Thursday, December 13, 2012

Formative assessment - How different governement systems function

* Knowledge about the different forms of goverments
* AK strand: Governance and civil society
* Related concepts: Governance and civil society
* Self-management skills: Making informed choices

TASK: Analyse the problem given and think how this could be solved by at least three forms of governments (Anarchy, Monarchy, Oligarchy, Democracy, Parliamentary, Communist, Federal, Dictatarian or Autocratic). You need not come up with the exact solution - just the possible procedure would be enough.

Problem: The citizens are complaining about paying too much taxes to the government. They want the taxes to be reduced.

Your response should be in the form of a comment to this post.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Weekend Homework

UOI: Home survey

Task: Talk to your parents about how your house/family is governed. Some questions you may discuss:

* What systems are in place?
* How do these systems affect your life?
* What will happen if one of the systems stops working?
* What are the responsibilities of each individual?
* What are the rights of each individual?
* How are problems solved?
* Who takes the major decisions? Why?

You can also make a pictorial representation of the same.

English: Using reading strategy: Create

Task: Make an advertisement for the book you are reading. The poster must:

* Be visually appealing with bright colours and less text
* Make the viewers want to read the book
* Have interesting captions (use simile (as __ as a ____) and alliterations (words starting from same sound) if possible)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Reading for understanding

It isn't like I'm an expert in reading, but I would like to share how I go about it in the classroom.

It goes unsaid that the best way to enhance language skills in any child is through extensive reading and by accomplishing follow-up tasks. At a school where most of the students need assistance in English, reading becomes an essential part of our daily routines.

Based on their reading and comprehension levels, each student in my class has been given a book to read. Everyday, they are given to time to read one or two chapters. Based on the chapters, the students do a variety of tasks. Each day, we focus on a different reading strategy (Predict, Skim and Scan, Visualise, connect, Create, Wonder, Evaluate, Infer and Summarise). Students choose a task related to the reading strategy chosen on that day. For example, today, we focused on 'Create'. Few chose to create posters, others created comic scripts. Some students also created role plays. Some students worked in groups and others worked individually. 

We keep modifying the way we cater to reading in the classroom. This keeps the students engaged and exited. Earlier, the students were given 'reading bingo' sheets from which they chose tasks. At the moment, we are following 'strategy of the day'. Soon, we will begin with structured novel study. We also regularly do guided reading using the Oxford Reading Tree books.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Circle activity

We did a very interesting activiliy in math yesterday. The students were asked to cut out a circle from coloured A4 sheets. They learnt the different pars of the circle by 'playing' with this circle cut-out. For example, the edge of the shape is the cicumference. The line created when they folded the circle into two equal halfs is called a diameter. The line created when the circle is folded into a quarter is the radius. The cross-section of these two lines in the center. The smaller part of the circumference is the arc. The line created when they randomly folded the circle is the chord. The chord divides the circle into sectors.

After getting thorough with this vocabulary, the students created more 2D shapes with the circle: a cone (by folding it twice so that the circumference touches the center); a triangle (doing the same thrice); a trapezium (folding one end of the triangle); a hexagon (folding all three ends of the triangle) and a rhombus (Folding two ends of a triangle). They also created a tetrahedron (triangular based pyramid) by holding together the three corners of the triangle.

Apart from being informative, the engagement was highly engaging for the students, especially the girls. Some of the boys did mention that they didn't like sitting in the same place for a long time... :) Most of the students felt they were doing origami!!

Free time in the classroom

I'm sure my Principal will be alarmed by reading the title! Jokes apart, giving some (structured) free time to the students in the classroom is a very effective way to channelise their energies in the right direction.

We all have routines at home, but, aren't there times when we need a break from our schedules to either catch-up on something or just to suffice our yearning for 'change'. At times, we priorotize things that need more attention from us at that particular point of time. When we say that a classroom is like a second home for a child, then doesn't the same rationale apply to them as well?? Change can a be a source of motivation for all of us.

