Saturday 25 January 2020

Gold and Bronze in Taekwondo for T.Asira

Congratulations to T.Asira of Al Qamar Academy for winning a Gold and Bronze in her category at the State Taekwondo Championship held today.

Friday 24 January 2020

Visit to an Archeological Site

Wish I had learned History like this...

Al Qamar Academy students visited a real archaeological pre historic site to see a dig in progress, courtesy Sharma Centre for Heritage Education.

The children learned how the site is demarcated into sections and saw how the workers were carefully sifting through the debris to fins the minutest sign of a pottery shard or a stone tool.

The children handled samples of skulls (probably the most thrilling activity). They made drawing of what they saw and wrote poetry.

Talk about interdisciplinary and meaningful work!!

THANKS Shanti Pappu and Akhilesh Kumar for really going out of the way for the kids. You made a memorable history for them.

Thursday 23 January 2020

Tholpavai Koothu performance on Saving our Wetlands

Tholpavai Koothu is a 400 year old shadow puppet theatre. Kalaimamani Muthuchandran and a group of environmental activists developed a show on saving wetlands.

 The children watched with rapt attention. They laughed their heads off at the funny antics of the puppets. At the end of the show the artist, Mr Muthuchandran, spoke about the tradition of shadow puppet shows. He explained how the puppets are made, the intricacies of light and colour, how he is able to use different voices to play different characters.

The activists explained how unfettered construction damages wetlands and leads to ecological disasters like floods.

The children had several questions and comments at the end. Which they shared with  parents once they returned home. One parent reported "My kids shared their puppet show experience... they were just overwhelmed...! 😄😄😄"

Definitely an event they're going to remember lifelong.

Monday 20 January 2020

Report Card discussion

Today I had a discussion with my fifth graders regarding their report assessment for the current term.  It was interesting as well as eye opening to see how the children understand and perceive some of the feedback.  My main criteria was to find out if they agree to my feedback and if they don't  where do we differ.  If I can close down that gap then I can connect better with them.

We discussed what is self regulation, taking challenges, perseverance, staying focused and engaged with work, etc.  Most of them agree that they must work on self-regulation, stretch their learning and take up more challenging work.  One kid asked me, "Aunty, I take up challenges and work during SDL then why do you report I don't take challenges."  I explained to him that he is capable of much more in-depth research and presentation skills although he chose to give superficial work.  He agreed and told that it is difficult.  We concluded that things get difficult as we grow and move to higher grades but we need to persist and review regularly so learning becomes less difficult and we grow over time in our learning in turn.  

One of them was bored because the second language was difficult and so she lost interest in the class which in turn had led to class behavioral issues.  The solution, we agreed, in her scenario was to seek additional help in what was difficult  and to review the lesson regularly so acquiring new knowledge was easier when prior acquired knowledge was activated by review.

The most surprising fact was that most of them were scared to ask questions in the class.  On further probing, I understood that they were scared to ask questions for two reasons: 1. Of being judged by peers as dumb or less smart and 2. Not sure if the question is relevant in context to the class taken.

To overcome this fear we decided to do two things.  Those who fear of being judged would note down the question and approach the teacher after the class is over or later.  Those unsure would mention that they are not sure if question is relevant or not but would still go ahead and ask that question at the end of the class when time would be allotted to ask questions.

Next, as most of them struggle with writing we discussed the importance of writing work not only as recording our observation, learning, review but also as a way of expressing our opinion, understanding, application, etc.  

The most heartening thing that came out of the discussion was the children were able to articulate their fears and needs, chose to disagree with the teachers feedback and sought to clarify but the best achievement for me was that they were all willing to put an effort to focus on their learning and take responsibility for it.  What would I want more as a teacher, SubhanAllah.

By Naqeeb Sultana 
Middle School Faculty 

Teaching Critical Thinking - in English class

When I started the Nelson book for the grade 5 I wasn't sure how I would extend the discussion beyond the chapters in the book. 

The first chapter was about the first men on the moon and the crisis they faced.  After we were done with the lesson and all actIvities I asked them the question, "What is our learning from this chapter." They all echoed it's about the moon landing, knowledge about space suit and guidance computers, etc.  On further questioning they were a little perplexed about what else was I expecting them to answer. As the questions were narrowed down further, then came the moment of brilliance when one kid answered, "Aunty, it's how Neil Armstrong managed an emergency."  This opened up a whole new avenue to explore for us.  We had an excellent discussion on how not to panic in an emergency, how to be willing to take a risk to achieve something, how to be calm and confident in a crisis so the  mind is clear to think of managing the crisis or finding a solution. I was on cloud nine to be having such a discussion with my grade 5. 

With this discussion set as a standard we moved onto the next chapter "The aliens have landed," an extract from The City of Gold and Lead.  We completed the chapter with the activities which included a sci-fi story write-up.  Now it was time for discussion as to what is this lesson actually teaching us.  This was a toughie.  They all talked about spotting aliens, finding about extraterrestrial life, and other such ideas. So now I had to come up with questions which would provoke them to think about where I intended to steer my discussion.

So I had to ask them the question, "Why does the protagonist despite his fears, discomfort and fatigue form a group and fight the masters?" The discussion was all over the place when one of them said, "Because he wants to be free." He then elaborated that everyone wants to be free and not controlled by others.  That was an Aha moment for all to take the discussion onto the next level.  What leads to invasions and enslaving people. We came to a conclusion that it's because of fear of others.  Then, the question asked was, "Why fear someone and oppress them" and "what causes the fear in people."  Pat came the replies, "Because they are different and not the same like the others."  "Is it okay to oppress someone because they are different?"  The conversation went on and we agreed that it's okay to be different.  Everyone has the right to freedom whether they are different from others or are similar.

As for the next chapter and the next discussion, that's for another blog.

By Naqeeb Sultana
Middle School Faculty

Saturday 4 January 2020

Investigating Triangle areas

So this happened during a 'break' from sports. The kids watched this video where while the area of a triangle is being visibly reduced, it's not actually reducing. So what's happening?

 The kids had their conjectures and decided to try it out with graph paper. Made a triangle, Cut out pieces, rearranged and stuck the pieces together thrice, and then realized that while the base and height didn't change, the figure doesn't remain a triangle anymore as the slopes of the slant sides started caving in- a conjecture they had come up with at the beginning.

They then proceeded to ask many more questions about triangles and areas while having an interesting "two hour break" from games. Who says Math is boring, Not my girls@ Al Qamar !! Alhamdulillah. (P.s. check out the collaboration among kids from grade 5-7)

- Rafia Riaz, Math teacher

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...