Tuesday 8 September 2020

Teaching Visual Critical Thinking VII - What were these kids up to?

This was the third session with my 7 grade on the visual thinking strategies and I used this picture to start the conversation.

The picture was one which showed blissfully sleeping children in sleeping bags wearing winter caps as sunlight shone through the huge, open windows which reached the ceiling. The children  noticed the date written on the board at the back of the classroom.  Looking at the writing boards, desks and chairs, they all concluded it is a classroom and the writing gave the place as New York city with the date somewhere March 1914.
As I continued with this class, I realized this activity not only gives the students an opportunity to observe but to reflect on their observations which improves their critical thinking.   Observing the picture is similar to close reading and not only helps in thinking skills but also in communication, language development and confidence.  
The children carefully observed that it must have been cold so the children in the picture were ensconced in sleeping bags, wrapped in blankets and the room had heaters on the sides of the walls.  Afrah observed that the picture was from America and the class was quarantined.  NYC was written in chalk on the class writing board.  She also pointed out that since the boards were filled with writing, the class in all probably was over.  There was a light in the second window.  She concluded that there must have been some kind of a flu for which the children had been quarantined.
Mooz noted the date 1914 and inferred they were evacuees, British children brought to America for safety during World War II.  Since it was cold, they were wrapped in warm clothes with windows left open because they forgot to close it.

Izzy articulated that the kids were under quarantine in the school due to some kind of a virus outbreak.  The parents were forced to keep the children in quarantine until they took the tests. He noticed that the open windows let in fresh air into the class.

Cessie observed it might be a hostel.  They seemed poor because there was just one bag as their belongings.

Ruqayya inferred that there might have been a plague or a flu because the children seemed separated.  The picture must be old which was why it was in black and white.  The windows were left open for air circulation but it must have been cold so the kids were in sleeping bags with winter caps on.  They probably were poor because they only had deck chairs, and there was nothing much around in the classroom, not even fans and just what seemed like a lantern near the second window.  The date in the background, she thought, was the day they were brought in for quarantine.

On questioning why were the windows high as the ceiling, they all chorused to let air and sunlight. 

On revealing the caption and the article - “Schools Beat Earlier Plagues with Outdoor Classes, We Should Too”, they were all enthusiastic about having a fresh air class at their own school to beat the pandemic.  They questioned it was done in 1914, then why not now? I had no answer to that question of theirs.  

It is amazing to see the students develop their skills of listening and expressing oneself and I am hopeful there is more in store for the classrooms which implement such alternative teaching methods.

Note : Student chosen aliases have been used instead of real names.  The link to the article with the actual picture has been provided below: 


No comments:

Post a Comment

Au Revoir

  Au Revoir  The crucible moment came for me when, 16 years ago, I pulled my 7 year old son from school. Once again. Thrice in four years. W...