Our current unit is on buildings and structures and the students have been engrossed in making many models using different materials, especially legos. Lately I have been giving them some time during classes to make whatever they want with the legos and the 2D and 3D shapes. Doing this has enhanced the creativity of the students and has made them feel like architects and engineers.

When the students spend time with model making, I sit with students who need more assistance in basic skills like reading and arithmetic. It has been working well for me as well as the students - A Win Win situation!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Google docs project

Go to the link:

Discuss the different factors that influence the design and construction of a building and write your thoughts under your group's name.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The power of differentiation

"Everyone is different” is a well-known proverb. This applies to the young minds in classrooms too. Teaching and learning in the classroom is most effective when there is differentiated instruction. Differentiation basically means providing a learning environment to each student that is best suitable to him/her. This sinks very well with the student centric pedagogy of the PYP. The teacher designs the lessons in such a way that every student's needs are met (Differentiating process). Even the level of teaching differs based on the level of understanding and competence (Differentiating content). Differentiation could also means having different expectations from different students (Differentiating product). 

Here is a simple example: A couple of days back, I asked my students to read an article based on their unit. I gave articles to each student based on their level of understanding of (building) concepts and reading competence. The next day, the students who got the same article sat together and brainstormed the main ideas - simple, yet effective.

When the students were conferring their ideas, I went around making observations. The most interesting part for me was the way the ESL students worked together. There are two of them in my class - each being at a different level. In fact, one of them can barely understand or speak any English. In the video, you can see how the student who has better understanding of the content is trying to explain the same to his companion. It made the partners feel very comfortable with each other. All of a sudden, I could see a flow of confidence in them! As a result, the one who is always too shy to work with others in the class was seen contributing to the mind-map. It was truly a humbling experience for me as a teacher.

'Jigsaw Gallery Walk'

'Jigsaw gallery walk' - I write this in inverted commas because I'm not sure if a strategy like this really exists. If it does, I don't know what it's really called. Anyways, I used this strategy in the class today and felt the need to blog about it.

The students of 5K have been involved in a research project throughout this week. They were divided into groups and each group inquired into a different form of building/structure: Dams, Bridges, Sky scrapers, Tunnels and Canals. They used books and internet to gather information and then created models and posters. They also maintained a reflective journal to record their thought process. This was their formative assessment for the first line of inquiry. 

The groups were asked to share their expertise with rest of the class today. A clich├ęd way of doing this would have been to ask all the groups to sequentially share their work with everyone. To make the process more effective and engaging, I modified it a little bit. 

Every student in each group was given a number. The groups were regrouped in such a way that all the new groups have at least one person from the old groups (All the 1's together, 2's together and so on). All the work done by the students was displayed in the classroom and the groups were asked to go around for a gallery walk. At each station, the student who was originally involved in the project explained the facts and concepts. 

This way, each student got an opportunity to communicate their knowledge and ideas. It also made the other students comfortable about asking questions. All the students were thoroughly engaged and excited. Saving time was another big advantage! They will now update their journals and give them in for assessment. 

A copy of the assessment sheet:  

Monday, October 22, 2012

JAM in the classroom

JAM, short for Just-a-minute, is something I was introduced to in my college days. It was one of the most fun-filled element of inter - collegiate fests. The instructions were very simple - speak about a randomly drawn topic for exactly one minute. 

Following my co-teacher’s suggestion, we thought of using this game in the classroom to improve the speaking and oratory skills of the students. We have been doing it once every week and three weeks have passed since we started. As of now, the students are given some time to prepare notes prior to the actual speech. We will gradually try to make this more challenging by asking them to speak impromptu.

Inspite of being discouraged by the PYP, using grades turns out to be a very useful tool in this kind of engagement. Each student is assessed on a scale of ten. There are ten pre-decided criterion -
  • Precision of time
  • Confidence
  • Voice clarity
  • Fluency of the language
  • Language usage (Grammar)
  • Articulation
  • Relevance of the content
  • Interest level of the audience
  • Eye - contact
  • Hand gestures
Every time a student finishes the speech, the rest of the students in the class give 'marks' to the speaker based on each criterion. There is a 'Time-keeper' who checks the speaker for the duration and a 'Scorer' who adds all the ten scores together. These roles are taken over in rotation. (Decimals are touched upon too as each score is in the range of 0 to 1). The assessment is followed by the speakers noting down the score in there journals. They also write two criterions they scored well in and one aspect they need to improve in.

