Author Archives: Mahesh Dudhankar

About Mahesh Dudhankar

I am a secondary school English teacher. I am teaching in Shri Krishna Vidyalaya, Gunjoti. Its a Marathi medium school based in Osmanabad district. The very challenge of teaching in rural area school is an opportunity to me.

Teaching English Speaking to Aspiring Women

Teaching speaking to aspiring women

This summer was a great opportunity for me to experience teaching English speaking skills to a group of young girls and women. The first experience was of running English speaking classes for 40 days. It consisted of participants with age group from 16 to 45. This varied age group had different starting points of their learning. Some had some basic knowledge while some struggled with basics too.  It was great conducting various activities with this group of learners. There were around 35 participants in this course. There were young learners, teachers and housewives too. Young learners took this course as an advantage for their future prospectus, teachers took it as essential for teaching and housewives took it in a way to help their kids who are learning in English medium schools.

How did it start?

Since I am a secondary school English teacher, one of my colleagues was desperate to learn how to speak good English. She, along with another colleague tried staying back after school to get some tips. I too tried giving some tips but I could see that it wasn’t helping them much. Then I realized teaching speaking in isolation can be a tough job. So, I sought for more members from junior college. I intended to sharpen their listening and speaking skills for which a good number of participants was necessary. Hence, I started a batch of young and aspiring girls and women.

How did I structure it?

At the inception I took all the basic activities catering their listening and speaking needs like listen and act, listen and don’t obey, listen and repeat, spell it, etc. As the days passed on I could see that I wasn’t meeting their ‘need’. Then I decided to maintain personal details. It included details of their prior knowledge and current need. It gave me a direction. I spared extra time after the session and tried to address the needs of a few participants daily. This way they felt valued too. I also sent soft materials via whatsapp based on their needs.

Besides this, they demanded me to teach ‘tense’. I wasn’t much in favour of teaching grammar but I had out of obligation. I had to look for ways to teach ‘tense’ through activities. I could get some online while the rest I had to do it in my own ways. I saw that they felt contended. They had lot of things takeaway at the end of the day.

The assignments given had things to with their practice based on the learning of the day. Two Minute talk, Much about facebooking, role plays, group presentations were among the many activities that I had adopted. All these activities were fruitful and yielded good results.


First of all I got to learn many things from this experience. Not all the women had same starting learning points. Unlike learners in our class these women were demanding to meet their needs. I had to take extra efforts to do so. Most of the things went smoothly while some had to be restructured and teach them again. Overall, it was a great experience to deal with adult learners. I wish to take another batch once again.

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Watch Mrs. Sunita Belamkar giving her presentation. I was overwhelmed at her confidence level.

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Creating Language Eco-system

Creating Language Eco-system

Exposure? Oh yes, I have heard that word. In fact I am closely associated with it. How? Well, one of the greatest challenges recorded in any non-native English speaking countries is ‘lack of exposure’. This challenge becomes harder and perhaps even sounds unattainable in rural areas like the one I work in. My work place, Shri Krishna Vidyalaya, Gunjoti Tq: Omerga is located at the southern border of Maharashtra where Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are barely 25 kms away. Students commute from surrounding and periphery of three states. ‘Lack of Exposure’ is one of the biggest challenges I face. Years of experience brought me some ideas to work with but all those were limited to the class time. I wanted to extend my pupils learning outside the class too.

Then ‘CHESS’ came into being in 2017-18. CHESS stands for Continuous Help to teachers of English from Secondary Schools. It is an ambitious project by RMSA (Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyaan) in collaboration with RAA (Regional Academic Authority). It is a wonderful project run in the state. It aims at strengthening teaching – learning process at secondary level by offering continuous help to all those teachers who aspire to bring about positive change in their teaching practice. CHESS brought in ETF (English Teachers’ Forum) meetings once in a month, celebrating every Saturday as English day, creating Eco-system, using ICT (Information and Communication Technology) for CPD (Continuing Professional Development), discussing, adopting and adapting various ways of using course book creatively.

Based on the practices being shared via whatsapp groups it was clear to me that creating Eco-system was the key. Besides celebrating English day every Saturday, my colleagues (Mr. Kaderkar, Mr. Patil and Mr. Ghule) and I decided to establish a separate English language room. We brainstormed and concluded to develop various resources catering to the development of their skills. With the continuous support of management and the Headmaster Shri Ghodke sir we began with simple flashcards, English Academy board, posters defining grammar concepts, shuffled letters to make meaningful words followed by sentences, printed and laminated worksheets covering various topics, spin to make sentences, e-contents (apps, videos, listening practice) etc. Days passed by and we were becoming strong in terms of resources. We went on adding a lot many other resources to the language room. We even got the complete floor painted with two interesting games Ludo and Snakes and Ladders. These games were adapted to language learning. Students of different classes too contributed in making of some learning aids. The department of English went on learning, relearning, unlearning, designing and reflecting on many learning aids. We all put day in and day out to come up with a well-equipped language room.

After four months of toil we have now a well-equipped English language room or shall I call a language Eco-system. This has created an influential atmosphere in my school. Students from 5th grade to 10th grade visit this room and get playfully engaged, learn and go the extent of producing language. All this via activities that keep them glued. It was just a matter of few days of learners’ training and that’s it. The training was about using resources and retaining them. We have seen students even refusing to go out to play during recess and other times. This language room is based on constructivism where students learn by doing. This is 100% learner-centered room. This has infact minimized teachers’ amount of intervention. The teacher just needs to monitor and perhaps note the development taking place.

