Pragya Nov 2020
A three day online teacher training workshop Pragya’2020 was organized by Vision Empower on 9th, 10th and 11th of November. The workshop was conducted online on the Zoom platform and a mock session on how to join and operate the meeting on Zoom was conducted two days in advance to familiarize teachers with usage of the platform.
The workshop was attended by 27 teachers from 8 schools for children with visual impairment.The first 2 days of the workshop focused on providing support and introducing innovative ways for teachers of Grades 1 to 7 to teach Science and Mathematics online. The session had an additional component focused on resourcefulness i.e. what materials and resources teachers can use and ask the children to use from their homes or from their surroundings to make the concepts easily comprehensible.
Nandini Menon, Special Educator, Vision Empower, addressed the teachers on effectiveonline teaching methods during the pandemic situation. She stressed on the fact that planning is a crucial element for this. Sylvia Veeraraghavan, Program Director, Vision Empower, introduced Computational Thinking as a subject at school and its importance.
A total 4 groups of teachers were formed, 2 groups for science (grade 1-4 and grade 5-7) and 2 for math (grade 1-4 and grade 5-7). Zoom breakout rooms were used to conduct parallel sessions with each group.Keeping in mind the comfort of the teachers with local language, a translator was assigned to each group.Different ways to make online teaching effective and engaging were shared and a samples of audio tutorials, stories, and YouTube links were provided to the teachers. The sessions were interactive and discussion based and the teachers also shared their experiences of teaching online and the challenges they are facing.
On the third day, different games were played with the teachers to give them an idea how Computational Thinking can be developed and numeracy skills can be inculcated in children through games created with readily available materials. These games included card games such as I see 10, Race to 27, Last man’s standing and Pebble games such as Pebble counting, Pebble grouping and Pattern games such as Pebbles-Pattern andSound Pattern using different types of material and Body percussion.The VE CT games link was launched and shared with the teachers (http://visionempowertrust.in/computational-thinking-games/). The teachers were shown how to download the play plans available for all the games, and play it with their students.
A session on Digital Literacy and audio tutorials was conducted. The trainingcovered tutorials which are available for persons with visual impairment on the Vision Empower YouTube channel.The session focused on how they could use essential apps such as Be My Eyes,GoogleMeet, Google TTS, downloading and updating apps from the Playstore and Google Forms.
Dr Swami Manohar, Principal Researcher – Microsoft Research spoke to the teachers about the importance of play. He highlighted that play and games are fun and if knowledge can also be imparted through play, then children would never forget these concepts. He spoke about how children should be allowed to play and never be discouraged from playing.Dr Padmini T, Trustee of Pratham Mysore and Professor Emeritus, University of Mysore addressed the teachers and urged them to work with their students in a fun and encouraging atmosphere and focus on their unique strengths.
The teachers shared feedback on the various sessions and expressed their gratitude and shared that they would be happy to try the activities with theirstudents.They assuredus of posting the outcomes of theirsessions with the students on the teachers WhatsApp group created.Listening to their experiences was enriching for the Vision Empower team and we intend to provide further support to all the teachers going forward.