the teachers may directly contact the students for further interventions.
• In this time of crisis, we are expected to remain at home (and so is the case with our learners) for the welfare of self and society. We do not want their learning to be adversely affected due to the loss of academic days. For this we need to adapt to the home learning model. Even before the learners are exposed to content learning, we need to equipthem with the skill of acquiring knowledge of the content through various activities which they can do on their own. Project and activitybased learning allows students to create projects that facilitate learning of the content as well as honing of the 21st-century skills.
• In case Internet is not available at a student’s home, teachers can explain to the students/parents about each activity over the phone, through SMS and voice recorded messages. Teachers must continuously ensure that the activity has been conducted, through a follow-up later.
• In case of availability of Internet and active WhatsApp, Facebook, Google Hangout, Google Mail, telegram, the teacher can forward the guidelines to parents or even students with a brief explanation.
• Teachers should stress the point that learners should not in any way be forced to do the activities. Rather, parents should support learners creating a friendly atmosphere.
• The week-wise activities are given in the guidelines with overall learning outcomes, as learning outcomes should not be linearly divided. Resources are also mentioned wherever possible.
• Teachers may ask parents to observe changes in children’s behaviour as given in the learning outcomes. Parents/sibling may, through interaction, questions, or similar kind of activities ensure that the learner is indeed making progress in his/her learning. Examples are given in the table itself.
• The activities mentioned are suggestive and can be modified based on the availability of the resources and the prior knowledge of the learner.
• At the secondary stage, the teacher may encourage children for selfstudy, readings, and learning by doing with available resources at home under the supervision of parents.
• The week-wise plan too is flexible: the teacher can guide parents/students knowing their strengths, limitations and contexts of the families as well as the interests of their children.
• The activities involve observant and active questioning on the part of teacher/parent as the student is progressing in the activity.
• Also, many activities cater to different concepts and skills which have to be developed in the student. A watchful integration of the concepts and prior understanding is required on the teachers’/parents’ part.
• Clear and sufficient verbal and visual instructions are to be given by teachers/parents so that all children, including Children with Special needs, are able to follow the activities suggested.
• To overcome difficulties of access with respect to learning mathematics or other subjects, some pupils may require tactile, and others specialised, equipment for work related to shape, geometry, calculations, etc. Some may require simpler language or more pictures. Others may need help in interpreting data in graphs, tables, or bar charts. There may be children who may need help in interpreting oral directions or while making mental calculations.
• Opportunities are to be given to the student for logical reasoning and language proficiency (in terms of expression of thought). Asking good questions and encouraging the student to think would help to achieve this objective.
• Appropriate worksheets can also be created aligned with the activities along with those given in the textbooks.
• Chapter wise e-content is available on the e-pathshala, NROER and DIKSHA portal of Government of India; these may be made use of.
• Before beginning the week-wise alternative academic interventions, teachers need to have a talk with parents on ‘Reducing Stress and Anxiety’. For this, teacher needs to go through the Guidelines on ‘Reducing Stress and Anxiety’ annexed at Annexure-II and accordingly develop points for a discussion, keeping in view the stage and level of students, and conduct it through WhatsApp conference call or Google Hangout with a good number of parents.
• In this Calendar, though experiential learning, i.e., Art and Physical Education are integrated into subjects such as languages, science, mathematics and social sciences; yet in the interest and for the benefit of children, activities related to other curricular areas such as Arts Education and Health and Physical Education have also been given special space.
• Before the teacher begins explaining these activities, he/she must counsel/explain to parents/guardians and children the reasons for and merits of using this calendar.
(1) More focus should be on helping students becoming self-learners.
(2) Teachers may form WhatsApp groups/Microsoft Teams for different classes. Instead of directly providing the resources to students, this can be done as per the need of the content.
(3) For any concept/topic the teacher in the group may ask students to go through a particular portion of the chapter after which he/she may initiate a discussion related to that portion and ask students to deliberate on that. This may help teachers to know students’ thought process or approach towards a problem.
(4) The teachers may highlight only important points during the discussion and rest of the work may be done by students themselves. The teacher may intervene only when necessary. They may provide the link of the available resources which can help in clarifying the doubts of the students.
