Student Led Online Learning helps reimagine Virtual Classrooms
At the core of our work at Mantra4Change is the vision to ensure children across the country receive enriching learning experiences. This year pushed us to reimagine how we can support schools to provide such experiences.
In our journey of reimagining support towards student engagement, we launched the Student Sabha initiative. To introduce project-based learning and encourage peer learning, Student Sabha was established as a weekly engagement for students across our schools in Bangalore.
Over a few weeks, hundreds of students engaged in activities that helped teach basic science concepts and develop 21st-century skills like communication and creativity. The initiative was curated and designed by the Makerspace team at Mantra4Change, supported by Abako Foundation.
Voices of the facilitators
RJ Dhanush, as he’s popularly known, from Shri Padmashree High School was one of the first students to facilitate a session of the Student Sabha. A talented 8th grader, Dhanush is a member of the Student Council at his school and proactively leads many student activities.
“The idea of hosting student-led sessions was inspired by an unfortunate incident. In the second ever session hosted by Rupesh Sir (of Mantra’s Makerspace), many of our students were unable to attend because of the limited capacity of attendees. The students were disappointed and we got so many messages and calls. That’s when we thought, why not host a session exclusively for our students?” shares Ajith Sir, Co-ordinator at Shri Padmashree High school and Dhanush’s Science teacher.
The leadership team was eager to respond to the students’ enthusiasm and reached out to Mantra4Change to help host school sessions. Rupesh, who was leading the initiative, was surprised by the proposal. It was only the second session, and the ‘peer learning’ aspect was yet to be introduced. Inspired by the school’s proactiveness, Team Mantra and Ajith Sir coached Dhanush to facilitate a session for his school and the Student Sabha’s weekly session.
“I had such a great experience facilitating the sessions. My teacher, Ajith Sir, helped me understand the concepts I was supposed to teach and also how to speak during the session. Rupesh Sir guided me through the project and I was able to successfully conduct the class. I had a lot of fun interacting with other students, from different grades and schools. I was excited to hear the suggestions and ideas the other students gave. However, I did find it challenging to get more students to participate during the session. And after the session, I was able to reflect that I need to find better ways to encourage students to speak,” shares Dhanush about his experience as a student facilitator.
While Dhanush inspired more students to conduct student-led sessions, his teacher Ajith Sir understood how project-based learning is a useful teaching tool. “Through these sessions, while guiding Dhanush and as a participant, I was able to reflect on my teaching strategies. The students were able to retain so much more through the experiments. As a teacher, I was able to see a remarkable improvement in how students responded to the questions,” he shares.
He further adds, “Student Sabha has been an invaluable initiative for us at the school. It laid the foundation for many of the activities we planned for student engagement. After seeing the enthusiasm for learning among the students and proactiveness of students like Dhanush, he began a series of online activities to engage more students in other subjects as well.”
Let’s hear from the participants
Through sessions hosted by students like Dhanush,experts, and Team Mantra, hundreds of students were able to engage in a hands-on learning approach. These weekly virtual classes were a refreshing change for many children. We had the opportunity to ask them about their experiences, and here’s what they had to say –
“Every Sunday, I look forward to attending the sessions hosted by Rupesh Sir (of Team Mantra). I love this new way of learning using materials available at home to understand concepts in Science.
As soon as the sessions are completed, I quickly try the experiments at home and share what I learnt with my neighborhood friends. It’s a fun activity for all of us.
My parents are also supportive and happy to see me learn, even when schools are shut.
I want to thank team Mantra for having set up Student Sabha for students from Government Schools to learn even during the lockdown.”
–Khairunisa G, student, Government Higher Primary School, Heelalige, Chandapura
“I love attending Student Sabhas as they make me feel like I am back in school and in my classroom with my friends trying out fun-learning activities under the guidance of my teachers.
There was a session on Art and Craft, conducted by Shekar Sir (of Team Mantra). I enjoyed that session a lot as we used old newspapers to cut out and make beautiful models of birds and other animals.
The next session I loved the most was the session on “Mirror Around us.” We learnt how mirrors work, and I saw how my face is reflected in the mirror. It was usual for me to look at the mirror when I used to get ready for the day. But now, it has encouraged me to look into the mirror with clarity on how reflection works and explain it to my parents and friends.”
–Mariyamma H, student, Government Higher Primary School, Muthanallur, Chandapura.
We are taking small steps towards transforming the education system through these incremental improvements that provide enriching learning experiences. Student Sabha is one example of how we can prepare students to create problem-solving innovations in a demanding workforce and improve every child’s quality of education.
To know more about these sessions or if you wish to participate in sessions, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.