Last week, I attended my first class at Government Model Primary School (GMPS) Puttenahalli. Mary Shyla, one of our English teachers was taking an English class on Demonstrative Pronouns for her 5th Std students using Tux Paint (a public software tool). Before Shyla brought her students to the computer lab, I helped her switch on the computers and open Tux Paint. Her class walked in a line, very quiet and sat themselves down in groups in front of the computer. There were about 5 students per computer. Immediately they started playing without the tool without waiting for instructions from their teacher.
It took Shyla a little while to get the attention of the class – we have always maintained that it is very difficult for the teacher to compete with the attractiveness of the computer :-) Once she managed to get their attention, she gave them the following instructions. “Using the stamp, choose 5 objects, whose name you know in English”. We then went to the small groups and had to handhold some of them through this activity. The students enjoyed themselves exploring the tool and this went on for quite a while. Shyla felt sorry that she had to discontinue this and go to the rest of her planned activities for the class.
In her next activity, Shyla herself had prepared some things on Tux Paint to introduce the students to the sentences “This is, these are, that is and those are”. She used these objects to explain the concepts of demonstrative pronouns to the children. Following this she used classroom objects and classroom space asking the children constantly, “What is this, what is that, what are these and what are those.” The children responded to her promptly with the reply “This is.. these are.. that is.. and those are.” Sometimes the children got it wrong and Shyla immediately corrected them or asked the children themselves to correct themselves. The children were shouting out replies to her and the enthusiasm was infectious where children who were not replying also started replying. Then Shyla invited some children to come ask questions using demonstrative pronouns and the objects in the class. This was followed by children working in groups asking each other the questions.
This one hour class was a good learning experience for both Shyla and me as we had never used computers to teach a class before. Important points that must be remembered is that children will be very enthusiastic to play on the computer and this time factor must be kept in mind while planning the class. Preparing the laboratory for the children also requires time.
Shyla and me also realised that may not be a good idea for children to work in groups completely by themselves. The teacher should facilitate what is going on in the groups so all the children are comfortable with the concepts.