Meanwhile our school was honored as one of The Most Active schools in our district. This has also attracted more than 400 visitors to our school so far. Hon. Dnyanraj Chougule, the MLA from our constituency even made a mention in the assembly. We have now trained our students to give presentations on various topics using th e resources from the language room. Our students have developed an expertise in giving presentations confidently and fluently. We don’t stop them while they make errors. We correct errors once they have developed the confidence of using English. They also answer questions asked by any visitor. They have developed their confidence to the level that on one occasion one the students Respected Education Officer’s attention. Sometimes we treat this language room as our research center. We try lot of things and establish the best resource.

We still have long way to go. We intend to have at least 60 tabs in our room. We are looking for donors too to do the honor ;). We are working on ways to collaborate these resources with our course books. This has in fact given us a good scope to use our course books creatively. We also would like to follow what teachers from Nashik have done. They had organized language fun-fair. We are going to extend these resources by organizing ‘Fun-Fair’ of not only English but also Mathematics and Social Science.

We have noticed a positive change in the way students take English. We can see that students are taking English as a language and not as a subject. This ecosystem has developed interest among students. This has given a good exposure to our learners.

Our school has developed eco-system of mathematics, Social science (one of its own kind) and science lab too. A few students in social science lab can even say the names of districts, states and continents by looking at their shapes alone! That’s not all. They can even touch and recognize flawlessly when blindfolded! They have developed extraordinary talent or perhaps this ecosystem has given them this opportunity. I can proudly say that I work in a school which is rich in its resources. This eco-system has raised the standard and quality of education. Even parents are happy about their kids’ development.

I wish to mention the tireless efforts put in by my colleagues, Headmaster and management. I have to mention Dr. Kaleem Shaikh sir, Principal, DIECPD, Osmanabad, Shri. Ukirde sir, Education Officer, Osmanabad who have been demanding, guiding and requesting schools across the district to improve the quality of education. They have always been encouraging and motivating to do better. My master trainer colleagues and teachers from my district have always been supportive and I am proud to represent Osmanabad district. This whole thing is the result of Pragat Shaikshanik Maharashtra at Secondary Level. PSM is the vision of Education Department of Maharashtra State.

What? You want to know more about our eco-system? Then what are you waiting for!!! Do come. I invite you all to squeeze time out of your busy schedule and visit our school. It will be our pleasure to welcome you.

We share, we learn.

Thank You

Categories: Language Eco-system | 45 Comments

Speak it well!

Speak it well!

Before you read further you should make a note of the background of my workplace. I am serving in Shri Krishna Vidyalaya, Gunjoti. It’s a rural place located at the south end of Maharashtra state. Teaching students who have little or absolutely no educational atmosphere in their house or surrounding is really a challenging thing. Marathi is widely spoken while Kannada too has its influence here but English? No. By this you may understand that exposure to English language is really a thing of difficulty. However, following are some activities I practice with my learners. Kindly read them, hit like if you like them and comment on:

– which activity did you like the most?

– which activity would you like to try in your class?

– suggestions to improve


Activity No.1 – Knowing each other ‘better’

Let’s assume that students know each other already. It’s a simple speaking warmer activity to help them know each other ‘better’. The idea is to make them speak.

Class: Secondary / Higher secondary

Time : 10 – 12 mins

Language input: Assertive sentence, ‘Wh’ question

Skills: Speaking (and/or Writing – in an extended form)

Type: Pair and/or Mingle

  • Get the students stand in random positions in the class.
  • Let them imagine the class to be a fair and walk in random directions.
  • They start when teacher claps once or says ‘MOVE’ and they stop when the teacher claps twice or say ‘STOP’ and get the nearest partner.
  • Each of them asks three questions besides name, age and other basic questions. The questions can be personal but not ‘too’ personal. They can ask ‘I know that you have a cycle. Why do you walk to school then?’


‘I know that you have some extra notes. Why don’t you share them with others?

  • Have three rounds. This will give the students a chance to speak to at least three friends randomly.

Tip: The teacher might need to give a demo before entrusting the activity to the students. Teacher may provide the language support by writing the structure on the board.


Activity no.2 – Wanna Know ‘Me’ better?

Class: Secondary / Higher secondary

Time : 10 – 12 mins

Language input: Assertive sentence, ‘Wh’ question

Skills: Speaking (and/or Writing – in an extended form)

Type: Pair and/or Mingle and/or Group


Teacher offers himself/herself to be asked any three questions. These three questions can be personal or something that students want to know about the teacher. In order to draw the line somewhere between personal and too personal the teacher can give areas in which the students can ask. The areas could be: Education, School life, Marriage, Kids, Friends, Date of birth, Salary, social profile, mobile number, etc.

[I remember one of my students asking me about the pic in my social profile. He said he liked the pic and wondered why didn’t I wear such stylish dresses to the school.]

Anyway, once the teacher finishes answering the questions, he/she puts the students into groups of 4 or 5. Taking turns each member in the group offer to be asked any three questions. It’s an interesting way to know their peers better by interrogating some information.

Note: It’s important that the teacher monitors the activity as there might be a possibility that some students may ask way too personal question. Some may feel offended. Monitoring the activity would also help the teacher understand the varieties of questions being asked. Such a variety of questions would also indicate how curious the learners are to know each other.

