A novel teaching experiment has kids from five corporation schools in the city in a fever of excitement, reports Vaibhav Shastry

A projector plays out a film on a screen as a group of children sit on the floor of a moderately sized classroom and watch with excitement. The star of this video is their science teacher. She greets her students with a smile, and talks about the environment and how to preserve it. Some of them take down notes; while others have seen it before and know most of the answers.

In sync

“What are some of the elements that make up our environment?” “The sun, moon, earth, trees, birds, animals and humans,” is the instantaneous reply, in sync with their teacher. A few minutes later, the students’ attention shifts to a few animated videos on environmental pollution and global warming. Children gasp when they see the globe exploding as a result of the wastes and pollutants being dumped on it. The message sinks in. The 47 children who watch it are Class VI students of the Corporation High School, K.K. Pudur.

They are part of Flipped Classroom, a concept introduced by the American India Foundation (AIF) on December 2 in five Corporation schools in the city. The Flipped Classroom is part of a Rs. 40 lakh Digital Equaliser (DE) programme initiated by the American India Foundation for Standards VI to VIII, in 27 Corporation schools in Coimbatore.

A flipped classroom is a form of blended learning where students watch video lectures shot by their teachers and discuss their doubts and problem areas with them immediately.

All it needs is a digital camera or handycam, a teacher and some visual props and cut-outs to make the classroom interactive.

D. Baskaran, State Program Manager, AIF explains :“The aim of this methodology is to ensure that the teacher is a facilitator and focus more on self-learning by students, similar to the activity-based learning popular in CBSE schools. Slow learners hesitate to ask teachers any doubts they may have in the normal classroom atmosphere. Teachers themselves have to hurry through their portions, and have little time to clear doubts. While most private schools already have the infrastructure required to introduce activity-based learning, it is Corporation and Government schools that need help.” The flipped classroom allows children to watch the videos as many times as they want, and note down their doubts prior to the next class. This also allows the teacher to understand the weaknesses of the students better.

Teachers get creative with their methods of preparation, using the Internet, animated videos, props and cut-outs to increase the visual appeal of their lecture.

Here is one example.

“Students normally find Tamil grammar a dull subject. However, after I added some video clips of day-to-day conversations between people and pictures, children start looking forward to the next chapter,” says M. Usha, Tamil teacher at Corporation High School, K.K. Pudur.

Children themselves have started taking corrective measures in their own lives.

“I have strongly advised my mother not to use plastic bags when she goes shopping. After repeated requests, she now carries a cloth bag wherever she goes to make a purchase,” says N. Viji, a sixth standard student, with pride.

K. Mohammad Arshad watches these videos at home too, winning approval from his parents.

“My parents are happy that I spend more time studying. Watching animated videos makes it far easier for me to pay attention to and understand new concepts, and I am confident of scoring higher in the upcoming exams,” he beams.