It is highly evident that repeated exposure to this exercise is helping to students to articulate themselves better. Looking at the big picture, the students are getting opportunities to reflect on their language skills on the whole. What’s more, they enjoy it thoroughly too!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Useful websites for research on buildings and structures (You will find sub-categories on the bottom right hand side of the page) (Excellent website for sky scrapers, bridges, dams, tunnels and canals) (Video included) (Watch as many videos as possible - select from the option 'videos' or 'shows')

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Build it!

Things are going great guns for Grade 5's! Apologies for not updating the blog for long.. I was really tied up with things...

The current unit for the Grade 5 is on buildings and structures. It falls under the theme 'How the world works' and the central idea is 'The designs of buildings and structures are dependent on the environmental factors and human ingenuity'. We are currently looking at the first line of inquiry: Forms of buildings and structures.

We started the unit by taking the students for a city tour. We selected the Hi - Tech area as it has many unconventionally designed buildings. The purpose of the trip was to tune then into the unit. The students also came up with many inquiry questions which were later sorted into the key concepts: Form, Function and Causation. The words of the central idea were given to them in a jumbled fashion and the students were asked to frame a meaningful sentence.
Few pictures from the trip:

After this the students conducted research about many famous buildings and structures around the world and prepared presentations for the rest of the class. We looked at the design of the building/structure, the reasons behind it's construcion and some other basic facts. The students also watched videos on the Burj Khalifa and the Akashi bridge to learn more about their construction. We learnt about the physical forces involved in constructing a building: gravity, compression and tension by watching a video and playing a quiz.

The students are doing a case study on the school campus too. For this, they were taken for a tour around the campus. They learnt about the different materials used while construction and also looked at the blueprint. They got a feel of the whole campus through the tour. Their discovery of the school campus will continue when Mr. Nuruddin (Architect) will come to the class tomorrow to answer their questions.

The students have been writing a descriptive essay on the school campus in English. They have used the data collected from the trip in the essay. Apart from this, they also have inquired into the vocabulary related to buildings and structures. They have been reading a lot of books which are conceptually or contextually connected to the unit.

There is a lot of math integration happening in the unit. The students have been learning about different geometrical shapes: points, lines, angles, 2D shapes and 3D shapes. They have learnt the classification of each of these shapes and have also done some constructions. They have been solving problems based on angles this week: complementary, supplementary, vertically opposite, corresponding and alternating angles. They have created a 'shape booklet' in which they have written examples of the different shapes in the school campus. An interesting project they are working on is the blueprint of the JA building. They have already taken the measurements. They will scale down these measurements and will come up with a detailed blueprint later this week.

In UOI, the students are soon going to form expert groups based on the different forms of buildings and structures: sky scrapers, bridges, dams and tunnels. The groups will be conducting research and experinements based on their topic and will present the same to the rest of the groups. This will also be their formative assessment.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Make a Calendar

Instructions for Calendar making: 

Thursday, September 27, 2012


I'm sure you all are waiting for the vacation as much as I am! I hope we all enjoy our time to the fullest and come back fresh as lemons..

As usual, I'm going to assign SOME work so that you don't forget all that was learnt during the session. For some of you, these tasks might help you in being occupied during the break.

Things you should do: (For everyone)

* Math worksheet on word problems
* In your math notebook, write the different examples of lines (lines, line segments, rays, parallel lines, perpendicular lines and intersecting lines) that you see around you. Try to draw them in your notebooks with accurate or approximate measurements.
* English -  Any three tasks from the Reading Bingo and Comprehension passage
* UOI: Prepare a presentation (Using any tool) on some famous buildings and structures around the world. Include information about the design, the reasons why and how it was built and any other speacial features. You may also talk about it's history, if applicable.

