Thursday 27 February 2020

7th graders visit Quaide Milleth International Academy of Media Studies

7th graders visited Quaide Milleth International Academy of Media Studies (QIAMS) today.

They were very fortunate to meet Jb Dawood Miankhan, Secretary of the Quaide Milleth Trust and Jb Kombai Anwar, Director of QIAMS.

Mr. Miankhan spoke to the children about the importance of media courses as it is one of the fastest growing fields. He narrated how powerful images have actually shaken the conscience of people and been a driver for change. The iconic picture of the fleeing girl during the Vietnam war is a case in point.

Mr. Anwar spoke about the growing need for media professionals. "News reporting can be done with a powerful smartphone itself" leading to a democratisation of news creation.

Being a well regarded historian, he also spoke to the children about the need to know their roots and history - especially the syncretic history of Tamil Nadu.

The children got to see the facilities and in the Studio, Audio Lab and Editing room. They quite enjoyed recording their voices and playing newsreader.

JazakAllah khair to the management and staff of QIAMS for this wonderful opportunity.

Mr. Rajashekaran speaks to the children

We were delighted to have Mr. AB Rajasekaran, a patent and Intellectual Property Rights Lawyer, come and give a talk to our Middle Schoolers today.

Thank you so much Sir for taking your valuable time to come and talk to the kids.

His talk focused on the Constitution, meaning of the key words of the Preamble, its implications and comparisons with other countries' constitutions. This is  exactly how children should learn civics.

And of course our entrepreneurs were very keen to know more about patents. Hopefully that will be covered in greater detail in another session. InshaAllah...

Do read his write up on  his interaction with our students:

Sunday 23 February 2020

Supernova STEM fest - Day 2

Day 2 of Supernova, the Al Qamar STEM interschool fest, proved to be really exciting.

The high point was the talk by Mr. Gowri Shankar, President of Mensa India. Mr. Shankar explained that Mensa is an international high IQ society. Membership is through a exam. He talked about the work being done by Mensa India with tribal and underprivileged children.

Mr Shankar gave out the medals to the toppers in the Asset Talent exam. Congratulations Hanan, Khadijah (Gold medallists), Safwan, Fawziya (Silver medallists) and Hajira (Bronze medallist).

The Maker fest event challenged participants to build a device which  would propel a ball the furthest. In 3 hours. With a fixed set of materials. And a condition that they had to use a trigger, not themselves, to start the action. And then, they had to clearly identify and explain the scientific principle behind their design.

The children rose to the challenge. All teams based their device on a trebuchet. Using a paper cup as a nest for the ball, they niftly used safety pins for locking down the opposing arm.  The kids had to do three runs to demonstrate their device's working. Unity Public School won the competition and MWA came second.

The Mathlympiad was a Math marathon. With 5 teams clearing the prelims, the battle started for the top positions. The questions were designed to stretch the children's thinking and included logical thinking.  Children were given 10 minutes to work in teams on each problem. Sana Model School emerged as the winners and MWA School took the 2nd position.

Al Qamar, as a host school, was a non competing participant.

The prizes were kindly sponsored by LKS Gold House. JazakAllah khair

Kudos to the children, teachers, staff and parents whose enthusiastic participation made this event successful.

Saturday 22 February 2020

Supernova STEM fest - Day 1

What an exciting Supernova Day 1 today. Supernova is Al Qamar's annual interschool STEM fest.

The Strategy games involved pencil and paper games - the logic being that kids should be able to go back home or to school and play the same games.

Participants played variants of Tic Tac Toe. One version was a 5x4 grid where kids had to get as many rows or columns of 0 or X.

The semi finals had yet another variant. Kids played across 3-4 grids. They had to work out strategies for winning in the multitude of games they played.

The Science Quiz was a gruelling event to say the least.  After a moderately difficult prelims, 7 teams qualified for the Finals.

The Bounce and Pounce method of answering levelled the playing field and kept the interest levels high. With rounds on Science concepts, Scientific process, famous science personalities, the participants were fighting for points.  The special feature was the Local Flora and Fauna where kids had to identify a signature spider, birds at Pulicat Lake, Jaws of the Croc Bank fame and a Russel's Viper. Clearly kids need to bone up on this - by taking advantage of the varied activities in Chennai like Nizhal's Tree Walks and SSTCN's turtle hatchling release.

In the afternoon, participants were given a science investigation to conduct. This involved them figuring out experimental procedure, record data and draw a conclusion. This also was quite hard for children who typically study science out of textbooks only.

Prizes were won by Unity Public School, Sana Model School, MWA School snd Sana Smart School. As the host school, Al Qamar was a non competing participant.

All in all an exciting day.

Friday 21 February 2020

Kids pen mini graphic novels on Soil

We were privileged to have "Soil Vasu" Sir come visit Al Qamar. His talk was organised my the Consumer Action Group (CAG) as a part of the month long events on Climate Change.

Inspired by his talk, 2 students penned these mini graphic novels explaining what they learned.

The first is by Sarah Malang of Grade 6 called Soil.

Another is a trippy one by Muhsin Maricar also of grade 6 called Soil Epic.

Check both out.

Soil Vasu Sir's talk

We were privileged to have "Soil Vasu" Sir come visit Al Qamar. His talk was organised my the Consumer Action Group (CAG) as a part of the month long events on Climate Change.

Here is a blog by a 5th grader who attended his talk :

On Friday we had a talk about soil, there was Vasu Uncle who came and we did a few activities and we learned a lot.

He started by telling how important soil is because healthy soil which means earthworms, snails, micro organisms etc need to be in the soil so that it mixes the soil and nurtures it. So healthy soil equals to healthy plants and healthy plants lead to a healthy life.  