Tip: Teacher may provide the language support by writing the structure on the board.


Activity No. 3 – Sell Me!


Class: Secondary / Higher secondary

Time : 10 – 12 mins

Language input: Simple Present Tense (Affirmative and Negative)

Skills: Speaking (and/or Writing – in an extended form)

Type: Pair and/or Mingle


Teacher delivers a demo of this activity. The teacher acts as a salesman/saleswoman and declares that he wants to sell the pen. He describes the pen in a way that he wants to sell it.


Hello everybody, I am a sales representative of XYX company. I am here to sell this amazing pen. This pen writes smoothly on almost any surface. Unlike other pens, the ink of this pen doesn’t spill. It is water proof. It is easy to hold. It doesn’t slip off the fingers. It comes in four colours blue, black, red and green. Teachers, students, officers, shopkeepers, bankers use this pen widely. The best part of this pen is it can write upside down too. It isn’t expensive at all. The company offers 50% discount only today. I offer this pen for 12 rupees against its original price 24 rs. Don’t you want to buy it? Teacher encourages students to ask any questions related to the product or sale.

Now the teacher puts the students into groups and ask them to sell any product. It could be their school bag, tie, belt, shoes, bench, duster, projector, chalk piece, etc. The other members of the group can ask questions related to the product.

Tip: Teacher may provide the language support by writing the structure on the board.


Activity No. 4 – News room


Can a newsroom be brought into the classroom? How can it be used in improving English speaking skill? Disregard with the standard of English spoken in actual news, it’s a good idea to adopt it as an activity in a language classroom.

2015 isn’t a good year from farmer’s point of view in Maharashtra, India. Occasional and moderate rainfall didn’t really help the farmers. On one such occasional rainfall I decided to discuss with my students how it has helped farmers around but in a different way. I changed the classroom into a virtual News Studio.

Language input: Simple past, Perfect Present, Present Progressive

Materials required: Nothing in particular since it’s a speaking activity

Estimated time: 15 – 20 minutes

When to conduct: Anytime when something unusual or remarkable happens like sudden weather change or an event

How to conduct it?

Teacher acts like a news reporter. Narrates the recent incident happened (for instance heavy rainfall, strong wind, cultural event, sports day, etc). To make it more realistic the reporter calls out for a representative.


Hello and welcome to English News Channel. I am Mahesh and you are watching news bulletin at 10. Let’s have a look at the news headlines.

  1. Heavy rainfall reported in and around Marathwada region in Maharashtra.
  2. Heavy rainfall cheers the saddened faces of farmers finally.
  3. Due to heavy wind many street light polls collapsed in Gunjoti resulting in power failure.

And now, news in detail. Heavy rainfall is reported in and around Marathwad region in Maharasthra. As anticipated by the weather forecast it started raining from 4 pm. Latur region records the highest rain. Rivers, small and large ponds are full. Some are even overflowing. Our representative Mr. Jitendra (a student in the class) reports from Kandhar, Nanded. Hello Mr. Jitendra how is the situation there?

Mr. Jitendra says ………………. With cameraman Mr. Deepak, Sashi reporting from Kandhar.

Thank you Mr. Jitendra.

Moving on to the second news, rainfall cheers up the farmers. Farmers across Marathwada region are happy about the late but sure arrival of monsoon. Ms. Deepali reporting from Gunjoti. Ms. Deepali, I can see that farmers around you are smiling finally. Let’s hear more from them.

(Ms. Deepali speaks a bit and then gets other students into conversation assuming them to be farmers)

And it goes on……

Notes: This activity gives opportunities to use simple present/present progressive/present perfect in assertive and interrogative type. Students enjoy this activity as they feel that they are a part of newsroom in a dramatic way. One of my learners in fact became cameraman getting every ones attention in a humorous way.  I enjoyed this activity. Hope you will like it too. Comment below your views and experiences too.


Categories: Activity | 19 Comments

Much About Facebooking

Much About Facebooking

Hey folks, as you know that we are teaching 21st century learners, we tend to find almost everyone having an account in facebook or whatsapp account. Though I teach rural area students in Maharashtra state, India the students love to message me over the school hours on whatsapp and facebook. I love responding them because I ask them to chat in English with me. That’s where I find my students using English informally to express and I do help them express too. I don’t get surprised when they post their profile pics, their gifts, new dresses, any new food item, etc. All these postings I believe is to count the number of likes and comments they receive. On a lighter note, would you agree with me if I say students may remain absent in the classes but never on the facebook or whatsapp?


Well, seriously why not bring the facebook in the classroom? This idea sprang up when I was in a meeting with other state level subject experts at SCERT, Pune, Maharashtra when we were designing activities for the classroom teaching and learning. The idea took shape when I discussed it in detail with Pundalik Kaviraj from Allapalli, Smita Pore from Satara and Nadeem Khan from Bhandara. We discussed over making it a possibility to bring it into practice.

I brought facebook in my class with the following objectives:

  • Develop thinking skills
  • Use ‘Wh’ questions
  • Practice assertive sentence
  • Use adjectives

Following is how I did it in my 9th standard class:

  • Announced that everyone in the class should bring one special thing to the class next day, be it anything. Anything that they would post on facebook. I reminded their postings on facebook and gave some examples.
  • Excited, students came up with their ‘special things’ the next day. Some were so excited that they showcased right from the first period although my class was just before the lunch break.
  • The activity began with the set of instructions.
    1. Asked them to have two pages.
    2. On one page, I asked them to write a short description but leave a question at the end of the description. The question could be: where do you think I got this? Why do you think it is special for me? Any idea about its cost? Any guess who gifted me this? Guess on what occasion I got this. etc

(I provided language support of ‘Wh’ question structure and assertive sentence at this stage on the board quickly.)

