“Observant” – A new word for the day


Every so often a session comes along that makes me laugh and spreads a warm glow as it stays on in memory. What happened at Phaltan just two days ago (10th January 2018) is likely to be such a one. At very first glance it seemed so cute, but its real strength came through as I kept remembering it on the drive back to Pune.

But I am getting ahead of myself! The second batch (all 10 of them) of Melanie’s group came in and took their seats around the big screen. Seats that had just been vacated by Melanie’s first group of fifth graders. In some groups, the really active kids are right up front, in other groups – right at the back, as it was with this second group. They got through their regular routine (and it no longer takes them more than a couple of minutes) of coming up close to the webcam, typing in their name and saying “hello” and “how do you do?” to Melanie individually, with the odd one sharing some special news.

Individual hellos

An individual “hello” [Photo: Suneeta]

Then they began with an activity Melanie had used with the first group as well – ‘Similar and Different’. The children had been given the challenge to be ‘observant’ – to see carefully. It was their new word for the day. Melanie brought out all kinds of things – two
pictures, two objects e.g. pencils and finger puppets (elephants were of course included, being Melanie’s favourite animal!) and more…. The children covered a range of similarities and differences. From colour to size, to which specific animal, the length of their tails, whether a pencil had an eraser or not and so on. All these things were observed and commented on.

Being observant

Similar & Different

Finding what’s ‘similar’ & what’s ‘different’ [Phaltan Jan 2018] [Photos: Suneeta]

Then Melanie turned to herself and the children asking them to see if they could point to similarities and differences among them. Of course they could! And they raised their hands to be invited to speak. Saakshi and Bhavesh and Ayaan seemed to have their hands up most of the time. They were so eager to speak!

Hands up

They even included differences they knew about… And indicated these in full sentences. “You are in London, we are in Phaltan”. “You are in morning, we are in afternoon”…. 🙂 before returning to specific things they could “see”. And I had a hard time containing my own grin as I heard Bhavesh point out a similarity – ” you have a beautiful smile, we have beautiful smiles”. Awwwww! Of course they did, every single one of them! And they had heard Melanie comment on that many, many times.

That wasn’t the end. Similarities and differences continued to be indicated, and their lack of inhibitions and absence of false ideas about politeness shone through as I heard them point out a difference – “You are old, we are young!” Melanie and I had such a good laugh over that one as well.

Cute? Yes! But that isn’t all. There were traces of many hours of interaction with this group. It was evident in their eagerness to participate, and in their patience to await their turn. It was evident in the ‘order’ that had been gently created so that each one would be heard. And it was evident in their use of sentences (not individual words being ‘barked’ at Granny!).

And it was also evident in their reasoned conclusions as the session continued and they watched and reflected on a clip of the astronaut Tim Peake speaking with school children in the UK. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/space/12135602/Tim-Peake-holds-CosmicClassroom-to-answer-questions-of-British-schoolchildren.html)

They were being observant AND reflective, and they were expressing every bit of it.

Just a glimpse of what The Granny Cloud can achieve…

It's always fun


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