IEF 2018: A successful meeting of educators and educational leaders!

A scene from the performance of Puchawa Selzong held as part of the book launch of Folk Gods: Stories from Kailas, Tise and Kang Rinpoche

This year’s Innovation in Education Fair took place at Local Development Training Academy, Jawalakhel. With the ambition to provide a cohesive and effective program to the educators, the Fair was a platform for questioning, sharing and exploring the various aspects of education from classroom practices and curricular development to our education system and philosophy.

This year’s IEF was conducted in three different phases. The first phase on August 16 to 17 was open to educational leaders from schools, colleges, educational organizations and municipality offices. The second phase  from 22 to 24 August was open to educators. The third and final phase on 25 August was open to everyone and featured exhibitions, performances and panel discussions. Each day, the Fair started with a presentation led by a professor from Kathmandu University School of Education to provide participants the theoretical tools to reflect upon their teaching and leadership experience in educational institutions.

Dr. Laxman Gnawali interacting with the participants during his presentation on Teachers’ Professional Development

On August 16 and 17, school leaders from over 60 institutions, both public and private, choose to participate in one of three workshops on Language Arts Education, Visual and Performing Arts Education, or STEAM Education. Participants were introduced to these educational approaches through hands on activities and were then given an overview of the workshops planned for educators the following week. School leaders were encouraged to register teachers from their institutes for the second phase based on the teacher’s interest and subject area focus. As a result, many of the educators who attended the second phase of the fair had registered to attend workshops that had direct relevance to them.

Niranjan Kunwar, one of the facilitators of the Language Arts Education conducting a Read Aloud session with the participants

The second phase of this year’s IEF for educational professionals started on August 22 and featured in depth workshops, presentations, discussions, and hand on activities. The first day focused on Inquiry Based Learning: Exploring Language Arts Education Across the curriculum. A total of 90 educators from over 30 educational institutes participated in three different workshops and were introduced to the concept of inquiry based learning.

In the first workshop, ‘Beyond Literacy: Building a culture of reading, writing and reflection’, facilitators from Quixote’s Cove, Books for Asia along with independent educational experts, Niranjan Kunwar and Dorje Gurung, collaborated to demonstrate a Read Aloud session in which the teachers discussed the plot, character, settings, and writing styles. They discussed how to manage and run Read Alouds and its various benefits from encouraging higher order thinking to building vocabulary. They provided the scientific evidence that reading to and with young children can enhance their imagination, critical thinking, understanding, creativity, emotional intelligence, social skills, and memory.

Educators presenting their creation from the Learning by doing: Parts make a whole workshop along side one of the facilitators

In the second workshop ‘Nurturing empathy, critical thinking and considered action’, facilitators from Word Warriors, Canopy Nepal and Project Sarangi emphasized on creative arts such as music, sound, writing and storytelling as powerful tools to foster creativity in their schools. Teachers practiced and presented powerful storytelling techniques using simple sound cues. In the third workshop by Katha Satha and Artudio was on ‘Language arts education across the curriculum and beyond the school’. Teachers were shown creative ways to inspire students to write poems, stories and use music in their daily classroom activities. The workshop focused on how writing and arts can be used across the curriculum in all subjects and beyond the classroom to make the student learning relevant in their own lives.

The second day of the educators phase was focused on Project based Learning: Exploring Visual and Performing Arts education across the curriculum. The first workshop, ‘Learning by doing: Parts make a whole’, was facilitated by the members of Srijanalaya, Drawing Room KTM, Nritya Aagan and KISC EQUIP. During this workshop, the teachers participated in many hands-on activities that showed how to engage children in critical thinking skills  through an integrated curricular approach.

The second workshop ‘Learning begins at home: making education relevant and meaningful’ was offered by the members of the US Embassy’s Book Bus, Nepal Picture Library, Habeli Outdoor Learning Center, KU Center for Art and Design, and Niranjan Kunwar. This workshop focused on integrating the personal lives and community spaces of students into the curriculum, making the things they learn relevant. The participating teachers played games, wrote news stories and more as part of the workshop. The third workshop, ‘School as a safe pace’, was designed by members from Utkarsha Nepal and independent experts Prathama Raghavan and Shreeti Pradhan. The facilitators offered teachers ways to make their classroom trauma sensitive and mutually respectful. In this workshop, teachers were asked to go back to their roots and focus on their values as a teacher.

A teacher participating in the activity of Learning begins at home workshop

The third day of the educator workshop focused on STEAM Education and Teachers’ Professional Development. The first workshop ‘Thinking by Doing: Hands on activities’ was held under in collaboration between the members of Karkhana and Katha Ghera. This workshop focused on how experiential learning through hands on activities and performances can make learning fun and student-centered. The second workshop of this day ‘Hands on approaches in our classrooms: Inspiration for STEAM’ was provided by members of Wildlife Conservation Nepal and Sunsar Maya. This workshop emphasized on interactive environmental education as well as use of locally available resources to apply scientific theories to build fun innovative devices. The teachers participating in the workshop created various gadgets focusing on scientific principles using everyday objects.

The third workshop ‘Music and art as transformative tools’  was provided by members from Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory, Children’s Art Museum of Nepal and Rato Bangala Foundation. Their workshop focused on exploring ways to integrate music, art and technology into classrooms to teach critical thinking skills, build confidence in students and help them become more imaginative. Teachers participating in this workshop were given various prompts along with easily available resources to stimulate their creativity and critical thinking.

Actors from Garden Theater performing Mr. Fox and the School boy

Each day of the Fair concluded with the Local Artists Inspire performances where local artists, musician and theater group put up performances for visitors. Project Sarangi performed folk music playing instruments such as the sarangi, madal and ukulele. Word Warriors shared spoken word poems on childhood, familial relationship, etc. Garden Theater performed “Mr. Fox and the School boy” that told the story of a school boy, while waiting for his parents, befriends a mysterious displaced fox. Nritya Aagan performed a musical play called “Saanu ra Aadhiberi” based on a children’s storybook.

Students visiting one of the interactive stalls during the final Exhibition Day

An exhibition was held on the last day of the fair on August 25. The fair was open and free to everyone. During this day, interactive stalls by participating organizations and exhibits featuring creations made by teachers in their workshops. A panel discussion on school integrity was also scheduled with workshop participants as well visitors. During this discussion, the importance of nurturing a culture of integrity and how it fits an educational mission was emphasized by the panelist Kul Prasad Khanal, Rebat Kumar Dhakal, Rupa Munakarmi and Tika Ram Pokharel. The fair concluded with the book launch of Folk Gods: Stories from Kailas, Tise and Kang Rinpoche with a musical and dance performance depicting the story of Puchawa Selzong based on a folk tale from Kailash region.

Written by Pranab Man Singh and Ritu Rajbanshi.

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