  1. On another page they I asked them to make two columns: A short one titled ‘Likes’ and the larger one titled ‘Comments’
  2. Instructed them to leave those two pages along with the post that they wanted to showcase.
  3. Then I allowed them to go around the class and look at the posts. Instructed them to put ‘a tick’ mark under the ‘Likes’ column if they like it and if they wanted to comment then answer the question asked by the owner of the post. (Here I intended to allow them to ‘think’ over the question and comment the answer)
  4. One should write comments for at least 5 posts while they were free to like all the posts or none.
  5. The time limit given was 10 minutes.
  6. I monitored the activity and noted that students were mostly commenting ‘Nice’, ‘Beautiful’, ‘Like it’, (Perhaps they considered reading a boring activity must against the excitement of looking at the posts and commenting straightaway or perhaps due to the time limit). I had to remind them to answer the questions.
  7. After 10 minutes, learners were excited to look at their post (Those who got the highest likes and comments were smiling throughout). I asked them to see if any comment answered their question. Most of them had done it.

I took this opportunity to highlight that the number of likes and comments are just the numbers. The objective of facebooking is ‘sharing’.

I was amazed at the things the students had brought. They had showcased wrist watch, a toy dog, little brother’s photo, a book that inspired the student, wall piece, showpiece, key chain with cute baby doll, biscuits, cake, etc. It was simply fabulous to look at all these amazing things. By the way, did I mention that I too put up likes and commented on the posts? The students loved reading my comments too! They loved watching me involved in it.


  • Learning can be blended with social media.
  • Some needed more briefing about facebooking as they didn’t have exposure to internet.
  • Next time I will reserve more time for drilling language support.
  • Students need briefing about netiquette. I say so as one of the students had commented ‘I don’t like this post. I don’t like you.’ This was to the post of ‘kurkure’ (perhaps he wanted to point out the ill-effects of fast food). It was an opportunity for me to highlight that though the post is from personal profile, the freedom of expression stays restricted since it is a social platform.

Overall, it was a fantastic experience. Do comment on how else I can make it better.

Categories: Activity | 18 Comments

Symposium at DIECPD, Osmanabad

District Symposium : A Report

The most awaited event was finally scheduled on 6th December, 2016. The excitement of the organizers could be felt from the urge to make it a successful event. As programmed by Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyaan in collaboration with British Council, the District Institute of Education and Continuous Professional Development of Osmanabad (DIECPD) organized District Symposium on 6th December at DIECPD. The chief presence for this event were Mr. Jon Parnham, Senior Academic Manager, British Council and Ms. Priya Iyer, Project Co-ordinator, British Council.

The mega event began with the inauguration. The event was preceded by Dr. Kaleem Shaikh sir, the Principal of DIECPD. The stage was shared by other dignitaries like Education Officer, Shri Ukkirde Sir, Dr. Nadaf sir, Head of English Department, DIECPD, Dr. Jatnure sir, Dr. Shinde Sir, Dr. Dhumal sir and Dr. Mendhekar.

“Sometimes we keep our doors closed while teaching as we don’t allow others to watch us teach for the fear of feeling inferior or for the fear of our methods being stolen by others. Time has come that we need to keep our doors open and welcome others. This is to help us grow professionally”, said Mr. Jon during his plenary speech. His presentation covered opportunities one can avail for his/her CPD, benefits of reflection, as well.

After the plenary session, there was a break of 15 minutes for tea and then parallel paper presentations started in four different halls. All the mentors were assigned each hall. Along with mentors, moderators from DIECPD were nominated during the paper presentations. There were as many as 25 paper presentations. The topics of the presentations varied from CPD to various ELT practices and classroom experiments. Photos and videos were evidences of the practices being done. The moderators were happy to see the significant change taking place in English language teaching in the district.

Post lunch session started with poster presentations. Varieties of poster presentations were witnessed by the participants. Some displayed strategies to develop students’ reading skills, while some showed ways to improve vocabulary. A couple of posters depicted the CPD growth while one special poster used Rebus activities and gave chocolates to the participants whoever guessed the answers right.

The poster presentations was followed by panel discussion. The discussion was set on the topic ‘Has Learner Centered Approach got to the roots in Osmanabad District or not?” The panelists were Mrs. Sadhana Bidve, Mr. Rahul Bawa, Mr. Prashant Bhagwat, Mr. Tushar Sutrave, Mr. Gajendra Mugale, Mr. Deepak Sonawane and Mr. Waghmare. The panel discussion was moderated by Mahesh Dudhankar. There was a great heated discussion on the topic. Both the sides of the panelists did their best to put their views strongly.

Before concluding Ms. Priya Iyer shared her views about how Team Osmanabad has been contributing in the ELISS project and expressed her expectations to continue doing the good work. The day ended with the vote of thanks proposed by Dr. Nadaf sir on behalf of DIECPD. Overall it was a splendid day. Got written feedback from the participants. They believed that the day was extremely rich in terms of exchanging ideas and practices.

