Wednesday, February 01, 2006



“I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma”.
Eartha Kitt

The legendary and versatile Eartha Kitt who distinguished herself in film, theater, cabaret, music and on television for more than 75 years since the mid 1920s had this to say about the way she viewed life and learning.
I have always tried to spark my learners to learn by creating curiosity. By that way I believe the learning process continues as long as the learner is alive. My brief interface with young people has also guided me with the fact that learning is maximum when the initiative is the learners’ rather than the teachers’. I am also guided by the global trend where the skills for survival and excellence have acquired greater importance than the theoretical/academic dimension of any subject. One of the key skills that all young people will have to master is to succinctly present their learning/ideas to a group of people. Oral and multi-media supported presentations will play an indispensable role in finding avenues of employment in future. My CASW presentation is of one such presentation that my learner made to his peers.

My Student Work – a back ground and context

Every year I initiate my Class 11 learners to Biology, with a series of thematic PowerPoint presentations. This year also, the first month was dominated with my presentations. At the end of the first month, I had given each student a topic in their curriculum and asked them to prepare a well-researched presentation for their peers. They were given more than a month’s time for this. The learners had the access to the library and Internet resources of the school. The Two-week presentation time is usually called the “seminar series”. It is a formal occasion. The criteria for assessment were spelt out.

The student work that I am presented to our CASW group was titled:”Evolution of Kingdom Animalia”. This was one of the many presentations. I chose this work for analysis as I felt that the topic was a difficult topic and the student has made one of the best PowerPoint presentations that I had ever witnessed. I was thoroughly convinced that the work is a good enough to be a benchmark for other learners to vie with.

The Key Questions

Having convinced myself about the quality of the presentation I raised the following key questions to the group:




My Presentation and Collaborative Analysis

My presentation for CASW session was programmed for about 12 minutes. This was followed by a five-minute session for clarifying questions. This was followed by five minutes for writing our thoughts on the key questions. This was a silent and reflective time. I was surprised to find myself raising some questions. Questions, which I had not asked before. I found myself writing the following sentences:

-I should see more such presentations across the school, different schools and around the world to gain better idea.
-A bit more elaboration of key terms in the student presentation would have made more sense to the audience.
-This presentation is not self-explanatory (but I also said to myself that a PowerPoint presentation is always a cue for the presenter than for the audience)
-Why did I not video graph the presentation?

After the five-minutes to jot down our thoughts, the group began its confabulation on the key questions. I found it very difficult not to look at the group while this discussion was happening. Meanwhile I had forced myself to turn away from the discussion and note down some points raised by the participants. I felt immensely happy inward from some positive comments made by the participants on the student work and my teaching-learning method:

-Methods excellent
-Guidelines clear
-Concept of benchmarks for presentations itself nice
-Learning outcomes well-laid
-Visually impressive and professionally done
-Looking at teacher’s presentation has big effect

Some questions and comments of critique brought forward by the group were the following:
Bibliography and author credit lacking for the usage of photographs. Ensure bibliography and copyright.
-Look at several benchmarks and evaluate.
-Do we have any national and international benchmark at all?
-Can we agree on one benchmark?
-Start locally and then try and widen the search.
-Video graph of the presentation would have added authenticity to the entire benchmarking concept itself.
-Recording a session even better benchmark.
-What are the yardsticks to make sure that there is no plagiarism?

Some Collaborative Strategies
-Setting a school benchmark should be the first step.
-We need different benchmark for A, B and C grade.
-Look at several benchmarks and evaluate.
-Finding a space to launch our student PowerPoint presentations on a website will encourage learners to come up with better quality.

My Reflections
This presentation had happened in August 2005. I was immensely happy, not only with the lay out of the presentation but also the verbal commentary of the learner accompanied with the presentation. Since that time, I had been living with a heady feeling that the presentation would match any such peer-reviewed work. Even on the day of my meeting with the CASW group, I walked in with the same pleasant feeling. At the end of the analysis, I still was living with a pleasant feeling, though with a little disappointment. Disappointment because my feeling of benchmark actually did not measure up to a benchmark. Pleasant feeling because, I am in the midst of a group of individuals, who have taken a lot of care to encourage me and point out some fundamental needs of the work that would make it a benchmark creation. This they did without breaking my confidence or taking away the credit of the phenomenal effort of my learner. I immensely value this guidance from the group.

Arriving at the key questions was not easy. I had a key question in my mind. When I met Ms. Kini to deliberate on the key question, a few words were added and deleted to give a slightly different meaning. By the time I met Ms. Kannan, the question had further evolved. Thus, till the time I made the presentation, the key question key evolving. I was very happy for the process. I then remembered my Principal at The School-KFI saying: “Ask the right questions and you will have the right answers”.


Blogger Tara Kini said...

I appreciate the honesty with which you have reflected on the CASW session and its outcome. Yes, it is a great feeling to get kudos for one's work from peers and this is something that rarely happens in the normal course of teaching life because we never have the time or space to share our work. A teacher's life is lonely in that sense. It is great to share each other's work on a professional platform where we can trust each other and are convinced that the deliberation is professional and comes from the heart and gut instinct of a colleague. The candid manner in which you have accepted the suggestions and looked objectively at your work is what will take you forward in your profession and give you the satisfaction that a life long learner deserves.

3:31 AM  
Blogger mahesh said...

Thanks very much Ms. Kini for the constant support and encouragement.

1:13 AM  
Blogger sandra kunder said...

The quote by Eartha Kitt is absolutely humbling.

10:11 PM  

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