Schools

How to make teaching at government schools better? S Somasundaram has answers

Beyond the textbook S Somasundaram has developed additional material that government school teachers can use in the classroom   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

“Who will come forward for the next exercise?” asks S Somasundaram. A few hands are raised tentatively and giggles rise as one person is selected. This is a classroom all right, but not one for children. The students here are teachers — 50 of them from government schools across 10 blocks. As Somasundaram takes them through word play, riddles, synonyms-antonyms, there are answers in chorus and animated discussions among themselves.

This session is part of a two-day workshop organised by Somasundaram’s Learn and Teach India, through which he digitises the textbooks of the Tamil Nadu Government’s Samacheer syllabus and develops teaching modules — interactive worksheets, question banks, riddles, games and more — that can be used in the classroom. This apart, he has devised a Spoken English module that will increase the children’s vocabulary and help them speak with confidence. And all this with the government-issued textbook as its base.

“Let us face it,” says the retired bank employee, “parents want their children to talk good English. And that is not going to happen with rote learning. So we have to help them in some way.” His way is to create unique word list from each chapter in the textbook and add value to them. From here, he creates lists of antonyms and synonyms, rhyming words, parts of speech, games like word building, match the following, quizzes and riddles and then tacks on sentences also. “The sentences are in conversational style,” he explains. “For example, if there are 500 words in the Std I text book, I give them another 200 through antonyms and yet another 300 through compound words. By the time they finish, they will have learnt around 1000 words.” For one lesson, which has an illustration of a smart classroom, he has created 165 sentences.

While English is key to this programme, Somasundaram is not ignoring other subjects. Tamil, Maths, and EVS have all got similar sets. While he has all the material he has developed, what he needs is a mechanism for delivery. The workshop for the school teachers was the first in this area. A representative from Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan says that there will be follow-ups to study the impact of this programme. Somasundaram is confident that it will transform a child’s capacity to learn. “I have implemented this in the school I studied in at Devakottai (Sivaganga district). The pass percentage improved tremendously,” he says proudly. This gave him the idea of extending the programme to government schools. “I only want to help the children who may not have access to other means of learning.”

But he wants to increase the reach and, for this, he needs volunteers who will fan out to different schools and implement the programme. “I will train them and loop them with the schools so that they can take this forward,” he says earnestly. He is already speaking to a few corporate companies whose employees are willing to give their time. It takes a village to raise a child and Somasundaram is calling upon the community to ensure that they invest time and effort so that the next generation can indeed have a bright future.

Those interested can contact S Somasundaram at 9842249186 or email learnandteachindia@gmail.com

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Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 6:20:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/schools/s-somasundarams-learn-and-teach-india-digitises-the-textbooks-of-the-tamil-nadu-governments-samacheer-syllabus-and-develops-teaching-modules-to-use-in-the-classroom/article28271728.ece

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