Due date for all the Homework: October 10th (Wednesday)

Things you MAY do: (Extension)

* Solve more problems on
* Create puzzles based on famous buildings/reading book/current events, etc.
* Create your own buildings on MS Word
* Explore web tools on
* If you visit a place outside Hyderabad, you can find out about the culture of that place and speak to you classmates about it when you come back.
* Play games:

Feel free to communicate with your teachers through email/blog comments.


Friday, September 21, 2012


Homework notes for this week:

Math: Worksheet on mixed operation
English: Reading BINGO (any two tasks)
UOI: Conduct research on the symbols of peace in different cultures (In Japan, a bell is a symbol for peace)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Rendezvous with the Nizams

The grade 5 students were taken for a field trip to the Chaumahala palace and the Nizam's museum on the 18th of September 2012.

It was a warm and sunny morning and we left the campus at 9 am; all the students and two teachers safely seated in a big, comfortable bus. It took us around forty-five minutes to reach our destination. Before entering the palace, the students sat under a shady tree at the front enterance to write a pre - reflection. They were asked to think about the things they will see inside. After a while, with our caps on, we marched enthusiastically through the lush, green gardens preseeding the pearl white structure.

As we climbed the tiny steps, we were greeted by a smiling gentleman in a guard's uniform. Behind him was a luxuriant, spacious hall. It looked like a court with an enormous throne placed in the center of the wall opposite to us. Numerous opulent looking chandeliers were dangling  from the high ceiling. I simply couldn't stop taking pictures!

Our curiosity and indulgence kept growing as we walked through the well-laid galleries. It was interesting how the museum answered all our queries in it's own serene manner. Halls after halls, galleries after galleries, courtyards after courtyards, we kept looking at at our surroundings in awe. There were artefacts that told us about the Nizams' clothes, language, food, music, travel, lifestyle, mannerisms and hobbies. While their belongings were carefully preserved and displayed, we only wished the organisers had put up more informative boards around the pathways and dioramas.

Our discovery of the culture of the Nizams continued when we visited the Nizams' museum around noon. We were fortunate to find an expert at the enterence who voluntarily guided our tour. Most of the artefacts displayed in this museum were silver objects gifted to the seventh Nizam  on his silver jubilee. The most amazing feature was a  never-ending wardrobe which is arguably the world's biggest! The museum is managed by the oldest grandson of the Nizam who lives in Paris.

The trip ended when we reached school a little after 2 pm. Exhausted and saturated, the students completed their field trip booklets, reflected on the trip and started waiting for another one....

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


As you all must be knowing, the school is closed tomorrow. We have set up some work for the students to do at home.

There is a 'Reading Bingo' sent home. The students need to complete 3-4 tasks in their reading journals.

For Math, the students can practise word problems on and on

Use mental math as far as possible.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fantabulous fourth week!

This week, the students were engrossed in digging deeper into the central idea and the second line of inquiry: 'How artefacts symbolize beliefs and values'. There was a 'Show and Tell' session where all the students and teachers brought an artefact and shared the beliefs behind it. There was a wide variety of artefacts from various cultures: Gujarati, Ismaili, Hindu, Christian, Chinese, Buddhist, etc. The students also wrote reflections on their learning. Another interesting learning engagement was the 'Jigsaw Reading'. Both the classes were divided into six groups and each group read an article from the book 'Religious articles'. The groups were then shuffled into four groups so that there is one person from each group in all the groups. The students then used a graphic organizer to make connections between all the religions. For example: The Bible is the holy book for the Christians and the Quran is the holy book for the Muslims. The Hindus light Diyas on Diwali and the Jews light candles on Hanukkah.
Some pictures from the UOI lessons: 

In English language, apart from guided reading, we had an assessment. The students were given prompts for descriptive writing and they used the writing process to independently write a descriptively written passage. The criterion  for assessment were given to them, but it was a self assessment.

In  Math, we revisited rounding off big numbers as some students were a little unclear with the concept. Students learnt to add numbers using the concept of place value. They understood the actual meaning of 'carry over'. They solved some problems on addition by expanding and contracting numbers. We did mental addition too.

In IT, the students praticed using MS Excel to create graphs.