Reading Marathon at Bal Bharati School, Rewa
In the last week of June, in the rain-washed city of Rewa located in the quiet north-eastern part of Madhya Pradesh, we met teachers and students of Bal Bharati School to conduct the fourth session of our three-year long Optimized Resources Teaching and Learning Programme. We lovingly (and for sake of brevity) call the programme ORTL.
Through ORTL, we have introduced strategies, devices and tools at Bal Bharati that make the process of classroom learning an engaging, integrated and fun exercise for teachers and young learners. Our learners are junior school students who have responded well to games, storytelling and art in the last one year. They have also taken a keen interest in reading books. Their bright heads and eyes light up when they are asked to take a break from lessons and read. However the skill of ‘reading’ in a foreign language, and English is foreign to most students in the school, has been a struggle for them. A struggle that can scare any reader off a book. So our first task was to unpack their fear, intuit their need and address it, we wanted to stagger their work and make it a process where they felt supported. We had our young learners’ back!
We began by working with our teacher-partners at the school and identified each learner’s reading level. Then we skimmed through an exhaustive list of books to narrow down a list and restock their library. Once the library, our primary resource, was in place the next step was to identify ways of making an optimal use of it. We launched headfirst into designing scaffolds that interwove a variety of media with the exercise of reading. We included art, speaking exercises and fun computer tools that were geared to transform the passive process of reading into an active, engaging activity. We invited teachers to take part in the process and model for children.
But what will come of it all? At the moment, we do not know. A year’s patient wait, continual monitoring and feedback from teachers and students will tell us more. For now, here are a few photographs of our work at the school and that we assume should give you a tour of our work. For more, stay with us and find out how we fare through the year.