Recently a demonstration of the Bookbox “Turtle’s Flute” AniBook was done in a government primary school in Pondicherry. There were about 100 students present along with three teachers. How did the interaction go?
We asked the large gathering of students whether they liked listening to stories. Almost everyone said ‘yes’ except for a few shy one who stared at us with doleful eyes and were too scared to talk. We projected the ‘Turtle’s Flute’ story on the classroom wall and children saw it with interest.
At the end of the story, the children seemed eager to talk. One little boy got up and asked: “Why did the tortoise not drop his flute when the hunter caught him?” Before we had time to answer, a shy student cried, “Because he was very fond of it!” and then another quickly added, “The flute saved him!” There! If children like stories, one need not worry about responses! Spoken skills automatically improve.
COMPREHENSION AND ASSESSMENT
We spotted a few students in the crowd who looked quite lost. We asked them:
• Which were the animals that came to hear the music?
• Can you write the names of these animals on the board?
• Can you write ‘flute’ and ‘turtle’?
• What is a cage?
• Could you all read the subtitling sentences?
The children surprisingly could answer all the questions except for the last one. Many faced problems while reading yet they all enthusiastically wrote down the words in their notebooks by looking at the screen. We suddenly got an idea! By pointing at the word ‘elephant’ written on the board, we said that it was a snake. The students immediately reacted by saying, “No! It is an elephant!”
That was a strategy to assess the comprehension skills of the students. By deliberately making mistakes, the teacher can gauge if her students have understood the story or not. It is also used as an attention-grabbing technique to get distracted children back into the story.
We projected the Tamil version of the “Turtle’s Flute” and the reactions were enthusiastic. One little shy girl even recounted the entire story in Tamil in front of the whole gathering. She got loud applause from the crowd and looked radiant!
It is a good idea to switch from English to Tamil, or their native language when children have difficulties understanding the story in English. As Bookbox has this option, teachers were happy to try out this experiment especially with the shy students and even the weaker ones.
GEOGRAPHY AND OTHER SKILLS
We finally told the students that the story was a Brazilian folktale and asked if they knew where Brazil was. No one knew, so the teachers were requested to get a map to show the students where Brazil is located.
It is always a good idea for teachers to use maps and atlases in class while telling a story, as this helps children know about the story setting, and their knowledge of geography gets broadened.
At the end of the session, we distributed printouts of stories and drawing worksheets that came with the story, and the teachers encouraged the children to try them out. Children love to explore stories through non-verbal means and giving students opportunities to paint, draw and create stories through craft is an effective way to learn.
FEEDBACK FROM TEACHERS
Teachers overall sounded quite excited about using BookBox stories in class for developing reading and writing skills of their students.
“Will you get us more stories like that of that turtle playing the flute?” asked the kids as we were leaving. We nodded.
How do you use “Turtle’s Flute” in your classroom? Make sure to leave a comment!
Nabanita Deshmukh is a writer of children’s stories and rhymes. She conducts workshops for teachers and students on storytelling and other interactive modes of teaching. She can be contacted at email@example.com.