Online Pragya April 2021 – A Report from Karnataka

Vision Empower Pragya Teacher Training was held online between April 21 2021 to April 23 2021 for teachers of special schools for the blind in Karnataka. Over these three days, a total of 53 teachers attended the various sessions and contributed significantly to the collective learning of the team.

On the first day, Educational Co-Ordinators Jyoti and Meghna introduced the teachers to the principles of teaching children with visual impairment. The day began with an address by Vidhya Y, co-founder of VE, who welcomed the teachers and introduced them to all the interventions and projects at VE. The sessions began with an icebreaker where teachers shared about their experiences in teaching students with visual impairment and the current curriculum structure was discussed. The need for an Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) was discussed. The various aspects of the ECC and its’s use in overcoming the challenges of students with visual impairment in the pedagogy of Science and Math especially to make up for the lack of incidental learning. The design of the VE Teacher Instruction Kit and its use in ensuring that the teacher gets support to make the topics interesting and find the required content was explained in detail. The teachers were shown sample VE TIKs which have been specifically created for them drawing upon principles of Universal Design for Learning and the ECC skills. The need for teaching foundational concepts to build the learning capacity of the child of more complex concepts in higher grades was highlighted. The level wise dependencies between important learning areas was discussed and lesson planning using the TIKs was explained. The teachers were then introduced to activities using the various non-visual sensory capabilities which can be used to make daily lessons more meaningful. Teachers were grouped into separate teams with VE anchors which brainstormed in online breakout rooms on ideas to teach based on their current teaching experiences and the learnings from the training. Each group then presented their learning and shared their knowledge in a fun filled interactive session. Sessions were aptly translated to Kannada by Vidhya, Raji and Rajesh.

The second day was an Introduction to Computational Thinking for the teachers through games and activities. The TIK structure was followed for the same. This began with an Icebreaker session where the teachers gleefully went down memory lane and shared about all the games they played in their childhood. They were themselves amazed at all that they could remember about the games and the concepts they learnt without their knowledge. They then took part in a fun-filled Interest Generation activity with audio instructions from Educational Co-Ordinators Devi and Anitha. This was followed by a detailed talk on the background and understanding of Computational Thinking and what it means for the cognitive development of children, especially the accommodations required to be incorporated by teachers for children with visual impairment. The rest of the day was split into online breakout rooms where play sessions were held by with the teachers and the methods of teaching using the Ludic Design Approach were discussed for each game. The day ended with an interactive sessions where the teachers shared their key learning, comments and suggestions. All sessions were ably translated to Kannada by Vidhya, Raji, Rajesh and Venkatesh.

The third day began with an expert talk by Ms. Nandini Menon on the salient attitudes essential for teachers when working with children with visual impairment. All of us at VE were very excited to announce the launch of the VE Subodha Accessible Learning Management System to the teachers. Arathi took a training on the Introduction to Subodha and explained why Subodha was required, what can be found on Subodha and a demonstration of how to use the platform. The post lunch session had two groups. The teachers with visual impairment were trained by Nibin and Vidhya on the usage of Subodha and the sighted teachers were given assignments to get introduced to Subodha hands-on. The training ended with an interactive session of sharing, suggestions and comments. Teachers from 21 schools in Karnataka joining in enthusiastically for the online training for 3 days was a memorable event for all of us at Vision Empower. We will carry forward the lessons from this event to the next Pragya, which will be announced soon!