Sincere thanks to Dr. Kaleem Shaikh sir for taking personal interest in minute to minute execution of the event. Thank you Dr. Nadaf sir for being on toes to help us carry out the event. Thank you mentors for your wonderful co-operation and sacrificing personal time as well for this event. A huge thanks to all the participants specially the paper and poster presenters for your contributions.

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Challenging students to think critically | Webinar summary

These activities are fab! Get your students think critically.


This is a summary for a webinar by Edmund Dudley conducted several weeks ago which I never got around to finishing. I found some of the activities quite interesting. Everyone’s jumping on the critical thinking bandwagon and it looks like OUP too has included some stuff on the skill in their newer course books.  Most of the activities seem to be drawn from OUP Insight but I reckon you could use the ‘frame’ of some of these activities with your own texts and materials. The basic premise of these activities is that Ss are used to having too much information at their fingertips and tend to consume it without scrutinising it.

Activity: Mystery animal

Show Ss the following facts and ask them to guess which animal it might be. Then show Ss pictures/screenshots from the Tree Octopus website.

Lives in the temperate rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula, Washington state.

Amphibious – spends…

View original post 1,762 more words

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Poster Making Competition cum Exhibition

Hello friends, before I post my recent experiment I want to brief you about my workplace and job profile. I teach English to 9th and 10th standard in Shri Krishna Vidyalaya, Gunjoti, Taluka: Omerga District: Osmanabad in the state of Maharashtra. It’s been 5 years that I have been working. It is a rural place located at the border of Karnataka and Telangana. It is a regional medium school having Marathi as its first language. There are four divisions for each standard with an average of 40-45 students. Out of four divisions, one division is semi-english medium having Mathematics, English and Science in English. Though the level of English language proficiency isn’t remarkable it is developing. Through activities, interviews, debates, games, competitions and exhibitions we try to bring English in use, both formally and informally. Following is one such attempt.

As a part of coursebook activity, I decided to conduct poster making competition for the first time in my school. Though the activity was for 9th standard I decided to conduct it with 10th standard students as well. I must say, everytime I conduct an activity on a large scale I am becoming more and more proactive. The procedure I adopted is as follows:

How did it go before the competition?

  • I allowed students to make group of their choice. The number of members were strictly between 4 and 5.
  • I gave them autonomy to choose any topic they want from the units taught. They brainstormed in group and quickly decided the topics. As they were discussing in their groups I was monitoring and showing them sample posters that I had in my phone. This gave them the idea how a poster should be. I also asked them to go for rough design initially and visualize how their poster would look.
  • Roles like information collector, artist, assistant, oral presenter were assigned in the group.
  • Criteria for best poster selection was displayed on the board. The criteria were: Appropriate title, Apt Information, Neatness, Decoration, Pictures and Oral Presentation.
  • The group leaders were asked to write the list of members, assigned group number, roles of each member and their topic and submit it to me.
  • The students were given 10 days of time for the preparation. During those ten days, I kept a check on their development through the group leaders.

And the day arrived…

Finally, the day arrived. Since we have 9 periods in a day, I reserved two periods of post lunch session for final touch and next two periods were for the competition. The groups put up their posters for display in their own classes. There were four classes (two 9th std classes and two 10th std classes). The students were extremely excited. It was unlike any other heavy post lunch sessions because the atmosphere became like a fair.

The juries were amazed at the creativity of the students. They evaluated each poster while two of each group members were ready with their oral presentations. It was a grand competition. Two posters from each class were chosen for the prize. Students from other divisions were called to see the posters. They too were very happy to see the glittering, appealing and extremely attractive posters. It was language learning in disguise. There were smiles all over. Other subject teachers were also glad to see the group work. Everything went very well but…

Picture abhi baki hai dost! That’s too filmy hn! I meant the best was yet to come.

My colleague and I decided to put up an exhibition on the eve of Independence Day. The idea was that on that day many parents, residents of our village and members of school management would be present. We started working on how and where to exhibit. By 14th August with the help of students and a few other colleagues we were able to make arrangements for exhibition in a large hall. The next day was much awaited. All the parents, villagers, school management team visited the exhibition. Dr. Patange, our school secretary along with other guests conversed with the poster presenters in English. It was absolutely grand. Students were very happy to present before the guests.

It wasn’t a cake walk. I had some challenges.

Frankly speaking, gradually I have started developing confidence in conducting activities in groups effectively or at least that’s what my reflection says.

  • Having two juries for four classes wasn’t probably a good idea.
  • The evaluation by the juries took more time than anticipated. So, students from other villages had to make their presentations hurriedly.
  • Some of the students in some groups didn’t do much and they relied on others.
  • As I hear from some students, the members in a couple of groups had disputes among themselves. Hence, they split and made separate posters.
  • Financially, I was prepared to give two prizes from each class but the juries had tied up some groups with equal marks. So, I had to pinch my pocket a bit harder for the prize distribution. 😉

Yet, it was worth it!!

Overall, it was a great experience. I was smiling throughout the competition and exhibition. I was overwhelmed with all the comments I heard about English Academy that we run.

Categories: Activity | 29 Comments

Using Classroom Displays Effectively

Using classroom displays effectively

In activity based learning charts and classroom displays play a significant role. Charts help the teacher make teaching more effective. In fact displays could turn a monotonous and boring teaching into an interesting one. It gears up the comprehension for visual learners. Classroom displays can be of various types. It could be posters, cut outs, collage, paintings,  hangings, realia, etc.

