April 2021 Update – Concluding the Year
Exams without tremors or at least ….. Butterflies? I...m... possible! Not by a long shot! Very possible..... achieved and delivered.
Enter ‘Kahoot’ and the assessments rolled over into fun and games. The students barely battled an eyelash and the teacher’s savoured their cheerful, smiling faces. Orchestrated by the Principal, Ms. Fionika Sanghvi, the final assessments ended on an extremely positive note. As the results were viewed immediately, the young ones were delighted with the magic of it all and the older heaved long sighs of relief at having navigated the year and ending it so successfully. As for the staff, which is always game, the virtual assessments were a whole new gambit.
Fulsome praise for the Formative Years
This year, Grade 1 and 2 of SPJ Sadhana School conducted their end of year assessments virtually, using the available resources at home, while taking all the measures necessary to ensure optimum focus, independent participation and accuracy. In order to make the assessments as engaging as possible, the teachers included fun filled activities such as ‘Kahoot’ quizzes. As far as the ‘Kahoot’ quiz was concerned, the students thoroughly enjoyed the visual clues, as well as the auditory feedback they received upon every correct response, which further motivated them to continue playing. Virtual assessments were done individually and parents could see the performance of their children. Students have actually enjoyed the assessment in the form of Kahoot games. They were confident enough to attempt every question and accessing the results immediately was a novelty for them. It was encouraging to see them attempt the answers relying on their own devices.
The teachers were able to judge how capable the students were in the practical performance of their skills. They were able to observe how much the students relied on their parents.
The assessments were planned in a fun play way manner by using novel activities and adding a hint of familiarity to them. For e.g. the teachers thought of adding spice to a culinary activity by having the students make a ‘Mexican Roll’ by following a pictorial recipe.
Levelling with the Intermediate
Students' well-being and their progression in future stages of life have been at the forefront of staff’s thinking as the school response to this extraordinary pandemic. As an organization, it is critical to ensure that the options provided for our students and teachers are fair and compassionate during these difficult circumstances. Examinations are a critical part of the education process and a necessary step in providing students with accurate grades, especially at the intermediate and vocational levels.
Virtual assessments were conducted on a one to one basis. This was beneficial for the students as they were participative, interactive and less anxious during the assessment. The medium of assessment was Kahoot and, practicals and orals. This mode of examination was complimentary to the students and left them confident and motivated for, their assessment as writing was not involved. A further aid, for the students, was adaptation in the conduct of Kahoot, such as using red and blue colours and flash cards to get the desired response.
Versatile with the Vocational
Virtual assessment was conducted differently from physical assessment. At the Vocational level, questions were projected on a screen shared through Google meet, while students answered these questions using their smart phones. Engaging students in a gaming assessment gave them all an equal time frame to process, analyze and select the correct answer. Thus the staff were able to identify the challenges and difficulties faced by each student, giving them a detailed understanding of their level of functioning. Further the teachers were able to give the students required intervention, that would uplift their performance in the concerned area.
The time frames and different types of questions designed were student friendly. Brain gym, reciting the school prayer or meditation diverted the students’ minds, relaxed their anxiety and helped them focus effectively. This method of assessment thrilled the students as they performed independently. A competitive spirit was created among students to give their best and win the game.
Kahoot gives the teachers an opportunity to assess the student through different types of questions, thus enabling the students to adapt to change and answer spontaneously. Combination of words and images catered to the needs of all students, thus enabling them to be assessed at one level.
Before using this method of assessment, the students and parents were educated on Kahoot and how to play using the Kahoot app. Tutorial videos, demonstrating the game through screen sharing, playing the game along with parents and students simultaneously, and practice, facilitated confidence in the students. Fading prompts gradually encouraged students to use the application independently. Thus, this training developed their pace of selecting the answer.
The application first prepared the students by providing the question, after which the students were given adequate time to assimilate the information and identify the correct answer. Matching the colour code and visual inputs on the screen helped the student to associate in a better way. There were some students who faced difficulty in matching the colour code, inspite of knowing the right answer. Here the students were guided to think, identify, match and then click. Verbally mediating with them to process information helped control their hasty actions. The excitement to use their phones during exams relaxed the atmosphere, thus enabling them to perform with enjoyment.
The staff also introduced the use of pictorial assessment which proved to be a powerful tool in assessing the students. Photographs or images are worth a thousand words, through which a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image. Pictures make it possible to absorb large amounts of data quickly. It was noticed that some students were good in practical and oral work but were unable to write long answers. The staff assessed that poor writing and reading skills could affect self-confidence. Under the guidance of the school principal Ms. Fionika Sanghvi, the teachers decided to change theory papers into pictorial form using Kahoot. The time frame for each question was kept extended to support the student. This process proved to be a positive change for many of the students and allowed them to perform well.
Assessment in the Math Lab
As in other streams, the route to assessment, in the Math Lab, was changed. For e.g. Instead of a formal written exam paper, the Housie game was designed for the Prevocational A class, giving them an opportunity of choice and chance.