Then we did a activity on collecting different soils like soil from direct sun, soil from under a big tree, soil from under a small plant.  We discussed about the different soils and what makes them different.

Then we did another experiment. First we put one type of sand in an empty bottle. Then we took another empty bottle and filled it with two different type of sand. Then in both bottles that had the sand  we put water and let it sit. 

While all of that was happening Vasu Uncle occasionally told us many facts about soil and how it are good for us.

Then we again did another experiment.  Uncle called three volunteers and told each of them to take three different soils and then put drops of water until it was a good texture good enough to mould. Then Uncle told them to make different shapes and see if they cracked or broke. 

We also spoke about how weeds are good for plants. Then we checked the water bottles and Uncle showed how there are different layers from bottom to top. 

At last the last experiment Uncle had two recycled pots.  One of the had no plants and  the other one had a plant and many weeds. The recycled pots were made from halves of a water can but they kept it tilted so the mouth of the water can was something like a drain.  So then Uncle poured water on the one with no plants. We saw that the water did not get soaked but since the can was tilted the water came out through the mouth but when uncle poured water on the one with the plant and the weeds the water got soaked within seconds.

I learnt many new things about how soil is very important and what is good for soil and plants.   

Zoya B. Taher, Grade 5

Sunday 16 February 2020

EI Asset Exam Performance 2019

MashaAllah, Al Qamar students did us proud in the latest round of the EI Asset examinations yet again.

  • Three of the five grades which took the examination are in or exceed the averages in the top 10 schools nationally. 
  • Grades 5,6,7 scored above the national average  & the South region average
  • All grades scored above the Tamil Nadu average.  

In terms of individual performace, an astonishing 73% of our middle school students rank in the 84th or above percentiles. Several are in the 90+percentile zone in one or more subjects.

This is all despite, nay because, of the special Al Qamar approach - no exams (except Asset) no homework, stress on reading for pleasure, conversations, discussions, workshops, excursions, lectures, hand-on learning, questioning, debating, negotiating.  Kids learn to become independent drivers of their own learning. Without stress or strife, they absorb facts, think critically, express articulately.  All these skills pay off when the kids are confronted with an exam like Asset!

Asset is a large scale diagnostic exam  which measures conceptual learning.  It is conducted twice a year in 300 schools across India, Middle Easst and Singapore. 2 Lakh students take the exam annually.

Congratulations to our winners:

Outstanding (99 percentile)- Hanan Samsudeen, Khadijah Abdul Sattar & Safwan Samsudeen

Subject Outstanding - Hanan Samsudeen (English, Maths), Safwan Samsudeen (English, Science) Khadijah Abdul Sattar (English) & Fawzia Afreen (Science)

Distinguished (94 and above percentile) - Amna Hawwa, Syed Raihan, Abdul Muiz Syed, Fawzia Afreen, Hamdan Jabir, Rafia Hajira, Zoya B. Taher, Abdul Majid Syed, Anam Fathima, Fareeha Rafeek, Shahana Syed, Tasneem Kausar

Creditable (84 and above percentile) - Iyad, Abdurrahman Ibrahim, T. Asira, Hasif Mustafa, Luqman Safee, Izaan Syed, Muhsin Maricar, Maryam Dawood, Sarah Malang, Abdullah Ibrahim, Hasna Jabir, Ishaal Abdul Azeez, Rayya Shawar

Thursday 13 February 2020

Notes from the Read-a-thon '20 - 1

Read-a-thon is back with a bang! Read Read Read and earn points. Kids are busy scouring the shelves and grabbing books.

Read-a-thon is a reading marathon held during the last term of each year to help children develop a love for reading.  Children borrow books from their class libraries daily. They earn points for each book they read.  Non fiction and second language books earn more points. Regular fiction - less.

This time. the older children were allowed to save their points to buy a gift of their choice at the end of the Read-a-thon. But the younger ones could only get weekly gifts from Mr. Reading Pot at the end of the week. The gifts, usually small stationery items, have lost their appeal. Or maybe the idea of saving up for a self selected gift was aspirational enough.

The younger ones protested against this discrimination. I had a stream of visitors to my office asking, complaining, requesting, persuading. Kept bumping into their lobby groups on my way in and out of school. They argued that it was an Al Qamar tradition to be allowed to save points.

So we had a meeting and I announced that the kids could choose to be Grasshoppers or Ants. ie they could opt for a weekly gift or save up for one big one. But once they've made a choice, they have to stick with it. No changes. Period.

 Then came the barrage of questions - can we save and spend (no), will we still get to go to the Read-a-thon ice cream party if we save (yes), will we get to choose what gift we want (yes), can we do mashwara with our parents about what we should choose (I loved this one - what a lovely idea for a child to express. But due to the short nature of the deadline, no). Then there were the Catch 22 ones - so can we see the screen to choose our gifts? Al Qamar has a strict no screen policy, but I had to bend it this one time.

The children are deeply reflecting what choice they would like to make.  And that is the essential point. Schools and homes must give real situations to children where they can learn to make valid choices for themselves. And take the consequences.  This is an essential life skill.

Tuesday 11 February 2020

"Compassion Bowl" in Montessori

Today we have introduced a compassion bowl to our children.
Little acts of kindness fill this bowl with pompoms.

We asked the children to narrate any good deeds they'd done today.

They came up saying -

  • They helped small children to work..
  • Helped their friends to wind up their materials..
  • Cleaned the environment..
  • Shared their snacks with younger children.

These good deeds were voluntarily done, and the beauty of this activity is the good deed act done by one child was witnessed and approved by other one.

Few  children honestly accepted that they hadn't done any good deeds.

Truly satisfied to see the little hearts filled with kindness and truthfulness. Alhamdhulillah.

May Allah make their hearts pure and pristine forever. 😊😍

- Thahira Mahjabeen, Montessori Directress

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