(5) As in the regular classroom, the teachers facilitate learners to understand the concepts by involving them in certain activities in groups, similarly, they may form subgroups on Whatsapp or Telegram involving different students. Each group may be assigned different tasks and they may be asked to revert.
For the teacher (How to conduct Reading Activity guiding students through mobile phone)
The process would involve pre reading, while reading and post reading activities.
Children learn from their previous knowledge and they respond with understanding and interest if they can connect their prior knowledge and experiences to the tale being told. Some pre reading activities that you can use are:
• Asking questions related to the theme of the story, showing pictures to generate ideas and related vocabulary
• Teaching new vocabulary or expressions that will appear in the story
• Giving some listening activity for learners related to the theme.
• Depending on the length of the text divide it into parts and while reading the text check the comprehension of the learners for each part. For comprehension, assessment can be conducted by giving true/false, matching, multiple choices, short answer, gap filling, completion type, word attack questions and table completion type questions, etc. Along with question and answers, activities on all the four skills can also be given.
Post reading activities can focus on topics beyond the text. For example,
• Grammar in context
• Writing activities
• Points for debate
• Writing dialogues for role play
• Arrange the sentences in a paragraph
• Group retelling
• Creating their own ending
• Story mapping
• Story boarding
SUGGESTIONS FOR ENGAGEMENT AND ASSESSMENT OF STUDENTS
Assessment need to be an integrated part the teaching-learning process whether through face-to-face-mode or distance mode. Learners may be motivated for self-assessment. Following are some activities through which learners at any stage can do self-assessment under the guidance of teachers and parents. Teachers need to keep in view – that the activities must be interesting and challenging for children.
• Assignments that can be given to students are
✓ Multiple Choice Questions
✓ Short Answer Type Questions
✓ Long Answer Questions
✓ Activity Based Questions
✓ Open Book questions
• Learners may be motivated to
✓ solve crossword puzzles
✓ participate in Online quizzes by using Kahoot
✓ construct Model/Device related to concept learnt
✓ discus some questions posed by mentor or any query raised by any student
✓ write slogans/create any poem on the concept learnt
✓ create games on the concept learnt
✓ prepare a spider/hierarchical types of Concept Map of the lesson learnt
✓ prepare a list of 21st century skills/values learnt form the lesson
✓ prepare two understanding, application and higher order questions from the lesson learnt.
SUBJECT-WISE WEEKLY ACADEMIC CALENDAR
The subject-wise weekly academic calendar starts with Learning Outcomes. Learning Outcomes may be understood as changes in behaviour of students which may be observed during the process of learning leading to development of competencies and skills in students. Students may ask questions, construct sentences, develop stories, think of innovative methods to solve problems, etc., during their learning process. Their responses/changes in the process of learning lead to the development of competencies and skills. These responses and changes are not fixed, in the sense that they may vary depending on the pedagogy that the teacher uses. However, they are all inter-linked and cumulative in nature. They need not be measured, rather they need to be observed and if required, supported, particularly if a gap in learning is identified. It is reiterated that these are not textbook dependent. These require focus on a student’s day-to-day experiences. Teachers and parents need to know about the Learning Outcomes, so that they can observe the progress in the learning of their children in process rather than taking learning as a product and forcing children to go through a test for scores.
The next column is titled ‘Resources’. This column contains references to textbooks, chapters, themes, e-resources, some web links, etc., for teachers, to be referred to if they want to design contextual activities for children. These are also helpful for parents to understand the activities they are going to conduct with their children. It may be mentioned here that there is no one-to-one mapping of activities with the learning outcomes, yet during the conduct of these activities, parents/teachers can observe changes in students in terms of their questions, discussions, their actions, such as, classification of objects, etc. These changes relate to the Learning Outcomes, and ensure that the student is learning. The activities given here are exemplar; additionally, teachers and parents may design their own activities that focus on these learning outcomes.
This Calendar contains class-wise and subject-wise activities in tabular forms. In case of the languages—English, Hindi, Sanskrit and Urdu activities for Classes IX and X are given together as the skill set is same. However, the material that the teacher will refer to may be class specific and different. Since Social Science has four areas at the secondary stage in the form of subjects- History, Political Science, Economics and Geography, activities related to these subject areas are given separately. However, it is up to the teachers and students to choose the activity to be undertaken, as per their convenience and tools available.