Teacher made or Learner made displays:

Traditionally, it is the teacher who designs classroom displays to use it as an aid for the teaching purpose. These are used for teaching. Some teachers even use readymade charts available in the market suiting the needs of their classroom.

However, constructivism approach recommends the students to design the classroom displays. These displays focus on learning. These displays fetch better learning experiences if they are made by the students. In an activity based learning class, pair work and group work can be best engaged if it is about making a classroom display. Giving the autonomy to the students to make the displays give them the joy of making and give them the sense of belonging.

How to use classroom displays effectively:

  1. Turn it into competition:

Organizing a competition for making classroom displays can be really interesting. Given the chance, the students will pour their hearts out to make the class look beautiful. By this we can understand that the classroom displays need not necessarily be made by teacher to teach rather it is the best tool which students can make it for their learning. Competition will make the display making a purposeful activity.


  1. Make it interactive

Should the classroom display be for display alone? What are the benefits of turning them into interactive?

Classroom displays are usually used for displaying certain content of the lesson or unit. Instead of making just for visuals sake let the students do some activities using them. Few simple activities could be:

  1. Write as many words as you can see at a glance at the poster
  2. Have a look at the poster. Close your eyes and tell or write as many words as you remember.
  3. Use the pointer to point the words I say.
  4. Teacher reads the words randomly from any poster or chart and students find out the word. The student who finds out the word wins or gets points.
  5. Find the words beginning with F or R, etc
  6. Find a word that rhymes with ………

This will allow the walls speak to the kids and the kids speak to the walls. This won’t allow the displays hang passively.


  1. Pass it over: The outgoing students can pass the displays to the upcoming students instead of discarding them. The upcoming students can then be guided on renovating them and reuse them.


  1. Make it easy to put up and replace: Hanging up or putting them up can sometimes be head scratching act. At the beginning of the academic year itself, the teacher can put up strings with the help of nails or even tie long threads to make it easy for the whole year to hang the displays. The teacher can use ‘used’ hangers for hanging displays. It can help the teacher to bring it down when needed and put it up again easily.


  1. Make the most from used materials to make it cost effective: Creating classroom displays is great but creating it with ‘used’ materials can be greater. Displays need not be made with brand new materials. It can be equally beautiful with the used materials. For ex: one can use the wedding invitation cards for using flash cards, used drawing sheets can be reused to make cut outs or collages, etc.


  1. Displays numbered odd and even: Large posters need not only be from one side. It can be from both the sides. Each side can be numbered with odd and even number like: 1 and 2, 3 and 4, respectively. The teacher can use the display according to the day of the week and the number on the display for ex: if it is Monday then the displays could be odd ones like 1, 3, 5, etc. Similarly on Tuesday it could be 2, 4, 6, etc. The teacher need not replace it all the time. He may just turn it around as both the sides are used for the display.


  1. Conducting an Inter-class classroom display test: What best could we make out of the displays than turning it into a test? A teacher can organize visits to the classes. A class can visit the other class and ask questions based on the displays. The students can be encouraged to answer as many questions as possible. As a part of reward the teacher can decide as to who did well either in asking questions or answering them.

8. Holding an exhibition: At the close to the end of the year the teacher can organize an exhibition encouraging all the classes to exhibit their displays. A visitor or a panel of judges can evaluate and award ‘The best class for classroom displays award’. To make it a larger event the exhibition can be kept open for the parents and outsiders too. Perhaps school day would be the best day to organize.


  1. Organize a MOCK SALE!: An innovative way to make it interactive would be to hold a MOCK SALE. The only way to pay for the displays would be to answering set of questions. The number of questions can vary depending upon size, proper condition and neatness. The bigger, more neat, better condition then higher the number of questions. They can offer heavy discounts (on the number of questions).

10. Renovate the older ones: Classroom displays usually start fading in two months or so. The colours used become dull. An activity to renovate the displays can be conducted. The teacher can divide the students into groups and distribute the displays randomly but preferably equally. The students should be encouraged re-colour the dull ones, outline the faded ones, paste the torn ones, discard some displays which are totally worn out or even allow them to mold it suiting their creativity. The group that does it in the given deadline and does it beautifully should be awarded.


The above ideas are the outcome of the discussion with my friends: Rohini Deshmukh Sankpal, Shivaji Vhatte, Balaji Ghule, Ujwala Bhagat, Mohan Bapat and many more.

  1. In the video below, Rohini Deshmukh Sankpal from Kolhapur suggests some ways to recycle the displays.

2. Ujwala Bhagat from Kolhapur suggests to organize a workshop for the students in the beginning of the year to teach them the process of creating, using and recycling the classroom displays.



If you too have some wonderful ideas on using classroom displays effectively, kindly share it.

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Mentoring and its Impact on Classroom Teaching

Mentoring and its impact on classroom teaching


Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan has been providing quality training for all the subject school teachers throughout the state over years.  In a recent collaboration with British Council, it conducted a four year programme titled English Language Initiative for Secondary Schools (ELISS) after the successful completion of English Language Initiative for Primary Schools (ELIPS). ELISS is a four year programme consisting of three years’ training and one year assessment. This programme consists of 423 Master Trainers specially interviewed and selected.

