Soccer League Update

The league is drawing to a close, so the children were geared up for their final matches this weekend. Sadly, the Classes 6,7 8 and 9 got rained off on Saturday, but the pitches had drained by Sunday for some great matches in the sun.

Next Sunday sees the finale – penalty shoot outs, parents and teachers match, trophies and picnic. So, looking forward to seeing a great turnout.

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Goldmine of Free Children’s E-Books

I struck gold today, coming across the following links:

International Children’s Digital Library
This provides a very large number of free e-books from around the world, in many different languages.

The next is a section on the popular Scribd website, where Pratham Books have started uploading some of their books in e-book format for free:
Scribd Category – Pratham Books
(You might need to register, but it only takes a minute)

I would urge you as well, if you never have before, to explore the vast amount of free content and material on Scribd – a great education resource.

In addition, Pratham have been turning some of their books in to audio and uploading them here:
Soundcloud – Pratham audios
(Again, may require a quick registration)

Pravesh Vatika Admissions – Aravali

The first admission list has been published this afternoon and knowing the anxiety levels for people to see the list I thought I should post the information here as well as the school website.

The admissions time is such a hard, tough time for my team. We owe them a debt of gratitude for the task they carry out on a massive scale every year. Of course, we know that it’s a time of great anxiety for parents, culminating in the publishing of the lists. Sadly, we know that there will be far more disappointed than happy as we can only meet a fraction of the demand for seats. Regrettably, occasionally people’s disappointment in not getting what they want can manifest in some unfortunate responses. Our team are doing the best job they can under trying circumstances. Neither they or I are to blame for the imbalance between demand and supply of high quality education.

Out of sensitivity and the best interests of the TSRS community as a whole 67 children have been admitted as siblings and 12 as children of our staff (the best teachers must be looked after).

So, here’s the list:

FINAL LIST OF PV ADMISSIONS 2011-12

criteria 2011-2012

Free IT Resources for Teachers

Here’s a nice link to some useful resources for teachers:

Eschoolnews Free Teaching Resources

Many of them are just as valid in Indian classrooms as American ones.

Russian Roulette With Reading

Here’s a very interesting piece exploring the varying approaches of different schools in and around New York regarding when they start teaching young children to read:

New York Times Article on Reading

I can say right up front that my sympathies are very much with those schools that are delaying the process, though not necessarily with the rigidity that some of them express in the article. My reasons are based upon my reading and understanding of the current ‘best knowledge’ from brain science related to the learning process, coupled with the fact that learning in school is inherently a ‘collective’ group process.

Before a child can acquire the skills to start walking they need a particular neural network to be in place (we could think of it as the right wiring diagram). If that network isn’t ready, then no amount of teaching, cajoling or motivating will enable that child to achieve any proficiency in walking. Ultimately, barring those children with learning difficulties or mental impairment, every child reaches competence in walking, though some later than others. I believe the same requirements apply to reading. This would also explain why reading early provides no clues to long term IQ, success in academics or any other long term outcomes, just as the early walker doesn’t automatically become the champion athlete.

Let’s take a scenario in which I’m a child whose neural network for reading is taking a bit longer to get in place than the child who sits next to me in school. If the school tries to teach us reading early he’ll get it – I won’t. This is no reflection on me or him – it’s just how it is. However, in the ‘hot house flowers’ environment of pressured early learning, what effect will it have on me to see my peer reading whilst I can’t. Worse, how will I feel when my ‘failure’ has a negative effect on my teacher, and worse my parents. I really fear this will cause me to acquire all sorts of negative perceptions about my self worth, my potential as a learner. At worst I might conclude unconsciously that I’m no good at this school game and probably never will be. The outcome of such negative self-talk could be debilitating the child for life.

Of course, some parents might be so supremely confident that their child will be one of the ones ‘ahead of the game’ that they rather like the thought of getting this early head start and undermining some of the competition.

But then, are those the people who should be influencing how educators teach children?

IT in Education Update

Here are a few pieces related to recent developments from the US on how use of technology is opening up exciting new opportunities in school education.

The first looks back over some of the challenging weather in the US over the past couple of months and the ways in which technology has enabled educators to minimize the negative impacts of that lost time. It also looks at the other beneficial uses of the technology, such as keeping sick or hospitalized children in touch with their classmates and the learning in school.

These are benefits that we identified as highly desirable over the last 18 months or so, and we have work going on in school to start to introduce the necessary technology to bring these opportunities in to reality at TSRS:

USA Today Article on Snow Days

The next piece revisits something I wrote about a little while ago, namely the choices to be made between traditional face to face learning, virtual learning or blended combinations. It makes a lot of sense that virtual learning alone is not going to work for most children of school age. It might be effective for some subject courses at college level, but I believe that for secondary and higher secondary learning we can look to move towards blended models:

Ed Week Article on E-Learning

The final piece that caught my eye really struck a chord with me as I’ve been feeling for some time that we have many students who, for a variety of reasons, would benefit from being able to review and revisit classroom lesson material through video as many times or at a pace that suits them. At both the Phase III and Aravali campuses our construction projects that are under way include Learning Resource Centres. I anticipate that in these places students will be able to go and log on to a PC where they can watch, review and revisit lesson material whether they were present in the original lesson or not. It could also offer the opportunity to offer a library of more advanced materials built up over time for gifted students who would benefit from being stretched beyond the limitations of their class:

The Journal Article on Classroom Capture

We are committed to some pilot projects to move forward with such initiatives over the coming months – watch this space!

Buzz About Robotics

Over the last two years, one of our most popular after-school programmes in the Senior Schools has been the Robotics Club.

However, I believe that so far we’ve only really put a toe in the water in terms of exploring how far we can go with the use and integration of learning around robotics in school and how much learning opportunity it can offer if blended in to the curriculum.

Here’s an interesting article that surveys the current scenario in the USA for robotics learning, clubs and competitions in schools:

The Journal Article on Robotics

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