The Early Grade Reading Innovation Challenge will discover, develop and scale the early grade reading innovations with the objective of improving the reading skills of about 1.5 lakh primary Indian school going children. The innovations should help develop the reading abilities in children using cost effective methods in a sustainable manner through a mode that will reach greater number of children in a shorter span of time.
Improved reading abilities in children in the early years will play an important role in their socio-economic advancement later in their lives.
A project meant for developing reading abilities in children is never complete without it being tried out on children. Primary grade children are our target group and the stories were chosen keeping their interests in mind, as well as the reach. The project is to reach the interior rural pockets of the country where there is a dearth of quality materials for the children to read and develop. Challenges faced by children and teachers in these areas are manifold. Accessibility and availability play a major role in these areas. Their home background does not help in any way. If at all a child has to get educated it purely depends on the school and the teachers.
A project of this scale needs utmost care in preparation and administration. Piloting in class with children is mandated to test the content with students. Stories were selected and graded class wise and activities created for the stories keeping the level of the children in mind. A sample survey was conducted to have a baseline understanding of the children before we could undertake a full-fledged piloting.
Selection of stories:
Based on our field experience we realized that children wanted some element of fun, music and animals. Most of our stories have any one of the three. For this piloting we chose ‘Singing in the Rain’, for its music and animal content. Children were from Grade 4. We also limited our class size to 15 as intervention could be measured easily. The plan was to make it enjoyable for children and as informal as possible. The story and the activities ensured that.
After a brief interaction with the principal Ms Sugandhi the teacher Ms. Reena took us to the class where we were to pilot the story. The children were 10 in number and the three of them with mother tongue Hindi and the rest were learning Hindi mas 2nd language.
The children were first presented the plan for the class. The story will be screened once or twice and then the activities in sheets have to be completed. After a brief interaction with the principal Ms Sugandhi the teacher Ms. Reena took us to the class where we were to pilot the story.The children were 10 in number and the three of them with mother tongue Hindi and the rest were learning Hindi mas 2nd language.
The story was projected and the children reacted to it well. Here the teacher said the story was moving fast and we could stretch every frame by 3 more seconds
The children wanted to view the story once more and this time the understanding was better
The worksheets were given and the children made to sit in a circle as we didn’t want them to feel that it was a test but only an activity
With support from the facilitators the children did the worksheets
The worksheets were collected and a small group interview was conducted with the children
- What do you remember most about the story?
- Would you like to see it everyday?
- Why did you like it?
- What do you remember most about the visuals?
- What is the highlight in the video?
Discussion with Principal Ms.Sugandhi:
- The principal had issues with children’s lack of exposure to Hindi
- Decoding was considered as reading and reading was a skill that had to be learnt and cultivated with practice
- With the SLS the children could develop reading skills faster
- Story was enjoyable
- Children remembered the finer details as the picturisation was perfect
- They could answer questions and do the activities easily
- Some had reading difficulties and had to be helped
- Peer reading happened
- Joyful learning
- Could recollect with ease
- More visuals would help them relate to the language better.
Feedback from teacher
- Narration could be slower
- Stories can incorporate fun element
Challenges for facilitators:
- Audio and video could have been clearer
- The activities we thought were age appropriate had to be scaled down
- Images in the worksheets were unclear
“The Dinosaur was the best about the story”
“I remember the song! ‘Come to me Oh rolling clouds’…..Avinash
“We like everything about the story”, They are so funny’
“Mother tells us stories”
“The man’s singing I remember”
“We saw English and Hindi letters coming”
“We want more stories”
“We saw the story two times and we remember the story. It is useful”
“We learnt letters, words, new things, how to speak in Hindi and English”, how to identify letters”
Reena Majumdar Hindi teacher Aklavya:
‘Children love reading from pictures. Instead of describing the picture of and apple if we show apple it is better and if it animated, in story form and through songs they undersatnd well and learn fast”.
“All their attention are focussed”
“ It should be a little slower? They wanted to see it once more”. “There was a new word pakoda and they learnt a new word. If we bring the component of imagination which we cannot do through a book it will help
“Any learning linked with story helps in learning better”
“Technology helps in accelerating learning”
“If there are teaching aids, for grammar and Maths that accompany the stories it will help”
Principal Sugandhi Viswanathan:
“ Reading has been an issue for a long time. It is not a natural process of acquisition”
“20 to 30% lack reading skills”
“ Across the world decoding is considered reading”.”‘reading has to be considered at a deeper level”
“ Text books these days do not understand the poems in text books” Children cannot relate to what comes in the textbooks”
“Text appropriateness happens with PlanetRead”
“Children get to associate the words they are reading with the context”
“We hope this programme works with our children”