One concern that always lingered overhead of the government is the post-training follow up and further support. Official visits were often inspectional in nature and didn’t really help in providing any further support to the teachers for their professional growth. The government of Maharashtra and British Council wanted to extend formal but friendly observation system which would offer support to the teachers for their professional growth and also record the change in teaching approach. It is purely developmental and not inspectional.

To tackle this issue RMSA and BC decided to start ‘Mentoring’ project. Who else would justify being Mentors than the Master Trainer themselves. So, as a part of pilot project, during the third year training programme, it was decided to select 80 mentors who were already working as Master Trainers across the state. They were selected through an online test.

These 80 mentors were given training in the month of June 2015. The five days’ training covered various aspects of mentoring like: Observing classes, preparing Action Plans, follow up activities as per action plan, recording the observations in detail, giving constructive feedback, etc. This paper covers the concept of mentoring, the process and its influence on the teachers.

Chapter 1

Mentoring: The Concept

It could be defined as – ‘Employee training system under which a senior or more experienced individual (the mentor) is assigned to act as an advisor, counselor, or guide to a junior or trainee’.

The other definition of mentoring goes ‘the purposeful, formal and systematic process of counseling or guiding a colleague or an employee who is seeking professional growth’. It is a continuous process ranging from short term goal to long term goal. It involves a systematic recording right from setting a goal for professional growth to the process of achieving it through various stages which are activities essentially directing towards the goal. The goal is actually the area of development of the mentee. A mentor assists to prepare an action plan. It is a written document which records the various activities that are targeted to be undertaken until the goal is achieved.

First of its kind in the state:

It is now accepted that a friend or colleague is one of the best resources for providing professional support to the professional learners at the early stage of their career, through a career transition or when facing a particular challenge. It is for the first time that the government in collaboration with British Council designed a follow-up system of this sort. Since it is a pilot project only secondary education was covered. Hence, Maharashtra becomes the first state to start mentoring in India.

Objective of mentoring:

The main objective of mentoring is extending support to the teachers in terms of effective lesson planning, methods to be adopted, ways of activities to be conducted, facilitate various resources, provide solutions to some of the common problems in English language teaching.


All the mentors are basically full-time teachers. The ratio of mentoring structure is 1:15, where one mentor is associated with 15 mentees starting from his school to other schools within the area of 8 kms.


In order to understand mentoring better, let’s study the some of the key roles of three direct stakeholders clearly.

Mentor Mentee Headmaster
–  Establish a friendly relation with mentee

–  Observe lessons and be observed

–  Offer assistance for professional growth

–  Offer various ideas, solutions towards the challenges a mentee might face

–  Encouraging Peer-Observations within the school by a colleague

–  Welcome the friendly relation

–  Get observed

–  Identify the area of development

– Discuss and mutually design Action Plan activities

–  Discuss some of the challenges openly with the mentor


– Offer any official help needed.



This project involves following steps:

  1. Selection of mentors through online test
  2. Mentors’ training
  3. Assigning 15 mentees around the locality of mentors’ schools.
  4. Workshop for Headmasters in order to brief about the project and clearing their role in the process.
  5. First meeting with mentees and briefing about the project.
  6. Mutually scheduling the observation dates.
  7. School visits and documenting the observations.
  8. Reporting to the officials via email and WhatsApp groups
  9. British Council officials taking follow ups by field visits.

Lesson observation also involves systematic steps.

  1. Pre-observation talk
  2. Lesson Observation
  3. Post-Observation talk

Chapter 2

Impact of Mentoring on classroom teaching

After first half year completion of mentoring it was time to check on this pilot project’s effect on actual teaching learning process in the classroom. Feedback was taken via online survey, personal meeting, telephonic conversation and observation notes.

Following significant changes were seen with the practitioners of the project that is mentor and mentee


Being selected as Mentor itself was a special feeling for the Master Trainers. Mentors underwent an intensive face to face training from British Council. The training helped in boosting confidence in mentors. Armed with mentoring skills they took it as a privilege to be a part of pilot project.

  • Considered it to be a significant addition to their professional growth.
  • Their own classrooms were to set as models for mentees, hence it became more learner centered.
  • Became professionals in terms of building relationship with a mentee.
  • Offer resources for the mentee’s development.
  • Learnt quite a few things from their mentees as well.
  • Became well-equipped with various resources to offer
  • Made conscious efforts to be well prepared and knowledgeable by pre-reading resources before offering to the mentee
  • Explored possible ways of addressing some of the common challenges encountered in the classroom
  • Shared views, opinions, suggestions and experiences via WhatsApp and Facebook groups and blogs


After a briefing workshop about the project, teachers were offered to be a part of this remarkable project voluntarily. From June 2015 till the end of first term in November several mentees’ lessons were observed. Some were observed more than once and some observed mentors lessons.

Following changes were noticed in teaching learning process.

– Started using pair work, group work and class work more effectively

– Started using learning aids effectively

– Explored various possible ways to conduct the lessons

– Discussed possible solutions to some of the common challenges they face in classroom

– Wrote lesson plans effectively

– Used various interaction patterns in teaching

– A significant addition in their CPD

– Considered ‘activity based teaching’ very beneficial

–  Made a considerable shift from traditional ways of teaching to learner centered teaching

– Used ICT in their teaching

– Shared their views, opinions and experiences with mentor and others via WhatsApp and Facebook groups

– Tried using textbooks more creatively

Below are the images of data collected via online survey.