A housie ticket was made with math implied statements which had to be ticked off as the clue was provided. This form of assessment covered the math process and allowed examination in skip counting, identification of shapes, properties of shapes, reading time, addition, understanding the term equal.
The advantage of this form of assessment was that it reduced the anxiety of the students and increased their engagement in the activity provided for their assessment. A quick switch over from one topic to another was accepted with such ease that the teachers found it a delight to use this mode of assessment.
In the Office Procedure class, the students had to employ their working memory and were assessed on number facts, 3D shapes, units of measurement, and time difference between two countries.
Math assessment through the Housie Game provided a unique way for the students to perform optimally in their final assessment.
The last two days of the academic year were devoted to fun for the students, through recreational games. Though the games would be conducted totally on the bases of enjoyment they were to be used for an in depth assessment of the transfer of learning occurring throughout the year. The objective of the games would be to access and enhance different skills such as cognitive skills, imitation skills, memory skills, fine motor, perceptual, writing skills etc., oral motor muscle coordination and eye-hand coordination. The games were also aimed at improving concentration and speed, encouraging greater attention to detail and enhancing movement for self actualization. The games were conducted through 4 avenues physical, cognitive, cooking, art and craft. These avenues covered the learning streams offered by the school.
A plethora of games were devised by the teachers. For the Formative Year s, the games were usually hands on like making a floating polo tower, using spoons and bangles creatively, playing with the balls, freeze dancing, Simon says, hide and seek, and mini treasure hunt, where they required to find specific objects in a time span of 10 seconds.
The games of the intermediate level were more aligned with balanced reinforcement of verbal tools and identifying sounds. Associating key words for e.g. ‘crunch’ with gustatory articles was also used. The teachers also planned one minute games and a virtual memory photo frame. The students enjoyed one minute games as they were time bound and provided immediate results which were exciting. The students participated enthusiastically in both the activities. The combined classes added more fun as peers were happy to see each other working simultaneously on the same platform after a year.
In the Vocational classes the teachers upped the game. The activities were varied from art and craft to culinary to grooming and taxed the student skills to the hilt. ‘Zentangles’ had caught the attention of the staff earlier, when it had been introduced at the Principal’s instigation in a workshop. The staff conducted Zentangle activities on the recreational days providing a new and exciting event for the students, and allowing their creativity to grow. The students also indulged in making a savoury Indo-Mexican variation of Nachos, where they employed culinary skills, sequencing, kitchen etiquette and recognition of flavours and fragrances.
The girls were also thrilled at having a ‘make-up day’ and the boys learnt to gel their hair a la their favourite idol. They also had a wonderful time dressing up as their favourite celebrity, while their peers had to identify them. They even made musical instruments – a rattle, a clic clac, a mini banjo and a bottle shaker. The activity was an outright hit.
Finally the therapists also contributed to the games.
The Dance and Movement therapist introduced a fun recreational activity reflecting creative movement, mirroring music and engaging with paints. The activity was conducted to foster creative expression and self regulation and overcoming sensory issues. The game was a huge success.
Occupational Therapists conducted board games based on daily activities. They also wished to encourage thinking skills, memory, communication and physical movement.
The Sports instructors conducted activities with stacking glasses and games concerned with control of breath, such as blowing balloons with a straw. The students were also asked to demonstrate their balancing skills while balancing pasta or ‘Cadbury gems’ on a fork.
The Yoga and the Speech therapist employed word and ball games and identification of objects (treasure hunt) to assess the students’ skills and auditory and visual memories. Mindfulness games were played through puzzles and riddles and creating sandwiches from materials at hand.
Open days, for the parents, this April, were a breeze. For a dedicated 20 to 30 minutes, each parent had the entire staff at their disposal. For the first time, each parent could communicate exclusively with all the teachers, where the students’ progress was discussed holistically and a very precise picture emerged. As the students, learning on the virtual platform had performed far beyond expectation; each meeting became a true source of contentment and achievement for the parents.
The year 2020-2021 has been full of surprises, some pleasant and some not but it has been navigated positively and successfully with the union of students, staff and parents.
The year has been one of signal achievements.
The Principal Ms. Fionika Sanghvi participated in education and training of persons with Down Syndrome organized by Amity University of Research Science Uttar Pradesh in collaboration with universities from UK and New Zealand. The Principal said “I spoke about the title for panel discussion-‘I CHOOSE NOT TO HAVE DIS in my ABILITY’. We discussed how SPJ Sadhana trains persons with Down syndrome for independent living. My response was a holistic curriculum with effective therapeutic intervention I spoke about the therapy in details. What advice can be given to educators - in brief I spoke about being advocates for the special needs people so that we LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND IN EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT”.
The documentary film of SPJ Sadhana School titled Ma’douk - toughened by life is directed by Shivani Vyas (Chhokri Films). This film has got the special jury award at the 11th Dadasaheb Phalke film festival.
The school congratulates Ms. Tejal Kothari Coordinator Intermediate Level for her momentous achievement.