A. OELP’s Varna Samooha approach for meaningful decoding.
This approach is used for building basic foundation skills in reading and writing.It has been developed through sustained trailing inside classrooms over a period of time, and has been found effective for engaging children with the Deva Nagari script in meaningful ways. We have used it for various languages that have the same phonology. Within this approach the Hindi varna mala (alphabet) has been regrouped into six groups called the varna samoohas. These six groups were developed through trial and error over a period of one year and with the active involvement of school teachers. Aksharas, words and text are introduced simultaneously, so that children recognise their interconnectedness and can actively construct their own spoken words by combining the inherent sound units or aksharas.
This Varna Samooha approach has the following components:
- a) Identifying beginning sounds
- b) Matching written symbols for each spoken sound – sound symbol correspondence
- c) Combining sounds to construct meaningful words / sentences/ poems
- d) Illustrating the meanings of newly constructed words and sentences through pictures
- OELP has developed a resource pack to support the implementation of the Varna Samooha approach
B) Worksheets for skill practice
Based on recent research studies and available literature OELP has identified some basic foundation skills for reading and writing which are considered important for building strong foundations for reading and writing with understanding. OELP has developed five or six skill practice worksheets for each competency, so as to strengthen it. These are given to the children from time to time based on their individual needs.
The competencies that have been included in the worksheets are as follows:
- a) Recognition of spoken sounds (phonemic awareness)
- b) Sound symbol correlation (phonics)
- c) Combining sounds and symbols to construct meaningful words
- d) Word recognition
- e) Building spoken and written vocabulary
- f) Reading and writing / drawing with understanding (comprehension)
- g) Responding to questions on a text through written answers
- h) Reading and writing different forms of texts with understanding and thinking
C) Higher order thinking
OELP is trying to get the teachers and educators to appreciate that mere inclusion of activities for listening, speaking; reading and writing, in the daily classroom programme is not adequate. It is only when we create planned and authentic opportunities for children to reason; to reflect; to draw inferences; to predict ; to question or narrate in their own words that that meaningful language and literacy learning occurs. Teachers within the programme, even at the Class 1 level are being gradually equipped to create such planned opportunities for each of these four areas of language and literacy learning, so that they generate higher order thinking. We have begun to film classrooms practices and discuss these during monthly planning and review meetings or capacity building workshops. Teachers are encouraged to draw upon their experience and reflect upon children’s natural language learning processes and the implications that these have for classroom practice. The importance of drawing upon the diversity of children’s spoken language resources; their experience; imagination; feelings, curiosities is emphasized so that language and literacy learning can become purposeful and meaningful for each child.
Some ways of incorporating higher order thinking into the Four Blocks are:
- a) Using variety of decoding strategies to increase reading fluency and proficiency
- b) Using a variety of strategies to read and write with comprehension
- c) Building thinking, reasoning and questioning skills through conversations, book talk, projects