Sample A: An extract from online survey  –

Sample A

Sample A: An extract from online survey –

Sample B : An extract from online survey –

Sample B

Sample B : An extract from online survey –


Headmasters too found Mentoring as a crucial factor in providing assistance to the teachers’ professional growth. They found that English classes turned out to be more activity based and interactive. They also observed that English teachers were well prepared for the lesson and have become more open minded to accept the desirable change.


With mentoring teachers have started thinking about learners and their abilities while planning a lesson, that is, the teachers lesson plan are more learner centered now. Learners are enjoying the change in the classroom. They have become more interactive as they are provided with many opportunities during the activities. A significant change is also noticed about the interaction pattern, where in, students are also brought on the foreground.

Due to the group, pair and individual activities learners are trying to interact in English. They are pouring ideas in the group and share their opinions sometimes in English and sometimes in Marathi. They are also trying to express all they could in English through speaking or writing activities. Overall, learners are enjoying the change.

 Chapter 3

Mentoring – Some Challenges

In the first half mentoring year it self it is noticed that mentoring has a tremendous potential. It is certain to make positive changes in the traditional Indian classrooms. Yet, there are some potential challenges in the process. The data collected projects a few potential challenges in this project:

For Mentors:

  • Time: Since Mentors are full time teachers, the first thing they find it difficult is time. Though they are strongly willing, it becomes tough for the Mentors to schedule the lesson observations and school visits as they have their own classes to conduct which they cannot afford to lose. Besides, being mentors, they are also shouldered several responsibilities at their own work place which they cannot shrug off. Many mentors have invested their weekly offs for school visits, which they feel has affected their personal time.


  • Administrative support: Though a workshop was conducted exclusively for Headmasters and appropriate letters directing to relieve the mentors for mentoring were issued, they found themselves helpless in adjusting the timetable in the mentors’ absence. The number of such problems is significant and cannot be denied.


  • Remuneration: Mentoring involves school visits, frequent phone calls and providing extra support with ample of resources either in print form or online. This involves expenditure for amount of hard work being put. Some of the mentors have expressed that they should be paid for a state level project like this. They have also mentioned that an honorary amount will be added advantage as a motivational factor for the mentors who haven’t taken up mentoring a serious thing.


  • Unwilling mentees: Though the mentoring offers a supporting and developmental hand some of the mentors found it challenging to convince well-experienced mentees to change over their traditional way of teaching English. However, this number isn’t high.

Following are the links to the interviews of some of the mentors:

1) Nadeem Khan, a mentor from Bhandara shares his experience.

2) Pundalik Kaviraj, a mentor from Gadchiroli speaks about ‘time’ being one of the prominent challenges in this project.

3) Balkrishna Shinde from Kalyan speaks how mentoring has helped him in his CPD

4) Rakesh Jadhav, a mentor from Nagpur opines that mentoring should be there in other subjects too.

5) Anil Petkar, a mentor from Chandrapur speaks about the importance of administrative support

6) Rajiv Sankpal from Nandurbar speaks his experience out


Looking at the details above, it is clear that mentoring certainly holds a great potential in changing over the traditional way of teaching English to leaner centered approach. Its strength overweighs its challenges and gives a promising picture for tomorrow. The pilot project is definitely a success. Hence the project can be initiated in full fledge from next year when RMSA and BC are going to appoint rest of the Master Trainers as Mentors from the academic year 2016-15.


  1. British Council Mentoring Training Materials
  2. Online survey link for Mentors:
  3. Online survey link for Mentees:
  4. Personal interviews of the mentors

5. Personal interviews of some Headmasters

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Secret Friend

Secret Friend

Did you ever want to gift your friend and yet keep your name secret? Then this activity is just for you. Here is how I enjoyed this activity.

Language input: Nouns/Noun phrases and adjectives/adjective phrases or sentences

Materials required: Chits of papers equaling to the number of students in the class.

Box to collect the chits.

Estimated time: Depends on the number of participants. With an average class of 25, ten to fifteen minutes will be sufficient.

Preferable time: At the end of the last semester Or prior to any lesson related to gift or friendship.



Tell the students that since it’s a last semester they are going to give gifts to each other as a token of friendship. For that everyone has to contribute 500 rupees virtually. Allow students to think of some things that they can gift worth 500 to any friend.

  • Distribute the chits of papers among the students. Each student gets one chit.
  • Ask them to write their names on the CORNER of the chit.
  • Fold the paper and make sure that the name is HIDDEN INSIDE the chit.
  • Collect all the chits in the box.
  • Shuffle properly and ask the students pick up one chit. (They shouldn’t open the chit until you instruct)
  • Once everyone gets the chits, ask them to open the chit. They SHOULDN’T REVEAL the name they find in the chit to anyone.
  • On the OTHER SIDE of the chit, they should write the name of the gift they want to give that person along with a complement. (They should keep it absolutely secret without showing it to their partners sitting next too) Write an example on the board for better comprehension. T-shirt. You look good in T-shirt. Or T-shirt suits you the best.
  • Now, students fold the paper getting the gift and complement inside the fold and getting the name of that person outside.
  • Collect all the chits. (You will get the chits with the names written outside)
  • Now, distribute the chits to the students as the names are written on the chits.
  • Elicit some of the gifts and complements students get.

Students will be surprised to see the gift they received along with a complement. You are sure to see SMILING FACES in the room. The best part is they aren’t aware of the friend who gifted them. Hence ‘Secret Friend’


You would love to see your kids smiling, don’t you?


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